Oh dear! When it comes to technology, I am not very bright. I do have a degree but not in IT.
I have had a computer for about twenty years now and have always been able to use it to ask Google, to receive and send emails, to buy things from Amazon, to book hotels, to do research into family history and for limited word processing. A few years ago, my daughter bought me a tablet which I love and use all the time. I have also used a mobile phone for twenty years but only acquired a smart phone two years ago. So, now I am surrounded by all my devices and my dining room has become an office.
However, for a year now, I have been severely challenged. Who on earth had heard of Zoom a year ago? Not to mention RingCentral meetings and Google Meet. Fear and trepidation whenever I first tried to get onto Zoom. We still have our moments! I also joined Facebook last year which brought with it Messenger which I use to speak to friends and family all the time and can actually see them, too. It can also be used for group meetings which is useful. My main achievement more recently has been to record readings and prayers for our church Zoom services. I do have my limitations though. I am not able to set up and host a Zoom meeting and most embarrassingly, I cannot answer my mobile phone! I also dread having to buy any new appliance albeit washing machine or television. I have also not yet mastered internet banking either. Use of technology – always a challenge!
But, where would we be without all this technology? Isolated. Church services, prayer meetings, PCC meetings and Deanery Synod, courses, home group, seeing friends and family, entertainment, quizzes on Kahoot. I must say also, that I am somewhat relieved not to have to turn out to meetings on cold, wintry evenings or snowy Sunday mornings! So, I shall keep on working to improve my technology and try and overcome my fear!
See you in the chat room!
I was talking to a stranger on my recent walk and told her about the Derbyshire village of Eyam. In the 16th Century the Black Death (Plague) spread about the known world. An infected cloth arrived and brought the plague to the village, with great courage they decided to isolate themselves buying produce at the parish boundary in jars of vinegar.
Over 70% of the village died, but the plague didn’t spread to the surrounding area.
More recently Spanish flu spread across the world (many of our Canadian servicemen war graves died of the flue in service after WW1). So many died across the world. So to Covid – this is NOT the first Plague to attack the world.
How are your hopes at this time? Are you looking down or looking up?
I’m a fan of Sea Shanties. HOLD FAST was often the cry. Keep on course, see it through. Courage through the storm and hope for tomorrow.
So what for today? Our ancestors stood the test. Tomorrow came! Some believed it was the end days, whilst many just thanked God. They saw it through with honour. We follow the rules and isolate as requested, BUT trust our GOD to see us through.
Our task is to HOLD FAST. Fast (strong) to the experts advice. Fast to the protection of all we love. Fast to our God who has promised to walk with us in the dark places and take us out into light and hope. Fast to a Saviour who never fails us.
He has promised to never leave us.
Jesus can still ANY storm.
I was out walking and saw several snowmen melting into the earth. I started thinking of us ( keep reading it’s not miserable!). Snowmen are created with a lot of love. Each one is crafted individually with their own shape and context. They give joy at their “birth” and happy memories when they go. In many ways we are the same. Our Creator takes delight in making us completely individual, (but thankfully without carrot noses!). He creates us in love, and stands back with joy. We are celebrated by our family and friends for the season and then move onwards to our homecoming to join water/mist which is often the image “Water of Life etc”. So I’m celebrating Snowmen. I don’t know when I’ll melt into the earth, but I know my Creator will be there. He will see the joy and love I’ve spread and prepared to dance with me.
Let melting snowmen give you hope.
We moved into our present house in March last year so I spent time in the garden seeing what was growing already and planting bulbs for this Spring. Already there are shoots of irises, crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils and I’m impatient to see them in flower!
Daily I walk around looking at progress: a millimetre here, another shoot there, then a sharp frost checks everything. How long, I wonder, will I have to wait.
But I’m not the only one waiting, there are the bees and the insects too and, one day, the sun will feel warm again, the grip of winter will relax, and the flowers will bloom for their insect visitors and for me.
The pandemic has locked in our lives like that sharp frost and we may feel that we’re going nowhere at the moment. But there is growth, a spreading of roots underground in different directions – it may be in technology, in learning how to do things differently, in taking up a new interest. As Christians we are often told to “Wait patiently for the Lord”, “to watch and pray” it’s not easy, but it’s at times like these when we can draw closer in our relationship with God and listen to what his plans are for our lives and those around us. In his loving presence we can look forward to Spring.
The God of small things
I was walking and musing about the building of the temple (as you do??) . I thought how many dimensions and details are given. This started me thinking of those who ensured them.
For every dimension someone must have held a measure while the mason marked the point.
For every cloth someone must have provided the needles and thread.
So often we focus on those up front, or listed as active in the Church.
God acknowledges them for their work.
But God also sees those who do “Small things” like holding string, polishing trumpets, Cleaning Priests Garments in the temple preparation.
For us, no matter how small our contribution, no matter how we think of ourselves, God sees and Nods.
At this time, we need to know that God knows what we can and cannot do, He cherishes our heart.
However limited we may feel at present, God is there, encouraging us. If you cannot do Great things just listen and do Small things.
Know that whether you stand before a Church or Assembly, or simply do a simple act of kindness [ Small thing] to further Gods Kingdom He says “Well Done”.
God Rejoices whether you do small things just for Him, or according to His Love and Purposes for others.
He is the God of Amazing Things, but also of small things.
He is Our God.
Snow! Oh, no! What snow?
Every day this week I have been sent pictures by my sister in Durham and my friends in North Yorkshire and Lancashire of snow. I hate snow! My first winter was the bitterly cold winter of 1947. I don’t remember it of course but have photos and been told stories – of how my pram couldn’t be pushed in the snow and how difficult it was to get coal and keep warm.
In the mid 1980’s, I spent two winters in Nova Scotia in Canada. The first snow fell in November and the last snowfall was in May. All those of us who had a sidewalk were obliged to clear it by 10.00am each morning and you were not allowed to park in the road, to keep it clear for the snow plough. I have two memories of having to drive in a terrible snowstorm, one to an invitation to dinner with my husband’s captain – one couldn’t refuse! – and one to sing in a performance of the Verdi Requiem, praying that all the traffic lights on the way would stay green!
Having spent most of my adult life in Hampshire, I decided that when I retired in 2005, I would like to return to my roots in Yorkshire, although ended up living just over the border in Lancashire. So, I dragged my poor husband away from his roots to mine – to many snowy winters. Another snowstorm, another concert, this time a carol concert which I had to get to – conditions so awful I made my husband drive! Another, on Greenhow Hill, near Pateley Bridge, where we had to be towed up. This time my husband made me drive! In 2013, having shovelled snow for four heavy snowfalls, I vowed never, ever, to shovel anymore snow. So, if it snows here, you won’t see me.
Oh, no! I have just seen pictures of Liphook in the snow and the weather forecast!
Wonderings on this Season
I was thinking about this current season – bare trees, diminished activities, loss of physical freedom – and wondering… It looks and often feels like a diminishment, a curtailing of life, but I wonder if there is another way of seeing it. Maybe if I can see it as a pruning, then it could be a time of growth – just as Winter precedes Spring.
John 15.2 reads “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful”.
Maybe if we were to ask the Lord in this season, where we are restrained from being physically free – “What do you desire to grow in my heart?” “What do you desire to do in my heart?” You might hear that still small voice reply with love.
I finish with part of a poem, which many of us read during our school years. It was written for a real person and about Charles 1, but the last two stanzas could be written for now, although they were written from Gatehouse Prison, adjoining Westminster Abbey.
When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, Mercy, Majesty,
And glories of my King;
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how Great should be,
Enlarged Winds, that curl the Flood,
Know no such Liberty.
Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage,
If I have freedom in my Love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above,
Enjoy such Liberty.
(Colonel Richard Lovelace, written in 1642)
Antonia C-B 4.01.2021
Where would you like to be this Christmas? I expect that most of you, like me, will be quietly at home in Liphook. Where would I like to be? No, not in an exotic tropical location, nor in a snowy winter wonderland. I would like to be in Ripon. Ripon is the cathedral city in North Yorkshire where I was born 74 years ago and baptised in the cathedral there. Ripon Cathedral remains one of my special places and I visit whenever I can. For a few years from 2014 to 2017, it was actually ‘my’ cathedral and I still receive a weekly newsletter and sponsor a chorister there. Magical for me is the Carol Service on Christmas Eve, followed later by Midnight Mass. Also on Boxing Day, an annual pilgrimage is held, from the Cathedral, over the fields to Fountains Abbey, another special place for me.
But does it matter where we are at Christmas? What matters is how we celebrate it and with whom. Two years ago, I spent a wonderful Christmas Day helping to prepare and serve Christmas lunch, followed by carols and a quiz, for people who otherwise would be ‘home alone’. Most of us are usually with our families but spare a thought for all those who will be spending Christmas alone, especially this year.
No, what really matters is that it is a time for kindness, giving, sharing, worshipping and remembering the baby in the manger, Christ, the light of the world, sent to be our Saviour. So let’s all make sure that we keep the CHRIST firmly in Christmas.
We had a Healing and Wholeness service on Sunday – and asked God what he wanted to heal. We wanted to ensure that everyone – even if you were not in the service – to know what we heard.
If one of the words below applies to you and you would like prayer – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org – as we would love to set up a time to pray for you because we believe that God wants to heal you today.
We heard words about people with the following conditions:
- A displaced hip
- Sinus problems
- Turned out knees – feeling very vulnerable in the knee area
- Tightness in the left calf
- Skin rash on the left side of your neck
- Broken or cracked ankle which isn’t healing fully
We also heard a series of prophetic words about other people that God wants to touch:
- Someone sitting in a dim light and God is saying “Come to Me, so that my light might shine on you”
- Someone living in fear and God wants to free you
- Someone who is mourning the loss of a child
- God wants to see someone dancing for joy – release from inhibition
- Someone having to make a decision and there is a battle going on inside you
- Someone who has a stampede going on in their mind – God wants to still you
Lastly, we had some words which we think might make sense to someone:
- The word “robed”
- Picture of a hammer
- Picture of bread being kneaded
If any of these mean anything to you, do please get in touch, as we love to pray for people.
The Star of Bethlehem
Will you, too, be following the star to Bethlehem this week? Two thousand years ago, the Bible tells us, wise men came from the east to find the baby Jesus, following a star.
On December the 21st (the winter solstice), next week, you may be able to see the Star of Bethlehem in the night sky. If the weather is fine and the night sky clear, if you look into the south-west sky in the early evening, you may see the star. The planets Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely (0.1degrees apart) that they will create a radiant point of light called the Solstice Star, or the Star of Bethlehem, or the Christmas Star. Alignment between the two planets occurs every twenty years but this is the closest they will come since the Middle Ages.
Is this how the Star of Bethlehem in the Bible was formed? It is more likely to have been a nova or supernova explosion or even a comet but it could have been a close conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.
So, will you be following that star to Bethlehem next week? Will you be there in the stable with the shepherds, the wise men, Mary and Joseph worshipping and adoring the baby Jesus? Will you be there welcoming the Christ Child into the world, into your heart and into your life?