Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Halloween Trick or Treat

With a few weeks to go before Halloween, and the shops full of Halloween costumes, it is important to remember the true origins of Halloween, and that Jesus is the true light of the world.  This excellent video - which can be downloaded by clicking HERE, is written by Glen Scrivener

This is the script used on the video:

Vast armies undead do tread through the night and
In hordes march towards hapless victims to frighten.
They stumble in step with glass-eyes on the prizes;
Bunched hither, hunched over in monstrous disguises;
In sizes not lofty but numb’ring a throng;
To unleash on their prey the dreaded DING DONG.
Small faces with traces of mother’s eye-liner,
Peer up to the resident candy provider.

And there to intone ancient threats learnt verbatim;
They lisp “TRICK OR TREAT!” Tis their stark ultimatum.
Thus: region by region such legions take plunder.
Does this spector-full spectacle cause you to wonder?
Just how did our fair festive forebears conceive,
Of this primeval practice called All Hallows Eve?
The answer, if anyone cares to research,
Surprises, it rises from old mother church.

On the cusp of the customary All Saints Day
The Christ-i-an kinsfolk made mocking display.
These children of light both to tease and deride;
Don darkness, doll down as the sinister side.
In pre-post-er-ous pageants and dress diabolic,
They hand to the damned just one final frolick.
You see with the light of the dawn on the morrow,
The sunrise will swallow such darkness and sorrow.

The future is futile for forces of evil;
And so they did scorn them in times Medieval.
For this is the nature of shadow and gloom;
In the gleaming of glory there can be no room.
What force is resourced by the echoing black?
When the brightness ignites can the shadow push back?
These ‘powers’ of darkness, if such can be called,
Are banished by brilliance, by blazing enthralled.

So the bible begins with this fore-resolved fight;
For a moment the darkness…. then “Let there be Light!”
First grief in the gloom, then joy from the East.
First valley of shadow, then mountaintop feast.
First wait for Messiah, then long-promised Dawn.
First desolate Friday and then Easter Morn.
The armies of darkness when doing their worst,
Can never extinguish this Dazzling Sunburst.

So… ridicule rogues if you must play a role;
But beware getting lost in that bottomless hole.
The triumph is not with the forces of night.
It dawned with the One who said “I am the Light!”

Stepping Into The Darkness

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown’. And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’
From God Knows by Minnie Louise Haskins (1857-1957)

The above quote comes from a collection of poems called The Desert and was quoted by King George VI in his Christmas broadcast in 1939 and is engraved on the entrance to the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle.

I remember as a child being scared of the dark, all sorts of monsters lay in wait for me and even now I am not totally at ease in the dark. Looking back over the years I have been at St. Martin’s I can also see that in the past I have I been desperate for God to shine His light on my path.
Partly because I wanted to know if I was doing the right or wrong, always seeking some kind of affirmation, and to be reassured that everything was going to be OK.

If you have ever played the game of being blindfolded and being led by somebody else, you will have some idea of the challenge the quote gives. Can you and I really trust God’s love and care and step into the darkness? If that journey takes us to something other than “a known way” does our faith suffer? In our mind we know God will never leave us, He will always love us and there is nothing that can separate us but being honest with you, I think I am at the stage of putting my hand in God’s and letting Him lead, but having the other hand on a torch which I would like to switch on when things got difficult! However, I hope you and I can learn that God is absolutely trustworthy in all His promises and is with us whatever happens in the future.

Yours in Christ


Friday, 11 October 2013


Have you ever wondered about the history of the Harvest Festival?  Harvest Festival used to be celebrated at the beginning of the Harvest season on 1 August and was called Lammas, meaning 'loaf Mass'. Farmers made loaves of bread from the new wheat crop and gave them to their local church. They were then used as the Communion bread during a special mass thanking God for the harvest. The custom ended when Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church, and nowadays we have harvest festivals at the end of the season.

At the start of the harvest, communities would appoint a strong and respected man of the village as their 'Lord of the Harvest'. He would be responsible for negotiating the harvest wages and organising the fieldworkers.

The end of the harvest was celebrated with a big meal called a Harvest Supper, eaten on Michaelmas Day. The 'Lord of the Harvest' sat at the head of the table. A goose stuffed with apples was eaten along with a variety of vegetables. Goose Fairs were and still are held in English towns at this time of year.

The tradition of celebrating Harvest Festival in churches as we know it today began in 1843, when the Reverend Robert Hawker invited parishioners to a special thanksgiving service for the harvest at his church at Morwenstow in Cornwall. Victorian hymns such as "We plough the fields and scatter", "Come ye thankful people, come" and "All things bright and beautiful" helped popularise his idea of harvest festival and spread the annual custom of decorating churches with home-grown produce for the Harvest Festival service.

Today at St Martin’s we bring our Harvest gifts which will be distributed to those in need in our community. We are so fortunate that God has provided so well for us. Let’s not take it for granted.  God bless,

In Praise Of The NHS

Article printed in Walsall Advertiser, Thursday 10 October 2013

Adam - before his accident!

Two weeks ago my wife and I suffered every parent’s worst nightmare, when our seven year old injured himself and we had to rush him into A&E.  Fortunately his injuries weren’t serious, but he had lost his two front adult teeth, and so we were sent to Birmingham Dental Hospital.  Within minutes of arriving we were seen by a young dentist who put a very distressed seven year old and his parents immediately at ease.  The care that we received that day was second to none.

Living in the UK we are extremely fortunate that we have a national health service, which is free at the point of use.  At the time of writing this article, the US government is in a partial shutdown after the two houses of Congress failed to agree a new budget. The main sticking point is how much money the US government should spend on healthcare.  Healthcare in America is extremely expensive, and many of the poorest Americans cannot afford health insurance.  For this reason President Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act (nicknamed ‘Obamacare’) to extend healthcare to those who cannot afford it, so everyone has medical insurance.  The Republicans are however opposed to this Act, because they believe the country cannot afford it.
Whilst the NHS is not perfect, and does come in for a lot of criticism, it is an institution that we should be justly proud of.  For sixty-five years it has met the health needs of the nation.  As one expat living in America said, “People in Britain don’t realise how lucky they are to have the NHS.” 
When I visit people in hospital I am always impressed by the professionalism, dedication and care of those that work in the NHS.  We should acknowledge the amazing work they do, and pray for them and the NHS, so that it will continue to be there for whoever needs it.  
Creator God,
We thank you for the gift of health services in our nation,
Freely available to everyone no matter their background, income level or need.
Give your wisdom to our government, health professionals, and advisers as they seek the right reforms.
Bless our health service to thrive, to prosper, and to heal.
Bless our doctors and nurses to care, to excel, and to bring healing.
Bless our nation to understand, to thank, and to honour those who seek to bring us health.