Having made good progress with three projects over the past month I now have a lot of hand sewing ahead of me – several miles (a bit of an exaggeration maybe!) of binding to be sewn down.
Of course hand sewing has lots to commend it: including sitting on the sofa being sociable rather than working alone at a sewing machine; or providing time to sit quietly and let thoughts roam as fingers work.
My first thought on contemplating this mound of binding was that I should practice binding by machine! I found this useful tutorial by Allison – Cluck Cluck Sew – which I intend to try out on a small project in the near future.
Next my thoughts turned to my visit to Winchester Cathedral a week ago today and the fact that despite editing my photos I still haven’t shared them here. So, here are a few photos to be going on with, along with my contemplation of the words on Jane Austen’s grave which is situated within the Cathedral.
I’m sure many visitors gaze in wonder at the magnificent nave of the Cathedral and then make a beeline for the gravestone of Jane Austen that is sunk into the floor of the north aisle adjacent to the nave.
‘In memory of Jane Austen youngest daughter of the late Revd George Austen formerly Rector of Steventon in this County. She departed this Life on the 18th of July 1817 aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and the hopes of a Christian.
The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections.
Their grief is in proportion to their affection, they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER.’
The tributes to Jane and the obvious grief of her loved ones are beautifully expressed. Twice there is mention of Christian hope and as we are approaching Easter it is a good time to think this through and check our understanding. Christian hope is in an eternal future spent with Jesus in the presence of God; it is not a whimsical’wishful thinking’ hope it is a sure hope (on Jane’s grave it is expressed as ‘a firm though humble hope’). Easter is so important because it reminds us who Jesus is and why He had to die on the cross. None of us can earn a place in heaven (however charitable, devoted, faithful and pure Jane or you or I might be!) because none us can maintain our thoughts, words and deeds at God’s gold standard all the time (or indeed much of the time!). Jesus died once, for all people so that if we repent (that is acknowledge our willful denial of God’s sovereignty in our lives and resolve to turn from sin to follow Him) and believe in Jesus we will be spared the judgement we deserve and through Jesus be able to stand in God’s presence, citizens of heaven. Jesus’ resurrection from death gives us all hope – that we can die to our sinful selves and live a new life beginning here and now and extending into eternity. Of course, here and now we are still battling with our wrong thinking that too often manifests as wrong actions but it is not a hopeless battle. We are works in progress, finding peace with God on a daily basis as we trust in Him in repentance and faith.
In this run up to Easter, I wonder if you could put aside the impressions you have gained of Christians and organised religion and set yourself to find out afresh about Jesus through reading a Gospel? We’ve been studying Mark in our home groups and asking ourselves these questions: who does Jesus say He is?; who do other people think He is, including His disciples, the crowds who followed Him, the people who witnessed miracles, the religious leaders, the Roman occupiers of Israel at the time?; why did Jesus die? We’ve discovered some surprising answers to our questions!
“Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
Or in the modern wording of Eugene Peterson, “Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.” ‘How?’, you say. “In Christ. God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.”