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Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Words on the way home

Yesterday I walked home via a different route. It's one I have sometimes used; one that allows me to admire a superbly fiery creeper over an old building, and some lovely facades and carvings. Yesterday, though, it wasn't leaves or bricks which caught my attention - striking though they were against a brilliant blue sky - but words.

First, I noticed this sign outside the Wesley Memorial Methodist Church. I posted a photo on Facebook and Instagram, with the question: wouldn't it be great if all churches could have something similar on display outside their doors? Judging by the number of 'likes' and some positive comments, it seems that the answer was YES! Certainly, in this time of fear and intolerance, we need our people and places of faith, prayer and worship to boldly proclaim - and of course, live - their belief in the values of respect, hospitality and love of neighbour - regardless of their colour, creed or country of origin. And we need, too, the reminder that we all bear the responsibility of speaking and acting in a way which leads to healing and reconciliation. This, of course, is demanding and hard work - construction takes time, effort and commitment; destruction is easy and can be brought about in seconds.

The strapline at the top of the notice - open to God, open to all, was borne out by other signs inviting passers-by to come in, to pray or simply look around. So in I went! The first thing that greeted me in the entrance was this clear round window into the church, its edges engraved with the words O that the world might taste and see the riches of his grace. They come from a hymn by Charles Wesley, extolling the name of Jesus: they're part of a rather lovely little verse, which reads

O that the world might taste and see
The riches of his grace
The arms of love that compass me,
Would all mankind embrace.

... which is an equally lovely continuation of the message of open, all-embracing welcome which first invited me in. The light and reflections played games with my attempts to photograph it, but in a way the outcome, too, was part of the welcome: the busy street outside invited into the quietness within; the cross and light reaching out to passers-by...

And then, inside, more words shone out at me from the end of a side aisle - words of prayer and desire, and of generous, open self-giving, echoing so many offerings and suscipes from within the Catholic tradition. This, as I have since discovered, is the Wesley Covenant prayer, used for the renewal of the believer's Covenant with God, in special services or as a personal re-affirmation of commitment. Words I have since prayed and whose meaning and intention I would want to live, in plenitude and faith...

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal. And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it. And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen

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