Category: Uncategorized

Robes won by dying

Those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere began the season of Autumn at the end of last week. The day is known as the Autumn ‘equinox’ or, more technically, the ‘astronomical equinox’

‘Equinox’ is  the day when daylight and darktime hours are equal. This happens twice a year in Spring and Autumn. The word ‘equinox’ comes from two Latin words, aequus which means, equal and nox which means night.

The initial effect is that we notice the nights are darker for longer and there is generally a drop in temperature. Nature begins to adjust accordingly. Many birds migrate whilst other birds arrive to over-winter. Many animals hibernate (just as, in this season and, in winter many of us would like to do so also!)
Biologically the pace of life slows. For some it isn’t a happy season but for others it has a magic of its own.

The countryside, forests, woods and parkland areas of towns are ablaze with colour as the leaves of the trees put on their autumn garb. They are stunning signs of summer’s end and the onset of winter as the trees  become skeletal. Not everyone enjoys this time of year. Those beautiful leaves, golden, red and bronze are fluttering to their death.

A poem, I was once given, expresses a poignancy about this process of autumnn and deepens the message.

‘When I am King
I’ll wear a robe of autumn gold
and deep blue sky
and tell my fierce red subjects ‘Hold
up your rich dying, do not die
For I’m your King.’
but they’ll reply
Such robes are only won by dying.

The poem was composed by a young man who was diagnosed with an illness for which there was no cure. It was a powerful comment on his own impending death, but not in any morbid or fatalistic way. It ends on a note of hope.
There is no way we can hold up the natural order of things as season moves into season. Nor can we hold up the process of our own dying which is as inevitable as that of the leaves falling from the trees.
But it is how we view, or bear,  this process of dying which matters.
As Christians, death should be viewed as a positive experience which ought not to frighten us.
Gilbert Shaw, an amazing guider of souls wrote:

God’s gift is death as well as birth:
No man can close the open door,
Through which the soul must pass from earth,
To meet unveiled the LOVE that waits.

The open door, through which we pass from death to life eternal where LOVE, who is God, awaits us, in Christ Jesus.
In His dying Jesus put on the robe of autumn gold that can only be won by dying. but in that dying he opened for us the way to a completeness of life that is far more glorious than we dare imagine. This is why we can face death hopefully. It is the door through which we must pass to God

At one level, the falling of the leaves is a sign of Nature’s essential renewal and there is never a complete dying. Even in Autumn, buds are forming on the tree which shed the old leaves so spectacularly.
New life is always near, which is why there is such a truth in  the poem by the young man facing his death. You cannot ‘hold up the dying’ .
The rich robes of our Lord are ready to clothe us in Resurrection light and life and love.
Autumn then, is a season of both the emptying of nature and the beginning of renewal and re-birth.

That is a truth for all who are prepared to allow God to draw our souls into the  arms of ‘the LOVE that always waits.

[Mr G]

A radiant smile blesses our coming days.

Portrait of Queen Elizabeth taking at her 70th Anniversary but not released until this weekend

A Golden Speech from Elizabeth 1 relevant for today

On the 30th November , 1601, the First Queen Elizabeth went to Parliament and addressed 141 Members.
She had been on the throne for almost 50 years and unbeknown to all present it would be her last visit to Parliament.

The Speaker and other members thought that she would address Parliament about a number of economic concerns. In the event, her words were on an entirely different topic.

She was to die in 1603, handing the Throne over to James 1st (6th of Scotland). In the intervening period she never addressed Parliament again.
The 1601 speech has become known as the ‘Golden Speech’, not least because, in it, she tried to show how much she loved the English people. There are two particular passages relating to this:

The Queen opened with these words:

Mr Speaker… I do assure you there is no prince that loves his subjects better, or whose love can countervail our love. There is no jewel, be it of never so rich  a price, which I set before this jewel: I mean your love.  For I do esteem it more than any treasure or riches; for that we know how to prize, but love and thanks I count invaluable. And, though God hath raised me high, yet this I count the glory of my Crown, that I have reigned with your loves. This makes me that I do not so much rejoice that God hath made me to be a Queen, as to be a Queen over so thankful a people.

She ended with these words:

 I know the title of a King is a glorious title, but assure yourself that the shining glory of princely authority hath not so dazzled the eyes of our understanding, 

To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it. For myself I was never so much enticed with the glorious name of a King or royal authority of a Queen as delighted that God hath made me his instrument to maintain his truth and glory and to defend his kingdom

There will never Queen sit in my seat with more zeal to my country, care to my subjects and that will sooner with willingness venture her life for your good and safety than myself. For it is my desire to live nor reign no longer than my life and reign shall be for your good. And though you have had, and may have, many princes more mighty and wise sitting in this seat, yet you never had nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving.

That description of Queen Elizabeth the First about herself are doubtless true but hearing them and then reading them on the day of Her Majesty’s funeral make them all the more poignant. They are sentiments so easily applicable to our late Queen Elizabeth and more, but they need no speech from her in Parliament or anywhere else. The above Photograph released yesterday, says it all.

What we have witnessed over the 12 days since Queen Elizabeth died on September 8th is a tremendous outpouring of love, in words, in deeds, in tributes, through what is now known as ‘The Queue’ where people from all over the United Kingdom and beyond queued for hours on end, day and night to file reverently passed her coffin.
The services, processions, ceremonies and times of quiet reflection all add up to an enfolding of love for a Royal Family in deep mourning and for a United Kingdom in grief.

 I can happily use the word ‘myriad’ to describe the  love we have for our 70 years of a ministry of love which is simply amazing. Her faith, her words and deeds, her concern for us has done so much to  teach us the meaning of love and service, of joy and duty, of letting light flood into our society, especially when we are at our darkest. Well might we apply Queen Elizabeth First’s words to our own Queen and know its truth.

Never have we had, nor shall have, any that will be more careful and loving.

[Mr G]

Thank You

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth watches over Prince Louis

“Thank you, gran, for everything.”

Prayer, Church of England 18th Sept 2022

Bring us, O Lord our God, at our last awakening,
into the house and gate of heaven
that we may enter into that gate and dwell in that house,
where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling but one equal light,
no noise nor silence but one equal music,
no fears nor hopes but one equal possession,
no ends nor beginnings but one equal eternity;
in the habitation of your glory and dominion,
world without end        Amen

(Words by John Donne, priest, poet
& Dean of St Paul’s. died 1631)

Scudding

scudding cloud over Newhall. Photo Mr. G.

SCUDDING

I have always had a delight
in the word,
‘scudding’.

So it pleased me, this morning,
to see the wispy, untamed,
wind – driven clouds,
‘scudding’ across the sky,
pure white
against sun-kissed blue.

Quite free in movement
and progress,
requesting, nor requiring,
any action of mine.
Shape-changers in a cosmic dance;
reminder that this world  is not mine
to control.

God waves merrily as he passes by.

Mr.G.
17th September 2022