Hello and welcome to Day 43 of Pray for Ryde. My name is Reverend Kerry Birch and I am the minister of Ryde Baptist Church. Today our theme is Trains.
One of my most treasured possessions is a small book which I was given by my grandfather in 1966 and into which I carefully copied my 3 year old name on the fly leaf, echoing the signature of the author, The Rev W Awdry, on the title page. Awdry’s railway books reflect their immediate post-war era, up to the time of their deliberate destruction. I was one month old when Beeching published his hasty report, and I remember as a young boy traveling on some of the last steam trains into Weymouth, a journey we took regularly, before they were replaced by the dreaded diesels well before 1967.
Coming to the Isle of Wight in more recent years conjures up memories of the fast-fading past, with its post-Beeching depleted rail network; but with an amazing heritage line and preserved collection run out of Havenstreet by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and the commercial line from Ryde Pier Head to Sandown run as Island Line by South Western Railways using heritage 1938 underground stock, which itself survived wartime service, and is due to be replaced by 1978 stock once the delayed renewal programme recommences.
Whether on the Island or on the mainland, Trains remain a vital part of communication and transport for so many of us, potentially providing fast links from Portsmouth into London or to the West Country and beyond into Wales, and many other places. Children growing up haven’t really lived unless they have been on a train; for business and cultural activity users, trains are a necessary means of maintaining and developing our quality of life. For work or for fun, we need our trains.
The Bible being way pre-Industrial Revolution there aren’t many references in it to trains, yet the idea is there. Traveling and trading across the deserts of the Middle East required camels and beasts of burden, that followed each other nose to tail along well-worn tracks. In 1 Kings 10 we read about the Queen of Sheba’s journey to visit King Solomon: ‘And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones.’ The modern train, with carriages joined nose to tail like camels, is the direct successor of this great tradition. So let us pray…
Dear Lord, we bring before you today all who work with and travel on Trains, both for business and for pleasure, commercial and heritage. We pray for the drivers, the guards, the ticket sellers and those who work in the office, for managers and trustees, for volunteers and employees, for those in engineering, on rolling stock or track, in maintenance and in keeping the Trains safe and running on time; for those who travel, going to work or for education, for leisure, pleasure or for seeing family or friends. We thank you for the rails which form an artery for the life-blood of connection and communication that our Trains bring to our community. We pray for those who make decisions, that they be the right ones, and for those who control the purse strings, that investment might be generous as it deserves. We thank you for our Trains and for the people they serve, praying all this in the name of Jesus who came himself not to be served but to give his life in service. Amen.
Please join us this evening at 7pm for our daily Zoom prayer meeting: