Laughing at the time to come
It’s August 2019, and it’s Stewardship Season in St Andrew’s. Each household in the congregation has received a leaflet entitled “TIME … it’s in your hands”. During this month all are “invited to consider God’s gift of Time”. Any member or friend of Meadowside St Paul’s may be sure of a warm welcome, should they wish to come along to any of the events being organised around the theme of time.
At least one did come to the barbecue on the Terrace – yes, the Terrace, in brilliant sunshine which threatened to melt the ice lollies. This was amazing after the torrential downpours of the previous day. What was also amazing was that the Terrace provides a sheltered, quiet and secluded spot, in spite of being right next door to the Wellgate shopping centre.
So, time together as Christians – individuals, extended families, friends, young and old together.
Opportunity for quiet time is also being offered, with the sanctuary open to all on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. A prayer tree has been placed on the chancel, with the invitation to write a prayer on a paper leaf and hang it on the tree. All of these messages will be read and the prayers offered, starting at the special Café Church on the last day of August.
This week the sanctuary has been enhanced by floral arrangements done by the “flower ladies” for the service on flowers held on 18th August. Unusually, it featured dandelions and thistles (“The cheerful unrepentant weeds” by Jan Sutch Pickard) as well as arrangements for baptism, marriage and remembrance.
What was truly uplifting was that the ladies had gone the extra mile by picking up the themes of Jim Adams’ poem, “The four seasons” which formed the call to worship (Jim is a member at Meadowside St Paul’s). This poem was featured in the most recent magazine and can be found on the church website (under Publications) but for ease, it is repeated here.
Spring flies in on angel wings
Softly as the silver dew
Daffodils sing songs of hope
As morning breaks anew
A warm embrace of summer sun
Enfolds fields of yellow gold
Apple orchards clothed in red
Hear nature’s song unfold
A melody of silence
Greets the whispering autumn sky
Grey mist rolls across the ground
We hear the blackbird cry
Winter wears her cloak of white
A crown of garnished blue
Silent are the empty hills
Where once the skylark flew
Each season has her magic
Her harmony of days
Creation’s trumpet cries aloud
In symphony of praise
And what of the title of this post - Laughing at the time to come – what’s that about? Well, each household in St Andrew’s also received a paperback copy of the Old Testament Book of Proverbs. In the last chapter (verse 25) we find this: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” Lemuel, king of Massa, is passing on to his son the words which his mother taught him; here he is describing a “good wife”.
In our own time and place we might find it in our heart not to limit his description to one particular gender and category. Should we not all aim to be clothed in strength and dignity? As for laughing at the time to come, is that another way of interpreting what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount? “… do not be anxious about your life … do not be anxious about tomorrow …” (from Matthew 6:25 and 34)
As the clock ticks towards the hour when this linked charge will have been vacant for two years, some members of the congregations may find it impossible to laugh at the time to come. All I can say to them is that the lack of a full-time minister has not stopped their ministry and that is something to celebrate. This past year in particular has borne fruit.
To illustrate this, our two distinct parish profiles have been worked on over the summer and will soon be published as a unitary document on the internet.
We invite you to take time to read it.