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.

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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…. 

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.

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)

Learning The Ropes

The ship is a Norwegian Training Vessel, berthed in the Orkneys, this summer. This is the way  of life, first Summer then Autumn and then the heavy, stormy seas of winter – when the discipline and training gained over many seasons stand us in good stead. As it is with sailors at sea so it is with Christian voyagers.

In Acts 27, we learn of a shipwreck in stormy seas, despite advice  from the Apostle Paul, the centurion in charge paid more attention to the pilot and the owner of the ship and the majority and set sail from “Fair Havens” taking a chance that they would reach “Phoenix” a harbour of  Crete, where they would spend the winter.   Now, when the gentle South Wind blew, they thought they had it made and weighing anchor they sailed along Crete close to the shore and then the tempestuous wind called Eurakylon bore down on them from the land….

“And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along….”  {Acts 27, 15}

I have always loved this story, yes the ship, it’s cargo are lost but by the grace of God, not a single life and the Gospel is proclaimed in  Malta. One thing I notice is that when Paul goes to the centurion a second time, as the sailors were about to escape in the ship’s boat, leaving everybody else to the mercies of the sea, this time, Paul’s warning was heard, and the ship’s boat cut away and the sailors, whose experience was necessary to save the lives of all, stayed on board.

It seems to me that a Christian’s. northeaster is the ferocious wind that hurls itself at us from the world, the majority opinions whose strength is manifestly greed, selfishness, blind ambition; the determination to get at all costs but first the gentle south wind blows, this is soft persuasion, gentle invitation,  even a plea, to “come and join us” …. a good sailor never sleeps on watch!

So how do we get wised up, where do we learn what we need to know to avoid getting caught up in the wind in the first place?

Paul, advises Timothy (1 Timothy 4:6) and we too should be good servants, trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine handed down to us.

Who handed it down to us?

The answer has to be those who came before us, who taught simply using words that everyone can understand, the ways and rules of right conduct, the things which the Lord teaches, even today, through the Spirit of Truth and Wisdom:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prob. 22:6)

Keep your ship afloat. Heed the advice and counsel, the words of your parents, teachers, pastors, the words of Holy Scripture and reach harbour safely.

As an apple tree

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
(Song of Songs 2:2)

I didn’t choose my apple tree, He chose me.

I am firmly persuaded that; God’s love always takes the initiative that ours is always a response to His love.

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We love because He first loved us.” (1John 4:10)

I cannot refuse to return His love, anymore than I can refuse an apple from His basket.

“I do not ask you to think a great deal, but to love a great deal.” (Charles de Foucauld

Sometimes, recalling my girlhood days. I find myself singing,

He is not a disappointment!
Jesus is far more to me
Than in all my glowing day-dreams
I had fancied He could be;
And the more I get to know Him,
So the more I find Him true,
And the more I long that others,
Should be led to know Him too.

He is not a disappointment!
He is all in all to me-
Saviour, Sanctifier, Healer;
The unchanging Christ is He!
He has won my heart’s affections,
And He meets my every need;
He is not a disappointment,
For He satisfies indeed.
(Mary Warburton Booth)

The love of the young soul is wonderful it’s like the blossom of springtime, but the love that’s grown and matured, well that is the sweet fruit of the apple tree.

May God bless you and me under the apple tree.

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Tamed Garden versus Wild Wood

The garden has its seasons. Many autumns ago, the Briar Rose was planted. A bare root; so bare I wondered if it would survive the frosts, ice and snow of winter.

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But it did producing that first spring time its small white flowers and delicate perfume and then as summer progressed Rose Hips to provide food for my friends the birds and for me colour on a grey, wintry day, the stems of my Briar Rose stay vividly green throughout winter

So, with the garden of my soul, I want to choose well what I sow and plant, to ensure I produce good fruit in all seasons:

Love, Joy, Peace, Forbearance, kindness, goodness,
Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control
(Galatians 5:22 N.I.V)

But, you know what, as with my garden, the weeds and wild things get in, they blow in on the wind, under the fence, over the fence, by every means fair and foul, from the wild wood surrounding my soul garden, they leave me no choice, these things which I didn’t want but to set to with tools called watchfulness and prayer. Life in the wild wood called the world, is wild, rough, tough, dangerous and threatening to my soul’s garden, yet sometimes, just sometimes I feel sorry for the wild wood because it is in need of of the Forester’s care and attention and perhaps, just perhaps mine?

How can the wild wood, the wild things of our wonderful, exciting times be changed?

Saviour Christ,
In whose way of love
Lies the secret
Of all life,
And the hope of all people,
We pray for quiet courage to match
This hour.
We did not choose to be born
Or to
Live in such an age:
But let its problems challenge us,
It’s discoveries exhilarate us,
Its injustices anger us,
Its possibilities inspire us
And its vigour renew us
For your kingdom’s sake.
Amen

(Prayer from a prayer card created for the Lambeth Conference 1998)

And Jesus said:
“Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you”
(Luke 10:19)