I first met Roy Gregory many years ago as a fellow member of the ‘Soul Space’ team offering spiritual direction at Greenbelt. We got on well from the off, despite supporting rival football teams, and our friendship has blossomed over the intervening years. It was Roy who one day at Greenbelt was kind enough to tell me that he thought it was a pity that ‘Approaches to Prayer’, a book I’d helped put together, was now out of print. ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to make it available on-line?’ he asked. I thought that was a lovely idea but I had neither the time or the skill to make that possible, and couldn’t see how it might be achieved. ‘Leave it with me’ said Roy.
As well as being the leader of a lively free evangelical church in St Albans, Roy also lectured in engineering at Hatfield University, where he had a friend who was skilled in web design. This friend said that he’d willingly put the book online and said what he would charge to do so. When Roy relayed this back to me I said that I couldn’t afford that. Roy went back to his friend, who was an atheist, and told him what I’d said, and was stunned to hear his friend say that his wife, a Christian, had told him that as the book was about prayer, he ought to do the work for nothing, and so he would. Cheekily I then asked if he might be willing to create an Annunciation Trust web-site, which would include the book, but would also allow us to put other things on it as well? Again, he agreed, and that is how this web-site came to be.
Roy became a much loved and valued member of the group of us who work under the umbrella of The Annunciation Trust and looked after the web-site once it was up and running, and so our friendship continued on after we had each left Soul Space. Five years ago Roy suffered a stroke, and lost the use of his left side, but with the devoted care of Christine his wife, their family and friends, and a range of skilled professionals, he has learnt to adapt and manage pretty well, although mostly confined to a wheel-chair. When I’m down in London from Worcestershire where we live, I go and visit him and Christine and we continue the stimulating conversations we began together many years ago.
All of this is by way of a very long preamble to a letter I received today, dictated by Roy and written by Christine, enclosing a ‘Christmas Reflection’ that Roy was ‘given’ this Christmas, and which with his permission I’d like to share with you here:
God sent down His Angels to Earth
To show how much His creatures are worth.
He came to them and shook them to the core
And changed their life for evermore.
All sorts of people in the midst of life,
Shepherds and kings and a carpenter’s wife.
The Angel said to Mary
“I am sorry this is scary”
You will have a baby one day
In a very different way”.
Mary was humbly obedient
Although it was inconvenient.
The shepherds saw Angels in the sky
It changed them in a blink of an eye.
Of this they had no choosing
Unkind friends said they’d been boozing.
The star led the kings and they were able
To find the Baby in the stable.
In awe they put aside their self-promotion
And fell on their knees in humble devotion.
These events people know they cannot prove
By faith they can see God was on the move.