In these pages I have tried to find courage, self-sacrifice, heroism, gallantry, bravery, endeavour, fortitude, character, staying power, determination and resolution; and also the new way of life which men and women find when they hear and understand the goodness given to us from God through Jesus Christ.
I can only hope that anyone who reads these words may themselves find the consolation and comfort that I have found in writing them down; and also that they will feel with me a sense of pride that so many good and honourable people of high integrity can still be found in many walks of life in our world.
In this introduction to book one Doris* and myself remember our dear father
who was killed on 25th March 1918, defending to the last the cause of freedom in
W. W. Gibson.
England is a fairer land to me-
Knowing he gave his life to keep her free.
I shall behold her with a greater pride.
Because he died.
I shall remember that he love her well,
Heath, wood and meadow, down and dell.
Greener and lovelier her fields will seem-
Sweeter the melodies of bird and stream.
Every dear liberty for which he fought,
I shall guard jealously in word and thought,
The future seems golden, the horizon wide,
Because he died.
(Poetry sent by Doris)
LEST WE FORGET
"They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning; We will remember them."
In Flanders field the poppies grow
Between the crosses row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Reach hand to touch rough coated arm,
Let non dismiss with pity, grief
This company of ghosts about my heart,
They were my youth, the sorrow mine,
I bought this peace, but paid no price
So great as theirs.
(Written by L. Wyn. Griffith, and refers to the first world war, in which he served from 1914 to 1919 in The Royal Welch Fusiliers.)
Quotation from "General Jackís Diary". Dealing with the third battle of Ypres in the first world war.
"And so on an unforgettable morning, cold grey dawn of the 31st July 1917, in battle dress, with bayonets fixed, buttons dulled, and the polished helmets coated with a thin skin of mud to be less visible. 32nd battalion The Prince of Walesí own West Yorkshire regiment, under captain John Philip Palmes m.c., with perfect discipline and undimmed courage, passed from me in a few minutes, through the quaking shell holes into the hurricane of the battle".
(Captain Palms was killed.)
"So, to my infinite sorrow, nearly all my dear West Yorkshire friends were swept away. How bright their glorious spirits shine".
God knows - my dear -
I did not want to rise and leave you so,
But the dead menís hands were beckoning
And I knew that I must go.
The dead menís eyes were watching, lass,
Their lips were asking too;
We faced it out and paid the price -
Are we betrayed by you?
Ewart Alan Mackintosh.
"THEY SOUGHT ONLY HAPPINESS, THEY FOUND ONLY GLORY"
This letter is addressed to "Fred" who was Fathers brother.
May 8th 1915
Just received your welcome box of ??????????? of tea @ am thankful for some ????????? they will be very useful - I am in the pink @ never felt better, hope you are all the same. We have had a rough time since we came here but what I have seen of Belgium makes me fit to face anything @ nobody need begrudge doing a little bit towards ending the war. I had no idea that battle was so bad till I got in it, once you are in it you donít seem to care a fiddle, as regards the good name we got I could explain how we got it to you better if I was at home @ how we saved the situation. I was surprised at the boys @ more so at myself. poor young Simpson wasnít far of me when he was knocked out but it was instant death poor kid tell them at his home he died like a man @ a soldier for a cause - well I shall have to close as we are moving today where to I donít know. Give my best respects to Mary @ Mrs Warwich - hoping to hear from you again.
Your loving Brother
Excuse paper it is war time
* I have now had it confirmed that the battle which Father refers to in his letter was fought at St. Julien near Ypres in Belgium. This battle started on the 23 April 1915, and it was the first that the 5th Bat. Green Howards were in action.
Consequently this date (23 April), which is St. George's day, has since been the day when, each year, a reunion dinner has been held to remember fallen comrades.
This dinner was the result of a vow made by the 5th Bat. Green Howards old comrades association that they would meet each year to remember their fallen comrades.
The association was founded after the first world war with the aim of perpetuating the memory of comrades, promoting comradeship among the living, and to instil principles of patriotism and loyalty in the young.
Note - On the 31st May 1915 father was returned to England with bullet and shrapnel wounds. He returned to France on 16 July 1916. He was killed on 25 March 1918.
* Re Fathersí letter written in 1915:
On 24th April 1915 the Germans sent gas shells and advanced to St Julien. The situation was critical, but a counter attack by two Yorkshire territorial Battalions rolled the Germans back from St Julien. On the 25th men were mown down like corn (2,400 died in a few minutes). There is little doubt that this is the battle that father refers to in his letter.
Father was killed during the German Spring offensive which started on 21st March 1918. This attack was preceded by a massive bombardment by 6000 German guns. On the day that Father died (25th March) Bapaume and Peronne were captured and a desperate situation developed.
On April 11th Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief British armies in France, issued a special order of the day, known as the "backs to the wall" message.
It ran as follows:
TO ALL RANKS OF THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE AND FLANDERS
" Three weeks ago today the enemy began his terrific attacks against us on a 50 mile front. His objects are to separate us from the French, to take the Channel ports, and destroy the British army. In spite of throwing already 106 divisions into the battle and enduring the most reckless sacrifice of human life, he has as yet made little progress towards his goals. We owe this to the determined fighting and self sacrifice of our troops. Words fail me to express the admiration which I feel for the splendid resistance offered by all ranks of our army under the most trying circumstances. Many amongst us are now tired. To those I would say that victory will belong to the side which hold out longest. The French army is moving rapidly and in great force to our support. There is no other course open to us but to fight to the last man; There must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall, and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight on to the end, The safety of our homes and the freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment."
No Mother or Father saw him die,
No Sister or Brother to say goodbye,
No friends or relations to grasp his hand,
But they hope to meet in the better land.
Written by Lieut. Maclean Proctor-Dilworths servant Private Kennedy.
And here for dear dead brothers we are weeping,
Mourning the withered rose of chivalry,
Yet, their work done, the dead are sleeping, sleeping,
Unconscious of the long lean years to be.
Across our stubble - across now,
The teams go four and four;
But outward elders guide the plough,
And we return no more.
Like clouds that rake the mountain summits,
Or waves that own no curbing hand,
How fast has brother followed brother,
From sunshine to the sunless land.
Thou, therefore, for whom they died
See not thine own............
It is they who gave. We are their debtors.
MOTTO OF THE ROYAL SIGNALS:- "THROUGH"
*On the mantle piece at home Mother had a bullet and an ugly piece of shrapnel taken from Fathers body.
Diary of the First World War (1914 - 1918) and Information About Father.
Father enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment (territorials) on 17th March 1914.
28 Jun Archduke Ferdinand assassinated at Sarajevo.
25 Jul Austria declares war on Serbia.
1 Aug Germany declares war on Russia.
4 Aug Germans invade Belgium.
4 Aug Briton declares war on Germany.
10 Aug British expeditionary forces disembark in France.
23 Aug The retreat from Mons.
6 Sep First battle of the Marne
15 Oct: First battle of Ypres
8 Dec Admiral Von Spee (German Navy) de feated at Falkland.
25/26 Dec Unofficial truce on the Western front.
18 April Father goes to France
22 April Second battle of Ypes - Germans use gas.
7 May Sinking of the Lusitania
8 May Fathers letter
25 May The battle of Festubert.
31 May Father returned to England badly wounded*
16 June Lloyd George made munitions minister.
6 Aug The landing a Suvla Bay in Gallipoli. (46,000 Allies killed).
25 Sep The battle of Loos. (50,000 British casualties in three days).
19 Dec Field Marshal Earl Haig made Commander in Chief.
21 Jan The battle of Verdun - Lasted until the end of the year. The Germans and the French each lost 300.000 men killed.
May/June Arrival in France of Kitcheners new army.
1 July First battle of the Somme.
16 July Father returns to France.
29 Aug Hindenburg becomes German Chief of Staff.
15 Sep British tanks on the Somme at Flers Courcellette.
6 Dec Lloyd George succeeds Asquith as Prime Minister.
1 Feb Unrestricted submarine warfare.
15 Mar Tsar of Russia abdicates.
6 April Father promoted to Sergeant - USA declares war on Germany.
? May Father was at Arras.
7 June The battle of Messines.
6 July Akaba occupied by Lawrence and the Arabs.
1 Aug Third battle of Ypres (Passchendale).
26 Sep Battle of Polygon Wood.
20 Nov Battle of Cambria (Major British tank assault.)
9 Dec Allanby enters Jerusalem.
15 Dec Treaty of Brest-Litovsk signed (Russia- Germany peace treaty.)
8 Jan President Wilsonís 14 point peace plan.
25 Feb Food rationing starts in Britain.
21 March German Spring offensive starts (240,000 British casualties.)
25 March Father killed
24 April Zeebrugge raid.
15 July Second battle of the Marne.
4 Aug Hundreds of British tanks force a major breakthrough at Amiens.
27 Sep Breakthrough by British and French on Hindenburg line.
23 Oct Woodrow Wilson demands German surrender.
28 Oct Ludendorf resigns.
29 Oct German fleet mutinies at Kiel.
9 Nov Kaiser abdicates.
11 Nov Armistice signed at 11am.
Fathers Medals 1914-15 Star. British war medal and Victory medal.
Fathersí grave was never identified, and consequently he is commemorated on the Poziers Memorial, Ovillars-La-Boisselle, in the department of the Somme, France.
His full particulars are No 240265 Serjeant Harold Gibson, 5th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment. He was 33 years of age.
"These gave their lives that you who live may reap a
richer harvest ere you fall asleep"
I saw the ramparts of my native land
one time so strong, now dropping in decay,
Their strength destroyed by this new ageís way
That has worn out and rotted what was grand.
"Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds."
"And I went. went to the battle,
That called me from you,
Called me from love,
Called me from happiness,
Called me to where the bloody gutters
Run with life,
Life that had once danced and laughed
And dared to hope -
And thereís no return."
"No one could tell me where my soul might be;
I sought for God, but God eluded me;
I sought my brother out, and found all three -
My soul, my God, and all humanity.
Lord, Thy word abideth,
And our footsteps guideth:
Who its truth believeth
Light and joy receiveth.
When our foes are near us,
Then Thy word doth cheer us,
Word of consolation,
Message of salvation.
When the storms are oíer us,
And dark clouds before us,
Then its light directeth,
And our way protecteth.
Who can tell the pleasure,
Who recount the treasure,
By Thy word imparted
To the dimple-hearted?
Word of mercy, giving
Succour to the living;
Word of life, supplying
Comfort of the dying!
O that we, discerning
its most holy learning,
Lord, may love and fear Thee,
Ever more be near Thee !
Henry Williams Baker 1821 - 77.
" Sit ye hear while I go and pray" said Jesus to His disciples, an overwhelming sadness too possession of Him " My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."
He went a little further off, only a stones throw, and knelt and prayed : " O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt ."
In the strange tormented hour in that place, only a few yards from His friends, Jesus was more alone than He had been in the wilderness ; and here, in the hour when destiny took Him by the throat, He experienced, in the most agonising crisis He had ever known, the clash of the two natures in Him.
His disciples, ordinary men, had gone to sleep. "What, could ye not watch with Me one hour" He said sadly when He went back to them. "The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak."
Again He went away to resume the supplications:
"O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done."
And being in agony He prayed more earnestly.
Throughout this scene we are deeply conscious of the human nature of Jesus, and this is why it moves us so profoundly. He was a young man, only thirty years old, and death was closing in on Him; He could breathe it in the cold night air, hear it in the growl of the torrent. He would not have been human had His flesh not quaked and revolted at the thought of the death He must die. No other scene in the entire Gospel narrative, not even that of the temptation, has such profound psychological truth; How well we recognise the heavy heart, the consciousness so distraught that He implores God for a miracle which would deny everything from which He had striven. If Jesus were an invention and His life story a fabrication, would the writers produced an episode like this? But the example of Jesus shows us that God does not despise the anguish of our nature, and the highest Christian virtue can be content to overcome it without pretending to stifle it.
The essential quality of the scene is not its communication of almost unbearable distress but of a decisive acceptance. Distraught as He was, on the edge of death, Jesus can still repeat, in a sort of sublime stammer: "not My will but Thine will be done." The union of the Father and the Son, one will, one design, is clearly manifest. The redemption operated under God in accordance with the principle of solidarity: Jesus Christ had to be a man in order to redeem mankind; to be subject to the law to deliver men from it; to be a member of the sinful human family in order to save sinners, to assume the flesh that He might conquer it in its own sphere. It was the sin of man that the Man-God took upon Himself in the hour when His death was to ransom it, and it was the suffering of the world which He assumed, which He dignified, and to which He has given meaning.
He sent no angel to our race
Of higher or of lower place,
But wore the robe of human frame
Himself, and to this world came.
For us He prayed, for us He taught,
For us His daily works He wrought:
By words and signs and actions thus
Still seeking not Himself but us.
Souls of men, why will Ye scatter
Like a cloud of frightened sheep?
Foolish hearts, why will Ye wonder
From a love so true and deep?
Was there ever kindest shepherd
Half so gentle, half so sweet,
As the saviour who would have us
Come and gather round His feet?
Thereís a wideness in Godís mercy
Like the wildness of the sea;
Thereís a kindness in His justice
Which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
And more graces for the good;
There is mercy with the saviour;
There is healing in the blood.
There is plentiful redemption
In the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for all the members
In the sorrow of the head.
For the love of God is broader
Than the measures of manís mind,
And the heart of the eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word,
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord.
Frederick William Faber 1814 - 63.
Spoken by a Russian Red Cross nurse in 1915 when Russia was at war with Germany. ( It had been suggested to her that after having seen so much pain and suffering from the Russian soldiers she would eventually grow hardened and unfeeling towards it).
" To be hardened against all compassionate feeling? I would rather feel the most intense pain and writhe under sorrow as under a sharp blade than that I should grow callous and indifferent to human suffering. I shall always pray that I may never look on the distress of the world with dulled or deadened senses."
Yours seemed an easy part
To constrive, learn some trivial lines by heart;
Yet to your hands has God assigned
The burden of the sorrows of mankind.
Hark the roar grows ... the thunder reawaken -
We ask one thing Lord, only one thing more:
Hearts as high as theirs who we to death unshaken,
Courage like theirs to make and keep their vow.
Then to our children there can be no handing
Of fates so vain - of passions so abhorred ...
But peace ... the peace that passeth understanding.
Not in our time ... but in their time, O Lord!
R. E. Vernede (Poet and Author)
'Tis praiseworthy to do not one may, but what one ought.
THE GREAT WAR 1914 - 1918
It all happened over fifty years ago. It is history like the Romans, William the Conqueror or Trafalgar. But is it? The "great" war was such a big eruption in the history of Europe that it set up tremors the vibrations of which we still feel today. The memory of the war is ineradicably part of our lives. A few old and still proud "contemptibles" are still in evidence on each anniversary of the signing of the armistice. The silence of the battlefields on that first armistice day is imagined by those too young to remember, and those with respect and feeling stand in silent tribute to those who fell. Life today might be very different if they had not made their sacrifice. The passing of the years may have diminished some of the early poignancy, but we owe too much to those men and women to shrug them off as a piece of ancient history. Our hospitals still contain victims of the war who have been bedridden for fifty years. Men who have given youth, limbs, faculties or senses and who have lain helplessly ever since as a reward.
British forces by Land Sea and Air 1,000,000 Dead
German forces " " 2,000,000 Dead
French Forces " " 1,400,000 Dead
Austrian forces " " 1,200,000 Dead
Italian forces " " 460,000 Dead
Turkish forces " " 300,000 Dead
USA forces " " 116,000 Dead
Total 6,476,000 Dead
Talent is developed in tranquillity, but character is moulded in the tumult of the world.
Johann Goeth 1740 - 1832.
FROM YORK MINSTER 29.7.1975. IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE DEAD IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR (1914 - 1918)
Almighty God, we commend to Thy loving kindness, the souls of these Thy servants, who gave their lives to defend us. Accept, we pray Thee, the offering of their self sacrifice, and grant to them with all Thy faithful servants, a place of refreshment and piece; where the light of Thy countenance shines for ever, and where all tears are wiped away. O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh; fulfil we beseech Thee, the purpose of Thy love in those who are at rest; That the good work which Thou hast begun them, may be perfected unto the day of Jesus Christ. Who with Thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth. One God, world without end. Amen. May they rest in peace.
Courage is the first of human qualities, for it is the quality which guarantees all others.
PRAYER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, ALONE, ILL, AND FRIGHTENED
Take my hand in yours dear Lord,
And help me every day
To do the things that You would wish
Lest I should go astray.
Help me to know within my heart that you art always near,
Cast away my loneliness, help me when Iím in fear,
Show me the calm serenity
That only Your presence can bring.
Put out Your hand and help me Lord
Each day, in everything.
On the wall inside St Michaelís church, Malton is a list of choristers who died in the Great War 1914 - 19.
One of the names is Harold Gibson (could this be my Father?) The following words are quoted.
To the glory of God
And in proud and grateful
Memory of these brave men
Who gave their lives in the
Great war 1914 - 1919.
"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and there shall no torment touch them ...For God proved them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace hath He tried them."
Give rest, O Christ, to Thy servants with Thy Saints, where sorrow and pain are no more.
GOD SEES YOU THROUGH
When deep despair dims all you do
And nought is worth the fight.
When darkest clouds cannot be broken,
And nothing will go right.
Pray to the Lord, for in His way
Of quiet calm serene,
Heíll see you through the darkened skies,
Heíll give His arm to lean
Upon His wondrous unseen strength.
Heíll calm your troubled breast.
Youíll come to terms with life and see
Things work out for the best.
Written by Margaret McGowan a patient in Naburn mental hospital, York. Who, sadly, hung herself. Now at rest.
Sent by Doris. Christmas 1973:
Amazing grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now Iím found.
Was blind but now can see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come.
ĎTwas grace that brought us safe this far,
And grace my heart relieved,
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.
Written by John Newton (1725 - 1807)
Though doubt and dismay should enfold you,
And hope for relief becomes dim,
Remember that someone has told you,
To "cast all your cares about Him".
I know not where my Lord may lead,
Oíer barren plain or grassy mead,
Through valley or on mountain crest,
But where He leads I know 'tis best.
Tomorrowís plans I do not know,
I only know this minute;
But He will say this is the way"
"By faith now walks you in it."
If Jesus goes with me, Iíll go anywhere,
ĎTis heaven to me, whereíer I may be if He is there,
I count it a privilege here His cross to bear.
If Jesus goes with me, Iíll go anywhere.
The men of the regular British army who saved England at the first battle of Ypres (August to November 1914.)
Sir John French, commander British armies in France; when it seemed that the line was broken by the Germans at Ypres, said in his book "1914" : "what grieved me more than anything else was that the 1st Corps should at last be forced back after the glorious stand they had made, I felt that they had done far more than could be expected of any men, and that even if they had been driven into the sea, they had earned their countries lasting gratitude for the determined fight they had made. No shadow of blame could be laid upon them or their commander."
The situation was saved by the 2nd Worcester's and the 60th rifles, who flung the Germans back with a ferocious bayonet attack at great cost to the battalion of killed and wounded. From this moment on , a flowing torrent of German soldiers from a seemingly bottomless well of manpower, frequently relieved and refreshed by periods of rest, and supported by overwhelming artillery, had been flung repeatedly at the thin line of defenders, and had achieved precisely nothing. Even the Prussian Guard Division, some 17,500 strong opposed by 7,850 filthy, verminous, starving and sleepless men with rifles, who had already proved that they did not know when they were beaten, and did not know it now. The German guards advanced to within a five yards of the British trenches, and broke through in places after terrible slaughter to themselves; but eventually the Prussians had to retreat in disarray.
So, the capture of the channel ports by the Germans was averted; and the danger of the invasion of Britain was never again at such risk in this war.
Victoria Crosses were won by: Capt.J.Valentine (posthumously), Capt. Brodie: Drummer Kenny (Gordon Highlanders): Bandsman. T. Rendle: and Drummer J. Spencer (Lancs).
(Bands men were included in the fighting because the situation was desperate).
Part of a special church service, held to mark the promotion from V.A.D. to qualified Red Cross Nurse, of Florence Farmborough, an English women working with Russian soldiers in 1915.
"To thee, Florence, child of God, servant of the most high, is given this token of faith, of hope, of charity. With faith shall thou follow Christ the master, with hope shalt thou look towards Christ for thy salvation, with charity shalt thou fulfil thy duties. Thou shalt tend the sick, the wounded. the needy: with words of comfort shalt thou cheer them."
Florence writes: " I held the red cross to my breast and pressed my lips to the crucifix with a heart full of gratitude to God, for He had accepted me. One by one we moved back to our appointed places. On our breasts the red cross gleamed. I looked at my Russian sisters. We exchanged happy congratulatory smiles. As for me, I stood there with a great contentment in mind and spirit. A dream had been fulfilled: I was now an official member of the great sisterhood off the Red Cross. What the future held in store I could not say, but, please God, my work must lie among those of our suffering brothers who most needed medical aid and human sympathy - among those who were dying for their country on the battlefields of war - stricken Russia."
Comment: Florence Farmborough did indeed help the Russian sick, wounded and dying throughout the whole of the period of the war between Russia and Germany. She tended men who had had terrible and ghastly wounds. arms and legs blown off, stomachs ripped open, and bodies riddled with bullets. During the Russian revolution (end 1917) she escaped through Siberia and was rescued by the Royal Navy at Vladivostok. She is still alive today (1975.)
Just as I am, without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou biddíst me come to Thee,
O lamb of God I come!
Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fighting and fears within, without,
O lamb of God I come!
Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
All I need, in Thee to find,
O lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am - Thy love unknown
Has broken every barrier down -
Now to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O lamb of God, I come!
Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O lamb of God, I come!
Charlotte Elliott 1789 - 1871
Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them saying:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven
Blessed are you when people insult you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in Heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days;
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart - it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure - store.
Take myself and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee!
Frances Ridley Havergal 1836 - 79
Those who walk on the path of pride
Crushing the lowly life under their tread,
Covering the tender green of the earth
With their footprints in blood;
Let them rejoice, and thank Thee, Lord, For the day is theirs.
But I am thankful that my lot lies with the humble who suffer and bear the burden of power, and hide their faces and stifle their sobs in the dark
For every throb of their pain is pulsed in the secret depths of Thy night, and every insult has gathered into Thy great silence.
AND THE MORROW IS THEIRS
Oh sun, rise upon the bleeding hearts blossoming in flowers of the morning, and the torch light revelry of pride shrunken to ashes.
Rabindranath Tagore From Fruit - gathering
The above was quoted in the book:
"And the morrow is theirs"
by Miss Sue Ryder. OBE
Founder of the Sue Ryder foundation for the sick and disabled)
LETTER OF St PAUL TO THE
PHILIPPIANS 4 (v4 - 9)
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say rejoice. Let your moderation known unto amen. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving. let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice, and the God of peace will be with you.
CHURCHILLíS SPEECH ON THE 8th JUNE 1940
" Even though large tracks of Europe and many old and famous states have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight in the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender"
"And even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British fleet, would carry on the struggle until, in Godís good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of the old."
I like old houses that are weather stained, whose doorsteps sag beneath the weight of years; old walls that echo back with softened tone. The laughter that we knew, the sounds of tears ... Old homes that breathe of peace and quiet hours that we in happy dreams may see again.
PRAYER COMPOSED BY Miss SUE RYDER AND HER HUSBAND LEONARD CHESHIRE. (who started the Ryder - Cheshire mission homes for the relief of suffering.)
To Thee. O my God, who art infinite love, yet has called upon us to be perfect, even as though art perfect: Who so loved the world, Thou didst give us Thine only begotten Son, and who hast thereby given Thine all, Thine every thing: who emptied Thyself of Thy glory, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, for us: to Thee, we surrender our all, our everything; to be consumed by the unquenchable fire of Thy love: we desire to love Thee even as Thy own mother loved Thee, to be generous as thou only art generous, to give our all to Thee as Thou givest to us: Thou hast called us o Lord, and we have found Thee, in the poor, the unwanted, and the suffering, and there we will serve Thee, unto death.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have Him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. when Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to all these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.
ISAIAH (ABOUT 600 BC)
He is despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and aquatinted with grief; and we hid as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our grief's and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we were healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned away everyone to his own way; and the lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.
In his first letter to the Corinthians St Paul wrote:
If I can fathom all the mysteries and have all knowledge, and I have a faith that moves mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I gave all I possess to the poor but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not conceited. It is not rude, it is not self - seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. Now we see but a poor reflection; then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now, these three remain: Faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love. Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts.
Isnít it strange that Princes and Kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And ordinary folk like you and me
Are builders of eternity?
To each is given a bag of tools,
An hour glass and a book of rules,
And each must build, ere his time is flown
A stumbling block or a stepping stone.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that through Him the world might be a saved. Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does wrong hates the light and avoids it for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light. that it may be seen plainly that what has done has been done through God.
For the law was given to Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man has ever seen God; but the only begotten Son who is at the Fathers side, He has made Him known.
The next day John saw Jesus coming towards him and said "Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
PART OF THE LETTER OF St PAUL TO THE PHILIPPIANS 2 (v1 to 15)
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, If any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of the Christ Jesus: who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed - not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence - continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and do what pleases Him. Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation which you shine like stars in the universe.
The word became flesh and lived for a while among us, we have seen His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
ISAIAH CHAPTER 40 (600 - 500 BC)
Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: For she hath received of the Lords hand double for all her sins. The voice of Him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: and the glory of God shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get Thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up Thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God! behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
Written by a Jew called Moses Maimonides, who lived from 1135 to 1204; and who did a great deal of important work for the Jewish people:
The true perfection is the possession of wisdom, and the sole purpose of life the knowledge of God as described by Jeremiah: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom; nor let the mighty man glory in his might; and let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandith and knoweth Me."
Taken from a book called: Famous Jewish lives: by John. R. Gilbert.
Lord, speak to me , that I may speak
In living echoes of Thy tone;
As Thou hast sought, so let me seek
Thy erring children lost and lone.
O lead me Lord, that I may lead
The wandering and the wavering feet;
O feed me Lord, that I may feed
Thy hungering ones with manna sweet.
O strengthen me, that, while I stand
Firm on the rock, and strong in Thee,
I may stretch out a loving hand
To wrestlers with the troubled sea.
O teach me Lord, that I may teach
The precious things Thou dost impart;
And wing my words that they may reach
The hidden depths of many a heart.
O give Thine own sweet rest to me,
That I may speak with soothing power
A word in season, as from Thee,
To weary ones in needful hour.
O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
Until my very heart oíerflow
In kindling thought and glowing word,
Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.
O use me, Lord, use even me,
Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where,
Until Thy blessed face I see,
Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share.
Frances Ridley Havergal 1836 - 79
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Our blest redeemer, ere He breathed
His tender last farewell,
A guide, a comforter bequeathed,
With us to dwell.
He came in semblance of a dove,
With sheltering wings outspread,
The Holy balm of peace and love
On each to shed.
He came in tongues of living flame,
To teach, convince, subdue;
All-powerful as the wind He came,
As viewless too.
He comes sweet influence to impart,
A gracious, willing guest,
While He can find one humble heart
Wherein to rest.
And His that gentle voice we hear,
Soft as the breath of even,
That checks each fault, that calms each fear,
And speaks of heaven.
And every virtue we possess,
And every conquest won,
And every thought of holiness,
Are His alone.
Spirit of purity and grace,
Our weakness pitying see;
O make our hearts Thy dwelling - place,
And worthier Thee.
Harriet Auber 1773 - 1862
St Paul writing to the Romans:
Therefore I urge you, in view of our Godís mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. (For) by the grace of God given to me (I say to every one of you: do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourselves with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you) Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given us. If a manís gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy. let him do it cheerfully.
(Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; Cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another.) above yourselves. (Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour; Serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful on prayer. Share with Gods people who are in need. Practise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; Bless not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; Mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Donít be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Donít be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the sight of everybody.) Do not take revenge, my friends, for it is written: " Vengeance is mine; I will repay," saith the Lord. (If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.) If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him drink. (Do not be overcome by evil; but overcome evil with good.)
It is a thing most wonderful,
Almost to wonderful to be,
That Godís own Son should come from heaven,
And die to save a child like me.
And yet I know that it is true;
He chose a pure and humble lot,
And wept and toiled and mourned and died,
For love of those who loved Him not.
I sometimes think about the cross,
And shut my eyes and try to see
The cruel nails and crown of thorns,
And Jesus crucified for me.
But even could I see Him die,
I could but see a little part
Of that great love which like a fire
Is always burning in His heart.
I cannot tell how He could love
A child so weak and full of sin;
His love must be most wonderful,
If He could die my love to win.
It is most wonderful to know
His love for me so free and sure;
But Ďtis more wonderful to see
My love for Him so faint and poor.
And yet I want to love Thee, Lord;
O light the flame within my heart,
And I will love You more and more,
Until I see You as Thou art.
William Walsham How. 1823 - 97
THE NEW JERUSALEM
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year. "give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown," and he replied, "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to Thee better than a light and safer than a known way"."
Spoken by King George V1 on radio.
O Lord, support us all day long of this troublous life, until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then Lord, in Thy mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at last: Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the cause that lacks assistance,
the wrong that needs resistance,
For the future in the distance,
And the good that I can do.
When I surveyed the wondrous cross
On which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ, my God:
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down,
Did eíer such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown!
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
Isaac Watts. 1674 - 1748
Thou great redeemer, dying lamb,
We love to hear from Thee;
No musicís like Thy charming name,
Nor half as sweet can be.
Our Jesus shall be still our theme
While in this world we stay;
Weíll sing our Jesuís lovely name
When all things else decay.
When we appear in yonder cloud,
With all that favoured throng,
Then will we sing more sweet, more loud,
And Christ shall be our song.
John Cennick. 1718 - 55
O for a closer walk with God,
A calm and heavenly frame,
A light to shine upon the road
That leads me to the lamb.
Where is the blessedness I knew
When first I saw the Lord?
Where is that soul - refreshing view
Of Jesus and His word?
What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.
Return, O holy dove! return,
Sweet messenger of rest!
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
And drove me from my breast.
The dearest idol I have known,
Whateíer that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne
And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close to God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the lamb.
William Cowper 1931 - 1800
The cause of freedom is the cause of God.
PART OF St PAUL'S LETTER TO THE
You, my brother, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge your sinful nature; rather serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command, " Love your neighbour as yourself."
So I say, live by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other. But if you are led by the spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debaucher; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissension's, greed, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self - control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Jesus Christ have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the spirit, let us keep in step with the spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Brothers, if a man is trapped in some sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself; you also may be tempted. Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the laws of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when is nothing, he deceives himself. Each man should test his own actions. then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to someone else. For each man should carry his own load. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Let us not become weary in doing good. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Summer sunís are glowing
Over land and sea;
Happy light is flowing,
Bountiful and free.
In the mellow rays:
All earth's thousand voices
Swell the psalm of praise.
Godís free mercy streameth
Over all the world,
And His banner gleameth,
Broad and deep, and glorious,
As the heaven above.
Shines in might victorious
His eternal love.
Lord, upon our blindness
Thy pure radiance pour;
For Thy loving kindness
Makes us love Thee more.
And when clouds are drifting
Dark across our sky,
Then, the veil uplifting,
Father, be Thou nigh.
We will never doubt Thee,
Though Thou veil Thy light
Life is dark without Thee,
Death with Thee is bright.
Light of light, shine oíer us
On our pilgrim way;
Go Thou still before us
To the endless day.
William Walsham How 1823 - 97
We love the place O God,
Wherein Thine honour dwells;
The joy of Thine abode
All earthly joy excels.
It is the house of prayer,
Wherein Thy servants meet;
And Thou, O Lord, art there,
Thy chosen flock to greet.
We love the word of life,
The word that tells of peace,
Of comfort in the strife
And joys that never cease.
We love to sing below
Of mercies freely given;
But o we long to know
The triumph song of heaven!
Lord Jesus, give us grace,
On earth to love Thee more,
In heaven to see Thy face,
And with Thy saints adore.
William Bullock 1798 - 1874
QUOTED BY FIELD MARSHAL MONTGOMERY
I shall take away many impressions into the evening of life. But the one which I shall treasure above all is the picture of the British soldier - staunch and tenacious in adversity, kind and gentle in victory - The man to whom the nation has again and again, in the hour of need, owed its safety and its honour.
The British soldier is second to none in the communities of fighting men. Some may possess more ťlan, others may be better disciplined; but none excels him in all round character. We require no training in bravery in Britain; We can trust in our own native manliness to see us through. So it is with the soldier. It is his natural pride that gives him his fighting qualities. How often has he stood firm before tyranny and oppression, The last hope of the free world! In the midst of the noise and confusion of the battlefield, the simple homely figure of the British soldier stands out calm and resolute - dominating all around him with his quiet courage, his humour, and his cheerfulness; His unflinching acceptance of the situation. May he never be forgotten by the nation for which he has fought so nobly! May the ideals for which he has struggled never vanish from the world! I know better than most to what heights the British soldier can aspire. His greatness is a measure of the greatness of the British character, and I have seen the quality of our race proved again and again on the battlefield.
The motto of the Scots Guards:
"LET NO ONE PROVOKE ME WITH IMPUNITY."
When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow we gave our today.
From the book "The Little Men" (Relating to the Burma campaign in the second world war.)
What shall I think when I am called to die?
Shall I find too soon my life has ended?
The years, too quickly, have hastened by
With so little done with all Iíd intended.
There were so many things Iíd meant to try,
So many contests I had hoped to win;
And lo, the end approaches just as I
Was preparing to begin.
Written by a young English soldier when dying from malnutrition and disease, as a prisoner of war in Malaya,under the Japanese, during the second world war.
"I wish I could write and tell the story of the unselfish heroism of those who fought, and laughed, and died without complaint, although they knew they had no chance of getting home,. and that all they could do was fight to the end and give time to others to get home instead. Frankly, I love them and their unconscious gallantry; so very much what I imagine their Fathers must have shown in the great retreat from Mons, and in the Salient in the last great war."
Written in a German prison camp by an officer of the Royal Norfolks who was captured in the retreat to Dunkirk in 1940.
These words were spoken by an American chaplain with the U.S. arm, in a prisoner of war camp under the Japanese in the Philippines. During the second world war:
"We have been subjected to the most depraved tortures, and seen our captors violate every civilised code of the free world. The contorted forms of our dead comrades lie in shallow graves - graves that admit an odour that outrages the air. They force us to carry our buddies in and out of the terminal ward on bamboo biers. They permit us only meagre water when they have plenty. Food, meagre in quantity, inferior in grade, and badly cooked rice scraps. Ten men tried to escape but were caught by their well-fed pursuers, marched back to camp, forced to dig their own graves, then shot and kicked into those very graves. Open latrines create serious sanitation problems. We smell the urine, the outdoor privy, the accidents on the blankets, the rotting garbage we would bury if we had shovels. We have no kitchen utensils, only the large iron pots for cooking rice or the husks of rice we get. Our clothes are so dirty the Japs wonít touch them, and then we are subjected to the verbal abuse of a fiendish commandant. If we go within twenty paces of the fence we are shot. Then, flies and mosquitoes seek to annihilate us all. But we wonít give up! Weíll live and make this world a place were this canít happen. The blood of our buddies will not be spilt in vain. This will not become a graveyard of the nameless dead. God is going to help us to survive. Ask me about my condition. I am dirty, nasty, and all I have on is my underwear. Can you smell the stench of my rotting teeth? Listen to me - listen without pity. I am not going to die. I am going to live, and you are too, because God is going to give us the strength. We have hope. Thank God we have hope!"
The degree to which a society is civilised can be judged by entering its prisons.
Heavenly Father: I thank You with all my heart for granting me the following mystical happenings, which as far as I can see, can have no other cause than that of spiritual influence.
1. The experience of conversion granted me in St Paul's cathedral, when I felt the beginning of something that was to change the whole of my life.
2. The ability to lead the Loughton Methodist Church Sunday School, with no previous knowledge or experience of this kind of work; and no instruction of any kind.
3. The chair that was opened by me in the Methodist Church hall without the slightest effort, after trying for so long and so hard to open it.
4. The flowers I brought home from the children's anniversary service, that lasted for so long without fading or dying, in 77 Barfields.
5. The time I was spiritually called back to St Margaret's hospital (just after returning from the hospital in Loughton) and finding Marjorie in need of attention to restore her back from what appeared to be a very serious condition. It would seem I called the Sister just in time, for curtains were immediately put round her bed.
6. The two explosions I heard as I was signing the visitorís book after laying a wreath in remembrance of Father at Poziers war memorial in France. (The firing of guns is a method of salute between soldiers) also, as Father must have died very close to this cemetery, the explosions could have been a recurrence of the shells that killed him.
7. For the pattern that my life has taken. Looking back it does appear that everything seems to have fit in place so perfectly, and all this without any consciousness that it was happening. Your guiding hand has undoubtedly been with me throughout.
Finally. And all this in spite of being a person of such little faith, and indeed, a lot of doubt, and my share and more of sin. I can only humbly prey that my life has been worthy of what gifts and abilities have been granted me. And that the work which I have been able to do for You has been of some use towards the bringing of Your Kingdom on earth. The Christianity that I have found in my life has given me all the exciting and glowing, and warm and satisfying, and humble and exalted and thrilling feelings, which I could not possibly have found in any other way; combined with the certainty that You are a loving and kindly Father, who constantly guided me along the right path, and brought me back when I have strayed.
For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether - the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new.
My God I thank Thee, who hast made
The earth so bright,
So full of splendour and of joy,
Beauty and light;
So many glorious things are here,
Noble and right.
I thank Thee, too, that Thou hast made
Joy to abound,
So many gentle thoughts and deeds
Circling us round,
That in the darkest spot of earth
Some love is found.
I thank Thee more than all our joy
Is touched with pain
That shadows fall on brightest hours,
That thorns remain,
So that earth's bliss may be our guide,
And not our chain.
I thank Thee, Lord, that Thou hast kept
The best in store:
We have enough, yet not too much
To long for more -
A yearning for a deeper peace
Not known before.
I thank Thee, Lord, that here our souls,
Though amply blest,
Can never find, although they seek,
A perfect rest,
Nor ever shall, until they lean
On Jesuís breast.
EXTRACTS FROM THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its savour, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law, I have not come to abolish it but to fulfil it. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you certainly will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago "do not murder", and "anyone that murders will be subject to judgement." But I tell you that anyone who is angry to his brother will be subject to judgement. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; Then come and offer your gift."
"If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
"You have heard that it was said," an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I tell you do not resist an evil person. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."
"You have heard it said, "love your neighbour and hate your enemy; but I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward will you get? and if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Be perfect therefore as your heavenly Father is perfect."
"When you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, They have received their reward in full. When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
"This is how you should pray:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we also have forgiven those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one:
For if you forgive men they sin against you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you darkness, how great is that darkness!"
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? see how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "what shall we eat?" or "what shall we drink?" or "what shall we wear?" for the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
"Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your Brotherís eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your Brother, "let me take the speck out of your eye," when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? you hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your Brotherís eye."
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give gifts to those who ask Him! In everything do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets."
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheepís clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit; and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them."
"Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord", will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?" Then I will tell them plainly, "I never knew you. Away from Me, you evil doers!"
"Therefore, everyone who hears theses words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed that His teaching, because He taught as one having authority, and not as their teaches of the law.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great redeemerís praise,
The glories of my God and king,
The triumphs of His grace!
My gracious master and my God,
Assist Me to proclaim,
To spread to all the earth abroad
The honours of Thy name.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
Ďtis music to the sinners ears,
Ďtis life, and health, and peace.
He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for Me.
See all your sins on Jesus laid:
The lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.
Charles Wesley 1707 - 88
Yes God is good in earth and sky,
From ocean depths and spreading wood.
Ten thousand voices seem to cry:
God made us all, and God is good.
The sun that keeps His trackless way,
And downward pours His golden flood,
Nights sparkling hosts all seem to say
In accents clear, that God is good.
The merry birds prolong the strain,
Their song with every spring renewed;
And balmy air and falling rain,
Each softly whispers: God is good.
I hear it in the rushing breeze;
The hills that have for ages stood,
The echoing sky and roaring seas,
All swell the chorus: God is good.
Yes, God is good, all nature says,
By Godís own hand with speech endued;
And man, in louder notes of praise,
Should sing for joy that God is good.
For all Thy gifts we bless Thee Lord,
But chiefly for our heavenly food;
Thy pardoning grace, Thy quickening word,
These prompt our song that God is good.
John Hampden Gurney 1802 - 62
ISAIAH (Chap 9)
The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.
And did those feet, in ancient time
Walk upon Englandís mountains green?
And was the holy lamb of God
On Englandís pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring Me my bow of burning gold!
Bring Me my arrows of desire!
Bring Me my spear! O clouds unfold!
Bring Me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
ĎTill we have built Jerusalem
In Englandís green and pleasant land.
William Blake. 1757 - 1827
"Come unto Me, all you who are weary and heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put, and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people put in large amounts. But a poor widow came in and put in two very small copper coins, Jesus said " I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on."
I heard the voice of Jesus say:
Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down Thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast!
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary, and worn, and sad;
I found Him in a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.
I heard the voice of Jesus say:
Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink, and live!
I came to Jesus and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
I heard the voice of Jesus say:
I am this dark worlds light;
Look upon Me, Thy morn shall rise,
And all Thy day be bright!
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life Iíll walk
Till travelling days are done.
Horatius Bonar. 1808 - 89
"Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me! can any of you prove Me guilty of sin? I am telling the truth, why donít you believe Me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason that you do not hear is that you do not belong to God."
* I have read this memorial tablet and it reads as follows:
In honour of those members of the woman's transport service (F.A.N.Y.)
who gave their lives for their king and country.
The names are then entered.
Their name liveth evermore.
Everyone admires courage, but the Nazis punished it.
Below are the names of seven brave woman of the French section of Britainís special operations executive, who were betrayed to the Germans and cruelly murdered in the 2nd World war. They were dropped into France by parachute to join the French underground movement against the German invaders.
1. Diana Rowden - Aged 29 - Died in Natzweiler concentration Camp; being given an injection before being thrown into the furnace and probably burnt alive (awarded Croix de Guerre).
2. Andreíe Borrel - aged 24 - Suffered the same fate as Diana Rowden.
3. Vera Leigh - aged 41 - was killed in the same way as the two above.
4. Sonia Olschanesky - same as above.
5. Madeleine Damerment - aged 26 - was shot at Dachau Concentration Camp (awarded Croix de Guerre.)
Eliane Plewman - aged 26 - was shot at Dachau (awarded Croix de Guerre.)
Yoland Beckman - ages 32 was shot at Dachau (awarded Croix de Guerre.)
* Their names are commemorated (with others) on a memorial tablet on the outside wall of St Paulís Church, Knightsbridge (corner of Wilton Place.)
COMMENT: We have forgotten too much, too quickly; we have forgotten not only the scourge that threatened to annihilate us; and with us the qualities that raise men above the status of the beast; we have forgotten too, the immense sacrifices that were made to save us from annihilation. We have relinquished, too lightly, the burden of our debt; we have let the straps slip from our shoulders, the weight slide to the floor, have straightened, gratefully, our backs, and kicked the load into the corner.
These woman, and many like them, stubbornly refused to betray their friends, withstood every form of the most cruel torture, both moral and physical; maintaining their own integrity and courage intact until death. They would not ask our pity; but they died that compassion might not vanish from the world.
Jesus answered, "you are right in saying I am a King. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to Me."
Sun of my soul, Thou saviour dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earth - born cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servants eyes!
When the soft dews of kindly sleep
My wearied eyelids gently steep,
Be my last thought: how sweet to rest
For ever on my saviourís breast!
Abide with me from morn to eve,
For without Thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.
If some poor wandering child of thine
Have spurned today the voice divine,
Now, Lord, the gracious work begin;
Let him no more lie down in sin.
Watch by the sick; enrich the poor
With blessings from Thy boundless store;
Be every mourner's sleep tonight,
Like infantís slumbers, pure and light.
Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take,
Till in the ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in heaven above.
John Keble 1792 - 1866
Who would once more re-light creationís flame,
Turn back to sanity a world that goes insane,
To bridge this awful chasm of despair?
The faint, small voice of hope calls out,
Do you answer? will you dare?
These are the orders given by Hitler to the Chief of the German High Command (General Wilhelm Keitel), shortly after the evacuation of British troops at Dunkirk.
THE WAR AGAINST ENGLAND
The Fuhrer and supreme commander has decided:
1. That a landing in England is possible, provided that air superiority can be attained and certain other necessary conditions fulfilled. The date of commencement is still undecided. All preparations are to begin immediately.
2. The commands of the three services are to supply the following information.
(1) Estimates of the strength of the British forces, of losses, and of the extent to which the British Army will have been equipped a month or so hence.
(2) An appreciation of the operational strength of our coastal batteries, and their capacity to provide additional protection for our shipping against British Naval forces.
(1) Survey of possible landing points for strong army forces (25 to 40 divisions). and the estimated strength of British coastal defences.
(2) Indication of sea routes over which our forces can be transported with maximum safety. In selecting loading areas, it must be remembered that landing on a broad front will facilitate subsequent deep penetration.
(3) Data of shipping available, with probable date on which this could be ready.
(c) AIR FORCE.
(1) An estimate of the chances of attaining air supremacy, and figures showing the relative strengths of the Luftwaffe and the R.A.F.
(2) To what extent can a landing be supported by a parachute attack? (highest priority to be given to the production of transport aircraft)
(3) The commands of the three services should co-operate in evolving a plan for the transport of the maximum number of troops with the minimum of shipping and aircraft space. The invading force must be highly mechanised and numerically superior to the opposing armies.
(4) All preparations must be undertaken on the basis that the invasion is still only a plan and has not yet been decided upon. Knowledge of preparations must be restricted to those immediately concerned.
Comment: So it does appear that the RAF (the few) did indeed save us during the "Battle of Britain." If they had not defeated the German Air Force there would most certainly have been an invasion of Britain; and that invasion would have been successful, and our freedom would have been lost to the vile and wicked rule of the Gestapo. It is as well to remember that at this particular time, just after Dunkirk, our weak and defenceless army would have been quickly overrun.
NEVER IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN CONFLICT HAS SO MUCH BEEN OWED BY SO MANY TO SO FEW.
The following was found on a scrap of paper near the body of a dead child in RAVENSBRUCK Concentration Camp:
O Lord, remember not only the men and woman of goodwill, but also those of ill-will. But do not only remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us, remember the fruits we bought thanks to this suffering; our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart, which has grown out of all this, and when they come to judgement, let all the fruit we have borne be their forgiveness.
BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGICAL TABLE
1630 Joseph in Egypt.
1225 Moses, the exodus.
1180 Joshua in Canaan.
1100 The Judges.
1012-975 King David
975-935 King Solomon
935 Division of Israel into two kingdoms.
753 Legendary foundation of Rome.
8th Centí Amos, Hosea, Isaiah.
722 Fall of Samaria.
600 Solon at Athens.
586 Fall of Jerusalem.
539 Fall of Babylon.
538 Cyrus allows the Jews to return to Jerusalem.
490-480 The wars between Greece and Persia.
445 Nehemiah rebuilds Jerusalem.
440 Building of the Parthenon.
398 The inscribing of the law under Ezra.
332 Alexander crosses Palestine.
306 Palestine incorporated in the Greek Lagid Kingdoms.
264-146 The Punic wars.
200 Palestine in the Greek seleucid Kingdoms.
165-160 Judas Maccabeus and the Jewish resistance.
134-104 John Hyrcanus.
63 Pompey takes Jerusalem for Rome.
47 Caesar in Palestine.
40-44 Herod the Great, Tetrarch.
44 Death of Caesar.
30 Augustus Emperor and master of the world.
20 Herod rebuilds the temple at Jerusalem.
6 Birth of Jesus Christ.
4 Death of Herod and division of his king doms.
THE CHRISTIAN ERA (AD)
6 The child Jesus in the temple.
6 Archelaus is deposed; Judea a Roman province.
12 Tiberius associated with the imperium.
14 Death of Augustus: Tiberius Emperor.
26-28 Pontius Pilate arrives in Palestine.
DEC 27 Begging of John The Baptist's ministry.
JAN 28 John baptises Jesus: The temptation in the desert.
MAR 28 Jesus returns to the Jordan: John, Andrew, and Simon are called: The wedding feast at Cana: Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for the Passover: Jesus expels the money changes from the temple.
APR 28 The episode of Nicodemus.
MAY 28 John the Baptist is thrown into prison: Jesus goes back to Nazareth by way of Samaria: Episode of the Samaritan woman: Jesus cures the son of a court official: Jesus begins His public ministry: He teaches in the synagogues: First stay at Capernaum: Cure of the man possessed by devils: Peterís Mother-in-law cured: The miraculous draught of fishes: Cure of a paralytic.
JUN 28 Cleansing of the leper: The disciples pick wheat on the Sabbath: Levi (Matthew) is called: The man with a withered hand: The apostles selected: The sermon on the mount.
JUL 28 The centurion at Capernaum: John the Baptist sends a message to Jesus.
SEP 28 Jesus raises the son of the widow.
NOV 28 The parables concerning the Kingdom of God.
DEC 28 The tempest calmed: Cure of Jairusís daughter: Cure of woman with haemorrhage: Jesus is asked to leave Nazareth.
FEB 29 Mission of the twelve Apostles.
MAR 29 Death of John the Baptist.
APR 29 First miracle of the multiplication of the loaves: Jesus walks on the water.
JUN 29 Jesus in Jerusalem: Cure of a paralytic: Jesus goes through Phoenicia and the Decapolis: Second miracle of the multiplication of the loaves:
JUL 29 Jesus at Caesarea Philippi: Peterís declaration of faith and Jesusís promise.
AUG 29 The transfiguration: First announcement of the passion.
SEP 29 Jesus leaves Galilee for Judea.
OCT 29 Feast of Tabernacles: The woman taken in adultery: Cure of the man born blind: The mission of the 72: Parable of the good Samaritan: The Lords prayer
DEC 29 Feast of the dedication of the temple.
JAN 30 Jesus in Perea: Parables of the good shepherd and the lost drachma: Parable of the lost son.
FEB 30 Cure of the two lepers: "Suffer little children to come unto Me."
MAR 30 Raising of Lazarus: Jesus goes into Ephraim: Jesus in Jericho: Zaccheus the publican: Cure of the blind men: The supper at Bethany: Mary anoints Jesus.
Apr 2 Palm Sunday: Entry into Jerusalem.
Apr 3 Parable of the servants in the vineyard.
Apr 4 Jesus prophesies the fall of Jerusalem, and the last judgement.
Apr 5 Judas betrays Jesus.
Apr 6 The last supper.
Apr 7 Trial, passion and crucifixion of Jesus.
Apr 9 The resurrection.
AFTER THE DEATH OF JESUS
33 or 34 St. Stephen Martyred.
35 Conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus.
42 Beginning of Paulís mission: His epistles written.
50-55 St. Matthew sets down his gospel In Aramaic.
57 First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians.
55-62 St. Mark writes his gospel in Greek.
63 St Luke writes his gospel in Greek.
64 St. Matthew's gospel translated into Greek.
63-64 St. Like completes the "Acts of the Apostles."
67 Death of St. Paul.
70 Jerusalem taken by Titus.
81-96 St. John writes the book of Revelation.
93 Josephusís "Hebrew antiquities."
96-104 St John writes his gospel.
112 Letter from Pliny the younger to Trajan, referring to the Christians.
116 Tacitus in his "annals" refers to the Chris tians in connection with the burning of Rome in 64.
Thy kingdom come O God,
Thy rule O Christ begin;
Break with Thine iron rod
The tyrannies of sin.
Where is Thy reign of peace,
And purity, and love?
When shall all hatred cease,
As in the realms above?
When comes the promised time
That war shall be no more -
Oppression, lust and crime
Shall flee Thy face before?
We praise Thee, Lord, arise,
And come in Thy great might;
Revive our longing eyes,
Which languish for Thy site.
Men scorn Thy sacred name,
And wolves devour Thy fold;
By many deeds of shame
We learn that love grows cold.
Oíer heathen lands afar
Thick darkness broodeth yet:
Arise, O morning star,
Arise, and never set.
Lewis Hensley. 1824 - 1905
Who is on the Lords side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers other lives to bring?
Who will leave the worlds side? Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord's side? Who for Him will go?
By Thy call of mercy,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lordís side;
Saviour we are Thine.
Jesus, Thou hast bought us, not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own lifeblood, for Thy diadem.
Thou hast made us willing, Thou hast made us free.
By Thy great redemption,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lordís side;
Savour, we are Thine.
Fierce may be the conflict, strong may be the foe;
But the Kingís own army, none can overthrow,
Round His standard ringing, victory is secure;
For His truth unchanging, makes the triumph sure,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lordís side;
Saviour we are Thine.
Chosen to be soldiers in an alien land,
Chosen, called and faithful, for our captains band,
In the service royal, let us not grow cold;
Let us be right royal, noble, true, and bold,
By Thy grace divine,
Always on the Lordís side,
Saviour, always Thine.
Frances Ridley Havergale. 1836 - 79
PART OF THE HOLY COMMUNION
For in the same night that He was betrayed, He took bread; After giving thanks, He broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." Again, after supper He took the cup; He gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink this, all of you; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
Draw near with faith. Receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ which He gave for you, and His blood which He shed for you. Remember that He died for you, and feed on Him with your hearts by faith with thanksgiving.
Land of hope and glory,
Mother of the free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider
Shall thy bounds be set;
God who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet!"
"To those who believe, no explanation is necessary, to those who disbelieve, no explanation is possible."
"The Christian conviction of belief, and the Christian adventure of faith, can never be separated."
Only God as revealed in Christ, defeats human imagination, and could not be invented by man. A God made in the image of a servant, vulnerable, despised, humiliated, rejected, contemptible, defeated, killed, ruled out, unredeemed in the eyes of men. A God no one would wish to invent or to have - a God one can discover when He reveals Himself. A God one accepts with awe and with fear because He calls us to be like Him, up-turning all values and giving new meaning to all things.
Choose for us, God; nor let our weak preferring cheat our poor souls of good Thou hast designed; Choose for us God; Thy wisdom is unerring, and we are fools and blind.
W. H. Burleigh. 1812 - 71
God ... Has put eternity into manís mind so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end ... however much man may toil seeking, he will not find it out, though a wise man claims to know it, he cannot find it out.
"Theory without practise is sterile, practice without theory is blind.
In the naked struggle for survival, the notions of unselfishness, and sympathy for the weak, the pursuit of beauty, the cultivation of the things of the mind seem to have no place at all.
Conversion is an opening of oneself to God. God becomes the centre of a personís life. A new start is made. Real sanctity means that one ceases to be concerned about oneself at all. Nothing matters - except God. The saint does not force himself on others; He is so at peace with himself that he does not need to be concerned about himself at all.
He can enjoy the truth for its own sake without feeling he must foist it on others. Conversion will mean turning wordly values upside down. According to Jesus it means becoming child like (not childish), it involves seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all that this priority implies. Christianity is a matter of life and death. The theology of conversion is a matter of great seriousness and importance. Rebirth is as shattering and as significant as birth.
"To discover a truth involves the apostolic task of going out and doing it."
Rufus. M Jones - A Quaker.
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you, and through the rivers they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not costume you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your saviour."
How beautiful, how beautiful,
The sight of Thee must be,
Thine endless wisdom, boundless power
And awful purity!
No earthly Father loves like Thee;
No Mother , eíer so mild,
Bears and forbears as Thou hast done
With me, Thy sinful child.
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never- -failing skill
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds Ye so much dread,
Are filled with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord be feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
His purpose will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And will make it plain.
William Cowper. 1731 - 1800
The end of all our exploring will be to arrive at where we started, and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot.
THE INCAPACITY'S OF GOD
These, at least, are certain if the given world is to continue to make any sense at all to us.
1. He cannot undo what has been done, or change the past in any way.
2. He cannot abrogate the laws of logic - make two and two add up to five.
3. He cannot make good into evil or vice-versa. Thus He cannot make cruelty a virtue.
4. He cannot fulfil all the functions of man, for if He could do so, man would be without a function.
What remains? That God is infinitely good and infinitely beyond our understanding, both in power and nature. A God who needs our help must mean more to us, surely, than a God of absolute power. We must believe in His need for us, not in order to make ourselves important, but to save ourselves from an intolerable triviality. God is the great expander of the human mind. God is what makes the mind ache with the effort to reach beyond itself. A great mystic must, in some sense, be creating God as well as experiencing Him. The best that e can hope to do is work towards attaining the capacity to conceive that the inconceivable exists; The capacity to imagine the fact of the unimaginable.
God has not only to reveal Himself, in order that his creation may progress along the lines that He desires, but He also has to prevent Himself from being found out, in order that His creation may progress along the lines that He desires, but He also has to prevent Himself from being found out in order that his creation may retain its independence. Here is another of the great problems which He set Himself in making a world in which there should be free will ... the method which He has adopted is most ingenious and extraordinarily simple: The more important any matter is, the more impossible it is to prove it ... God being the most important thing for His creation to know, He left Himself absolutely improvable.
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot;
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to pull down and a time to build up;
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time for mourning and a time for dancing;
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek and a time to lose;
A time to keep and a time to throw away;
A time for silence and a time to speak;
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.
Jesus seems to have given Himself wholly to his neighbours. He spent His life giving a new quality of love to others, a new wholeness to the mind and healing to the body. A release from anxious pre-occupations with oneself, and a new openness to the neighbour. People crowded round Him wherever He went, recognising in Him the power of a higher quality of life, and seeking to receive it for themselves. There was evidently something very striking about Him, and about what He said and did, that revealed a super abundant inner life by which others might be enriched. And He poured out this super abundant inner life unstintingly in healing and renewal, eventually dying a violent death rather than either limit the scope of His love or deny its meaning for human life.
There is no humiliation in humility.
The disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said:
"I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name, welcomes Me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you the their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father in heaven."
"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, He is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety nine that did not wander off. In the same your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."
Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
I every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor eíev the praising heart,
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part:
Praise in the common things of life,
Its goings out and in;
Praise in each duty and each deed,
However small and mean.
Fill every part of me with praise;
Let all my being speak
Of Thee and of Thy love, O Lord,
Poor though I be and weak.
So shalt Thou, Lord, from me eíen me,
Receive the glories due;
And so shall I begin on earth
The song for ever new.
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free;
But all my life, in every step,
Be fellowship with Thee.
Horatius Bonar. 1808 - 89
In age and feebleness extreme,
Who shall a helpless one redeem?
Jesus! my only hope Thou art.
Strength of my failing flesh and heart;
O could I catch one smile from Thee,
And drop into eternity!
When the weary, seeking rest,
To Thy goodness flee;
When the heavy-laden cast
All their load on Thee;
When the troubled, seeking peace,
On Thy name shall call;
When the sinner, seeking life,
At Thy feet shall fall:
When the aged weak and grey,
Seek Thy face in prayer;
When the widow weeps to Thee
Sad, and lone, and low;
When the orphan brings to Thee
All his helpless woe:
When the wordling, sick at heart,
Lifts his soul above;
When the prodigal looks back
To his Fatherís love;
When the proud man from his pride
Stoops to seek Thy face;
When the burden brings his guilt
To Thine throne of grace:
Hear then in love, the cry
In heaven, Thy dwelling-place on high.
Horatius Bonar. 1808 - 89
Wise men seeking Jesus,
Travelled from afar,
Guided on their journey
By a beauteous star.
But if we desire Him,
He is close at hand;
For our native country
Is our Holy land.
Prayerful souls may find Him
By our quiet lakes,
Meet Him on our hillsides
When the morning breaks.
In our fertile cornfields
While the sheaves are bound,
In our busy markets,
Jesus may be found.
Fishermen talk with Him
By the great north sea,
As the first disciples
Did in Galilee.
Every peaceful village
In our land may be
Made by Jesuís presence
Like sweet Bethany.
He is more than near us
If we love Him well;
For He seeketh ever
In our hearts to dwell.
James Thomas East. 1860 - 1937
PART OF PSALM 95
1. O come let us sing unto the Lord; let us heartily
rejoice in the strength of our salvation.
2. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving: and show ourselves glad in Him with psalms.
3. For the Lord is a great God: and a great king above all gods.
4. In His hand are all the four corners of the earth: and the strength of the hill is His also.
5. The sea is His and He made it: and His hands prepared the dry land.
6. O come let us worship and fall down: and kneel before the Lord our maker.
7. For He is the Lord our God: and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.
1. The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want:
2. He maketh me lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
3. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.
4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil: For Thou art with me: Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over.
6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Justice is like the kingdom of God - it is not without us as a fact, it is within us as a great yearning.
George Eliot. 1819 - 80
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.
William Hazlitt. 1778 - 1830
Then Jesus turned toward the woman and said to Simon, "You see this woman? I came to your house ; you provided no water for My feet; but she has poured out her tears over My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she has been covering My feet with kisses ever since I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil; but she anointed My feet with perfume. Therefore I tell you her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much." Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace."
To meet Jesus of Nazareth would be for us a profoundly disturbing experience, because it would threaten the existence that we have made for ourselves. We should realise that here is someone who is going to undermine our world, the world of meaning of which we are the centre. We should even find ourselves threatened with a kind of death, the death of our present selves, and should experience in one way or another the alarm of the wealthy young man to whom Jesus said "If you wish to go the whole way, go, sell your possessions, and give to the poor, and then you will have riches in heaven; and come follow Me." When the young man heard this he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.
Jesus said "Whoever cares for his own safety is lost; But if a man will let himself be lost for My sake, he will find his true self. What will a man gain by winning the whole world, at the cost of his own true self?" This means that the valuations, the meaning of life, the estimate of human possibilities and the wholeness embodied in Jesus are at variance with those in ourselves. If we respond to Him as the healer of our own lives this means that His values and meanings, purposes and assumptions are, more convincing and attractive to us than our own. We are then in the process [f dying to our old world of meaning and being born again into His; for "Unless a man has been born over again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
THE PART WE PLAYED IN THE WORLD
The world is not intended to be a paradise, but a place of soul-making; and the hard demands that it makes upon us are integral to this function. Life requires all the courage, resourcefulness, and skill; and all the compassion and care for one another that we can muster. In a world without setbacks, frustrations, failures and disasters, our morals would have no meaning. Without such things as harming or helping there would be no occasion for moral judgement or choice. An imperfect world involves mutual support, loyalty and forbearance, cemented by facing lifeís difficulties and disappointments. We are called to overcome evil with good. Salvation does not mean that we are suddenly made perfect or magically protected from evil; but simply to be on the right side in the battle; and to know that we shall participate in the final victory.
There is literature, painting, buildings, places to be struggled with, loved, hated, understood. But, above all, there are other people, and oneís blind turning towards love; an experience sometimes of closeness and wonderfully various joy; sometimes of hurt and loss and loneliness. There is nothing very original in all this, but something original comes out of it for those who have the courage to do their loving patiently and thoroughly. I am not sure what happens to them, but brave and faithful love of others produces an alteration in persons so that they become unbelievably themselves. The divisions in them are healed; happiness and love have gathered in them till they no longer need look desperately elsewhere. They are free men.
Put all your trust in the Lord. Think of Him in all your ways, and He will smooth your path. Do not think how wise you are, but fear the Lord and turn from evil.
As helpless as a child who clings
Fast to his Fathers arm,
And casts his weakness on the strength
That keeps him safe from harm:
So I, my Father, cling to Thee. And thus I every hour
Would link my earthly feebleness
To Thine almighty power.
As trustful as a child who looks
Up in his motherís face,
And all his little grief's and fears
Forgets in her embrace:
So I to Thee, my saviour, look,
And in Thy face divine
Can read the love that will sustain
As weak a faith as mine.
As loving as a child who sits
Close by his parentís knee,
And knows no want while he can have
That sweet society:
So sitting at Thy feet, my heart
Would all its love outpour,
And pray that Thou wouldst teach me Lord,
To love Thee more and more.
James Drummond Burns. 1823 - 64
People were bringing little children to Him, for Him to touch them. The disciples turned them away, but when Jesus saw this He was indignant and said to them, "Let the little children come to Me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. I tell you solemnly, anyone who does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Then He put His arms around them, laid His hands on them and gave them His blessing.
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
For the joy of ear and eye,
For the heart and mindís delight
For the mystic harmony
Linking sense to sound and sight:
For the joy of human love,
Brother , sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
For each perfect gift of Thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heaven:
Gracious God, to Thee we raise
This our sacrifice of praise.
Folliott Sandford Pierpoint. 1835 - 1917
I thank Thee, that Thy bright beams on me have shined;
I thank Thee, who has overthrown my foes, and healed my wounded mind;
I thank Thee, whose enlivening voice bids my freed heart in Thee rejoice.
Be noble-minded! our own heart and not other menís opinions, form our true honour.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: A good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endureth for ever.
We are not yet one family on earth; but at least we now know that we ought to be.
Hell is the threat; heaven is the promise.
Remorse begets reform.
St PAULíS LETTER TO THE ROMANS (CHAPTER 8)
Those who have live according to their sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the spirit is life and peace, because the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to Godís law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by their sinful nature cannot please God. You however, are controlled not by your sinful nature but by the spirit, if the spirit of God lives in you.
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or danger? No, in all these things we are more than conquers through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death or life, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God.
Dear master, in whose life I see
All that I would, but fail to be,
Let Thy clear light for ever shine,
To shame and guide this life of mine.
Though what I dream and what I do
In my weak days are always two,
Help me oppressed by things undone,
O Thou, whose deeds and dreams were one!
John Hunter. 1848 - 1917
THEIR NAME LIVETH
The hymn sung at the cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday 9.11.1975
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home:
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient in Thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy site
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their cares and fears,
Are carried downward by the flood,
And lost in following years.
Time, like an ever - rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.
Isaac Watts. 1674 - 1748
On this Remembrance Sunday (9.11.1975), I write this hymn as a personal tribute to all those men and women who died in the two world wars: That I might have a free and happy life.
Also I remember with gratitude the many thousands of men and woman, who were badly disabled whilst defending our country.
O love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee:
I give You back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee:
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in my sunshine blaze its day
May brighter , fairer be.
O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee:
I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.
O cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask, to fly from Thee:
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.
George Matheson. 1842 - 1906
You will live on in Englandís pastures green, remember us, and think what might have been.
There can be no more intimate or personal relationship than that expressed by the words "God made me". there can be nothing more certain than the fact that I am being created by the same power that has created the entire physical universe, and that joy may be gained through knowledge of the creator in the creation of the whole. Creation is not something that began the universe in a prehistoric past. It is something without a beginning and without an end, but eternally "going on". Every genuine human attempt to establish a better and happier relationship with the creator is to be applauded. I cannot think of time without eternity, or the finite without the infinite. I cannot think of evolution without creation, or creation without a creator.
Peter de la Cherois Crommelin.
To the question "Why do we have to live?" It could be said "To find out why we have to live."
This extract will help to explain why I am a socialist.
EXTRACTED FROM - EXPLORING INNER SPACE by DAVID HAY.
We need to attend more openly to our religious awareness, so that at the very least its costructiveness and creativity can be used for the benefit of the species. Everyone knows in theory that we will have to behave unselfishly if we are to deal with problems of massive social and political injustice, depletion of natural resources, over-population, threatening nuclear warfare - the familiar catalogue of human ills. Unfortunately, theoretical discussions about these problems remain just that, when, in their hearts, the poor are crushed into accepting their lot rather than organising the fight for justice. Pious discussions amongst the well-to-do over the plight of the world seldom result in effective action, when, in their inner self, they believe that competitive striving for material wealth is the only way to ensure personal well-being. People who become religiously aware seem to experience directly their solidarity with their fellow-men and their responsibility towards them. Tasks which had previously appeared impossible begin to look less formidable. They are less inclined to be seduced into the amassing of goods, because they perceive that there are other sources of security. Life gains meaning. These would appear to be advantages of our biological heritage, not to be lightly ignored.
OUR PASSPORT TO HEAVEN
"Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for You from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and You gave me food, I was thirsty and You gave me drink, I was a stranger and You welcomed me, I was naked and You clothed me, I was sick and You visited me, I was in prison and You came to see me; In as much as You did it to one of the least of my brethren, You did it to me." (Matthew 25)
Behold where He stands - the God. He (Jesus) is the God, and yet He has not a resting place for His head, and He does not lean on any man lest He cause him to be offended. He is the God, and yet He picks His steps more carefully than if angels guided them, not to prevent His foot from stumbling against a stone, but lest He trample human beings in the dust, in that they are offended in Him. He is the God yet His eye rests upon mankind with deep concern, For the tender shoots of an individuals life may be crushed as easily has a blade of grass. How wonderful a life, all sorrow and all love, to yearn to express the equality of love and yet to be misunderstood; to apprehend the danger that all men may be destroyed and yet only to be able really to save a single soul; His own life filled with sorrow, while each hour of the day is taken up with the troubles of the learner who confides in Him: This the God as he stands upon the earth, like onto the humblest by the power of his omnipotent love. To accept this kind of love as the ultimate good is to be let in on a new understanding of what life is all about. His final judgement will be based not on what I have believed but on how much I have loved, and expressed that love in the very deeds of Christ Himself. So this man Jesus opens up to all men the possibility of knowing that the perfection of life is love, and illuminates that knowledge for us by His own life of love.
Pauline. M. Webb - Teacher, Writer and Methodismís Director of lay training.
A Beautiful Hymn:
Brief life is here our portion,
Brief sorrow, short lived care;
The life that knows no ending,
The tearless life is there.
O happy retribution! short toil, eternal rest;
For mortals and for sinners, a mansion with the blest!
That we should look, poor wanderers,
To have our home on high!
That worms should seek for dwellings
Beyond the starry sky!
And now we fight the battle, but then shall wear the crown
Of full and everlasting passion renown.
And now we watch and struggle,
And now we live in hope,
And Zion in her anguish
With Babylon must cope;
But He whom now we trust in shall then be seen and known,
And they that know and see Him shall have Him for their own.
O sweet and blessed country,
The home of Godís elect!
O sweet and blessed country,
That eager hearts expect!
Jesu, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest,
Who art, with God the Father and spirit, ever blest.
Jerusalem the golden,
With milk and honey blessed,
Beneath Thy contemplation
Sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare!
They stand, those halls of Zion,
All jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel
And all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them; the daylight is serene;
The pastures of the blessed are decked in glorious sheen.
There is the throne of David,
And there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph,
The song of them that feast;
And they who, with their leader, have conquered in the flight,
For ever and for ever are clad in robes of white.
Strive man. to win that glory;
Toil man, to gain that light;
Send hope before to grasp it,
Till hope be lost in sight.
Exult, O dust and ashes; the Lord shall be Thy part:
His only, His for ever Thou shalt be, and Thou art.
Bernard of Cluny 12 Cent;
At 7.55 on 8th Dec 1941, 360 Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbour; during this attack the battle ships Arizona, California, Oklahoma and West Virginia; the mine layer Oglala, and the target ship Utah, were sunk. Also 174 American planes were destroyed. Four other battleships, three cruisers and three destroyers were damaged.
May Godís love flow through us so that we may do His will for mankind, and bring us eternal life.
A prayer for all of us:
Life is not all that is beautiful, healthy, strong and true - it is, and must be composed of sorrow and bitterness and suffering; ; and it is the manner in which we endure this suffering that can make life beautiful - or hideous.
After running 291 miles from Landís End to London in twelve days for charity, Jimmy Saville OBE, said "Iíve met a lot of bad tempered people who have everything, but Iíve never met a bad tempered paraplegic."
"God takes a little, but He always gives a lot back."
Child of my love, fear not the unknown morrow, dread not the demand life makes of thee. thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow, for what thou knowest not is known to Me. thou canst not see today the hidden meaning of My command, but there no light shalt gain.
Walk on in faith, upon my promise leaning, and as thou goest, all shall be made plain. One step thou seest, then go forward boldly, one step is far enough for faith to see. Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee, for step by step thy Lord is leading thee.
"Lord, if You did not exist, I love You. If there is nothing beyond this life, and paradise is but a dream; I am still grateful for knowing what You said and did during Your tragically short stay with us. If Your crucifixion has in any way made me a better man, then I know that Your agony was not in vain."
By Myself WWG
Faith and hope and love, St Paul tells us, are all closely intertwined. Certainly when faith fades, hope seems to fade also. But faith is more than mere hoping against hope that these things might be so. It is a decision, and the very word "decision" means the cutting of all other possibilities. We decide by faith that there is a meaning in our loves, that there is an ultimate choice to be made freely and that the choice is directed to the love revealed to us through the being of one perfect man. The decision has to be made in darkness but it can be lived out in light. And even when faith fails and our hope grows dim, there remains always the possibility of love. This, for me in the final analysis, is what it means to believe in God.
Pauline. M. Webb
Our ancestors would have said that they had seen God. It is hard for us to say such a thing, hard for us to know what we mean by it, but we tend to recognise goodness, love, wholeness when we come across it in others. Perhaps the experience of it is a faulty, faint, far-off glimpse of a truth which we might achieve after a lifetime of effort: Occasionally we meet people who have made the effort. They are no longer interested in seeing visions nor in talking about them. They are the vision of love and of forgiveness and of meaning.
Monica Furlong (Columnist, writer and author)
The stuff we are made of, if the psychologists are to be trusted, is pretty wicked stuff; a little lust, a little greed, a little pride, a little of each of the seven deadly sins. These are the things that make us tick, and it is with this unpromising material that we must learn love.
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and grief's to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Every thing to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious saviour, still our refuge:
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do Thy friends despise, forsake Thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms heíll take and shield Thee.
Thou wilt find a solace there.
Joseph Medlicott Scriven. 1820 - 86
On conflicting evidence, order weighed against chaos, justice against injustice, beauty against desolation, rare moments of happiness and content against continuous days of alienation and despair, I still chose meaning: The choice that man is for the order and justice and beauty and happiness and content, even when he is suffering the chaos and injustice and desolation; Just as I believe man is for health when I walk through a hospital ward where all are sick.
Harold Looks (Teacher, university reader in education, fellow of Jesus College, author and Quaker.)
"I am the bread of life, the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread he will live for ever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. He who comes to Me will never be hungry, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. For My Fatherís will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life."
The spacious firmament on high
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great original proclaim.
The unwearied sun from day to day,
Doth His creators power display;
And publishers to every land
The work of an almighty hand.
Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale,
And nightly to the listening earth
Repeats the story of her birth;
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball;
What though real voice or sound
Amidst the radiant orbs be found:
In reasonís ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing as they shine:
The hand that made us is divine!
Joseph Addison. 1672 - 1719
NOTES FROM "THE PROBLEM of EVIL"
by M. C. DíArcy. (Society of Jesus, Master of Arts)
Two kinds of evil, physical and mental. God permits both. God may make use of evil, but cannot be said to cause it. Evil is only a problem if there is a god who opposes it. Therefore we must presuppose the existence of a God of goodness. A lot of evil arises because God has given mankind a free choice.
Whatever is has some value, and is therefore to that extent good, evil comes in when something is not, or ceases to be what it ought to be. Evil is a loss of good. A thing may be good, and yet relatively evil; as matter may be rubbish if out of place.
In all regions of thought we can reach some truth, But God is of such a nature that we cannot comprehend His mind or purposes fully.
Have we the means to find a solution to the problem of good and evil? The sermon on the mount invites mankind to a wisdom which is a solution in itself. Our task is to follow the teachings of God, and leave Him to treat evil as only He knows how. The universe, if not the best that we can conceive, is relatively best to us and to the end God had in view. The end for which mankind was created was to be secured by a certain kind of freedom of choice, the right use of which would glorify God and create happiness. This freedom would call for virtue, but also gives rise to the possibility of sin.
If man chooses evil, then he can only blame himself, and not God. It is of manís essence that he should grow and struggle by his own efforts. It is freedom and adventure that makes life worth living. Men have died for freedom.
(If God is good, why has He allowed wickedness, disease, despair, waste and suffering? ) is this a good reason for denying God? If God is rejected we cut ourselves off from a possible source of hope. (We ask for change, but is change for our good? Is sorrow evil? Could we appreciate gladness without sorrow? Virtues such as courage and temperance are developed by conflict with pain and vice. Human character lacks quality if untried by opposition to its ideals. Man has made the world what it is, and is responsible for the cruelties of war, slavery, and all the hideous practices which deface civilisation. But suffering is not purposeless or meaningless, because it can become the most sublime sign of human dignity and divine love. Suffering which produces the kind of character we admire and love, is not only regrettable but also most precious.)
Man, on the whole, is held back from doing evil by the thought that eternal* punishment would be the result of such evil. Without this fear man would become so evil that the world would not be fit for habitation by the just. The order of creation must have its praise and blame, reward and punishment. Our end as spiritual beings depends on what we as free persons make of ourselves. God could save us from ourselves, but He wants us to find our own way towards our salvation. With no punishment for evil we should have no conception of Godís hatred of sin, and His love of truth and goodness. Justice and reason (evil is contrary to reason. Reason is right and good.)
Why has God chosen a world where hell is a necessary part of it? The universe is good, God has given the means of happiness - a free will of such a kind that by our own efforts we can make life full of joy and contentment. Suffering and sin are entailed, but are bound up with the good in such a way that they cannot be changed without a change in the whole scheme of the universe. Those who accept all the good and rejoice in free will cannot quarrel with the consequences of this freedom. (A possibility of sin and suffering). A necessary part of this freedom must be a faith in a God of goodness and a search for knowledge of Godís purpose in the universe.
The purpose of the world is surrounded with mystery and only the end of the world will provide a clue to its meaning and purpose. What is good in the world (that which is normal and ordinary) far outweighs the evil, (ugliness and pain) which is noticed much more than goodness because it is glaring and exceptional. If this were not so there would be no permanence; and civilisation would be the survival of the strongest. What we do find is a life where pity, gentleness, mercy and courage are everyday affairs; dominating evil.
In the midst of us is found the solution of all difficulties, Jesus Christ, who revealed God as a merciful Father and Himself as the suffering redeemer. Godís choice of this world was not a light one, seeing that it involved the agony and death of the Son of God Himself. This world has served to manifest the infinite resources of divine love. The cross of Christ takes away the sting of suffering and transforms resentment at the inexplicable pain, into reverence and affection, for it bears witness to the companionship of God in suffering, to His being the supreme victim of sin and its physician through self-sacrifice.
May it not be said, then, that it was excess rather than defect of love that led to Godís choice of this world? love is found most strong where weakness is its object. This pathetically weak world has, at any rate, this glory, that it has served to manifest the infinite resources of divine love. And it is characteristic of this virtue, as of all other virtues, to be its own reward, to be independent of success or failure; in fact, it is seen in its most sublime form where it meets with rejection. This we know to be true from the many heroic acts of devotion in history, which profited nothing save that they left an imperishable memory. It is the spirit of such acts which we value, not the recompense - the cause, not the effects. Dimly, then, we amy discern creation and still more the incarnation as the service of love. This was the supreme and, in a sense, only motive which led God to act. It mattered not that this love might be foiled; there could be no excuse for its rejection, for killing it, and the blood would be on the head of the slayer. No blame, therefore, can rest on love for the utter folly of those who reject it. they could be saved by coercion alone and coercion is incompatible with love, which is of the nature of an offering, pleading through self-sacrifice. We see this in human life, where the union of free spirits is attained not by force, but by sympathy, the mutual shouldering of burdens and glad co-operation. As just as a federation of mankind can be expressed only in terms of freedom and mutual affection, so too the divine scheme is a heaven constituted by love, where God can point to His own cross as the symbol of His unsparing solicitude and goodness. If this be so, we can understand in part why this inferior world was chosen and why evil casts no shadow on God, but rather - "where sin abounded there most of all did love abound."
* I do not believe that there is eternal punishment. There are many ways of punishing evil in this present life, both by the enforcement of law and order; and by disease which is caused by wrong doing.
In any future life it is unthinkable that a loving God would inflict anything more than a stern rebuke, which would take some form unknown to us. W. W. Gibson
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believerís ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.
It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
Ďtis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest.
Dear name! the rock on which I build,
My shield and hiding-place,
My never-failing treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!
Jesus, my shepherd, brother, friend,
My prophet, priest, and king,
My Lord, my life, my way, my end,
Accept the praise I bring.
Weak is the effort of my heart,
And cold my warmest thought;
But when I see You as Thou art
Iíll praise Thee as I ought.
Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath;
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my soul in death.
John Newton. 1725 - 1807
"In very truth I tell you, he who receives any messenger of Mine receives Me, and in receiving Me he receives the one who sent Me."
"Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first must be the willing slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom to many. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Thus will the first be last and the last first."
PARTS OF THE 51st PSALM
(A Prayer for Forgiveness)
Be gracious to me, O God, in Thy true love; In Thy fullness of Your mercy blot out my misdeeds. Wash away all my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For well I know my misdeeds, and my sins confront me all day long. Against Thee, so that Thou mayest be proved right in Thy charge and just in passing sentence. Wash me, that I may become whiter than snow; let me hear the sounds of joy and gladness. Turn away Thy face from my sins and blot out all my guilt. Create a pure heart in me, O God, and give me a new and steadfast spirit; Do not drive me from Thy presence or take Thy holy spirit from me; revive me in the joy of Thy deliverance and grant me a willing spirit to uphold me. Open my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may proclaim Thy praise. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a wounded heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.
Jesus, what didst Thou find in me,
That Thou has dealt so lovingly?
How great the joy that Thou hast brought,
So far exceeding hope or thought!
Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God believe also in Me. There are many dwelling places in My Fathers house, if there were not, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a palace for you.
I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except by Me. Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. I am the Father and the Father is in Me. The words I say to you are not just My own. Rather, it is the Father living in Me, He speaks them. You must believe Me when I say I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Whatever you ask for in My name I will do. If you love Me you will obey My commands, and I will ask the Father and He will give you another comforter, to be with you for ever; the spirit of truth, whom the world can never receive since it neither sees nor knows Him; but you know Him, because He dwells with you and is in you. He shall teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace I leave with you, My own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is My gift to you.
As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved You; continue in My love. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
No man who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.
He who listens to you listens to Me; he who rejects you rejects Me; but he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.
So I say to you: ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.
St PAUL WRITES TO THE EPHESIANS
Finally be strong the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then with the belt of truth around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the gospel of peace a firm footing. I addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. with this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Holy spirit, hear us;
Help us while we sing;
Breathe into the music
Of the praise we bring.
Holy spirit, prompt us
When we kneel to pray;
Nearer come, and teach us
What we ought to say.
Holy spirit, shine Thou
On the book we read;
Gild its holy pages
With the light we need.
Holy spirit, give us
Each a lowly mind;
Make us more like Jesus,
Gentle, pure and kind.
Holy spirit brighten
Little deeds of toil;
And our playful pastimes
Let no anger spoil.
Holy spirit, help us
Daily by Thy might,
What is wrong to conquer,
And to chose the right.
William Henry Parker. 1845 - 1929
PARTS OF ST PAULíS LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints - the faith and love that springs from the hope stored up for you in heaven, and which you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is producing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood Godís grace in all its truth. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may have a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father. Therefore, as Godís chosen people, holy and dearly loved, with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since, as members of one body, you were called to peace, and be thankful. Let the word of God dwell in you richly as you teach and council one another with all wisdom, and as you sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Gentleness and simple purpose are the outward symbols of strength, and not of frailty. Gentleness is the hallmark of the courageous.
CHURCHILL RALLIES THE BRITISH PEOPLE
13th May 1940: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. Our policy is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength God can give us: to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. Our aim is victory - victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival."
4th June 1940: " We shall fight them on the beaches" see later
17th June 1940: "The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our British way of life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him all Europe may be free, and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will say, This was their finest hour."
Elizabeth 1 speaks to her army of 16,000 men at Tilbury, waiting for the Spanish invasion in 1588: "Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects, therefore I am among you............ I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a King, and a King of England, too. And I think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any other Prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm...... I will take myself up in arms. I myself will be your General."
SIGNS OF THE END
Mat 24: For nation will make war upon nation, kingdom upon kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes in many places. You will then be handed over for punishment and execution; and men of all nations will hate you for your allegiance to Me. Many will fall from their faith; they will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many; and as lawlessness spreads, menís love for one another will grow cold. But the man who holds out until the end will be saved, and the gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the earth as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. It will be a time of great distress; there has never been such a time from the beginning of the world. If that time of troubles were not cut short, no living thing could survive; But for the sake of Godís chosen it will be cut short. Like lightening from the east, flashing as far as the West, will be the coming of the Son of man. As soon as the distress of those days has passed, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give her light, the celestial powers will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign that heralds the Son of man coming with great power and glory, and will gather his chosen from the four winds and from the farthest bounds on every side. Earth will pass away; My words will never pass away. But about that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son; only the Father. Keep awake then; for you do not know on what day your Lord is to come. Hold yourselves ready, therefore, because the Son of man will come at the time you least expect Him.
COMMENT: Everything that has happened since the beginning of the world was inevitable, being controlled by the position of the earth in relation to the sun. what happened to the earth decided the kind of creation that resulted; for, from the beginning of time, mankind, and beyond, was already there. Everything was slowly but surely guided and shaped into the present life of all kinds. Nothing could be different in its essentials; it was all decided by the evolution of the elements. Immediately the earth was born, all that followed was already part of it. This solution seems to point to a definite plan which must go on to its completion. As the sun cools and its light dims, the moon will lose its light, and the world as we know it will perish; and its destruction will result in a return to nothingness that was there at the beginning of time. Only God knows the meaning of all this; but without a spiritual reality there would appear to be no purpose in it.
I sing the mighty power of God,
That made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad,
And built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained
The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at His command,
And all the stars obey.
I sing the goodness of the Lord,
That filled the earth with food;
He formed the creatures with His word,
And then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed
Whereíer I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread,
Or gaze upon the sky;
Thereís not a plant or flower below
But makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise and tempests blow
By order from Thy throne.
Isaac Watts. 1674 - 1748
Christ the saviour is coming down,
Points us to the victors crown,
Bids us take our seats above,
More than conquerors in His love.
When the judge to earth descending
Righteous judgement shall ordain,
Fraud and wrong should then have ending,
Truth, immortal truth, shall reign.
Spirit, comforter divine,
Praise by all to Thee be given;
Till we in full chorus join,
And earth is turned to heaven.
Who can behold the blazing light?
Who can approach consuming flame?
None but Thy wisdom knows Thy might,
None but Thy words can speak Thy name.
From Outline of Christian Belief by Charles. S. Duthie.
Notes from "OUTLINE OF CHRISTIAN BELIEF" by Charles S Duthie (DR - Principle of New College Divinity School - Tutor in Paton College - Minister Congregational Church - Principle of Congregational College Edinburgh - Theologian - Author.
Christ is the supreme revealer of God, God has a Christlike character, we can trust Him and love Him. It is not true that everything reveals God, nor is it true that everything conceals God. But in a world of mingled light and darkness there is enough light to make us without excuse if we do not strive hard to find Him. Godís coming in Christ has a purpose. That purpose is that God and man should be reconciled and united with each other. Now that Godís character and saving action has been revealed in Jesus, God is able to make an even deeper relationship possible. By His spirit He offered Himself as God in man, an indwelling presence and power that gave human life a new quality and direction. Transcending and holy (God above man), gracious in His purpose (God of man), giving Himself wholly to Jesus, (God with man) and finally becoming the life of manís life through the spirit (God in man) - this is the God of the bible whom we Christians love, worship, serve and obey. Father, Son and Spirit are elements in our experience of God, yet we know that it is the one God we meet in that experience.
How had the first Christians come to have faith in Jesus? First it was the memory of His wonderful life. He had laid a spell on His disciples from the beginning. He talked intimately and yet so reverently of God the Father. He loved people and seemed to have a special place in His affection for the misfits and the outcasts of society. He had a strange power to heal. The pictures and stories He used to illustrate His teaching lingered in the mind long after they had been heard. There was a commanding and infectious goodness about Him. He was one of themselves, and yet ... as they looked back on His life they new He had shown them God. Then there was the impact of His unexpected and shameful death. He seemed to know that it would come to the worst in the end. He talked about the inescapable suffering of the Son of man. It seemed to spell the final defeat of all their hopes. Crucifixion was a ghastly thing, best forgotten. But they could not forget it. He had asked forgiveness for His killers. He had committed Himself to the Father. Later they came to feel that He was dying for them and for all men. He was a messiah of a different sort from what they had looked for, a suffering servant allowing men to do their worst on Him for loveís sake.
He who slumbered in the grave
Is exalted now to save;
Now through Christendom it rings
That the lamb is King of Kings.
The Christian holds on to God even in the grim and dark experiences of life from which He appears to be absent, because He has seen Godís glory in the face and knows that He is a God that can be trusted. Unbelieving eyes are opened to the wonder of God by many different means - by the reading of the bible, by the preaching of the word. by human friendship and loyalty, by the influence of prayer, by the sight of suffering bravely born, by self-sacrificing service.
What men see when their eyes are opened fully is the strange sight of a God who stoops to enter our human life, exposing Himself to suffering and shame in order that His children may realise how much He cares for them.
God does not interfere with the laws and processes of the world He has created. It is a world of dependable regularities; only as such could it be a suitable habitation for men. God has given His world the freedom to be what it is, because this is the kind of world He requires for His purpose. But He penetrates, pervades and permeates the world thereby making it sufficiently plastic to allow for both miracle and guidance (the supreme example of this is found in Christ). Man has brought thought , self consciousness, community, love and freedom to the world. The real world which God has made is a marvellous and beautiful world; but it is also a world of suffering and death. This is necessary so that personality can grow from the fight against risk, accident, degeneration and death. A world of robots preserved from the laws of nature and made inviolate and invincible in goodness is too horrible to contemplate.
Because the world is Godís we can delight in its beauty. Jesus saw the hand of God behind the loveliness of lilies, and the sunshine and rain that come upon just and unjust alike. Because the world is Godís we must strive to make its wealth in food and material resources and beauty available for the whole human family. Because the world was made to serve Godís purpose, we must be confident that He will achieve that purpose.
Will not the end explain?
The crossed endeavour, earnest purpose foiled,
The strange bewilderment of good work spoiled,
The clinging weariness, the inward strain.
Will not the end explain?
If He asked by the scientist "What will happen to Godís purpose if men destroy themselves or if the earth in the distant but predictable future becomes uninhabitable?" He can only reply that, as He sees it, nothing that man suffers at his own hand or from the world can defeat God. Man may write "finis" but the real end is in the power of God. We can trust Him to bring the venture of existence to a successful conclusion which will itself be a new beginning.
"It is not possible for my faith to be shaken by man, however low he may sink; for this faith is not grounded on what man thinks about man, but on what God thinks about him." (written by Berdyaev.)
Scientists can tell us about manís early history - can analyse his body and mind - can predict the end of the earth and thus of man. But what they cannot do is show us the meaning of man.
The essential thing is that man was made by God and for God in His own image; that man somehow is not in his right relationship to God, and that in Jesus Christ God has come in human form to earth to set things right, and to show man his true destiny.
Man has freedom and responsibility and he is, for good or ill, what he chooses to be, not what God intended him to be. Something is seriously wrong and man has become a sinner estranged from God, disobedient to God and rejecting Godís love. Manís destiny can be found in Christ who is the perfect image of God. Christ is the pattern, the inspiration, and the goal for mature manhood. It is not until we discover how far down God has reached in Christ to reclaim us that we are able to understand how far from Him we have fallen. What God did in Christ made it plain, however, that besides needing to be saved, man is worth saving. His sin does not destroy his humanity. Even when he is lost, he is still a Son of God, for only a son can be lost.
In Christ God did something quite decisive to rescue men from their plight, to bring them into a true relation with Himself and to make a new life possible. The only sure way that God can reach man is to stand beside him and show him how much He cares and how ready He is to help. That means coming to earth at one point in time. It meant giving Himself in a life that was patently human. The whole life of Jesus from start to finish is God laying Himself alongside man , claiming man, succouring man, exposing Himself to the worst that man can do.
God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Christ was innocent of sin, and yet for our sake God made Him one with the sinfulness of men. A love that pours itself out on men with the utmost generosity and conquers in the end through suffering freely accepted is a love we can all understand.
The cross, as the epitome of Christ's whole life, tells us that because God so loved He gave. He is and always will be the loving God who bears our wrongdoing upon His heart. What God was in Jesus, that He still is. He is the God who involves Himself costingly with all our life. Because He is the God in whom we live and move and have our being, He touches us and we touch Him at every point. He comes to meet us in the voice of conscience, in the task of every day, in the cry of the hungry, in the claim made by the neighbour, whether in England or in Africa. We accept or reject Godís seeking love in the measure in which we respond to the situation which confronts us and, most of all, to the people whose need calls for sympathy and help. One of the most terrifying verses of scripture for this generation is "I tell you this: Anything you did not do for one of these, however humble, you did not do for Me" (Mat 25:45).
Because this is the truth of our condition, the gospel is relevant to this and every age. It is a gospel of reconciliation. Four words sum up the heart of the matter, reconciliation means first reception, God receives us as we are, without our having to qualify for His favour. That is the meaning of that grand word, grace. But reconciliation also means reunion or personal relationship. God could forgive us and still hold us at distance; but through Christ He enters into intimate and continuing friendship with us. It is a friendship ion which the power of His spirit works a vital change in us. This means renewal, transformation. The result is a redirection of our whole life. We become men and women of the way.
This is the Christian good news, that man who was made in the image and for the image of God and has somehow unmade himself can be remade by the power of Christ.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven.
It is to share this good news with the world that the church exists. It is the herald and the bearer of the Gospel and dare never for a moment forget it.
The Christian is a follower a disciple of Christ, a believer in God, a man with a new spirit in him, a man living in fellowship with God, a representative of Christ among his fellows. A "new man" reconciled to God and transformed by his basic relation to God. "The life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me." (Gal 2:20). Godís gift and His demand to the Christian "Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness and self-control "are regarded as the "harvest of the spirit." (Gal 5:22).
A Christian bears witness, and points beyond himself to the love and goodness of God and gives himself to Christ in service to his fellow-men. By grace the Christian is maintained in vigour to function as a harmonious relationship with God. Consisting not only of prayer and worship, the sacraments, and the bible, but of everything that nourishes and enlarges him in the new life to which God has called him. A Christian may be a Father, an employer, a workman, a friend, a neighbour and much else; a high value is set on the worth and dignity of all people. Work and interests are considered an offering to God. In the pursuit of the true and beautiful, in the arts such as painting and music, and other cultural studies, God wants His children to delight. Not only in His creation, but in their own power to create. But the great priority for the Christian is the conquest of evil in the human heart through reconciliation with God. In fighting the battle for freedom and for faith: genuine love for men produces compassion and indignation, alerting the conscience to moral and social evils, world poverty, racial discrimination, drug addiction and modern slavery.
The Christian must reflect the splendour of the Lord, being thus transfigured into His likeness. Being a Christian is trying, however imperfectly, to be like God, pointing beyond himself to the sublime mystery of discipleship. "Let your light so shine among your fellows, so that, when they see the good you do, they may give praise to your Father in heaven." (Mat 5).
Is the world being moved towards a worthwhile goal? God has a purpose of good for the world He loves, and this purpose will be carried through to its final triumph. Life on earth is, on the one hand, so full of frustration, tragedy and suffering that it cries out for a sequel, and on the other hand, so full of delight and so big with promise, that it is hard to believe that one day everything will vanish without trace, sunk in the abyss of nothingness. The Christian hopes for a sequel because he believes in God who has promised in Christ to make all things new. In that ultimate state "We shall be like Him" because "We shall see Him as He is". The vision of God is blessedness. Therefore "everyone who has this hope before Him purifies himself, as Christ is pure." (1 John 3:2-3). Man is mortal in himself; but he has been destined for immortality." This perishable being must be clothed in the imperishable, and what is mortal must be clothed with immortality." (1 Cor 15:53). Then it is a gift of God through Jesus Christ who brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Tim 1:10). Essentially it is the gift of a continuing fellowship with God, for Christians know that there is "Nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39).
We live in a mysterious world in which our vision is often clouded. Our knowledge is partial. What counts most with God is not that we have a rounded system of Christian belief, but that we should be walking with Him in the light and obeying the truth we have already been given. He is our Father and under his guidance the Christian life is a process of education into Sonship.
Jesus began his public ministry with the words "The time has come; the Kingdom of God is upon you; repent and believe the Gospel." (Mark 1 : 14-15). Jesus makes an announcement and calls for an answer. "God is present in power to forgive and to heal. Accept His offer of a new kind of life. Change your way of looking at things and start afresh". Paul says "When anyone is united to Christ, there is a new world; the old order has gone, and a new order has already begun." (2 Cor 5:17).
We have not only to begin to believe, however the beginning may be made: we have to continue to believe, to go on believing, often in the face of grim experience and problems which threatens to destroy faith altogether. How is faith in God maintained?
When we sit down to reflect we become conscious of a number of reasons which have been fortifying our faith in God without our being specially aware of them and of their cumulative value. For one thing we have found that our belief in God through Christ has worked. It has given meaning and purpose to our lives. It has borne fruit in a genuine concern for those who need our help. Our experience of Christian faith tells us that it is an awakening, disturbing, liberating, enlarging force.
Then we have discovered that this same belief in God provides us with a more satisfying account of our admittedly mysterious world than any other faith or world-view. We have noted more than once that Christianity does not answer all our questions to our complete satisfaction. The problem of evil still perplexes us. But a world made by God for the creation and the development of personal beings in community with Himself and with each other makes more sense than a world that has appeared from nowhere and may vanish as inexplicably as it came.
We find also that belief in God made known in Christ answers powerful inner urge to move out from ourselves to what is truly ultimate. The Christian God corresponds and speaks to what is deepest in us. To put it otherwise, when we become linked with Christ we are aware that we have come home. He fulfils our best expectations. He meets our needs. We feel that we belong to Him because it is through Christ that God has made us in His own image, and through Christ's self-giving in life and death that God has claimed us as His own.
Faithís real confidence in its power to continue lies therefore not in itself but in God and His grace. From within the situation of living faith the Christian sees himself not only as one who grasps God but as one who is grasped by God. This becomes very clear in moments when faith is in jeopardy, as when personal tragedy strikes or persecution is very fierce. At such a time the Christian cannot rely on the resources of spiritual capital which he feels he may have built up over the years. He must turn to God, throw himself upon God, the inexhaustible spring of all power. Faith, is our trustful dependence on God, a thankful and joyous self-commitment which lays the life open to Godís renewing and thus to obedient action in the spirit of Christian love.
It is when he seeks to be thus open to God that the Christian finds the path to a discipleship that is at once vigorous and balanced. Such a discipleship is, first of all, a discipleship with a due measure of enthusiasm in it. Enthusiasm is the ardour that is born of gratitude to God for what He has done and of the knowledge that He is at work as a presence within. But enthusiasm alone is not enough. A strong and enduring Christian life is a life in which wisdom is added to enthusiasm. We hear too little of wisdom today. Wisdom is the quality of the Christian mind growing in the understanding of God, of others, of itself. In the third place, where there is both enthusiasm and wisdom, there you will find the precious quality of staying power. These three things, enthusiasm, wisdom and staying power are routed in the soulís continuing relationship of communion with God through Christ living in us and we in Him (Gal 2:20). Wisdom is growing in the mind of Christ who is Himself the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1:24). Staying power is the energy that enables us to be firm and immovable because we know that in God our labour cannot be lost (1 Cor 15:58) and can rely on His faithfulness who does not faint or grow weary (Isaiah 40:28).
Whether we speak of Christian belief or the Christian faith or the Christian life, our primary concern is with God, the source of our being and of all being, The God and Father of Jesus Christ and our Father. It sometimes seems that God has become a casualty in the modern world. It is the privilege of Christians to affirm their faith in Him, to proclaim His love and to delight in Him. The Christian preoccupation with God is not a means of escaping from the tasks of our day. It is the source of inspiration for these tasks. Because God is concerned with the world, He summons us to be concerned. If we allow Him to do so, He catches us up into His own compassion and love. When that happens we say not only "I believe in God" but "I believe in God and therefore with His presence and help. I give myself to His people , the church, to my neighbour whoever he may be, and to the world of men for whom Christ died."
If the heart of the gospel could not be grasped and applied to life by the simple as well as the learned, the appeal of Christianity would be less than universal. But God has provided for all His people.
The Christian is a man who loves as well as a man who believes.
We have in the life of Jesus not only a reliable picture of what God is like, but a demonstration of God in action.
END OF BOOK ONE