January '21 Sunrises

 

'WYSIWYG' - 30/01/21

Working from home during this last year has been an interesting experience. Lots of people are having to juggle between their job, their family or their pets. I have been in conference calls discussing a topic and then someone’s dog starts barking or the children come into the room and starting asking Mum or Dad about something. You may have seen some of the times it’s happened on TV news shows with an interview in mid-flow then you see the door open behind them. Then carefully watching the top of a head moving around behind the guest, with the other parent trying to encourage the child out of the room so as not to interrupt the interview.

The best interruption I have heard so far has been when a colleague yelped and then declaring that his tortoise had just bitten his toe!!

 

It has been interesting dealing with colleagues much more as people, accepting the interruptions and letting them sort out whatever issue has happened. Hearing the change of voice as someone speaks as a parent and then returns to a meeting to become the project manager. My own kids have commented that I have a work “voice” when they overhear me in a meeting.

 

It reminds me that whilst we have different roles to be in our lives and we may do them differently, we should also be consistent in how we deal with people. I recall many years ago, a version of Microsoft Office came with something called “WYSIWYG”, What You See Is What You Get.

It is sometimes said that Scousers often behave that way!

It is important how we treat other people and that we should be honest in how we deal with them, just as we would want them to be honest in how they deal with us.

 

This is how Jesus was talking to the disciples about how to behave, in Matthew 7v12 

'Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behaviour: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. 

Lets treat others with the love and respect that we would want to receive, this will also encourage others to behave in the same way.'

'Sandcastles' - 29/01/21

During the first lockdown; or was it the second? Maybe it was the third… I’ve lost count of where we are up to. Anyway… during one of the lockdowns, when the weather was better than it is now, I spent some time at the beach with two of my grandchildren.

As well as searching for pretty shells and feathers, splashing in the waves and trying to catch the tiny fish that inhabit the small pools left behind by the outgoing tide, we built sandcastles.

Depending upon which grandchild was involved in the construction, the castles varied in design from huge mounds of sand that could be stamped upon and inhabited by a two-year-old, or grand turreted princess castles with moats and towers suitable for the imagination of a five-year-old. The shells and feathers previously collected were used to decorate whatever was built and the castle was bid a fond farewell at the end of the day when the time came to return home.

Of course, if we chose to return to the beach the next day, what was left of the sandcastle resembled something overrun by the barbarian hordes. No matter the fortifications, the waters of the Irish Sea had rendered our previous day’s work useless.

It reminded me that every day is a new day. Every day we start again. Every day, God wakes us up and offers us the chance to build a new sandcastle.

The sandcastle is of course figurative. Most of us don’t get the chance to build sandcastles, but we do get the chance to build something with every new day. The most important thing we can build is a relationship. That relationship may be an existing one that needs constant care and attention, or we may be blessed with the chance to create a new one with somebody we have just met.

Either way, God presents us with the opportunity. Just like He daily provided manna from heaven to sustain the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness, He provides us with what we need on a daily basis.

The provision of manna was not simply a much needed sustenance, it was a reminder that God is our provider. It was a reminder that God wants a relationship with us, every day. A reminder that the first relationship we need to cultivate is the one we have with God. Jesus himself always made time to be with His father, “After sending the disciples home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray”. We too need to take a little quiet time to maintain our relationship with God, “Be still, and know that I am God”. By taking that step to know Him better, He will refresh us and remind us that He has all things in His control, “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”.

Positive Peace - 28/01/21

“But as long as we think positively, I’m sure a solution will appear”.

Jonas Jonasson, The Hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared.

This book is the story of a man called Jonas Jonasson. He has led a colourful life, but at one hundred, finds himself in a nursing home. He decides not to stay, but to climb out of the window, get on a bus and travel as far as he can with the small amount of money he has, and have adventures.

This story is about a very optimistic person who refuses to accept what society believes 100 year old men should be doing. He wants to experience life as an adventure. Jonas refusal to worry about things gave him a carefree freedom to really enjoy his experiences and have some amazing ones!

Its very hard to imagine a life without worry isn’t it. The world is very good at telling us all the things we should worry about. Coronavirus has given us a whole new set of fears and things to be concerned about. And it is of course right and proper to consider everything carefully and do everything appropriate to keep ourselves and others safe. 

God knows that we worry. He knows when we are afraid, and he deeply cares for us. We know that he doesn’t want us to worry, because he repeats this message over and over again in the bible. Words like ‘do not fear’, ‘don’t be afraid’ and ‘do not worry’ appear 365 times in the bible. One reminder for every day of the year.

One of these verses is  Philippians4:6-7

'Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.'

God’s alternative to worry is to talk to Him about it. God loves it when we talk to Him. He is there for us at any time, day or night, When we give our worries over to God, He replaces the worry with His love and peace and the knowledge, that whatever the challenge, He is with us, and He has overcome the world.

Whilst we might not be climbing out of nursing home windows today, whatever adventures we face, remember we don’t have to do this alone, God is there, just talk to Him.

'I Don't Understand Physics' - 27/01/21

‘Oh Lord my God,

When I in awesome wonder

Consider all the works

Thy hands hath made.

I see the stars

I hear the rolling thunder

Thy power throughout the universe displayed’

My office at present, is my windowsill in my bedroom. My chicks are dotted around the house either working or studying. All looking at screens and listening to remote voices. Each day, when I’m not going out to the shops or to deliver something, I retreat to my bedroom, sitting at the end of my bed, to make my phone calls, write, plan, prepare and anything else my work requires. Earlier yesterday afternoon, there I was deep in thought when one of my chicks appeared at the door. ‘Mum, do you want to know how 3D glasses work?’ ‘Er, no’, was my reply. She walked over to my bed and settled herself down. I knew then I was about to receive a physics lesson. I tried hard to concentrate on what I was doing, all the while very aware that she was still there and wasn’t moving until I agreed to listen to her. ‘Ok, tell me how 3D glasses work!’ She smiled and instantly became animated, ‘So!....’ And off we went. I listened intently, trying hard to understand what she was explaining to me, but what struck me the most was the sheer delight she displayed in the subject. She was fascinated, and fascinating! I’m not a scientist. Give me people and words and music and art. Ask me for ideas and thoughts! But don’t ask me about the Periodic Table or how sound and light waves work! 

But! That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate how incredible science is. How every day of our lives we are surrounded by and blessed by ‘science’! The medicines we take. The satellites that provide us with instant communication. The cars we drive. The trees and plants growing all around us, just doing their thing! The Animal Kingdom! The vaccine recently created to fight off our invisible enemy. Our solar system!! And these incredible, complex ‘machines’ called ‘the human body’. Every person created with gifts and skills and value. Whether you call it biology, physics, chemistry, science, nature or something else, our world is absolutely incredible!! 

The Bible is full of people expressing their awe of creation, David wrote,

‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’.

Below is a link to a very beautiful song, here performed by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. 

Maybe take a few moments out of your day to recall the wonders of space, the beauty of our world, the gifts each person is blessed with and then say with immense gratitude, ‘My God, how great thou art’. 

https://youtu.be/QOoTueC1cow

'Prince or Pauper?' - 26/01/21

How can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favour some people over others?

James Ch2 v1

A few years ago, the following story went viral on social media:

Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced to as the head pastor that morning.  He walked around his soon-to-be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for the service.  Only 3 people said hello to him.  He went into the sanctuary to sit down at the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit at the back.  He greeted people only to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.

He sat at the back of the church, listening to the notices and then the church elders got up to excitedly announce the arrival of the new pastor – the congregation looked around and clapped with joy and anticipation and then the homeless man sitting at the back began to walk down the aisle.  The clapping faded as they stared in shock as the man they had snubbed now took the microphone and quoted from Matthew 25: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me …. Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

This event didn’t actually happen, it was just a story, a kind of modern day parable that was written by someone who wanted to express how he had felt shunned and ignored when visiting churches.  The story spread quickly and people began to share how it resonated with their own experience or how it had caused them to re-evaluate their own behaviour and prejudices.

We are all guilty at times of making a judgement based on how someone may look.  It might be how they dress and present themselves or it could be based on their gender, sexuality or colour.  But in God’s eyes we are all equal with no one favoured above anyone else.  God has given us the very simple but challenging instruction to “love your neighbour as yourself”.

We are part of a wonderfully warm and welcoming community but our love must be expressed not just within our community but also outside of it.  Who might your ‘neighbour’ be today?  As we come into contact with those around us, let’s not just see with our own eyes, but go beyond that and see them through the loving eyes of our father God who shows no favouritism.

'Thanks For The Memory' - 25/01/21

There are many ways my computer annoys me; it’s dozy, it switches off in the middle of my work, I delete my unwanted emails and next day they’re all back again, and many other aggravations. This monster appears to have a mind of its own and insists on doing its own thing. But there is one activity that it performs unprompted that I usually appreciate. It sends me a message that tells me it has found some photos taken x years ago this week. It doesn’t matter how busy I am, I have to take a look. A family day out in January 2016; wow, all my grandkids as they were five years ago! There’s the car before I dented it, and there a picture of Louis seven years ago in someone’s arms; that doesn’t happen now, nobody can pick him up. And I smile and thank God (and Google) for the memory. It can be quite emotional as you look back, and sometimes you wish that the photos had been taken last week. Then up comes a picture that stops you in your tracks because it’s both lovely and sad. It’s an image of someone or something that’s not around anymore; a person who was close to you and you wish they still were, or a favourite pet who gave the impression that it loved you more than any human did. Just in that moment you have mixed feelings about Google. 

 

Memories can be very powerful and we find it easy to thank God for our happy days and the possibility that we can repeat them when Covid is defeated. But some happy days can never come back. For Christians it’s possible to thank God that the event happened and that we have the memory, but we can also thank God that we can look forward to better days in a better place. Solomon wrote, ‘When things are going well for you, be glad, and when trouble comes, just remember, God sends both happiness and trouble, you never know what is going to happen next.’ With Covid around, we are all aware that our future is unpredictable, but Solomon tells us that each day is in God’s hands. 

Let’s all thank God for our happy days in the past (let’s remember that many people only have sad memories), and let’s trust Him for more happy memories in the future. 

'Empty Cupboards' - 24/01/21

In the run up to Christmas, we always run out of room in our kitchen cupboards, so the garage starts doubling up as an extra kitchen. When I bring the Christmas food shop home, there always follows another round of cupboard Jenga to fit stuff in.  Even as I write these words, I realise how fortunate we are to have full cupboards; so full that there is no room in them for more stuff. When it comes to my prayer life, however, full cupboards are not necessarily a good idea.

 In Celtic Prayer we are still looking at the hymn ‘Be Thou My Vision’ and todays line was: “Be thou my might”. We all have battles each day to face and so often we go into the day trusting in our own energy, wisdom or power to handle them. Martin Luther wrote: “God made the world out of nothing and it is only when we become nothing, that God can make anything of us.”

 A friend of mine put it like this: “I just know I always have empty cupboards and isn’t that a wonderful place to start each day?”

In Luke 11 Jesus gives us the Lords prayer:

 He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread.

 Forgive us our sins,

    for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

And lead us not into temptation.”

Before we tackle whatever lies ahead of us today, do we need to empty our cupboards, admit that we cannot do it alone and trust in one who is our Father Almighty?

'Different But Together' - 23/01/21

In this week, we have heard stories of encouragement, vaccinations are progressing, people are helping others with shopping and caring for each other. There are also stories of some being less encouraging, not staying safe, being selfish, the pressure on hospitals. The new US president starting his job, not doing it for himself but for everyone else, seeking unity and wanting to avoid disunion between reds and blues (that sounds a familiar story!)

We don’t all get it right, ask my wife how often I get it wrong! But we do need to work together. We don’t always agree, but we should not fall out. It’s a trait which many of us need to learn and keep learning.

One aspect of this lockdown, is that we all handle it differently. We all have different home situations, different family environments, different pressures. All these things can affect how we behave now. We all have our own baggage that we bring with us. Whilst we can’t always just let go of the events that we carry, we can try to reduce their influence on how we deal with now. We should also acknowledge that the people we meet will be carrying their own baggage also.

This is how people have behaved for centuries, we are still learning and we need to keep learning. In the early church, they encouraged in the book of Romans Chapter 14;

"Give a warm welcome to any brother who wants to join you. Don’t criticize him for having different ideas from yours about what is right and wrong. They are God’s servants, not yours. They are responsible to him, not to you. Let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. And God is able to make them do as they should".

Lets remember, we are all different but we can still be friends. We all have different pressures and situations, but we can still support each other. Lets engage with our differences, enjoy them but remember, we are all God’s children he knows and loves us for who we are, so we can too.

'Light' - 22/01/21

I have never really been a fan of poetry; although I like things that are expressed poetically, but on Wednesday, along with millions of others, I sat transfixed as a young woman from Los Angeles delivered a poem at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. For the few minutes that she stood in the biting cold of a January afternoon in Washington, offering a message of hope to a country currently bitterly divided, I was completely mesmerised. Her words perfectly captured this moment in history. She articulated the difficulties faced by a nation polarised by dogma, yet she offered the hope of meaningful change.

Twenty-two year old Amanda Gorman is the National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States. Like her newly inaugurated president, she has suffered for years with a speech impediment, yet she stepped up before the world and delivered a perfect rendition of her poem; never faltering, never missing a beat and leaving any who chose to hear her words with a hope that change and healing is indeed possible.

The closing lines of her poem ring true not only for America, but for us all;

“For there is always light; if only we are brave enough to see it; if only we are brave enough to be it”.

As Christians, we have identified that light. It is Jesus Christ. In case there be any doubt, Jesus himself states very clearly, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Being brave enough to see the light simply means setting aside the things that might cloud our vision and remaining true to what we know to be the truth, but Jesus also challenges us to be the light; “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

By being the light, we achieve much more than simply doing good deeds for others. We point people towards the source of the light. We acknowledge that the light does not come from us, but from God. He is what compels us to share the light, He is the source of all good things, He is our guide and comforter. He is with us now and has been with us always, lighting our way through whatever darkness we find ourselves in. He will continue to walk with us; to be our hope; always - “For there is always light”.

'Courage' - 21/01/21

‘Real Courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin it anyway and see it through no matter what.’

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird.

To kill a mockingbird is a fictional story set in 1930’s America, when a black man (Tom) is wrongly accused and stands trial for the rape of a white woman. Although innocent, because of the racial tensions and segregation, he is convicted, and the white people who support him are shunned by the townspeople.

This is truly a story of people fighting against all the odds. Standing up for someone who has no rights, even though the chances of success were extremely slim, is very courageous indeed. It draws desperately sad parallels with the death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests in 2020, and the fight for racial equality that continues today.

In the bible, Moses started his journey to freedom with very similar chances of success when God gave him a seemingly impossible task. In Exodus 3:7 and 10, God says this to Moses:

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” 

Now Moses, realising how impossible this task seemed (Pharaoh was not just going to let his slaves go free!), tried everything to get out of this task, but in the end, he followed God and through Gods strength and power the Israelites were freed from their slavery.

A seemingly impossible task, but nothing is impossible with God.

Throughout the bible, God champions the cause of the poor, the wrongfully treated, and the marginalised. 

Throughout history, Christians have followed the example of their loving God and stood up for causes which at the beginning, must have seemed hopeless, but ended up changing the world for the better.

William Wilberforce, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are just a few people whose faith inspired them to stand up and campaign for Justice and for those who could not fight for themselves. 

Sometimes it can feel like a seemingly impossible task to stand up for what is right; to make a difference in a world that may not want to listen. But today, be courageous, be inspired by Gods love, and be the person who makes a difference. With Gods help we can all have courage like that in To Kill a mockingbird.

'Hungry Like the Wolf' - 20/01/21

‘Seems like all I could see was the struggle,

Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past...’

Redeemed - Written and performed by Big Daddy Weave

A grandad once sat down with his young grandson and told him a short story. “Y’know, I have two wolves inside of me and they are fighting each other. One wolf represents greed, anger, unforgiveness, impatience, hatred... The other one represents kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, patience, love…“ The young boy looked at him intently, “Grandad, which wolf is going to win?” His grandad’s answer was short and full of wisdom, “The one I feed is the one that will win”.

Our thoughts and feelings can sometimes become overwhelming. Some days we can have irrational fears, and another day we can have huge regrets. Some of us may live and breathe anger from the moment we wake up each morning. And maybe there is an argument that we had with somebody, possibly years ago, that still plays on our mind and continues to cause negative thoughts and feelings.

Putting it quite simply, we become what we dwell on the most.

That grandad was wise and gave his young grandson a valuable life lesson about feeding wolves!

Paul in the Bible, knew all about negative thoughts. He had once lived with enormous hatred and anger and resentment. Jesus helped him not just turn his thoughts around, but his whole life around. Paul wrote these words,

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.

Paul achieved more in the years of right thinking than he ever did in the years when his mind was filled with anger and hatred and unforgiveness.

Life is so very short, let’s recognise the wolves inside of us and make sure we feed the right one. Let’s make every day the very best we can.

'Make a U-Turn When Possible' - 19/01/21

Don’t just listen to God’s word.  You must do what it says.  Otherwise you are only fooling yourselves.

James Ch1 v22

Many years ago when I took my driving test there was a section of the test that required you to know your Highway Code.  When I say you had to know your Highway Code, I really mean that you had to familiarise yourself with it – just enough so that the driving examiner could wave a few flashcards at you and you could tell them what you thought they meant.  How times have changed!  When my daughter took her driving test, she had to do a separate theory test before they would even allow her to take her practical test.  She had to study the Highway Code in quite some detail before sitting her test.  While revising she would often ask me what various signs meant and to my shame I often couldn’t tell her the answer!

To have access to the Highway Code but not understand it or follow the instructions makes it a fairly useless tool and potentially puts the driver and those around them in harm’s way.  I could study and know my Highway Code inside out but if I then actively choose to ignore the rules of the road, what’s the point?  It exists for my benefit and for the benefit of those around me but I need to put it into action.  

In the same way, if we read or hear God’s word and then choose to do nothing with that – what has been the point?  Nothing has changed.  We need to listen for God’s voice whether that is through the Bible or through those he has placed around us and then we need to do what it says – then everything can change.

I am hopeless when it comes to directions and depend quite heavily on my trusty SatNav.  She works very hard at finding the best way for me to go, mapping the journey out and calling out timely instructions to me.  If I take a wrong turn she calmly advises me to make a U-turn when possible or finds another route to the same destination.  It is pointless if I enter the postcode for my destination but then refuse to follow the instructions – who knows where I would end up!  I need to listen for her voice, follow the advice she gives and trust that she understands the map much better than I do.  In God’s own words “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord, “plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”.  Let’s listen out for God’s voice and then let’s follow his instruction, after all, he’s the one holding the map.

 

'Such a Little Space' - 18/01/21

The average human brain is about six inches long (Einstein’s was slightly smaller but bits of it were bigger than average), but look what it can do. We are currently witnessing the battle between Covid-19 and science and it looks like science may win, watch this space. We have satellites 200 miles above the earth yelling at me if I miss my roundabout exit; we have nuclear energy and we get power from wind and waves. Scientists know what’s at the bottom of the ocean and under the icecap. You can add to this list many more examples of how mankind has used this astonishing piece of equipment tucked away in our heads. Go on Google and look at buildings around the world; if you’re like me you will be constantly stunned at what goes on inside our skulls. Have you noticed how many quiz programmes there are on TV? We started counting and reached 15; such a need for knowledge! We even have two Melling quizzes each week. And there’s no escape for young people today, despite Covid they study online at home, and many parents are having to dust off their mental cobwebs to involve themselves in home schooling. Our children know so much more than their parents did at the same age. Don’t mention grandparents!

But sometimes we can see gaps in people’s  education; there’s often a lack of respect and manners when shopping, a definite lack of verbal restraint at sports events, and if there’s a Bible question in one of the many quizzes, the almost total lack of knowledge is sometimes shocking to us. The Bible says a lot about wisdom and knowledge, it tells us to, ‘Respect and obey the Lord! This is the beginning of knowledge.’ The most important lesson in life that we can learn is that God should be our teacher. And we should pay attention. We all know don’t we that while knowledge can be a good thing, it can be damaging to a person and there’s something more important than cleverness, ‘Knowledge makes us proud of ourselves, while love makes us helpful to others.’ While knowledge is great if  handled properly, we should always have a sense of perspective, God says to us, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Let’s see if we can squeeze into our little brains the truth that God’s is bigger.

'Everywhere' - 17/01/21

There is a Fleetwood Mac song called ‘Everywhere’. The lyrics are a little repetitive and seem to say “I want to be with you everywhere” rather a lot; you could even say that the writer is being a little obsessive !

In Celtic Prayer there is a lot of stress on God being with us in the ordinary. Another line from the Hymn ‘Be thou my vision’ is this: “I ever with thee and Thou with me Lord…”. Whether we want Him or not, Jesus is with us. However, that is not enough. He wants us to be with Him, to notice Him, to invite Him into our ordinary spaces, the dinner table, the washing up, our lockdown walks, our everyday chats. In the New Testament we read of Jesus often turning up in unexpected places and ways. If we do not see Jesus, is it because we are not expecting to? Maybe we need to go back to our Christmas readings as a reminder.

Matthew 1 verse 23:

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When He is with us, the common, every day ordinary stuff of life is given great significance simply because He is there…even in lockdown.

'Bring Me Sunshine' - 16/01/21

The news can often be a bit depressing, can’t it! When we spend time relaxing, we may try to be uplifted by documentaries about how people overcame something in their lives, or try to distract ourselves watching something fictional, a romantic drama or a murder mystery or an action film. Sometimes , and I think more so lately, the news try to provide uplifting news stories to encourage us and spur us into action. Recently, there have been a few key stories of people shared to encourage us, Sir Captain Tom probably the biggest. Mostly, these people are not doing these things to make news or to grab attention and be on the telly, they simply decided to do something positive to help others. It was not selfish or motivated by greed or desire, just to help someone else.

It is very often the case, that when you do something uplifting for others it helps you feel good too. Laughter can be infectious, a smile can be infectious, kindness can be infectious, love can be infectious.

I have long been a fan of Laurel and Hardy, and their friendship went through troubles on and off screen. But they remained friends through it all. They brought laughter to each other and to others. There are some scenes where Stan will start to laugh and it becomes infectious to the whole group.

Morecambe and Wise are known for their song,

Bring me sunshine

In your smile

Bring me laughter

All the while

In this world where we live

There should be more happiness

So much joy you can give

To each brand new bright tomorrow

During these times when we are fed up with the news, fed up with people greedy for power or self promotion, when we hear talk on the TV of how the virus is impacting our families, friends, communities; think of how we can be a positive infection, can we be a positive distraction for someone else.

The bible encourages us to love each other in the same way that Jesus loves us. In Romans 15, the Christians were given this message:

'Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status.' Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.

So let’s help each other out, put a smile on each other’s face. I always finish a MBCH zoom call with a smile on my face, let’s see how infectious we can be with our love for each other and a smile.

 

'Building' - 15/01/21

We are living in strange and uncertain times. The Coronavirus pandemic shows no sign of abating and the virus has changed its behaviour; which means that we must change ours if we are to remain safe. We are getting used to making adjustments. We have modified how we do almost everything in order to adjust to our new circumstances. We are adept at wearing masks, keeping our distance, washing our hands and interacting virtually. We have made the required changes to conform to the revised standards of our society.

But, I’m going to suggest that we have done more than that… much more. Here in Melling, we have built a community. Now, that is not to suggest that a community didn’t already exist – after all, you are reading this message on the Melling Baptist Community Hub website; the clue is in the title! What we have done is to build upon the foundations that existed. We have changed our behaviour to adjust to the situation we found ourselves in and adapted and expanded our community to ensure that none of its existing members were left behind and that we remained open to any who might wish to find a home within our ranks. It is, I believe, a model to which any society should aspire and you can be proud of whatever part you have played in its development.

We are not the first. The early Christian church was very similar. We read in the book of Acts how this group of like-minded believers built their community. The book of Acts is more properly called the book of The Acts of the Apostles. It tells of what they did; what actions they took. It speaks of how they built the early Christian church, but it doesn’t speak of bricks and mortar, it speaks of community. They too lived in strange and uncertain times. They too had witnessed an event that would change their world forever. They too needed to adjust their behaviour to address this new reality. The event they witnessed brought about the greatest change to society that the world has ever seen – you need only to look at your calendar to realise that this was the event from which all human history is now measured.

What did they do to cope with it all? They built upon their existing foundations whilst embracing the change. They ensured that nobody was left behind and newcomers were welcomed. They looked after each other. They cared for one another. They looked first to God for guidance and they lived out Jesus’ teachings to love God and their neighbours.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

They built a community. Today we call it a church.

'Choose Happiness' - 14/01/21

‘I would always rather be Happy than Dignified’

Jane Eyre, from the book Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre is the story of a woman’s journey through life, dealing with struggles in a 19th century society that insists that women behave in a certain way. In fact, the author Charlotte Bronte originally published the book under a male pseudonym, as writing was not one of the professions deemed suitable for a woman!This quote reminds me of a man running. This may seem strange, but in the bible, Jesus tells the story of the prodigal son. The son takes his inheritance and heads for the high life, but his father, deeply shamed by this, still waits and watched for his son to return. When his son finally comes home, in a mess, with his money and friends gone, to beg his father’s forgiveness, his father responds in this way, in Luke 15:20

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."

Now in Jewish Society, older men did not run. It was considered undignified, and not appropriate for older men to run in public. It would have brought shame on the family, and the neighbours would have talked. The father in this story didn’t care about that. He chose to love his son above all, despite all that he had done, he was just so happy to have him home.

Jane Eyre cared more about her happiness than following social convention, just like the father in the prodigal son. Jesus explained that God is just like this father, he would choose love over dignity every time so that we could get to know him better. Jesus died an undignified brutal death so that we could have a way back to God. He chose love and happiness over dignity as well.

We may also have done some pretty daft things this year for love or happiness. We may have sat in five layers of clothing in a cold garden or park to see our friends. We may have chosen to go for rain walks to see family rather than sat inside with a nice cup of tea, something we wouldn’t have dreamt of doing a year ago!

So, let’s choose love and happiness first, and follow the example of Jane Eyre, the father of the prodigal son, and God himself, lets love each other and God, and not worry too much about being dignified!

'You Can Count on Me' - 13/01/21

The wonderful upbeat song, ‘Count on Me’ by Bruno Mars, is full of encouragement and promises to ‘his friends’ that in the most difficult of times he will be there for them. ‘You can count on me, like one, two, three, I’ll be there.....coz that’s what friends are supposed to do....’ And he goes on to stress that he can count on them to do exactly the same for him. It’s a lovely, positive song that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy!! But can we really sing those words and mean them? Can we really be counted on to ‘be there’ to encourage and support? Or can we be counted on to not encourage, to complain, to always find fault?.....

I once knew somebody who I could count on to criticise pretty much everything I said and did. Not once would I get a call from them to just ask me how I was, or to give me a tiny word of encouragement. But I would get phone calls and knocks on the door to criticise the way I’d said something, with instructions for what I should do next time. Their ‘need’ to continually tell me how I’d got it wrong was really hard work.

We all make mistakes. I make many! And we all need encouragement and to know who is there for us.

At this particular time there’s a lot of mixed emotions! Laughter and fun, chaos and noise, loneliness and deafening silence, anxiety and stress, short tempers and boredom, irrational behaviour and definitely heightened frustrations. Each day brings its own set of challenges to each one of us. How are we going to respond to eachother? We all have our bad days, that’s when we need to know we can count on others to encourage, support and be a friend.

The Bible has heaps to say about how we should treat one another, ‘bear one another’s burdens’, ‘encourage eachother’, ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep’, ‘do for others as you would have them do for you’......

How amazing it would be if we can all allow for each others mistakes and encourage eachother with kind words, forgiveness, support and understanding. And let’s thank God that despite our mistakes and bad moods and frustrations, each and every day He says, ‘You can count on me, I’ll be there for you’.

I'm All Ears - 12/01/21

You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

James Ch1 v19-20

How many times have you been having a discussion with someone and you’ve heard yourself say something that you immediately regret?  Please tell me it’s not just me that’s done that!  The livelier the debate the more likely we are to start saying things that are perhaps unfounded or even just plain mean and even if we regret our words immediately, they’ve still been said and those words can live long in the memory of those who heard them.  

When James wrote this advice you could argue that life was somewhat simpler – he was talking about those physical interac

tions that we have with one another.  The conversations that were shared in person which, on occasions, could lead to disagreement and cruel words being said.  Bring that up to the present day and you have to include those things that are said on social media, text messages or even phone conversations.  All of a sudden we are given a voice without the need to look anyone in the eye when we speak - we can’t see the misunderstanding we have created or the hurt we have caused.  We suddenly find ourselves with a voice that doesn’t need to pause to hear a reply and sometimes this can be used to purposely incite hurt and pain.  Ask the many teenagers who have been on the receiving end of cyberbullying or watch the news to discover how a relentless voice can be given undeserved authority to incite anger in others.

How valuable a lesson it is to learn how to pause before we speak and pause before we press ‘send’.  Have we stopped to listen – and not just listen, but to understand the opinions and views of those around us?   Will our words improve someone’s day?

Ghandi put it like this, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence”.  In other words if you’ve paused and thought about you words and feel that they still need saying, then that is the time to speak.  There are injustices that sometimes require our anger in order to change things for good but that should never be a heated anger driven by the need to prove ourselves right, but only ever a measured anger to speak out against injustice and for those that cannot speak for themselves.

Let’s set our children and grandchildren an example – not one that says we all have the right to have our say regardless of hurt or consequences, but one that asks: is this kind?  Is this helpful?  Is this the justice that God desires?

Planting Trees - 11/01/21

Let me introduce you to Jadav Payeng. He lives in Assam, India. The discovery of dead snakes on the sandy banks of the Brahmaputra River’s Majuli Island transformed his life and the island.  In 1979 when he was 16, as he walked along the island’s barren soil, he came across a number of snakes that had died there. He realised why they were there and why they died. In the recent floods these snakes had been washed up onto the neglected coastline and had died in the heat of the day due to the lack of shade on the island. He was very moved by their suffering and death and at the age of 16 he decided to dedicate his life to transforming this river island. How would you do this? Maybe apply for a grant from the local authority or start a fundraising campaign on Twitter? The local authority had ‘better’ things to do and Twitter didn’t exist in 1979. We’ve been thinking about making resolutions in recent days haven’t we, but I don’t think we would have gone along with Jadav’s decision. His master plan was to plant a sapling in the sandy soil every day. I know what you’re thinking; ‘That’s not going to make much difference to the land or the snakes.’ Wrong!!! Today after forty years of planting every day, there is a lush 550 hectare woodland. But more than that, it attracts elephants, rhinos, deer, vultures, Bengal tigers, and of course, snakes. Jadav says he didn’t do it all alone, he explained that, ”If you plant a few trees they eventually seed and the wind knows how to plant them and the birds know where to sow them.” He is now known as The Forest Man of India.

 

What’s this got to do with us in Melling? Surely it tells us that great things can start tiny, remember little acorns and big oak trees! The Bible is full of examples of individuals who achieved amazing things. Noah built an ark, Abraham started a nation, Moses led two million people to safety and Jesus has transformed the lives and futures of thousands of millions across the world. We are only a small group of people but we are planting with God’s help. Let’s believe that we can achieve great things if we imitate the birds and the wind in India and all make a contribution.

Jesus told His followers, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Let’s continue planting trees in Melling and give God the glory.

What are You Thinking About? - 10/1/21

Every 4 years in January, Celtic Prayer will focus on the words of the hymn, ’Be Thou My Vision’. One of the lines in the first verse of that hymn is:” Thou my best thought…”

When we wake up in the morning (and often in the night) our first thoughts can be a complete jumble of worries, questions, to do lists, guilt, sadness, joy and even anger. Amund Karner wrote that when we turn our thoughts to Christ, “ it is as if the conductor takes his place at the rostrum: all the discordant sound, the tuning up & fidgeting, turns to silence;& then a melody, a full bodied score in many parts comes & replaces the chaos and confusion.”

Somehow, God is able to put all the messed up, muddled up thoughts into their rightful place. The mountains can become molehills again. Perspective returns. Hope peers over the windowsill and into our mind.

Philippians 4 , verses 6-9 puts it like this: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

Be thou my best thought in the day and the night

Waking or sleeping

Thy presence my light.

 

Powerless... or are we? - 9/1/21

Our current situation can sometimes bring us to feeling powerless to deal with what is happening around us. The pandemic is happening all around the world and we are having to live through many restrictions on what we can do and who we can see. The transition of power in the USA has seen unprecedented scenes this week with many anxious about what may happen in the coming weeks. Sometimes the events unfolding around us can feel overwhelming; the depth of what is happening can sometimes feel enormous; we don’t feel we have the ability to deal with the emotions or actions of those around us. Sometimes, these things are not something we can easily do anything about and we can focus on what we can do.

We can all do something if we focus on the areas we can affect. It’s our actions that we can control, it’s our response that we can control, we can affect or impact those around us that we can reach out to.

There is a story I often recall about a boy walking along a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up during a storm. As the boy walked, he would pause to pick up a starfish to throw it back into the sea. A man approached and asked, “What are you doing? There are thousands of starfish washed up! You can’t save them all”. The boy picked up another single starfish, looked at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference for that one!”

The actions we take can influence those around us, even if it is only with a few people, “receive an act of kindness, pass it on”. There will have been many people in our lives who have had positive influence on our lives and how we behave. We may not remember their name, but we remember the act, we remember the kindness.

The early church believers needed encouragement and the Christian Jews were sent these words of encouragement in Hebrews 10v24-25

"Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more"

As we continue our journey in the coming weeks, lets remember that the simple acts of kindness and love that we can offer to others may seem a small thing to us, but to those who receive it, it can mean the world. Don’t feel overwhelmed, there are individuals around you who are ready to help.

Today - 8/1/21

So, the first week of 2021 is behind us. How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? I can honestly say that I have never broken a New Year’s resolution. How can I be so confident in that assertion? Well, quite simply, because I have never made one. I don’t see the point.

From what I can tell, every New Year’s resolution is an attempt to improve ourselves. An attempt to lose weight, or take more exercise, or be more patient with people, or eat more healthily, or drink less alcohol, or to make more time for others etc. etc. In short, an attempt to be a better person.

If that’s the case, then why do we wait for New Year’s day? Surely we want to be a better person now! Why wait for some arbitrary date to get our act together? How many people do you know who fail to maintain their annual good intentions within a few weeks of January 1st and therefore give up, because it was a New Year's resolution, so it doesn’t count now that February has arrived? What will they do now? Presumably wait eleven months and give it another go.

Now if you are reading this on the 8th January having already eaten the chocolate you promised to forgo back on New Year’s Day, don’t feel bad. This little missive is not intended to make you feel guilty. It’s intended to point out the folly of pinning everything on one attempt and to suggest that you have a second chance. Okay, so today you didn’t stick to the energy bars and whey protein shakes and you sneaked in a round of toast. Tomorrow you can start again!

The trick is to be honest with ourselves. No matter what the date is, today is the day that we can make a change for the better. Today is the day that we can do the thing that we feel we should do, or stop doing the thing that we know we shouldn’t. If you know the right thing to do, then do it. It doesn’t matter that you meant to do it yesterday, but didn’t get round to it. Do it today.

Every day is a new day. Every day we are faced with an opportunity to do better. Every day we have a God who offers us a second chance. A God who is happy to forgive our shortcomings of yesterday. A God who offers us a fresh start today. Let’s take Him up on the offer and start again.

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Small Acts - 7/1/21

Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love’.

Gandalf, The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien

This quote from the hobbit is a wonderful reminder that each one of us has a part to play in supporting and loving one another, and how important that is.

In the book The Hobbit, these words are spoken by the wizard Gandalf just before he, a hobbit and a company of 13 dwarves are setting off to embark on a great journey to slay a dragon and claim back a mountain which is the homeland of the dwarves. It’s a huge endeavour. But despite all the adventures that happen in this book, what enables them to succeed in their quest is how the group of adventurers love each other and take care of each other. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have got very far at all. The small everyday acts of love and kindness was what kept hope alive, and enabled the group to persevere, and complete the task set ahead of them.

Now it is unlikely that we will be asked to slay a dragon today, but we are at the beginning of another national lockdown. The world around us can indeed seem very dark at the moment. The road towards the lifting of restrictions can seem a long way off. But we can all give each other hope, by loving each other, caring for each other, looking out for each other. A phone call, a smile, a caring text, a bag of shopping are all ordinary everyday things, but they can mean such a lot to people.

Jesus knew how important it was to love and support one another. He often spoke to his disciples about this. In John 13:34-35, during the last supper, the last meal he had before he was arrested, Jesus said “Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

So, whatever we are doing today, lets love each other with simple ordinary acts of kindness, and keep the darkness at bay.

Mother Teresa puts it like this ‘not all of us can do great things, but we can all do small things with great love’.

In Good Times and Bad- 6/1/21

I love a lot of styles of music. I’ve mentioned before about our lively, noisy household with music coming from every corner. But when it comes to songs that instantly make me want to get up and dance, that’s quite a specific selection! One such song is ‘Islands in the Stream’, the hit single for Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers in 1982. The song is a catchy, love song with a country feel! Clearly written by seasoned country singers! WRONG! It was actually written by the BeeGees. Up until 1979 the BeeGees were hugely popular across the States. It would seem that things couldn’t get better for them...but they could get worse! Due to a turn of events in 1979, disco music became the music to despise, and the BeeGees became caught up in a national ‘disco revolt’ which resulted in none of their music being played on radio stations. Their success was coming to an end in quite a cruel, deliberate way. After a few years of having no music and few loyal fans, they were approached and asked about writing music for other artists to perform. And the rest, as they say, is history! To this day the BeeGees are known more for their songwriting abilities than their own performances. Who’d have thought that out of such a difficult and upsetting time would come something better than before?

When we first went in to lockdown there was the temptation to see only the negative, to see only what we had taken from us. And let’s be honest, it has been so very, very difficult for some people in particular who have lost so much during this time. But here we are now, almost ten months later, and maybe, just maybe, we have gained things that we may not have done, had we not been through this tough time? Friendships have been strengthened. We’ve taken the time to get to know one another better. Neighbours are looking out for eachother. Families have had to slow down and spend more time with eachother. Dare I say, for many of us, our priorities have changed for the better?

There isn’t one person I know who has welcomed and enjoyed this tough time. The BeeGees certainly didn’t enjoy their years when they were stopped from performing. But out of bad times can come good, can come blessings.

I can’t wait to meet up with our family, friends and whole community again, to come out of this tough time. But I thank God for the lessons learnt and the community of people who have joined forces to bring good out of such dark days.

Paul in the Bible knew all about the toughest of times but he also knew that he needed to thank God and recognise the good in those around. He wrote, ‘Therefore encourage one another and build eachother up, just as you are doing’. Let’s head in to our day, acknowledging the tough time but seeking the good that we will go on to remember and be grateful in much brighter days.

https://youtu.be/HQW7I62TNOw

The Gift and the Giver - 5/1/21

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our father, who created all the lights in the heavens.  He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

James Ch1 v17

Over the coming weeks, our Tuesday Sunrise will come from the book of James.  If you get chance to read this book in its entirety, do so, it is an incredible guide to how to live life well – not how to make life easy, but how to live well.

Like me, I’m sure you received some lovely gifts for Christmas.  Some gifts were practical items that I had possibly happened to mention in a timely fashion that I needed, others were maybe not so useful but particularly beautiful – all, however, are treasured because of the givers.  But Christmas is over now for another year and homes have been found for the new items and what is ahead of us are the cold, dark days of January.  This can be a difficult time for many people when the bright and colourful lights of Christmas have been put away and the warmth of the spring sunshine seems so far away.  However, when we take the time to stop, there are gifts to be found every day – the beauty of frost on a leaf or dew on a spider’s web; the snow drops beginning to poke their heads above the ground; the infectious sound of a child laughing or a friend calling us to see how we’re doing.  These are just some of the perfect gifts which can’t be bought and wrapped up but are given to us by God to remind us that he’s still there, he’s still with us as we face the challenges of the day.  God doesn’t hibernate for winter or fall asleep beside the fire, he remains beside us watching over us and sends us these little reminders of his presence.  

Of course, having just celebrated Christmas we can’t talk about gifts without mentioning the ultimate and perfect gift that God sent in the form of a baby.  A new baby is always a gift but this baby brought us the gift of love, peace, joy, hope and new life for us all.  It was a gift like no other and one which can’t be replicated or bought but one which is offered to everyone regardless of social or financial standing, education or age.

Gifts are made special by the giver and the giver of that amazing baby that first Christmas is the same giver of the sunshine and the rain, the same giver who puts the warmth into a hug and the joy into friendship.  Let’s try and take a little time to pause today and actively look for the gifts around us that remind us that God is still with us and let’s treasure those gifts because we know the giver.

Who Needs Cheese? - 4/1/21

What makes you smile? Maybe a kitten half way up your curtains, or the wisdom of a five year old, or your old bike repaired and ready for the road, or a football result, or Strictly. Smiles come from different directions and for different reasons. Something that amuses or pleases you may leave me unmoved or even baffled. Smiles are often our response to good news or the removal of stress. Looking back over 2020 there must have been many reasons for smiles despite the obvious turmoil and tribulation. Ask yourself what caused your ten biggest smiles last year, it will cheer you up instantly and will probably surprise you to find out how many there are to choose from. Try it now with a cup of coffee and you can come back to Sunrise in a few hours, it could take that long. And you will feel great!

People seem to think that the Bible is a serious and forbidding book without any light relief but just imagine that amazing night when people surrounded the house where Jesus was and He healed every sick person who was brought to Him. Can you see the look on Joseph’s face when he was reunited with his brothers? And the smile of relief as Mary gave birth to Jesus, and the smile of total joy lighting up her face and wiping away her tears on Resurrection Morning.

Solomon wrote,  ‘A happy heart makes the face cheerful.’ Pro 15.13

The Bible is full of smiles and full of reasons to smile. We read that God loves everyone in the world without exception. We are told that Jesus is preparing a place for those who love Him. We discover that God is always present with those who wish Him to be, David wrote, ‘Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil because You are with me.’ St. Paul talked about a person being led by God’s Spirit and the difference it made, ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.’ If we see these characteristics in a person it will cause us to smile, and if someone sees them in us, then we are responsible for putting a smile on their face. How good is that? So next time you are having your photograph taken, think of God’s goodness and you will smile without having to say “Cheese.”

 
 
  The Bridge Builder- 3/1/21                                                                            
Melling Baptist Motto Text 2021 is...
Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength. This is the first and greatest commandment, and the second is like it. Love your neighbour as you love yourself’. Matthew ch22:37-39.
 
The Great Navigator - 2/1/21
The last year was both difficult and inspiring, our “normal” life complicated by the Covid pandemic. It has been great how people have supported and encouraged each other during the year through messages, door step visits, clapping, shopping, gifts, prizes and Gnomes!!

Throughout the year we held on to a hope that things will get better, this year there is more of an idea of where we may be heading with vaccines being rolled out. But its still not going to be an easy path through the coming months.

We have learned that time for each other is more valuable than many other things, though we have missed our “normal” way of life, we have embraced our Melling community. Our relationships with friends have strengthened and we have made new friends.

As we enter 2021, our path is uncertain but we can approach it knowing we have support of the friends around us. We may not know all the places we may visit or the things that may happen but we do know we won’t be alone.

When driving to a new place, we may now use a SatNav that tells us each step we must take to reach our destination, but before that I trusted in a navigator sat in the passenger seat. They held the map and could see the whole journey, could see the roads and the places that we would pass. As the driver, I would just know the next turn and only encounter new places as we arrived.

Whilst the Israelites were still trying to find their place, the prophet Jeremiah sent them these words from God, in Chapter 29,

 "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.

When you come looking for me, you’ll find me."

'Moving On'- 1/1/21

What a great way to start the year, I don’t mean Brexit, (that might be great or it might not, we’ll find out), I’m talking about the vaccine! Actually we now have a choice of vaccines; it’s a bit like number 19 buses. So let’s line up; I’m one of the first, that seems reasonable to me, then in succeeding months we should become safer as the year moves on. If we live for another fifty years, none of us will forget 2020. I sometimes struggle to remember birthdays and anniversaries, not my own of course, but I will always remember the past year and the number 2020. Of course some people will remember it, not because they survived but because someone didn’t. Let’s be careful as we celebrate a new year to understand that some of our friends have very mixed feelings about moving on. Thankfully for Christians there is the belief that people will meet again in a better place. Jesus told us, “I am going to prepare a place for you.....so that you will be where I am.” 

We have learned a lot in the past twelve months about patience, tolerance, friendship and hope. How shocking it will be if we all revert to our previous lifestyle of rush rush rush. I’m looking forward to a more orderly lifestyle which will give me more time for more people. Maybe even a little time for myself! Is that allowed? During the separation forced on us last year, we managed to keep up with each other and share our hopes and fears, and we attempted to meet each other’s needs. As we move on towards Spring and Summer, shopping trips (remember shops?), family days out and hopefully holidays, let’s remember we are a community who walked through 2020 together. We laughed and cried together, we asked for help and we offered help; nothing must change, we still have our strengths and needs, we still must work together. In the Bible accounts of the early days of the Christian church we see the most amazing community at work; ‘All the believers continued together in close fellowship and shared their belongings with one another. They would sell their property and possessions and distribute their money among all, according to what each one needed.‘  We may not achieve that standard of community, but we can learn from that principal and move into the future together. Roll on Choir, Hub, Shoot, Crafty, Watercolour, Church, Housegroups! 

                                       Look out 2021, here we come!