So, DOWNTON Abbey is nearing the close of its second series during which the viewers have witnessed the desperate desire to find a suitable husband for Lady Mary and keep the estate within the family.
All the while, her sisters break with convention as Lord and Lady Grantham try desperately to hold everything together and Grandma–ma gets all the best lines, producing facial expressions that could sink a thousand ships.
Recently, I came across the story of a family who were raised in similar circumstances in the great house at Spetchley Park which was the home of the Berkeley family for over 400 years.
Like the Granthams of ‘Downton’ there were picnics, boating and skating on the lake in winter, large grounds for the children to explore and of course many servants. The part of the story which interested me most was about the seventh child in a family of 12, a daughter called Agnes Mary Philomena Berkeley.
Agnes left the life of privilege behind her in 1882 and spent the next 60 years working amongst the poorest people in China caring for orphaned children at a hospital in Jiujiang in the Jiangxi Province and latterly working on the Island of Zhoushan where she died in 1944. Agnes, a devout Christian, left little by way of writing of her experiences. Her story has been gathered together by people who knew her and experienced at first hand the love and care that she offered in service to God. What she did leave were words of faith, some of which I pass on as this week’s “Thought for the Week”
“Trust in God alone and if you fail, humble yourself; tell him you can do nothing without him, then start bravely afresh”
“Be peaceful; otherwise it is a sure sign that there is more than self rather than God in the matter”
“See the will of God in each circumstance and action of the day. Do each one to please him alone; never be so weak as to mind what people think – do your best and leave the result to God; never give way to discouragement”
Rev Graeme B. Bruce
Knox’s UF Church