Travelling companions

There was such a beautiful sky on Wednesday morning.  Clouds of so many different shapes and sizes: some pale grey and white, layered like piles of duvets; behind the hills to the north a billow of cumulus, looking for all the world as though a giant steam locomotive had just passed that way; to the west a mackerel sky, rippled and wrinkled like the sand when the tide has gone out.  “The clouds,” says the prophet Nahum, “are the dust of His feet.”

Directly over my head the sky was cloudless, a cerulean vastness stretching up into infinity, empty even of vapour trails.  Empty of birds, too.  I found myself thinking of the swallows and martins which, not so long ago, were hawking overhead, wondering which African skies they were darting through at that very moment.  Such a long way away, and such a hazardous journey.  A friend told me recently that they don’t go alone; there are gathering places throughout the country where they congregate in large numbers before they set off.  Company on the journey; mutual support and encouragement.  Just what we all need as we travel through the wilderness of this world!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful, and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

                                                                                      Hebrews 10:23-25

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.  Remember the prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated - since you yourselves are in the body also.

                                                                                      Hebrews 13:1-3

In 1772, John Fawcett, pastor at a chapel near Hebden Bridge, was invited to be the pastor at Carter Lane Chapel (subsequently the Metropolitan Tabernacle) in London.  It was a hard decision to make, but eventually he accepted.  The wagon was loaded, his family climbed aboard, and they set off.  His people accompanied them, weeping as they said their farewells – rather like the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 as they said goodbye to their dearly loved brother Paul!  But unlike Paul, John Fawcett changed his mind, unloaded the wagon – and stayed with his congregation for the rest of his life.  As a result of that experience, he wrote the hymn for which he is probably best known:

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love;

The fellowship of kindred minds

Is like to that above.


Before our Father’s throne

We pour our ardent prayers;

Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,

Our comforts and our cares.


We share our mutual woes,

Our mutual burdens bear;

And often for each other flows

The sympathizing tear.


When for a while we part,

This thought will soothe our pain,

That we shall still be joined in heart,

And hope to meet again.


This glorious hope revives

Our courage by the way,

While each in expectation lives,

And longs to see the day.


From sorrow, toil, and pain,

And sin we shall be free;

And perfect love and friendship reign

Through all eternity.


As the Apostle John wrote:

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.  In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

                                                                                                1 John 4:7-11