Jack Angove woke up early, well before sunrise, and eased himself out of bed so as not to wake his wife, Florence. He sloshed some cold water, which was in a bowl on the washstand, over his unshaven face and abruptly felt fully awake. He pulled on the clothes which his wife had left out which had been washed for him. He crept down the stairs so as not to wake the family and put the kettle on the embers. He had to blow them back into life but they soon caught. He cut himself a half inch slice of bread and raided the cold box in the larder. Bread and dripping was his usual breakfast. The iron kettle was hot enough for a cup of tea and to fill his billytin can to take to work. He grabbed the crowse box Florence had prepared the night before and he was out of the door and down the road.
He was happy to be going to work. He couldn’t understand some of his colleagues who seemed to spend so much time complaining and grumbling and wishing they were doing something else somewhere else. Jack knew what he was going to do. He was a tributer in the local tin mine and today, like everyday he signed on for the core, the early shift, he was going to chase the seam of tin running through all the rock and rubble and mud. His anticipation would rise as he carefully descended the succession of ladders that led to the level his gang were working. He had success locating the tin seam a number of times and remembered the thrill of discovery and the pleasure of the reward of recovering the tin ore which would be processed and put to good use.. Jack was a member of a gang under contract to pay a tribute proportion of the value of the ore recovered to the owners. The reckoning was likely to be every two months so Jack and Florence had to steward their income carefully.
So Jack spent six days a week chasing the tin seam, sometimes very successfully and at others times it would be allusive, difficult to find, seemingly hidden. But Jack persevered through good times and difficult times, always with a single aim - to catch the tin seam! Others he knew had given up and some, although they continued to plod to work each day, were half-hearted and dissatisfied. He was sad for them for he could see how miserable and unhappy they looked. On his way home from work, having slowly pulled himself up those ladders, he had to walk past a few kiddleywinks and he would see men inside those shacks drinking beer and gin, wasting their meager earnings. Jack would hurry home and, after a bite to eat, go out to the patch of land near his cottage that he had managed to clear to grow vegetables to help feed the family. His life was hard, struggling to do his best for his family just like all his neighbours and friends, but he was content with his lot.
Today is Saturday and after work, Jack enjoyed being with his family, playing games and, after supper, reading to them. Jack was one of few of his colleagues at the mine who could read and write. He had been determined to learn and his chief motivation was to be able to read the Bible for himself but especially to his family. Saturday evening was also the time when Jack relaxed, put the events of the past week behind him and begin to focus on gathering with his ‘other’ family at the local Methodist chapel. He was really looking forward to worshipping Jesus with them and hearing God’s Word through the hymns, the preaching and the Lord’s Supper.
So, Sunday morning the Angove family donned their best clothes – Jack in a suit, white shirt and a separate collar that Florence had starched. His tie was somber but across his waistcoat he proudly wore his late Dad’s pocket watch and chain. They walked of course, and there was soon a small group all going to chapel. Inside, the building was quite plain but on the end wall behind the choir and pulpit was painted the Lord’s Prayer, a constant reminder to the attendees of the prayer Jesus gave his disciples. The Angove family had their own pew – they paid a small rent for it each year – and so always sat in the same place. Jack sang the familiar hymns with enthusiasm and joined the loud amen at the end of the prayers. When the collection place circulated, Jack put in as much as he could on behalf of the family but always gave the children something to put in too so they felt part of the giving. Jack would love to give more as his heart was so full of the good things the Lord had done for him and his family, but whatever he was able to give it was always with love and joy.
The preacher this Sunday reminded Jack of having something about him in the Billy Bray mold. He spoke with confidence and assurance about the need to seek and follow the Holy Spirit at all cost. He was enthusiastic in the description from the book of Acts on the results of the Holy Spirit being poured out on the disciples. He cited several examples of incidents and events throughout that thrilling book. He declared boldly that the same Holy Spirit had been working through willing disciples ever since and in similar ways. Since that earth-changing event at Pentecost 2000 years ago faithful followers of Jesus have sought and found the Holy Spirit to be the power in their lives to be the presence of the risen Christ where they live and work. And then, he asked the congregation to consider if they were really being the voice, hands and feet of Jesus in their workplace, community, home and marriage? He referred them to Acts ch1 verses 4 & 5: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. He went on to ask how many of them had left Jerusalem without waiting for the baptism of the Holy Ghost? And how many are therefore frustrated that your love for and witness and influence for Jesus is not as strong and secure as you know it should be?
By now Jack was wriggling a bit and beginning to examine his own life. But the preacher had not finished! He turned in his Bible to Galatians ch 5 and referred them first to verses 16 to 21 where the Apostle Paul describes the war that goes on in fighting between the Spirit and our wills and natural inclinations. There you find a list of behaviors that are not compatible with the Kingdom of God! The preacher then read verses 22 to 25: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Does your life show the fruit of the Spirit, challenged the preacher. Are you walking in the Spirit on a daily basis? Or is it the case that it is time to chase after the Spirit again and, either for the first time, or as an act of renewal, seek his infilling and cooperate with him in receiving his power to enable you to walk beside him, full of his fruit, responding to his prompting to be the voice, hands and feet of Jesus. Be a people who chase and find the Spirit he thundered over the congregation!
Then he closed his Bible and announced the final hymn written by Charles Wesley:
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace.
Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health and peace.
See all your sins on Jesus laid;
The Lamb of God was slain,
His soul was once an offering made
For every soul of man.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
He speaks and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongue employ;
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come;
And leap, ye lame for joy!
My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honours of Thy name.
There wasn’t a lot of conversation over the dinner table that Sunday. Both Jack and Florence were considering the implications of the sermon they had heard and wondering about the way forward. Jack was due to join a small group from chapel who, once a month, visited the nearby institution that used to be the workhouse but was now more of a care home come nursing home. They would go for about an hour in the afternoon and one of them had a piano accordion so they would sing a well known hymn and read from the Bible and then move on to another ward. Usually some of the residents would join in with the singing and a few would even recite the Bible reading with the reader.
This Sunday, Jack was particularly sensitive in listening for the prompting of the Spirit and was wondering what the Spirit was doing that required Jack to join. In the second ward they visited he noticed a gentleman whom he had known most of his life, but now, without relatives to care for him, found himself here. Jack sensed an urging to go to his bedside and so during the singing of the hymn he approached Fred and noticed a tear travelling down his cheek. Jack took his hand and Fred smiled at him and as the 23rd Psalm was being read, Fred mouthed some of the words. When the group moved on, Jack stayed with Fred and they chatted about some of the people from the past in Fred’s life. Jack realized that Fred was very lonely even among the people and carers he was with everyday. Jack’s heart went out to Fred and he asked him if he could pray with him. Fred smiled and nodded. Jack prayed a simple prayer of blessing and asked that the Father’s love would be strong for Fred and that he would know he was loved and cared for by the Heavenly Father. Fred held strongly onto Jack’s hand for a minute or two and it was not until Jack promised to come back in and visit Fred again soon, that he let go. Jack moved on to join the others with two conflicting emotions. One was joy that he had listened and responded to the prompting of the Spirit, and the other was a growing deep sadness for many of the residents who were so lonely. He determined to do whatever he could, at least for Fred.
That Sunday evening as Jack looked forward to another working week, he was convinced that this day God had opened his eyes and heart to truths that he had known but had not fully embraced. Just as he spent his working hours chasing the tin seam in order to recover the ore so that the refined tin could be put to good use, so he was being encouraged to chase and walk alongside the Holy Spirit so that the presence of Jesus would be seen in and through his life and others like him. And the Spirit wanted that to happen where he lived – in Camborne!
Jack went to sleep eventually still buzzing with anticipation and beginning to dream of the exciting journey just starting!!