Remembering Jesus in Advent.

Remembrance Blog 4 New Testament

In the last post, we looked at God’s word which was written on tablets of stone and memorised in festivals, but the prophets foretold a closer intimacy that God desired with His people. Celebrating the first week of Advent, this weekend, is a perfect time to reflect on the fulfilment of the promise, even though, despite the prophesies, it did not come about in the way the people hoped or expected. This part of God’s plan was revealed through the coming of God’s Son – Emmanuel and with Him, the revelation of the Kingdom of God. God wanted us to not just know about Him, but to know Him personally. We ‘remember’ (remind and encourage ourselves with the truth) that God came down to earth and we ‘remember’ that He WILL come again for the complete fulfilment of His Kingdom.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

Jeremiah 31:33-34

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbour and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Though God does not remember our sins, and though we have His law in our hearts, we are still commanded to remember God in the Eucharist and to remember His words and everything that Jesus taught and did – because we are forgetful and easily distracted.

Remembering Who He is and His love

1 Corinthians 11:24-25

…and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.’

Revelation 3:3

So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.’

In our new birth into this New Covenant through the blood of Jesus, God helps us to remember, by giving us the Holy Spirit to be our helper, our guide and our ‘reminder’. –

John 14:26

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.’

John 2:22

So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.’

Acts 11:15-18

And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

Just as in the days of old, we are still encouraged to teach, to remember and pass on the words and deeds of God and His love for us. For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life.

We are to remember, teach, inspire, honour, instruct and pass-on what we have learned from our Lord. The apostles do this in their written encouragements to the early church and we are exhorted to continue to strengthen one another with the truths and hope that we have through Jesus.

1 Corinthians 11:12

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.’

2 Peter 3:1-10

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken by your apostles.’

Isn’t it wonderful how Jesus assured us of how God still remembers His Covenant with us – even the New Covenant in His blood. God honours and remembers our faithfulness, our sacrifices, our love and our good deeds. When we pray, He hears our cries and remembers us and remembers the blood of Jesus, shed for the abundant, eternal life of each of us. Even in His moment of greatest distress, in agony on the cross, the thief asks Jesus to ‘remember’ him and Jesus assures him that He will remember him and has heard his plea for mercy – “today you will be with me in paradise.”

Matt 26:10 -13

Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me… When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Acts 10:4

Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked. The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.

Is it not truly wonderful that God loves us so much, that He wants an intimate relationship with each one of us, so He gives us the Holy Spirit to guide us every moment into all the truth and to remind us of all that we need to know. I’m so glad He reminds me constantly of my complete dependence on Him.

And yet, all the ‘good’ deeds that we do are always ‘remembered’ by God, whereas our sins – these He remembers no more!

Hebrews 8:10-12

For I will be merciful to their iniquities,

And I will remember their sins no more.”

What an amazing love and such amazing grace!

Remembering His Promises

Remembrance Blog 3

In the previous 2 blogs, I explored how November is a month where traditionally in the church and in the wider society, we remember people from the past – those whose lives inspire us to be greater people and those whose lives warn us of consequences of rebellion or folly. We also traditionally remember our forbears who have gone before us and left their own legacy.

Throughout the history of the relationship between God and His people, God regularly ‘commands’ us to remember (call to mind) Him and His Covenant promises with His people.

Here are some examples from the Old Testament, where God exhorts US to remember His faithfulness to His Covenant –

Ex 23:14-17

Three times a year you are to hold a festival for me. Hold the spring Festival of Unraised Bread… That was the month you came out of Egypt… Hold the summer Festival of Harvest when you bring in the first-fruits of all your work in the fields. Hold the autumn Festival of Ingathering at the end of the season when you bring in the year’s crops. Three times a year all your males are to appear before the Master, God.”

Deuteronomy 5:15

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day.”

Deuteronomy 8:18

But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

Psalm 77: 11-12

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will reflect on all You have done and ponder Your mighty deeds.”

Why does God command us to remember His ‘mighty deeds’? I think it is because we are so prone to forgetting and to focussing instead on our own immediate, day-to-day issues. Our tendency is to be overwhelmed by our present concerns and to take a microscopic focus on our circumstances or our own limited human capacity. Remembering that God is with us and for us inspires faith, hope and a greater capacity to love and to follow Him.

Remembering God’s mighty deeds of the past puts God in the focus of our mind and gives us a telescopic view of His care and faithfulness and reminds us of the bigger picture. Remembering that God hears our cries, answers our prayers and comes to the aid of His people, this builds our faith and our hope in Him who, if He has been faithful and mighty, He can be faithful and mighty again. Remembering His interventions in our stories also causes us to pause and to give Him the thanks He deserves and the peace to rest in His provision. This is why I do my monthly public thanksgiving for specific prayers answered. It reminds me to have faith in His faithfulness.

God remembers His promises

But sometimes it is God Himself who ‘remembers’ His Covenant, when His people call upon Him to act and to save –

Genesis 9:14-16

It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Exodus 2:23-25

Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.

Psalm 105:8

He has remembered His covenant forever,

The word which He commanded to a thousand generations.

God’s word is there to remind us of His constant faithfulness to His Covenant with His people.

God desired a greater intimacy with us. He planned to restore the intimacy lost in the Garden of Eden. He spoke of His plan and fulfilled His plan in Jesus, when He extended His Covenant with all of humanity. We will look at that in the next post.

Let it inspire your faith – God will never forget you! He loves you with an everlasting love. His word always accomplishes what it says. Remind Him of His promises to you and build your trust on His faithfulness.

October Thanksgiving

This morning I was struck by the words and face of a young boy from Bangladesh, who struggles in ways I can hardly imagine, but whose smile displayed his resilient heart of gratitude. His words, written in an Open Doors article, read “God always hears our prayers and answers through His people.”

I realised with gratitude that many of the answers to prayer throughout October were answered through other people, though of course not all of them were people who acknowledge God in their own lives. Being an ‘introvert’ personality type, I need to spend a good portion of time ‘recharging my batteries’ alone with God, and my pen, in my own space. That said, I also need to spend an equally good portion of time serving others in community, as this energises my purpose and exercises my talents. Learning to ask for help is part of this season’s learning for me. It is very humbling to learn to receive the kindness and help of others and, though it is not always easy to receive, I find it helps to remember the joy and freedom that the giver enjoys.

I wonder how many of the blessings, that you have received this month, have come through the hands, words and love of others?

I am so grateful to God for the following answers to prayer, throughout October, and so grateful to all those beautiful and gracious souls who served and blessed me and others. Whilst I thank God here for His direct intervention, I hope I have also remembered to personally thank each of those, through whom much of the support and blessing has come.

For healing my back pain and for D and M who prayed over it.

For the 8 big bags full of winter coats, hats and gloves, that I was able to deliver to the homeless shelter and for all those who generously donate such items.

For the webinar ministry and the delicious soak-in-prayer time of revelation and peace.

That R will now not have to find a new place to live.

For the whole family invitation to a party gathering and the wonderful friendship, food and fun.

For offers for a lift to a celebration out of town and then for that reunion of the wider family.

For K’s visit and stay, and D’s, and P’s and the opportunity to welcome, host and enjoy friendships.

For C coming for dinner and friendship.

For C and friends with whom one can always pray comfortably together.

For A’s continued recovery and excellent health reports.

For S successfully coaching me on zoom technology.

For the precious friendships and growth in our weekly small group.

Having had the challenge of a court-case, I thank God for His promise in Proverbs 22:22, that He will fight my case; for the testimonial of support from C; for the last-minute inspiration before the hearing; for the support, prayers and encouragement of church family and friends and for Jehovah Shammah going into the court-room before me and giving His peace, grace and favour; for J who accompanied me on the day and for the judge who gave me advice and a further 28 days to collect appropriate evidence.

For inspiration and ideas of all the great evidence I can collect.

For R’s help creating a spreadsheet.

For A coaching me on social media development.

For the blessing of seeing and hearing the light and joy and growth in J and C and for the constant and ever delightful blessing of my beloved grandchildren.

Lastly in October, for being able to attend the refreshing and fellowship of the ‘army of women’ gathered at the Orchard Conference in Birmingham.

We need one another and I am so grateful for such a diverse, wacky, beautiful network of relatives, family and friends and for all those friends I have never met. I’m so grateful for the online community of blogger friends, webinar friends and other online zoom and social forums, where the beauty and love and kindness of humanity can be so clearly seen and shared.

For all of you I have connected with, I bless you and thank you.

Thank you for reading.

How many of the blessings you have received this month have come through the hands and words and love of others?

Remembrance Day

In my last post (forgive the pun!!) we looked at November as a month for traditionally remembering the dead – the famous, the infamous and our families, our heritage – those who have gone before us and inspired us with lives we see as good examples and those who warn us by the consequences of choices that we might also want to learn from.

Today I want to share my thoughts and research into Remembrance Day, because, although I have learned this all before, I forget the details. In reminding myself, I can pass on to you the traditions behind this annual event.

a poppy field

Remembrance Day

Formerly Armistice Day, this was first celebrated at Buckingham Palace in 1918.

Why 11th November?

It was a military memorial day observed in Commonwealth member-states since the end of WW1 to honour all those who died in the line of duty. The hostilities ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of November, with the signing of the armistice. (Though the war ended officially with the Treaty of Versailles which was signed on 28th June 1919)

After WW2, the name of the day was changed to Remembrance Day in UK and Veterans Day in the US and is used to honour and remember all who gave their lives in WW1 and in ALL subsequent wars and conflicts.

The traditional ceremony involves the laying of a wreath to honour and remember

After the clock strikes 11 O’clock, ‘The Last Post’ is played, followed by 2 minutes silence, after which ‘The Rouse’ or Reveille is played.

The Act of Remembrance consists of the following:

The Exhortation is recited:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The Last Post is sounded.
(A Piper Lament may be included in Scotland.)

The Two Minute Silence is observed.

Reveille is sounded.

The Kohima Epitaph is recited (optional):

When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

Though Remembrance is no longer a religious ceremony, it is inclusive, but prayers and blessings are sometimes said and traditionally ‘Jerusalem’ is played.

Why red poppies? Why Poppy Day?

Poppies grow well on the disturbed earth of barren battlefields, where little else grows. The British legion introduced the red poppy to represent the sacrifice made by comrades and as a lasting memorial.

In France the symbol is the cornflower.

Whilst the British (and other Commonwealth nations) remembered the sacrifices made by thousands of (mainly) men during the first world war, people also had the sense of ‘never again’ and wanting to learn from the tragic waste of lives in war. In the 1930s a women’s guild began wearing white poppies in a statement to support and promote peace, rather than war, but many chose to see this as dishonouring those who died in war and the movement was squashed.

Today we remember ALL who have given their lives in conflicts all around the world.


Lest we forget!

Death, be not proud

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

By John Donne (early 1600s)

poppies and cornflowers

This year, on a personal note, as every year on 11th November, I remember my own baptism in 1984 and I also remember my very special friend, Little John, whose anniversary it is too. He always joked about my poor memory and I smile to think he died on a day he knew I could never forget. I don’t forget him.

Other countries that were not ‘allies’ at the time of the first and second ‘world war’s, will have different sentiments surrounding 11th November and may have their own equivalent day or time of remembrance. I’d love to hear about that too.

I will remember all of this on Thursday and also stop, for the 2 minutes, in respect for the dead. Is this part of your traditions at all?


Remembrance Blog 1


My head is full to bursting with a trail of thoughts about ‘Remembrance’, so I am going to do a small series of blogs to explore one-by-one some of the themes connecting up in my brain, like a string of fairy lights.

As today is the fifth November, it seems fitting to begin with the old rhyme, drummed into us as children, calling us to remember…

Remember, remember, the 5th of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

I see no reason

Why gunpowder treason

Should ever be forgot…

As I’m sure you know, in Britain, folk build bonfires (to get rid of pruned trees and tidy up the twigs and dead leaves) and they have fireworks and outdoor celebrations with a mixture of autumn traditions of toffee apples, baked potatoes, mushy-peas, warm cider, and other festive goodies and fun. When I was a child, children would make a ‘Guy’ out of stuffed rags and wheel it around shouting ‘penny for the guy’ in order to get pennies to buy sparklers, jumping jacks or toffees. The ‘Guy’ would later be thrown on the bonfire and burned. (If it wasn’t too soggy!) This tradition has dwindled under the scrutiny of political correctness and health&safety and so doesn’t happen as much, to my knowledge.

First a little bit of history:

The plot was centred around a group of Roman Catholic revolutionaries furious at the persecution of their faith in England. The revolutionaries had hoped for better treatment from the new monarch James I after 45 years of hounding under the reign of Elizabeth I, and decided on drastic measures when things did not improve under his reign.

Warwickshire-born Catholic Robert Catesby and his friends planned to kill the King, his ministers and scores of nobles by blowing up the Palace of Westminster during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605.

The plotters rented a house nearby and managed to smuggle 36 barrels of gunpowder – around 2.5 tons – into a cellar under the palace ready to blow it sky high.

The explosives were discovered with hours to spare after an anonymous tip-off warning one peer to stay away.

To this day the cellars under the Houses of Parliament are ceremonially searched before the annual State Opening.

Perhaps it’s clear why we were urged to remember – to learn the ‘moral’ from the story (that rebellion against King and country has severe consequences and all that). But one can also see historically how courageous and desperate these ‘revolutionaries’ were to uphold their own religious freedom. There are two sides (at least) to every story and the terms ‘revolutionaries’, ‘rebels’, ‘reformers’, ‘pioneers’, etc – they always hold an historical significance and point to the beliefs and moral position of the ruling elite at any given time.

The month of November

November itself is a whole month dedicated to remembering – especially in church tradition – but also in general culture.

I’m going to share some of the historical significance behind some of the remaining familiar practices in our culture today.

In November the church traditionally remembers the ‘faithful departed’ and the Catholic Church priests says Masses for the dead in their parish all the month, following:

All Saints’ Day: November 1st (since 8th Century)

In the Catholic Church (and other churches) it is a Holy Day of Obligation to remember the saints and martyrs (known and unknown) on All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) – “all who have already reached the blessed land and point us on that path to reach the same destination” Pope John Paul II (2003). We remember these to inspire our own lives by their good example.

All Souls’ Day: November 2nd

Likewise, on All Souls’ Day, all the ‘faithfully departed’ are commemorated and prayers for the dead, especially family and friends, are said. Often folk visit the graves of relatives, place flowers and reflect on their connections and lives.

Hallow e’en on 31st Oct

Halloween was originally the vigil and evening of fasting and prayer before the feast day of All Saints/ All Hallows.

Traditionally folk would bake ‘soul-cakes’ (they had a cross on them, like hot-cross buns, as a sign of alms-giving) in preparation for the holy Day, and groups of poor people, often the children, would go door-to-door collecting ‘soul-cakes’ in exchange for offers to pray for the souls of the cake-giver’s family and friends. ‘Souling’ Christians would carry lanterns made of hollowed out turnips to represent the souls of the dead and jack-o’-lanterns to ward off evil spirits. Candles were also lit over these days to ‘guide the lost souls’ back to the light of Christ. Some dressed as known saints or in costumes to avoid recognition by evil spirits and homes and farmsteads were blessed.

It was a time of celebrating the end of the harvest and the start of winter, which is seen as the season of death.

Some of these old traditions carried remnants of older pagan traditions and a theology of purgatory and so were banned in the reformation.

The tradition of remembering the dead is to also learn the lessons – examples to follow and examples to learn from and avoid in our own lives. The Christian faith is one of hope in eternity and in heaven, because of Christ who conquered death. So remembering the dead is done with gratitude and hope.

Matthew 22:31 – 32

‘But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.’

Romans 14: 8

‘If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living’.


What of you?

Are any of these days of any historical or cultural or spiritual significance to you?

Do you like to learn about relatives who have gone before you and learn about your personal or local heritage?

Please share any of your favourite practices relating to the remembrance of Saints, martyrs and our forebears, known and unknown, personally or historically significant.


In the next post I will be considering Remembrance Day (in the UK) (Veterans Day in the US).