Look how the pale queen of the silent night Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her, And he, as long as she is in his sight, With her full tide is ready her to honour. But when the silver wagon of the moon Is mounted up so high he cannot follow, The sea calls home his crystal waves to moan, And with low ebb doth manifest his sorrow. So you that are the sovereign of my heart Have all my joys attending on your will; My joys low ebbing when you do depart, When you return their tide my heart doth fill. So as you come and as you do depart, Joys ebb and flow within my tender heart.
Psalm 139 is a wonderful description of God’s spiritual care and protection, combined with a personal desire to live a life in keeping with God’s character. God surrounds us and hems us in, but not in a bad way. His light is so bright that ‘even the darkness will not be dark to you, the night will shine like the day’. The psalmist recognizes that he can’t escape from the Lord. His anxiety dissolves when he considers God’s loving care for him, even before his birth.
Towards the end, the psalmist criticises and wishes dead those who disobey God, probably because he is so committed to living his own virtuous life. This needs to be viewed in the light of the New Testament, and the love shown by Jesus to all people, even his enemies. The psalm is actually a strong affirmation of the value God places on humankind in all its variety.
The psalmist opens up every aspect of his being, character, behaviour, and speech to God’s examination. As hard as his life is, he wants to ensure his own spiritual growth so that he doesn’t come under God’s judgment.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord, and abhor those who are in rebellion against you? I have nothing but hatred for them; I count them my enemies. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
As a Christian, my understanding is that the timeless truths of the Bible are greater than the cultural and historical contexts in which the actual words were written. God expects every generation to discover and apply these truths in their unique time and place. This is not to dilute our faith or disregard tradition, but simply to let these truths live and shine afresh in every age.
Equally, we mustn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because something was true in a previous era and context, doesn’t mean it should be modified or abandoned now. Christian tradition has much to teach us, despite the fact that the church hasn’t always been the perfect guiding light to timeless truths. Humility must be shown, and (if necessary) repentance demonstrated.
This is the overall context for the often highly charged discussion of equal marriage and inclusion within Christian circles.
Party political leaflets that drop through our letterbox usually have a short journey to the recycling bin, especially the Conservative ones – but the local ones are more likely to be read, even the Conservative ones!
One of these Conservative leaflets arrived a few days ago, and because it was about local issues I saved it. One item of interest concernes the fate of the Norton Signal Box on Station Road.
The above photo is one I took in July 2020 on a walk with Freddy to explore our new area, having recently moved into our new house.
The railway line that runs through Norton, a short distance from our home, was one of the oldest stretch of mechanical signalling in the UK. Because of modernisation, the signal box is now redundant and face potential demolition.
The local Conservatives have been working proactively with Network Rail to retain this important piece of local heritage by looking for groups and organisations who might put this signal box to good use. The mechanical signalling will be dismantled and gifted to a railway heritage organisation.
The signal box has space that could be used in a variety of ways, it also has kitchen and toilet facilities. Hopefully, it can be put to good use. If you live locally, do you have any ideas?
Today (1 July 2021) marks one since since my retirement, although we didn’t move to our new home until a week later because of all the difficulties related to the first coronavirus lockdown. It was something of a nightmare that’s best forgotten.
Where has the time gone? How did I ever find time to work?
I’ve already written about how my retirement was never going to normal with three young children, but even so it hasn’t quite been the year I expected. Coronavirus has messed up everyone’s plans.
Overall, it’s been a good year, even if we’re settling into a new routine later and slower than we’d hoped. We’ve not been to an ‘in person’ Sunday worship meeting at a local Salvation Army yet, but having worked some Saturdays and all Sundays for many years, I have to admit I’m enjoying my weekends at home. Weekday mornings are all about getting Freddy and Matilda to school, so our weekends are precious family time. But I’m sure there are many Salvationists and church-goers who are reassessing their lives as the restrictions are relaxed.
Having said that, there are many positives. We’re very happy in our new home, even if there are still jobs to do, but isn’t that always the way? Pollyanna now regularly attends Parent and Toddler groups prior to starting nursery in September. Contact with family and friends is easier and more frequent now. Naomi is able to get out more and build links in the village. I’ve started running and language learning again. Both of us have taken up (or restarted) hobbies, and I’m hoping to be appointed as a parent governor at the children’s school as a way of serving our community.
I’ve also settled into posting something on my blog every day, with a weekly Sunday devotional.
So, here’s to another year to enrich our family life together, build links within our community, taking opportunities to reach out to others in Christian ministry.
Yesterday (29 June 2021) England beat Germany 2-0 in the delayed Euro2020 football tournament at Wembley Stadium.
Having experienced England win the World Cup in 1966 by defeating Germany aged 12, I’ve waited 55 years for England to beat them again in the knockout stage of a major tournament. It was glorious!
Having said that, I do worry for my country when some England fans boo the German national anthem, laugh at a crying German girl being consoled by her father, and give her despicable abuse online.
We were victorious over fascism in 1945, not Germany. The Second World War is NOT a justification for England fans to demonstrate the very attitudes our forefathers died to defeat. We will remember them!
“They think it’s all over” is a quote from Kenneth Wolstenholme’s BBC TV commentary in the closing moments of the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, when England beat West Germany 4–2 after extra time to win the FIFA World Cup. In the final few seconds of the match, Wolstenholme said:
And here comes Hurst! He’s got… (Wolstenholme is distracted by some of the crowd spilling onto the pitch) Some people are on the pitch! They think it’s all over! (Geoff Hurst scores to put England two goals ahead) It is now, it’s four!
Soon after the 1966 victory, Wolstenholme’s quote became a widely used expression. Source
Yes, I know children don’t have to wear face masks in the UK, but Freddy put his on recently and I’m really pleased with this photo!
Despite the UK government being very slow to mandate face mask wearing, it’s now become a feature of life. Of course, there are those who are exempt, but this seems to be widely abused. Also, many people have selfishly given up wearing face masks, forgetting that wearing one is a selfless act to protect others.
The lifting of coronavirus restrictions, although delayed, are now on the horizon, but it’s likely that I’ll continue to wear mine in certain situations – especially in the winter when coughs and colds spread easily.
Will you continue to wear your face mask after the restrictions have been lifted?