Tag: Joyce Smith

God’s love lies open before us

Joyce Smith has sent us a new photo reflection.
Our resident pair of mute swans have been leading their 8 newly hatched cygnets on a daily journey of discovery in Waltham Abbey. These two are enjoying the ride and are feeling protected by their mother’s wings.
With my love and prayers.
God bless, Joyce

It has been the custom of Christians to pray together in various ways but with one intent – to nurture the World and bring people, including each other, and nature to a closeness with God.  Joyce has given us an illustration of this in the photograph of the tiny mute swans gathering under the safety and protection of their mother’s wing.

There is something rather gently protective in this scene. We can sense a warmth and security and a restfulness. The caption under the photo could easily have been ‘Safe in our Mother’s arms’.

Joyce has chosen a sentence which is part of the first part of Morning Prayer or Matins as it is sometimes known.

How does this connect up with the protection and safety of the little swans ?

The problem sometimes with ‘Liturgy’ (the format and composition of worship ) is that it can be said unthinkingly. Or perhaps as part of a repetitive rhythm which encloses the Word of God it seeks to proclaim. Whereas, the Word of God should free and enclose us. That itself can be seen as placing ourselves under the protecting and nurturing of God. Maybe we aren’t too different as those baby swans after all. As we pray and recite the words of the services provided for our nourishment, we snuggle up to our protective and loving God.

There is always a sense that Morning Prayer is a beginning. We begin the day in prayer – whatever form we use.
And we have therefore come through the night safely.
So as a preparation to say : The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind, begins a daily re-turning of our lives to God.
If we add to it, the second part of the sentence, that becomes abundantly clear: 
As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and for ever. Amen.

Whatever the day will bring; however we feel about ourselves; whatever fears we face; however lacking in confidence we are; and how lonely or sad or bored we feel, combined of course with whatever joy, hopefulness and friendship we shall share, we can remind ourselves  very soon after wakening – God holds us; God protects us; God cares for us with a love beyond words. We are beginning our day in God’s presence. We know that we are secure in his protective, motherly love.

Our response to this is surely Thank You.

As the 12th century Dominican friar and mystic said:
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘Thank You’ (God) – It will be enough.

I’m quite sure that those cute baby mute swans will agree!

Thank you, Joyce ( and thank you, God.)

[Mr G]

If I take the wings of the morning…

My friend Joyce has sent me another bird tweet with a quotation from one of my very favourite Psalms – Psalm 139, often known as ‘The Hound of Heaven’

Joyce writes this:

Dear Friends,
This White Stork was a surprise visitor on Hall Marsh scrape for just a very short while.
I suspect it’s satnav then re-calibrated and it flew back to mainland Europe.
Whatever the case, our Creator God watches over it and us, wherever we are.
With my love and prayers, God bless Joyce

Psalm 139 is one in which God’s care for us is celebrated but also which has an acknowledgement that there is no getting away from God who knows us through and through.
We can’t hide from Him, no matter where we try to go.
Why should we want to?

Well, we sometimes find it difficult to cope with someone who knows us, seemingly, better than we know ourselves. Sometimes God’s attention is unwanted.

In the film Amazing Grace (2006) about the great campaigner against Slavery William Wilberforce , there is a scene where Wilberforce (played by Ioan Gruffudd) leaves the house, his mind and heart in turmoil.
He knows what he is being called to do but it seems so difficult to do it. As he lay on the grass it begins to rain. His butler rushes to him with an umbrella and is perplexed at the state Wilberforce is in.
“Have you found God, sir?” he asks.
“Found God!!”, he replies. “No, He’s found me” and then he adds, “Do you know how inconvenient that can be!.

Well, yes. I think more than a few might agree with that!

Psalm 139 certainly played a big part in my own discovery of what God wanted from me.
But in that process He also showed me how dedicated and committed He is to me. To us.
He beckons us to Him because He so deeply loves us and that is just wonderful, as I’m sure the White Stork discovered.

We hope you do too.

[Joyce Smith & Mr G]

Dawn Chorus

My friend, Joyce Smith, has sent a Tweet about Nature’s heralding of Spring. Last Sunday was International Dawn Chorus Day (there’s always something for everyone!) and this Robin obliged by turning up in Joyce’s garden and giving a deeply spirited performance.

It got me thinking and so here’s a poem –

At the Break of Day

The Orchestra of Light tunes up;
Trying out riffs and practising scales
Cock clears his throat, ‘Ahem …  a-doodle-doo!’
Songthrush bustles importantly
into the auditorium –‘They rely on me to begin, you know.’
‘Not so’, cuts in Robin, with Blackbird on the wing,
‘We are well-known early risers
our song is eagerly awaited!’
Little Wren, never one to push,
slips onto the stage, 
apologizing profusely for her small stature.
‘Small, but beautifully formed’ says Mr Owl
on his way to bed,
‘sing me to sleep little one.’
The chiffchaff flies into the melée
of slowly gathering sound
as Chaffinch and Sparrow take a bow.
Mr Cock raises his beak,
‘Ladies and gentlemen, shall we begin?
Please open your music
at the ‘Dawn Chorus’,
written, I believe, by God.’

Mr. G.

12th May 2021

God Moments

A new photo-reflection from my friend Joyce Smith

Joyce wrote about her photo reflection: This Egret also sees ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ !

Spring is a time of new life; new hope after the darkness of Winter. This is no coincidence. This is God’s plan in creation, even when we don’t feel it. We have to learn to read the signs, of which the Egret is one.

There are all sorts of times in our lives when what we might call coincidences happen. Ways ahead  become clear, solutions happen, and there is light at the end of tunnels.  Maybe sometimes, when our faith is hard and brittle, something beautiful happens to raise our spirits or we find in a quiet moment that God is there, near us, after all.

My problem with all these ‘coincidences’ is that I don’t believe in coincidences.  Everything has a plan and a purpose.  When we are ‘surprised’ by something that happens which speaks to our souls then we are having what I call a God Moment.  This is the time when God acts in our lives in a surprising or special way.

It’s vitally important to believe in God Moments because it reminds us that we are in God’s hands and whatever we are going through, good or bad, is watched over by God. 
In Isaiah Chapter 43 v1 we hear God tells His people,
I have called you by name, you are mine. 
It is because of this that there will always by God Moments in our lives – times when something happens which God has planned to happen because we are His. Sometimes, sadly, we don’t believe this to be true. 
So it’s worthwhile praying the words in Joyce’s reflection from the first letter of John.

God is Light. In him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5b)

There is God’s light at the end of the tunnel!

(Joyce Smith & Mr. G)