Gisburn Church: Advent, Bugs & Resurrection

I called at Gisburn Parish Church this month. I wished to inspect the pillars to see what evidence there was of stabling horses there during Cromwell’s army’s visit in the August of ’48. While there, I mooched about, admiring the features and inspecting the monuments. As it was Advent, the four candles Anglicans are pleased to display and incrementally light were there at the front. A pleasant display of evergreen foliage was at the candles’ base, and it looked great. Yet there were things moving on those leaves and candles. For a moment it resembled the set of a horror film, with insects crawling about, emerging from every hole and orifice. The more I looked, the more bugs I saw.

I soon identified them as ladybirds, my momentary panic over. I counted over two dozen, and I watched them march up and down the candles, leaves and stems. I presume they had been hibernating on those plants when someone cut them down, or that they were already in the church sleeping when some heated Sunday services awoke them, and they flew to the greenery in search of food. Sadly for them, the long winter is far from over and those clipped plants are unlikely to have many aphids upon them.

Although it is perfectly understandable, it is neither helpful nor wise for hibernating ladybirds to awaken too soon. Neither so with people. My late mother, a self-confessed pagan, informed me some years ago that she would come to visit me as a ghost when she died. She has not. The Bible is clear that people die and are then appointed to await judgement; hades will part with its denizens at the sounding of the final trumpet and not before. Dormant bugs appear before their due time, departed humans do not.

On the resurrection morning
Soul and body meet again;
No more sorrow, no more weeping,
No more pain.

Here awhile they must be parted,
And the flesh its sabbath keep,
Waiting in a holy stillness,
Wrapt in sleep.

For a space that tired body
Lies with feet toward the dawn;
Till there breaks the last and brightest
Easter morn.

But the soul in contemplation
Utters earnest prayers and strong;
Breaking at the resurrection
Into song.

Soul and body reunited,
Thenceforth nothing will divide,
Waking up in Christ's own likeness,

Oh, the beauty, oh, the gladness
Of that resurrection-day!
Which shall not through endless ages,
Pass away!

On that happy Easter morning
All the graves their dead restore,
Father, sister, child and mother,
Meet once more.

To that brightest of all meetings,
Bring us, Jesus Christ, at last;
To Thy cross, through death and judgment,
Holding fast.

Sabine Baring-Gould