My writing seems to be more sporadic at the moment, for which I can only apologise as I know that there are many of you who look forward to my thoughts (or bloggages as Nick insists on calling them). I have been rather busy trying to make sense some events that have happened recently. I can’t see how they are linked except that Revd Philip Inneck-Tucker, our Minister, has been involved a lot. Let me tell you what has happened most recently and work backwards.
This Sunday morning Revd Phil (he insists we call him ‘Phil’ rather than Pastor or Reverend) gave me a large envelope. When I got it home it was a holiday brochure for Egypt. I don’t know whether he was suggesting that I need a holiday or that he is trying to get rid of me. When I asked him about it at the Sunday evening service he just smiled and said, “Have a think back over recent weeks…” I hate it when he goes all cryptic.
The previous Thursday we had our monthly prayer meeting. I attended, as I always do, and in my prayer I thanked God for all of the people who had played a part in me being a Christian – from my Sunday School Teachers, through Christian friends at University, previous Ministers, Deacons and others who I could remember. I thanked God for them all by name, which took some time. Then I thanked God for how full the Sunday School used to be (standing room only) when I was a boy and prayed that we would have the same experience again today and that we would return to the good old days of Bible exams. People said a loud ‘Amen!!’ at the end of my prayer, which I take to mean that they wholeheartedly agreed with my prayer not, as Mr Capel suggested, that they were expressing gratitude that I had finished.
So far I can’t see why that would lead Revd Phil to give me a holiday brochure for Egypt.
The preceding week had been our Church Meeting. I had asked for an item to go on the agenda for me to give a vote of thanks to everyone who had been helping with our children’s Holiday Club in the summer. When it came to that moment I pointed out how faithful those people had been in preparation and helping out each day so that all of the 27 children who attended enjoyed themselves. I also said that it was a shame that there were not more children – not like the 150 we used to have when I ran a Holiday Bible School when I was one of the church youth leaders in my twenties. In those days we used all of the modern technology available – flannelgraphs, film strips and reel-to-reel tape recordings of sermons. As I remembered these things I may have remarked that it’s a shame we don’t do those things now and perhaps if we did there may be more children coming along. I thought I was offering some helpful advice and being gracious (which is one of the things Revd PI-T keeps banging on about).
Still can’t work out what the Egypt holiday is about.
The Sunday before the Church Meeting I was asked to read the Bible passage in the morning service. I used my Grandfather’s old Bible – a proper King James Version – and read Numbers chapter 14.
14 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, “Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?”
4 And they said one to another, “Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, “The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.”
10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. 11 And the Lord said unto Moses, “How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? 12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.”
13 And Moses said unto the Lord, “Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) 14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, ‘16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.’
17 “And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, 18 ‘The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.’ 19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.”
20 And the Lord said, “I have pardoned according to thy word: 21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.”
When I finished Revd Phil did give me a very funny look and said, “Thank ye Mr Grenville-Stubbs.” I was pleased that he was getting into the spirit of the reading. Later on Mr Capel asked me where I rent my clothes and I told him that I bought them from the local gentleman’s outfitters. Revd Phil did seem to look at me a lot when he preached about the Israelites grumbling, I don’t know why.
And I still don’t see the link with a brochure for a holiday to Egypt. Do you?
Mr QR Grenville-Stubbs.