The Revd Marc Catley, Vicar of Packwood and Hockley Heath has been off sick since June 2022, after suffering a stroke. He still writes articles for their Parish News magazine, and I was privileged to get an advance copy of this month’s article, which included the following story.
Issue 77 of Parish News for St.Giles Packwood and St.Thomas Hockley Heath was published in August 1963 and cost 4d. The vicar at that time was the Revd Donald Campbell Miller M.A. His vicar’s letter for that month mentioned that he was looking forward to a holiday in September; several friends had kindly paid for a Mediterranean cruise for him and his wife. He was particularly looking forward to stops at Athens and Thessalonica, which feature in the New Testament.
Issues 78 and 79 are missing from the Parish News archive, it is possible that they were never published. The next one, numbered issue 80, is for November 1963. The vicar’s letter space is occupied, not with words from Donald Campbell Miller, but words by the Revd George Goode who wrote, “The loss of your late Vicar was painful news in which I shared with all who knew him, particularly with Mrs Campbell Miller and their family.” Donald had died during the cruise and had been buried at sea.
Further into Issue 80 an undelivered sermon of Donald Campbell Miller was published on page 5. Prophetically he had chosen the text Job 19:25-27. It is a text that many of us know because the words were set to music by G.F.Handel for his oratorio Messiah.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold.
Job has suffered terrible things in a most unjust way and yet he continues to put his trust in God and to hope for deliverance by God. He even expresses hope in a life after death and in the restoration of his flesh such that he can see God with his own eyes. In the end God does rescue him and richly blesses him, but the hope that he holds is still remarkable especially as it was written around 500 years before the resurrection of Jesus.
We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Day, 9th April. It is a time to marvel at the eternal life that God wants to share with us. It is a time to join in hope with Job and Donald Campbell Miller that one day our life and our flesh will be restored within the love of God.
Happy Easter! With prayers and best wishes, Fr Patrick
Collect Prayer for Easter Day
Lord of all life and power,
who through the mighty resurrection of your Son
overcame the old order of sin and death
to make all things new in him:
grant that we, being dead to sin
and alive to you in Jesus Christ,
may reign with him in glory;
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be praise and honour, glory and might,
now and in all eternity. Amen.