Sunday, 8 June 2008

A great cloud of witnesses


Really good Family Service this morning - all the preparation paid off and everything worked. We had clips from Evan Almighty, and sang some great songs - old and new. Bob, resplendent in the Noah's Ark waistcoat I made a few years ago, agreed to my request for "Our God is a Great Big God" [Vineyard Songs] We sing that a lot at my school and the kids there love it. Bob didn't know it - but we did it this morning and it went really well. People joined in the actions too!

Our God is a great big God, our God is a great big God

Our God is a great big God, and He holds us in His hands.

He’s higher than a skyscraper, and deeper than a submarine

He’s wider than the Universe, and beyond my wildest dreams

And He’s known me, and He’s loved me,

Since before the world began

How wonderful, to be a part, of God’s amazing plan

Our God is a great big God, and He holds us in His hands.

The theme of the service was Faith and the passage was Hebrews 11 [beautifully read by Bethany and Katie from my Sunday School Class] so lots of OT characters got a look in.

At one point Jess, the puppet, abseiled down the side of the organ!She was acting the part of one of the spies helped by Rahab in IM002566Joshua 2. Then she sat on my knee and told her story. Usually Steph does the voice of Jess, hiding in the pulpit with the radio mic. But Steph's grown up and gone to London, so this morning Sarah did the Jess voice for me. When Steph and I first began the Jess thing, six years ago, there were people in the congregation who thought I was a ventriloquist!

We also sang "There's a Sound on the Wind"

which I love very much - and then a couple of older ones - He who would Valiant Be, by Bunyan the Baptist from Bedford, and When a Knight Won His Spurs by Jan Struther. These two authors both fascinate me

I've always loved Bunyan, and Pilgrim's Progress was required reading in my childhood - but since coming to Leicester, I have discovered that Bunyan had an experience here which profoundly affected him. A soldier in the Civil War, he stepped down from his watch, for another to take his place - and almost immediately his replacement was shot dead in front of him! This is a brilliant county for lovers of Nonconformist History.

struther Jan Struther, on the other hand, not only wrote lots of hymns [Including Lord of All Hopefulness] which was on the Radio 4 service this morning - but also wrote that amazing story Mrs Miniver, which was filmed in 1942 with Greer Garson and alter Pidgeon, and told the story of an 'ordinary' middle-class family in WW2. Jan's real name was Joyce Maxtone Graham Placzek, so I am not surprised she used a pseudonym! Joyce was the daughter of Har­ry An­stru­ther, MP At her private school, she used to sit behind Eliz­a­beth Bowes-Ly­on (the fu­ture Queen Mo­ther) and would dip the long tresse­s of “roy­al” hair in­to the ink-well. In lat­er life, when quizzed about this, the ever-tact­ful Queen Mo­ther de­clared that she could re­call no­thing of it! Jan went on to lead an extremely colourful life - so her penchant for hymn writing is very intriguing!

I am sure other people learned "When a Knight Won His Spurs" at IM002565 school, and wondered who Valerie was, for whom he rode through the land!

Here's the back of the waisctcoat. I bought it at a Craft Fair at the NEC about 10 years ago - it was just a kit sold as a printed length of fabric. I cut it out and lined it with navy polka dot sateen. The elephant's ears are sewn on separately, and they can flap! Also the tails of many of the animals are made from plaited embroidery floss, and many of the creatures and plants are embellished with buttons and seed beads. It took ages - a true labour of love.

One other thought from this morning's service - if Barack Obama is named after the OT hero, Barak, why did his mother put a C in his name? Mind you, I read once that Oprah Winfrey said her mother wanted to name her after Ruth's sister-in-law Orpah, but she spelled it wrong on the birth certificate!

All in all, it was a great service!

By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. What more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them.

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