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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
John the Baptist said;
“I baptise with water but among you stands one you do not know, He baptises with the Holy Spirit.”
“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.”
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.
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.
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)
We can’t go back
We can only go forward
This is true none of us can go back to those wonderful days of childhood,to that heart stopping moment when our eyes fixed on our.beloved spouse. Neither can we re-visit and fix that time when we were so in the wrong; if only we hadn’t said,or we hadn’t done this or that.
As it is with our earthly life’s journey, so it is with our spiritual pilgrimage. We have decided to follow Jesus and we can’t, we mustn’t go back. Hasn’t Jesus explicitly warned us, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God’
Yet our God knows there are times, and they are many, when we need to stop, rest, eat and drink – he himself is our rest, our food, our drink. This is what i have found, I have been young and now am old, but I am still following on and finding it’s an upward climb, here’s a well loved hymn from years gone by,
Wr are marching upwards to Zion
Please follow link to listen on YouTube
We are marching to Zion,
Beautiful, beautiful Zion;
We’re marching upward to Zion,
The beautiful city of God.
A song is always a good companion whether we are a solitary marcher or a company. Pilgrims have always packed them in their rucksacks.
Here is one Jesus could well have sung on his journeys to Passover in Jerusalem
I lift my eyes to the mountains
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all harmg—
he will watch over your life;
8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and for ever more.
When I find the going hard, life tough and rough, or maybe fear I may be a little off track, I rest prayerfully, look up, and put my best foot forward I’m marching upwards.
‘When you forgive, you love”
Praise the LORD, my soul,
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits –
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself,
When we forgive then we mirror God’s love perfectly and he forgives perfectly.
But always remember the same faults and failings we see in others are the very same faults and failings they see in us. No one is perfect, God is still working on us.