Sunday, February 9, 2014

Feb | 09 | Of ghostly touches and whispers from the grave


Of ghostly touches and whispers from the grave

John 10:7-10
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” NKJV
Patronage is an historic element in the Church of England and the Presbyterian church of Scotland which is carried over from really the pre-Reformation Church. Many parishes have a patron ( individual or body) who in the event of a Pastoral vacancy, exercises the right to present a candidate to the congregation for their consideration. If the congregation dislikes the patrons proposed candidate, then they can either take civil action against the patron or get out from under the patron’s legal jurisdiction, that is, remove themselves from the patron’s church premises, meeting place and pastoral accommodation. When a congregation or congregations have done this, it is referred to as a secession.

Patrons and trustees of churches usually present themselves as being a person or body ‘under God’ who are under law, acting in the best interest of the parishes they represent in order to ensure that the right appointments are made in the parish which will maintain the original intention of the benefactors, founders or organisationorganization. Congregations might refer to this good intention of the patron as Simony, Cronyism, or control. In any event, it essentially removes the right of a congregation to call, consider, and appoint the minister of their own choosing. The system under the guise of patronage protectionism, reserves the right to maintain its historic, financial and property interest in the present day functioning of the parish, church or organization.

My present address is Williamsons Quay, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. The plaque on the sea wall outside of our apartment reads “Site of St James Church, 1842-1970, Originally a Secession Church, in Cowan Street, Last Minister: Rev John Williamson”

Many churches in the 1800’s seceded from the Church of Scotland over the issue of patronage amongst others. The dust of St James is one upon which I presently reside. It seems that at some point, the congregation rejoined the Church of Scotland and in the so doing lost their building. The story goes that the building was eventually deemed to be unsafe and of course, there was no money for repairs and so the congregation was heaved out and the building and land put up for demolition and sale, the monies accrued from this, being put into causes which were deemed to be living. Rev. John Williamson was in his eighties at the time and was having none of it, essentially calling the building report, a fraud. He and his small congregation of 25 souls, were never the less evicted from the disputed property, and meeting in the open air of his first service, Williamson publicly lambasted the presbytery for acting ‘out of Biblical order.’ I wonder if John could smell a financial rat? Two years later, the Rev Williamson, now aged 84, was holding church services in a bus. He died that same year and was buried with his wife Celia who had departed this life some 22 years earlier. The bottom of the head stone reads: “O for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still”

It is essentially money that has shaped our denominations. Money finds it power in the possession of property and place, and when used to control, it lifts up these two material things as treasures far above the people it is supposed to bless. I tell you now, if your giving is tied to a leash, it will eventually be turned into a biting dog. Therefore, let your giving be dove-like. Let it be launched into the heavens and into the hands of God. It will come back to you with green life. When you give then, let it go, for giving with strings attached is invested interest and control. If you want to do this, then go find a limited company to put your money into, stocks and shares, not the church of the living God! Did you know that the elders of parish churches in the Church of Scotland had the right to get the army in to ensure their ministerial candidate was put in place! ? When civil law controls the church, when a body of patronic trustees reverts to the law of the land to rule the church of the living God, then some might say that this was close to the control of demonic witchcraft.

Money moves and rules the church in these islands of mine and the end of all of this is death. As the church on these Christian shores disappears into the foaming sea, and those of us who are left choose whether money of or the Holy Spirit shall direct the remnant, I hear even now the weeping of the earth and the short breathed whisper from the Lomond hills mourning the loss of Christianity and saying: “O for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still”

It’s time to let go of Simon and his money and for you to raise up your voice in this land once more. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Listen:- “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. John 10:11-16 NKJV

Pray: -  Father, deliver us into the true freedom of Your greatness, Your presence, and Your utter Sovereignty. Provide for us our daily bread and our daily needs. Your Kingdom come, not ours, Your will be done, not ours. Open then our lips that we might sing out Your praises and the glories of Your Gospel. Lift up Jesus in me and then empower me to lift Him up before others that You might draw all men to yourself and the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world might receive the reward of His suffering. Let the vanished hand of Jesus in this land be manifest once more. Let the voice of the Gospel sing loud its song of salvation. Amen and let it be so.

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