Night-Whisper | LEAD |
Revelation 21:2-4 |
“Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’” NKJV
As a former village pastor I remember going to my first local Women’s Institute (W.I.) Christmas party and being entertained by several older women in their sixties all dressed in emerald green leotards, spangly clad and high kicking, singing old war songs whilst wearing black top hats and tapping silver canes on the dirty, old and creaky wooden floor of the village hall. My cheek muscles suffered severe giggle-ation that afternoon and I was facially, forever ruined by that laughter, for my cheeks have never returned to their former firmness since that fun filled and fateful afternoon! Once you’ve seen a denture clad old lady in a spangly leotard, top hat and fish net tights, you will never be the same again.
It was during WWII whilst running government sponsored Preservation Centers and making and canning jam from excess food produce, that the W.I. acquired their mythical focus on jam making! Interestingly, it was some thirty years previous to this, during the Great war to end all wars, when in the United Kingdom, the disappearance of men from the land, especially from rural areas, began to take a toll on the economy of the country, and John Nugent Harris, secretary of the then Agricultural Organizations Societies, met with Mrs. Madge Rose Watt, formerly of British Columbia, to begin in these Islands, the famed Women’s Institute. As I write today, the W.I. have over 225,000 members nationwide and for ninety years or more have been a force and influence in local communities as well as at a national level. Yes indeed, though many local WI meetings begin with the singing of Blake’s “Jerusalem,” this organization is far from being just about jam and Jerusalem. The list of issues the W.I. have tackled is enormous and as a couple of examples, it was in 1986 that it became the first organization to lobby the Government into tackling the Aids crisis, and who can forget the year 2000 giant ‘handbagging’ of Prime Minister Tony Blair, when they administered the longest, most public and most broadcast, slowest handclapping of disapproval ever given! On both counts, the nation took notice of the W.I.
As a Christian, I do seek “jam tomorrow.” I am looking for a better time to come, in the better world to come, where I also seek my New Jerusalem, my eternal home, my city, whose builder and maker is God. In many respects then, the Christian life is indeed about embracing that old jocular of jam and Jerusalem.
To the watching world of course, well, they are not watching us so much nowadays that’s for sure, but to the world, we the church must never allow ourselves to be consigned to the irrelevant and the laughable “tea at three brigade.” No, we can take a leaf from the W.I. manual here and organize ourselves into both cells of local goodness and a growing body of national influence. We Christians need to get organized like never before. Yes, let’s support the organizations we’ve already got but quite frankly, they’re just not enough to do the job! We need to organize yet more and more. Good grief, I mean there is a war on folks after all!
The difference between us and the W.I., however, is that in the end, all our organizations, all our local goodness projects must point to heaven’s hope and all our national pressure must be about the jammy goodness of God toward us in Christ Jesus! Yes, dear friends, without the superb silliness of scantily clad old ladies in emerald green leotards and the tea at three brigade cheering them on, in the end, all we Christians must indeed be all about jam and Jerusalem, and let me tell you tonight that being so, is a long, long way from being old, out of date and irrelevant!
Think about this. How can we get more better organized? I tell you, get cracking today, for tomorrow is coming and a darkness when no man can work.
Listen: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:26-27 NKJV
Pray: Lord, thank you for jam and for Jerusalem. Now with this hope of Your goodness and vision of our completeness, help us to offer hope and goodness to others, in Jesus name we pray, amen, and let it be so.