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Sunday, 2 October 2016

It's a "Fall"!

It would be interesting to know how many of my readers would recognise a "pulpit fall"!  It is a piece of material, usually embroidered, that hangs over the lectern (the 'shelf' on which a Bible usually rests) in a pulpit in a traditional Christian church building.  Modern lectern falls can be extremely complex, and beautiful, but the one with which I was brought up (and that I do not recall ever having been changed) was a simple embroidery of three letters - 'I'. 'H', 'S'. 

There are two suggestions as to the meaning of the letters. The first is that they are the first three letters of the name of Jesus in the Greek language - the Greek letter 'e' looking like a Roman letter 'n'. This, of course, would mean that the letters were actually 'i', 'n', and 's'.

I have always accepted the alternative - that they stand for the Latin phrase "Iesus Hominum Salvator", meaning "Jesus, Saviour of men".  However, I like to play with letters and words and realised, a long time ago, that if I changed the order of those three letters, some useful thoughts were generated.

If I change the order to "HIS", I am reminded that I belong to Him!  It's good to "belong".  The need to do so appears to be part and parcel of our human nature. That's why there are so many organisations, societies, and groups. People want to belong; to be able to share with others of like mind.  However, belonging to Almighty God is of a different order altogether!  What a wonderful privilege to be able to come into the presence of the Creator of all that is - and address Him as "Abba" (Can be translated "Daddy".  It is the word that a Jewish child would use to address its natural father).

Reversing "HIS" leads me to "SIH".  This reminds me that I am Safe In Him. When I was a child, I always knew that as long as my dad was around, I was safe. He was the one to whom I looked if I had a problem; if there appeared to be danger. Of course, my dad was just another human being, with all of the natural limitations that are our human lot. My heavenly Father has no such limits (although there are certain things that Almighty God cannot do!!).  My natural father provided me with physical safety; my heavenly Father provides me with safety that goes beyond this mortal realm!

"HIS"; "SIH"; and then there is "IHS" - which takes us back to where we started! However, in this order, I think of being "In His Service".   I suppose that it is a kind of logical progression - if I am HIS, and I am Safe In Him, then the very attitude of gratitude on which I posted a couple of weeks (and posts!) ago will surely wish to be expressed in serving Him.  How do I do that?  Well, we all have different areas of service that depend on our natural talents, and spiritual giftings. To give a very simple example, my wife would be hard pressed to preach a series of sermons; while I would be equally hard pressed to lead worship with a guitar in the way that she does.  Yet each of us is serving Him, our Saviour and our Lord.

Of course, each of us who owns His Name is serving Him in one particular way that is common to us all.  That is the area of witnessing.  If I am known as a disciple of Jesus, then I am a witness - whether I wish to be or not.  The only question is: "Am I a good witness, or a bad one?"  When others look at me, do they see any difference between me and the rest of the people whom they know - and who make no Christian profession?  Do I ensure that I spend time with fellow-believers, discussing spiritual matters with them?  Whatever I am doing, reading, watching, am I comfortable in the knowledge that He is there with me - or would I be embarrassed and ashamed if He were to appear, physically, at my side?

Being a disciple of Jesus (as opposed to being a "church member", or even a "church office-bearer") is demanding.  He never promised anything else!  What He did promise is that if we deny Him, He will deny us!  That denial can take many forms.  It is as likely to be by my actions, as by my words!

Are you a disciple of Jesus?  Then you are HIS; you are Safe In Him; I trust that you are truly In His Service.

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