Archived News - Salvation Army
The fayre was at Eaton Bray Academy on 24th November between 12.30-2.30. The Salvation Army attended 12.30-1.30, with Cllr. Coulter and Cllr. Piggot there as part of the band along with other EB Salvation Army members.
"My eyes are dim, I cannot see, I have not brought my specs with me". Words remembered from, I think, an old 2nd World War song. The Lord says "You will open the eyes of the blind and set free those who sit in dark prisons." Isaiah 42: 7.
How fortunate are we, those of us who can see? Not many of us have perfect sight. I have recently had one of my cataracts removed; and am in the queue for the sight of my other eye to be improved.
What a difference the operation made; the faces of people on the television screen became clearer, colours were brighter, I could read the road signs as I approached them when driving,...but...I can't see to read properly, because the eyes now don't work well together and I am not to have new 'specs' until the other cataract is removed! But that really is not for much of a hardship. Our Father God has a special kind of love for the afflicted. The song writer Annie Johnson Flint put it well when she wrote: "To added afflictions He addeth His mercy."
A lady who went totally blind at the tender age of four was asked what colours meant to her. She said "texture and taste. Red is warm and velvety. Green is wet grass smell, it is restful. Blue is like water. Yellow has a sound; that of laughter. Violet is soft and quiet. Purple is dark, intense. Orange is loud, shouting, like the smell of the fruit, full of zest, a banner of colour. Brown is the smell of leather. White is the colour of summer. Black is like night, giving the comfort of a warm blanket and assurance. Grey,.. I don't like grey, it's an inbetween colour; like a dull, rainy day, waiting for the sun to shine again."
How favoured we are to have healthcare. Saul, on the way to Damascus was blinded by the Light of the Lord, his companions took him into the city, some three days later, days in which he neither ate or drank, he was visited by a man, a disciple of Jesus, who said to him "Brother Saul, receive thy sight". The whole purpose of Saul's life was now permanently changed. You can read his story in Acts 22. What a difference those days made to him; he turned from doing evil to doing good.
Our sight is a gift from God, not a fringe benefit, a gift that makes joy possible. One cannot but help add that there many more gifts to be had from Him. If you love and serve the Lord He will continually add His blessings.
There are occasions in our spiritual experience when it is necessary for us to take off our spectacles and look at ourselves with true eyes. There was darkness in the world when Christ was crucified, there is still darkness today. He died because dimmed and blinkered eyes could not see what was happening and so sat back and did nothing. There is ugliness, sin, depravity and injustice still in our world today. We are responsible for this world, and each other.
Have your eyes checked; then look around with clear and rational vision, and be thankful for the beauty of this place where we live and for the scenes set before us which because they are there every day, we do not really see. As summer departs the bright display will soon be gone and we will experience Octobers mists...
"Courage, brother! do not stumble, though thy path is dark as night; there is a star to guide the humble; trust in God and do the Right."
Source: Focus, October 2012
Modern Technology... Not My Scene...
In the newspaper today I read an article that stated "The days of letter writing are over".
Well, with postage stamps at such a high price that's a "may be", but, oh, there is a great joy to be had by some of us when the postman delivers a handwritten letter from an old friend, or a postcard from an exotic country, that I in my "old age" will never visit; or perhaps a birthday or congratulatory card; along with the mountains of junk mail that I seem to get.
W.H.Auden wrote the poem, The Night Mail, which makes the claim, "And none will hear the postman's knock without a quickening of the heart, for who can bear to feel himself forgotten?"
So many of my generation do not have access to the internet, do not send or receive E-Mails, cannot send text messages, and really do not want to become addicted to the small screens. Things like Kindles and I-Pods etc. are like a foreign language to me; I like to read with a proper book in my hands.
One of the leasures of belonging to the older generation is that the need for speed is not a necessity.
Ecclesiastes chapter 7 is headed in my Good News bible, "thoughts about life." Verse 29 says: "This is all that I have learnt. God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated"
To get back to the mail; if letter writing is to be a thing of the past tell all the philatelists to hold on to their collections; soon they will be worth a small fortune - especially if they have a unique stamp, such as a 1 cent black-on-magenta British Guiana (now Guyana) printed in the capital, Georgetown in 1856. One was sold in 1873 for the equivalent of 30p. In 1934 it was resold for £7,500, in 1979 it was valued at £350,000. Today who knows?
Letters written in a bygone age, peoples' signatures become collectors' items. These are not things to be discarded, destroyed, or thrown out willy-nilly. They are treasures and will become our heritage.
"Some give thanks for a day that is done,
I give thanks for one begun;
For the chance to live as I feel I should,
And with good grace as I know I could.
I'm glad of the chance to do or say
A kindly thing in a kindly way;
And of bringing, if but for a little while,
To the face of another, a happy smile."
Letters do that, write one today.
These are an example of letters written by children to God.
- "I sorry did not write before but I only learned how this week. Martha. I am five."
- "Dear God, If we had fur like animals we wouldnt have to wear clothes. Did you ever think of that. Walter."
- "Dear God Last week it rained for 3 days. We thought it would be like Noahs Ark but it wasnt. Im glad because you could only take two of things, remember. And we have 3 cats. love from Donna."
- "Dear God Why do I have to pray when you know anyway that I want? But if it makes you feel better, Ill do it. Sue."
Letters like this always reach there destination, no cost involved!
Source: Focus, June 2012
In the SALVATION ARMY we have two major 'money' collections each year. One in September when we ask you, the public, to donate all that you can spare to help people in the U.K. who are in desperate need. And yes! there are people, some locally, who are in fi nancial diffi culties, and who are not able to cover the ordinary expenses of day to day living. They are living below the bread line; Hungry; and cannot afford to pay for heating for their homes. They cannot afford new clothing. They are, in other words, needy people!
The second collection is from Salvationists, Adherants and friends, during March, to support the work that takes place overseas. We call it Self Denial.
In many parts of the world Salvationist missionaries cope with situations that could be thought of as impossible. But with God, nothing is impossible. So year in and year out, in faith, they minister. In my minds eye, I can see the hundreds of children being fed. Arriving with a bowl and spoon and standing in line waiting in expectation. Their thin gaunt faces make their large eyes stand out like illuminated marbles. Apathy of movement, quietness, and swollen protuding bellies make you aware of starvation. Will there be food enough for them?
What did you give up for Lent? And what did you do with the money that you saved?
Jesus celebrated the Passover with a meal, sharing food with the twelve disciples.
A gentleman questioned me regarding our policy of not administering the Sacrement. To us all life is sacramental, everything we do we offer to God.
The practical spirit of the Founder of the Army, William Booth, has been passed down through generations. In the very early days a young lad was asked by his teacher whether the Salvation Army did or did not administer the Lords Supper. The boy looked at him, thought for a moment, then said "please Sir, they give us poor children breakfast''!!!
Still in this day and age there are people starving in all areas of our world. To feed the body is good, but to make people aware that the gift is given in the Name of the Lord is satisfying to both body and soul. We are asked to help in so many areas that we become bemused. However when we respond, either with our money or our lives, we will be astonished at what the gifts given can accomplish. We live in throw away society. During the last, "39-45" war, there was a slogan: "waste not, want not". Why not apply that policy today. 1.Cor.13 v 3 "If I gave everything I have to poor people but did not love others, it would be of no value..."
At the end of Lent we arrive at Good Friday; the day that Jesus died. So what's good about it? On that day Jesus gave His all, His Life, to save us. He took punishment for our sins. He died but He rose again on Easter Sunday, and He lives today. We are so fortunate, that we have enough; enough to give back a little of what we own. Remember the words from fi ction that Dickens wrote, those celebrated last words: "It is a far, far, better thing that I do, than I have ever done."
The Gospels are crammed with every kind of giving from the widow's mite to Christ's all, and all this giving would not be there if a tremendous purpose did not lie behind it. Acts 20:35, "He himself said: "It is more blessed to give than to recieve."
Charity Just what do you give?
What does Christmas mean?
Celebrating, food, and wine, parties, presents, yours and mine.
Cards, crackers, holly, and mistletoe, snow, frost, faces all aglow.
Laughter, gaiety, lots of mirth, BUT,
Does anyone think of the Saviour's birth?
In the bible, the stories of old, tell of a star,
Myrrh, frankinsense and gold,
Of Mary and Joseph, and stable bare, BUT,
Does anyone listen, does anyone care?
Do you at this festive time of year, really listen with your inner ear?
To the message from above, that tells us all of God and His love.
When bells ring out this Christmas time, stop, listen and hear
of what they chime; and then as when men in times gone by
Told the world where Jesus did lie; Let each of us spread the message on,
For although two thousand years have passed and gone,
This is still the headline news; talk to your neighbour,
Tell him your views, that as we holiday and feast
We should think of Him who had the least, but gave so much,
His life in fact, so that we this scene could enact.
Do you, just once a year, give thanks, when you participate
in childish pranks, do you, just once in a while
put on your face a cherubic smile and walk along to sing His
praise as with your voice a carol raise?
When will you give your life to Him, the babe, the man,
who will save you from sin? for that is the reason why He came.
So that all men Gods blessings could claim.
When this year you gather around the tree, and on the top,
the shining star do see, remember, the ox, and ass, and wise men three,
The angels, and shepherds, who worshipped on bended knee,
Then voice a prayer, and to Him say,
THANK YOU, LORD, FOR CHRISTMAS DAY...
Happy Christmas Everyone and God bless you
You are superb. Thank you to everyone in the four villages that has donated to The Salvation Army's Annual Appeal. You have raised £460 and I am extremely grateful to you for that sum. This goes towards the total we have been asked to raise in the area of £2700.
My thanks go to the proprietors/owners of the four businesses in the villages that very kindly agreed to have a collecting box. Without their agreement we could not have done this collection in this way. They are:
- Munns in Dagnall
- The Post Ofﬁ ce/Stores in Edlesborough
- Trading Faces in Eaton Bray
- The Swan Inn at Northall
As you were kindly donating to the appeal, we were experiencing the riots in London and other areas. Teams from Salvation Army churches were out on the streets supporting the emergency services by providing drinks and food to keep them going through long shifts. The South London Emergency vehicle based in Croydon could not be driven out of his car park due to cars being set ablaze in front of it, but the Salvation Army folk still provided that back up that was needed. Haringey Council asked The Salvation Army to set up and run a refuge centre in Tottenham Hale for residents and their advice and support is still being provided. So, as you were donating, funds were being used to continue to provide care and practical support at a time of great need. I must also say thank you to the Focus team that have allowed us to set up the appeal this year in this way. My thanks to you all.
Captain Jenny Dibsdall
The Salvation Army/Eaton Bray
Source: Focus, October 2011
It is cold. The sky begins to show itself above the mist which hovers over the turned brown earth of the ploughed ﬁ eld. With a gentle sigh a golden leaf falls to the damp ground beneath a tree which holds its bare branches heavenwards as if pleading with its creator. Another day begins, the sounds of which seem to intrude upon my thoughts, my quiet time, my time of prayer...
Sometimes it is difﬁ cult to pray; we often think that our prayers are unimportant when we consider world situations, but that is not so. All heart-prayers are heard, (all incense rises towards heaven, no matter the perfume it's composed of.)
And they are answered; prayers are really desires and desires are fulﬁ lled according to their strength. It seems that sometimes prayer is more readily heard when a large number of people pray together, as in church; but Jesus took himself away from the crowd many times so that He was able to speak to his Father alone. Sometimes I feel the need for solitude. A time when I can not only commune with the Lord, but a time for reﬂ ection and recollection and self-examination. A time in which to ask and try to receive the answers to the inevitable questions. Why? How? and When?
How do you feel when you try to make a 'phone call to a company only to be greeted with a computerised voice? Press 1 if your call is urgent... Press 2 for more grace. Your call is important, please hold.
Then comes the music...Thankfully God is always available. "Call to me, and I will answer you" (Jer 33:3) has not been replaced by "All lines are busy".
Communication (prayer) with God is a two-way thing. He speaks to us through His word and through the indwelling voice of the Holy Spirit, sometimes interpreted as our conscience. He paid the price to keep the lines open so that we can experience the ioy of being still and knowing that He is God; Psalm 46:10.
"He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known: (Miles)
"Through the tangled web of life, Lord, guide me.
Through the problems of the day, stay beside me.
From the dangers of the world, defend me.
In the quiet of the night, Lord, hear me;
And accept my prayer, my thanks, for being near me."
Source: Focus, October 2011
AUGUST...Marks the time of high summer...
SEPTEMBER...Brings the start of autumn...
Harvest time...When we visit our local supermarket we are met with such an abundance - fruit and vegetables, meat and bread, tins and packets - aisle after aisle of plenty. Plants, flowers, seeds; - we make our purchases and leave, with never a thought as to how all that produce came into being. There is a scriptural admonition in Hebrews that says, "Be content with such things as ye have." Still though we search for and cannot resist that which we think is a bargain. There is, however, the beauty of a harvest in our surroundings, the sunset, a blaze of heavenly glory, a painted scene that would be hard for an earthly artist to copy, wild flowers, trees bearing fruit, the fields where horses, cows and sheep graze, barley waving in the breeze, the flight of birds in formation. As the wonder of the handiwork of God unfolds before our vision, and the miracle of growth and renewal becomes evident, remember to say a prayer of thanks to our Creator. Phil 4:8. "Whatsoever things are lovely...think on these things" Mark 4:29 "When the grain is ripe the man starts working with his sickle, for harvest time is come"
"Where are the gentle horses, that one time worked our land;
Pulled the reaper and the binder, when the stooks were built by hand?
Where are the many farm workers who started early morn,
And led home horse drawn wagons, piled high with sheaves of corn.
The thresher then was fed all day to separate the grain,
And men and horses worked 'till dark in case of falling rain.
The straw was made into a stack, neat roofed with thatch and pin,
And corn in sacks for flour or feed, all safely gathered in;
We do not see the sheaves of corn on stubble anymore,
Instead, the combine harvester moves forward with a roar;
revolving blades cut down the ears which disappear inside
the body of the great machine and are threshed and cleaned and dried.
Soon from a chute, a stream of grain into a trailer falls;
It is tractor driven home and stored within the granary walls.
The straw is bailed and stacked away 'neath plastic, black and thin.
With speed of automation:- all is safely gathered in
Source: Focus, August/September 2011
Are you of little worth ?
Matthew 10: 31. “Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows”. In the town where Ethel lived she went to her minister and asked if she could teach in Sunday School. He informed her that he thought she was too old! She was 76 years of age.
One day whilst Ethel was weeding her garden a young Chinese student from the local university stopped to comment on the flowers that were growing there. She invited him in for a cup of tea; as they talked together about their lives she had the opportunity to tell him of Jesus, and His love for her and what changes loving Him had made in her life. The next day the lad returned with another student; and so began Ethel’s ministry; because of her age the Chinese students listened to her with respect. When she died 70 Chinese believers sat together at her funeral. Yet she was thought to be to old to teach little children!
If you are still young and energetic you may find it difficult to sympathise with the feelings of older people but those of us who have passed the midpoint on lifes journey and are now on the slippery slope can appreciate what David said, “I have been young, and now am old” Psalm 37:25 and Psalm 92:14 “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age, and they shall be fat and flourishing”!
In the countryside lived an old couple; their garden was a junk yard in the literal meaning; scrap metal, wheels, bits of iron and wire were all stacked there. The old man bent through years of labour sat over a little forge battering the material into useable condition. Over the years he had amassed a small fortune, he had no need to work, but be loved what he was doing and he felt useful.
These ‘doings’ remind me of how our Saviour takes lives that so often seem useless and recycles them until a new purpose is given to them; a new value placed upon them and so through the power of God, the world is a richer place. As life takes its course we know that the bodies we now possess are prone to both aging, physical decline and eventually death; but we have been promised and have the hope of a new body, so despite our aches and pains our destiny belongs safely in the hands of Jesus. As the apostle Paul says “In an instant we shall all be changed as quickly as the blinking of an eye.”
So then my next T-Shirt will be printed with ‘20 years old but with 50+ years of experience!!
Source: Focus, May 2011
Lent is almost over, and Eastertime is come once more. What does it mean to you? Is it a time of restoration for you? A time to reanimate your life? To infuse with courage and hope? On Easter day Christ rose from the grave after His crucifixion. He resumed His life.
Sometimes we find these things hard to believe - the Resurrection is perhaps easier to believe when we call to mind those lesser facts which have recalled us to life from the depths of self pity or depression. Maybe a certain piece of music “speaks” to you, or the songs of birds at dawn, a new love or friendship, or even just the reading of a well loved book, or having to move yourself because of someone’s urgent needs.
These things can give rise to an awakened sense of gratitude. Jesus was always saying thank-you to His Father; He took the cup and gave thanks. He took two fish and five loaves and gave thanks - just two examples - for throughout the gospels runs a stream of unspoken gratitude.
At this time of year it seems impossible not to feel grateful to God - especially in nature when we can see the new crops growing in the fields around us, shining from the touch of spring rains. Or see the green mist on the willow trees which precedes the first leaves, the colour of spring flowers, sunshine after clouds, new life on farms, simple things. “Consider the lilies” Jesus said, the ear of corn, the vine, the sparrows, the child. Seeds were I think one of His favourite symbols of rebirth and one that we as ‘country folk’ will understand. Easter day is the feast of happiness, joy and gratitude.
On it we should think of the kindness of Christ, for He forgave the appalling things done to Him by man whilst on this beautiful earth. Just a day or two before, in a haze of pain the dying Christ said “forgive them!” He turned to a criminal and told him that they would be together in paradise - such a hard thing for us to understand, let alone accept this reality. But we believe that Christ’s death invalidates death for us, for we too will see paradise! He lives and so we live -
I was there at the foot of the cross,
For it’s with my mind that I can see.
I know that when He died, it was for me.
That far away day, is yet very near.
I’m filled with wonder, and yes, sometimes fear
For my faith is weak, ‘though it is sincere.
Today it is to me that He calls,
He lifts me when I stumble or fall.
His presence is always by my side,
And it’s in His love that I abide.
Yes, I am here at the foot of the cross,
But I am not filled with a sense of loss,
For I now that He will come again,
And when He does there will be no pain.
It is here, the foot of the cross,
Wherever we meet, the foot of the cross,
the mercy seat.
The thought of His love, it’s undying ember;
I can’t forget----
Do you remember?
Source: Focus, April 2011
In the jeweller’s window a diamond of magnificent beauty was on display. The huge stone was worth many thousands of pounds. A passerby looked at it and remarked, “I see a flaw there, it’s not perfect.”
A very well dressed lady exclaimed “It really isn’t that attractive.”
“It’s far to large” declared a woman who was wearing cheap costume jewelry. “I think it’s vulgar, but I just had to see it”. commented another. The guard on duty at the store remarked, “Sour grapes!, It’s a splendid stone; some people just have to criticise”.
We see what we want to see - glance at yourself in a shop window ‘mirror’, and have a surprise - either for good or not so good, depending on how we view ourselves.
Think of a butterfly it comes from a really ugly form, the chrysalis, but when the right time comes, from this emerges the butterfly, a creature of outstanding beauty. The design and colour of its wings are beyond words, perfect in every detail; from that awful case which had enclosed it comes a new creation without blemish.
The diamond before it is cut and polished does not hold much beauty - the crysalis awaits its transformation - more than likely each one of us could do with a make over!
God recognises that we tend to make judgements about people based on how they look, what sort of car they drive, what work they do or did, what sort of house they live in etc. These things do tell us something about a person’s preferences, but they do not tell us how valuable people are as human beings.
Luke 16 : 15. Jesus says “ You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts, for the things that are considered of great value by man are worth nothing in God’s sight”. (Good News bible).
What does your mirror reflect?
Samuel 16.7. “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. “
Source: Focus, March 2011
With this year's Annual Appeal now complete we would like to publicly thank the many local people and organisations who believed in The Salvation Army by supporting our Annual Appeal to raise funds for our social services work across the country. We also give a special thanks to our volunteer collectors and all those who gave their time so willingly to our fundraising appeal. In this area we raised £2318.79 for the Annual Appeal and we are extremely grateful for everyone's generosity.
Thank you for putting your belief into action by supporting our 'Believe In People' Annual Appeal. Money raised directly supports The Salvation Army's work across all ages and backgrounds, as one of the largest providers of social services in the UK.
The Salvation Army believes God values every single person, and so we have always sought to help the whole person - body, mind and spirit. Every day officers, staff and volunteers all over Britain are working with the most vulnerable members of our community, befriending them, supporting them and believing in them. If you missed our collectors and want to make a donation, you can do so through our website: www. salvationarmy.org.uk/annualappeal.
May God bless you,
Captain Ray Charlton, Eaton Bray Corps
Source: Focus, November 2010
THE FIVE SENSES.
Sight; Hearing; Smell; Taste; Touch; but there is a sixth sense - intuition; the power of apprehension without reasoning; that special insight' which most of us seem to have.
Let us take each one and put a valuation upon it. What pleasure is there in sight? To be able to see colours, ﬂ owers, trees, grass, sun, moon, stars, sky, clouds, the wonderful scenery in the places we visit and where we live, to be able to read books, Oh, the list could go on and on.
Hearing, well, there is bird song in the early morning, church bells, peoples voices, music, the radio, a clock ticking.
Smell, - perfume, the scent of old fashioned roses, lavender, mint, pine needles, wet earth after rain, freshly baked bread.
Taste, - roast beef with horseradish, the first English strawberries, chocolate, crackling from roast pork, in fact, food in general, for eating is a favourite pasttime of mine.
Touch - the feel of a cat's fur, silk, velvet, pussy willow buds, someones hand, real leather, the rough bark of a tree.
We can derive such pleasure from all of these simple things; things that perhaps we take for granted, not realising their worth until we lose one or two of our senses. How fortunate then are we to have that sixth sense, the insight, the imagination with which to conjure up any of these wonderful experiences.
Yes; we have the mental faculty which apprehends that although we cannot by using any of the five major senses know God, we do know that He is with us at all times, that we can trust Him implicitly.
“Many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand;
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” James 4: 14, states “You do not know what will happen tomorrow.”
None of us know when we will die, but we can all hope for a place in heaven; Jesus paid for our sins on Calvary's cross and rose again to provide eternal life for us.
Let that sixth sense take you to a better place, one where hunger, brutality and pain, cruelty and evil just don't exist any more; the place of supreme happiness: God's heaven.
Patience Strong wrote: “When sorrow knocks upon the door companioned by dread fears - and we are blinded by our doubts, our agonies and tears...
What is this faint dim light that ﬂ ickers in a darkened place - Can this be God ? - we know we cannot see Him face to face - Yet through lifes calamities, with feeble hands we grope - Something divine is breathed into our hearts - and this is Hope.”
“THINK ON THESE THINGS”.
Source: Focus, October 2010
A child was painting a picture - the usual square box of a house with “Mummy, Daddy, and Me”, in the foreground, but it was a little different in that the colours were not quite right. The sky was pink - the grass bright blue - “Why blue?” I asked. “Because I like it.” was the reply.
Do you think that God thought about and liked the colours when He created the earth, and all that is in it and on it and under it?
As I walked through our village I looked at the beautifully tended lawns in some of the gardens, and watched the man from “Green Thumb” tending one of them, Then I noticed a verge alongside the road which had numberless tiny blue speedwell plants covering it - weeds?, well maybe, but they looked just like blue grass! Tiny, delicate, fragile fl owers, painted by 'The Master'.
Blue - the colour of the heavens above. The children of Israel were told to make tassels on their garments with blue threads in them, a sign to remind them to be holy, to keep God's commandments, (Numbers 15: 38-40) for the colour spoke of His love and immeasurable power.
We still need reminders today; I write things down, lists of things to do - things to buy etc. otherwise I forget. We all so easily forget God and His love for us, we forget that He died for us, and yet He lives in us and around us today, Blue the colour of the for-get-me-not flower, now that is a good reminder, a good sign, yes, blue, for it can jog one's memory, so that we are not unmindful of the fact that God is above us in the sky, all about us in the plants and fl owers, He is unseen, but as real as all we survey.
So think blue, think of God's love, especially His love for you...
Blue - the colour of sunny skies,
And of a new-born baby's eyes;
Of magic distances and space,
Of placid seas and a dress of lace.
Feathers of Kingfisher and blue-tit too,
Who proudly fl aunt their heavenly blue.
Of smiling bluebells in a wood
On a summer eve, when life feels good.
No other colour is so kind, as blue
For bringing peace of mind...
“My soul is warmly caressed
By a blue splashed sunlit sky
Untethered from bonds of stress
Immersed in happiness am I.”
Source: Focus, June 2010
There was a time when the soft velvet darkness of night enfolded you - starlight and moonshine guided your way. Candlelight lit peoples homes, then came oil lamps, then the gentle glow of gas light. Those days have long since gone. With the press of a switch we have light. Sometimes we can even be dazzled by the amount of lights in towns and cities.
In India Christian women perform a lamp-lighting ceremony each evening as the shadows fall. A song is chanted as the ceremony begins - music, the heady scent of flowers and purifying incense fills the air. The home is fi lled with light and sweetness; with it is the lingering sense of the Presence of the Light of the World, Jesus. He was the Light when He died on Calvary and rose again, and His is still the Light which guides us through the difficulties, temptations and dangers which may be encountered on our life's journey.
Whether we set out on our journey in spring, summer, autumn or winter it is important to be aware of the starting point; but we never travel alone for Jesus is with us every step of the way.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was on her journey of life and it was said of her that her presence evoked “the beauty of holiness” - “that special beauty amounting to a kind of pervasive luminosity generated by a life dedicated wholly to loving God and His creation.”
Mother Teresa would have been the first to insist that if God's glory shines through her it can shine through all who live for Christ. This is how people should see us as Christians - bright and inviting lights in this world.
Jesus brought us out of darkness and He said that we, as His followers, are “the light of the world”. Matthew 5: 14.
Lord, let me be a shining light
In all I say and do,
May your great love be seen in me
And lead someone to you...
At 6-30.a.m. on Easter Day we will be on Ivinghoe Beacon, hopefully watching the sunrise, and celebrating the rising of The Son.
Why not get out of bed bright and early and come and join with us!!!
MAY OUR RISEN LORD BLESS THIS EASTER DAY AND ALL YOUR DAYS WITH PEACE AND HAPPINESS.
“BECAUSE I LIVE, YOU WILL LIVE ALSO.” JOHN 14 : 19.
Source: Focus, April 2010
In the days of 1906 when Edith Holden wrote her diary, she talked of the “very hard frosts” and the snow falls of December. I quote, December 14th. Heavy fall of snow. December 20th. Rapid thaw. December 25th. A snowy Christmas morning - sunshine later - sharp frost at night. December 26th, Another heavy fall of snow. December 27th. In the paper today it reports that all Britain lies under snow, from John o' Groats to Lands End. It is not diffi cult to sense a thrill of excitement on her discovering snow on Christmas morning. Our seasons in this day and age have changed so much - plants are fl owering that shouldn't be, bulbs are already pushing their spurs through the earth - the bible tells us that there will come a time when we will not be able to tell one season from another; but one thing does not alter, that is, that Christ starts Christmas... So what is Christmas all about? A happy mix of seasonal charity and magic? The brilliant glittering fairyland of “the lights”? The shimmering tinsel? The visit to 'Santa's Grotto',? with its elves and automated animals? The everlasting (well from October to December) Christmas music in the stores? the presents, the tree, the carol singers, the brass band, the food? NO - it's all about: “The babe who against his mothers breast was curled; And those who said “He was to be king of the world, Who would grow and reign in the heart of man, For this was part of God's great plan”. Men, who will tell the world of His birth, For He was sent to redeem the earth.— On a cold winter morn, To a young couple was the child born, Into this world it came, A boy, Jesus was his name.” “It's good in troubled times to share The tranquility of that espoused pair - May their joy in your homes abide As you celebrate this Christmastide; With love and blessings untold for The Christ of Christmas is worth Far more than gold... The message of love is as meaningful now as it was on that long-ago night when shepherds followed the light of a star to the stable in Bethlehem. God gave us this child for our encouragement and to teach us the way to fulfi lment of life and hope for eternity. She...laid him in a manger. Luke 2 : 7. He was a baby, he became an adolescent and grew to be a young adult. He wasn't a ready made prophet, but he was and is The Christ of Christmas. May God Bless You...
Source: Focus, December 2009
When the seasons change - cold winds, damp days, frosts and mists herald the thoughts that winter is almost upon us. The witches, devils and other mischief-making beings have put away their broom sticks for another year; bonfires are now built - waiting for the starlit (hopefully) evening of fireworks and fun; the last? of the bar-b-q, foods planned - hot soup and jacket potatoes; hats, scarves and mittens, brought out to wear, - and the 'Guy' is ready to be burned. Change will either bless you or crush you, but which ever way it will be part of your life; accept it Solomon says there's a “time to every purpose under the heaven”. Ecc.3:1. Find God's purpose for the season you're in; rediscover your assets and use them. No two days are ever the same; they weren't meant to be. You will always be needed; it's just that the areas of need will change. As we get older we find that we are unable to do physically the things which even two or three years ago we did with little or no thought. Change creeps up on us. So often we allow powers to lie dormant, when with a little encouragement, they could flower and show newness of life. An example:- Take a few dead looking twigs from the forsythia bush (most of us have one growing in our gardens) place them into a vase with water in it, then watch. Soon you will see the little buds fill out and open into golden flowers, then in turn will come small green leaves.
Leave them for a while and you will find that the twigs have grown roots!
You can cultivate prayer that way - water it with faith, warm it with the love within you for others, then it will grow. Try it - it will make for change.
There are not many things in this life that we can be certain of, but one of them is God's love - that is unconditional, it remains the same always.
Solomon acknowledged the cycles in our lives; God controls the cycles in our lives. Whatever our situation is today, we can be thankful for God's seasons.
“Just as the winter turns to spring,
Our lives have changing seasons too;
So when a gloomy forecast comes,
Remember - God has plans for you.”
Source: Focus, November 2009
"If we care to think back over the years Where ever have they all gone? Whether one is old or middle aged Time is the same for every one. A year to a month, and then to a week Tomorrow will soon be today, Time is a mystery we can't understand As it flies so swiftly away."
So soon this year is halfway gone! Do you ever watch the Time Team on television? As the archaeologists dig and probe into the past, studying the material remains of peoples of long ago. I thought of them as I entered the cathedral at St.Albans City. It stands proud, towering into the sky, and I wondered about all of the artisans who had worked there in centuries past to make that marvellous church a place that spoke of God. Although no human voice at that time was raised to proclaim the faith, everything around me spoke of His glory.
This place had for hundreds of years seen people come and go; once it shone with newness, now it showed grandeur. Steps were worn, grooved and shallow in places, where pilgrims and tourists had visited throughout the years of its history. The sun shone through the myriad pieces of stained glass in the lovely windows, casting coloured patterns upon the floor. As I sat for a moment of meditation I became aware of other examples of small, beautiful aspects to delight the eye; crosses, crowns, flowers, worked in wool, the tapestry of the kneeling cushions, for use in times of prayer.
The majesty of my surroundings made me feel very insignificant for a time, until I remembered that however many other Christians are "talking" to God, I know that He can hear my words.
1 Peter 3 : 12. "The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers."
Yes prayer is a conversation with God, so when you fold your hands together this is a rough guide to praying...
The thumb is nearest to you - begin by praying for those you love.
The index finger is the pointer - pray for those who teach.
The next finger is the tallest - pray for those in authority over you.
The fourth finger is the weakest - pray for those in trouble.
Then comes the little finger - It reminds us of our smallness in relation to God's greatness - ask Him to supply your needs.
Just talk, He wants to hear; you can pray wherever you are:-
"You don't need to make a fuss, When you need to pray, You don't stand on ceremony, In any way. You just talk to Him As you would a friend, With only one difference, Amen at the end."
Source: Focus, June 2009
"March winds and April showers, bring forth May flowers."
"Cast not a clout 'till May be out."
"There are twelve months in all the year, as I hear many men say, But thy merriest month in all the year, is the merry month of May".
"Let no man boast himself that he has got through the perils of winter 'till at least the 7th of May."
"Green are the thoughts of youth and gardeners fingers;
Green is the happy memory that lingers;
Green is the weed grown seas unfathomed deep,
Green is the tropic jungles sweltered heat;
but greenest of all, though Englishmen Complain,
Is England's Springtime, grown from England's rain".
"Among the many buds proclaiming May, decking the fields in holiday array, Striving who shall surpass in braverie, Marke the faire flowering of the hawthorn tree, who finely clothed in a robe of white, fills full the wanton eye with May's delight."
To me May is not only a spring month - it is the herald of summer. That long awaited time when hedgerows are a living green as new life flows into our countryside. The woods hive carpets of anemones and wood sorrel, and the bluebells reflect the skies.
Bird song abounds, the buzz of bees and other insects can be heard. Nature is a timeless inspiration to artists, poets and composers. The artist can create a visual interpretation of his surroundings. The poet conjures a picture in rhyme. The composer notates his feelings in the sounds carried on the air.
Just think what a wonderful God we have who can create all of these things. Paul Gerhardt lived in the 17th century and wrote more than 100 hymns; one of them, "Holy Spirit, Scource of Gladness" contains these lines -
"Let that love which knows no measure
Now in quickening showers descend,
Bringing us the richest treasures
Man can wish or God can send".
A flower is a thing of lovliness. It contains sweet nectar, it gives forth a pleasing aroma; but its beauty and lifetime is very brief; the beauties of nature inspire and fill us with wonder, our world is full of things that bring us joy and pleasure, but true fulfillment only comes when Christ we love and treasure. Psalm: 103: 15-16-17. says,:
"As for us, our life is like grass, We grow and flourish like a wild flower; then the wind blows on it, and it is gone - no-one sees it again. But for those who honour the Lord, his love lasts forever."
Dostoyevsky wrote a book entitled "The Brothers Karamazov", it contained this passage. "Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things."
Source: Focus, May 2009
A holiday? - a time for celebration? New life- the birth of Spring? Is it a time for solemn reflection on Jesus' death? Or joy because of His resurrection. It is all of these things.--
The name of Easter is derived from the name of an Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn.
In the early days, bonfires were lit on the tops of hills on Easter Eve to celebrate the arrival of spring. Coloured eggs represent the sunlight of springtime. They are believed to have been introduced into Europe during the Crusades, but through the Lenten season of forty days, no eggs were eaten; so they were very much enjoyed on Easter Sunday. Myths from some ancient cultures state that the universe originated from inside an egg.
The children (and adults) in our days prefer chocolate eggs; along with the Easter bunny and chicks, they are the symbols of new life and fertility. We have family gatherings; eat meals together. We have special foods, the most popular being the hot cross-buns.
A new cycle of life is beginning - nature has received the signal, trees and plants dormant through the winter months have now the energy to break forth. Spring, the season of a million miracles is upon us. We too seem to wake up from a kind of hibernation. We begin to be more mobile, we want to tend the garden, or go for a walk.
We want to renew our faith at this most important festival of Easter.
The Easter lily is white and the symbol of the Resurrection - the daffodil carries a star at the base of the flower to remind us of the Star of Bethlehem, it carries a trumpet to declare that Christ has risen from the dead; and the long green leaves supporting it represent the Sword of the Spirit.
So Spring is here --'O Lord how excellent is thy name in all the earth' Psalm 8:1, the season when every Christian needs to find a place of renewal.
Look into our hearts, deepen ant develop ourselves. The cross means many things to many people - to some it is just an ornament to wear around the neck, or attach to a lapel.
To those who love the Lord it is a reminder of that dark day of long ago; the agony that was beyond our comprehension, the horror that surrounded the death of Jesus. It is also a reminder that at the resurrection our Lord left the cross and pointed our way to heaven. He gives us quietness, hope, faith, and peace. So that we know as we grow older we will feel the glow of the love of God warming our very souls.
“Even to your old age I will be the same: when you are grey haired I will sustain you.” Isaiah 46 : 4. Moffatt.
Source: Focus, April 2009
Candlemas; the feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary, is held on February 2nd. In the cold of the winter days Psalm 24 is sung, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.”
Who is the King of Glory ? Why Mary's child, Jesus! He was presented, as was every month old child, to the priest, when his mother went to church to be declared “clean” after giving birth.
For centuries in this country it was called the Purification; to give thanks to God for having given birth safely at a time when to have a child could be a near death experience for many women.
The New Year, like Jesus, is already a month old - we are growing older, we carry within us all kinds of experiences, so ideally, we should be mature. Our characters have been formed by what we have thought and done in the past.
The year 2009 will grow up and grow old in just twelve months, Spring flowers will bloom, harvests will be gathered before another winter comes, and the year dies.
Probably nothing very outstanding will happen to us, the horrors of the world's problems will be restricted to our television screens; as each day dawns our turbulence will be as confined as our activity allows.
Growing older can mean growing in grace and fruitfulness, becoming more mellow, less critical of others, less impatient; and as our physical strength abates, and health deteriorates, and our memory is not as sharp as it once was, we must not despair but make sure that every day can be a new beginning.
Advice from Patience Strong -
“Have something to show for the winter.
Don't sit between supper and bedcontented
with mere entertainment.
Do something constructive instead.
Create something useful or lovely,
employing your hands and your brain -
or study and set yourself lessons,
new regions of knowledge to gain -
Those hours of long winter evenings
much pleasure and profit can bring.
Do something to prove you've not wasted
the months between Christmas and spring...
What will this year bring ? Hardship, trials and tribulation ? yes for some no doubt.
Adversity is a way that God uses to produce good results. Trouble, if it turns us to the Lord, could be good for us. We have become complacent, and too, used to the good life. Romans 5 : 3-4.
Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character hope. Jesus' life on earth was short but He lived it to the maximum. Do you likewise. Walk by faith, then each day will be a challenge, live your life fully, our time is fleeting too.
Who knows, no-one but God, what 2009 will bring.
Forgive us Lord, for failures past,
Then help us start anew
With strength and courage to obey
And closely follow You.
Source: Focus, February 2009
"GONE FISHIN' - INSTEAD OF JUST A-MISSIN'."
Do you remember those halcyon days when armed with a jam jar and fishing net, you took off to the nearest pond or stream to fish for minnows or sticklebacks, or newts; or maybe to collect frogspawn to make a pond of your own in an old washing-up bowl.?
I was so reminded of those days as I walked along the canal bank at Leighton Buzzard and saw today's fishermen. They had large umbrellas, to ward off rain or sun - little seats to sit upon - keep nets for their catch - boxes and cans full of bait - not for them a worm or two from the garden - and the rods - of differing size and weight, with elaborate hand made flies.
How different from mine; a bean stick, with a bag on the end, made from an old net curtain. Yet the excitement of the catch was equal in both cases.
Some while ago I visited Israel, and went on board a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee and watched the fishermen throw the huge nets into the water;- they still used the same technique as did the fishers of Jesus' time. The methods used were either the casting net or the drag net - though some were caught by the fishing hook. (Matt. 17 : 27)
Fish, called dag, in Hebrew, abounded,in the lakes in the valley of the Jordan. So no doubt the Hebrews were familiar with many species, although no fish are mentioned in either the old or the new testament by name.
It was from the fishing industry that Jesus called his first disciples; Simon, (called Peter), Andrew, James and John, - it was in a fishing boat that He rebuked the wind and waves. He fed the multitudes, twice, with fish and bread. Tribute money was found in the mouth of a fish; and He ate broiled fish with the disciples after his resurrection. He told the disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat after a fruitless night of fishing - they did, and caught so many fish that they couldn't pull it in!
When he called to Simon and Andrew as he walked on the shore of Galilee, he saw that they were fishers and said "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men". We are still called to serve Jesus, even today; if we accept him as our Lord and Saviour we have hope for our future.
"Those first disciples heard and trusted God's word - If we believed as they believed, great grace would hallow every deed."
Now where's my purse - for I think 'twill be cod and chips for tea!!
Harvest Festival...October 5th. 11am.
Thanksgiving Praise Meeting Supper and sale of produce October 6th, 6pm.
Source: Focus, October 2008
The Salvation Army in Eaton Bray is welcoming new leaders this month. Captains Ray Charlton and Linda Charlton have arrived to take over the Salvation Army's work at the Salvation Army Corps (Church) in Booth Place. Captains Ray and Linda have spent the last four years as leaders in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and have a particular interest in working with people in and around the community. They became Salvation Army officers (ministers) in London after studying and working as cadets for two years at The William Booth College. The couple married in 1976 and have two daughters.
The Captains said: "We have been warmly welcomed at the church and we hope to meet and work alongside other churches in the Eaton Bray area. We believe The Salvation Army still has a place here in Eaton Bray to care for the community, and we are there for anyone who is in need, no matter what denomination or faith. The Salvation Army is not just a charity, we are a church which aims to promote the name of Jesus Christ to the community. We have found the people we have met so far in the village very friendly and we hope that we and the local Salvationists at Eaton Bray will have a long and lasting relationship within the area for many years to come."
Sunday worship takes place at The Salvation Army hall in Booth place at 11 am to which everyone is welcome. There are many weekly activities including coffee mornings on Tuesday once a fortnight, a Fellowship meeting each Wednesday at 2.30pm and Mothers and Toddlers every Thursday Morning starting again in September. There is something for everyone and a warm welcome is guaranteed.
Source: Salvation Army
The motorway was crowded with cars, vehicles were moving, but at a snail's pace.
Bumper to bumper, the lines of cars stretched as far as the eye could see. Stopping, then starting again, we edged forward. This really shouldn't happen - four lane motorways were built to keep traffic moving.
What was the cause? - yet another accident - careless driving - too much lane dodging - someone, tired at the wheel, fell asleep? Whatever it was, it certainly caused consternation. Before long, police cars and ambulances forced their way through the traffic. All was now at a standstill. !! Later in the day we heard on the radio, that several people had been injured - three had died.
As we travel on life's journey we would do well to be aware of the pitfalls that might befall us - swerving from lane to lane, doesn't mean that our destination will be reached more quickly. It is possible that because of poor judgement we could endanger the lives of others. Even the possibility that we are on the wrong road could cause us to veer across the path of other drivers.
What a tragedy it would be if our journey were cut short and we hadn't made the decision to follow the path of righteousness.
Not all roads are pleasant to travel on, some of the minor roads are quite bumpy, full of pot holes, quite dangerous in fact, We sometimes have to resort to map reading or 'sat-nav' to find our way - but the road of life has been smoothed for us, because of the one guide who has gone before us and prepared the way, His name is Jesus.
Remember when you make your journey to take along with you the guide line that you really need - your bible.
Many years ago, during the middle 1700's, a young medical student took up open-air preaching. His name was William Williams; for almost half a century his journeys took him over the mountains, roads and tracks of Wales, averaging some 3,000 miles a year.
In those days he rode on horseback or walked; not for him the comfort of a car. Whilst travelling he managed, not only to preach the gospel but to write some 800 hymns, the greatest being, I think;
"Guide me, 0 thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand:
Bread of heaven,
Feed me till I want no more...
Next time you are caught in a traffic jam, think of him, and try singing the words!
On Sunday August 3rd.; the morning service at 11am. will see us saying farewell to Lt.Cols. Brian and Dorothy Knightley who are retiring from service (again !!); we wish them a long, happy and healthy time together.
On the 10th of August at 11am. we will extend a warm welcome to the newly appointed officers, Captains Ray and Linda Charlton.
May their time with us be well blessed.
Source: Focus, July 2008
* Nobody knows the trouble I'm in, Nobody knows at all...*
Well, I think the line of the Negro Spiritual goes something like that. Where do you turn when in trouble ?
Some people hit the bottle; they turn to drink in the hope that they may find a way of drowning their troubles. Others turn to some other drug in the vain hope that the magic potion will bring them peace. They escape - but only for a short time; the problem doesn't go away. All that happens is that the power to deal with it has diminished.
Some turn to other, stronger people; that's good, for there they may find solutions to help them. Some turn to the Church - and why not ? After all one of the functions of the Church is to comfort people in trouble, to help them to find peace of mind.
Well, where should I turn ? Where do you turn ?
Psalm 121 Good News Bible begins,
"I look to the mountains, where will my help come from ?
My help will come from the Lord, who made heaven and earth."
The writer of the Psalm asks the question, and then answers his own question. The hills tell us something about God - they have been there as long as anyone can remember.
Geologists say millions of years. God has been 'there' for even longer than that!!
Hills have a solid permanence, they are not here today and gone tomorrow. Neither is God. He never changes. So when trouble troubles you, look to the hills, press on to the summit, find the way, ask, pray.
Psalm 120 : 1 says; "When I was in trouble I called to the Lord, and He answered me.
Church or Chapel, Cathedral or Abbey, in a garden, or on a hilltop, it does not matter; what does matter is that you acknowledge your deep need of God; intuition tells you that there is a God, and that with His help you can be forgiven, restored and healed.
Remember the old saying, "A trouble shared, is a trouble halved."
Follow your instinct and you will come to a God who is the source of all goodness, truth and joy.
"There's always another tomorrow,
However dark the day.
There's always an end to sorrow,
Time wipes your tears away.
There's always a reason for living,
Though sad your heart may be.
There's always another horizon
Beyond the one you see."
Charles Wesley wrote,
Help us to help each other Lord,
each other's cross to bear;
let each his friendly aid afford,
and feel his brother's care...
Source: Focus, June 2008
Who would want to be a woman working in the home?
Step out of bed, and the day starts, you slave away; - washing, ironing, dusting, polishing, hoovering, cooking, and for what ? Hungry for appreciation, yet nobody notices anything you've done!! In between these chores you tend the garden, do the shopping, a little mending, write the letters, birthday cards etc. arrange flowers, put out the rubbish, clean the bins, sweep the paths, disinfect the drains,... need I go on?... The old saying "A woman's work is never done", is so true. Home come the family? books, boots, coats, just dropped - the cry - "Anything to eat", rings out. Next it's the turn of the briefcase and newspaper - "What a day, I'm so tired, - I could murder a cup of tea," echoes through to the kitchen, followed by "What time's dinner?"
At school you receive gold stars, a. "Well done", from your tutor, at work in the office, another step up the ladder, or perhaps a rise in salary comes your way. But what about the housewife? Within a few minutes the labours of her day are by-passed. When was the last time someone said, "house looks nice Mum", or "like the flower arrangement", or even "that was scrumptious" after dinner. A quick hug, a kiss, someone saying "love you Mum" can make such a difference if your day has been hard too.
It takes strength to work and labour without any recognition. Human beings need love, care and protection; Christian families are bound by these ties; so although the stresses and strains of life might bring about the temptation to go on strike, or at least run away from it all, because we know that our work is primarily a God given task, we know our responsibilities will be rewarded by Him if we are faithful. Psalm 55:22. says 'Cast thy burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you'.
It's not really so bad is it? After all we can stop and have a rest and a "cuppa" whenever we want to. Sit and see a bit of tele' when our back aches - and knowing that tomorrow we have a little retail therapy to look forward to does wonders for our moral.
'As thy day so shall thy strength be'. The Master told us to take up our cross daily - just call me Martha.!! Patience Strong wrote:
"Don't withhold the word of praise, it may spur someone on -
Just at the moment when they think everything has gone -
A word of praise for work well done, may seem a trifling thing,
But from it - someday, something good and wonderful may spring.
There's always a word that we can say,
To lift their eyes above the seeming darkness of the day
And so renew their confidence to make another start,
And do the job before them with a brave and happy heart..."
Paul wrote to the Philippians, Ch. 4 " 12 & 13:
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. (I wish he'd let me in on it ! )
But the end of the verse puts everything in perspective for it says;
can do anything through him who gives me strength."
Source: Focus, May 2008
Tuesday is market day - I love to see the stalls all laid up with fruit and vegetables - but the traders of today don't like to see you touch their wares. Years ago barrowboys used to shout, "If you don't want the goods, don't muck. 'em about." This was often addressed to a really thrifty shopper who would pick up and examine everything really carefully before deciding on making a purchase. No bruised or blemished fruit for her, nothing from the back of the stall, and it had to be weighed before being placed in the bag. She took no notice of the signs saying "Don't touch me til I'm yours."
There are times when touching is appropriate, and times when it isn't. A hand on the shoulder may seem a very little thing but it can mean so much, or to hold the hand of someone who is really ill. It is a comfort to that person to know that someone is physically present and that they are not alone in whatever it is that they are facing. They may not be able to speak but just a squeeze of the hand can say far more than words. Words are sometimes very limiting. The gentle touch speaks volumes.
However there are people who cannot bear being touched, and we must respect their feelings. Is it I wonder because for some reason we British are too reserved? Perhaps that reserve is beginning to break down, for many people now greet one another with a hug or a kiss, instead of the rather nervous handshake of years ago; so maybe we are becoming less restrained.
Mary Magdalene was one of the 'touchers'. She was the first one to see Jesus after He had risen from the dead on Easter morning - she thought He was a gardener until He called her by name. Straight away she reached out for Him, but He said, "No". Instead He told her to go and tell the disciples that she had seen the risen Lord. Now hard that must have been for Mary not to have touched Jesus, and how hard it must have been for Him to forbid her. Then there was Thomas, he couldn't believe what the disciples said to him.. That is until a week later when Jesus appeared and said, "Put your finger here, and look at my hands; stretch out your hand and touch my side." (John 20:27).
Jesus knew the great value of touch and through this power helped and cured many people. If you are someone who puts God on the margins of your life try letting Him touch you, it won't be easy, but it will be so rewarding...
"And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole." Matthew 14: 36.
When we part company with friends or acquaintances we often say "keep in touch." - I believe that there are some people who have a special awareness; who seem to be "in touch" with the whole of God's world. They have a kind of sensitivity that enables them to approach life in a different way; - I keep 'in touch' with God through prayer, that way I can seek His guidance.
Just think of all the people you will meet as you go about your business today. How will meeting you touch their lives?? Perhaps they will need a helping hand, or a listening ear, maybe you will bring laughter into their day; use that God given gift, reach out and touch a hurting world with the love of God.
Source: Focus, April 2008
Christmas, with holly, ivy and mistletoe, winter's evergreens.
What though we rove the woods no more
Should we not still be gay.
When winter hoar, has leaves in store That never fade away.? "
Holly was sacred to Saturn - thanks to its distinctive appearance the Church was able to eradicate the pagan beliefs and give the holly a new symbolism; the spiked leaves representing the crown of thorns, the berries, Christ's blood. Ivy was dedicated to the god Bacchus; he is usually depicted wearing a crown of ivy and carrying a staff entwined with it. Ivy was believed to ward of drunkenness. Mistletoe is held by Druids in great reverence; they esteem it as a gift sent from heaven, and hold the tree on which it is found as sacred.
"Then let us all each other aid,
Where friendships wreath is seen,
'Tis never made of flowers that fade
But of the evergreen."
Christmas box, Christmas card, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Christmas pudding, Christmas rose, Christmas tree; a young conifer, decorated with baubles and lights. The custom was a Medieval German tradition, but is now practised in many Western countries. The tree most commonly used is the Norway Spruce.
So cometh that busy time of year we call CHRISTMAS.........
I thought of Christmas and the nativity,
Of promised joy, families and festivity,
Bells ringing from church spire,
The smell of pine from an open fire.
I thought of Jack Frost and icy tableaux,
Of misty breath, and blue winter shadows,
Of moonlight and starshine,
Of black velvet nights and cold winds whine.
I thought of ivy and mistletoe, and tall fir trees;
And of men and women upon their knees
Whispering a prayer of hope
That crabbed mankind on earth might cope.
I thought of presents, gifts to delight,
Of feasting, of crackers, of candlelight;
Of carols and choirs singing;
Of angels through heaven winging.
I thought of Santa, and children, trying to sleep,
I thought of shepherds herding sheep.
I thought of a donkey heavily laden,
That beast of burden, carrying a maiden.
I thought of Mary. and Joseph, awaiting a 'stranger';
I thought then of the baby, lying in a manger.
That tiny babe born in a stall;
At His feet, wise men did fall,
For He was the gift of God's own Son,
Emmanuel, Prince of Peace, Blessed One.
He came to earth for our salvation,
Sing songs to Him of exultation.
The Saviour who was once a child
Walked this earth all undefiled.
I thought then how once again
He soon will come as king to reign,
So let us now our homage pay,
And look forward to that glorious day......
May you all be blessed this Christmastime and may the New Year bring health and happiness to each one.
Soon 'twill be Spring......
Source: Focus - December/January 2008
Where have all the flowers gone?
Weedkillers taken everyone.
Where have the butterflies gone?
Insecticide killed them everyone.
Where have all the fish gone?
Deep sea trawling caught each one.
Where are the whales? The dolphins at play?
Why, margerine and zoo exhibits took them away.
Animals and birds of the air,?
We took their lives for clothes to wear.
Forests burnt, or in decline,
Habitats, gone for all of time.
No more are lakes and streams
Filled with water, crystal clear,
For effluents from factories
Are dumped, haphazardly here.
Was the serpent part of God's plan,
When it tempted Eve,
And showed her the evil heart of man.?
Murder, and drugs, the way of today,
Man killing man, pain and scars
That will never go away.
Once, long ago, this earth was fair,
'Twas man brought about the wear and tear.
It must be stopped, before it's to late;
Before man himself suffers our sad earth's fate.
This world was entrusted to our carev That its beauty all could share;
Our inheritance, this Eden,
All that we hold dear
Causes me to shed a tear,
You and I can ease the worlds pain
If on our lifes journey we would learn
How to show our love and how to feel concern.
Pollution is all about us...we all know it....
In cities across the world people are wearing face masks against the fumes from vehicle exhausts. We have dirty, trash littered streets, acid rain, global warming, polar ice caps are melting. Deserts are growing ! - vegetation isn't. We are slowly destroying the world in which we live.
God made this world, He entrusted it to our care. He said it was "Very good". Ask yourself is it so good now ?. The Bible says "The earth is defiled by its people". God says "Do not defile the land where you live" and yet we continue in our selfish ways. We pollute not only the land but ourselves as well, for however small a sin is, it damages our hearts, and because of this, the sense of turmoil that we often experience can lead to destruction. God sent Jesus to die for us that we might be cleansed and forgiven of our sins. - surely then we must all become more caring, more loving, more vigilant, for then we will be aware of our surroundings, ourselves, and the damage we do daily. Pollution - think to yourself "How can I help to effect a cure" - then act upon it.....
"If my people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Source: Focus, November 2007
Harvest time.... Genesis 8:22.
'As long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest'.
Harvest, the season for the gathering of grain and fruits. In Canaan, it all began on the 16th day of Abib,(or April, seasons being different in the East). A handful of ripe ears of corn was offered as a first fruit before the Lord, and immediately after this the harvest commenced. It began with the feast of the Passover and ended with Pentecost, thus lasting for seven weeks.
The Egyptians excelled in agriculture, and after the Israelites entered the promised land, they too became quite remarkable in the development of this type of work. Wheat, figs, pomegranates, grapes and olives all produced abundantly. However, the whole land was 'rested' every seventh year, when all agricultural labour would entirely cease.
It was the custom in those days for a passer by to be at liberty to eat any amount of corn, grapes etc. but he was not permitted to carry any away with him. The poor were able to claim the corners of the fields and the gleanings. A forgotten sheaf in a field was also to be left for the poor.
"Toiling through the seasons
In the sunshine and the rain,
Zealous sowing with compassion
Yields a wealth of golden grain."
Canaan was the land of plenty. There God said His people would,"Eat food without shortage and lack nothing"....Deut. 8:9.
We are such a fortunate people here in this land, for this also is a land of plenty, and very few of us ever go hungry to bed, or thirst because the well has run dry.
Many people nowadays forget the meaning of harvest, the nearest they come to it is in the purchasing of an organic loaf! Harvest Festival is not just a quaint custom of the church, it is a time to recognise what sustains the body and the symbols of what feeds the spirit.
The origin of the word harvest is obscure, we come closest to it when we say we 'crop what was rooted'. Poets call this root-cropping sequence an everlasting circle. Moses called it 'the pilgrim feast of ingathering'.
Think on this then, Harvest Festival has to be a double celebration, of field crops and of ourselves; praising God for His bounty; God's love creates all things, He works within us, just as He does in the nature of the countryside.....
Source: Focus, October 2007
Wafting across my garden came the pungent smells of a Bar-B-Q. !! It was such a lovely day, blue skies,warm sunshine, just the hum of bees, the songs of birds and the scent of flowers, a day for me to contemplate my allotted plot; a day to commune with nature and my God; - but it was spoiled for me by the intrusive smell of burnt fats and meat...
So then I retired to the inner sanctum of my lounge; where I started to mull over times gone-by. Afternoon tea on the lawn with bread and butter, strawberry jam, and a homemade fruit cake. A picnic with salmon and shrimp paste, or sometimes bloater paste sandwiches, with mustard and cress or water cress added; perhaps even finger rolls with cheese and pickle, and tomato wedges, madeira cake and swiss roll. Flasks of tea and bottles of homemade lemonade; and very important, the Box Brownie, for the family photograph. We all carried something and set off for a spot by the river or a place under the trees in the orchard. Happy days, a time of innocence and simplicity, days when fields were still ploughed by ploughmen, when you paid for your groceries with shillings and ha'pennies, and when no motor traffic noise was heard; when we could gather bunches of wild flowers and take them home to be placed in a jam jar on the kitchen window sill.
I thought of that wonderful picnic that Jesus held, when He fed five thousand with loaves and fishes. Matthew 14:13-21.
One of the joys of getting old is that we can look back a long way. Sometimes the Senior years are viewed as a pleasantly useless era - when we just claim benefits, senior citizen discounts, have lots of free time and do very little. On the other-hand we can be useful - for God still has much for us to do - we may be prone to illness and weakness,even confined to our homes, but we can still PRAY. However infirm, this is a benefit we can offer, and we can become a godly example to others.
"When I am old and greyheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare strength to this generation." Psalm 71: 18.
"The older saints who trust God's word,
Have trod the paths that you will walk;
They've fought the battles you will fight -
There's truth and wisdom in their talk."
Then I thought time for tea - I could just go for one of those burnt sausages and a dollop of mustard !!!
"Some tempestuous morn in early June
When the year's primal burst of bloom is o'er.
Before the roses and the longest day -
When garden-walks and all the grassy floor
With blossoms red and white of fallen May
And chestnut flowers are strewn -
So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry,
From the wet field, through vex't garden-trees;
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze:
The bloom is gone, and with the bloom go I!
Matthew Arnold. 'Thyrsis'.
Source: Focus, June 2007
"Sing ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song
And let young lambs bound as to the tabor's sound
We in thought will join your throng
Ye that pipe and ye that play
Ye that through your hearts today
Feel the gladness of the May."
Rogation Days are the three days preceding Ascension Day. Ascension Day commemorates the visible rising of Jesus Christ to heaven; and they all occur in this month; 17th - 18th - 19th and Sunday 20th of May.
On rogation days the Roman Catholic Church sung or recited special litanies, to invoke a blessing on the years growing crops; some church's congregations would undertake a farm walk, with the Clergy blessing the fields and animals as they went.
Rogation: The farmer and his workers did "farm walking" every day, summer and winter. A popular image in the past was of the farmer leaning on a gate staring at his fields, with a faithful dog sitting beside him. The atmosphere sedate and noticeably quiet! But May is an 'outdoor workday' month for those on farms, (apart from milking and sheep shearing); it is said that unless weeds are killed off in May they will never be properly subdued all summer. Grass means that livestock can live outdoors night and day. Growth of everything is rapid at this season of the year, and lighter evenings make for longer working days.
It is good to walk, for then we can commune with all we see. As Christians we walk in the way of the Lord as best we can. Jesus walked; He made the lame to walk; with Him we can walk along in timeless friendship, with the knowledge that He died, but rose again and ascended into heaven there to sit at God's right hand. Psalm 119 v.35; in The New Living Bible states,
"Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found."
"And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England's mountains green ? And was the Holy Lamb of God on England's pleasant pastures seen ? "
William Blake thought it well within the bounds of possibility. When Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead His presence filled the whole world. Set free from the limitations of being a human being, His Spirit pervaded the whole earth from that day to this.
Did He really walk our country's fields and farmland;? it is possible that He did - I would like to believe it, but what really matters is that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is everpresent with us today.......
Source: Focus, May 2007
The Foot of The Cross
I was there at the foot of the cross. I couldn't understand
Why following Him should be banned; I was just a young impressionable youth.
I was still searching for the truth.
Céasar was our living God; but we had many another.
I had come here to visit, the Tribune, my brother.
Jerusalem,.... this place, full of Jews. They talk of a Messiah;
A bringer of 'Good News', A deliverer, a shepherd for His sheep.
This place is so boring - I'm almost asleep!.
I came because a crucifixion meant at last some small measure of excitement.
But now I feel it's time to go home, life's far more entertaining
When I'm in Rome......
I was there at the foot of the cross, I am a Jew,
I had nothing better that day to do; I had to come here for the feast,
Go to the Temple, buy lamb from the priest;
There was a trial, Pilate asked, and sought an answer,
Are you a Lord, Man from Galilee?" Later he said, "Take Him to Herod,
He this farce will oversee". "Kill Him", we cried, "Let Him be crucified".
Me, a goldsmith, I went along with the crowd,and I saw the sad look on Jesus' face
And I knew then that that hill was a sacred place. We killed Him, the Nazarene
Son of God; that man had seen......
I was there at the foot of the cross, I saw his agony, felt the people's loss,
I heard Him call to His Father that day, "Forgive them", he said,
"They know not what they do or say".... The sky was black just as of night,
Lightning, wind, rain, the people took fright. The Temple curtain rent in two.
He called,"Father, I am cometh to You". After that, I too, went on my way,
But I'll not forget what I saw that day; for this was a man, full of love, I'm told,
A carpenter's son, who made so bold as to teach and promise a Spirit from God,
A life everlasting, washed by His blood!..A merchant I am, with spices to sell,
And time truth to tell, is something I cannot afford, to talk of someone who called
Himself, 'The Son of the Lord'.
I was there at the foot of the cross, I saw the soldiers as dice they did toss,
They were gambling for His cloak. He hung and died upon that tree,
To take the sin from you and me. 'Twas to His Father that He spoke;
But I was His MOTHER:...Oh,don't you see, why didn't He say a last word to me?.
My tears, they fell and mingled with His blood, as it ran down the hill,
And mixed with the mud... The heavens were dark, storm filled the air.
Where were His friends? Did they not care? He was my firstborn, my eldest son.
Why did they crucify Him? What had He done? He was so gentle, good and kind,
How could the people be so blind? They tested Him and put Him on trial,
Made Him carry that cross, mile upon mile. They scourged His back with many a whip
And gave Him vinegar, when He asked for water to sip.
They put on His head a crown of thorn, was this really why He was born?
On each of His sides they hung a thief; His life on this earth, had been so brief...
I was there at the foot of the cross; for it's with my mind that I can see.
I know when He died it was for me. That far away day yet very near.
I'm filled with wonder, and yes, sometimes fear; for my faith is not strong,
'Though it is sincere. Today it is to me that He calls. He lifts me when I stumble,
or fall. His presence is always at my side, and it's in His love, that I abide.
Yes, I am here at the foot of the cross, but I am not filled with a sense of loss,
For I know that He will come again,and when He does there will be no pain.
We will laugh and shout, and full of joy we'll sing, for He is coming again,
Coming as King....I am here standing at the foot of the cross, for it is here
Wherever we meet; the foot of the cross, the mercy seat.
The thought of love, its undying ember, I can't forget............ DO YOU REMEMBER...?
Source: Focus, April 2007
Nostalgia......From the fields of memory.....
I spent today with an old friend from my childhood; and our time was taken up with reminiscences from our early days; we then progressed to school days, recalling teachers and friends with whom we had lost touch; and so it was our thoughts travelled on, to work days and weddings, to houses, homes, and children, finally to those we had loved and lost.
"When my back is too old to bend;
When my knees are too old to kneel;
When my hands are too old to tend
And fingers far too old to feel;
When my ears will not hear again
Leaves moving, nor the sound of rain;
When my eyes are too old to see
The apple orchard's ecstasy,
O Memory, stay young with me.!"
The moment we are born into this world we set out on a journey. Sometimes our journey will be exciting, sometimes sad - but hopefully never without purpose.
Jewish people recall their heritage when they keep the feast of the passover, recalling their freedom from slavery, we can read of their journey in the book of Exodus, in the old testament of the bible. Think also of the missionary journeys of Paul, the biggest crisis of his life took place as he was walking to Damascus from Jerusalem. It happened when the Saviour appeared to him. "Who art thou, Lord" he said; the answer came, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."
This was the moment of Paul's conversion to Christianity. The whole purpose of his life was now permanently changed. Acts.9. 1-31.
I believe that life is not just a series of accidents. God is in control. Often it takes times of tragedy to remind us what really matters in life. We tend to grow overly concerned with the non essential, unimportant things, but when life is reduced to the essentials it is then we recall that life itself is enough reason to praise God. He intends that we joyfully take each season as it comes. Whatever our age, He imparts what we need to be all that we can be. His presence can make each step along the way one of strength and beauty.
"When we cannot see our way,
Let us trust and still obey;
He who bids us forward go,
Cannot fail the way to show."
Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal
We extend our grateful thanks to all who gave so willingly to help us to raise the £3,600 collected in this area, all of which goes to support the 'Army's social work in the U.K. Thank you, too, all those people who gave their time to go door to door collecting, we could not do it without you.
Source: Focus, November 2006
Where is the village we once knew?
Cottages, long since demolished, shops that once we patronised, vanished forever in the dust of time. Orchards, trees, gone now, felled in the cause of progress. Fields that were once massed with cowslips in spring and meadows where once we gathered 'quaker' grass. Farms have gone - places of trade, crafts and skills. The blacksmith, the wheelwright, the carpenter, the cobbler, the baker, the corn mill.
Such is progress; mechanisation has taken over, the harvest is gathered 'quickly' in, enormous machines clear the fields and in no time at all the ploughs are turning up the stubble ready for the next round of cultivation; but of one thing we can be certain, and that is God's promise that each season will come in it's turn, and we will celebrate that feeling of fulfilment with praise and thanksgiving as we sing...
'This is the field, the world below,
In which the sower, came to sow;
Jesus, the wheat, Satan, the tares;
For so the word of God declares.'
So the year rolls on and Autumn is come upon us - whether you are seventeen or seventy, you do not grow old by living a number of years. People grow old because they desert their ideals. Years give you wrinkles but to give up the enthusiasm for life wrinkles your soul.
"You are as young as your faith,
As old as your doubt,
As young as, your self-confidence,
As old as your fear;
As young as your hope,
As old as your despair."
Whatever the season is that you reader are in - try to see the beauty of each day around you - and if like me you like to look back on the old characters and the old village scenes, just remember that we each have our part to play in making today's history.
"Is anybody happier because you passed his way?
Does anyone remember that you spoke to him today?
The day is almost over, and its toiling time is through;
Is there anyone to utter now a kindly word to you?
Can you say tonight, in parting
With the day that's slipping fast,
That you helped a single brother of the many that you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing over what you did or said;
Does the man whose hopes were fading
Now with courage look ahead?
Did you waste the day or use it? Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness ? Or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber,
Do you think that God will say,
"You have earned one more tomorrow
By the work you did today."
Good News Bible...Ephesians 5: 15-17 & 20.
"So pay close attention to how you live. Don't live like ignorant men, but like wise men. Make good use of every opportunity you get, because these are bad days. Don't be fools then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do. Always give thanks for everything to God the Father, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
We extend a warm welcome to the new officers Lt.Cols. Brian and Dorothy Knightley who will be over-seeing the Corps in Eaton Bray. They have a wealth of experience at their fingertips, Brian holds the Order of the Founder, which is a high accolade in the Salvation Army.
We trust that their stay here will be rewarding, and that the Lord will bless their ministry to us, as we recognise that we are all members of His family. May we also be supportive of them in whatever way we can as they take on this responsibility.
Source: Focus, October 2006