Thought of the week

June 14th 2020

I know that at least one person looking at the basic, better, best picture last week put the dishes into the correct order. Basic was the Royal Albert dish on the left. It is good, but easy to obtain modern porcelain. The better was the Royal Doulton Dickens dish on the right, collectible, but not uncommon. In the middle was the best. A superb piece of Meissen.

But when we think in more spiritual terms, where should we place basic, better and best?

Thirty five years ago, I was looking for a house as I prepared to move to a new ministry in Dyfed. I had been shown round dozens, but none was what I wanted. Almost in despair, an estate agent suggested an old house in a village some five miles from the town. I prefer old houses. I liked the look of the village. The house was the right size. I liked it’s well established garden and I liked the clearly Christian couple who were selling it. I was shown round the house and taken into their dining room. From the door, I saw the fireplace and I knew that this was my house - not just my house, but my home. The fireplace seemed so welcoming. It said, “You can sit by me and be comfortable. I shall always be here as your friend on cold winter nights.”

There was no doubt in my mind. This was the best. I bought the house. My cat and I moved in. Their dining room became my sitting room. Puss purred by the fire and I found it very comfortable and comforting. For thirty five years, it has kept its promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the questions when I moved in was what should be put on the black marble mantelpiece. Over the years I have varied the decoration, but the first thing I placed there has always remained in the centre; the black marble clock. This, too has a story.

It was a wedding present to my Great-Grandparents from my Great-Grandfather’s brother. He delayed until the day before the wedding to select his gift and wanting to be sure that it was right, took some time in choosing; so long that he missed the last train. The tradition in those days was that all the gifts should be put on display for the Wedding Day. He was determined that his clock should be there and set out to walk.

The mechanism of the clock is of French manufacture, of excellent quality and not very heavy. The clock case is of similar quality, but it is not of similar weight. It is solid marble and exceptionally heavy. To me, it feels as though it weighs a ton. Yet, Uncle Albert carried it for eighteen miles on a journey that included several steep hills when he could have delayed until the next morning and come by train. Why? 

The simple answer is love. He loved his brother and, although he did not know her very well, he wanted to offer his love to his sister-in-law to be. He was determined not to disappoint them and although it cost him the huge toil of a weight encumbered, long and unexpected journey, he laboured on.

The bridal couple were pleased with the clock, but they were even more delighted by the love that was displayed in the effort that was put into bringing it to them on time. And the story of Uncle Albert’s walk has remained part of family history for well over a century

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Rev Tom Hodson carried out an amazing ministry in central Birmingham based around a canal boat. 

One summer, I took the boys from my Church’s Pilot Company on holiday. We stopped for a couple of days near Birmingham on the way to the seaside. To amuse them, I asked Tom if he would give them a ride on his boat. He welcomed us happily, showed us round the boat and let the boys help him steer as we puttered along the canal. They asked him what he did with the boat and he told them about his work and about looking after the boat. It was an enjoyable time.

This was a good group of children. I was fond of them and wanted to give them the happiest holiday possible. For the next day, we had planned a visit to the amusement park near to which we were staying. This was going to be the first holiday highlight and the reason we had not gone directly to the sea. They had been talking about it for weeks. But, when we got up, they asked if I would start the minibus and take them on an unexpected journey. There was something they wanted to do more than visit the amusement park.

Tom had touched their hearts when he told them about the deprived disabled children who were to be the boat’s next passengers. They wanted to help him get it ready. Tom was good at inspiring others to help and when they offered, he didn’t spare their labours. Rather than all the fun of the fair, the Pilots had a day of scrubbing decks and polishing brass, all for love; the God-given compassion put into young hearts for children who had none of the advantages that they had.

Those children are now late middle aged men, but I hope the compassion that they learnt on a canal boat in Birmingham has lived in their hearts through their lives, just as Uncle Albert’s devoted journey remained with my Great Grandparents. It certainly has lived in mine, teaching me to care for those who sometimes we do not notice. They had chosen the best.

Certainly, an unexpected journey lived in Mary’s heart. When Jesus was roughly the same age as my Pilots, He went missing. The family had been to celebrate a festival in Jerusalem. They were traveling home with a large group of friends and relations. His parents assumed that Jesus was with the other children. After a day’s travel, they discovered that He was not. Frantic with worry, they hurried back. It took them three desperate days to find Him in the Temple. Imagine their emotions when they did! A mixture between overwhelming relief and a desire to scold. Jesus explained, but it was so hard for her to understand. She had his best interests at heart. She must know better than a twelve year old. It was only years later that she fully understood the incident in the Temple. The apparently less experienced, less knowing person was right. He had chosen the best.

I wanted the best for my Pilots. I thought that giving them as much enjoyment as possible on that holiday was the best. The twelve year olds and God knew better.

This time of lockdown when we miss seeing some familiar faces gives us a chance to reflect and wonder whether we should consider walking a clock carrying journey or getting out the Brasso to demonstrate our love and appreciation.

Certainly, doing my own housework has taught me how much I undervalued the lady I paid to do it for me and how much more I should value her when she can come back. And the general clapping is a demonstration that many have come to appreciate the unsung and often underpaid workers who hold our communities together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps, this week, it would be good to remember, pray for and, if possible, tell five beings who are important to you how much you value them. Mind, you haven’t got to limit it to five. It could be five hundred, five thousand or five million. The more the merrier. For, as the young Jesus tried to explain to His Mother, there is nothing more important than showing love to God and to all those millions of people who are His best creation.

I felt it would be wrong to include a picture of a human being who is important to me and suggest that they are the best. After all, there are so many bests. Therefore, I have included one of a being whose loyalty, love and purrs by the fire I still miss even though it is nearly a quarter of a century since he passed on.

May the Lord’s Blessing remain with you and those you love and value throughout this week. 

Miaow!

Chris Gillham 

 

23/05/2020

 

Dear Friends,


Although I am a collector, I have never made any particular attempt to collect clocks. Yet my house seems to be full of them and I am fond of them.  Last week, I wrote of my favourite and wondered what activities of my family it may have seen. Today, I should like to show you what might be called the naughty clock, not because it is naughty. It is an excellent and uncomplaining timekeeper with a deep, comfortable chime. But it has witnessed much naughtiness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

This is a mantle clock, but it never stood on a mantle piece. As in my house, so in the house of my Father’s parents, it lived in the dining room, on the sideboard.

My Grandfather was an admirable self made man of strong character. He left school when he was twelve and by hard work, acumen and a degree of ruthlessness built up a very successful business. He enjoyed success and did not like to lose.

Every Friday,  my Aunt came to visit her parents bringing with her Uncle Reg, her husband. At some time during the evening, he would be challenged to a game of cribbage. He was an excellent player, but he always lost and he could never understand why.

My Grandfather was a good player but he also had a plan that guaranteed his victory. They played at the dining room table. The clock stood watching them. Reg was always invited to sit with his back to it. Grandfather constantly watched the clock and it never occurred to Reg that what he was in fact watching was the large, highly polished silver salver which stood behind it. In this, he saw every card in his opponent’s hand and easily cheated his way to victory.

Watching carefully is an excellent way of learning and can be put to much better use than cheating at cards. Indeed, a Biblical instruction that is regularly passed on to Christians is to watch and pray. But how do we watch and what should we watch?

For forty days, Jesus’ disciples got used to seeing and relying on the Risen Lord. Then, to their amazement, in front of a great crowd, He ascended into Heaven. They stood open mouthed, staring into the sky. Where had He gone? What were they to do? All they could do was stare, but there was nothing left to see. Angels had to chide them. He will return, but until He does, do what He taught you. Go where He told you. Watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



But where were they to go and how were they to find the way? They needed a sign to point them in the right direction and to watch. Perhaps Philip and Thomas, with whom Jesus had been speaking when He made the remark, remembered first, but it will have come to all. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus was and is the way. He is the sign to follow; the one to watch.

But where and how?

In the middle of my village, not far from my house, stands a sign pointing to a footpath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

Many a keen walker would reject it, thinking, perhaps, that it comes from a former time, for there is no enticing winding way; no wild display of flowers other than the buttercups in the uncut grass. The sign merely points down a road of very ordinary houses. And, if you walk to the end of the road, there is nothing more enticing. Another sign points to a narrow path that is hemmed in by high fences and overgrown with tall uninviting stinging nettles. This is not a path for people wearing shorts and the nettles are so tall that even hands can be in danger. Many, on seeing it, turn back.

Many a keen Christian faces a similar way. The Christian life can seem ordinary and boring, particularly when we are confined at home and can not fill our time with activity. Where is the leadership? Where is the excitement? Where is the joy? But we persevere.

And then, perhaps, comes worse than the ordinary. Danger, worry, insecurity, illness, pain and bereavement. How much we want then to sit down and hide; to turn back from this uncomfortable, frightening path. Where is the sign in this? Have we taken the wrong way?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The nettle filled path is short. It leads to five steep steps and a hidden gate beyond which is a verdant flower filled meadow. The buttercups at the start were a little foretaste of what was to come. Far from being not worth following, this is the only path in the village that leads to open country and a view onwards to the Preseli Hills.

So too, Jesus has promised that, as we follow Him, the way may not always be exciting. It may require times of delay and waiting. Indeed, the Angels tell the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the sign is sent. When it comes, it will enable them to face both the narrow nettle filled paths and the smiling flower filled meadows with equanimity.

The sign is not an external pointer which may be missed. When He comes to the disciples, He is the Holy Spirit who dwells within them. As we watch, He comes to us too. He is the way and, when we follow Him, we shall never go wrong for He brings us to the truth and the life that are our Glorious Love filled God.

Watch and pray this week and be Blessed by the presence of God the Holy Spirit.

Chris Gillham

16/06/2020

Dear Friends,


Although I am a collector, I have never made any particular attempt to collect clocks. Yet my house seems to be full of them and I am fond of them.  Last week, I wrote of my favourite and wondered what activities of my family it may have seen. Today, I should like to show you what might be called the naughty clock, not because it is naughty. It is an excellent and uncomplaining timekeeper with a deep, comfortable chime. But it has witnessed much naughtiness.



This is a mantle clock, but it never stood on a mantle piece. As in my house, so in the house of my Father’s parents, it lived in the dining room, on the sideboard.

My Grandfather was an admirable self made man of strong character. He left school when he was twelve and by hard work, acumen and a degree of ruthlessness built up a very successful business. He enjoyed success and did not like to lose.

Every Friday,  my Aunt came to visit her parents bringing with her Uncle Reg, her husband. At some time during the evening, he would be challenged to a game of cribbage. He was an excellent player, but he always lost and he could never understand why.

My Grandfather was a good player but he also had a plan that guaranteed his victory. They played at the dining room table. The clock stood watching them. Reg was always invited to sit with his back to it. Grandfather constantly watched the clock and it never occurred to Reg that what he was in fact watching was the large, highly polished silver salver which stood behind it. In this, he saw every card in his opponent’s hand and easily cheated his way to victory.

Watching carefully is an excellent way of learning and can be put to much better use than cheating at cards. Indeed, a Biblical instruction that is regularly passed on to Christians is to watch and pray. But how do we watch and what should we watch?

For forty days, Jesus’ disciples got used to seeing and relying on the Risen Lord. Then, to their amazement, in front of a great crowd, He ascended into Heaven. They stood open mouthed, staring into the sky. Where had He gone? What were they to do? All they could do was stare, but there was nothing left to see. Angels had to chide them. He will return, but until He does, do what He taught you. Go where He told you. Watch.



But where were they to go and how were they to find the way? They needed a sign to point them in the right direction and to watch. Perhaps Philip and Thomas, with whom Jesus had been speaking when He made the remark, remembered first, but it will have come to all. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus was and is the way. He is the sign to follow; the one to watch.

But where and how?

In the middle of my village, not far from my house, stands a sign pointing to a footpath.



Many a keen walker would reject it, thinking, perhaps, that it comes from a former time, for there is no enticing winding way; no wild display of flowers other than the buttercups in the uncut grass. The sign merely points down a road of very ordinary houses. And, if you walk to the end of the road, there is nothing more enticing. Another sign points to a narrow path that is hemmed in by high fences and overgrown with tall uninviting stinging nettles. This is not a path for people wearing shorts and the nettles are so tall that even hands can be in danger. Many, on seeing it, turn back.

Many a keen Christian faces a similar way. The Christian life can seem ordinary and boring, particularly when we are confined at home and can not fill our time with activity. Where is the leadership? Where is the excitement? Where is the joy? But we persevere.

And then, perhaps, comes worse than the ordinary. Danger, worry, insecurity, illness, pain and bereavement. How much we want then to sit down and hide; to turn back from this uncomfortable, frightening path. Where is the sign in this? Have we taken the wrong way?


The nettle filled path is short. It leads to five steep steps and a hidden gate beyond which is a verdant flower filled meadow. The buttercups at the start were a little foretaste of what was to come. Far from being not worth following, this is the only path in the village that leads to open country and a view onwards to the Preseli Hills.

So too, Jesus has promised that, as we follow Him, the way may not always be exciting. It may require times of delay and waiting. Indeed, the Angels tell the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the sign is sent. When it comes, it will enable them to face both the narrow nettle filled paths and the smiling flower filled meadows with equanimity.

The sign is not an external pointer which may be missed. When He comes to the disciples, He is the Holy Spirit who dwells within them. As we watch, He comes to us too. He is the way and, when we follow Him, we shall never go wrong for He brings us to the truth and the life that are our Glorious Love filled God.

Watch and pray this week and be Blessed by the presence of God the Holy Spirit.

Chris Gillham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

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