Thursday, 17 December 2015

November Reviewed

The Pattern
So now that December is more than half over, and Christmas Eve is a week away, I think I’ll just catch up with the news from November. 
                In late October and early November I was busy sewing.  In 2013 I made a wall hanging for St. Mary’s Christmas Fayre.  The result was very popular.  Last year I did a painted jars project—which was not nearly as successful.  Plus I had not enjoyed the glass cutting and painting.  I really enjoyed making the banner.  For 2015 I decided to make another wall hanging.  Looking on the internet, I found a colouring page of Mary and Jesus that I liked.  I enlarged it—with the help of a photocopier and tape!  And the end result is this. I will write an instructional blog for the
Finished product
construction of the 2015 Christmas Wall hanging on another day.
                One afternoon in about mid-November “Maverick” rang me.  “I’ve once again disproved the theory of being able to suspend gravity.  It’s nothing major, but I’ve been taken to hospital.”  He went on to explain that the platform he was working on had no safety barriers and the last step he’d taken was onto thin air.  The scrape on his left shin was deep, down to the bone, requiring stitches.  So, I’ve had his company since then.  He also had scrapes and bruises on his arms and torso.  Due to an infection, and an allergic reaction to treatment, he’s been off from work longer than originally anticipated.  He is due to go back on 28th December.

                For my birthday this year, I was given a gift that did not fit into my pierced ears, nor on a finger.  It was just too big.  It is a beautiful object, basic white, and has been longed for over many years.  It arrived the day before my birthday, on 18th November. “Maverick” stretched our budget and bought me a dishwasher.  His best friend, “Jon-David” came over to help with the plumbing, for which I am very grateful.  There is a beautiful rhythm of loading it up during the day, turning it on at night, and unloading it the following morning.  The kitchen always looks tidy now, as the dirty dishes are collecting inside the dishwasher.  We made space for it in the kitchen by moving our condenser dryer into the lounge. 
              St. Mary’s Christmas Fayre was on Saturday, 21st November.  It was lovely to see familiar faces and have an early taste of Christmas.  For some people, coming each year is a tradition.  You can see how beautiful the church was on the day.  I hated seeing the Christmas Decorations coming down afterward. 
On Wednesday, 25th November, which would have been Thanksgiving week for my American friends, I went to see “Chantilly” and family.   I was there for a week.   Maisy went with me—and handled the journey pretty well.  She was a little anxious, but she enjoyed being held in my arms during the train rides, all the way to Wareham and back home. When I walked through the door at “Chantilly’s” home, three-year-old “Man-cub” looked at his mum and said, “I think I need to go to bed!”  It only took a day for him to decide I was okay! 
    On Saturday, 28th November, “Chantilly” took me to the Ladies Pampering day at her church.  I met some lovely ladies there.  The men-folk dressed up in tuxedos served lunch, did the washing up and sat out afternoon tea.  After the lunch we ladies were given the opportunity to enjoy doing crafts together.  I did paper art, and “Chantilly” did her first flower arrangement—which turned out beautifully.  The ministry team at the church set aside time to pray for people and give them prophetic words; I was blessed with words of encouragement to press in for a deeper intimacy with Jesus.
                I returned home on December 1st.  I had hoped to be a little more productive and get my Christmas cards addressed and posted by the first weekend of December.  However, I’m not as organised as I would like to be, and am still working on it. 
                However, I did get the Christmas tree up on the 5th of December.  I’ve also been doing on-line Christmas shopping this year.  The gingerbread houses didn’t get built this year—which disappoints me a bit.  Not only do I enjoy making them, but it means I’ve giving of myself, something made especially for family from my hands and my heart. 
                With that, I’ve pretty much brought you up to speed with us. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,
“Lady Helene”

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Praying at all times...

The Reader:         Merciful Father
Response:            Hear our Prayer

Our Father, You, Who ever loves us, invite us to call you “Abba”, “Daddy”.  We are amazed and humbled by Your grace and mercy.  Through the blood of Your Son we are freed from our sins and called into Your kingdom to be a royal race, and a kingdom of priests.  Our worship continues as our prayers rise before you as sweet smelling incense.

The Reader:         Merciful Father
Response:            Hear our Prayer

The Church: Our Father, we lift to you our church leaders, remembering that they must give account to You for their service.  Help us do our part to encourage them and support them as they faithfully give their time, talents and service to You and to us.  We especially remember our Archbishops—Justin Welby and John Sentamu; our Area Dean, Rod Cosh and our local vicars, Bruce, Colin and Robin. 
We pray for those who remain faithful to You in times of hardship—persecution, living in war zones, living in areas of natural disasters.  Impress upon us that our prayers empower them to endure, persevere and experience joy in the midst of suffering. 
The Reader:         Merciful Father
Response:            Hear our Prayer

Creation, Human Society, The Sovereign, Those in Authority:  Most Merciful Father the nations of the world need leaders who are committed to the good of their people, the equitable and responsible stewardship of their country’s natural resources, and seeking the resolution of conflict with other nations.  By Your Spirit turn their hearts and minds to service of others, instead of grasping for power, glory and personal gain. 
We pray for South Sudan, where the fighting has stopped, but the country needs leaders with vision, determination and strategies to build a strong government and a sound infrastructure.
Also, we pray for Syria, Israel and Palestine.  We pray for miracles in diplomatic communications so that peace will truly come to the Middle East.
We bless our Queen, Elisabeth, the Prime Minister and those who lead this country.  We give You thanks for allowing us to worship freely, without fear of legal action against us. 
The Reader:         Merciful Father
Response:            Hear our Prayer
The Local Community:  We pray for Around Langley Magazine; that many new readers will have their hearts stirred with curiosity about the message of Jesus Christ.  Stir the hearts of many people who have time and talent, leading them  to  get involved with writing, advertising  in, distributing and promoting the Magazine.  We pray for wisdom and grace for those currently involved with the production of it.
The Reader:         Merciful Father
Response:            Hear our Prayer

Those who suffer:  Our hearts and minds are still grappling with the shock of the terrorist attacks in Paris.  We pray for the families who must now walk the journey of grief, learning to adjust to life without their loved one.  We pray for those who were injured, and must rebuild their lives, learning to overcome the trauma.  Lead them to faith in You. 
We bless You Father, because You send Your Word and heal us.  We pray for the lost, the lonely, the sick in body, mind and Spirit. 
Many are burdened with the responsibility of giving care to family members.  In those moments when they feel isolated, overwhelmed, anxious, and weary, reveal Your love.  Send us alongside them to help carry their burden and be the vessel of Your love. 
We remember those in our church family:   Pam and John Sanders, (read list)
The Reader:         Merciful Father
Response:            Hear our Prayer

The communion of saints:  Dearest Father, as we remember those who have fallen asleep in the faith, we give you thanks.  Today many hearts are bruised with grief.  Teach us to be the hands that touch and the ears that hear, providing solace and comfort.  We give you praise for all your faithful children, with whom we rejoice in the communion of saints…See intercession sheet. 

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Preparing for Christmas, waiting for Jesus

This prayer was written for the Family Worship on Sunday, 15th November 2015:

Reader:  Lord, in Your mercy
Response:  Hear our prayer

Our Heavenly Father, thank You for letting us freely come here today to worship you.  Teach us how to make room for you in our minds and hearts every day—through being quiet, reading our Bibles, singing songs to you.  Soon it will be time to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  Help us get ready.

Lord, in Your mercy
Response:  Hear our prayer

We make time to do special things for the people we love.   When we buy gifts, help us remember that Jesus is your gift to us.  When we cook special food, remind us that we can help others by donating to the food bank.   When we are safe and warm in our own beds, remind us to pray for the homeless and refugees.

Lord, in Your mercy
Response:  Hear our prayer

Christmas is a time for hope.  When we are with our families, encourage us to invite the widows, the orphans, and the lonely into our homes.  Just as the inn-keeper found a place for Mary and Joseph, let us find a place in our hearts for the needy and the poor. 

Lord, in Your mercy
Response:  Hear our prayer

We remember that there are people who do not know you.  They may be our friends we play with, the people Mummy and Daddy work with, the people who live next door.  Let our friendship with them show them how much You love them.  Let our words and actions be the way you help them open their hearts to know and love You.  Let this Christmas be the one where the gift they open is their heart to Jesus.

Lord, in Your mercy
Response:  Hear our prayer

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.  

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Sharing Colours

There are times when our vision is limited.  Common imagination probably thinks about blackness inhibiting us from seeing things--a moonless night, an unlit cave, a closed up room with undrawn curtains.  But there can be "white-blindness"--thick, cold, fog seeping with dampness.  Today we could not see across the street, let along down the road.  

These foggy days are usually during season changes.  In spring the ground, still frozen, gives up the moisture as the sun warms the air.  In the Autumn the ground releases the steam as the cold winds and rainsbegin their work, plunging all nature into the descent of winter's freezing sleep.  And both season are beautiful in their own time.

Today, when I took Maisy out before going to church, I was surrounded by leaves dripping with collected moisture.  The fog chilled my face, although the morning was mild.  My eyes feasted on the overnight work of what could have been an army of spiders.  The hegde rows were strung with all sized and shaped spider webs.  They were strung with water-drop jewels, and in three webs I saw a spider in residence.

These spider webs are fascinating as well as beautiful.  I am sure artists, architects and engineers took instruction as well as inspiration from studying the surprisingly solid structures of fine gossimer threads.  

The colours here have been bright, crisp and intense.  I just had to take some photos over the last few weeks and share the pleasure I've experienced with you. 
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,

"Lady Helene"

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Job's Wife

What about Job’s wife?

“And the Lord said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.  So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with loathsome and painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.  And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat down among the ashes.  Then his wife said to him, Do you still hold fast your blameless uprightness? Renounce God and die!” Job 2:6-9

                Over the years, I’ve heard sermons on Job and Job’s comforters.  But I have never heard a sermon on Job’s wife.  She is often given a fleeting mention, almost like a figure in a fiction—someone to move the plot along but isn’t significant in herself. Her name is not provided.

                It is only recently that I’ve given thought to Job’s wife and her words.  Indeed, Job is a difficult story to read.  It starts with a consultation between God and Satan.  I don’t know about you, but I find it abhorrent and chilling to think that God would not only allow one of His children to taste of suffering, but would actually bring him or her to Satan’s attention.  Yet, according to scripture, it happens.  As soon as Satan is given permission to test Job, the terror and tragedy begins. 

·         Bam—all the oxen (1,000) were stolen by the Sabeans and all the servants killed, save the one who escaped to bring the news.
·         Bam—All the donkeys, (500 female) were also stolen by the Sabeans, save the one who escaped to bring the news.
·         Bam—A great lightening storm struck, and burned up all the sheep,(7,000)  and the shepherds, save the one who escaped to bring the news.
·         Bam—The Chaldeans came and stole all the camels (3,000), and all the servants murdered, save the one who escaped to bring the news.
·         Bam—worst of all, a tornado sweeps across the desert, striking the four corners of his eldest son’s house.  In the destruction of the house Job’s seven sons and three daughters are killed,  save the one who escaped to bring the news.

Yet Job does not sin with his mouth.  Actually he says, “Naked came I into this world from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I depart.  The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed (praised and magnified in worship) be the name of the Lord.  In all this Job sinned not nor charged God Foolishly." [Job 1:21-22]

Now, not too long afterward Satan is allowed to touch Job’s body.  The sores on his flesh are described as loathsome and painful, from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 
It is at this point we hear from Job’s wife.  As a woman married to “the greatest of all the men of the East” (Job 1:3), Mrs. Job would have been a woman of authority and great responsibility.  As I ponder her position, I think she must have been gifted with a strong ability to nurture, instruct and organise and administrate.  And as Mrs. Job, all of Job’s losses were her losses.  In one day she is stripped of:
·         Her credibility—Public opinion may have been that if Job has done something wrong to deserve judgement, then surely she would have been an accomplice.  Therefore she deserved to be punished “by the gods” as well.
·         Her security—with no livestock, no flocks, no source of financial resources, how to provide and be provided for was a bleak mystery. 
·         Her children—All ten of them gone in an instant.  To have lost one child would have been gut-wrenching, but all ten is unfathomable.  A major source of joy has been ripped away.
·         Her faith—She has worshipped with Job and the children each time they offered sacrifices, partaking in the purifying rituals to honour God.  If she followed all the rules, how can these disasters, one on top of the other, be happening?  Why have they happened?
·         Her purpose—Everyone and everything that she is accustom to working with, managing and maintaining is no more.  What is she to do with her time?  How does she pick up the pieces and start again?  Especially now that her husband is ill? 

In a back-handed way Job provides a perspective of his wife, while giving her a reminder of who she is. 
Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your blameless uprightness? Renounce God and die’!  But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the impious and foolish women would speak.  What?  Shall we accept [only] good at the hand of God and shall we not accept [also] misfortune and what is of a bad nature?’  In spite of all this, Job did not sin with his lips.”  (Job 2:9-10)

Mrs. Job is expressing the human condition—I hurt, and I want you to know it.  With such a heavy load of grief, despondency is not far away.  I am sure she would have forced herself out of bed in the morning to attend to Job with his terrible physical condition.  It is at this point that I recognise Mrs. Job from the perspective of a care-giver. 

Being a caregiver is taxing physically, emotionally and spiritually.  When dealing with a loved one who has a condition with which strength, stamina and patience are required, exhaustion is a constant battle. 

            I remember an occasion when I was jetlagged, and desperately wanting to sleep; yet I couldn’t.  Mom was restless, monotone groans escaping from her being.  She lie on the bed while I rubbed and rubbed her legs, trying to quieten and comfort her.  And I prayed. 

In the darkness of the room, passing the wee hours, I felt isolated.  I felt the most alone and lonely I have ever felt.  The inability to bring Mom peace, rest and comfort frustrated and flummoxed me.  I wanted to take her discomfort from her, but couldn’t.  I did not want to feel helpless, fruitless and heartbroken.  Yet, there was no escape. 

            In a very real and honest moment, I wanted Mom to know the beauty of death, to be released from this world and be joined with her Saviour, Jesus Christ.  I wanted her to be free to join those who had gone on before—Dad, my grandparents, friends.  Yet, her purpose was unfulfilled and she remained with us.    

            As the caregiver I felt stuck in the malaise of grief; not grieving death but grieving the loss of the healthy, vigorous, even joyous person Mom was previously.  Simultaneously I was waiting to grieve a different sorrow, waiting for the “other shoe to drop” when “Mom-yet not Mom” would indeed finally be gone.   I knew I would cry even more tears. I knew I would miss her—and I still do.  Even so, I was ready to be “Finished.” I know I was not alone.  I know other care givers who have moments when they would rather their family member would find the peace of release from this world. 

            There is guilt that attended these thoughts, and wishes.  As a Christian I wrestled with wanting to love in a Christ-like way, to serve with joy, perseverance and grace while at the same time desiring to walk out the door and not have to face the situation again.  I also felt guilty, because my time of caring for Mom was relatively short compared to my sister’s time.  She was legally and practically Mom’s care-giver.  She bore that responsibility on her own for almost ten years.  I went to help when I could.  I often wondered how she coped so well for so long.  God certainly gave her grace.  I feel I owe her a debt I cannot repay.

            Circumstances overwhelmed Mrs. Job, her jibe at her husband provoked by profound heartbreak and frustration.  I recognise myself in Mrs. Job. 

It is interesting that God brings to task Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite because they spoke wrongly about God.  Yet, God did not criticise or condemn Mrs. Job for her angry words.  Mrs. Job was restored with Job—giving birth to ten more children with Job.  She shared the Lord’s blessing in his latter days, when everything was doubled back to him.

Those are my thoughts about Job’s wife.  She is a soul we can identify with—or at least I do.

Serving Jesus, Author of our faith,

“Lady Helene”