Between Times

I love the sea, but live far from it. I dream of going down to the sea and sailing again. In the days of wind and sail, I think I would have been happy. I am one of those strange people who like wind and lively seas.

When taking on board our church magazine – I was told I could call it what I liked, so instead of St Giles Parish Magazine. I chose, Tides and Tidings.

Tides, because big ships sail with the tide, there is no ship bigger than ‘The Church’ has often been viewed as the ‘Ark’ that’s why our wooden vaulted ceiling looks like an upside down boat. Not that St Giles is upside down, but the church is called to turn the world upside down for Jesus. We are still in Eastertide, from now until Ascension Day, (10th May) still thinking of Jesus showing himself to His friends, women as well as men, before finally saying ‘Goodbye’ and ascending to His Father and Our Father, and then (Acts 1: 4) ‘Wait for the Promise of the Father’

And then when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, the Father sent the Holy Spirit, a great wind to turn the tide in the church’s favour, filling waiting disciples with boldness to begin to reach to all corners of the earth with Tidings of salvation in Jesus’ Name.

I was reminded, in recent days, of these words, from ‘Pilgrim’ (Dom Helder Camara)

When your ship,

Being moored in harbour, gives the illusion

Of being a house;

When your ship

Begins to put down roots

In the stagnant water by the quay; put out to sea!

Save your boat’s journeying soul and your own pilgrim soul,

Cost what it may”

St Giles is in between times in more ways than one, Reverend Ian Shelton retired in January, leaving us to await the appointment of a new Incumbent, or to use ship’s talk Captain. We are in interregnum but we know we have to be ready to sail on the tide, on our new Captain’s orders … so we are still busy, welcoming passengers on board, Baptisms, Marriages, Funerals, and all our normal Services are happening on time, church is cleaned, decks swabbed, churchyard maintained, hall open for kick boxers, Theatrkidz and much more … so I guess we won’t be putting down roots as we wait…. just getting seaworthy….


“For Lo, The Winter Is Past…

The winter has been long and cold. Snow, ice, wind and rain: visits to the churchyard have meant bundling up in layers, wrapping yourself around in scarf, hat over ears, two pairs of gloves, and socks but now… well here come the daffodils welcoming us to Evening Prayer.

“The flowers appear on the earth: the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Solomon 2:12)

“In the darkness, in the quiet, we had come to anoint Him. Heavy hearted, drenched in sorrow, how could we live without Him.

Suddenly we saw there an angel all in white.

Then we knew that He had risen.”

So sang, St Giles Singers. Out in the churchyard the Daffodils join in the chorus:

“We have seen the risen Lord, we have heard His gentle voice saying “Be not afraid” We have felt His conquering power, known the glory of this hour.

“We have seen the Risen Lord. We have seen the Risen Lord”


Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

The Lord is risen, His Peace is with us, let us cherish it this Easter Day and always, from my Church, St Giles Rowley Regis, and my friends to you and yours “The Peace of the Lord with you, always”

Snowdrops and the wilderness

In my part of the world, “Lent Lily” is the title of the sunny Daffodil,  but the small, humble and neat Snowdrop is the flower that most springs to my mind at this season.

Daffodils will be around at Easter, the Snowdrops are here now pushing their way up through the leaf litter to emerge triumphant as the harbingers of Spring.

Lent for us always begins in the cold, today, snow flakes have danced on the cold wind, so very different to the images of desert and wilderness portrayed by artists in their depiction of the temptations endured by Jesus in the wilderness. Our winter turning into spring is a wilderness of ice, frost, and in the churchyard, brittle, brown, grey, twigs and branches broken by wind and storm, and tenacious Snowdrops and Crocus. 

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus.

(Isaiah 35:1)

For, me, always, the sweet, humble Snowdrop, always arrives singing, 

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,

My glory and the one who lifts my head.

(psalm 3:3)

She has fought a hard battle, the little Snowdrop, but here she is…  singing the song of victory won; giving the glory to the Lord who keeps us in burning desert and icy waste, the One, who alone is His people’s strength. 

Draw Back The Curtain

      “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”

 Psalm 119:130/ Luke 2: 22-40

The Christmas tree, the Stable under the altar dismantled, this morning we paused and marked “Candlemas” (2nd February). This was followed by the baptism of Evie Rose and Brooke Alison later in the morning, who like the infant Jesus were  carried into God’s house to receive the Lord’s blessing and seal on their young lives. 

How poignant it is to recall Anna and Simeon, both of great age, but still in the Temple waiting on God with prayers and fasting and God honours them; the Lord pours out on them His Holy Spirit, Simeon’s words are recalled and prayed everyday in acts of Worship, he and Anna live on in devout and faithful seniors, whose strength is renewed daily as they too, continue steadfast in faith and hope. Like Simeon, like Anna they have trusted in God’s word, and rejoiced in His salvation, walked in the light of His revelation.

What would their message be to today’s young ones.

I think it could well be,

“Draw back the curtains and let the light in. Open your heart and receive God’s Word, open the bible and find treasure, stored up for you from the Ancient of Days and praise God,

Once upon a time, St Augustine thought he heard a child singing

 ”Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” He thought at first the song was related to some kind of children’s game, but could not remember hearing the song before.  Then it struck him that this might be God telling him to open and read the scriptures, so he found a bible picked it up and read it.  And, then Augustine’s life really began. 

Draw back the curtains, open the bible, and God and you can begin

Love The Bird Is On The Way

The 5th Day of Christmas and the shining Dove still sits on a branch of the  Christmas Tree. David and Linda placed him there with love, and during the weeks leading up to Christmas hundreds of local school children have gazed up at him and his companion, oh yes there is another,  birds, like people love a companion.

Sadly, many people have been alone this Christmas Tide, some having lost their companion through bereavement, some because love has fled the nest.  Some have had no nest to spend the holidays in; a cold doorway, a cold street, has been their lot,  or maybe if lucky, a Christmas meal provided in the true spirit of Christmas by the warm generosity of willing, cheerful volunteers at a hostel, church, community centre.

Down in the garden, on a snowy day there is another bird, still singing, he rarely goes away, he enjoys the red berries on the Holly Bush, but his favourite berry is the small, white, sticky berry of the Mistletoe from which he gets his name, Mistle Thrush.  He doesn’t ask a lot in exchange for his song, he is a generous giver, and his Christmas Carol will soon be replaced by a song for Epiphany and New Year. St Giles has a special service of Carols and hymns for Epiphany on the 7th January this year, and there is one Carol we often sing, the third verse always speaks to my heart.

Birds, though you long have ceased to build,         

Guard the nest that must be filled. 

Even the hour when wings are frozen

God for fledging time has chosen.

People, look east and sing today: 

Love, the bird, is on the way.

(Eleanor Farjeon 1881-1965)
May it be so, for all, may Love, the Bird find his way to our homes, and hearts this winter tide, may it be that where the water and wings are frozen;  love may break the ice, and 2018 come with Good Tidings to all people everywhere, with new friendships for the lonely, a home for the homeless, provision for the poor, healing for the sick, on the wings of love may we all fly.

Born In The Night

A dark night, a cold night, a night to close the curtains shut the door, settle by the fireside and be thankful:

Thankful for a home, a shelter from the wet and cold, for protection from the perils and dangers of the night. For, outside in the world, which knows not, believes not, darkness holds sway.

The street is hushed, traffic movement stilled: words remembered sing themselves, silently in my spirit’s ear.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light

the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee to-Night.”

I shut my eyes, try, but cannot imagine what it would be like to be alone in the darkest, blackest of nights with no light at all. How would it feel to be alone in the darkest,  blackest, coldest of nights with no warm presence of  Christ wrapping me about with love.

While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.”

I think, of all who sleep, the weary, the worn, the sad. 

Of all who close eyes, and ears tight to shut out the pained cries of a world waiting for deliverance like a woman in childbirth,

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given”

I give thanks, and am lost in wonderment, I praise God that like a child born in the night, I am safely delivered, and snuggle my head in my Saviour’s breast;

You see I once sang, so long ago,

“Oh holy Child of Bethlehem, cast out my sin, and enter in: be born in me to-day,”

And He did, and was, and this I know to be true, that he gives to me and all who believe and receive   Him the right to become “children of God.”

And so it was, that a man named Nicodemus came to Jesus by night (John 3.1) 

And so it is that like Jesus all of the Children of Day are born in the night, and so it is that all His Children carry within them the Light of Christ.

Posted in love for all listening for the song of the Morning Stars…. 

All Good Things Are Worth Waiting For 

I love this window, the babe, the Redeemer reveals His Sacred Face.  I think of Mary and Joseph Waiting for Him, getting together the things a baby needs, watching and waiting.  Outside of Church and Lady Chapel the world rushes on and yet, there are some, mums and dads to be, maybe who are, even in the throes  of busyness ~ just waiting ~ whatever you are waiting for ~ we pray you are rewarded with joy. Posted with love from Rowley Church to all who will visit this coming Christmastide.

Towards Christmas

St Giles Church, Rowley Regis circa 1840

My friend Ken, often says Rowley folk have been a little careless with their churches, because we have had 4 churches on the top of the hill since 1199, that’s a long time, since before Magna Carta was signed, there has been a church on the hill, and even before the church was built a churchyard. We are coming to the end of 2017, frosty nights and mornings begin to make their presence felt and the churchyard trees are almost stripped bare; the crab apples have disappeared into squirrel larders, or maybe visiting badgers have enjoyed midnight picnics.

It seems strange, looking at this old drawing, that once upon a time, there were no trees; and so few gravestones, back in those days, Rowley was a village with very few houses, the tall building on the right, we called the ‘Mansion House’ when I was growing up – it wasn’t demolished until the early 1970s – all things change. Time doesn’t stand still, but I would like to think that tomorrow’s children will still have trees, that blue-tits, robins, woodpeckers and a friendly owl will still be around, and that the present 4th Church will still be playing host for School Carol Services, that the great tenor bell cast in Tudor times will still be calling out welcome to visitors to the Christmas Midnight Service, and that loving hands will be making a Holly Crown for the Advent Candles.

Who knows what the years may bring? It’s December 1st  and Joyce Walker is taking a winter break, dreaming a dream, that our old churchyard, and long forgotten stories will spring to new life as The Living Churchyard Project unfolds – but first the Winter,  Carols, Christmas the Snow. 

Is this really Santa?  Maybe Larry Emms, St Giles neighbour and friend knows?

“Thank you Larry, Terry, and the, so very many, more Rowley friends who came to visit the Christmas Fayre in the Church Hall – you helped raise £1679 towards keeping the children warm as they visit church over Christmas.”  ~ from The Churchwardens, (Yvonne and Jean) and the Elves.

Called From Darkness to Light

“And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.” 

First we have the dark of night, and then the light of day.

When we were wandering, lost souls, children who cowered in the dark ~ God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, that He might cast out all fear, To open the eyes of the blind.

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen”

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to Him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”

It’s not by power, not by might, not by merit, but by the blood of the Lamb that mankind is bought through the darkness of Halloween to the light of the Kingdom’s Day. May my prayers and your prayers be counted worthy to be offered with much incense (Rev. 8:3) with the prayers of All the Saints on the golden altar before God’s throne. 

Until then, 

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen”

(Posted for All Saints Day 1st November)