Proclaiming Christmas

Proclaiming Christmas, forty timeless talks and sermons.
Edited by J. John
A new book containing forty Christmas sermons including Philip Yancy, N.T. Wright, R. T. Kendall, J.John, Nigel Mumford, and thirty five other preachers.
Available at www.philotrust.com
J.John writes:
Our churches are never better attended than during the Christmas season. This gives a special opportunity to deliver a message to our congregations, to present God Incarnate and to creatively preach the ‘original scrip’. I have asked friends, all know for their gift as creative communicators, to let me have their best Christmas sermon, and the result is this book. This will not only enlighten, encourage and inspire you as you read it, but will inform and equip all preaches with ideas and content.
Also this is for anyone who likes reading sermons (like me) to give you a faith-lift.
J.John

Never forget: Greater things will you do by Donna M. Authers

Never forget: Greater things will you do
by Donna M. Authers
OSL Sharing Magazine, Oct/Nov 2012 Issue
Do you remember the first time you realized that God actually heals today? That thrilling moment when you could identify with the paralytic or the woman who touched the tip of Jesus’ garment? That miraculous event which challenged the validity of the theory: “That was then; this is now”? Through the power of the Holy Spirit and at the pleasure of God, Jesus still heals today exactly as he said he would: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:12-13, NIV)
Yes, Jesus continues to heal today through his imperfect disciples like you and me. We may not see an immediate cure (Waiting for the Full Ear of Corn, Sharing, July/August 2012) but in my experience he always heals, bringing peace and hope to a frightened soul. When we lay hands on someone and pray, something always happens in a way that is unique to the individual asking for prayer. It is important to remember our stories and even more important to tell them, especially the ones that changed the course of our lives way back when, lest we become complacent with the gifts God has given us. This is one of my stories.
It was 1995, and after more than three years of MRI’s, injections, pills and literally crawling into physical therapy sessions which brought little relief, my husband Roger agreed to have back surgery. Three years? Why so long? Well, you see, Roger has an aversion to hospitals, needles, blood, even taking out splinters. He cringed when I told him I had ordered contact lenses! But on this occasion his back and leg pain finally outweighed his fear.
Two days before surgery, we were invited to our friend Susan’s house for dinner. Early in the evening Roger spoke of his apprehension, and our host responded, “You need to meet Nigel; he was supposed to be here tonight; but he’s praying with somebody.” She added with a hint of skepticism, “Apparently, when he prays people are healed!” Of course, the Nigel she was talking about is OSL Board Member Fr. Nigel Mumford.
Before seven o’clock the next morning, the phone rang. In response to a sleepy “hello,” a voice said, “Good morning, this is Nigel Mumford; sorry to call so early, but I received an urgent message from Susan last night to call you. Do you know anything about this?”
“Oh, dear! We had no idea she asked you to call us; but since you did, we’d love to meet you. My husband is having surgery tomorrow, and at dinner last night Susan said that you needed to pray for him. Perhaps you can tell us more?”
“I’m on my way to work and have no time today or tonight, but if you like, I can come over right now.”
“Have you had breakfast? Roger’s from England as well and he taught me how to make a proper pot of tea.”
“Brilliant! I’m on my way.” And with that we hung up.
“Quick, Roger, get up!”
“What in the world is going on?”
“I have no idea, but Nigel’s on his way and will be here any minute.”
Wonderful things happened that morning while talking over a cup of tea and toast with marmalade from Marks & Spencer. While Roger and I had always known it was God who brought us together and Christ was the glue in our marriage, we had no experience with miraculous cures except what we had seen on television. You know what I mean: the kind of program where a preacher smacked someone on the head and seemingly pushed him into the arms of a catcher after yelling, “Heal!” Surely they were paid well for the charade. At least that’s how it appeared to us skeptics. But this was different.
After getting acquainted, Nigel shared the story about his sister Julie’s miraculous cure in England and how he discovered that he had received the gift of healing upon his return to the United States. Canon Jim Glennon’s prayer for Julie was brief and gentle with only the lightest of touch when he laid hands on her. It was a beautiful picture and calm came over us and when Nigel asked Roger if he would like prayer. Since this was new for both of us, the answer was a tentative, but surprisingly expectant “yes”.
We were instructed by Nigel to continue in prayer after he left for work and to pray with thanksgiving for the healing that was taking place. But by lunchtime the back pain remained and I called Nigel at work to see if Roger needed a “prayer top-up.” When Nigel agreed to a second prayer, I packed a lunch for him and drove straight to his picture framing shop. Nigel flipped the “Open” sign on his shop door to “Closed”, and we went into another room for prayer. It was then he declared that, while Roger might still need the surgery, God would make sure that he would experience a miraculous recovery. Little did we know that we would experience a series of miracles.
The first happened as we drove to the hospital. Roger showed no fear and for some reason he blurted out of the blue, “Maybe I’m supposed to have his surgery to meet the man in the next bed.” He had no idea where that thought came from; but later all was revealed.
During the pre-op procedures which required a blood test, the first miracle was confirmed: Roger’s fear was gone. He was completely at peace and watched as the needle went into his arm and blood was drawn. Later he complimented the nurse who installed the IV, and as I watched him being wheeled into the operating room, peace prevailed with shouts of “Love you; see you later!” as if he were going to work. It was then that I knew in my heart that Roger and the doctor would be standing on holy ground with the Great Physician directing the surgery.
Later I learned the anesthesiologist warned Roger that, because of the way his neck was formed, he would have a very sore throat due to the tube they would insert and remove while he was asleep. However when Roger awoke in the recovery room, there was no throat soreness. In fact, he felt as if he had been napping. No grogginess, no pain! He looked at the clock on the wall and asked a nurse, “Is that the right time?” Nigel’s prophesy came true: rapid healing, at least of his sore throat.
After Roger was moved to his hospital room, I arrived and he greeted me by kicking his legs in excitement. I gasped and urged him not to move. He said, “It’s okay. I’m healed and I’ve already been up and to the bathroom on my own.” I was speechless and my heart filled with joy and gratitude. Even so, the doctor said he would be in the hospital for a couple of days.
In the same room was another surgery patient – a young man whose parents were visiting him. Their son’s operation was much earlier that morning, and he was still asleep. John’s mother explained that he would be in the hospital for five days; clearly, his surgery was much more invasive than Roger’s. He had been in a train wreck and they had to take bone from his hip to repair his neck which had been damaged in the accident. After his parents and I left for the evening, John began to stir. Hearing this, Roger introduced himself and they began to talk through the curtain that separated their beds.
In the course of their conversation, Roger told John about Nigel’s gift of healing, something he would never have done before; and at that moment the phone rang. It was Nigel calling from the lobby asking for permission for an after-hours visit. I love God’s timing! After saying a prayer of thanksgiving for how well things went – no sore throat and all – Roger introduced Nigel to the man in the next bed. John told Nigel what had happened to him and accepted Nigel’s offer to pray for his healing, too. Are you ready for what happened?
At nine o’clock the next morning Roger called to ask me to come directly to the hospital after my Bible study class. Both he and John, the man in the next bed, were being released that very morning. This was a miracle! I wept for joy and couldn’t wait to see them. When I went to Bible study the opening hymn began with “We are standing on Holy Ground,” and I sang through my tears.
Roger began taking walks within the first week he was home and we thanked God with each step. As we walked we were finally able to verbalize the fears God had suppressed prior to surgery. If anything had gone wrong there was a possibility that he might never walk again, which meant he could never play the organ again, or at least never use the pedals. But God gave us peace and new opportunities not only to witness to His healing power but for Roger to use his gift of music to bring glory to God.
As for John, he and Roger kept in touch by phone for weeks to track each other’s recovery. To round out his story we discovered he had left a message at his church for someone to bring him communion the following Sunday, but the message was lost. If you recall, he was to have been in the hospital five days. But on the fifth day, he had already been home for four. It was Sunday and his healing was so rapid that he was able to walk to church, the very day he should have been discharged! We have lost touch with John, but we will never forget “the man in the next bed.”
Often the Bible tells how lives were changed by an encounter with Jesus and his healing touch, and our story is no different. It’s been 17 years since Jesus entered our married life in a personal way and we have witnessed God’s healing many times in our family and in the lives of so many of the special friends we have made over the years.
We have all been called to spread the good news about how much God loves us and we have found there is no better way to tell people than through the “God stories” of our lives. More than ever I am convinced this is the easiest way to evangelize. So many of us shy away from that “e” word, but after hearing one of my stories, a woman exclaimed, “I wish I had your faith.” What an open door! That’s all evangelizing is – sharing our faith – and if a story prompts a comment like that, what else can we do but explain how to have faith.
Faith is a gift. If a person has previously made the choice not to believe, they can equally make the choice to believe by simply reaching out and accepting the free gift of faith. Once they start behaving as if they believe, God will handle any doubts they may have, especially through a nurturing friend – perhaps one like you by their side.
This is why we must share these experiences. Don’t underestimate the ripple effect of your faith stories. Stories of healing, whether of body, mind or spirit, will help people understand the truth that God is alive and well and wants us to be well – to be at peace wherever we are, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Living a life of gratitude and praise “in all things” will draw others to us. And when they ask how you have been able to cope with the many surprises you have had in of life, don’t be shy about telling your stories.
Be bold in sharing not only what you believe but why you believe the way you do. Then be prepared to listen to their story, even if it reveals their unbelief. Pray for God to open their eyes so that they might receive the ultimate healing: the healing of their relationship with God through Christ.
Never forget your stories and remember that, through the Holy Spirit, God will help you do even greater things than you ever thought possible, and all to His glory.
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians1:6

A Commando Raid by Four Friends

A Commando Raid by Four Friends
A story based on Mark 2:1-12 by The Rev. Nigel Mumford.
(Circa 32 AD in Capernaum …The Holy Land)
Five friends were hanging out when one had a bright idea of how they might help their friend who was paralyzed.
“Hey, I heard Jesus is in town . . . let’s take our buddy to the Master, so he might walk again!”
“OK!” came the unanimous and quick reply.
The four picked up the mat, upon which their lame friend laid, and carried it to the house where “The Man” was said to be. As they neared the house, the crowd in front was so dense they couldn’t get near the entrance.
One of the four hatched a plan that the others embraced without hesitation. The four, whose names are unknown to this very day, boldly executed the plan. They picked up their buddy on his mat and carefully scaled the back wall of the house until they reached a staircase that led to the roof.
This was perhaps, the first recorded Commando raid!
Once safely ensconced on the roof, they chose the best place to begin digging through the packed earthen roof … unintentionally showering the VIP religious guests below. As pebbles pelted covered heads, those listening below were not pleased. Jesus was teaching and they didn’t appreciate this disruption.
One by one those below looked up, until eventually all saw daylight streaming through the large hole overhead. To their shock and amazement, they watched as a man, bound to his mat, was carefully lowered until he rested at the feet of the Master Himself.
Can’t you see Jesus smiling, broadly, while this was going on? He knew… He just knew…
Now here is my take away from this historic moment, I can see and hear:
“By your faith,” Jesus said while looking up at the shadowy outlines of the four friends above, who had executed this potentially felonious act … and continued speaking as He turned His eyes upon the man on the mat before Him, “you have been healed. Pick up your mat and go home.”
And the man did just that.
The amazed witnesses marveled aloud, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
Dear people, you have choices, if you are sick: You can pray. You can contact the doctor or call an ambulance. You can get your friends to pray for you and carry you by their prayers to the Lord … much as these four unnamed chaps did. (These days you’ll need more than a shovel and the police will likely be waiting below to greet you!)
I don’t know about you, but I want friends like these four fellows in my life.
Wait, what am I saying? I have friends like these in my life! Yes, indeed!
Just 3 years ago, I was paralyzed and comatose for three weeks. Thousands of friends, many yet unnamed or unknown to me, lowered me “thorough the roof” on the “stretchers” of their prayers!
From October 23-25th, 2009, on the brink of death from sepsis, while my liver and kidneys were shutting down, and my lungs filled with water as my body temperature rose, dangerously; the prayers of my unnamed “friends” in Christ, deposited me directly before the One Who is able to heal.
As Jesus Christ answered their prayers, He turned His eyes toward me and rescued me from death’s grip. He overcame the predictions and assertions of my medical providers, that I was dying; and He boldly restored me to this life.
The corporate prayers of thousands saved my life!
I am left with two simple words, which I say several times a day … “Thank You!” I thank God for all my “friends” who prayed that I would live!
So let’s agree to spend our lives living like those four unnamed friends … let’s live as true friend and readily pray for one another. If you are sick, do ask your friends to pray. I am a true believer in corporate prayer!
Dear people, I am alive because of corporate prayer. Thanks be to God!
Alive today because of His Promises,
Fr. Nigel Mumford+

New York Times. April 12th 1998

NEW YORK TIMES
A Devotion to Healing Through Prayer
By JAY AXELBANK
Published: April 12, 1998
IT was a picture perfect life, all right, for Nigel W. D. Mumford, a transplanted Englishman: a thriving picture-framing business in Wilton, president of the Wilton Rotary Club, a comfortable home he shared with his wife, in Newtown, Ct.; a dog, a boat and, in his words, ”plenty of other toys.”
Spiritual concerns, he recalls, were ”far down on the list,” even though his father is a clergyman. In fact, before emigrating to America in 1980 (because he found the United States ”fresh, open and clean”) he was Corporal Mumford, a drill instructor in Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Commandos who, he said, ”taught men to kill or be killed.” He made grown men cry on the drill field.
Now, as a minister of healing in New Milford, Mr. Mumford has come to realize how much it takes to deal with people’s suffering. ”Now I am often the one to cry,” he says, ”when I listen to the torments they endure.”
Mr. Mumford’s new life in the healing ministry of the Episcopal Church began after two incidents in 1990. The first was being summoned to the bedside of his gravely ill sister in a London hospital; there, he says he witnessed how an Anglican clergyman, through prayer, enabled her to overcome a devastating neurological disease — and to walk again.
The second incident took place shortly afterward in Wilton, when a customer entered his shop complaining of a severe headache. ”My hands went to the top of her head and I said a little prayer,” he recalls. Startled, the woman broke into a broad smile. ”The pain is gone! What on earth did you do?” she exclaimed.
But nobody was more surprised than Mr. Mumford himself. ”It was as if some spiritual force had drawn my hands out to her — it was mysterious,” he relates. ”When word got around, I couldn’t tell whether people were coming into the shop for picture framing or prayer. When I prayed, many would tell me their suffering had been alleviated.”
Only after several years did it dawn on Mr. Mumford that ”God was telling me what to do with the rest of my life.” Following a divorce (there were no children), he chucked his house, his business and ”all those toys,” and two years ago entered a semi-monastic life, as he puts it. He became director of the Oratory of the Little Way in Gaylordsville, a part of New Milford, operating under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. The Oratory is one of only three such residential prayer retreats in the United States.
Before his appointment, the former commando, who is 44, was given psychological testing by the Episcopal Church to make sure ”I wasn’t some kind of a crackpot.” He says there are still many doubters among mainline Protestant churches as to the healing effects of prayer. Then too, ”a lot of so-called faith healers give us a bad name — I mean the charlatans,” he said. ”Here at the Oratory we avoid the term faith healing.”
A tree-shaded, four-acre oasis off Route 7, the Oratory offers ”those ill or injured in mind, body or spirit a place to find prayer, peace and welcome,” according to Mr. Mumford, who is a lay minister of the Episcopal Church. ”All who come here are reminded that I don’t heal — God does. I am only a conduit.”
Prayer, he asserts, has a significant role in dealing with emotional distress ”and recent scientific research shows irrefutably that emotions can directly affect a person’s immune system, blood pressure and, ultimately, even longevity.” Mr. Mumford has just begun a series of monthly prayer services for patients and others in need at the New Milford Hospital.
During this Easter season, he said, ”healing is very much on our minds because in the message of resurrection we have the ultimate healing.”
Two recent visitors to the Oratory (they are called supplicants) recount healing experiences through prayer. One of them, Michael, of Stamford (he withheld his full name), has put prostate cancer behind. ”Fifty percent of my treatment was medical, of course,” he says, ”but the other half of my recovery was getting rid of anger over my family and a divorce — which probably contributed to the cancer.”
Kathleen King, 33, of Norwalk, said at first she hesitated to seek help at the Oratory. ”But in that atmosphere of prayer and love,” she recounts, ”I was able to finally forgive somebody who hurt me badly many years ago.”
Most supplicants seek spiritual, not physical healing. ”But even those with physical sickness,” Mr. Mumford goes on, ”also have underlying emotional or spiritual problems, usually anger or stress, that must be dealt with first. We call this healing of the memories.”
At a recent prayer service at the nearby Gaylordsville United Methodist Church — there is no longer enough space at the Oratory — Mr. Mumford placed his hands on the head of a woman suffering from cancer and prayed for the pain and cancer cells to leave her. Others at the service sought divine intercession for such afflictions as arthritis, substance abuse, severe depression and the loss of a job.
The Rev. Christopher Seitz, professor of Old Testament at Yale University Divinity School, who helped Mr. Mumford officiate at the service, says, ”Prayer puts people in any type of distress into the hands of God and helps allow them to accept His will.”
Dr. Joan Campbell, general secretary of the National Council of Churches based in New York, says, ”I think there is greater recognition today of the influence of the mental and spiritual on the physical.”
Those who seek help at the Oratory, according to Mr. Mumford, must not lose sight of the difference between being healed and cured. ”Not everybody is cured,” he says, ”but all supplicants are healed in some way through prayer.” He adds: ”In the case of the gravely ill, we have to pray for coming to terms with God’s will.”
The Oratory operates on a nondenominational basis; people of any faith are welcome. In the two years since Mr. Mumford became director, the average weekly attendance has grown from a handful to as many as 60 people. Supplicants may attend the weekly Tuesday prayer service, visit for an hour of one-on-one prayer and spiritual dialogue or remain in residence for up to five days. There are also rigorously conducted, silent retreats during which not a single word is uttered by guests or staff, not even to say goodbye.
The only fees charged are $25 for a day of retreat and $65 for an overnight stay, although donations are welcome. The eight guest rooms are spartan: spare furniture, no television, no telephone. Simple meals are served in communal style.
Before Mr. Mumford will pray for those with emotional problems, he asks them to consult a therapist or doctor to ascertain if the Oratory is appropriate for them. ”We work symbiotically with doctors and therapists,” he says. ”We add a spiritual dimension to clinical treatment.”
The Oratory is far from a somber place. ”There is joy and laughter here and camaraderie,” says one supplicant, passing along a platter of sandwiches at a recent lunch. The ex-Marine chimes in, ”I can’t cook to save my life and yet we run a Christian bed and breakfast here!”
A stay at the Oratory can be as full or as empty as a visitor wishes. Supplicants can engage in spiritual reading and conversation or ”just empty their minds,” Mr. Mumford explains.
Mr. Mumford says he never loses his sense of awe when supplicants report miraculous cures or healing. ”I always say to myself, ‘Wow — this is amazing,’ and I give thanks to God.” He is sometimes confronted by skeptics who ask what percentage of people are healed, ”And I usually respond: ‘God acts in wonderful but mysterious ways. If there is another outcome than the one we prayed for, we must accept this.’ And someone who is healed may not come back to tell me — or healing may take a long time.”
One who has come back to tell is Alberta Peterson, 44, of Brookfield. In a recent interview, she recounted her experience this way: ”I fractured my wrist and finger in seven places last year. That’s what the X-ray showed. Three days later Nigel Mumford prayed for me at the Oratory. My hand felt cured and the very next day I went back to the doctor. He took another X-ray and he was amazed — he couldn’t find any breaks. He took five more X-rays. Still nothing. So he took the cast off!”
At the first regular healing service at the New Milford Hospital in February, Mr. Mumford prayed for Mary Ellen Lanigan, 54, of New Milford, a multiple sclerosis victim who was confined to a wheelchair. Her condition, she asserts, had already improved through prayer of friends, family and clergy. Within a week of the healing service, she says, she was able to walk with a cane. ”I thank Nigel. Jesus used him to heal me,” she says.
The Right Rev. Andrew D. Smith, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, says, ”Without question, something significant is happening through Nigel Mumford’s presence and ministry that imparts the healing grace of God.”
The National Council’s Dr. Campbell takes the view that there may be a scientific explanation for what appears to be a miracle. ”Or the curative effect may simply be explained in terms of achieving peace of mind and soul,” she says.
The Rev. J. Richard Fowler, interim pastor of the New Preston Congregational Church, while accepting that miracle cures can occur, says he is dubious about those who ”credit the person who prays, instead of God, for the healing.”
The Rev. Carl Franson, pastor of the United Methodist Church of Sharon, who admits to having had doubts about the Oratory’s mission, came away impressed with the ”lack of hype and the spiritual uplift.”
According to the Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr., executive director of the Christian Conference of Connecticut, a Hartford-based group representing 14 denominations, including the Catholic Church, ”there has been a reawakening by mainline Protestant churches to God’s power to heal the sick, particularly in the context of the AIDS crisis. We encourage prayer services for AIDS victims.”
Mr. Mumford, his voice dropping, says, ”I know as well as anyone that prayer can seem to go unanswered,” adding: ”Through prayer my sister was cured. But her little girl, my niece, has had a malignant brain tumor. But we never give up our faith in prayer.”
In his daily prayers for Oratory supplicants Mr. Mumford admits to occasional ”compassion fatigue” — particularly in cases of the terminally ill or sick children. At these times, he himself seeks healing prayer from others. ”I am only human, too,” he points out.

A Divine Appointment with St. Therese of Lisieux

A Divine Appointment with *St. Thérèse of Lisieux
by the Rev. Nigel Mumford
*Thérèse Martin later to be known as The Little Flower of Jesus. (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897).
“When I die, I will send down a shower of roses from the heavens, I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” Therese de Lisieux
I don’t know about you, but I want to spend my heaven doing good on earth!
For eight years I was the director of a healing ministry in Connecticut called the Oratory of the Little Way. The Oratory is a four acre property with an eight bedroom retreat facility in Gaylordsville, CT in the USA. (www.oratoryhealing.org_).
Living on site for those eight years, I had some interesting experiences with St. Therese. Though I was not brought up venerating saints … except perhaps St. George, the patron saint of England,
As a Boy Scout and later, a Royal Marine Commando; we were called to take part in a church parade on his feast day. It was a time of pomp and pageant, all rather fun actually. But that was the extent of my knowledge of the saints!
The Oratory had been dedicated to St. Therese’s Little Way of Trust and Love. It was built in the 1960s by the Rev. Ben Priest. While living at the Oratory, I often smelt roses and was reminded of her. Funny as it may sound now, I actually felt I was getting to know St. Therese and her little way while I resided there.
Once we called an engineer to the property to check the nearby electric pylons magnetic field. After he had checked it out, the engineer playfully showed us the electrical energy from the microwave and oven; both machines had registered a high response.
I then showed this chap, The Chapel. I don’t recall why, but he actually applied the wand to the wooden statue of St. Therese and we watched in shock as the needle went off the charts. The engineer was visibly shaken. He said that wood could not register such a response … that it was scientifically impossible! He then asked me about God and the Lord and finally gave his life to Christ right then and there! A divine appointment and a bit of a faith lift for me, as well!
I had many encounters with St. Therese, especially during prayers, when her presence was known to me in a deep and pleasant way. As I prayed for the sick and dying, the scent of roses would waft through the air and overtake my senses, providing extra faith in the moment.
I learned that St. Therese had died at the age of twenty-four (24) of a lung disease. Strange to think back on now, as my own lungs have been compromised by 37% since my bout with H1N1 in 2009. But she always seemed to be there to help whenever I needed it.
In 1990, Betty Hannerman, a dear soul who had been healed by the Lord through the ministry at the Oratory, sent me on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It was the trip of a lifetime. I was so blessed visiting all the holy sites where Jesus had walked and performed His miracles.
One evening, while at Tiberius, after spending the day at the Sea of Galilee, our group of about 25 pilgrims met for a daily debrief in the hospice library. Tired, amazed, bewildered, and thoroughly filled with the love of Jesus, I sat taking it all in. “Wow!” I thought to myself, “This is where it all happened!” Everything I learnt in Sunday school is true! As I sat and listened to the discussion of the day my eyes were drawn to the many books behind glass doors all along one wall.
I spied one book, amongst at least a thousand others, that seemed to say to me, “Get me off this shelf, you need to read this!” I wondered whether I had eaten some “St. Paul fish” that was off! It was a black book with a gold embossed title on its spine which I couldn’t make out from where I was sitting. I chose to ignore the voice and listened, instead, to the conversations around me.
At the end of the debriefing, I walked toward the glass shelf where the book was, convinced it was locked. I was stunned when a woman pushed past me, opened the glass door, and to my astonishment, took the very book I had been drawn to. I could not believe it. I wondered whether I should say something…say excuse me…make a fuss? I just stood there silent, in shock. Why had I been drawn to that book, only to have it snatched out of my view in an instant? What to do?
I stared at her passively. She scanned the book, closed it, and handed it to me. Looking me right in the eye, she said, “You have to read this book”. Okay … by now it was getting a bit spooky, but I obediently took the book into my hands and went to my room. I stayed up all night and read the book from cover to cover; finally finding the connection exactly half way through the book.
The next day I asked the front desk if I could keep the book, after explaining this story to them. They graciously consented. The book was entitled, “The Shadow of His Wings” and was the story of a German seminary student named Gereon Karl Goldman who had been studying for the priesthood when WWII broke out. The Nazis demanded that all seminary students become SS officers.
Gereon carried a gun, but didn’t use it. He often brought the Holy Eucharist to the wounded in battle. To become ordained, he actually pointed his weapon at a French bishop and ordered him to ordain him. When he later met with the Pope, his pistol was removed from his person! Gereon asked the Pope to ordain him, but the Pope refused acknowledging that Gereon had already been ordained!
At the end of the war, Fr. Gereon Karl Goldman stopped at a Carmelite convent on his way home from Italy. He knocked at the door, and when a novice peered at him through a small grill in the door, she screamed, and ran away. A while later, Mother Superior came and welcomed him; saying that they had prayed for him throughout the war, and were expecting him!
Half way through this book the story of Therese Martin and the Little Way of St. Therese is told! I was dumbstruck. How on earth did God orchestrate this? Out of all the books on those shelves, He led me to that book! Even the title of the book spoke to me in its reference to Malachi 4:2: “But for you who revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” I spent the next day in a daze…
Before returning to the USA, I visited my sister, Julie Sheldon in England. At breakfast the next day I shared this whole story. My dear brother in law, Tom, without saying a word to me, rose from the table, went to the phone, and booked passage for me to cross the Channel on the auto ferry! Before I knew it, he handed me the keys to his car and sent me on my way to Lisieux!
My pilgrimage was continuing, a direct result of the book, “The Shadow of His Wings.” There I was motoring an English car, all alone, in France. Not exactly a safe idea since the French do not drive on the same side of the road as the British! Somehow I made my way to Lisieux and to the Carmelite convent where St. Therese had lived.
I parked the car and knocked on the door. I imagined how Fr. Gereon Goldman might have felt. How would they receive me? As a matter of a fact, a very stern French nun shouted at me for not booking a cell in advance! She told me that they had just one left and I was welcome but if they hadn’t had that one cell, I would have been sleeping in my car. Of course, this dressing down was given in very broken English! I was led to my cell. Once that nasty nun left me, I fell on my knees in prayer. I spent the next day at Therese Martin’s house, and a huge Basilica perched on a hill overlooking the beautiful, but very French town of Lisieux.
The following day I went to Mass at the convent. Wonderful as it was, I couldn’t understand a word of the homily, said in French that lasted well over an hour. I was anxious to leave myself plenty of time to take the ferry back to England. But when I walked to the car and tried to put the key in the door lock, it would not fit! I tried again and again, but it would not open! So I stopped and prayed.
The Lord said “walk.” So I walked. I walked back to the small chapel where St. Therese had been buried. I now noticed a shrine that I hadn’t seen before. At first, I held onto the metal bars of the gated tomb and said a prayer, the sound of which evaporated in the midst of all the prayers of the other pilgrims. I then sat and prayed, contemplating St. Therese’s hair, on display, from the time she had first cut it to become a nun. A sign was posted that said the saint prays for priests. I wondered if I would ever become one. Suddenly I was alone. The silence became deafening.
I returned to the black metal bars and stared into the tomb again. I was just standing there when it happened…
I felt the presence of the Saint. In the Spirit, I saw her rise and walk toward me. It seemed as though time had stopped. I saw her walk toward me and, then, she walked right through me. Had I just been blessed by St. Therese? It was an astonishing experience. I felt as though I had, had a private audience with her and she had made her presence known to me. She blessed me. I felt filled with the purest love of God. St. Therese of the Christ Child and the Face of Christ had supernaturally moved right through my being.
I just lost it. I sat and wept…and wept. One of the quotes attributed to her reads, “Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.”
Suddenly I remembered I had a ferry to catch and a stubborn car door to unlock. Huh! The key fit the first time I tried it upon my return. The next memory I had was driving onto the ferry. It was as if someone had picked up and moved me from one place to another … car and all! What had just happened?
I made my way back to my sister’s house. A British Anglican blessed by a French Catholic Saint? Really? What just happened? The next day, looking out of the jumbo jet portholes as I winged my way back to the States, I pondered all these things.
The car belonging to my brother in law — the one I had driven to Lisieux, was stolen a few days later. Taken by teenage joy riders who drove so fast that they broke the drive shaft which nearly killed one of the teens when it came into the car. The car then rolled a few times before coming to a rest. There were no serious injuries, but the police arrested all of the youth.
Coming back to the Oratory of the Little Way after such a spiritual adventure was quite strange really. It took me three months to settle down. I had walked where Jesus walked in the Holy Land and had been blessed by a Saint in France! I had a lot to tell dear Betty Hannerman who had gifted that trip to me.
I was so moved by all that had happened … I wrote to the Vatican and requested a first class relic of my beloved St. Therese. A postcard was sent to me, advising that I was going to get one, and it would be blessed by the pope, but it would be forthcoming as the nuns were rather busy. A week later a fragment of St. Therese’s body arrived by mail. The postmistress was fascinated that I had received a package from the Vatican.
Eventually I did become a priest … only by the Grace of God, a couple of dear bishops, and a blessing from St. Therese! Happy to say, that I did not have to put a pistol to any of their heads!
Ask St. Therese for a rose…
“May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.” St. Therese
“May you be content knowing you are a child of God.” St. Therese
I pass this on to you. I pray that you may be blessed as I was by this remarkable saint.
Be well, do good works and for the sake of God love one another
Fr. Nigel+
Information on St. Therese:
Virgin and Doctor of the Church
Born: 2 January 1873 Alençon, France
Died: 30 September 1897 (aged 24) Lisieux, France
Honored in: Roman Catholic Church
Beatified: 29 April 1923 by Pope Pius XI
Canonized: 17 May 1925 by Pope Pius XI
Major shrine: Basilica of St. Thérèse in Lisieux, France
Feast: 1 October. 3 October in General Roman Calendar 1927–1969,
Attribute: Roses
Patronage: Missionaries; France; Russia; AIDS sufferers; florists and gardeners; loss of parents; tuberculosis; the Russicum.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (2 January 1873 – 30 September 1897), or Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, born Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin, was a French Carmelite nun. She is also known as “The Little Flower of Jesus”.
She felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, became a nun and joined two of her elder sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious,

The Book of Life

THE BOOK OF LIFE
“The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before My Father and His angels.” Revelation 3:5
While I was in a coma in October 2009, I saw the Book of Life.
I felt as though I was floating in the atmosphere. Though I could not see the earth, I knew that I had left it! I saw very bright stars. As I looked about, I noticed the faint outline of the Book of Life. Somehow I knew what it was, straight away. It was enormous; it seemed to be six miles high and about one mile wide.
As I stared at it, the bottom right hand corner curled up and, in slow motion, a page turned. I could not see the hand that turned it. The page turned so slowly, it seemed to take forever. I even felt a breeze from its slight motion before it came to a rest. As I looked at each new page that was revealed, I could see tiny lights … millions of small lights. Each light represented a soul who was recorded in the Book of Life. As I studied the pages, I felt I was being introduced to everyone written there … the whole company of heaven!
Now here’s the astounding thing about this … through as sense of divine revelation, I felt that I knew each light! The lights were representative of the names, images, the works, the beings, and the souls of every person written in the Book.
Slowly another page turned; then another and another … millions more lights! As I eyed each of those lights, I somehow knew them to be individuals. I watched page after page … until, after a very long time, they stopped turning.
It was then that the edge of the final page, somehow quietly blended into the night sky. I had seen the Book of Life and all who are recorded in it! It was overwhelming.
Now, whenever I look up at a clear night sky, I get this strange feeling … like I know something. I was given a sneak peak, but I have to say it was a fearful and awesome feeling.
In October 2009, very near my own death; I was getting to know my future neighbors in heaven!
Rest in peace dear souls, until we meet again on “that” day…
Fr. Nigel Mumford+

A Life Changing Moment

A LIFE CHANGING MOMENT
Setting: The Mumford Company, Wilton, Connecticut 1990
Twenty-two (22) years ago a customer entered the picture frame shop, I owned, in CT. She appeared green, in color, and behaved quite disoriented. She didn’t appear to be well at all.
When she had finished her purchase, I came from behind the counter to open the door for her. I stood directly in front of her and asked, “Are you feeling all right?”
She responded, “No, I have a blinding headache and I really don’t feel too good.”
I did not plan what happened next … it was a divine appointment that, in hindsight, was clearly God ordained. As I stood in the way of this woman, I felt my wrists being pulled and guided toward her. I felt my hands being lifted up and I observed them come to a rest when they gently landed on her head! It was like watching someone else do this! I had no idea what was to happen next. I felt like an objective observer, simply noting that someone’s hands were now on this woman’s head.
In the next moment, my entire life changed.
She looked at me, right in the eye, and said, “What did you do? The pain has gone.”
I was astonished. I knew I had done nothing! But those eight words would forever change my life.
I confess to feeling alternating fits of shock as well as a bit of euphoria. On the one hand I was terrified, and on the other, quite excited. Had I just witnessed someone being healed by God? My sister, Julie Sheldon, had been healed, when the Rev. Canon Jim Glennon laid hands on her for healing the year before. I wondered…was this the same thing?
Instantly, full color returned to the woman’s face. She declared that she now felt totally free of pain. She was so happy, she kept thanking me; and I kept insisting I had done nothing! It was a long while before I could comprehend what had happened to me … and to her!
The moment my hands touched that woman’s head, my life changed. Giving God all the glory, today, and always!
Jesus commanded his disciples to, “Preach the Kingdom and heal the sick.”
Luke 9:2
God bless you
Fr. Nigel+

A corner stone quote set in my early years.

What follows is one of my favorite quotes. Every morning at school assembly, between the ages of five and six years old, we repeated these words of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Buried, in the essence of these poetic words, are seeds planted in me at a very young age; they have become an oak tree foundation in my life.
Now, as an adult, I draw upon them as a battle cry of life which pluck the heart strings of Truth within me. I hope these verses, an icon in my own life, also speak to you as they have for decades spoken to me. The words of this saint resound, laid like a cornerstone in my early years, and have kept me tethered to His Truth.
To give, and not to count the cost
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do thy will
― St. Ignatius of Loyola