On reflection, it seemed as if Hertford didn't want what we were carrying...maybe rightly! Our peace had fled, we were frazzled and for the first time ever, my feet didn't want to walk, they wanted to be up somewhere, resting! Not a good start. But God was faithful as we prayed for help - our words were for us to find each other and for Holy Spirit to find a resting place - he answered...more about that later!
It was warm but we had a relaxed walk alongside daisy-filled hedgerows and under beautiful trees, stopping for water every now and then. Walking the full eight miles and arriving in Hertford to find a secret garden just for us in a pub called The Black Horse was wonderful. Even more exciting, as we wound our way around the Hertford ring road, we found, sitting in the gateway to the town, right beside the Castle, a Kingdom work called Future + Hope.
That night we stayed with Sarah in her beautiful house in Wheathampstead. A delicious meal followed by Britain's Got Talent and great conversation with her husband, Tim, made it a relaxed evening. The next morning I awoke to the rooster at six o'clock followed by a run down the garden with Sarah to let the chickens out...my idea of heaven!
Breakfast with homemade marmalade and boiled eggs was followed by an extended time of soaking in his presence. During this time with the Lord, he highlighted a contention in Hertford between control and intimacy. Linda felt God was calling people across the river at "Heart-ford", away from control into the place of deep intimacy. As we walked Havering, Ann had had a vision of a huge man writhing in mud, struggling to get free. This time she saw many little men released by his freedom. Is this the church getting free and releasing others? She also felt God was speaking to Hertford out of Isaiah 52.1-8:
1 Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again.
2 Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
Daughter Zion, now a captive.
3 For this is what the LORD says: You were sold for nothing,
and without money you will be redeemed.”
4 For this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
“At first my people went down to Egypt to live; lately, Assyria has oppressed them.
5 “And now what do I have here?” declares the LORD.
“For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock,"
declares the LORD. “And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed.
6 Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know
that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”
7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy.
When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes
Hertford is where the English church was first divided into Roman-style dioceses so what happens there could manifest hierarchy and organisation to a national level. The following explains why.
Hertford was where the first national church synod in 673 was held after the Synod of Whitby. It was led by Archbishop Theodore of Tarsus who created a network of dioceses in the Roman style. This is what happened...it is well known that in 663, a council was called to settle the Celtic/Roman church dispute - the Synod of Whitby. The Whitby Synod decided in favour of the Roman way of doing things. Soon after, the Archbishop of Canterbury died, and the English elected a successor, Wighard, and sent him to Rome to be consecrated by the Pope. Wighard died in Rome before he could be consecrated, and the Pope (Vitalian) took it upon himself to choose a man to fill the vacancy. He consecrated Theodore of Tarsus (the native city of the Apostle Paul), a learned monk (not a priest) from the East then living in Rome, who was 65 years old. However, although a surprising choice, Theodore was (as Bede put it in his Ecclesiastical History) "the first archbishop whom all the English obeyed."
Having made a tour of his charge, Theodore filled the vacant bishoprics and, ten years after Whitby, in 672/3, presided over the first council of the entire English Church at Hertford. He established definite territorial boundaries for the various dioceses and founded new ones. He found the Church of England an unorganized missionary body and left it a fully ordered province of the universal Church. The body of canon law drawn up under his supervision,and his structure of dioceses and parishes, survived the turmoil of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and are substantially intact today. (Paraphrased from http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/250.html)
As our call is for deep intimacy with Jesus and into our destiny as sons and daughters of the Father we were not surprised at Hertford's resistance. While we prayed, Sarah had a vision of a fear-filled foot soldier stationed at the castle. Our mandate was to go there and tell him that the war has been won (by Jesus) and he can go home to his wife and family and enjoy the fruits of his labours. We felt the soldier represented the church in the town and we were to say that "the voice of Love has taken away Fear."