The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Those Holy Fields *
by the Rev. C.H. Chase
Being Sunday Evening Thoughts for Our Children Concerning
"Those holy fields,
* [Having had the great happiness of a ride through the Holy Land, I write these short papers with the hope that they may make some dear children happier on Sunday evenings, and help them to picture more perfectly the scenes of Holy Scripture.]
XVIII. "THE VIRGIN'S FOUNTAIN."
[The tradition of the Greek Church is that Mary heard the message from the Angel at the Fountain.]
"The Lord is with thee, fear not." St. Luke i. 28 and 30.
It is sundown at Nazareth. A busy scene indeed. Here they come from all parts of the village: mothers, maidens, children, each with her pitcher for a draught of that pure clear water from the Virgin's Fountain. What a picture it makes; the bright dresses, the arched stone fountain, the fifteen hills around, the white dwellings, the old Greek church hard by, the deep blue sky, the grey green olives, the cactus hedges.
As we stand and watch that lovely maiden with her dark hair, her brown eyes, her rosy lips showing the beautiful white teeth, we go back in thought nearly nineteen hundred years. It is eventide at this same fountain. A peasant maiden comes with her pitcher, her name is Mary, some rough village folk put her on one side. She is patient, she is gentle, she humbly waits while others fill their tall red jars, and then as she bends down to lift up her pitcher to her head, she sees a stranger; beautiful, very beautiful; she hears a voice which sounds like Heavenly music; "Hail thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou--fear not;" and the Angel Messenger is gone.
Home to her mother runs the wondering maid, and from the lips of the good St. Anne learns the meaning of a salutation, strange in her ears. All generations shall call her blessed. Yea, and she is blessed. But, blessed, too, may you be, dear child, if you learn as Mary did, gentleness, humility, and simple trust.
Oh, that I could look into those clear blue eyes which read this page, and see in them the mirror of a soul pure within. Oh, that I could see those bright rosy lips which now move as they read these very words, and know they never speak a cross, unkindly or hasty word.
Oh, that I could whisper in that little ear of yours as the Angel did to Mary--"The Lord is with thee--fear not."
You will not be afraid, will you? Not afraid of wicked men, or wicked spirits, or wicked thoughts--not afraid of darkness or of storm? You will say it to yourself again and again, "Fear not," "fear not," the Lord is with me--I will fear no evil--then peace God's own holy peace will deep your heart.
"Mine eyes are watching by thy bed,
XIX. THE CARPENTER'S SHOP.
"Is not this the Carpenter?" St. Mark, vi. 7.
After leaving the Virgin's Fountain, our guide leads us along the narrow streets of Nazareth, until we reach an open shop door, just within stands the village carpenter, plane in hand--near him is a half-finished cradle; on the wall are saws, awls, and other tools. The ground is covered with chips and shavings, we pick up some to be kept for the eyes of little people at home; for is not the Carpenter's Shop at Nazareth a place full of sacred memories?
We next follow our guide to a small dimly lighted church, said to be built on the very spot where the Old Carpenter's shop stood when Joseph was the carpenter, and the boy Jesus helped him at his trade. Over the altar of this church is a truly natural picture; Mary, the Blessed Mother, is seated with her distaff, Joseph is standing near with a carpenter's tool in his hand, and the Holy Child Jesus, with a face which tells of love and obedience, with an open scroll, is about to ask a question.
The carpenter's shop, the picture of Jesus; both set us thinking; and we ask ourselves the question; "Is not this the Carpenter? He who was very God of very God? He who worked miracles?" It was a poor beginning, as man measures for Him, to spend so many years at a carpenter's bench.
Does some dear child who reads this despise and look down upon others who are poor or in a humble position, and feel ashamed to be seen in their company? Remember God has set a special honour upon poverty, and the carpenter at Nazareth has made sacred the cottager's home.
Learn to treat all with respect, and gentle, kindly courtesy.
No real lady or gentleman ever despises or looks down on others. Many a gentle man is found in working man's dress, and many a noble man works at a carpenter's bench.
"He came down to earth from Heaven,
"And, through all His wondrous childhood,
XX. THE OLD SYNAGOGUE.
"As His custom was He went into the Synagogue." St. Luke iv. 16.
Here is indeed an old building, these columns at its entrance look as if they might be almost any age. The building is now a Christian Church; but it is on the site, and possibly built with some of the very stones; of that Synagogue to which Jesus so often went, and where, when a man, He stood up to read.
"You know what a Synagogue is. It is a Jewish place of worship." [From "Life and Words of Christ," by Geikie.]
The Synagogue was arranged, as far as possible, after the plan of the old Tabernacle. The space inside was not seated but was for the general congregation. A little beyond the middle was a raised platform. Here the reader stood to offer prayer, or read the lessons from the holy writings. In the wall at the farther end was a recess, before which hung a veil or curtain. In a box or ark was kept the Sacred Rolls, wrapped in several covers of linen and silk, the outer richly worked with gold and silver thread. Before the veil hung a lamp, and beside it a seven branched candlestick. Rabbis and elders sat on raised cushions in the chief seats near the veil, facing the people.
The men came in to worship in their long flowing robes, with turban of various colours, some simple, some costly--with fringes to their garments; and every man, and every boy over thirteen years, would wear the phylacteries (the little leathern boxes containing texts on parchment) on arm and forehead. Deep was the reverence in the heart of every Nazarene, for this, his house of prayer. Intense was the longing in many hearts for the coming of their Messiah, as they worshipped with their faces towards Jerusalem.
Jesus went, as His custom was, into the Synagogue, for He loved to worship His Father there, but little did His fellow-villagers know that He was their Messiah, who stood among them.
Do you love God's house, dear child? Are you very reverent as you draw near to worship your Father there? Do you really pray from your young heart as Jesus did? Do you like to hear the Old World stories of Hebrew heroes as Jesus did? Do you praise in Psalm as Jesus did?
You say, I find it so hard to be attentive. I cannot understand when the minister stands up to read or speak. I must be very unlike what Jesus was. Dear child, if the loving heart is there, He knows it; if you want to worship Him, He knows it. Cultivate a reverent praiseful spirit, and you will grow to love His house and be glad and rejoice in Him.
"We love the place, O God,
"It is the house of prayer,
XXI. THE NAZARETH CHILDREN'S MESSAGE.
"Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." Rev. iii. 11.
In St. Luke's Gospel we read that the Nazareth people took Jesus to the brow of the hill, and tried to cast him down, because they were angry at the words He spoke in their Synagogue.
On that very spot, so it is said, now stands the Nazareth Orphanage. Here some seventy little girls learn to sing the praise of the Holy Jesus.
On a bright Sunday afternoon we visited this home of love. Sweetly did the children sing their own favourite hymn: "We are little Nazareth children." Eagerly do they listen to a message from some English school girls.
"Shall I carry back a message from you?" I asked.
Every eye sparkles, every hand is put out, every face says plainly, "Oh, yes!"
"Well, but how can I take seventy messages?" Then comes a happy thought. "The youngest child, and the eldest, shall send a message." So here they are. The message from the little lame girl, the last in the bottom row of the gallery:
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
The message from the eldest girl, the one nearest the wall in the top row:
"Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."
The messages have been carried across the sea, and you, dear child, now receive them.
A Nazareth maiden and you are thus linked together--you will never see her face on earth. I trust you will see her in the King's own country.
Then she will, perhaps, ask: "Did you have my message--'Hold fast?'"
Whatever you do, hold fast by God. Whatever happens, cling to Him. Say it over and over again. He is, he must be, he ever will be, my Father.
Hold fast the Faith. "The faith once delivered to the saints."
The Creed is like an old military flag; be proud of it, thankful for it, fight for it.
Some have died to defend the Faith; do you hold it fast, say I do believe, I will believe. Some are like reeds by the waterside, blown about by every false doctrine and false teacher. Never mind what others do; as for you, be firm.
Hold fast right doing.
Right doing follows right thinking, just as wrong doing follows wrong thinking. When other children older than you try to persuade you to do wrong say, "No; I will hold fast to the right." Then no man shall take thy crown, for
"A crown He will bestow
Nazareth children and English children will swell the triumph of the King, all crowns will be laid at His feet, the feet of the all glorious Jesus of Nazareth.
HYMN OF THE NAZARETH CHILDREN
"We are little Nazareth children,
"For the Lord, who loves the children,
"Cares that they should keep in memory
"And we know that He is coming,
"Jesus, Saviour, dwell within us,
XXII. THE GREAT BATTLE FIELD.
"The battle is the Lord's." I Sam. xvii. 47.
On Sunday evening, just before sunset, we ascend the hill above Nazareth--holy is every step of those green slopes.
The Fountain of the Virgin, Joseph's workshop, the Synagogue, these are all changed: but the everlasting hills are the very same which the sacred feet of Jesus so often trod.
The view as it is spread before us to-night is the one He over and over again gazed upon.
There to the west lie the blue Mediterranean, Carmel, the scene of Elijah's sacrifice, and Kishon, the brook where Baal's prophets were slain. To the north we can still see Hermon, with its snow cap; the Horns of Hattim, and the village of Cana.
To the east rises Tabor, a curious rounded hill, covered with stunted olive trees.
To the south stretches the great plain of Esdraelon or Jezreel, the battle-field of Hebrew history. In its center is "the little hill," "the lesser Hermon," as it is now called. Round its base cluster the three villages, Nain and Endor on its north side, Shunem on its south. While away over the plain, now one vast corn-field, are the hills of Gilboa and the site of Jezreel, Ahab's city.
Full indeed of Bible story is almost every spot which is visible. How the boy Jesus must have loved to stand where we now stand, and picture the days of His forefathers, and those battles which made His own Israel a people mighty and renowned.
Were not those battles the Lord's? Was it not Jehovah who fought for Israel? The sun is about to sink, but before it is lost to sight, it lights up with glorious crimson glow the western sky, while opal patches here and there are like windows in Heaven.
The place, the association, the sunset, all speak to us of Hope. Is not life, your life and mine, dear child, a battle-field? Are we not soldiers pledged to fight?
The battle is the Lord's.
"To-day the noise of battle,
Victory is ours if we persevere; if we look to our Captain's power. Never mind what odds are against us.
Could anything seem more hopeless than Israel's condition when the women were afraid even to draw water, when the villages were almost deserted, when the travellers crept by byways? Then God arose and delivered Israel. Do you sometimes find all things against you? Right doing very hard? Temptations very strong? Cry out to Him, your Mighty Champion, and He will come to you, for the battle is His.
"Thine, O Lord, is the Power and the Glory and the Victory."
"Strong in the Lord of hosts,
"Stand then in His great might,
"That, having all things done,
Proofread by LNL, Sept. 2023
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