Thursday, March 30, 2017

Our Road - in the Middle...

Our road is, in the words of a well-known worship song, “a road marked with suffering where there’s pain in the offering” (1). You might not think so, as Guernsey’s semi-rural roads are studded with pretty homes and bungalows, where no two are the same in design, and not one of them would give you much change out of half a million pounds. But fragrant gardens and granite surrounds with spotless drives lead to front doors that speak of beauty before functionality, and certainly welcome over any kind of security. Neighbours greet each other warmly, and life is never dull around here while you have a window. Dog-walking regulars and school-bound pram-pushers pass each other with warm greetings and the polite “after you” “no-after you!” that oils the passing of the day, not just their journey. Most days, and certainly weekends, will see horses and their riders as the only traffic in the road, their exhausts providing heaps of nurturing manure for the quick witted, bucket in hand, rose tenderers.

But our road is in pain. From the end of the road at the beach-front, back to our house and via the local shop, folk hesitate in their busy days to enquire after the well-being of loved ones. A neighbour’s father died last weekend, and his mother is in care with dementia. A wealthy pair who own most of the properties on one side of the road, are both in dementia or after-stroke care. Recently it seems that in almost every other home there has been a crisis, couples have been yelling at one another and have separated, and tragically, three or four more have been diagnosed with life-limiting illness, mainly cancer.

Of course, that’s not the whole story in our little idyll. A sweet new family is moving in next door, having bought the large old house that served as a home for my wife and her parents over decades. So, our road may be much like pretty much any other when you peel back the curtains and peer behind the outer facades. And at the corner is our church, Vazon Church. For more than a century its doors have been open wide to receive the pain-wracked and broken in our district, and the newcomers and those just seeking somewhere to meet others and make deep friendships. And I thank God that it is there. And this Easter it will proclaim again a God who knows what happens behind our doors and yet loves us unconditionally. The cross is our sign of His care. Whether well, or struggling with life’s apparent unfairness, it stands witness to a loving Saviour.

1.       1. Matt Redman, Blessed Be Your Name Lyrics, from Sing Like Never Before: The Essential Collection, MetroLyrics.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Farewell to a Great Friend

Sunset over Guernsey's famous west coast - at Cobo to be precise. It was near here that my long-time close friend David Tinnion and his lovely wife Bobbie, stayed the last time I saw them. They were in the island to help out in the church where I was the Pastor and where my chronic ill health was making it hard for me to continue. I recall the words of an old hymn that seem appropriate to that time "he to the fight and to the rescue came!" I know that the hymn writer was talking about Christ, but then the Lord Jesus Christ could be seen so clearly in my friend David. Now, he has gone to be with his Lord and mine, and I, for one among many thousands, am going to miss him.

David and I first met when he came to my home church as a young Bible student to look after the church during the pastor's holiday. I was struck then by his deep passion for the Lord and the gospel. His favourite phrase will be mentioned by many, I'm sure. "Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last". Those words had burned their way into the heart of the young David as they were spoken to him by his blind father. They make no finer inscription for any kind of earthly memorial because they became his motivating passion for most of his seventy years.

David's life was not all sunshine without shadow, but then, all sunshine makes a desert! One such dark time was prolonged and awful, and almost took him from us then. But into David's life and the ministry he was yet to fulfill, stepped Bobbie nee Marcus, the dynamic yet self-effacing other half of this story. Diane and I are praying for Bobbie right now and if you know her, so will you.

The great thing about a sunset is that as the shadows lengthen and the daylight slips away, just beyond the horizon a whole new day is dawning. People waiting there, like loved-ones straining to see the coming of their friend, will cry out "here he comes!" Our loss is their gain.  Our sunset over Cobo speaks of dawn in the land of everlasting light.

Goodnight my friend.  See you in the morning.