Blog May 20th Risen! The Musical Flash Mob Coventry May 23rd 2015

In a few days’ time it will be six years since Risen! The Musical premiered at the Coventry Pentecost Festival.
Here is a reminisce of what I wrote back then:
It was an unforgettable day, the cast from the London College of Music were absolutely brilliant, not just in their performance but also for being such a great bunch of people to be with. So, a huge thanks from me to them for everything that made the day so special – the “flash mob” in the Lower Precinct – Jodie managing a great performance even though poorly sick- the impromptu singing of “Jesus is My Lord” in the Marquee, with that pretty much straight after you arrived after a two-and-a-half-hour journey. I will never forget the way that “jaws dropped” when people heard Leah open up the song – they obviously had no idea of how good the cast would be but they certainly found out in those opening few notes! And of course, all the commitment, patience and good humour in rehearsing with such a short time available – oh and I nearly forgot, for helping me drink a few glasses of Prosecco!
Tremendous thanks also for the amazing organisation that took place from the Festival Organisers “Hope for Coventry” – Andrew, Angus, Matthew and of course my great mate Darren. Also to Jo the Manager of Holy Trinity Church’s Prayer House; some parts of this inspiring building were built in the 15th Century and the cast had the privilege of using it for their changing rooms. Just behind us was Coventry Cathedral, which is so impressive with the new building standing side by the side with the original that was bombed in World War Two.
Biggest thanks, however must go to Niamh McGuckin, our brilliant Director who also played Mary Mother of Jesus. With very little time to rehearse she worked tirelessly to ensure that the production was of the highest possible quality. Her humility was also really apparent when she looked so shocked when the cast presented her with a bouquet of flowers in thanks for all her efforts.
So many people said such kind things about Risen! -The Musical but here is a quote from Andrew – one of the organisers:
“Risen! – The Musical” was a wonderful climax to the Coventry Pentecost Festival -we were treated to an uplifting portrayal of the story of Holy Week to Pentecost through amazing songs, word, action and dance by a highly professional team who conveyed the hope of the Gospel very powerfully. We felt truly blessed and privileged to host the premiere of this inspirational musical and everybody I spoke to was blessed by it. We wish you all God’s blessing in the future, and that “Risen!” will bless many thousands of people in the months to come.

Quote of the week

Blog May 13th Beryl Stares


Precious featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album Precious recorded and produced by Ross Gill

I have told this amazing story before I know, but this time it is in memory of dear Rev. Beryl Stares who recently died.
My mum, Audrey Lillian Shearsmith, had attended Chapel as young girl and I knew that she said her prayers without fail every single day. However, in 1997 I still was not sure how she would react to me telling her that I had become a Christian. I therefore showed her a little book from the Alpha course entitled “Why Jesus?” and we had a short chat before she told me to leave it and that she would read it later.

When she was 102 years old and was living in the wonderful Chesterholm Lodge Care Home mum asked me what a Christian was and how you could become one. I simply said that to become a Christian you ask God to forgive you for all the things you have done in your life that have displeased Him and to ask Jesus to come into your life. She then smiled her special smile and pointed to her bag and nodded for me to look in it. And there it was -the “Why Jesus? book that I had given her five years before. I told her that there was a prayer in the book that she could say if you wished to become a Christian. Mum immediately read out the prayer aloud. I was sitting on the bed beside her overjoyed, but at the same time almost not believing what was happening, in fact so much so that I told her that just saying the prayer was not enough she had to really mean it; so, she said it again, but this time with even more meaning in her voice! I noticed, Mandy, one of her Carers who worships at my church was outside mum’s room, so I went out to tell her the good news. “Halleluiah” Mandy cried out before telling me that she was not in the least bit surprised because mum had been talking about Christianity for some time. So, mum became a Christian at the age of almost 103!

A few days before she died in August, 2006, I was with her on my own. She looked at me with so much love, smiled that wonderful smile again and told me that I was precious.
The day after she said “precious” to me I was looking at Psalm 116 and the word “precious” jumped out of the page. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” I read in the concordance that “precious” means, not only highly valued, but also carefully looked after – I can’t tell you how reassuring it was to know that in mum’s last days she was being carefully looked after by God. And she was; all those who were with her will testify to how much at peace she was. She was in no pain whatsoever and was as sharp as always. She left this life in a very gentle and serene way – there is no doubt that she was indeed being carefully looked after and watched over by God.

The day after reading Psalm 116 it was a Sunday and I sat at the back of Holy Rood church with no one on the one seat beside me. Beryl, a retired Curate, came in, which was a bit of a surprise because normally on a Sunday morning she worships at an associate church; coming to Holy Rood for the evening services. Although we are good friends I had not sat with Beryl before, but on that Sunday, she asked if she could sit on that one free seat by my side. She knew that my mum was very unwell from the church notice sheet and when she asked me I told her that mum was, in fact dying.

At the end of the service Beryl told me that she had prayed for my mum and me and that during the service God had given her a picture. She had seen a beautiful meadow in which stood a rock- a rock that had been very “precious” to her friends and family. The rock was also “precious” to God. Beryl saw the earth around the rock become disturbed and God taking this “precious” rock up to heaven to be with Him.

Mum died the very next day.

Beryl led mum’s thanksgiving service.

So, thank you dear Beryl for all that you did for me personally and for all the innumerable people whose lives you so lovingly touched and blessed.

Quote of the week

Blog May 6th Theophilus -The Musical – Demo Reel 1- “Music and Lyrics”

A few of weeks ago I said that Mustard Seed Songs’ current musical project is Theophilus -The Musical.
I have shared one of the songs featured in the Musical – “Amazing Love” sung by Luke and portrayed by West End actor Edward Baker- Duly. Last week I shared Demo Reel 2 which takes still images from Risen! The Musical to give an idea of what Theophilus -The Musical will look like on stage (it is planned to use the same “cross” stage set) This “demo reel” also features the song “He is the Image of the Invisible God” sung by Paul and taken from Colossians 1: 15-17.
This week it is the turn of Demo Reel 1 which features extracts of the music and lyrics.
I hope you enjoy it and agree that we have been blessed with some amazing singers

Quote of the week

Blog April 29th Theophilus -The Musical – Demo Reel 2- “Still Images”

A couple of weeks ago I said that Mustard Seed Songs’ current musical project is Theophilus -The Musical. I also shared one of the songs featured in the Musical – “Amazing Love” sung by Luke and portrayed by West End actor Edward Baker- Duly.
The script is complete and we are now in the process of completing the guide vocals. Our dream is for Theophilus- The Musical to be filmed in a similar way to Risen! – The Musical. To help create interest from Christian TV networks (mainly in the USA) we are producing three “demo reels.” Today’s blog features the second of the three which takes still images from Risen! The Musical to give an idea of what Theophilus -The Musical will look like on stage (it is planned to use the same “cross” stage set) The “demo reel” also features the song “He is the Image of the Invisible God” sung by Paul and taken from Colossians 1: 15-17.
In the forthcoming weeks I will share “demo reel” 1 which is 26 mins long and features extracts of music and lyrics and demo reel 2 which features video extracts.

Quote of the Week – Maya Angelou

Blog April 22nd St George


“Do I Need To Worship”? – featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from the album “His Story” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

So, tomorrow is St George’s Day – so what do we know of the patron saint of England?
I discovered these interesting facts that I thought I would share.
1) St George was not English – he was actually born in the 3rd century AD – more than 2000 miles away in Cappadocia which is modern day Turkey.
2) Although George is often depicted in popular culture as a knight in shining armour, the truth is less fanciful. Whilst St George was depicted from the 11th century as a chivalric knight or a warrior on horseback, it is more likely that he was an officer in the Roman army.
3) Like many saints, St George was described as a martyr after he died for his Christian faith. It is believed that during the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian in the early 4th Century, St George was executed from refusing to make a sacrifice in honour of the pagan gods.
4) Although St George never visited England, his reputation for virtue and holiness spread across Europe and his feast day – the 23rd April – was celebrated in England from the 9th century onwards. He became popular with English kings. Edward I (1272-1307) had banners bearing the emblem of St George (a red cross on a white background) and Edward III (1327-77) had a strong interest in the saint and owned a relic of his blood. The St George cross was not used to represent England until the reign of Henry VIII.
5) The story goes that St George rode into Silene (modern day Libya) to free the city from a dragon who had a taste for humans, but it is a story which post dates the real George by several centuries. Images of George and the dragon survive from the 9th century – 500 years after his death. Originally these may simply have been representations of the battle between good and evil, but the story was developed and popularised in the Middle Ages.
6) St George was canonised in AD 494 by Pope Gelasius, who claimed he was one of those ‘whose names are justly revered among men but whose acts are known only to God.’ A feast day of St George has been celebrated in England for hundreds of years on 23 April, which was possibly the date of his martyrdom.
7) England is not the only country or region that claim George as its patron. England shares St George with Venice, Genoa, Portugal, Ethiopia and Catalonia that have their own celebrations and ceremonies in his honour.
8) During the Middle Ages, people believed that St George was one of the ‘Fourteen Holy Helpers’ – a group of saints who could help during epidemic diseases. St George’s protection was invoked against several nasty diseases, many fatal and with infectious causes, including the Plague and leprosy. From around 1100, St George’s help was also sought to protect the English army. In William Shakespeare’s Henry V, the monarch calls on the saint during his battle cry at the Battle of Harfleur in the famous “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech, crying “God for Harry! England, and St. George!” Five hundred years later – during the First World War – a ghostly apparition of St George is said to have aided British troops during their retreat from Mons, and the naval commander of the Zeebrugge Raid cited the saint as inspiration.
9) The Order of the Garter (founded by Edward 111 in 1348) is the highest order of chivalry in the country and the St George’s cross appears on the Garter badge and his image is the pendant on the chain. In 1940 King George V! created a new award for acts of the greatest heroism or courage in circumstances of extreme danger. The George Cross named after the King bears the image of St George vanquishing the dragon. The image of St George also adorns many of the memorials built to honour those killed during WW1.

Quote of the week

Blog April 15th Pastor Patrick of Risen Christ Central Chapel

It is with deep sadness that I write of the sudden death of Pastor Patrick Okoi. Pastor Patrick was a dear friend who ran the church that Mustard Seed Songs’ built in Southern Nigeria- a church they named after our musical – “The Risen Christ Central Chapel” (R.C.C.C.) Pastor Patrick died of a stroke on Easter Sunday. He leaves a widow, Elizabeth and two adopted children. Elizabeth, who is also a Pastor, will continue the R.C.C.C, ministry.
As part of Pastor Patrick’s legacy, Mustard Seed Songs would like to provide water for the R.C.C.C. At present, even to flush the toilets we built, water has to be brought from the town in buckets. Our vision is for a borehole to be drilled and then a tank installed with piping leading to the R.C.C.C. and adjoining toilets.
If you would like to support us in this vision, please visit
https://justgiving.com/campaign/MustardseedsongsPastorPatrick
Here you can also read Pastor Patrick’s story in full.
Many thanks indeed
Quote of the week
All you need is a mustard seed of faith and nothing is impossible
Taken from Matthew 17:20

Blog April 8th Theophilus The Musical

Last blog I said “Mustard Seed Songs’ first musical was “His Story,” the second “Risen! The Musical” and we are working on our third musical right now- it was originally titled “Acts The Musical” but has recently been retitled “Theophilus-The Musical”…. but more of that next week.”

So here we are this week introducing “Theophilus The Musical” aka “Acts -The Musical.” This musical has been over 5 years in the making – of course fully supported by the amazing skills of our MD, Joffy Girling.

My old mate Darren Bovis-Coulter had designed the fantastic logo and so we are now definitely “Theophilus The Musical” rather than “Acts the Musical” – this is very important as the musical is not just a re-enactment of the Acts of the Apostles but also a journey of faith of Theophilus, with whom we have taken poetic licence, portraying him as symbolic of members of the audience, themselves on journeys of faith.

“Amazing Love,” one of the songs from “Theophilus The Musical,” is featured today, beautifully sung by West End and Broadway actor, Edward Baker- Duly, performing  the part of Luke.

Quote of the week

The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time.

Abraham Lincoln

 

Blog April 2nd Easter 2021

Mustard Seed Songs’ first musical was “His Story,” the second “Risen! The Musical” and we are working on our third musical right now- it was originally titled “Acts The Musical” but has recently been retitled “Theophilus- The Musical”…. but more of that next week.
This Easter I would like to share three Mustard Seed songs from these musicals. Next blog will be a track from “Theophilus- The Musical” but this week it is “The Triumphal Entry featuring the Mustard Seed Soul Band from “His Story” and it can be found at 31 mins and 30 secs on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8BY_j3gQvE The tune to this song was written by Chris Wickland, who was a member of the Band and who is now Pastor at the Living Word Church (see blog January 30th 2020.) Chris kindly allowed me to “borrow” his tune for the lyrics which portray Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what is now called “Palm Sunday.”
“One Day A Crown” is taken from “Risen! The Musical.” It is the second of our videos and has been chosen for Good Friday. The song was originally called “A Crown Today A Cross Tomorrow” and a beautiful performance by Lucy Stimpson- Maynard and Lucy Jane Rutherford can be seen at 39 mins 09 secs, again on the “His Story” YouTube link above
The song “Risen” is the third video and is again from “Risen! The Musical.” It is, of course, to celebrate Easter Sunday.
Quote of the week
Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day were just three days apart.
Anonymous

Blog March 25th Footprints in the Sand


There’s More Than One Way Of Saying I Love You featuring Lucy Stimpson Maynard from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross

Regular readers of this blog will know that I read “Word For Today” every day. Here is another extract from March 23rd – this time focused on the wonderful poem “Footprints in the Sand” I share the whole devotion below:
Consider these timeless words by Margaret Fishback Powers: ‘One night I dreamed…I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord. When the last scene of my life shot before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. There was only one set…I realised that this was at the lowest…times of my life. This always bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma. “Lord, You told me when I decided to follow You, You would walk…with me all the way. But I’m aware that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I just don’t understand why, when I need You most, You leave me.” He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you, never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you!”’
And if you need more reassurance, read these two Scriptures: ‘The Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not’ (Deuteronomy 31:8 KJV). ‘For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me’ (Hebrews 13:5-6 KJV). The word for today is – God is with you.
Quote of the week
Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows but today of its strengths.
Charles Spurgeon
q

Blog March 17th St Patrick


The Gospel of Christ featuring Lucy Jane Rutherford from the album Where Would I Be Without You? recorded and produced by Ross Gill

We have recently had St David’s Day – March 1st, St Georges Day is 23rd April, St Andrew’s Day 30th November and yesterday, March 17th was St Patrick’s Day. I may be wrong, but it does seem to me that it is St Patrick’s Day which is the most enthusiastically celebrated. So, who was St Patrick? Well from the internet I discovered:
St. Patrick was born in Britain—not Ireland—to wealthy parents near the end of the fourth century. He is believed to have died on March 17, around 460 A.D. Although his father was a Christian deacon, it has been suggested that he probably took on the role because of tax incentives and there is no evidence that Patrick came from a particularly religious family.
At the age of 16, Patrick was taken prisoner by a group of Irish raiders who were attacking his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland where he spent six years in captivity. (There is some dispute over where this captivity took place. Although many believe he was taken to live in Mount Slemish in County Antrim, it is more likely that he was held in County Mayo near Killala.)
During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian. (It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.)
After more than six years as a prisoner, Patrick escaped. According to his writing, a voice—which he believed to be God’s—spoke to him in a dream, telling him it was time to leave Ireland. To do so, Patrick walked nearly 200 miles from County Mayo, where it is believed he was held, to the Irish coast. After escaping to Britain, Patrick reported that he experienced a second revelation—an angel in a dream tells him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Soon after, Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than 15 years.
After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission: to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish. (Interestingly, this mission contradicts the widely held notion that Patrick introduced Christianity to Ireland.) Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honouring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross
Legend has it that Patrick stood on an Irish hillside and delivered a sermon that drove the island’s serpents into the sea. While it’s true that the Emerald Isle is mercifully snake-free, chances are that’s been the case throughout human history. Water has surrounded Ireland since the end of the last glacial period, preventing snakes from slithering over; before that, it was blanketed in ice and too chilly for the cold-blooded creatures. Scholars believe the snake story is an allegory for St. Patrick’s eradication of pagan ideology.
Another legend credits Patrick with teaching the Irish about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity by showing people the shamrock, a three-leafed plant, using it to illustrate the Christian teaching of three persons in one God. This story first appears in writing in 1726, though it may be older. The shamrock has since become a central symbol for Saint Patrick’s Day.
Quote of the week
You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read.
John MacArthur