Ring Them Bells.

I was in Liverpool last weekend. I attended a church service in Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral at eleven o clock.  There were four bells swinging in the tower. They rang out their chimes over the city for all to hear.  After the service the bells peeled again as the people returned to their different homes over the city.  We were together for a special occasion.

The church bells were ringing as we made our way up the steps. I could see four bells of different sizes in the tower above the entrance. I stood for a while and looked up. I could see the clapper of the bell hitting one side and then the other, causing the bell to ring. All four bells were ringing and making a sound that stirred joy in me. I felt part of something special going on.

Clapper in the dictionary means someone or thing that claps. Don’t we clap to show appreciation or encouragement? The bells were encouraging us to come to meet together for prayer. Bells are rung at other times. They may ring for a special service, a wedding or a funeral and make different tones for each event.

I hear the words of a song going through my mind. It was sang by Judy Garland. You can check it out on U Tube.

Ding dong ding dong
Do you hear the bells go ding dong
Do you know
Do you know why they’re ringing
The bells are ringing for me and my gal,
The birds are singing for me and my gal,
They’re congregating for me and my gal,
The Parson’s waiting for me and my gal.
And sometime
We’re gonna build a little home for two,
Or three or four or more,
In Love-land for me and my gal

Bells rang out over London when Prince William and Kate got married.

I listen to the radio when I am driving in my car. I often hear snippets of information that are important. This week after my trip to Liverpool I listened to a programme about Russiian bells on BBC 4.

The sound of bells are very dear to the Russian Orthodox believers. Russian Composers in the twentieth century were inspired by the sound of bells ringing. The Russian bells are rang in a different way from those in the west. A cord is attached to the clapper. The bell ringer pulls on the clapper lightly and let’s it hit againt the wall of the bell. Not only did the people believe the bells ringing were a call to pray but they felt the bells sounded like the voice of God.

The Orthodox bells fell silent in 1931 when Stalin started his regime of Communism in Russia. Bells were cut down from towers, smashed and broken. The metal was used to make bullets for the Russian army. Not only were the bells broken. The people’s hearts were broken. They sensed the voice of God was silenced. The people mourned for many years.

Some large bells were rescued and brought to America where they were placed in Harvard university. In 1991 when communism fell some men in America arranged for the return of the bells to Russia. One man spent ten million dollars to help with the restoration work. People were crying in the streets on the return of the bells. They looked forward to hearing the bells ringing again. Someone commentated that it is the only lasting co operation between Russian and America.

Because of the communism regime the knowledge of how to make the bells was almost forgotten. After communism bells were again made and returned to Church towers to ring again.

The sound of the bell is likened to the sound of the trumpet or shofar in Israel. God commanded the people of Isreal to sound the trumpet for different events. One sound was given to move camp. Another sound was made to go to war. And another was a weapon of war. God moved on behalf of the people when the shofar was blown. He struck their enemies down when they sounded the trumpet. They walked round Jerico seven days and on the last day they blew the trumpets and the walls of Jerico fell down. Likewise the people of Russia believe God was with them when the bells were rung.

I discovered a bell outside my back door. I will ring it often. May God come to our aid when I ring it. May bells of joy ring throughout our land again.

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Rosh Hashanah

 

“Today, the feast of Rosh Hashanah is being celebrated by the people of Israel. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is one of Judaism’s holiest days. … Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that culminates in the Yom Kippur a holiday, also known as the Day of Atonement.”. Quote from “History.com”

It is the beginning of the Jewish civil New Year. The people of Israel celebrate with friends and family for two days. It is the time when they look back on the past year and reflect on their failings and successes. They dip apples into honey sharing pieces and wish each other a sweet new year. They throw pieces of bread into water signifying their sins being washed away. These two days are the beginning of a season of repentance before God ending in Yum Kippur, when the people fast.

Tonight I was reading from Psalm 65.

What mighty praise O God, awaits you in Zion.
We will fulfil our vows to you because you answer our prayers
and to you all people will come.
Though our hearts are filled with sins you forgive them all.
You are the hope of everyone on earth.
You formed the mountains by your power.

What wonderful words of love and promise from God!

Let us join with the people of Israel at this season and reflect on our failings this past year. God has provided his Son Jesus to wash away our sins. Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for the forgiveness of all people’s sins, Jews and Gentiles. All one has to do is believe there is a God, our Father in heaven and believe in his Son Jesus.
The Jews believe in the God of Creation, but do not have a revelation of Jesus yet.

Jesus breaks the power of sin in our lives. We often feel we cannot be forgiven for the wrong we have done. Or we keep doing the same wrong over and over again and never feel free from condemnation and guilt. Woe is me. But Jesus brings us good news. He sets one free from sin’s power and condemnation and guilt. He washes us as white as snow when we come to him. He remembers our sins no more. Our sins are truly washed away.  I know my sins are forgiven and I am healed of deathly cancer through the power of Jesus.  He defeated the power of sin and the power of death in cancer over me.  I’m alive to tell the tale.

““For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins.”
But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ.
Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:15, 19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now some people believe Jesus forgives their sins and don’t need to keep asking for forgiveness each year.  It is good to come before God and admit our failings.

The Word of God says we are to confess our sins one to another so we will be healed.

“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I believe I needed to confess my sins to others and they prayed for me so my body could be healed of cancer.

Have a sweet year ahead.  Be forgiven and healed.

A Walk in the Wicklow Hills.

Last weekend, Brendan and I were visiting my daughter, husband and family in Wicklow. They were glad to see us. She had a welcome meal ready for us after a long journey. The children were reminiscing with their grandad and remembering the video he made showing them dive off the pier. They are already looking forward to next year’s summer camp at Granddad’s house.

Shann was sorting out school clothes and putting away items the children had grown out of. The cuffs of the girls’ school jumpers were a bit frayed. A few stitches will repair them. Thread and needle were searched out and granny used her skills to make all things new.

The washing machine churned out sheets, socks, jumpers and tights. Clothes were brought in from the washing line and left in a pile on the kitchen table to be sorted later. More clothes were hung out to dry. I watched my daughter doing her washing from the comfort of the cosy chair Shann had purchased for me. I remembered back to when my children were young. The end of holidays was a frenzied time getting everyone one ready for school again.

Shann coaxed Brendan and I to go for a walk. They live in a beautiful area in the hills of Wicklow. I had to leave my cosy chair. I enjoyed the stunning views and the banter with the children. Two of the children brought their bicycles with them. They are like me, not too keen on walking.

We rested at the end of the lane. Wild fushia and heather were in bloom. Bees were buzzing collecting pollen. Trees that were planted by the forestry a few years back are now growing tall, replacing the trees that had been harvested. A new generation of trees.

Our grandchildren are now growing tall. I’m not quite ready to be chopped down. I asked my Maggie, my granddaughter who had her bicycle if I could borrow it to save my legs on the journey back to the house. She agreed. I sailed down the brae but gave it back when I came to a steep incline.

I joined the others to walk the last part of the lane. After a while we noticed Maggie had gone on ahead and she hadn’t waited for us. There was an inviting part of the lane up ahead. It was just perfect for me to sale down. But Maggie and her bicycle were nowhere to be found.
She must have been frightened that granny may have been too heavy for her precious bicycle.

When I returned home North I resolved to do some exercise to get these dry bones working again. I got out my own bicycle. Despite the pain and aches I will overcome and get fit. As I said I’m not ready to be chopped down or sit in the corner doing needle work. I have a lot of living to do yet. I am staying alive to proclaim the works of the Lord and to see more of my children’s children.

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Sitting Down in the Storm

I am sitting having breakfast in our friend’s home in Jerusalem. I’m reading the newspaper headlines from the UK.
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“Devastating Storm Doris has battered Britain, with a woman killed and 100mph winds thrashing parts of the UK

The Weather Bomb has ripped roofs from buildings, pulled trees up, toppled walls and resulted in travel chaos across large parts of the country with roads blocked and trains and planes cancelled.”

As Doris hit, Peel Ports in Liverpool announced the city’s port had been closed due to “100mph gusts of wind”.
Network Rail advised “Storm Doris has caused significant disruption throughout the country”, with an enforced speed limit on some lines.” Quotes the Sun.

Brendan and I set out on our journey to Israel at five am on Thursday unaware of any storm that was brewing. We had booked an early morning flight from Belfast to Manchester and then connect with a flight at twelve noon to TelAviv. We were looking forward to our visit to Israel and catching up with friends.

The pilot on the easyjet flight from Belfast landed the plane carefully into Machester. We made our way through security for our connection to Tel Aviv. Then we managed to avoid the waves of beautiful attendants trying to sell us duty free perfumes and drinks till we found our favourite restaurant called Giraffe. Mexican breakfast specialities were on offer. I ordered Masala chilli eggs and salad from the menu. The young man who served us warned me that this dish was quite spicy and hot. I hesitated but decided to try it anyway. The waiter must have thought chilli was too dangerous for a grey haired, female pensioner. Brendan and I sat back and relaxed. Our holiday began.

The rain lashed against the window. The wind shook the roof. Outside planes landed. Below the luggage handlers and technicians unloaded and prepared some planes for their next journey to Finland or Iceland or Germany. The men were well wrapped in water and wind proof jackets. Inside we enjoyed our breakfast.

When our flight was called we made our way to the gate. Jewish men with their black coats and hats were easily recognized. Jewish women with children in arms were pushing prams and balancing luggage. Arab men were waiting as well. They were wearing long grey tunics and small caps. Arab women were distinguished by their long dresses and shawls. Some ladies were covered up completely except for their eyes. We were going to be sitting at close quarters on the plane to Tel Aviv.

We waited in line at the gate to get on the plane it seemed for ages. The wind was getting stronger outside and it was getting colder inside the terminal. Finally an announcement was made. We were advised to return to the waiting area till further notice. Our plane was not leaving. Announcements came over the tanoid system telling of cancellations to different flights due to the weather conditions. I was praying that the Tel Aviv flight would not be cancelled.

I remembered the scripture I know so well “A hope deferred makes the heart sick but a hope fulfilled is a tree of life.” The day before I noticed in my garden a bush that was in blossom. I looked closer. I heard a couple of bees buzzing around the white flowers gathering pollen. I thought to myself “Is that an Almond tree”. I hadn’t noticed it before. Yes it was an Almond tree. I remember when we were in Israel four years ago the Almond trees were in blossom. They are the first trees to blossom in the spring and the last trees to bear fruit. When I looked at the blossoms in my garden I was reassured that I would soon be seeing the Almond blossoms in Israel. The previous week had been very busy for me. I was looking forward to getting away on holiday.

God gave Jeremiah a promise,

“The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled and all my plans carried out. ‭Jeremiah‬ ‭1:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
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The Almond blossom is a sign of hope. One has not to give up. If God has given me a promise then he will bring it to pass. When I had cancer I had grown hopeless and doubted God answering my prayers and fulfilling promises he had given me. I was impatient. God is faithful. Despite my doubt and fears he healed me and restored hope to me. Now when I am faced with difficult situations I do not fear but trust God for the outcome.

I was not afraid or disappointed at the thought of us not getting away. I had a quiet hope. I sat down and waited. I was reading a passage in a book written by Watchman Née the evening before. Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father. After he died on the cross to forgive our sins, heal our diseases, break all curses and restore us and provide for us, he went back to heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. God invites us to sit with Jesus in that heavenly place and bring our sins, worries and burdens to him. We are to enjoy what God has done for us. We are to rest and let Jesus bear the weight and responsibility of any difficulty that faces us. As I sat on the waiting room bench, I decided to sit with Christ in that heavenly place and let him take the responsibility to get me to Israel. I did not fret, or feel disappointed or look at the storm raging outside. I was hoping to get there. God will not disappoint as we trust him.

Three hours passed. Then I saw some of the people that were queuing earlier for our flight walking towards the flight gate. I went over to enquire if the Tel Aviv fight was leaving. They said “Yes”. Jesus was getting me and my husband to Israel. My heart was leaping inside.

We boarded the plane. Jews, Arabs, English and Irish sitting together, all happy and thankful to be getting away. The pilot boosted the engines to full power and we rose above the storm.

The First Flowers of Spring.

My daughter, husband and four children came to visit yesterday. They have to make a three hour journey from the south of Ireland.  This was their Christmas visit as life was too busy for us all to see each other then.  The children have past the baby and play school stage. No buggies or car seats to contend with. Now the grandchildren are approaching the teenage years. Long legs and reaching arms need room.  They are blooming like the flowers Shann reached me.  Mark’s people carrier Jeep has served the family well.

They all poured out of the vehicle, glad of the stretch. We shared hugs, so glad to see each other. Bags of presents weren’t forgotten in the back seat. I didn’t notice their visiting student from Spain at first. She is staying with them for six weeks to improve her English. A student exchange has been working between Ireland and Spain for many years. The Spanish like the tone of the English the Irish use.

I remembered back to when we would take our children on trips in our van to the beach, the playground or a forest. They poured out of the van and ran in every direction like calves released from the stall. Brendan would whistle and they would come back when it was time for home.

We gathered in the kitchen for lunch. The children were excited to be back at Granda’s house.

“I’m sorry they’re a bit battered and bruised,” Shann said. I wasn’t paying attention as I reached a bowl from the cupboard. There was clattering of delph and cutlery as the girls set the table.
“Did Mark have to stop and deal with the children?” I said thinking it was the children Shann was talking about.  I looked up.  She was referring to the bunch of flowers she had given me.
We all had a good laugh. I love this first bunch of spring flowers.

“Did you come across on the ferry?” I asked Mark. “Yes” he said. “The attendant informed me there was a special offer on this Sunday. If you buy a return ticket we can deal with any children who have misbehaved. We throw them overboard.” We burst out laughing again. This is Irish humour. I hope the Spanish girl didn’t mind.

On the sunny afternoon all the girls headed down to the shore. Hannah arranged a competition to see who could pick the most sea glass for granny.  That was good idea because it motivated them to search all over the place. They had the extra blessing of seeing different birds, a heron, gulls, oystercatchers, Brent geese and redshanks.

Back at the house the treasure was displayed and counted. Ten points for each blue glass, five for green and three for white. The winner was announced, cheered and rewarded. They had good fun. I have the added benefit of all that sea glass to work with.

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Meanwhile Mark, with some helpers loaded up bicycles, table and chairs he had stored with us since they moved house. He secured it to the top of the jeep. No worries with Mark. Too soon it was time to go. Mark sped off with a bigger load. I hope they got across on the ferry with no one or nothing going overboard.  A great day.

Storm Clouds and the Rainbow.

When storm clouds gather do not be afraid.  Often there will be a rainbow in the midst of the storm clouds.  Here is a picture of dark clouds coming in over Co Down in Northern Ireland.  The Mourne Mountains are in the distance.

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It is holiday season in our country.  It is time when people have time off work.  Time to unwind, sleep, eat, take in the sun, get fresh air, spend time with family, catch up on household repairs, do gardening, see friends or take a holiday.

Down time is very important to have for our wellbeing.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  We need this time to be restored, our batteries recharged.

In the waiting for time off many people may get exhausted or circumstances seem to be overwhelming, just like storm clouds gathering.

Before I left for a week’s holiday in Ireland I took this picture of a rainbow outside our home.  The rainbow is a sign from God to all mankind.

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“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come:

Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭9:12, 14-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

All mankind means all people of all nations.  This promise is not just for believers in God but for all men because God loves all unconditionally and wants all to know he cares.

If you are holding on to a promise from God, look at the rainbow.  It will encourage you.

Storm clouds will disappear.
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/storm/

Safety and Peace in Northern Ireland.

We are living in peace and and safety in Northern Ireland.

My neighbor keeps bees.  I was surprised.  I thought they must keep very quiet.  I never see any bees around the flowers in the garden.  Yesterday evening I was enjoying the evening sun.  I noticed a humming sound coming from high in the tree nearby.  I listened and looked.  It sounded like bees buzzing.  I looked closer and sure enough there were bees feeding on the pollen from the tree.  I noticed the white chairs under that tree felt sticky.  The pollen had fallen on them.  It must be sugary, pleasant for the bees to gather for their hive.  I now call this my buzzing tree.  As I pass each day I hear the sound of the bees above.

God has blessed us here in Ireland these last weeks with sunny, clear skies.  All life is opening up in the safety, warmth and comfort.  Shorts, cotton shirts and sun hats are taken out of storage.  We are using a pedalo Aaron bought for his young family years ago.  I thought it would never be used again as he has moved abroad.  No more sound of grandchildren squealing with delight as their dad launched out into the water at Newcastle.  But God.  He brings restoration.  Abraham and I were happily peddling in the Lough below with expensive yachts towering over us.  Granny was squealing!  God has filled my heart with joy.

I believe everyone should have a house and garden.  Having a home to keep warm in the winter is necessary.  As the spring arrives one needs to get out doors after a cold and dark winter.  Summer arrives suddenly when the trees get clothed in dark gree leaves and weeds sprout out of the ground where there was only soil a short time before.
As the days get long and warm it is pleasant to have space to sit outdoors and enjoy the flowers, the birds singing and fresh air.  It is good for the soul.  He leads me in green pastures to restore my soul.

In King Solomon’s reign in Judah and Israel, the people
“Were very contented with plenty to eat and drink.  And there was peace throughout the entire land. They lived in peace and safety.  Each family had his own home and garden.” I Kings 4 v 24.
When I travelled in Mediteranean countries I admired the little white houses with the families sitting under the shade of the vine tree in the cool of the evening.  It is a picture of what I read in Scripture,
“And every man neath his vine and fig tree shall live in peace and be unafraid.”  Micah 4

This was so refreshing to see.  I longed for that image of peace.  Could that ever happen in Northern Ireland?  At the time there was war.  Getting out of the turmoil for a week was a blessed relief.

Praise God today in N Ireland we do have peace and people are sitting out in their gardens.  The word of The Lord has come to pass.
“And into plowshares turn their swords,  and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”  Micah 4 v 3

Hail the King, hail The Lord of all.  Of his government there shall be no end in Ireland!  Isaiah 9.  Safety and peace are restored to N Ireland.