The Cross That Larry Made

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Today, the 5th Sunday in Lent, and St Giles is looking down the road to Palm Sunday. Now it is our tradition for very many years to begin Palm Sunday with the blessing of palms, not in church, but over the busy main road in the Church Hall. Then following the processional cross, singing our Hosannas we cross over the road and complete a full circuit of the church wall before entering church at the west door.

This year might have been very different.

A procession yes. But no cross. Our beautiful silver cross has been stolen, it is very likely that the thieves had to cut it up to get it through the hole cut into the silver safe. Something beautiful stolen, spoilt.

Ouch!

Larry, lovely Larry, so grateful to the Lord for bringing through cancer surgery, not just once, but twice, quietly decided that St Giles would have a cross to follow. Larry was a carpenter by trade, and this is the cross that Larry made.
“Just temporary,” he said.
Just how temporary remains to be seen; this cross was handcrafted in love, received with love, and will be treasured in love. A simple cross made from wood, can there be any better cross to follow this Palm Sunday? A cross made by a carpenter in love for the carpenter who carried His Cross for us all.

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

There is a redeemer
Jesus, God’s own Son
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Holy One
Jesus my redeemer
Name above all names
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah
Oh, for sinners slain

Thank you, oh my father
For giving us Your Son
And leaving Your Spirit
‘Til the work on Earth is done

There is a redeemer please click to listen

If you should find yourself on the top of Rowley’s very high hill, next Sunday (Palm Sunday) morning why not come and join the happy band following The Cross that Larry made.

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Door of Joy!

God the Lord has opened a door
Christ of hope. Door of joy!
Son of Mary, hasten Thou to help me:
In me, Lord Christ, let there be joy.
The one who was no less than God
took on the flesh of lowly man,
and came to wash the feet of clay
because it was Your holy plan.
And I no greater than my King,
would ever seek a place of humble service in Your house
to gaze into the light that is your face.
(Twila Paris)

No one regards the battered door with admiration, no one values it, it simply stands there and serves. It wins no awards for its attractiveness, it will never be hailed as a celebrity, and the photographer from the local news, won’t be calling any time soon.

The door isn’t worried, it just stands and serves.

The door reminds me of Jesus. The Lord, who served.

The Lord who said,

“You call me, Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.
If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
For I gave you an example that you should do as I did to you.”
(John 13: 13-15 NASB)

This post is dedicated to all God’s faithful ones, who like this battered door, have stood in their allotted place, year in, year out: not seeking to be the main attraction but to serve quietly and unnoticed, not offended by the kicks and knocks of life, but continuing, faithfully just to be of some, little service to their Lord and their brothers and sisters. When such as these ask, it is given them, when they seek, they find, and when they knock, Christ the Door of joy, opens for them. The faithful are the blessed.

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Wrapped Up In The Word

Folk love their fish battered and with chips in this part of the world; but these days such luxuries don’t come wrapped up in newspaper, in my young days they did: using unsold newsprint was I suspect an effective way of recycling yesteryear. The inner bag was plain, white, strong paper I hasten to add, so yesterday’s news wasn’t imprinted on fish or chips.

Fish and chips eaten from newspaper wrappers was the perfect end to the day for us as kids walking home from the cinema. Often we had to choose whether to spend the last coins in our pockets on bus fare, or chips. And it would be just chips, without the fish. Fish cost more then we usually had.

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him”
(Matthew 4: 18)

Of course, Jesus was thinking of fish, remarkably like you and me.
Just like the best cod, plaice, salmon, we didn’t come cheap, we were bought at a price, the Lord Jesus laboured, even prayed so earnestly, that his sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44)- the price of His fish – His life.

This picture speaks to me, it’s like an open invitation to be wrapped up in the Word of God.

Not many read the bible these days, but I still love it, in its many translations, whichever version if I sit still long enough, quietly enough I hear the Lord speaking his own Word, and then I feel a song bubbling through, wrapped up in the Good News,

‘I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation
And arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,”

(Isaiah 61:10)

Garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness
Now that’s Good News Print and wrapping for little fish!

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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.

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Reverend Ian’s Pastoral Letter November 1st 2016

God sent His Son that we might no longer fear the dark


November 1st 2016

Around this time of the year I’m away from Rowley for 3 days – “on retreat” – something every Vicar is expected to do each year, and it doesn’t count as their holiday! It’s a time of stillness and prayer.
Last year I went to the Franciscan Monastery at Glasshampton, near Stourport, I was given a small room in a corridor, with a bed, desk, chair and wash basin. Everything is pretty basic: there’s no TV, Internet or mobile phone signal. The Monastery is up a ¾ mile rough track, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it is very isolated, very quiet.
As you might expect the day is regulated by a bell which rings for the services in a simple chapel, and for silent meals in the Refectory (if you want salt or pepper you have to wait silently for someone to notice and pass it down!) And then, afterwards. You wash up!
Last year, on my first night, about 7pm, all the lights went out.
Following a storm the overhead power cable came down and the resulting power cut lasted 8 hours. I can vouch for that; I had forgotten to switch the light off and the bedroom was suddenly very bright at 3am.
Finding the chapel wasn’t very easy that night; I literally felt my way down a very dark corridor to say the church evening office of Compline by candlelight. This was an unforgettable experience and at the end of the service the monks gave us a small candle each to light our way to bed, not a lot of light and certainly not enough to read by, but sufficient not to get lost on the way back.
Candles are very powerful symbols of faith. We give godparents of a child a candle at baptism as we say “Shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God the Father.”
A candle is a delicate gentle light, that doesn’t force itself, but guides and reminds us of Jesus, the Light of the world.
In the coming months many candles will be lit. At our Annual Memorial Service as names are read, families wll step forward to light a small candle in memory of their loved ones. Approaching Christmas Candles will be lit around church as we sing carols, and at the end of the Christmas Season comes Candlemas (held in church January 29th) to remind us of Jesus taken to the Temple as a baby by Mary and Joseph, of his being recognised there as a Light to lighten the gentiles.
As we approach the holy season of Advent, you might like to think of lighting as candle at home; to remember a loved one as you say your prayers; as you think at Christmas of those who for whatever reason can’t be with you; and above all, to thank God for giving us His Son that we might not, any longer fear the dark.
With every good wish.
Ian

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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.

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Praise the Lord on a Monday

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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.”

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(Baptismal Ewer, St Giles Church)