Acts 10 and 11.
Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his house, who gave gifts for the needy generously to the people and always prayed to God. At about the ninth hour of the day, he clearly saw, in a vision, an angel of God coming to him and saying, ‘Cornelius!’ He, fastened his eyes on him and being frightened said, ‘What is it Lord?’
He said to him ‘Your prayers and your gifts to the needy have gone up for a memorial before God. Now send to Joppa and get Simon, who is called Peter. He is lodging with a tanner named Simon, who’s house is by the seaside. When the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier of those who waited on him continually. Having explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
(meanwhile) … Peter went up on the housetop to pray at about noon. He became hungry and desired to eat, but while they were preparing, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opening and a certain container desending to him, like a sheet let down by four corners on the earth, in which were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles and birds of the sky. A voice came to him ‘Rise, Peter, kill and eat!’ But Peter said, ‘No not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’
A voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, you must not call unclean.’This was done three times and immediately the vessel was received up into heaven. Now while Peter was very perplexed in himself what the vision, which he had seen, might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood before the gate and called and asked whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was lodging there.
While Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men seek you. But arise, get down and go with them, doubt nothing; for I have sent them. Peter went down to the men and said ‘Behold, I am he whom you seek.’ … On the next day they entered Caesarea, Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his relatives and his near friends … As he (Peter) talked with him, he went in and found many gathered together. He said to them,
‘You yourselves know how it is an unlawful thing for a man, who is a Jew, to join himself or come to one of another nation, But God has shown me that I shouldn’t call any man unholy or unclean.’ … ‘Truely I perceive that God doesn’t show favoritism; but in every nation he who fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him. The word which he sent to the children of Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus-he is Lord of all …
We are witnesses of everything he did in the county of the Jews and in Jerusalem; Whom they also killed hanging him on a tree. God raised up on the third day and gave him to be revealed not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen before God, to us, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commended us to preach to the people and to testify that this is he who is appointed by God as the Judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him, that through his name everyone who believes in him will receive remission of sins. While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the news.
They of the circumcision who believed were amazed, as many came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in other languages and magnifying God. Peter answered,’Can anyone forbid these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just like us.’ He commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for some days. (Web)
Question to consider:
God was saying to Peter, a Jew who had to take care with everything he ate, that four-footed animals, reptiles and birds were now OK to eat. Also that he could now visit with ‘unclean’ Gentiles and tell them about Jesus. Can you think of any situations that would benefit from taking that on board today?
When Peter went to Cornelius’ home, he broke many Jewish rules. Peter wasn’t comfortable but he had an eager audience and couldn’t hold back his message. No sooner had he started speaking, sharing the gospel, than God gave his overwhelming approval by filling the Roman family with His Holy Spirit. Peter saw and had no choice but to baptise them and welcome them, as equals, in the growing Christian Church. Another step in carrying the gospel to whole world!
Hymn: Amazing Grace.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, WAS BLIND BUT NOW I SEE.
T’was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;’Tis grace that brought me safe thus far and GRACE WILL LEAD ME HOME.
The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be AS LONG AS LIFE ENDURES.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise THAN WHEN WE FIRST BEGAN.
So … what can we learn from Cornelius? Firstly, what were his strengths? Well, he was a God fearing, generous Roman. Although an officer in the occupying army, he seems to have been well respected by the Jews. He responded to God and encouraged his family to do the same. His conversion helped the young church realise that the good news was for all people both Jews and Gentiles.
Secondly, what can we learn from his life? We see that God reaches those who want to know him with a gospel that’s open to all people and there are people everywhere eager to believe. I often wonder if we may be surprised when we stand before God in eternity and look around. Will there be some there we didn’t expect to see?
Take time to thank God that He doesn’t have favorites and that He sent His Son because He loves the whole world. Also think of those we know who don’t yet know Jesus and bring them before the Lord in prayer.
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Seeing it is God who said,
“Light will shine out of darkness,”
who has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
Please feel free to add any prayers of your own as comments.
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Hymn: Rock Of Ages.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee; Let the water and the blood, from Thy wounded side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and MAKE ME PURE.
Not the labour of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands: could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; Thou must save, AND THOU ALONE.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, SAVIOR OR I DIE.
While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyes shall close in death, when I rise to worlds unknown, and behold Thee on Thy throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me HIDE MYSELF IN THEE.
Excerpt from Not Shaken. By Paul Glass of www.seedresorces.com
Dear Friend – the world seems to delight in shaking me to my core. I don’t want to appear old-fashioned – really I don’t, but I am regularly stunned into a state of submission by what I see and hear every day. The world seems to take a perverse delight in shocking me.
The language that people use about each other, the things that they do, the choices they make … I cannot understand it.
It’s at every level – from the people I see on the streets in town, to situations I watch on the news – everywhere all the time – lives and actions that leave me shaken. Our world demands speed and noise and violence and increasingly that is how we live our lives – fast, noisy and violent.
There is too little thought of others and too much concentration on ourselves. There is too little patience and too much willingness to judge. We simplify and assume and lash out because we have spent too little time thinking.
We want everything to be easy – including the problems that we face – and we look for easy answers that solve nothing. We have become obsessed with the surface – with how things look – and not with what is taking place underneath - finding that out would take too much time and thought.
Dearest Friend it makes me so sad – so completely and utterly sad when I look at the world we are surrounding ourselves with and the ideas that underpin it. I feel shaken - shaken to the very core of my very being. And that leads me to ask a question Dear Friend.
It’s a question that I already know the answer to but it does no harm to ask it because asking the question reminds me of some pretty important truths……
What about you?
If you were to compose a letter to your ‘Dearest Friend’ what would you write about? What would you say?
For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and to darkness, storm, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them,
for they could not stand that which was commended, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned’, and so fearful was the appearance that Moses said, ‘I am terrified and trembling.’ But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the celestal gathering and assembling of the first born who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel.
See that you don’t refuse him who speaks. For if they didn’t escape when they refused him who warned on the earth, how much more will we not escape who turn away from him who warns from heaven, whose voice shook the earth then, but now he has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.’ This phrase, ‘Yet once more’, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain. Therefore, receiving a Kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us have grace, through that which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
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Opening in prayer.
Let us open with prayer …. Lord we thank you for bringing us together to worship you this evening. We ask you to help us quiet our minds and open our hearts, so that we may hear your voice as we seek to do your will. Help us to take the message prepared for us to heart, and may it be encouraging to review some of the promises that you made regarding membership in your family. We thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit through which you fellowship with us and bind us to you and to each other. We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord – AMEN.
Hymn: All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Author: Edward Perronet (1726-1792)
All hail the power of Jesus’ Name! Let angels prostrate fall; Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all. Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race, ye ransomed from the fall, hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all. Hail Him Who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him, ye heirs of David’s line, whom David Lord did call, The God incarnate, man divine, and crown Him Lord of all, the God incarnate, Man divine, and crown Him Lord of all.
Let every tribe and every tongue before Him prostrate fall and shout in universal song the crown? Lord of all. And shout in universal song the crown? Lord of all.
Children of the King.
If we could choose our parents and families, I think a lot of us might wish we were born in a royal family or at least in a wealthy one and that we had wonderful family relationships. Ironically we do have the opportunity to choose our spiritual family and learn to develop happy
I would like to present a number of scriptures to remind us of how we can avail ourselves of God’s desire to add us to his family. He wants us to grow up in his way of life and be present at the wedding supper of the Lamb.
John 1:11-13 He came to his own, and those who were his own didn’t receive him. But as many as did received him, to them he gave the right to become God’s children, to those who believe in his name: Who were not born of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God. (WEB)
Romans 8:14-17 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are Children of God. For you didn’t receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, Abba! Father!
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him. Matthew 5:8-9 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called The Children of God.
Comment: So if we receive Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us along the paths of righteousness, God will adopt us into his family and make us joint heirs with Christ. We might say as children grow up into adults, we mature and take our place in society; Then Peter refers to us as a Holy Nation, a People for God. This people is commonly believed to refer to the Christian Church, which is preparing itself to become the Bride of Christ.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: who in time past were not a people, but now are God’s people, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Revelation 19:5-8 A voice came from the throne, saying, Give praise to our God, all you his servants,
you who fear him, the small and the great! I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and
like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying,
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let us the give the glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. It was given to her that she would array herself in bright, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
I believe the wedding of the Lamb and the Church will take place just after the White Throne Judgment and before the New Heaven and the New Earth, which may be thought of as the beginning of a wonderful honeymoon of eternal bliss, peace and happiness. What is a wedding without a honeymoon?
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He was despised and rejected by men. A man of suffering and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face and we didn’t respect him. Surely He has borne our sickness and carried our suffering. Yet we considered Him plagued, struck by God and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned His own way and God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Question: This passage was written by one of the major prophets over 700 years before Jesus was even born and yet there it is and seems to describe him exactly. How could that be?
Hymn: Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne. Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own. Awake, my soul and sing of Him who died for three, and hail Him as thy MATCHLESS KING THROUGH ALL ETERNITY.
Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave, And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save. His gloried now we sing, who died and rose on high, WHO DIED ETERNAL LIFE TO BRING, and lives that death may die.
Crown Him the Lord of peace, whose power a sceptre sways From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise. HIS REIGN SHALL KNOW NO END, and round His pieced feet, fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.
CROWN HIM THE LORD OF LOVE, behold His hands and side. Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified. No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight, But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.
Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time. Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime. All hail Redeemer, hail! For thou has died for me; THY PRAISE SHALL NEVER, NEVER FAIL THROUGHOUT ETERNITY.
Question: The hymn writer talks about The Potentate of time and the Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime. Who is he’s referring to and how do you think that affects us?
Points for Prayer: Spend some time now thanking God for being The Potentate of Time, The Creator of the rolling spheres, the one who knows us by name and promises to never leaves us or forsakes us.
But no one knows of that day and hour, not even angels of heaven, but my father only.
As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriages, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, and they didn’t know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left; two women grinding at the mill, one will be taken and one will be left.
Watch therefore, for you don’t know in what hour your Lord comes. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
Therefore also be ready, for in an hour you don’t expect, the Son of Man will come. (Matthew 24:36-44 WEB)
Are you ready for Christmas? Not the shopping and cleaning and cooking, but are you ready for the Son of Man to come?
(image from www.seedresources.com)
Today we lit the first candle of the advent wreath. The candle of Hope. Not just the kind of hope based in a dream-world but the real Christian hope based on the knowledge of God’s continuing love for us offered through Jesus.
Let us pause for a moment and think quietly about those struggling with life and for whom hope seems to have faded.
Remind us that in advent we think of the gift of Jesus who brings hope to the world even now. Encourage us again to focus on that hope.
Lord we come to you reminded of the hope offered by the Christ-child. TEACH US TO TRUST you again AND TO SHARE THAT HOPE with all we meet in this advent season.
(prayer by Jane Bingham taken from www.seedresources.com)
(image taken from www.seedresources.com)
There were also others, two criminals, led with him to be put to death. When they came to the place that is called ‘The Skull’ they crucified him there with two criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing’
Dividng his garments among them, they cast lots. The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others, Let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen one.’
The soldiers also mocked him, coming to him and offering vinegar, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ An inscription was also written over him in letters of Greek, Latin and Hebrew: ‘THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS’
One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, ‘If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!’ But the other answered, and rebuking him said ‘Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’
He said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:33-43 WEB)
This Sunday, the Sunday before the first of Advent is known as Christ the King Sunday. What sort of King is Jesus? What ‘Kingly’ attributes does he display?
1 Samuel 25.
David heard in the wilderness that Nabal was shearing his sheep. David sent ten young men and David said to the young men, ‘Go up to Carmel and go to Nabal and greet him in my name. Tell him, ‘Long life to you! Peace be to you and peace be to your house and peace be to all that you have. Now I have heard that you have shearers. Your shepherds have now been with us and we didn’t harm them, neither was there anything missing from them, all the while they were in Carmel. Ask your young men and they will tell you. Therefore, let the young men find favor in your eyes; we come on a good day. Please give whatever comes to your hand, to your servants and to your son David.’
When David’s men came, they spoke to Nabal all those words in the name of David and waited. Nabal answered David’s servants and said ‘Who is David? Who is this son of Jesse? There are many servants who break away from their masters these days. Shall I take my bread, my water and my meat that I have killed for my shearers and give it to men who I don’t know where they come from?’ So David’s young men turned on their way and went back and came and told him all these words. David said to his men, ‘Every man put on his sword!’ Every man put on his sword. David also put on his sword. About four hundred men followed David and two hundred stayed by the baggage. But one of the young men told Abigail, Nabal’s wife, saying, ‘Behold, David sent messengers out of the wilderness to greet our master; and he insulted them.
But the men were good to us and we were not harmed and we didn’t miss anything, as long as we went with them, when we were in the fields. They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep. Now therefore, know and consider what you will do; for evil is determined against our master and against all his house; for he is such a worthless fellow that one can’t speak to him.’ Then Abigail hurried and took two hundred loaves of bread, two bottles of wine, five sheep ready dressed, five seahs of parched grain, one hundred clusters of raisins and two hundred cakes of figs and laid them on donkeys. She said to her young men, ‘Go on before me. Behold, I am coming after you.’ But she didn’t tell her husband, Nabal.
As she rode on her donkey and came down by the covert of the mountain, then David and his men came down towords her and she met them. Now David had said, ‘Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow has in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained to him. He has returned me evil for good. God do so to the enemies of David and more also, if I leave of all that belongs to him by morning light so much as one who urinates on a wall.’ When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got off her donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed herself to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, ‘On me, my lord, on me be the blame!
Please let your servant speak in your ears. Hear the words of your servant. Please don’t let my lord pay attention to this worthless fellow, Nabal; for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name and folly is with him; but I, your servant, didn’t see my lord’s young men, whom you sent … Now this present which your servant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord …… David said to Abigail, ‘Blessed is Yahweh, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me! Blessed is your discretion and blessed are you, who kept me today from blood guiltiness and from avenging myself with my own hand. For indeed, as Yahweh, the God of Israel, lives, who has withheld me from harming you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, surely there wouldn’t have been left Nabal by morning light so much as one who urinates on a wall.
So David received from her hand that which she had brought him. Then he said to her, ‘Go up in peace to your house. Behold, I have listened to your voice and have granted your request.’ Abigail came to Nabal and behold he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king. Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunk. Therefore, she told him nothing until the morning light. In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things and his heart died within him and he became as stone. About ten days later, Yahweh struck Nabal, so he died. When David heard that Nabal was dead, he said, ‘Blessed be Yahweh, who has pleaded the cause of my reproach from the hand of Nabal and had kept back his servant from evil. Yahweh has returned the evildoing of Nabal on his own head.’ David sent and spoke concerning Abigail, to take her to himself as a wife.
Question to consider.
Abigail stepped in to avert a crisis. But was she being disloyal to her husband? How do you think you would have reacted in the same situation and why?
Nabal rudely refused to offer hospitality to David’s men even though it was the custom to make sure travellers were well fed and offered hospitality. Nabal was rich and could easily have offered to meet David’s needs and he wasn’t asking for a handout. He and his men had been protecting Nabal’s workers and part of Nabal’s prosperity was due to David.
Nabal took Abigail for granted. Not only was she beautiful but she was also well able to manage his wealth. Despite Nabal’s faults his household did what they could to keep him out of trouble. This loyalty must have been inspired by Abigail. Although her culture and her husband placed low value on her she made the most of her skills. David was impressed with her abilities and when Nabal died David wisely sent for Abigail and married her.
As an effective counselor Abigail worked hard to prevent both men from making rash moves. She saw the whole picture and left room for God to work. Do we, like Abigail, use our skills to promote peace whenever we can? Later Jesus was to say that blessed are the peacemakers.
What can we learn from Abigail?
So … what can we learn from Abigail? Firstly, what were her strengths? Well she was sensible and level headed. Capable of making decisions and acting quickly. She was also a persuasive speaker who was able to see beyond herself and her present situation.
Secondly, what can we learn from her life? Life’s tough situations can bring out the best in people and someone can still play a significant role without seeming to be important in themselves.
Take time to think about what we’ve be considering. That generosity and hospitality are important and are things we can offer. Also that we can be peace makers when the situations calls for it. Think about the words you want to use to ask God to help us in these in these things ……………… and when you’re ready type those words in as a prayer.
Image – Wendy Talbot.
Greetings, my friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is good to be together again. Back in the early summer, Jame and I created an event based on the Roman Catholic Office of Octave. For the office we needed to use either a chaplet or part of a rosary. We used part of a rosary which had belonged to my grandad. Preparing the event brought back memories of my grandad, the circumstances under which he came by it and what it meant to him.
I thought that now would be a good time to share the memories with you. As usual Sallyann and James have done their part in helping me. I chose the song ‘O Jesus I have promised’ because it too meant something to Syd, as I’m sure you will understand as the story unfolds. A crucial part of the story is a friendship which developed between grandad and a little girl in Normandy.
It interested us, amused us that forever after Syd’s speech was forevermore laced with expressions such as ‘Mercy Buckets’ for Thank You, ‘San Fairy Ann’ It doesn’t matter, and ‘Silver Plate’ Please. The little girl promised pray for and with him, principly for his safety.
His name was Syd. He was seventeen and he had been at work for three years. He had had a promising career mapped out for him. At thirteen he had been offered a provisional place in the West Bromwich Albion football team, (a first division side in those days). Syd was delighted and was the envy of most of the other boys at his school.
Image – Wendy Talbot.
Soon after this, though, he developed tuberculosis in the radius of his right arm and part of it had to be removed at the wrist. That was the finish of his hopes as a professional footballer. He had enjoyed school. He had enjoyed The Church Lad’s Brigade too. He had especially enjoyed the drill and the camping holiday he had been on with the Brigade.
There was little outlet for a career in any of his special interests in Kidderminster in 1910 when he left school. He enjoyed gardening and growing vegetables but no farmer or market gardener wanted a workman with a weak right wrist. He loved horses too but no carter or carrier wanted a groom or driver with less than full strength in both arms. So he had followed the rest of his family into the carpet weaving industry.
He hated it! It was so noisy! Unbelievably noisy it was in the weaving sheds. The air was thick with flights, (the wool dust which was kicked up by the various processes of preparing and weavie weavers and tuners as they ate their lunch.
He was a recruiting sergeant in the Army and he was offering jobs. Syd was interested …. very interested. The job sounded like The Church Lad’s Brigade but with pay! There was going to be a War they were told. What is a ‘War’? Syd asked. He was told that it was a kind of holiday. There would be drill and camping just like the one with the Church Lads.
There would be Church Parade on Sundays, as a devout Churchman that was important to him, and there would be a real band! Syd loved music. There would be horses too. If he was suitable he might be chosen for a gunner. Then he would have a horse of his own to ride and one to lead which would pull an artillary piece. This was much more like a job for Syd he thought. So he signed up.
The recruiting sergeant suggested that he should marry his fiancee as soon as was feasible because he would be going abroad quite soon for this War/holiday whatever it was. In the meantime he would join his regiment and start training. He enjoyed it enormously and soon became a gunner with his two beloved Arab horses. He loved looking after them grooming and feeding them and looking after their tack.
He even liked helping the cookhouse by preparing the vegetables. Now this was something like a job! The only problem was it meant so many days and nights away from Edith, his new bride. Syd had two days leave before he left for France and he spent them both with her. Then it was boarding a boat and off to France. It was very exciting! This was seeing the World to Syd.
Hymn: O Jesus I have promised
O Jesus I have promised to serve thee to the end; be thou for ever near me. My master and my friend. I shall not fear the battle if thou art by my side, nor wander from the pathway, if thou wilt be my guide.
O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still, above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self – will. O speak to reassure me to hasten or control; O speak and make me listen, thou guardian of my soul.
O Jesus Thou hast promised, to all who follow thee, that where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be; and, Jesus I have promised to serve Thee to the end; O give me grace to follow my Master and my Friend.
Syd was billeted in Normandy with a farmer, his wife and their four year old daughter. Syd always had a great affinity with small children. He had a fertile imagination and could tell wonderful stories. I have often wondered how they communicated, Syd with his Welsh Borders accent. A language well sprinkled with ‘Wenglish’ and pure Welsh, and his little friend with her Norman French.
Perhaps she knew a little Breton, a language very like Welsh … we shall never know now. She was concerned about him and did not buy the ‘holiday’ story. She showed him how to tell a chaplet before going to bed, the Office of Octave which we looked at a few weeks ago. Each night they shared it together. All too soon it was time to leave for Flanders and to say ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Mercy Buckets’ to his new friends.
As they parted he said a last Octave with the little girl and she gave him the chaplet they used so that he could tell it for and by himself. As a Baptist Syd was not at all sure about doing that but he put the chaplet in his breast pocket with his Army Testament.
Well, as Syd was to tell anybody who would listen over the next seventy odd years, he had been mizzled (misled) badly mizzled. No one had said anything about killing or being killed. No one had told him about the explosions, the noise, the cold, the mud. It had been sold to him as a holiday, a camping holiday!
Holidays lasted a long weekend, a week at the most. This turned out to be two years. The horses were killed and the Army replaced them with mules who were bad tempered and difficult to communicate with. Then one day as he and his companion were trudging back to the trenches after a battle (The Somme.) together they spied a Rosary trampled into the mud.
They dug it out and examined it. They had seen it together. There was no chance of discovering its real owner now. The fairest thing was to share it. Syd had the portion with the cross and fourteen of the beads. His friend and later brother-in-law had the rest to make a necklace for his girlfriend.
That night Syd did not return to the trench, he was too weary. He rolled up in his great coat and slept under his gun carriage. He slept through an engagement, a barrage of artillery and did not even wake when a piece of shrapnel entered his leg. It was so sharp and he was so tired that he knew nothing about it until the next morning.
That wound was his ticket home. It needed a lot of treatment in hospital. He had lost a lot of blood and it was impossible to remove the shard although the surgeons tried very hard to do so. He had survived two years at the Front and made his contribution to the effort. The prayers of so many people had been answered and his life was spared.
Do you find that this story puts a slightly different gloss on your feelings and understanding of the willing sacrifice we are encouraged to believe was made by tens of thousands of young men in the Great War and in the Second World War? Were they so willing as we have been led to believe? Syd and his two best pals, later his brothers-in-law, had no idea what they were signing up to. Were they alone?
Today, with radio, T.V.. newspapers, computers. It would not be possible to mislead our young people ….would it?
Lord, on this Remembrance Sunday we should like to take time to think about the young men and women who, down the ages, have been prepared to give their lives so that we might have the freedom to live and to worship as we wish. We are eternally grateful, Lord, and we ask that You will keep them in Your care, whether they knew what they were going to be doing or not and whether they were volunteers or conscripts. Thank You for their sacrifice, Lord, AMEN.
Excerpt from Reflection: One lost boy by Marjory Dobson of www.seedresources.com.
It’s not that unusual for a twelve year old boy to stray away from his parents for a while. That’s just about the age when it’s most likely to happen. Twelve is one of those difficult stages in life when childhood is considered to be past, but teenage is not yet achieved and adulthood is still far ahead.
It was different in the time of Jesus, as his trip to the Temple in Jerusalem was part of the ritual of putting childhood behind him, but he was not yet a man and, no doubt, his parents still considered that he was too young to be acting totally indepentently of them.
It was obvious that he had certain freedoms, as he’d been allowed to wander around with different members of the large family party that had made their pilgrimage together.
That was the reason why it wasn’t noticed that he was missing until they had been on the road home for a day.But when they set up their camp for the night, Jesus should had drifted back to his own family for food and shelter, as all twelve year olds would do. So the search began……