Did you know that not many miles from here, in Garth Park, Bicester; to be exact, lie a number of royal graves? King John and King William are buried here; Queen Elizabeth, Prince Rupert and the Lady Maud lie side by side, along with Isaac and Esau, Snip and Gipsy. Each grave has an elaborate headstone engraved with a fond tribute to the deceased, and also a classical quotation, from the Bible perhaps, or from Homer, or the Rubaiiat of Omar Khayyam. Still more impressive are the nearby headstones to Carmelite and to Quixote, again each carved with words of tender feeling.
Death is solemn, inescapable and heart breaking, even when it is only the death of a much-loved family pet.
When the death is the death of a friend, or of a member of one’s own family, we may feel bleak and empty, sometimes angry. Such feelings may persist for months, even years, whilst in the meantime others have apparently quite forgotten about our loss. Most tragic of all is the untimely death of a child; we parents do not expect to outlive our children.
Mary stood, stoically and bleakly, watching life ebb away from the tortured body of her son stretched out in agony upon the cross. Can we imagine her desolation? Her beloved son had grown up to be a good man, the best of men, interested only in teaching and healing and in bringing others to God. ‘What did he do to deserve this?’ she may have cried in anguish, as we may also cry as we sit by the bedside of a loved one racked with pain.
Jesus died in agony. But three days later he rose from the dead, to show us that love is stronger than death, and that, if we put our trust in him, we also may live, in him and with him, beyond the grave.
Garth Park’s Kings and Queens were pet dogs, Carmelite and Quixote, hunters, who some years ago, belonged to the lady of the house, and it was she who grieved for them, and had them buried in such style. Not far away is an expanse of grass and flowers marked with a simple blue sign, which says Field of Hope Marie Curie Cancer Care. In what can we have hope?
Let faith, hope and love in Christ have the last word, because then
Where were you when King George VI died? Anyone under 55years old will probably not remember.
I was at primary school and I remember hearing on the radio (wireless in
those days), solemn music being played and announcements made in funereal tones.
‘The King is Dead’.
The new Queen looked young, and unbearably innocent.
How could she cope with the huge expectations and pressures of a people
longing for glamour and power, strength and virtue all rolled into one person?
There was a good deal of talk in 1952/53 of the ‘New Elizabethans’ as
though Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II might somehow emulate her illustrious
predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I.
Prime Ministers have come and gone.
The Queen’s children have grown up and got married.
There have been dark times. Three
out of four of those marriages ended in divorce; most tragic of all, the
Princess of Wales died in a car crash. Her
Majesty the Queen has endured a relentless spotlight on her life, her activities
and, indeed, on those of her family. She
has accepted all with dignity, and out of a profound sense of duty.
does Jubilee mean to us?
The Biblical understanding of Jubilee was restoration.
The restoration of land and income to those who had lost it.
The restoration of freedom to those who had been enslaved.
A fresh start for all who had fallen on hard times.
As we celebrate with Her Majesty, and give thanks for her
unwavering sense of duty to her people, and her exemplary devotion to country
and Commonwealth, is there a fresh start we would like to make – or one we
could offer to others?
God bless the Queen!
The winter is over. The
worst of the bad weather, the long nights and the gloomy days have passed.
Spring is here. It is my favourite time of year.
Everything on Otmoor is fresh and green, and there is a promise of future
sunshine and the warmth of summer.
In terms of the church’s year, the darkness of Lent and Holy Week are
complete on Good Friday. Easter
reminds us that Christ is risen. Love
has triumphed over darkness and death. We
may yet have hope in the future.
With all the misery in the world, do you find that difficult to believe?
If you do, you are in good company.
Thomas, one of Jesus friends, could not believe it either.
‘Unless I see the nail marks on his hands and put my finger where the
nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it’.
The evidence was overwhelming, and Thomas changed his mind.
Thomas is not on his own. Many
notable Christian men and women initially struggled against putting their trust
in God. C S Lewis wrote ‘The
Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet’, and Lewis describes
himself as ‘a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and
darting his eyes in every direction for a chance to escape’.
‘ …Lewis says ‘I gave in, and admitted that
God was God, and knelt and prayed … the most dejected and reluctant convert in
The God of love drew Thomas, and C S Lewis to the source of meaning,
hope and purpose. God awaits to
draw you too, so that you also may enjoy the sunshine of God’s love.