His touch has still its ancient power

A midwinter mainly enlightened by funerals.  If without hope in Christ, I would say overshadowed by, but as there is hope, real hope that in Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One, we are created for His greater world as well as this little one, so I say ‘enlightened by.’

Kit Griffiths

A friend from Durham student days, Kit Griffiths(see his comment after my blog of 14th July 2013) died the day we were arranging for Hilary’s mother Audrey’s funeral.  Audrey’s funeral took place before Christmas, and was both a celebration of a life well lived, but more important an affirmation of the triumph of love over death because of Jesus.

I was then tasked in early January with bringing together Kit’s wife Jill, twin sons Jonathan and Timothy, sister Jenny  and many friends in an appreciation of his life, as well as declaring as well as I could the Gospel hope.  We had some good poems and songs.  One day soon I may be inspired enough to put on YouTube, a song that Kit and I wrote together in 1967 for a rock opera involving hundreds of young people from Durham mining villages.

Then a few days ago, the funeral of one of my mother’s cousins, Marguerite.  Her mother was my great-aunt Andrey Holden.  Marguerite was born in the Congo, a few weeks after the death of her missionary father, and Andrey brought her infant daughter home down the Nile.  But for the funeral only a reading from the 23rd psalm with no New Testament element to the service; good memories from family certainly, but with a sickly-sweet and platitudinous overlay from a strangely-dressed lady constantly bowing to the coffin.

A ‘sign of the times’ no doubt.  But after Christmas, I was fortunate to have the encouragement of Gerard Kelly’s Bible reading notes (from Scripture Union) for the book of Ecclesiastes.  A sober overview of the meaning of life, lived in the real world of 2015.

The world matters, and the work we are called to do in it.  There is order to the world, and the God who created it is trustworthy and true.  “From the hope of youth to the wisdom of age, God is faithful to us” (Ecc. 11:9,8)….  The wisdom by which the world was made (Proverbs 8:1,22-31) has a name, and it is Jesus (John 1:1-5).  Jesus ­­is the wisdom of God (1 Cor.1:25)” says Gerard Kelly.  Ecclesiastes concludes “Fear God and obey his commands.” In Jesus Christ, it is possible, and so “God will shine through us, and the world will see his wisdom.”

The blog title is from Henry Twell’s hymn ‘At even, ere the sun was set’, it is worth googling.  Henry also wrote the verse referred to in my February 2013 blog, about time.