Christian Comment with Peter Farley, Minchinhampton Baptist Church
DO YOU know the old hymn Rock of Ages, Cleft For Me written by the West Country poet AM Toplady some 250 years ago? It contains the memorable lines: Nothing in my hand I bring: Simply to thy cross I cling.
It may sound a bit old-fashioned these days but it can't be bettered as a summary of the Christian faith.
Putting our trust in the cross of Christ, and in that alone, is what gives us hope and purpose.
My mother passed away earlier this year, aged 97. She had led an active and varied life until, in her last few years, she had become progressively housebound and frail.
She died peacefully on May 4 with her family at her hospital bedside.
A sincere Christian, she had been visited in hospital by a woman from her parish church who had taken communion to her and had given her a small wooden cross to hold.
And hold it is just what she did. For the last 10 days of her life, it never left her hand. Under the blankets, she was doggedly clutching that small cross.
Somehow, as her mental faculties ebbed away, her faith was demonstrated less by what she said than by what she did: she simply held on to the cross.
Perhaps she had remembered Toplady's words, because she was literally "clinging to the cross".
And so she passed away peacefully. And I have no doubt that she is now enjoying the peace of Heaven, reunited with those who have gone before.
My mum's last days are a challenge to all of us. We need to cling to the cross, because the cross is what gives us hope.
A focus in this world and a hope for the next world. A reminder that God has actually stepped into history to demonstrate his love for us.
Rest in peace, mum: you have set us a good example.