At the end of May, Helen and I were privileged to attend a wedding in Sussex of a young couple – the bride Scottish and the groom Nigerian – who held their reception in a marquee in the gardens of a local vicarage. The weather was perfect and the whole event was quintessentially English with the wedding ceremony being held in an old parish church in a delightful rural setting.
The following day we visited the beautiful village of Cuckfield and took the opportunity to visit the parish church of Holy Trinity Cuckfield that dates from 1200. The church is surrounded by a very large cemetery, the biggest we have ever seen attached to a parish church!
I like to read the inscriptions on the headstones and came across one that read “He was a gentle man.” What did the mourners have in mind regarding the deceased? To be described as a gentle man suggests that he exhibited one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5 where gentleness is mentioned in verse 23. I would have liked to have met him! Gentleness is a characteristic we should all seek in church life and when you come across it you have a real sense of the presence of God.
As I write this, we have just celebrated the official ninetieth birthday of the Queen when the Coldstream guards were magnificently “trooping the colour”. One of the senior officers of the regiment commented on the special family relationship that all ranks in the regiment had with one another and he highlighted the way in which they all “looked out“ for each other. If the Coldstream guards can operate in this way, how much more can a church fellowship like ours!
The summer vacation now approaches and we can often feel a little jaded after a busy church program in the winter and spring months. The opportunity for a “break” will be good but the writer to the Hebrews reminds us about another New Testament quality – perseverance!
“let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.”