I once was lost, now I’m found

Return of the Prodigal Son (Rembrandt, St Petersburg, The Hermitage)

Possibly one of the most well known paintings and possibly one of the most well known stories in the New Testament. It comes in St Luke’s Gospel, chapter 15, immediately following the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin.

The Parable of the Lost Son

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[b] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

“And no one gave him anything” (verse 16)

How sad it is that Christians seem to have nothing to offer in the way of a word of witness to help today’s lost sons and daughters begin the journey back home to their loving Father.

What have we done with the Gospel treasure entrusted to us?

Buried it maybe?

Many, in these last few days have recalled, being invited and going to hear Billy Graham, many have recalled it was something he said which started them thinking differently, turned their thinking around, so that they, literally came to themselves and began their journey back home.

Billy Graham preached a Gospel of Repentance, the Old Testament Prophets preached Repentance, John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and Jesus began his ministry (Mark 1:15) saying “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel”


I can’t do otherwise than say, “I serve a risen Saviour who is in the world today, eager to turn hearts and minds around and bring lost sons and daughters home”


Waiting for The Carol Service

“”Once upon a time, I used to sing in the choir. In my day we wore white surplice, violet robe with ladies and girls sporting a three cornered hat. The small ones, girls and boys wore a frilly ruff and hated them!

Times change and St Giles Singers no longer sport the traditional garb, although always smartly turned out; and boys and girls no longer tug at ruffs, but the singing is angelic and I am waiting patiently for Sunday Evening’s  9 Lessons and Carols. 

This year I haven’t been able to sit in on the Singing Practices so there will be surprises, but no surprise can equal the one given  the shepherds out in the fields when the angel of the Lord showed up. Smelly Shepherds, in that day were held in as much respect as those who live on the streets today, unprepared,  ( we use that word in our Communion Service ~ “our hearts were unprepared”) wearing grubby apparel, sleeping in the open doing nothing to enhance their appearance, those shepherds were the last people expecting the Angel of the Lord, yet appear He did, together with a multitude of heavenly beings, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:14] (E.S. V)

I look forward to the Carol Service, and unprepared as I am, to seeing peace reigning on the earth.

Lord, I  pray for gentlenes, and your strength to be forgiving.  Lord Jesus  I ask for patience that I might understand and the blessing of endurance like yours to stand for all things that are just, and right, holy and good that I may know your peace and praise God aright all my days.Amen

(Image Pixabay)

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.

Christmas calm

In the middle of crowded Christmas shoppers, the true spirit of Christmas found me out. Earlier a gentle friend had been saying that she really was finding it difficult to find that true spirit this year and why she felt it was; she was of course feeling back in time, to Christmas Past, when folk had less, spent less, but gave more, sharing with a good, glad heart what was theirs to share, days when you didn’t pass a neighbour by without wishing them Merry Christmas!

In my own case, I have been overwhelmed with last minute business. But surrounded by shoppers, laden with parcels from out of nowhere the Spirit of Christmas Calm stopped fluttering, folded His Wings and came to rest. And I entered worship.

No, I didn’t throw my arms in the air, burst into Hallelujah’s, Christmas Carols or even Jingle bells .. but the wing of God’s angel of peace had brushed my cheek, bidding me follow Him into that most secret of places, where worship is deeper than words or songs.. where love is speech .. where our love and God’s love meet and embrace.

Sunday, church celebrated Christmas with a Carol Service, Church Music Director Agata Beaman, St Giles Singers, St Michael’s School Band led about 200 in worship; a full report of that will be in January’s edition, and over the past few days I have met men older than me, with memories of Christmases past, choristers no longer with us .. and that has turned my mind to Christmases and years past. Firstly my thoughts turned to my own choir days, and that in turned called to mind the reason I chose St Giles for my spiritual home back in the 1960’s

Such a simple reason really,the Lord had left that choice to me, and I chose the church where the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis, Psalms and Canticles were sung not just by the choir but by everyone. Like this afternoons angel those familiar Bible Songs of Praise led me to the place of worship. 50 years have flown, and we no longer sing The Songs of Mary and Simeon, The Benedictus and Te Deum, and I miss them, but cannot imagine that they are not still being sung in that place from which Christmas Angels come to hush our noise and bring us into the Christmas Presence.

My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
For He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.”

(Luke 1: 46-48 N.I.V.)

I pray that angels of peace surround you and lead you gently into Christmas and the New Year.


Coracle and Tide

Postings which were formerly made in the category ‘Reflections’ are now being made on a weekly basis on Coracle and Tide, also published by Tides and Tidings.

To visit Coracle and Tide please click here.

Tides and Tidings will continue to report on church events and occasions. Tides and Tidings represents the mother ship. St Giles Parish Church, Rowley Regis and Coracle and Tide the Christian journey and reflections of one member of the crew.

A Coracle, still used today is a small and seemingly flimsy craft, but used much by early Christian saints and missionaries in bringing the Gospel to the people of Scotland, England. In times when the only good, safe roads were those left behind by the Romans, they were used often, to travel along Rivers.

Solitary pilgrims in a small boat, travelling only with God’s Spirit to guide, and keep them from harm, navigating treacherous currents and tides, reached inaccessible places with God’s Word and love. Their only motivation was that God should be known, hearts filled with the knowledge and love of God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ.


Praise the Lord on a Monday


The children are counting down the days to back to school, some counting down the days to starting school for the first time, and Rosy Mouse is watching the crab apple trees.
‘I like September’ she says, ‘And Autumn and Harvest Festival,’ of course,
she’s counting down the days to her share in Autumn’s bounty. But that’s Rosy, dreaming of apples, pies, crumbs … and she’s started knitting, 16 tiny hats and scarves to keep her family warm during winter months!

One thing about our little mouse. She is always cheerful, always humming, always squeaking hymns, psalms and songs of mousy praise.

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
Lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
Stormy winds that do his bidding.
You mountains and hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
Wild animals and all cattle,
Small creatures and flying birds,
Kings of the earth and all nations,
You princes and all rulers on earth,
Young men and women,
Old men and children.

Psalm 148: 7-12

Well, you can’t get much smaller than Rosy, but she had a big heart and wishes all small people-persons (children) well, as they start new school term.

Oh, by the way if you could put some nice juicy pears in your harvest basket, St Giles Harvest Festival is Sunday 2nd October, she would much appreciate it!

Not Just By Water

John the Baptist said;
“I baptise with water but among you stands one you do not know, He baptises with the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus said:
“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God, unless they are born of water and the Spirit”

The Spirit and the bride say,
“Come! And let the one who hears say, Come! Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

(Baptismal Ewer, St Giles Church)

Sarah’s Work Placement

Birmingham Cathedral (Anglican) in its 300th Year

Sarah, aged 15, is a year 10 student at St Michael’s (C of E School) and this week has been on work placement at St Giles – a taste of what work may be like when school is finally finished and the rest of Sarah’s life begins.

Sarah, thinks she might like to work with the church. So this week is all about looking at the various roles and ministries of a church inside its building and out.

So far, Sarah has visited a family with a newly baptised child and Mary, an older person no longer able to attend church. She has created and designed a poster to publicise the coming, Churchyard Tidy, when anyone in the Rowley Community is invited to come along and join us in a bit of hard work tidying up our large Churchyard. Sarah has not only designed the posters but helped to deliver them to local shops, saying hello to people she has never met before, in the company of Revd. Shelton. I bet that was scary for shy, and softly spoken Sarah.

I think this year’s Churchyard Tidy, should really be called Sarah’s Project, she walked the site, taking notes for the Risk Assessment needed for Insurance Purposes, and typed it up together with the ‘sign in sheets’ needed for Saturday Morning. Oh, and she’s coming to work with us, exchanging her smart office clothes for jeans and sun cream.

Taking photographs of church items came next, rather involved that one, since accurate measurements and identity markings had to be included in the photographs. The photographer allowed her to take a few shots with his very expensive, professional camera and so far I think that has been the highlight of Sarah’s week.

Today, a visit to St Philips, Birmingham Cathedral comes first, then a behind the scenes look at the Diocesan Offices in Colmore Row, Birmingham.

(Stained glass -Birmingham Cathedral)

By now, Sarah has come to know,that there is far more to church than Sunday Services, and many more jobs and roles needing filling than the sermon slot, or organ stool, the church is truly a body, and needs all of its bodily members to be able to function properly.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Whatever life holds for you, Sarah, we wish you well. Thank you for choosing St Giles for your Work Placement and helping our work, this week.

Growing up and good little mice

The Tailor of Gloucester (A Beatrix Potter Tale) ~ Display/Vera Round/June 2016

The church lectionary says we are now in Ordinary Time, the frontal and falls in church are green, sometimes that serves me as a reminder, green things are growing things and the scripture readings for this long period Trinity Sunday to All Saints Day have all something to teach us, to help us grow in grace as Gods children, little ones
s in Christ, should. Perhaps it is easy to forget that the Saints celebrated on All Saints Day also needed to grow and learn.

Vera, who made the display pictured above, always underestimates what she may achieve but always, always tries and gives “it a go” that is part of growing up too, we learn by giving “it a go” ~ I guess Saints give love, and the Christian disciplines, graces another go, time after time after time.

Having never read the story before, I picked up the picture book also on display and gave the story of The Tailor of Gloucester a go. The tale of the kindness of little mice in completing the Tailor’s work whilst he lies sick with a raging fever is contrasted with the spitefulness of his cat. By the end of the book, the cat has learnt the lesson of kindness but I won’t give the ending away, just in case you have n’t read it.

This is the lesson I am still learning

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

Yes God knows us through and through, and yes, none of us knows anything yet as we ought to know. I praise God, wonderful in his patience, gentle in his upbringing and teaching of me, his little child and mouse, by every means at his disposal, every day the most important lesson of all. Perhaps I don’t see him face to face, but I sense as a blind person might, his face is ever towards me, and sense too his invitation to reach out with baby fingers and explore that beautiful face.

Love is the lesson the Lord teaches and his story the never ending one.

And now these three remain. Faith hope and love. But the greatest if these is love.

(Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-13)