Hello everyone! This morning I had a lovely walk to church, as my passenger was not coming today. It was a bracing chilly morning with some sunshine, which has become more wintry showers this afternoon. The minister talked with the children about the building of Big Ben 150 years ago this May; he even had a painting of it on display. He described how reliable the clock was being wound three times a week, apart from some blips such as when some starlings slowed the clock down as they rested on the second hand! However he was keen to explain about the chimes of Big Ben being based on one of the songs from the Messiah. We sang together these words to the tune of the chimes:
‘All through this hour
Lord be my Guide
That by Thy Power
No foot shall slide.’
Those words say exactly how we need Jesus as our guide every hour as we face the challenges of life. We sang as the opening hymn, ‘Ye Holy angels bright’, which always takes me back to my time at St Peter’s Junior school. We also sang ‘May the mind of Christ my Saviour’ which also shows us how important our walk is with our Lord. The theme of the sermon was denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Jesus. He used two stories to illustrate his point. The first was of Clare in AD 1200, a wealthy young lady, who slipped away in the night from her castle home with her aunt as a chaperone, to see St Francis at his monastery, where she dedicated herself to Christ in a life of service and poverty in a nunnery initially nearby until she found a building, where she could establish her own order of nuns. Her father furious to find she had left sent soldiers to bring her back by force, but when she turned and told them that she had dedicated her life in service to Christ, they were so impressed that they returned empty handed. She stayed the rest of her life at the same nunnery but her wisdom and prayers brought people far and wide to consult with her there. She denied herself the opportunity of living in luxury in the castle or palace, the chance of marriage and children to serve Christ and others through him.
The second story was more contemporary about a young man called Sam, who had a ministry of taking Christian films round the 84 islands on Lake Victoria in Uganda to give everyone an opportunity of meeting with Jesus. He has to battle treacherous conditions on the lake and much opposition too, but he is determined to share the love of Jesus with those who have not yet met him. He too as a young Christian could have had a less demanding life, but he gave up ease and comfort to reach those who needed Jesus love. He had become a Christian and wanted to give others the same opportunities he had had. I think these stories are an encouragement to us, but not everyone is called to such a life. However all who know and love Jesus want others to know his accepting love and forgiveness, so that they might have life in all its fullness.
The final hymn was one of father’s favourites, ‘Let all the world in every corner sing’, and I sang it with joy remembering father’s love of it. It was a challenging and joyful service.
When I returned home I went into the garden for about half an hour to chop up some branches, which had been cut from one of our apple trees earlier and chopped and neatened the shrubs, filling up our garden bin. I would have done more after lunch, but the weather deteriorated into heavy wintry showers, so I decided not to do any more this afternoon. It is good to relax with my beloved this afternoon. He is still struggling and has had to go for another cigarette. I have as yet not had anything I have been told to give up and I am therefore much more fortunate than he is. I do wish I could make life easier for him, as he is very understanding and helpful to me. May God give him comfort and strength at this difficult time; he knows it is not good to smoke but he does find it hard to resist now. This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.