St Francistide T I D I N G S

October 1999

Contents

Our Rector Writes

The Ministry of Giving

A Psalm of Y2K

Wind of Spirit, Wind of Change

St Francis HIV/AIDS Committee

St Francis of Assisi: a story of its beginnings

Did you ever wonder?

Letter

Abide with me

Letters to God

 

Foreword


A new venture that we have recently embarked upon is the St Francis website.  With the internet beginning to impact on so many people’s lives, it was seen as a wonderful opportunity to tell more people about the activities and visions of the St Francis community.  As people visit Pretoria, they will be able to find out what is happening at St Francis before they arrive, and to contact us if they need further information.  As members of the congregation move on to other jobs and placements in different parts of the world, they will be able to stay in touch with us through an electronic version of Tidings, and other news features on the site.

At present the web site can best be described as nascent, with many parts still needing to be developed.  Under the headings of Worshipping, Witnessing, Discipling, Caring, Reconciling, Giving and Praying, the life of the St Francis community is described.  There will also be pages about current events (similar to For Your Diary), links to other interesting internet sites, and links to back copies of this newsletter.  Areas for special interests such as the youth and house churches can be made available for individuals within the church to develop.

We have registered our own address at www.st-francis.co.za. We are hoping that the many ministries that thrive within the church community will be supported and complemented through this medium.  So next time you are hanging out at your local internet café, surf through to the St Francis website.

Ed.


 

Editor: Mark Napier. Tel. 012-9987992 (home), Email: mnapier@csir.co.za

Typing: Christine Lawrie.  Production: Anne Allison.  Collation:  Amy Macnamara

St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church, 373 Milner Street, Waterkloof, 0181

Tel. 012-346 1106/7, Fax: 346 4226.  Rector: Ven. Martin Breytenbach


 

Our Rector Writes...

 

Dear Friends in Christ,

 

 

 

Elected Bishop

A great deal has happened in my life and that of my family since I last wrote for Tidings. As most of you know, I was elected Bishop of the Diocese of St Mark the Evangelist at their Elective Assembly on 5th August. Since then the time has flown by - already two of our last five months at St Francis have passed.

In this letter I would like to share with you some of the implications that this election has for the parish and for ourselves, and the processes that it has set into motion.

1.         Joy and Grief

It is a bitter-sweet thing to have been elected Bishop.

I have experienced it as a huge affirmation and encouragement to me personally, and it is exciting to face a new ministry of this magnitude. It is awesome to be called to such an office - knowing that God and the church are willing to trust me with this responsibility and leadership, in spite of my unworthiness and weakness. I also know that God who called me will also anoint and equip me for the task. I am looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that it will provide. I have also been deeply moved by your wonderful encouragement and acceptance of all that is happening. Sarah and I are grateful to the many people who have been praying for us, and confirming in all sorts of ways that this calling is indeed from God.

But it is not easy to leave a parish that has played such a positive part in our lives. It is a great joy and privilege to have had 13 years as your Rector. We have made many friends and experienced many things together, especially the grace of God in our midst. We have had successes and failures, but you have stood beside us and supported us throughout. You have watched our children grow from babies to the point where Katy is about to enter Matric. On our part, we have shared in many of your joys and sorrows and have seen wonderful growth in so many people. So, it is natural that we should all experience some pain and grief at having to part, even though we know it is God’s calling. We are coping with our grief by savouring every moment we have left at St Francis, especially the personal interactions and times of worship. We also console ourselves with the knowledge that we will not be that far away - and that many of you will also pass through Pietersburg from time to time: do come and see us!

2.         Finding a New Rector

The process of searching for a new Rector is already underway and, together with the Churchwardens, I invite you to participate fully in it. The Churchwardens (Rob Lewis, Stuart Waetzel and Eckart Brock) together with the Bishop (Jo Seoka) are responsible for overseeing the process. They will involve the clergy and parish council throughout, and will consult with the members of the parish.

It is a process that cannot be rushed, and is likely to take quite a few months. Here are the steps that will take place:

·         Call to prayer: We ask everyone to make the appointment of a new Rector a matter of constant prayer, individually and in House Churches. In particular, there are prayer meetings in the church every Tuesday morning from 6 to 6.30am and 5.30 to 6pm. These are times of listening to God as well as praying to him.

·         Parish Profile: We have nearly completed work on a Parish Profile, which gives all sorts of important information about who we are, what we are doing, and how we believe God is calling the parish for the future. This will be valuable information for the Bishop as well as prospective candidates.

·         Rector Profile: We have also been compiling a profile of the sort of person we believe would be right for this parish.

·         Possible Candidates: Several names of possible candidates have already been suggested to the Churchwardens. After consultation with the Bishop (who makes the appointment and licenses the new Rector) they will be approached to see if they are willing to consider the position. The Bishop may also have priests in mind for St Francis.

·         Interviews: The Bishop will probably produce a short-list of names, and invite the Churchwardens and Council (including the clergy) to interview these candidates.

·         Appointment: Once everyone (the Bishop, the parish leaders and the candidate) is satisfied that we have found the person God is calling, the Bishop will appoint that person as Rector, and preparations will begin for his or her move to the parish.

In the meantime I am working hard to disengage from the parish and my ministry here in a responsible way. That means meeting and consulting with many people, and handing over to others the things that Sarah and I are doing in the parish. We are making good progress, since there are already so many people sharing in ministry who are ready to take on greater leadership roles.

3.         Consecration and Ministry as Bishop

A few important dates for us and the parish have been set in the last week or two:

·         There will be a Farewell Function at St Francis on Friday evening 3rd December this year. Please do your best to come! Don’t worry, we will be here for Christmas and New Year.

·         We plan to move to Pietersburg in the first week of January, and will then have a few weeks to settle into the house and help Katy, Tasha and Jeremy start the new school year.

·         I will be Consecrated Bishop (together with the new Bishops of Johannesburg and possibly Lesotho, who are due to be elected soon) at 2.30pm on Saturday 5th February 2000 at St Mary’s Cathedral in Johannesburg. Archbishop of Cape Town Njongonkulu Ndungane will preside and Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey will preach. It will be a great occasion.

·         The next day, Sunday 6th February (with Bishop Jo’s permission), we will be at St Francis for both morning services to celebrate with you. There will probably be a combined celebration breakfast at 8.30am.

·         On Saturday 12th February, probably starting in the late morning, Bishop Duncan Buchanan of Johannesburg will Install me as Bishop - probably at Mawhelereng near Potgietersrus or Seshego near Pietersburg. You are all invited!

The ministry of Bishop is very different from that of a parish priest, and I have a great deal to learn, but God is already giving me vision for my new Diocese. It is summarised for me in Acts 11:23-24 where the apostolic ministry of Barnabas in Antioch in described. My main tasks in the first year are to meet people, get to know them, look to see what God is doing, and listen for what God wants to do. Then all that I and the people need to do is obediently follow God’s leading - and the blessings will flow!

 

Please continue to pray for Sarah, Katy, Tasha, Jeremy and me as we prepare for this momentous and life-changing move. It is relatively easy for me - I am going to a particular ministry and calling. The rest of the family are having their lives uprooted because of my calling. And they are doing it willingly because they believe it comes from God. But please pray for them as Sarah looks for work, and the children adapt to new school situations (Katy will board at DSG, while Tasha and Jeremy will start at new schools in Pietersburg).

We will continue to pray for you - and you will always have a very special place in our hearts.

With love in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Martin

 

 


“THE CHURCH AT THE CROSSROADS”

(Jul/Aug 1999 edition of “Every Day with Jesus”)

 

Selwyn Hughes writes:

 

Show me a church where people are:

·         prepared to suffer for their faith

·         propagate the good news of Jesus Christ

·         demonstrate care for those who are needy

·         engage deeply with God in worship

·         remain always open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit

·         rid themselves of all class distinctions and racial prejudice

·         utilise the gifts of all God’s people

·         hold together strong people who differ

 

And I will show you a church that will revolutionize the community in which it is placed.

Deirdre Barrett

 

THE MINISTRY OF GIVING

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver

2 Corinthians 9:7                                                                     by Eric Buiten

 



A

 group from St Francis and other parishes in our Diocese recently attended a one-day seminar on “Generosity Giving” presented by Michael Crockett. The seminar dealt with the very topical and often hotly debated issue of what is expected from us as a giving community (tithes, pledges, collections). It certainly opened my eyes to the true meaning of giving and also changed my views on a number of issues, including that of tithing

The core of the message can be summarized as follows:

·         Giving should be generous

·         Giving should be sacrificial

·         Giving should be guided by a clear vision of our role in Christian Mission

Giving generously

In 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15 and 9: 6-15, Paul encourages the early Christian Churches to give generously. We are called to give as much as we are able to, and even beyond. We are also called to do so joyfully and cheerfully! Giving away our hard-earned possessions is difficult. However, the good news is that generosity is a gift from God and we need to ask the Lord to fill our hearts with the desire to give generously and freely. This implies that we need to give ourselves to God before we give our money. Only then can we truly succeed in the Ministry of Giving, not as a command but as a response to love and faith.

Not only in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament the focus is on freewill and generosity when it comes to giving. Exodus 25:1-2: “The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each one whose heart prompts him to give” Exodus 35: 21: “And everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought and offering to the Lord”.

The product of our generosity is thanksgiving and praise. In 2 Corinthians 9: 13 and 14 Paul says “men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.”

Giving Sacrificially

In his booklet titled “Generosity Giving: a Seminar Workbook”, Michael Crockett points out that “what God wants from us is not our money as if God was struggling to come out at the end of his heavenly month. What he wants is ourselves and out of our love for him the sacrificial gifts which we bring to him. He will judge us and reward us, not according to the amount, but according to the attitude in our hearts.” Crockett goes on to say that we do not have to give. “Therefore don’t try to slip in a cheap gift. All you are doing is insulting God. If you want to give make your gift a significant gift, costly to yourself.” 

An example of this is the very first recorded act of giving, namely the sacrifice made by Cain and Abel, recorded in Genesis chapter four. While Able gave the best of his flock, Cain tried to get away with “some of the fruits of the soil.” His actions signified his attitude. When God rejected his offering, Cain was angry and sullen, not heartbroken and repentant.

The sacrifice we make by giving generously is not really much, if we consider the fact that all we have comes from God and the incredible sacrifice he made through his Son, Jesus Christ. How wonderful His gift and how rich the reward! In 2 Corinthians 9:8 God promises that generosity breeds generosity. The more we give to him the more He will provide for us in all things, at all times and in every good work.

 

A Church with a Vision

Generosity Giving needs to be guide by a clear vision of where God is calling St Francis Parish and each one of us in Christian Mission. People want to be part of a vision that challenges them, includes them and grips their imagination. The purpose St Francis Waterkloof has taken on is “Sharing God’s Love”.  Each one of us needs to be clear about what this means in terms of practical actions and how this translates into the Parish’s budget. Once we are sure about God’s calling, we can trust in the Lord to give us the desire and ability to bring His work to fulfillment.

During the Workshop each Parish was asked to determine their potential income in terms of what their parishioners could afford. In all cases the potential income was considerably higher that the actual income! This indicates the potential to raise the income of a church when it is filled with enthusiasm, encouragement and hope - directed by a clearly defined vision and plan.

Tithing

On the question of tithing, Crockett points out that although it is his own practice to give about ten percent of his income to his local church, his reasons for doing so have changed significantly over the past few years. According to him the Old Testament tithing was in fact a form of income tax which can be traced back to Israel’s early system of theocratic government where the law did not separate religious from civic affairs. The Temple funded both religious and civic affairs through tithing.  In fact, with the advent of Moses and the more prescriptive laws the Jews were required to pay not one but three tithes amounting to 24%, namely the Lords Tithe (Leviticus 27: 30); The Festive Tithe (Deuteronomy 12: 10-18); and The Poor Tithe (Deuteronomy 14: 28).

According to Crockett the context of the oft-quoted passage of Malachi 3:10 “Bring me the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty”, really signifies a form of taxation rather than the notion of generous giving. This verse tells us that not paying the tithe would have been like robbing God.

Generosity Giving is to exercise our freedom by living in God’s love.                                W

 

 

A PSALM OF Y2K -- BASED ON PSALM 139


 

O Lord, You have searched me, and known me.

You know when I sit down at my PC, and when I step away.

You understand my modem, and the whole e-mail thing.

You know the way I let the Internet waste my time, but too,

how it has let me keep in contact with family and friends around the globe.

Even before I've touched the keyboard, You know what I'll write. It is hard for me to comprehend that You're standing at my shoulder every time I sign on.

You are awesome, Lord, and the Y2K uncertainties can't disturb You,

like they do me and lots of people around me.

Where can I go that Your Spirit isn't with me?

Or could I get away from Your love and protection,

if I was running in fear come January 1, 2000?

If my electricity shuts down, You are there.

If I have to sleep under 2 down comforters to keep warm when my gas furnace fails to operate, You are there. If the city can't keep the water pumping, or my ATM is "out of service," You'll take care of me.

If, on December 31, 1999, I cry, "surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," even the darkness is not dark to you, and the night is bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike, to You.

You made me, Lord, and You love me.

Your works have no glitches, no shutdowns, no power failures.

My days, with or without computers, were planned by You before I was even born!

Help me to be faithful to You, and not panic when I hear of shortages, outages and chaos. Help me to be prepared to help others, physically and spiritually. Let me be an enemy of fear mongers, and help me to show those who are truly afraid of the future how to put their trust in You, Lord, the Almighty One.

Keep Your eye on me, O God, and touch my heart.

Give me your peace, and make me share it with others.

Keep my eyes on You, now and forever.



 

Wind Of Spirit,

Wind Of Change

A prayer poem from “The Folk Arts in Renewal” by the Fisherfolk

 

From Yolande Trainor

 


When we think we know

the way to go

to be fully ourselves–

When we have things all arranged–

You come suddenly, wings of change,

erasing our order, displacing our plans.

Wind of Spirit, wind of change,

You move at will to rearrange

our thoughts, our longings, our lives.

 

When we think we know

positions into which others go

to please ourselves, to please them–

You come, weeping, wounded,

Shattering our limited lovelessness.

Wind of Spirit, wind of change,

You move at will to rearrange

our attitudes, our intentions, our plans.

 

When we think we know

the direction our lives should go

to bring your kingdom to man,

often we end with things arranged

to prevent change:

we become fixed, caught by the cares

that will get us there.

Then you come, sudden sweeping,

to lead us anew.

Wind of Spirit, wind of change,

You move at will to rearrange

our goals, our priorities, our vision.

 

Wind of Spirit, wind of change,

Move at will to rearrange

our thoughts, our plans, our lives.

Help us to lead, help us to follow.

Break our hearts, bend our wills,

soften our words, temper our thoughts.

Use us to fulfil

your hope, your vision, your life.

Teach us to come as you,

Suddenly, weeping,

Bearing change to rearrange

your people, your church, your world.

Patricia Beall

 

 

St Francis HIV/AIDS Committee

 

The St Francis HIV/AIDS steering committee was recently formed and held its first meeting on 12th August, 1999. Joey Phayane, June de Klerk, Colin Paine and Eckart Brock were present.  The aims of the committee are as follows:

·         to create awareness of the disease;

·         to provide true facts and figures;

·         to define and encourage an appropriate lifestyle;

·         to destigmatise the disease

·         to explore how to handle the disease in a social context

·         to understand how to handle the disease in a Christian context

·         to work through appropriate and sensitive responses to people with HIV/AIDs

·         to release accurate information about how the disease is transmitted and treated;

·         to discuss how to educate our youth as regards HIV/AIDs;

·         to support various projects.

 

Where members of our parish are involved in helping HIV/AIDS patients, i.e. Kalafong and Hospice, this could be achieved through:

·         providing foodstuff,

·         providing clothing,

·         providing money for medical treatment and facilities,

·         to act as helpers e.g. coffee servers, and

·         to engage the government to provide funding.

 

As part of the effort to educate the youth at large, it was suggested that it would be worthwhile to run educational projects at local schools, universities, colleges and other parishes, and to create possible links between St Francis and other like-minded organisations to co-operate with them on educational projects.

 

 

 

 

 


ST FRANCIS OF ASSISI : WATERKLOOF

“The story of its Beginnings”  by a group of Founder Members.  Taken from “Tidings” January 1978. From June de Klerk

 



U

ntil the turn of the century Waterkloof was completely rural, situated some 7 or 8 kilometers from the centre of the city in the South Eastern outskirts.  Then, thanks to the South African Townships and Mining Corporation, the district was planned and laid out and the area took shape.  A few houses, very scattered, the Country Club and a General Store were built by the corporation.

This small store was leased to and later owned by Mr Rostowsky, known to all as Mr Ross.  He, for many years and in many ways, was a good friend to the Anglican Community.  Incorporated in his store was a small school hall and it was there that the first service was held by Father Runge in 1922.  It was known as St Phillip’s Mission and was sponsored and linked to St Michael and All Angels, Sunnyside.  By 1930 a group of Anglicans were collecting funds to build a Hall.  Father Cooper, rector of Sunnyside, led the services at St Phillip’s Mission and his wife ran the Sunday School.  He was followed by Father Herbert who on Christmas Day 1935 took his first service in Waterkloof.

Waterkloof was growing rapidly and the General Store was altered, built on to and became a small shopping centre.  The old school hall disappeared and the Anglicans of Waterkloof returned to their Mother Church of St Michael for Divine Worship.

The pioneering Anglican families, among whom were, to name but a few, Brian Allanson, Sutton, MacIntosh, Maclear, Bekker, McKilloys, Savage, Webster, MacCullum, strongly supported by Father Herbert, initiated the first steps towards building a Church.  Approval was given by the Vestry of St Michaels and by the Diocesan Trustees and the SA Townships transferred a piece of ground at the corner of Long Avenue and Albert Street to the Diocesan trustees for this purpose – a gift from the Corporation.

As a result of the excellent response, the Church Council was now in a position to have plans for the building drawn up – these, with modifications, were passed and at a Vestry Meeting on October 23rd, 1960, under the Chairmanship of Father Mark Nye (the new Rector of St Wilfrids) the tender for 17,423 pounds, as it was then, was accepted.  Work on the Church was duly begun, and in March 1961, the foundation stone was laid by the Right Reverend Edward George Knapp-Fischer.

The dream of these people became reality when on All Saints Day 1950 the foundation stone of the Church Hall was laid by Mr Gerald Savage, a close relative of Bishop H B Bousfield, the first Anglican Bishop of Pretoria.  Not long afterwards, in March 1951, Archdeacon Herbert held the first service in the hall, and the Chapelry of Waterkloof was born!  We will always be deeply grateful to Archdeacon Herbert for all his hard work and many years of patient guidance and inspiration which he gave us in those early years.

There were, of course, many teething troubles, but the cheerfulness, willingness and active co-operation of everybody made the Chapelry a very happy one.  Even the arduous work of fundraising, in its many and various ways, became a pleasure.  The highlight was a most enjoyable dinner dance at Malvern House, the home of Mr and Mrs Chataway, diplomatic representative of Southern Rhodesia.  It was the final effort which cleared the debt on the Church Hall.

In the meantime, owing to poor health, Archdeacon Herbert was unable to carry the tremendous demands made on him by St Michaels and the Chapelry of Waterkloof, so we were transferred to the parish of St Wilfrids, Hillcrest, under the care of Father Clack and the young Rev George Wood.  Later, when Father Walter Smith took charge of the parish, we became known as St Francis of Assisi.

Now that the Church Hall was free of debt, the very strong Church Council ably supported by Father Smith, had the courage and foresight to embark on a Planned Giving Canvass, with the professional aid of the Wells Organisation Fund Raising Consultants.  The first Chapelry Dinner to launch this drive was held at the Country Club in May 1958.  Fifteen months later, a second Review Canvass was undertaken.

Realising that, as a full church ,with its own resident priest, extra income would be necessary, a third canvass, the  “Forward in Faith Campaign” for Planned Giving was set in motion.

At this time we were happy to welcome our first Rector, Father Christopher Lambert, and his wife Elizabeth and family from Middelburg.  For some months they lived in a rented house two kilometres from St Francis, but by great good fortune the Council was able to purchase a Rectory adjoining the Church.

The years of planning and hard work of so many outstanding men and women of the Parish, to whom members of St Francis, past, present and of the future, owe an enormous debt of gratitude, had now come to fruition.

On the 8th of October 1961, the Services of Dedication of the Church and the Induction of Father Lambert was conducted by our Bishop, Knapp-Fischer.  A wonderful and moving occasion, one that will always be remembered by the large congregation present, with joy and thankfulness.  The Church of St Francis of Assisi, Waterkloof, was Consecrated on the 11th October 1970.

 

 

Footnote:  Unfortunately the records of the Church were destroyed by fire some years ago, and the above “story” was compiled by several member of the Church Women’s Society, partly from memory and partly from some private notes and memoranda.

 

 

Did you ever wonder ???

 

How come you press harder on a remote-control when you know the battery is dead?

Why do people without a watch look at their wrist when you ask them what time it is?

What would a chair look like if your knees bent the other way?

Do fish get cramps after eating?

Why do scientists call it research when looking for something new?

If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?

Why is it, when a door is open it's ajar, but when a jar is open, it's not a-door?

How come Superman could stop bullets with his chest, but always ducked when someone threw a gun at him?

Why is lemon juice mostly artificial ingredients but dishwashing liquid contains real lemons?

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

What do little birdies see when they get knocked unconscious?

If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

 

 

 

 

In response to a recent collection for the Leprosy Mission we received a thank you letter.  Enclosed in the envelope was a beautifully embroidered cloth and the following letter was attached to it.

 

Dear Friends

 

Enclosed with my letter of thanks for your recent generous gift to the Leprosy Mission you will find hand-stitched embroidery.

 

There is a very special story behind this embroidery.  It comes all the way from Hungary.  Some years ago, a group of people in Hungary decided that they wanted to do something to help people suffering from leprosy.  Being desperately poor themselves and having no way of sending currency out of their country, they started to embroider various items, from bookmarks to table-cloths.  They send these items abroad where they are sold and the proceeds used to support leprosy work.  Their work is of an exceptionally high standard.

 

I have just received this item from them and have decided to send it to you as a small yet sincere token of my heart-felt thanks for your generosity.

 

In the past, our Hungarian friends provided this support at great personal risk, often combining ‘embroidery’ sessions with times of prayer for mission work.  This greatly displeased the authorities that presided over their nation at that time.  I think it is therefore very fitting to pass this item to you, as I know that your gift too represents a great sacrifice.  Thank you for all of your help.

 

Cordially

 

Peter Laubscher

Executive Director.

 

Christine’s comment – it is a beautiful cloth with the most perfect satin stitch work!  You could even use it upside down and not know the difference.

 

 

 


A HAPPY HOME RECIPE

4 cups of love

5 spoons of hope

2 cups of loyalty

2 spoons of tenderness

3 cups of forgiveness

4 quarts of faith

1 cup of friendship

1 barrel of laughter

 

Take love and loyalty, mix it thoroughly with faith.  Blend it with tenderness, kindness and understanding, add friendship and hope.  Sprinkle abundantly with laughter.  Bake it with sunshine, serve daily with generous helpings.

 

 

‘ABIDE WITH ME’

 

A

s one of the few living descendants of the author of the above hymn, Mr Maxwell Lyte writes to the Times.  “It is only those who know the tragic circumstances under which this beautiful hymn was written who can explain the inner meaning of the words, “Fast fall the eventide.”

“My great-grandfather, Rev Henry Francis Lyte, author, was Vicar of Lower Brixham, a picturesque little fishing village on the shores of Torbay.  During the latter part of his life he devoted himself to the service of the humble fisher folk of Brixham, among whom were many of his best friends.  His labours undermined his health, but he persisted in his work until his health broke completely under the strain and his Doctor told him he must go abroad at once.  He was dying of consumption.

“He preached his farewell sermon one Sunday evening and as he walked slowly home the sun was setting in a blaze of glory, and the purple hills of distant Dartmoor stood out darkly against a flaming sky.  In the foreground was Brixham Harbour, like a pool of molten gold.  Several times the poet stopped to rest and gaze on this wonderful manifestation of nature.

“We can well imagine his feelings.  He had just said “Goodbye” for the last time to his parishioners, and knew he had only a few weeks to live.  The dying day reminded him insistently of his life, which was drawing to its close, so he prayed that before he died he might be allowed to write one message of consolation to humanity which would endure for ever.

“On arriving home he went to his study and wrote the immortal hymn which has enriched our language and brought comfort and consolation to millions.

“His prayer was indeed answered.  No one who knows the circumstances under which the hymn was written can sing it without feeling some of the emotion which inspired the poet as he wrote the eventide of his own life.”

From Tom McNeill

 

 

Letters to God

Maybe God wants you to write Him a letter as honest as one of the following:

 

Dear God,

Are you really invisible or is that a trick? - Lucy

Dear God,

Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident? - Norma

Dear God,

Who draws the lines around countries?  - Nan

Dear God,

I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church.  Is that okay?  - Neil

Dear God,

I read the Bible.   What does begat mean?  Nobody will tell me. Love, Allison

Dear God,

Thank You for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy. - Joyce

Dear God,

Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they had their own  rooms.  It works with my brother.  - Larry

Dear God,

I think about You sometimes even when I'm not praying.  -  Elliot

Dear God,

I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world.   There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.  – Nan

Dear God,

We read Thomas Edison made light.  But in school they said You did it. So, I bet he stoled Your idea.  Sincerely,  Donna

Dear God,

Of all the people who work for You, I like Noah and David the best. - Rob

Dear God,

I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday.  That was cool!  - Eugene