Monday, 2 March 2009

Winds of Change


After the lovely Communion service yesterday afternoon, I drove over to Norfolk to stay with my friend Christine. She is just about my oldest friend [that is in terms of length of friendship, not her age!!] Across the road from her house you can see the Dereham windmill. What a lovely view!

It was, however, dark when I arrived at 9.30pm. [The drive along the A47 seemed endless, and I was glad of "The Archers" for company, and then Sunday Half Hour on Radio 2 and some hymns to sing en route.] Chris and I drank tea and chatted till almost midnight, putting the world in general, and Baptist Churches in particular, to rights.

This morning we went into town for the Thanksgiving service for our friend Ivan, who died last week at the age of 92. It was a great occasion, and many people from all over the place had come to pay their respects to this gracious man of God. Adrian came from work, and it was lovely to stand between my brother and my best friend, in the beautiful Cowper Memorial Chapel, as we remembered Ivan together. [William Cowper, the poet, spent the end of his life in Dereham and is buried in the churchyard nearby]

Quite a few of the people at the service had been friends in my teenage years and we went through Young People's Fellowship together. Now we are all in our 50's and 60's - but the shared memories came flooding back. Loads of people spoke about my parents, with great affection - and that was lovely. Norfolk has a very special place in my heart.

The music and hymns for the thanksgiving had been chosen by Ivan himself - two were by the blind hymn writer Frances Van Alstyne ["Blessed Assurance" and "All the way my Saviour leads me"] the third was the slightly more modern "Lord for the Years" and the theme of the whole service was Ivan's personal motto "The Lord goes before me"


Afterwards I went back to Chris' house to change [and drink more tea] and then I started the long drive home. I passed the windmill at Swaffham [which stars alongside Stephen Fry in 'Kingdom'] and pondered on the fact that while many things change, some remain constant. The style and engineering may have changed - but it is still the wind which is needed to provide the energy. The Church in Dereham now is very different from how it was when I was growing up there - but it is still God's Holy Spirit who gives it energy and life.

This last hymn was a particular favourite of my mother. The words are great - and you can listen to it here.

All the way my Saviour leads me,
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Saviour leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Saviour leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.


  1. What a wonderful thing to call it a Thanksgiving service! Giving thanks to God for this person's life is so special. I'm glad you had a safe trip and enjoyed the drive. Interesting to the see the old-fashioned windmill and the new design!

  2. I'm so glad you and your friend set the Baptist church to rights. Now all you have to work on are the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists, and we'll all be good to go!

    Good luck, and report back.



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