Saturday, 12 August 2017

ST MABYN’S LABYRINTH – 2017 For those of Riper Years

For those of Riper Years

ALPHA: Our childhood (At the Font)
2. Schooldays (Sunday School chairs)
3. Those Teenage Years - 1. (Nave)
4. Those Teenage Years - 2. (Nave)
5. It gets serious. (Chancel)
6. Family Life. (Chancel)
7. Autumn beckons. (Choir)
8. Maturity. (Choir)
9. Old Age (at the Altar rail)
OMEGA (at the Altar rail)

ALPHA: Our childhood (At the Font)
It is difficult to remember our childhood, now. Those years when our parents cared for us, made
decisions, gave advice as we grew in mind and body. Cast your mind back – is there something
that you can recall? A toy, a book, even a doll or every child’s companion it seems, a teddy bear?
Can you recall bedtime stories that you were told? Wind in the Willows? Brer Rabbit? Winnie the
Pooh? Your bedroom? Can you recall the voice? Think on these things.
As you grew older, there was school. At school we read more complicated books, but books that
were gripping. Enid Blyton wrote many, but people like Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling and other
famous authors gave so much to young minds.
It was all part of the loving environment that started with the first breath of life, and the warm
blanket of love that surrounded us. Those who gave us so much love and care are now long gone
to a place that we do not know. Did you ever wonder “who am I, and what am I here for?” Did
anyone tell you about God? You were probably told, but far too early to remember. Your parents
and godparents took promises on your behalf if and when you were baptised.
Think, reflect and pray. Not everyone had an idyllic and loving childhood. Some lost parents for
one reason or another, some knew hardship, even cruelty. We are haunted by the sights of those
– especially in war-torn countries, where wide-eyed and terrified children are daily denied the
peace, love and protection which is their right.
2. Schooldays (Sunday School chairs)
These are a little easier to recall. The small desks and chairs, children that we have never met
before, and teachers, and adults whom we have never met before. Or perhaps would not want to
again? We were introduced to things which we had to do, rather than choose to do or not. And if
we didn’t or couldn’t we got into trouble. Some the subjects were interesting, some fascinating,

and some boring. Children were good at different things, and some weren’t bothered at all, getting
into trouble all the time.
We learnt about numbers and tables, our language and how it was used, about geography and
history, science, and games. Most people liked games, and it was good to be picked for a team.
It was hard to be omitted if one wanted very much to play soccer, rugby, tennis or cricket. Some
people were nice and it was easy to make friends with them. Others were not and were bullying
and fighting too much and were not good friends at all.
School. Even today despite all the changes in more than half a century, a school still has that
strong scent of young people, their breath and perspiration in hot weather. Long gone are the
academic gowns, the smell of pipe tobacco, of chalk, and the remoteness which went with them.
We came in, not being able to read or write, and we gradually grew into young people, each with
their own ideas, their circle of friends, and their hobbies and pastimes. There was an energy in life
God didn’t come into our lives very much, but many schools had assemblies at which the Lord’s
Prayer was prayed. Some schools had the Vicar or a teacher to give religious instruction, as it
was called. We started to become used to the idea that there was someone else in our life,
mysterious, invisible, and who could do impossible things. A book was written about him – or her,
called a Bible. We learnt songs called hymns at assemblies.
It was our transition from the cradle to the school, and in the hustle that life was becoming, God
was still there. Did we think about him? Or was life too busy and interesting to think about such
3. Those Teenage Years - 1. (Nave)
Remember them? The odd haircuts, the frankly ridiculous clothes, the very dated music, the
cinema and its films of the day. What was the urgency to conform? How did we do it? Why did
we do it? Because we could, by and large. Some were well off and could live the life, while others
had to make do.
There was a great casting-off of authority, even of one’s parents’ authority. There were questions.
The pressure of style and no substance started to split children into smaller groups. Some were
set on a career, and were determined to get to a university. After WW2 there were few, but that
number grew and grew as more youngsters look to the professions – medicine, law, engineering,
and finance. Others were good at sport and looked to a famous future. Some had a natural ability
in dealing with people, working in business. Some hadn’t very much talent, and looked to find a
job. And of course there were those who had no real ability or inclination, who turned to crime to
one degree or another.
Then there was for some, armed service, through conscription or volunteering. The shock of
encountering people from all walks of life, with different and sometimes tragic backgrounds and
levels of varying levels of education and intelligence. But beginning to learn to judge people, to
make friends, and the warmth of firm friendship.
Looking back, for the want of care – love if you like – work or opportunity, lives could have been
transformed. But they weren’t. You can almost hear it – if only I had worked harder I might have
made something of myself. Et cetera, et cetera. Where was God in all this?
4. Those Teenage Years - 2. (Nave)
We have sat and pondered on our school and teenage years, and the parting of the way from
childhood. We haven’t finished yet, though, because something else has sneaked into our lives.

Sex. It blundered into our lives on the back of Biology, or for younger oldies, as formal education.
It comes earlier and earlier. Girls were no longer those silly things who squeaked and kept
together, as their bodies changed from children to women. Boys were still those smelly children
who were obsessed with their hobbies, played football, cricket or rugby, and dropped things down
your blouse collar if you weren’t looking. But suddenly, they weren’t quite so tiresome – in fact
quite human.
However, it was far from straightforward. There was shyness to overcome, a lack of confidence
that deserted you at the vital moment, and for boys, the tendency to blush and blurt when
articulacy was needed. To the boys, there would be a girl, perhaps seen out of school, who was
spell-bindingly gorgeous. How many boys have had a secret passion but no idea how to
transform it into a friendship, and more?
In the same way, many girls must have trailed their coats in order to get a boy that they rather like.
How to make the first move? Too obvious was not a good idea – it would create the wrong
impression. It was our introduction to that crazy stage in life which we might call mating.
And then there were our parents. How strange that in the throes of love, it was awkward to talk to
our parents? After all, they had been through it them selves.
For some it was a time of confusion, for sexuality was and is far more complex than just woman
and man, sometimes body and spirit inclined in different directions. Society has slowly recognised
this truth and the unhappiness of past generations hopefully moves into the past. As we grew
older we gained experience in dealing with one another in that unpredictable maze of emotions
that can make or ruin a life. And does.
Love is an emotion which is defined by its objective. Parental love is not the same as sexual and
spiritual love between equals, and in due course it is different again from the love that we have for
our own children. Yet, love can destroy us as well as make us, and many are the crimes of
passion that have arisen from frustrated or betrayed love.
We have free will and we can do as we wish. Looking back, did we really know our sexuality?
Ourselves? To what extent are we masters of our own lives? If not, who is? Where does God
come into our lives at this time? Ponder awhile.
5. It gets serious. (Chancel)
We have met the person with whom we want to spend our lives. Were we sure, or was it like
throwing a message in a bottle from the proverbial desert island? Certainly, in hope. Was there
the happy accident, or was there something else? Would it work, or would we have found that our
intended partner was not the paragon that we thought? What about the family that we were going
to join? To what extent were we prepared to honour our vows when they were tested by events.
Family considerations? Careers? Finance? Where to live? Children?
Marriage, or a partnership, is not just the culmination of the processes of infatuation, heartbreak,
worry, and speculation. It is the Overture. The Opera called Life Together has yet to start. Did
we listen to the priest at our wedding, telling us to put God at the centre of our union. Yes it was
easy to be blown off course, but did we?
Much of this is undertaken in the belief that any problems can be solved – somehow.
There were so many unknowns that many of us took our partners in trust, knowing that many
others had been in this situation, and come through, happily. We were probably not helped by
academics telling us for example, how much children cost, discounting the incredible joy of being a
parent. Why, oh why can’t life be simple and not full of decisions that can go wrong. Answer:
because we aren’t simple either. Sadly, they do go wrong.

We need to remember that when we love another, wife, husband, parent, child, friends, that bond
of love will be broken one way or another. The price of love that God gives us is the sadness of
loss. Reflect.
6. Family Life
When we cast our minds back to our children, the memories of babies and their progress to little
children will almost certainly bring a smile to our lips. Photographs and videos bring a smile to us,
with precious memories. Children are beautiful. It’s such a shame that they grow up. Playgroup,
school, uniforms that are grown out of seemingly before the first wash, after-school activities, and
meeting the friends of your children, the first sign that they are individuals themselves with their
own lives.
Even in the paradise of childhood, tragedy is no stranger. Risk is always everywhere in life.
Infertility, cot deaths, dire chronic disease or disability, even death of the mother or father are all
possible despite the care and skill of the medical professions. Divorces can be heartbreaking,
especially for children, often scarring for life. We must not forget those who have no children
either by choice or circumstance. Fortunately for those who are childless, there is the possibility of
adoption of a child, orphaned or, incredibly, rejected. How could it be, one asks. But it does.
We reflect on those moments of cold panic when one we love is in danger. Maybe that was when
we let God into our lives, one who gives us the breath of life, the emotion of love, and the one who
allows us the privilege of children. Think about what God has given you.
7. Autumn beckons. (Choir)
The children have grown up, and are getting to grips with life, with friends and family, going away
to university, to training, and taking their own decisions. It was a worrying time, finding the cost of
higher education, coping with the fact that sometimes they have fallen short at school, and had to
select a different career path, or had to move away for education. Maybe they wanted to live with
a partner as man and wife, or as equals. That must have been difficult. To put your parental foot
down would have risked losing your child, and although it might have hurt, to give way after a
loving discussion was right. Or was it?
Children have our love in their pockets, even when adult. They can do risky things like travelling
round the world, sky diving or wing walking, which has our hearts in our mouths. There is a time
when children are difficult, seeming to take any advice other than that of their parents. Love and
keep loving, and they will return, having sorted out the mental and hormonal upheaval of the teens
and twenties.
Think back. Work was good for all of you, but younger people with new ideas have come in. That
generational gulf in which the younger and older cannot communicate easily becomes a problem.
The Doctors look no older than one’s children: they probably aren’t! A different fellowship slowly
emerges, activities for the older people such as U3A, Probus, Age Concern, even golf and bowls.

8. Maturity. (Altar)
Well, it is usually a bit painful here and there, and one’s faculties need a little help now. We spend
much more time sitting down, enjoying each other’s company. The world seems to be going mad,
things aren’t as good as they were, and the various levels of government don’t seem to have a
clue. We won’t be here when the bill comes in for our corporate stupidity, etc, etc. Why grumble?
What goes round, comes round. The language of business may change, but the ideas don’t.

Old age is a blessing, often an arthritic one, but think about what we have learnt in our lives. How
things have changed and largely improved – even though we don’t understand why our TV always
pixillates when a good rugby match is on. But we have time to garden, to paint, to write, to
embroider, to make marmalade or even to act in “Open the Book”. We have time to paint Aunt
Jessie, and time to throw the painting away as she looks like a hippo! Old age is to be enjoyed, so
far as possible, and the fact that 25 mile walks are not a good idea has to be accepted with good
It is not too late to look at that chap who has been following us all this time. Why is it that we turn
to God when the going gets hard? Why do we take what he gives us without thanking him? We
encountered him at our baptism, but could be understood for it slipping our minds. Perhaps we
talked to him in the fervour of romance, praying that he or she would ask that question. Did we
bother to have our children baptised? It costs nothing and is the best present that we could have
given them. No doubt.
Church? Give it a try, nice people just like us. You’re getting on.
9. Old Age (at the Altar)
Increasingly, we come face to face with our mortality. Dearly loved relatives and good friends
pass on, leaving us sadder and more alone. Some go well before their time, and we have to cope
with tragedy. Those whom we loved were given to us in love. There is a bill of love to be met, and
it hurts, it hurts like hell. If you love them deeply, yes it will hurt, and in a way one can commit that
pain in a prayer of thanks to God. It is difficult: we always want more, rather than giving thanks for
what we have had.
Well, it’s late but not too late. Consider. A man, Jesus, was born in Israel 2000 years ago. His
mother had an angelic vision which established that Jesus had come from God. He was raised
and worked with his earthly father Joseph until his twenties, when he met a distant cousin, John,
who was baptising – christening – in the River Jordan. John had been waiting for Jesus. At his
baptism he was empowered with the Holy Spirit of God, and his preaching ministry started then
and there.
Born of a Jewish mother, and therefore a normal human being, but with the power of the Holy
Spirit, he was able to perform miraculous acts of healing many of which are still impossible today.
During 2-3 years his ministry comprised teaching and the gathering of Disciples, trained to
continue his work after his death. His ministry, his teaching and his miracles conflicted with the
interests of the Jewish religion, which was corrupt, and eventually he was captured and executed.
Three days later, as he had prophesied, Jesus reappeared, reassuring the Disciples and horrifying
the religious authorities. After a period in which Jesus was widely seen – by fully five hundred or
more according to St.Paul – he left his Disciples to return whence he had come. The execution by
Crucifixion, and subsequent Resurrection showed that there is an existence beyond this life. It
also demonstrated that even the greatest evil that mankind can do to its fellows, it is as nothing to
God. Whatever the wrongdoings of all types, God has dismissed them. Jesus Christ had died for
our sins, and thrown the gates of Heaven open briefly, to see the truth of his words.
We wait here, hoping that the words of Jesus are true. Hang on, though, read the small print. He
said that God gave his Son to the end that all who believed in him would not perish, but inherit
eternal life. Do we? It is true that even the most depraved and evil person, confessing in abject
and sincere penitence, may through the mercy of a loving God, enter the Kingdom of Heaven.