From our Minister
On reading the Church Times a couple of weeks ago (it’s an exciting life we lead in the Manse!) I was surprised to note the number of adverts for ‘special’ Sundays during June and July. In the space of about six weeks it is possible to mark ‘Poverty Sunday’, ‘Sea Sunday’, ‘Society Sunday’, ‘Action for Children Sunday’ and Father’s Day – a rather packed schedule and all of this in the season that the Church likes to call ‘ordinary time’!
Although there are no big festivals such as Christmas or Easter during the summer months, the season does lend itself to times of celebration. The weather is good, so we feel more like getting out and about and the longer days give us the opportunity to savour time. June and July are also months for fetes, carnivals and outdoor arts festivals as we make the most of what we hope will be sunny summer weather. ‘Ordinary time’ it would seem is not so ordinary at all, simply an opportunity to focus on different aspects of our daily life.
This led me to reflect on the ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ in our daily routines. We generally enjoy celebrations and surprises because they are different from the normal pattern of days, but if every day was a celebration would we appreciate it so much? I expect not as the things that are different about a ‘special’ day would become routine and we would quickly become exhausted with the need to live in constant excitement and anticipation. Our daily routine may sometimes seem humdrum, but there is comfort in it too. A regular pattern of daily life gives us structure and security, enabling us to feel safe and at peace and the lack of such a routine through the effects of poverty, conflict or a lack of secure home and employment is one of the greatest causes of stress for many people.
God is to be found in both the ordinary and the special, in the great festivals that are part of the Christian faith, but also in the daily round of getting up, household chores, work and social commitments. Jesus reminds us of this in His life as an ‘ordinary’ human being and in his teaching that so often uses routine situations that we can identify with: the story of a housewife losing a coin, a farmer sowing his crops, tales of family relationships and business journeys. God is with us when we celebrate, but He is there too each day when we get up and each night when we drift into sleep and that truly is something that makes every day special.
Waste Not Want Not
For those of you who were around during the war this is probably a phrase you have heard before and with statistics showing that almost 50% of food is thrown away these days – despite many in the developing world still going without – then perhaps it is time we reconsidered food production, our own food purchases and sharing of our resources.
For in the bible we are told:
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25: 37-40
I was delighted when Roz brought me in a copy of a poem about not wasting food which dates back to Victorian times. Although the author is unknown this poem first appeared in an annual called the Children’s Friend around 1860. This publication was considered suitable Sunday reading and was full of what was intended to be uplifting and improving for Christian children.
"Waste not – want not"
I must not throw upon the floor
The crust I cannot eat,
There’s many a hungry little one
Would think it quite a treat.
My parents take the kindest care
To get me wholesome food,
And so I must not waste a bit
That would do others good.
The corn from which my bread is made,
God causes it to grow;
How sad to waste what He has given:
He would both see and know.
‘Tis wilful waste brings woeful want,
And I may live to say,
Oh, how I wish I had that bread
Which once I threw away.
The Hymn Writers
Henry Francis Lyte
Henry Lyte was a hymn-writer and poet. He was born in 1793 at Ednam near Kelso, Scotland. His father deserted the family shortly after making arrangements for his two oldest sons to attend Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. His mother and youngest brother went to live in London but tragically died soon after. However the headmaster at Portora, Dr. Robert Burrowes, recognised Lyte’s ability and paid the boy’s school fees.
After studying at Trinity College, Dublin Lyte took Anglican holy orders in 1815 and became curate of Taghmon near Wexford. Then in 1817 he became curate of Marazion, Cornwall. His wife, Anne Maxwell, was a keen Methodist and they had five children, two daughters and three sons. From 1820 to 1822 they lived in Sway, Hampshire and in 1824, Lyte moved to Lower Brixham, a Devon fishing village where he established the first Sunday school in the area. Although religious instruction was given there, the primary object of both was educating children and seamen for whom other schooling was virtually impossible. Shortly after his arrival in Brixham, because he attracted such large crowds, the church had to be enlarged.
Each year he organised an Annual Treat for the Sunday school children, which included a short religious service followed by tea and sports in the field. Lyte was also able to identify with his parish of fishermen, visiting them at their homes and on board their ships in harbour, supplying every vessel with a Bible, and compiling songs and a manual of devotions for use at sea.
Lyte was an expert flute player and spoke Latin, Greek, and French. He was also knowledgeable about wild flowers. At a former military hospital at Berry Head, he built a magnificent library, largely of theology and old English poetry, this was described in his obituary as "one of the most extensive and valuable in the West of England."
In poor health throughout his life and suffering from various respiratory illnesses, by the 1840s he was spending much of his time in the warmer climates of France and Italy, He died on 20 November 1847 at Nice, Lyte’s best known hymns are Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide, Jesus, I my cross have taken, Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven and Pleasant are Thy courts above.
Thank you to everyone for their contributions to this quarter’s newsletter.
Please let me have articles for the Autumn 2015 edition by the end of August.
Christine Beesley – Editor