Welcome to our new page written by members of the SWE community. We hope that you will find solace and inspiration here, always mindful that God is with us.
At the start of November, we are mindful of all the Remembrance Services that usually take place across our nation and throughout the world wherever our service men and women are.
Yesterday, at The Cenotaph in London a very different, reflective service took place attended by Her Majesty, the Queen; representatives of the armed forces; present and former Prime ministers; politicians; members of different faith groups; dignitaries from across the Commonwealth and 26 representatives of the men and women who have fought in conflicts over the years. It was a very poignant service.
Robert has been into Somewhere Else and kindly updated our reflection table in the Cloud Room for Remembrance Sunday.
Chris, our OPP, posted this prayer of remembrance to begin the week.
Merciful Father, we take this moment to remember those who have lost their lives,
whom you have gathered from the storm of war in to the peace of your presence.
Ever-living god, as we enter this new week,
may that same peace calm our fears,
give us hope and restore our minds,
so taht we can walk boldly on your path.
In Jesus' name we pray,
"But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them. " - Wisdom 3:1
To be a pilgrim…or a toffee…or a red…or a (fill in nickname of your favourite football team)
What a wonderful last few weeks it has been as an Everton supporter!! The optimists are looking at the table (as I write this on 24th October 2020 we are 1 point clear of Aston Villa and at the top of the Premier League) and savouring the moment, dreaming of great things to come. The more hardened realists have worked out that with 13 points in the bag – there are only another 27 to get before we are safe from relegation!!
I was talking to a friend some time ago, who is a big football fan. Although why anyone would support Boston United is beyond me. Boston have a nickname, the Pilgrims, as do most clubs, so I have been doing some digging into the nicknames of other clubs. That journey reminded me that on 24th October 2017 (3 years ago to the day of writing this) I was giving a eulogy at the funeral service for a member of the bread church, Steve - and Steve was a Walsall fan.
In any conversation with Steve, Walsall was mentioned in the first minute or so, whether they had won or lost, whether it was the football season or not! So I thought – I had better look at the Walsall website and find out a bit more about them. And I discovered that Walsall’s nickname is “the Saddlers” (because apparently, in the past, Walsall was famous for making saddles).
Looking up on Wikipedia other club nicknames - there are far too many to mention but a few of the lesser known ones perhaps…
The Biscuitmen – Reading FC – Huntley & Palmers biscuits were made in the town – probably Methodists then – as long as there was tea as well!!
The Cherries – Bournemouth – the club’s ground is on the site of a cherry orchard
The Trotters – Bolton Wanderers – pitch was next to a piggery
Football and churches go back a long way – many of the big teams now (including Everton) were originally church teams. So perhaps a Boston supporter would appreciate the sentiments of one of our loveliest hymns…Brother sister, let me serve you
We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you
in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we’ve seen this journey through.
For such a journey perhaps we should switch allegiance to Walsall – because when you are on a long journey on a difficult road – on such a journey that’s when you need a good, comfortable saddle. Somewhere that you can rest easy, something that can help take the bumps and the bruises out of the journey. But also something to which you can hitch all the important things that you will need and that you collect on that journey. Friends, faith, refreshment, a place to attach memories and a place to proclaim your faith from. After all, Wesley was famous for writing his sermons in the saddle and preaching from his horse.
My friend Steve’s saddle was full of such things, things that comforted him in times of trouble, things that reminded him of different stages on his journey of life and things that brought him closer to God. For Steve, his God was a real, living, amazing God who had brought him to the oasis of Somewhere Else, the Bread Church.
For many of us today our pilgrimage of faith in God has been bumpy. The Coronavirus has left us worried, ill, mentally and physically worn out. But the saddle that we take with us and that supports us on the journey, that support is God, our Father, who can help ease the pain and “bear the load”.
So as we watch the dark winter nights drawing in, as we see the tier 3 lockdown spread, look beneath you to discover what it is that is supporting you. I pray that you find there the Christ-light that will shine through your fears. I pray that you will remember amazing things attached to your saddle that will nourish you on this journey. I pray that you will unearth treasures that you have collected along the way to speak God’s peace to you.
Christ’s disciples placed their cloaks on the donkey’s back for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
For each of us that saddle, that comfort blanket, remains in place, that our journey with Christ alongside us may be one that enables us to reach out to the lost and offer them a ride.
May your saddle be always full, fellow pilgrim, that your journey is full of companionship, peace and grace through God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Andrew - our Senior Steward and Treasurer