On Sunday August 27th I led worship at Pannal Chapel. We sang, ‘Thou whose almighty word’ before I led the prayers and the Lord’s Prayer. Then there was a dramatised reading based on Exodus 1. 8-2.10 about how the baby Moses was put in the bulrushes. I gave a children’s address, when I was able to tell them I had just heard that my grandson Alexander Stephen had been born in the early hours of that day, although I had not yet met him. He was 5 days late and my daughter Cathy had to have an emergency caesarean. I told them a true story about the arrival of Danae, following an emergency caesarean at 24 weeks in 1991! Diana’s precious daughter was not expected to live and if by some chance Danae should survive, she would most likely be mentally retarded and have cerebral palsy. Diana could not think of that; she was the longed for daughter, a little sister for her son. Danae was so fragile that she could not be touched, so Diana prayed that God would stay close to their precious daughter. Against all odds Danae left hospital 2 months later. In 1996 their perfect little daughter had no signs of mental or physical impairment; she was a feisty young lady with glittering eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. One blistering afternoon in the summer near her home in Irving as she was sitting on her mother’s knee, she asked her mum if she could smell that. Her mother thought it smelt like rain, but Danae shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, ‘No, it smells like Him. It smells like God when you lay your head on His chest.’ Diana’s eyes blurred with tears as those confirmed that their prayers had been answered. When Danae was too sensitive to be touched God was holding her on His chest and it was a loving scene that she remembers so well. In the same way Moses’ mother had prayed that he might be kept safe and he was rescued by the princess and grew up under the protection of the princess. There he was prepared for his later leadership of the people of Israel and with God’s help free them from slavery.
We sang, ‘Father I place into your hands’ before I read Romans 12.1-8 and Matthew 16. 13-20 was read. We sang ‘O Thou, who camest from above’ before I preached.
I asked the question about who I am. I am the daughter of my father and mother and sister of my three sisters and two brothers. At Nottingham University I became a Christian. I gained a degree in German and Biblical Studies, before training to teach at Leeds University. I then became Stephen’s wife and mother of Beth and Cathy and a Methodist Local Preacher. After Stephen became ill I went back to teaching German and French. After Stephen died I became a widow and went back to the Anglican Church St Mark’s Church to rebuild my life. I had a break from preaching and met and fell in love with my second husband Malcolm. I had a breakdown and left teaching and rebuilt my life with Malcolm My roles in life were teacher, wife, mother, local preacher, widow, wife again, clinical coder and summariser at a doctor’s surgery and now a pensioner; recently becoming a granny to Alexander.
Do I really know who I am? I am aware of how I let God down, but at the same time I know he loves me as I am. God loves you too as you are. Paul in Romans reminded us that we are called to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God and not to be shaped by the world we live in. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus until our lives reflect him through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul urged us to recognise our own capabilities and accept ourselves, using the gifts God has given us. I know that serving coffee causes me to struggle; and I get very stressed about cooking for a large number of people. I love baking cakes as that can be done in advance. However I feel called to preach and lead our Bible study group with my beloved and that I am an encourager. I do help with serving coffee if needed but do not feel comfortable doing that. I am learning to pray with Brian, my prayer partner better than I can alone.
Jesus at Caesarea Philippi came to a personal crisis, as he recognised his time left was short, so he asked his disciples who people thought he was. He knew he was not John the Baptist, nor Elijah but Peter recognised him as the Messiah, the son of God. I too see Jesus as the Son of God who came to show us how much God loves us. He never gives up on us, loving and accepting us as we are. Each of us is invited to give our heart to Jesus, our constant companion and guide. How are we to share our faith in Jesus with others? Does knowing Jesus make a difference to our lives so others want to come to know him? We can only serve Jesus if we come daily to speak to him, filling our lives with his love and acceptance through the power of His Holy Spirit.
We sang, ‘For the healing of the nations’ before I led the prayers of intercession. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘May the mind of Christ my Saviour’.