Poppies- 19/6/20

In the film, “You've Got Mail”, Meg Ryan's character claims that daisies are the friendliest flower; whilst roses are considered to be the flower of romance. My Mum's favourite flowers were anemones and I have a friend who loves sunflowers (although she also has a strange affinity for garden gnomes, so her judgement isn’t to be trusted). All of these flowers are nice in their own way, but for me, the Poppy is the flower that lifts my spirits.It's not simply that they are bright and cheery, but that they pop up everywhere. I have recently seen them blooming in roadside verges, blossoming on a building site and brightening up a car park. We are all aware of the use of the Flanders Poppy to commemorate those who lost their lives in various armed conflicts throughout the world. It was chosen because of its proliferation in the trenches and battlefields during the first World War. You just can't keep it down. I remember travelling by train from Paris to Marseilles and as we passed through the French countryside I was delighted to see the little red faces of poppies peeking at me from every wheat field. They bring a welcome splash of colour wherever they make their appearance and they never fail to make me feel happy.There are certain people who are like poppies. We all know somebody who brightens our mood simply by being there. Like poppies, these people often appear when we least expect them and usually just when we need them. Their bright and cheery nature lifts our spirits and we are always glad to see them. They simply make our day better.So, what do we do when they aren’t there? Well, there is somebody else we can turn to. Jesus is always there for us to talk to. At any time, in any place He is there. He delights in spending time with us. We can talk to Him about anything because He knows our hearts and our desires. He knows what troubles us and He knows what pleases us. Before we even tell Him, He knows our needs. We often refer to this as prayer, but I think of it as talking to a friend. A friend who knows me well and always knows the right thing to say.Why then, are poppy people so special? Well, it’s because in their own little way they are like Jesus. They display some of His qualities. They mirror His ways. They demonstrate the fruits of His spirit that you will have seen mentioned on these pages before; “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).So, I know that I always have Jesus to talk to and I know that, if I spend enough time with Him, He will help me to become a poppy person too.

We Don't Need Another Hero- 18/6/20

What an awesome country we live in at the moment, full of superheroes making a real difference. Isn’t it inspiring reading about Captain Tom and his garden laps? Or those care workers who moved into the care home to protect the residents…I mean that is so sacrificial. Then of course there is a certain Man Utd striker sorting out food vouchers and forcing a government U turn. That is very powerful. My friend Heidi is incredible too (google Heidi Cowter and disability rights), campaigning tirelessly for the rights of the unborn child and a spokesperson for the ‘Don’t screen us out’ campaign.

I could go on but, actually, it can also be a bit disheartening. Many of us are struggling to hold our own little lot together at times. Having to meet all the demands of lock down is exhausting. I was going to clean the whole house, learn welsh and make lots of candles for my friends. My house is still pretty unclean, my Welsh extends to 2 words plus the first line of the national Anthem, and I have made 2 and ¾ candles. Heidi’s mum Liz admits to hiding in the garden just to get a breather because it is so exhausting living with Heidi (who happens to have downs Syndrome). And then there is the grief that knocks us flat when we hear of the death of a loved friend. Never mind being a super hero, I need a super hero. It is at this point that I should be telling you all that God is that hero etc but…it does not always work like that.

Matthew chapter 5 verses 14-16 says this: “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?"

A Celtic traditional saying puts it like this: “We have to be a candle burning between hope and despair”.

We don’t have to light up the whole world, but we do have to be a light in our little bit of it. We have to be a light to those that we live with, come into contact with. The source of that light in us is Jesus. All we do is reflect his light in our lives and show His hope to the bit of our world that needs it today.

Your Favourite Colour- 17/6/20

What’s your favourite colour? Do you have one, or do you reply when asked, “I don’t have a favourite colour, it would help to know what we are talking about, for instance a car, a suit, the back bedroom, etc.” People can fall out in grand style over colours, particularly if you’re talking about home decoration, which is odd because after five years they re-decorate and change everything and fall out again. It’s very personal; I would hate to have a lime green car or a pink suit but you may love them. I wouldn’t even want a pink car or a lime green suit; am I just being difficult? I remember a Peanuts cartoon where Lucy was pointing out the variety of greens in the landscape and saying how beautiful they were; Charlie Brown was not impressed and walked away saying, “What happens if you don’t like green?”  That’s a fair question. Personally I’m happy with green grass, I’m not sure I would want it to be blue and for the sky to be green. However the northern lights sky is often green and people love it. Colour in food is very important, how would you feel if the restaurant served up rump steak that was green, accompanied by blue garden peas and grey carrots? People apply meanings to colours, but they change over time. Pink was a masculine colour used for baby boys until early in the 20th century when the gender roles of pink and blue were reversed. Different countries and cultures understand colours differently. In many parts of the world, a black sheep is viewed negatively, but in Italy a black sheep is seen as a symbol of confidence and independence, and has been used in VW advertising, but only in Italy.

 The Bible is full of colour references that would take years to study. God says to His people, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” This represents the transformation from a life dominated by sin, to a life free of sins power. The first colour mentioned in the Bible is at the end of the Creation story when God refers to “every green plant” and the last colour we read of is in the description of God’s last creation, the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven where we read "The great street of the city was of gold." But the greatest reference to colours is after the flood when God said, “I have set my rainbow in the clouds.” This was a sign of God’s promise not to flood the earth again, and it contains all colours because God loves all colours. Not everybody does. Let’s learn the lesson.

Business As Usual- 16/6/20

I watched TV in amazement yesterday as I saw scenes of people who had been queuing since the crack of dawn, cars blocking the roads and some unbelievable behaviour of people throwing all social distancing guidelines out of the window as they clambered over one another, desperate to get to the front – what were they doing?  They were shopping.  As the non-essential shops began to open, many people seemed desperate to get back to their favourite pass-time.  Desperate to purchase that apparently essential non-essential item. 

Don’t get me wrong, I like to shop; I like to browse round the things I can’t afford and I love it when I find a bargain but it’s not the thing that I’ve missed most over the last few weeks. 

Over the last 12 weeks we have had an enforced ‘stop’ placed on us and we had no choice but to slow down.  At first it felt like we had so much time on our hands, what were we going to do with it?  But gradually we did adapt and we found a new routine - perhaps you’ve learned a new skill; perhaps you’ve picked up an old hobby; perhaps you’ve had time to read, learn to cook, catch up with old friends using new technology?  Whatever you’ve been doing over the last 12 weeks, for many of us it has included things that we wouldn’t have had time to do under normal circumstances.  Without being forced to stop and think, we would have just kept our heads down and kept going on the treadmill of life.  What we have been given, however, is an opportunity to change.  Not everything can or should change, but we do have the chance to think about which things can and should change. 

Have we really learned anything if all we do is rush back to everything we did before?

In 1 Corinthians chapter 10 it says “You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you.  You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is beneficial.  Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”

Perhaps as life returns to some semblance of normality the skill will be to choose which bits to return to and which bits to change for good.  It’s easy to break habits when we are forced to stop but will we choose to break some of our less beneficial habits when we no longer have to? 

This is our opportunity to change for the good of others and for the benefit of ourselves.

I will eventually return to non-essential shopping but first I want to spend time with my friends and family; spend time with my fellow singers at choir; spend time with my friends at church.  I want to keep ‘games night’ with my family and time to sit in the garden and read.  This has been a tough year so far, let’s not waste the few good things we have achieved in our hurry to return to everything that feels familiar.

Your Heavenly Face- 15/6/20

During a family conversation about meeting people in Heaven, a young girl’s mother asked how we will recognise each other when the Bible tells us that we will have new bodies. Dad shrugged his shoulders and confessed he didn’t have a clue. It’s amazing how bright a six year old child can be when adults are stumped. She said that it was easy to understand, “We only take our faces to Heaven but we get new bodies.” That sounds fine but which of my faces will I take? What about my young cuddly face (yes I used to have one)? That was before I ran headlong, face first, into a brick wall at the age of nine. Very messy. Or maybe the trendy face I had in my twenties and thirties; shoulder length hair and a massive beard. Possibly the respectable mature face with short hair and a wife-trimmed beard; or today’s version of no hair and short beard. Whichever face you would like to take with you, it can look different depending on your character. Are you grumpy, irritated by everyone and everything? Maybe you’re just bored with people and prefer your own space. You could of course be a gentle and patient individual. So often your face displays your nature. George Orwell, author of Animal Farm said, “By the age of fifty every man has the face he deserves.” Time to look in the mirror men! Ladies you’re not excused!

 The characteristics that God expects from His followers include, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. If you practice these attributes your face will broadcast your nature. That’s the face to take with you; then we will be happy to see each other.

 The Bible speaks of God’s face bringing comfort when life is stressful, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

Lets imitate God so when people meet you, they get more than a smile.

Read the Instructions- 14/6/20

Imagine the scene, just married and trying to impress my husband with my cooking skills; finding what he likes and doesn’t like. He likes rice pudding so that’s what I’m making tonight. I know how to do that, I’ve seen my mum make it many times. Off I went to the shops, bought a bag of rice and went home. Stage one; wash the rice and put it in the oven. Then I went about my housework, and returned to check my masterpiece. And there it was coming to meet me, filling the oven and coming out of the door and across the floor. Stage two; clean up. What a mess, what had I done wrong? I didn’t read the instructions. I wasn’t cooking for a family of six;there were only two of us. I didn’t need to use the whole bag, just enough for two newly-weds. 

 How many times do we try to take shortcuts by not reading the instructions? Most of us read them after we have tried it our own way and seen the mess we made. The Bible gives us instructions to gain eternal life, but most people take no notice of it. They insist on doing things their own way despite the fact that the Bible in John 3.16 says, ‘This is how God loved the world; He gave His only Son so that everyone who trusts in Him might not be lost but have eternal life.’ It’s so simple but people choose to make it complicated and difficult. The rice pudding incident was decades ago; I’ve read many instructions since then, but the best one of all is John 3.16.

Didn't see it coming- 13/6/20

We used to have a black Labrador. Actually that’s not quite true, he was a failed Labrador; his mother had a fling with a sheep dog. We were not bothered that he didn’t have a perfect pedigree, we loved him dearly and he loved us in return. He was called Dougal. The vet smiled and said, “We’ve had a lot of them recently.” You need to be a certain age to know where his name came from. Like most Labs (alright half-Labs), he enjoyed sniffing almost everything and he enjoyed eating almost everything. But we kept him trim and we were all proud of our doggy family member. We never had a holiday without Dougal. It was my job to walk him each night, I had work that kept me very busy for long hours, so often our walks were late at night when it was very peaceful. And very dark. This was before sodium lighting and eternal daylight. This was my time to relax and think profound thoughts. One night I solved the world’s energy problems by inventing a perpetual motion machine using magnetism which could produce electricity at no cost. Sadly I never got round to making it, because I would need to use my breakfast bowl, it was just the right shape, but it was decorated with a picture of the Magic Roundabout characters, and I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it. Sorry world! One dark night close to home, I realised that Dougal was a long way behind me, so as I turned into my little road I called him and carried on walking. I heard him coming, the noise of his paws on the ground and his panting were getting louder so I turned around to look for him. I woke up flat on my back in the middle of the road with Dougal licking my face, delighted that he had bumped into me and I was now down at his level. The fact that I called him “You stupid dog” didn’t seem to bother him at all.

 Sometimes life is like that, something flattens us and we didn’t see it coming. As we consider the shock, we ask all the usual questions, ‘Why me, why this, why now?’ Often we don’t get answers that satisfy us, but for the Christian the Bible brings comfort and reminds us that God understands when we don’t, and He cares for His people. King David tells us, ‘Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.’ Towards the end of the Bible we are reminded that however we feel today, Christians can always look forward because God has it sorted, ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

 Roll on the new order.

The Sunny Side of the Street- 12/6/20

I have an abiding childhood memory. It's of walking down the street with my Dad. Whenever we would do so, he would look up at the sky and regularly say, “Let's cross over”. When I would ask him why, he would say, “I want to walk on the sunny side of the street”. So off we would go to leave the shadows behind. The journey towards the sun was usually fraught with difficulty, if not downright danger. Pedestrian crossings were few and far between when I was a lad, so we would embark on a perilous quest to dodge the oncoming traffic on Smith down Road, risking life and limb to find a more pleasant ambiance in which to walk. This way of crossing a road would have made Tufty the squirrel choke on his hazelnuts; but even as a child I wondered at the wisdom of using an animal you would often see squashed to a pulp in the middle of the road as a role model for road safety and, whilst I would not recommend teaching it to your own children, it did stand me in good stead in later life when holidaying in Rome and Paris. Having attained our goal of a warmer, brighter stroll, we would often have to repeat the mad dash through speeding traffic to cross back in order to reach the bus stop that was our original destination. Looking back, two things strike me; firstly, I'm amazed we survived, and secondly; he was right. It is better to walk in the sunshine.Sometimes we can feel that we are in a dark place; events in our lives can give rise to the feeling that we are walking in the shadows, but we should always remember that the presence of shadows proves the existence of light. It can be difficult to see a path back to that light, to navigate our way through the darkness, but the light is always there. We are told in John's Gospel that, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. That light is Jesus. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.To find that light we need to follow Him. We need to look up and make the conscious decision to cross from the shadow to the light. Our path may be fraught with difficulty, we may have some obstacles to overcome to get there; the “oncoming traffic” of life's trials and tribulations, but the walk will be better for our efforts... it's the sunny side of the street

Family time is happy time - 11/6/20

Confession time; as a family, with a minister for a Dad, we fall rather short of other people’s expectations. We are, at times, even less harmonious than the Simpsons; and that is saying something! When we are all together along with,what I like to call , the attachments (partners of my grown up kids), we are noisy. There is heated debate around politics, religion, education and even relatively safe topics like health and the weather. One of my children has taken to bringing ear plugs to family do’s. Yesterday, I had a bad day. I received yet another piece of sad news and fell apart a little. Who would have thought thatthese three words would come to my rescue: ‘zoom family quiz ‘? 3 months ago we had never had a family quiz and I had not heard of zoom. Yet, thanks to the wonders of technology, and a daughter who sacrificed a fair bit of time to sort it out, we were together; still noisy, still opinionated and still very much a family. In order for it to work, we had to mute ourselves frequently and concede to each other. Our church is frequently called a family. We may be distanced from each other but when we get together, it still feels like family. There are the noisy ones, the opinionated ones, the awkward ones, the quiet ones etc etc. BUT, we are still family. In order for church to work, we have to make multiple little sacrifices in order to keep unity. We have to daily forgive one another, show grace to one another and lay aside our own desires. We have to learn to mute our own voice and sacrificially listen to our brothers and sisters. In the New Testament, in the book of Philippians, we are told that our example should be Christ Jesus Himself. If we follow him, then it means that living as a church family should be like this:“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favour: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”(Philippians 2 1-4).We don’t have to be perfect, but we do have to try. As for my family? We are still very much a work in progress.

 

Life is a rollercoaster - 10/6/20

Ever since I was young I have been unable to ride on a rollercoaster without turning green. I can’t help it, it’s just me. The waltzers are the same – round and round and round and then round some more; everyone else laughing and squealing with delight while I was trying to work out which way to turn my head so that what was about to happen wasn’t going to end up right back in my face! Thesolution isn’t difficult – don’t go on fairground rides. Easy. Except that a few years ago while on holiday in Disneyland, a few ‘grown ups’ decided to go on one of the bigger rides – “come on!”, “It’ll be great!”, “you’ll be fine!” There was a small part of me that did wonder if maybe it was something that I’d grown out of – that decided it, I’d give it a go. Well……I shouldn’t have bothered. My husband had never seen that shade of green before and he’s quite certain he doesn’t want to see it again! For some people the exhilaration and excitement of the ride brings joy and laughter. The lurch of your stomach as you are suddenly plunged down off a cliff edge for some reason unknown to me seems to bring pleasure rather than queasiness. The abrupt twists and turns and unexpected drops are exciting rather than terrifying or sickness inducing. But that’s just the point – we all might beexperiencing the same circumstances, but we are all still experiencing them uniquely. There’s no right or wrong. For some people, home schooling may be a joy. For some people, the shops being closed might have been a relief. Some people are even finding pleasure in the queues – someone told merecently how her husband is enjoying have to queue everywhere because he can have a chat to people and they have nowhere to go! But for others the juggling of home life, work, school assignments, essential shopping, the loneliness, uncertainty and stress may be almost too much to bear. There’s no right or wrong.But we do need to know that whether we are experiencing joy or sadness, we’re not experiencing it alone. God has placed us into each other’s care and told us to look out for one another. In 1 Thessalonians it says “… always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Overthe last few weeks and months there have been so many acts of simple kindness that may have felt insignificant to the giver but which have meant the world to the receiver. Being joyful isn’t always about happiness but joy can be found in a word of encouragement; joy can be found in a simple text that asks how your day has been; joy can be found in the knowledge that a friend is holding you in their prayers; joy can be found in the gnome on your doorstep. I feel privileged to be part of this joyful community – not always happy, but always joyful. But I’m still not convinced that joy can be found on a rollercoaster!

Peace. perfect Peace - 9/6/20

It’s the 9th June today. That means we’re having McDonalds for tea! It goes without say. Every year, for the last 12 years, on this day, we’ve had McDonalds for tea. 13 years ago today, my daughter, Peace, was born. Stillborn. I knew from early on in my pregnancy that ‘something was wrong’. A mummy’s instinct. My little chick was headed to a much better place. On her ‘first birthday’ I asked my other little girls what would you like to do for Peace’s birthday? Without a second thought they said, ‘we want to buy her flowers mummy, and go to McDonald’s’. 12 years later and we still have the same routine. And that won’t change. It’s our celebration of our beautiful little girl. Over the last 13 years I have gone from being completely heartbroken, to knowing peace. A peace that I could only get from a loving God who knew what it was like to feel pain. I can honestly say, I have peace about my Peace. And so, we celebrate her. We thank God for the place she has in our lives. I know that one day I’ll get to hug my girl. And today I say, ‘Thankyou Peace, for causing me to learn so much more about empathy, gratitude, love and making every moment count’.

Happy birthday beauty, mummy loves you ️

 

‘Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort’.

2 Corinthians 1:3

There are other things in life - 8/6/20

I wasn’t sure where I had put it a year ago when my body decided to mess with my life and my plans. So last week I went looking for my Fitbit. If you don’t know what a Fitbit is, you’re clearly not keeping up with the healthy young people like me. You wear it on your wrist like a watch, but unlike a watch which simply tells you what time it is, this monster tells you what to do with your time. It tells you how far you should walk in aday, and when. Ten minutes before each hour expires, my little monster buzzes and tells me to walk 500 paces. It doesn’t mind where I go or what I see (it doesn’t even care about the weather, I told you it’s a monster), it just wants you off your backside and moving. It constantly reminds me of my pulse rate (mine’s 57, but only for now). It suggests that I go running, which is stupid with a knee like mine, and it complains when I don’t. It insists that I drink more water but doesn’t allow me any time to go to the loo. Now it’s started telling me when I should go to bed, and kicks off an alarm when it thinks I should be out walking first thing in the morning. It has just buzzed (this is really true), so I had to stop writing this Sunrise to walk my 500 paces, and as my reward it’s telling me how many calories I’ve burnt. But I’m grinning because I didn’t tell it that while I was walking I was munching my way through a bag of chocolate raisins! I’m still in charge. I think. I’ve been watching two men who went to the gym seven days a week, lifting heavy weights and sweating a lot. They were there when I arrived and they were still there when I left. They don’t do it anymore, they don’t do anything anymore. Not even breathing. Yesterday’s Sunrise reminded us that ‘There is a time for everything.’ One of the greatest of God’s gifts to us is time. Maybe we shouldn’t waste it, but how we use it is up to us. But it’s not all drudgery and discipline (are you listening Fitbit?), the Bible passage that tells us ‘There is a time for everything’ includes. ‘a time to plant, to heal, build, laugh, dance, embrace, mend,love, and a time for peace.’ There are other times too. God wants us to use His gift, not to waste it. If that means walking to visit somebody then let’s do that. If it means stopping to talk to the God who loves us, then let’s do that. Remember it’s God’s gift but you get to choose what to do with it. Don’t throw your Fitbit out, but remember there are other things in life.

I'm a human being - 7/6/20

Have you ever had one of those days where you have 100 things to do and there just doesn’t seem enough hours in the day? The washing pile is growing by the minute? The ironing pile is bigger than you ever remember? There is no food in the cupboards? You have emails to write? Phone calls to make? Bills to pay? Stairs to hoover and rooms to tidy and possibly a full-time job and a family to care for? Oh, and then there’s the garden?!! Life can become overwhelming sometimes can’t it? There always seems to be a deadline to meet and a to do list as long as your arm. No time for breakfast, lunch on the run, and too tired for dinner! We’ve all been there haven’t we? And to be fair if those kinds of days are rare that’s great! But if days like that become the norm, something’s got to give! We simply can’t continue to keep up the pace. And nor should we. There’s an old saying that says, ‘Always remember we are human beings not human doings’! And how true that is! It is so easy to get in to a rut And then find it really difficult to get out of. It can happen at any age and can cause anxiety, stress, depression… If this rings true for you, then let it be a wake-up call. Pause for breakfast. Sit down for lunch, even a quick one. And make sure that you recognise the people in your life who simply want you to ‘be’. So maybe make that phone call to the friends you haven’t spoken to for months. Play a game with your children or grandchildren. Take time to listen, to share, to care. To be. Yes the washing needs to be done, and emails do need to be sent, but the Bible says, ‘there is a time for everything....’ I need to remind myself of this often! To stop. Breathe. Eat. And whoop my chicks at a board game!

There comes a time when silence is betrayal - 6/6/20

I wasn’t around in the 1950’s but it is my belief that since the Civil Rights Movement the western world has come a long way. I try never to take for granted that I live in a time and place where there is peace. However, every now and again something so disturbing and tragic happens that I start to question how far do we still have to go? I think George Floyd is a name that has been on the majority of our minds and hearts in the past week, a story which we’ve heard much in the news of. Unfortunately, this is just one example of the injustices that are apparent in society today. I sincerely hope that in my lifetime the world becomes a place where people are judged by their character and actions and not their race, gender, disabilities or any other inconsequential qualities. In response to this week’s sad news I reread the book of Esther in the Bible. For those of you who are unfamiliar, I’d recommend the read (it’s only 10 chapters long). For me, I read it as a story of gender inequality, discrimination against a race of people, a strong independent woman who manages to save many lives though her faith in God. Long story short, Esther is faced with a decision in which she has a choice. Her first option is to stay silent and allow Haman’s plot to go ahead and the Jews, her people, would be mercilessly slaughtered. The second option was to speak out and confess to the king, her husband, that she is a Jew in order to get Haman’s plot revoked; but at the same time risking her own life. As a woman Esther could have been killed for even approaching the king without him calling her, never mind what could potentially happen if he found out she was a Jew! One thing that stood out to me in this book was what Mordecai (Esther’s father figure) said to Esther whilst she was making her decision. He said “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as time?”. It made me think, does God put us in certain situations because we can make a difference? Although calling out discrimination and injustice might be a scary concept, we have a duty to do it, otherwise it will just continue. Martin Luther King Jr once said, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal”. Esther made her decision, she faced her fears and told the king of Haman’s schemes, the king tookher side and she remained queen. Next time you’re faced with a situation when you have the choice to speak out or remain silent think of this story as you make your choice. I’m not asking you to put your lives at risk like Esther, but if the situation does arise when someone makes a discriminatory comment will you speak out? Will you make a stand for those who have been treated unjustly because of the insignificance of something like the colour of their skin, their sexuality, gender etc?​

Stop and think - 5/6/20

For months now we have had to think. Before we do anything, before we touch anything, before we go anywhere, before we meet anyone. Think. Is this okay? Does this meet the guidelines? Could this thing or person be contaminated? Will I come into contact with things that will do me harm? Will I be safe? This is not normal behaviour, but these are not normal times. Normally we just get on with it… whatever it might be. We don’t need to think about what we are doing because we are used to doing it and we usually know what to expect. We have habits and routines and life just goes on without us having to consider every move we make before we make it. Nevertheless, we have made the changes. We have adapted. Why? Because it makes sense. Somebody that we believe knows what they are talking about has gone to the trouble of providing us with a set of guidelines that are designed to keep us safe, so we have heeded the advice. We have been given a roadmap to steer us through uncertain times. Sometimes it has felt uncomfortable, unnatural, not what we would normally do, but we have done it because we know that it will make our lives better – even if we have to wait until after the pandemic passes to see the fruits of our efforts. Whilst it has been a different way of living our lives, it is a habit we should all cultivate. Long after Covid 19 has gone away we should still be thinking about how we act in our daily lives. Why? Because it makes sense. The God of the universe has given us a set of guidelines that are designed to keep us safe. He has created us. He has created everything. He wants to see His creation flourish. To that end He provides us with a roadmap for our lives. A pattern to follow to help us to live the best life we can live. Some of the guidelines may feel a little uncomfortable at first, a little unnatural, not the way we would normally do things, but they will make our lives better. Following the path described in God’s word will help us to, “store up treasures in heaven”, but that doesn’t mean that we have to wait to see the fruits of our efforts. Jesus tells us, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That means now. So the guidelines are worth knowing. The roadmap is worth studying. It’s something that we can look at every day. It’s easy to find. Just pick up a Bible.

Rushing back to normal? - 4/6/20

As I write this, the news, for once, is not full of Covid bad news. There are wonderful stories of celebrations as people leave hospital, as birthdays are celebrated and wedding anniversaries toasted with plans for parties, holidays and reunions to start happening. Lockdown is easing and it appears that life is not so much slowly crawling back to normal but rushing back to some sort of new , normal reality. However, up the road, the McDonalds drive through has re-opened and traffic is queuing and causing chaos around the retail park. Our local beach, which for weeks has been pristine, is full of litter . People have left bags of rubbish, disposable barbeques and even a large sun shade umbrella. In America, the recent events have shown racism and division mixed with violence and it is sickening to read , watch or listen to. So much of our existence seems to be disposable, even lives. The joy of possibly being able to spend more time with loved ones,go on holiday, return to work or just get out more is being threatened by new fears and anxieties as crowds increase and rules seem unclear. STOP! “Be still and know that I am God” Abandon the cleaning or whatever other frenetic activity you might be planning. There is a God and he is permanent, not disposable. He is still here. PONDER! “Be still and know that I am God” We do not have to return to our old ways of doing things. We should not return to some of our old ways of doing things. There is a God and we are not Him. His ways require us to change ours because He knows best. TRUST! “Be still and know that I am God” There is a God and, if we allow Him to, He holds us in His hands, no matter what. Whatever the new ‘normal’ holds for each one of us, we need to keep making time to be still and know that He is God.

We are all equal - 3/6/20

Over the past days, weeks and months, our news channels have been full of reports coming out of America. This mighty nation has become a mighty, troubled nation as day after day we hear of racial abuse, rising levels of hatred, and loss of life. And let’s not think that this is restricted only to America, it’s throughout the whole world. you do not have to look very far at all to witness, or possibly experience, racism and prejudice for ourselves. The attitude of, “I’ll hate anybody not like me!” is becoming all too common. Quite frankly, it’s outrageous, it’s disgusting, it’s wrong! This is not a political statement. This is a message from our Creator God, who made all people in His image, our Saviour God who gave his life for every person in this world. We all have our faults, failings, and wrong doings, and we all have our gifts and skills and abilities. Not one person is a mistake and all people of every nation, colour, language, status…have equal and immense value to God.  Please join with me by celebrating life and all its diversities. Let’s stand against racism and prejudice and let’s help to bring healing to a very hurting world. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “ No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love”. 

 

Did you know? - 2/6/20

Did you know that scientists estimate that there are somewhere between 200-400 billion stars in the Milky Way? Or that one million Earths could fit inside the sun and that our sun is still only considered an average size for a star! What about this one – the footprints on the moon will be there for 100 million years? Or, that it would take a spaceship travelling at the speed of light 200,000 years to travel across the Milky Way! On Saturday evening millions of people around the world witnessed on TV the incredible scenes of the SpaceX spacecraft being launched carrying two astronauts travelling to the international space
station on the first ever commercial flight to space. In something that looked like it was out of a Bond movie, the spacecraft blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre, flew around the earth and docked on the International Space Station a few hours later. We watched in awe and wonder at this incredible step forward for space exploration and as you read this that space station orbits just 220 miles above the earth’s surface – about the distance between Liverpool and London. We are amazed at mankind’s achievements, at the knowledge we have acquired and the things we have done and created but all of this pails into insignificance when we spare a thought for all that God has done. Who set the planets into orbit? Who sees to the far reaches of the universe? Psalm 19 says “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” All 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone were carefully placed there by God. The best guess that scientists can come up with is that there are at least another 100 billion galaxies in the universe – all placed there by God. My brain cannot comprehend that many 0’s but every single star and planet was set precisely in its place by our God. But, if the enormity of that isn’t enough to make you gasp in wonder, Matthew chapter 10 tell us “And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered.” The very same God who knows every star by name also knows me so well that he can tell me how many hairs are on my head! Granted, counting the hairs on our heads might be easier for some of us that others, but I bet even the most folically challenged don’t know precisely how many hairs remain on their head! So the next time you wonder about your place in the universe or about your value in it, remember that the very God who has taken so much care in placing every star in its perfect place, watches over
you so closely that he knows every hair on your head, every thought, every worry. With a God who takes that much care, I think I can trust him with my tomorrow.

Invisible Poppies - 1/6/20

There’s a small area of woodland near where we live. It contains about one hundred mature trees, Oak, Beech, Poplar, Sycamore, etc. There’s also a small lake with fish in it and ducks on it. Not many people are aware of its existence because it’s behind some large private buildings that have been there for two hundred years. Only local people use it and to them it’s very special, so no litter is ever left and no barbecues are ever lit. People walk their dogs there but always on a lead, so ducks and birds are never chased and you won’t get flattened by a crazy black Labrador or tripped up by a snappy fox terrier. It’s been very quiet for two months during Lockdown but people are tentatively visiting again. There’s a rambling narrow path that just wanders around the woods, and there is one bench. Nobody knows who put it there, it’s been there for ever, at the far end of the path, half way round. It’s just twenty feet from the far edge of the trees and it looks back to where you started your walk. Dog walkers sit on it for ten minutes then move on; it’s never crowded. When you sit on it, you’re looking at all the trees you have just walked past, it’s very peaceful and lovely. And nobody ever turns around and looks behind where there are only five trees left and a little dip in the land that’s home to a variety of tall grasses. Every Spring a small family of poppies emerge from the soil, cautiously, as if it’s dangerous. It never is, so they gently and silently grow tall, bloom, and then die. And nobody ever ever ever sees them. But they are still beautiful and they still make God smile. We read in our papers that certain famous people have given money to help the work of charities. It’s really good for the charities, and the publicity is good for the donors. Jesus talked about doing good things for people without making a fuss. “When you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your gifts in private,and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” In our community there are many ways that we can help each other. Our gift to someone may not be money or food, it may be time and a conversation that would encourage them. It could be something to read or a piece of music to lift their spirits. Whatever it is, Jesus say’s keep it to yourself, don’t boast. Our secret gifts to others are like the invisible poppies that nobody sees except God, they are beautiful and they make Him smile.

Treasure- 30/6/20

One of the tasks we set ourselves to do during lock-down was to clear out the loft.  We have been promising ourselves for a long time that we would do this but there just never seemed to be a good time – well now we’re out of excuses.  For many years things have conveniently disappeared through the hole in the ceiling and then forgotten about.  Some of these are precious items that, while not valuable, they are wrapped up in treasured memories – photographs, loved toys and books, memento from the various special stages and celebrations of life including my wedding dress (which I absolutely refused to try on just so that everyone else could have a target for their mockery!) 

However, there was also a huge amount of, well, rubbish.  Computers and games consoles that have been replaced and we simply didn’t know what to do with the old ones…..put them in the loft.  Hundreds of teddy bears, many of which have no sentimental value but as the children grew out of them we…..put them in the loft.  Clothes that are no longer in fashion (and no longer fit)…..put them in the loft.  Soft furnishings which have become obsolete after we’ve redecorated…..put them in the loft.  I was hoping that we might find some long forgotten, hidden treasure up there but, no, it was mostly just ‘stuff’.   ‘Stuff’ that had been accumulated over many years and held onto for reasons we have long forgotten.  ‘Stuff’ that is now covered in dust and dirt and has become the hiding place for spiders and moths.

In Matthew 6 it says “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

We surround ourselves with so many things that we place a value on but the truth is that even the photographs and memories will eventually fade and the generations to come after us won’t understand the value that we placed on these things.  But the things that we do and say, the way that we behave, the role model that we all have the potential to be – that’s what real treasure is made of.  God has placed treasure within each of us – the ability to love the seemingly unlovable; experience joy during hardship; know peace during turmoil and offer kindness to a stranger.  The Bible tells us that “…we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us”.  We are just jars of fragile clay, imperfect and maybe a little bit chipped but inside us God has placed treasure to share and pour out over one another.  God doesn’t want us to hoard this treasure that he has given us, he wants us to give it away. And the more we give away, the more we find we have to give. 

Let’s not store our treasure to gather dust, let’s share it generously as God intended and experience the lavish nature of God as he refills us over and over.

But if anyone does want an off-cut of carpet or a box of cassette tapes, just let me know!

What's He Talking About?- 29/6/20

We read books for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we are studying for an exam, or we need to understand a new piece of technology. If we are planning to visit somewhere new, a guide book is a good idea. Do you like history? It could be about your favourite football team or an ancient civilisation. Maybe you just want something simple to close the day with. Whatever the reason or subject, there is one condition we all need, it must be understandable. It’s possible to understand all the individual words but when the author assembles them, our brains hurt and we wonder why we started.

 I opened a new book recently on a subject that is interesting to me and which I think is important. Each chapter is written by a specialist, and the purpose of this compilation of chapters and authors is to give people a complete understanding of the subject. It didn’t start well because the introduction was 53 pages long and it made no sense to me. I gave up on that and moved on to the first chapter in the belief that because each one dealt with a single subject it would be understandable. Wrong! I learned that when dealing with ‘History’, I needed to know that there were 11 different meanings to the word. I finished the chapter after reading and re-reading over three nights. By then I couldn’t remember how the chapter started or what the point of it all was. The second chapter was concerned with ‘Truth’, that was much better because there were only 8 ways that we can think about that, but the author disagreed with all of them. I think.

 All of this made me think of John the Baptist, (you were ahead of me weren’t you?) When John and Jesus walked the streets of Palestine 2000 years ago, the Jewish religion was stunningly complicated and most of the population were totally confused. Along came John who thought it made more sense to speak simply and directly and leave out all the big words. He knew that people would wonder who Jesus was so he told them, “The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world...I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” Simple. Job done.

 Jesus was as straight with the people as John was. He taught about God, Heaven, murder, adultery, promises, revenge, love, sin, charity, prayer, fasting, money, death, ambition, worry, and other things. But always in language that ordinary people could understand. The Christian faith is for all people whatever their status in life, so it needs to be expressed simply. The Bible says, ‘This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.’

 Which bit of that don’t we understand?

How Things Change- 28/6/20

When we moved into our current house, it’s our third, there were five old apple trees at the bottom of the garden. Some of the apples were edible but most of them had worms in them. We tried for a few years then gave up trying to get to them before the worms and wasps did. So we took the trees out and it looked very empty, so in my wisdom I thought we should have just one tree. But not an ordinary boring tree, I wanted the biggest tree around. So I bought a Pyramidical Hornbeam. I bet you’re impressed! It didn’t grow out, it grew up. And up. And up again. I achieved my ambition, it was enormous and I was very proud. The birds loved it and I assume they loved me too. Then came the storm! It left devastation all around, but my tree stood firm and proud but I was a nervous wreck. Looking at it during the strongest gusts I’ve ever seen, I thought ‘If that comes down, it will flatten that house and the people in it.’ So because I’m a considerate and thoughtful neighbour (you’d love to live near me), when a ‘tree surgeon’, (that’s what he called himself) knocked at the door, I asked him to remove eight feet from the top of my prized possession. Which he did and I took pictures of him, suspended from a branch with a monstrous saw in his hands. Job done, he took his money, smiled and walked away. And the tree died. And a little bit of me went with it.

 A few years later my youngest granddaughter was in the garden with me when I saw and heard a thrush singing joyously from the top of my tree. Hope asked me where the singing bird was and I told her it was on the top of the tree. She asked me which tree, I pointed to my faded masterpiece and she said, “That’s not a tree.” Puzzled I asked her what it was to which she replied without hesitation, “Sticks.” That was a painful moment because she was right and I hated the truth.

 Life is full of change; things, jobs, people, health, relationships come and go and we can’t stop it. But our Bible tells us that not everything or everyone changes. We read that God said, “I the Lord do not change.” In the New Testament we read, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever." And something else doesn’t change, King David wrote, "From everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s love is with those who trust Him." Our lives are changing constantly, but the really important things are fixed for all time. Happy?

Anyone Seen Brian?- 27/6/20

My dad bought me a bike. It was my second bike and I wanted it because my first one wasn't cool. That was a sit-up-and-beg bike, OK for going to school and to Sayers on Saturday morning for bread and buns. But my bike riding had become serious, so I needed a serious bike to go travelling. And we travelled far and wide. You will have noticed I said ‘we’; that's where Brian comes in. We went to different schools but in our teens we rode together. Everywhere. We liked climbing hills so we had low gears and legs like Charles Atlas. If you don't know him, try Google. We rode up many steep hills in Wales, and we could ride 150 miles in a day. At the age of 15 (15!!!) we took the overnight train to Bristol and spent two weeks touring Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall right down to Lands End. We took great risks without batting an eyelid; I look back and am astounded we survived. But we did, but our friendship didn't. We started work doing different things in different places. Our bike rides had to stop, mobiles hadn't been invented, and we were two blokes who didn't write letters. By the time we were 21 it was all over. My best mate for ten years disappeared. Now I find myself thinking about him, does he have children or grandchildren? Where is he? Could I find him on Google? Should I bother or should I confine it all to history? What would you do?

Many who read Sunrise have lost a friend this week. No point trying to find him, he has gone where we can't go. Yet. Many of us could talk about our friendship with Steve and share our stories and memories, but we can't bring him back because God has said that his work is complete. So now he's got his reward, it's a bit like a pension and nothing like a pension. It’s nothing like a pension because all his needs are met by God, not by the state, and they are limitless and eternal. Steve is not in God’s family because of his work but because of his acceptance of Jesus’ work at Calvary. In the New Testament, Paul writes, ‘For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.’ Steve can rest now, his work is finished but God’s love continues.

 Now then, has anyone seen Brian?

Would You Like Some More?- 26/6/20

They say, A little of what you fancy does you good”, but they also say, “You can’t get enough of a good thing”. I’m not exactly sure who they are, but you will have heard them say it. You’ve probably also heard them say, “All things in moderation”.

So, what are we to believe? Certainly, it’s nice to have a little of what you fancy. I’m partial to a good cup of coffee and will have a few cups during the day… but never more than three. Why? Because I like my coffee strong; very strong. If you can’t bounce a pound coin off the top of it, it’s not strong enough. Now studies have shown that strong coffee can have beneficial health effects - it can apparently ward off dementia, but too much coffee can damage your liver and give you high blood pressure and palpitations. So in this case you can get too much of a good thing.

Now, what if the good thing you’re talking about is spending time with the person you love? How could you possibly get enough of that? Well, I imagine that if you were to ask some of the people who have been locked down with their loved ones for the past thirteen weeks whether they want another thirteen weeks, you might be surprised by some of the answers. Obviously, nobody reading, or writing, this missive will fall into that category!

So, perhaps all things in moderation is the way to go. It’s certainly true of most dietary considerations. We may be trying to eat healthily, but our body needs sensible amounts of all the major food groups… even carbohydrates, fat and sugar. Simply not eating, or completely removing certain foods from our diet is not actually healthy. A sensible, moderate approach is always better.

So what are we going to do? Which option will we choose? A little, a lot, or something in between?

Former college football star, Tim Tebow had a saying which I found interesting, or more accurately, I liked how he applied it. In his autobiography he says he lived by the adage, “If some is good, more must be better”. He used this in his approach to all things. When his team mates ran a mile in training, he would run two. If somebody lifted 200 lbs in the weight room, he would lift 250. If his college professor suggested he spend two hours studying a subject, he would spend three… and so on. Always wanting to do more. Always wanting to prove he could be the best. In the end, it nearly killed him. He trained too long and too hard. He did too much. His body couldn’t cope with the demands he put upon it. He was physically exhausted and his body shut down.

During his enforced bed rest in hospital, he had time on his hands. He turned to his Bible. Tim is a devout Christian and would make time to connect with God whenever he could, but his punishing schedule had meant that he had spent less time than he would have liked on what was really important. Now, finding that he had spare time forced upon him, he was able to spend quality time getting to know God better. He realised that his previous life style had been of his own choosing. He had chosen to do too much. He had chosen to drive himself too hard. He had chosen to fit God in around the edges.

Here in the stillness he realised that he needed to rethink his schedule. He knew that he didn’t want to go back to how things had been. So he didn’t. He changed his way of doing things. He adjusted his training demands and his college work and still graduated and led his team to the National College Football Championship, but all of that came after he had put God at the forefront of whatever he did.

We too have had an enforced time of change. We too can take time to reassess what is important to us. We too have the opportunity to reflect and come to the same conclusion as Tim Tebow… that when it comes to God, if some is good, more must be better.

Put Away The Sanitiser- 25/6/20

I returned to work a couple of weeks ago; not that I have stopped work but physically, went into my actual workplace. It was scary and exciting. Our college is so proud of its support for local workers and the NHS and is now making its own sanitiser. As you step through the doors it is the first thing you do…sanitise your hands. However, let’s face it, sanitising hands is hardly an exciting moment in the day and the novelty of it wore off along with the fragrance. UNTIL…I took the hubster into town for a tentative look around. He invented a new game. Rate the shops by their sanitiser! We tried them all. There were gloopy ones, sticky ones (yuk), spray ones and industrial ones (check it out in the toilets in Liverpool one!) ‘Next’ won! The sanitiser in Next is so nice that every day it gets stolen! It is like a perfume, just beautiful. In religious language, Christians sometimes talk of things like being cleansed by the blood of the lamb or the cleansing power of Jesus. The first statement, although very true, can also be a bit off putting if you have never been to church before. After all, lambs’ blood is hardly going to compete with the scented beauty of the ‘Next’ sanitiser is it?

Jesus did not come to sanitise us. Jesus did not come to sanitise our world and make us and it sterile. He did come to cleanse and to heal. The stuff that needs cleansing is not always visible. It’s a bit like a virus in that it is dangerous, harmful but pretty invisible. Sin or wrong doing is harmful. It damages us and our relationships and no amount of posh or industrial sanitiser will deal with it.

When we follow Jesus, he invites us to hand over that sin to Him. He dealt with it on the cross, once and for all.

In John 10 verse 10 (I know I have quoted this before, but it is our college vision and I love it), it says this:

 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Sin robs us of joy, relationships and life but Jesus promises to give us life and life in all its fullness.

One For All and All For One- 24/6/20

Quite a long time ago now, I studied A level art. My favourite style of art was pointillism. Whole images made up of tiny dots. If you stood very close to the picture you would see the combination of coloured dots very clearly, but as you stepped back you would realise that each and every dot helped to make the big picture. I was never particularly known for being patient, however I would sit for hours and hours creating images made up of thousands upon thousands of tiny dots. And what seemed funny about it was that every single tiny dot was relevant. Every single tiny dot vital to the big picture. When I messed some of the dots up, I messed the whole picture up. I had to sort the mess if I wanted the picture to be beautiful.

The Bible tells us that, ‘we are God’s work of art, his masterpiece’. He takes delight in creating us and gifting us, and He loves it when we give ourselves to the bigger picture. When people come together with their different personalities and traits and all offer what skills and abilities they’re able to, it’s a bit like a pointillism image, every single dot, every single person, vital to the bigger picture. And when there’s a mess, a hurt, a grief, a desperate time, for just one person, it’s only right that it affects the rest. It’s only right that we join forces and help where needed. 

Pointillism wouldn’t work if each dot stayed on its own. Community wouldn’t work if each one of us didn’t need the others. Pointillism needs lots of dots all working together for the big picture. Community needs all of us, working together, recognising each other as ‘God’s work of art’. And when we do that, when we truly learn to appreciate one another, we can become part of God’s big and beautiful masterpiece.

The Repair Shop- 23/6/20

Have you watched The Repair Shop on TV?  I love it.  People bring in treasured possessions and family heirlooms that are broken and battered, that are rotting away and have become unusable and sometimes dangerous – the team of restorers then set about repairing and restoring the item to its former glory.  I’m amazed at what they can do.  These are things that to me look like they are irredeemable and the only place for them is the bin but the restorers never seem phased, they just go about, bit by tiny fragile bit, bringing new life to this beloved possession.  Often the owners have wonderful, personal stories of the people who gave them this item, or the family occasions when it was used etc.  The thing is though, the restorers don’t make it look like it was when it was brand new.  They are careful to keep the worn edges, the scratches and the child’s name etched into the bottom.  They restore its function and its beauty but are careful to maintain its character and its history.  The things that are most precious to us tend to be the things that have journeyed with us, things that remind us of happy times and special people; things that bear something of our own story.

We’re not so different though are we?  Life leaves its mark on us.  Sometimes that is a physical scar or wound but often it can be those scars that are unseen which have left their mark on us invisibly but no less real or deep or painful and which, if untreated, can weaken us and even eat away at us restricting our ability to function.  But the good news is that we have a great restorer who has promised us that one day “He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes.  Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone … “Look! I’m making everything new.””

I like the idea of being all shiny and new and free from the scars of life but it does beg the question, what do we do while we wait?  On those days when life feels just too hard and we’re just not strong enough; not good enough; not capable enough; not happy enough? Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth spoke about his own frustrations of his weaknesses and how he’d asked God to make him stronger – God’s reply to him was simple: “My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness”.  It was then that Paul understood; when he was at his weakest, when he stopped trying to do things in his own strength, that’s when God was able to step in and Paul no longer lived in his own strength, but God’s.  Paul’s response to his weaknesses changed – “I just let Christ take over!  And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become”. 

God offers us exactly the same.  We are his beloved possessions and none of us are irredeemable - while we wait to be restored to shiny newness; while we have to put up with the worn edges and the scratches that life has imposed on us – we don’t have to do it in our own strength, he’s waiting for us to lean on him.

Meeting and Eating- 22/6/20

Celebrations are an important part of our lives. We celebrate our birthdays, anniversaries, and other important days. We throw parties, take pictures, give flowers and gifts, and most importantly we eat cake. We not only have personal celebrations, we have national ones. There’s St George’s Day, St Patrick’s, St David’s and St Andrew’s. Then there’s New Year’s Day. Have I missed any? Guy Fawkes. Lord Mayor’s Day. Red Nose Day. But I’m sure you will agree that the most important one is Fathers Day. How could you disagree? Some of these celebration days are marked by time away from work, by leisure and laughter, fun and gifts. We picnic, parade, barbecue, and launch fireworks.  We spend time with family and friends. Such celebrations lift us from the routine of our lives. (I quite like my routine). They cause us to remember our collective past and the people who used to celebrate with us, and be thankful for our present circumstances, and as we celebrate in the present, we hope for more years and more celebrations.

As Christians, we have our own celebrations; Christmas, Easter, Ascension Day, etc. But if these special Christian days are just events that come round each year, allow us time off work and encourage meeting and eating, we’ve missed the point. They are meant to be transformative. When we rightly smile at youngsters acting out the birth of a baby in Bethlehem, do we understand that this baby created the world and everything on and around it? Many people in the world struggle with this, but two thousand million of us don’t struggle, we celebrate!

 Speaking about the baby, the Bible says, "Everything was created by Him, everything in heaven and on Earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God’s Son, and everything was made for Him." It’s the same with Easter and Ascension Day, these are not rituals, they are realities. When Jesus left Earth on Ascension Day, an angel told the disciples, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way as you have seen Him go.”

 If people are ready for that, it will be a celebration day to end all celebration days. See you there.

Thank You Dads- 21/6/20

It’s Fathers Day! A day that has been celebrated around the world for over 100 years. A day started by a little girl in the States who wanted to say a huge big Thank you to her wonderful, loving dad! So, Happy Fathers Day to all you wonderful dads; step dads; foster dads; uncles; cousins; granddads; and all others who have taken on the tough and challenging role of a dad! May you have a very happy and blessed day!! Thank you for being there to help make tough decisions; to show excitement and delight and pride in ‘your children’; for the laughter; the tears; the support and the fun. Thank you!

And for those of us left only with memories of a wonderful ‘dad’, may your day be filled with smiles and gratitude. 

Throughout the bible we can read stories of different kinds of dads. Some of them wonderful, some of them not. All of them imperfect. But the bible talks about one dad who is perfect. This dad made the world, put the stars in space, counts the grains of sand on the beaches, made you and me, knows how many hairs are on our heads, knew us before we were born and knows every moment of our life here on Earth. He loves each one of us with the most extravagant, relentless love. He knows our names. God is our perfect father. 100% perfect, accessible, love. That’s our father! Happy Father’s Day God....and thank you.

No I Can't...Yes I Can- 20/6/20

My husband and I met,married and worshipped at a church in Liverpool until, very sadly it closed. One day Dave was approached to be Treasurer as the current one was retiring. He was an engineer, never having been involved in figures or balancing accounts! His immediate answer was - "No I can't" . Needless to say Dave,very capably did the job for quite a number of years.I was recently asked to contribute to 'Sunrise'. My response, without even having to think was "No I can't"Moses was asked by God to help free the Israelites from slavery. He immediately replied "No I can't" But reading the story of Moses in the bible, we know that he was able to do what God asked of him.Dave was encouraged to be Treasurer by the Church Officers.I was encouraged by someone who has become very special to me.Moses was encouraged by God. We all need encouragement in our lives. God says "Encourage one another" So why not give it a go! You don't know how you could affect someone's life for the better. You might know of somebody who would benefit from an encouraging word. Maybe you are the one to give it.1 Thess 5 : 11  "So encourage one another and build each other up just as you are already doing "

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