This year has been difficult for everyone, but there is still hope. In John’s gospel 1:5 we read, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
I prepared a digital Christmas card before the UK government announced a tightening of restrictions over Christmas. Now people are only allowed to meet on one day, forcing any plans for extended visits to be cancelled.
My card is a reminder that Christmas is still about the positive aspects of God’s gifts to us including Love, Joy and Peace.
Whatever your circumstances at this time, I pray that you will be blessed with a knowledge of the Giver of all good gifts.
The picture is one I have coloured from Images of Joy by Jacqui Grace, published by Just cards Direct.
(In 2013 I wrote a Christmas Eve prayer, which is still relevant today.)
The Foundling by Stacey Halls
I chose The Foundling on BorrowBox partly because the cover reminded me of that of The Muse, which I had read and enjoyed. It is a historical novel aimed at an adult readership. Set in London in Georgian times against a backdrop of people struggling for existence and the wealthy, the meeting of these two worlds led to some interesting scenes in this book. There were many unexpected twists and turns. My only disappointment was that I I have to wait to borrow the author’s earlier book, The Familiars.
The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
I recently became the owner of some books I had lived alongside as I was growing up. The Franchise Affair published in 1948 was one I remembered reading and enjoying in my late teens. I couldn’t remember anything else about it, so I reread it. Having been written in the early years following WWII, it described life in England at that time as the background to an unusual mystery. During WWII a National Day of Prayer* had been called. One of the characters in The Franchise Affair was a great believer in the power of intercessory prayer. That perhaps surprised me more now than it would have done the first time I read it as the culture of Britain has changed during the intervening years. The way the story unfolded shocked me when I was younger. The legal background was well-researched and I had to consult a dictionary for one of the technical terms.
Two highly recommended books.
* Today is the first day of the second national lockdown in England during the Covid-19 pandemic. The three most senior bishops of the Church of England have written to the clergy expressing their desire for this to be a month of prayer.
This post includes reviews of two nonfiction books.
The next book I read was When I pray what does God do? by David Wilkinson. I bought this book in a sale at the local Christian bookshop. David Wilkinson writes as a scientist (astrophysicist) and theologian with a background in Methodism. The book is aimed at theology students and people who are not deterred by science. As a longstanding member of a prayer group I read this book with interest. It is well written and logical as well as providing anecdotal evidence for some of the arguments presented.
I decided that the other ladies in the prayer group were unlikely to read the whole book. As it was my turn to provide some thoughts at the beginning of a meeting, I explained that the book used the scientific developments of the 20th century (quantum mechanics and chaos theory) to update views based only on Newton’s ideas.
I read selected passages from the final two chapters, which summarised much of the book and provided conclusions.
The explanations allow for a largely predictable universe in which choice is possible and some outcomes are uncertain. There are illustrations from the Bible including the apostle Paul’s wonderful prayer in Philippians chapter 1.
The final sentence is:
“When I pray what does God do?” is not an easy question, but it is one that I have found in my own life leads me deeper into knowing God and an excitement with the experience of prayer.
I found this book encouraging and helpful.
The second book was an autobiography lent to me by a friend. Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner is easy to read yet thought-provoking. I learned a great deal about the lives of aristocrats and royalty. As this is a book by an elderly lady it begins before my time. However there was much that reminded me of events that had been reported in the national news. Issues I had been aware of, but perhaps not given much thought to recently, such as the effect of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market on Commonwealth countries, were touched on. I particularly enjoyed the insider’s view of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. My own visit to the coronation exhibition in Buckingham Palace enabled me to visualise the costumes.
Having just read the book I reviewed above, I was interested to read about Lady Anne Glenconner’s Christianity. Although she went to church every Sunday, she admitted that she hadn’t really prayed until a particular crisis. Perhaps the Church fails to inspire people to pray! Hers is a fascinating book, with insights to the characters of many people, written in a sympathetic manner, but perhaps with an excess of commas – like this sentence!