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Saying Goodbye

Some people have a hard time saying goodbye, for some a big send off ticks the box, for others they just want to slip away quietly, with minimal fuss. But saying goodbye is hard, change is difficult. You hold onto the idea, and feeling that God goes with you. However letting go of what was and heading into the relative unknown remains tough. 

Peppered through the beginnings of the Gospels, are short verses about how the disciples left all they had and went with Jesus!

Let’s stop a moment and think about those words. They left all they had, that meant jobs, family, friends, identity, stability and safety. They went with someone who perhaps they had heard of, perhaps they knew something about, more scarily though, it could be that they didn’t know anything about him at all!

What motivates somebody to just go? Perhaps having some kind of breakdown! Perhaps there is more to it that is written in the gospel, maybe there had been several meetings and discussions about what might happen if they said yes to Jesus? Or maybe something stirred inside them, we might call that the spirit of God, and they were compelled, inspired, moved, to take an momentous leap of faith. Which they didn’t know for a number of them would lead to martyrdom, denial, betrayal. Yet they who were Jesus’s diciples would witness the incredible things that God can do, not least raising his son from the dead, seeing 9000 people fed across two ocassions, countless people healed, and demons exorcised.

Hindsight would say they probably made the right choice! However in that moment recorded in the Gospels, there was no time machine, or Doctor Who’s Tardis that they could jump into, and see what was to come. Each of them took one step of faith, followed by another, and another. The diciples as we know stayed. I’m convinced that they would not have done the journey, if they hadn’t realised that Jesus was the real deal, and was and is the promised messiah.

I can’t imagine anyone, or any sane person following a charlatan, someone pretending to be something they’re not for that length of time and in such close proximity with one another. Because surely over the course of time the fake messiah would be found out. Which leads me to consider that what the disciples saw in Jesus was real, tangible, powerful and life changing. 

So when we head out, live our lifes, do church, lets be sure it’s the lord beckoning us, and step out in faith. For we may just see people healed, the dead raised.


A word to the wize,  whether we stay or go, following God being in the place he wants us to be, is also costly. I wonder if Peter for example, had looked ahead through the gift of time travel and discovered that the would die upside down on a cross. Might have instead said following jesus was not for him. Because at the start of his walk with Jesus his faith waw new, untested, unseasoned by the passage of time. It is the journey with all its bumps, and resting places, where faith grows, is tested, affirmed and strengthened. for Peter, his faith gave him the strength of character to say to his executioner tun the cross upside down, I will not die like my saviour and friend.

“Shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

Philippians 2:15-16

Fruit Wonderful Fruit

If I did not know anything about christianity or different faiths that offer depths and riches money simply can’t buy, I am not sure I would sign up!

It seems to me sometimes, that to not have any faith is rather freeing, you’re free from dogma, guilt, and of course you are perhaps less likely to become a suicide bomber or take a gun and shoot people in the streets, or brutalised or bully people in the name of God or because you think God has told you too, which of course people of many faiths have done throughout the ages. I do wonder though if in these cases such people are perhaps using God, as a scapegoat, to hide their own issues and prejudices.

Here the bible comes to our aid in Galatians 5:22-23 which speaks about the fruit of the spirit, being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

These are not uniquely Christian attributes, for anybody can have these gifts to greater or lesser degree. But perhaps through them you the closer to God you are. Even if you don’t recognise it, or indeed recognise God working within you through the power of Holy Spirit.

So perhaps when we think about signing up to a faith we look for its fruit, we question what are the fruit of its disciples? Fruit of course is good for us, I am often struggling to choose fruits over chocolate! Even though I know obviously that fruit is better for me.

But the kind of fruit that St Paul is speaking about to the church in Galatia, is the kind of fruit I would look for above all else, both in myself, and the community I find myself in. Through my faith in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit this fruit, can grow and I can see it develop in the life of others.

Where we do not find the fruit of the spirit, where we do not see anything but hatred, prejudice, and a pseudo spirituality, that veils a deeper narrative of political posturing, and so-called religious bias, that actually destroys what God is trying to accomplish in people. In those places, you won’t grow, you might not realise it at first.

However Just like you go to a doctor, and have a health check, and he sits across from you and tells you earnestly you need to eat more fruit! I Encourage you to check your spiritual diet, and just like eating healthy, bares in you the fruit of healthy living, a tighter waistline, and longevity. Becoming spiritually healthy means your bear these fruit not just in abundance, but you’ll see them in others, and be more connected with the living God, who doesn’t call you to hurt others but love them as yourself, and if you struggle with loving yourself of course, try loving them as much as God, for regardless of faith, gender, race, sexuality, or all manner of things, they, you and I have been made in Gods image and deserve to be treated as we would treat God.

Finally for those of us who have used God as a scapegoat for our own prejudices and issues, to pour condemnation on others or worse. There is hope, Jesus was hung on the cross as a scapegoat for all of our sin. Through this single act of sacrifice, we can learn the sentiment behind these nine fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, that through the power of the holy spirit can be born in us, and in turn we can be liberated from the venom that poisons our relationship with Jesus and those that don’t know him.

Why not join me in prayer?

Lord help me to see my prejudices for what they are. Help me not to mistake my words, thoughts and feelings with yours. Set me free, by the power of the Holy spirit, to live and work, as you call me too.

In Jesus name, Amen

Does Peace Even Have a Chance?

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“World peace is an idea of planetary non-violence by which nations willingly cooperate, either voluntarily or by virtue of a system of governance that prevents warfare:.-wikipedia

Sunday was the United Nations world international day for peace, I didn’t even realise it had happened, did you?

The day didn’t even make the news, which heralded the latest footage of violent clashes across the middle east, and in the divided Ukraine. One might have hoped for an coinciding announcement some political agreement on unprecedented financial backing, to train peace makers over and above that of training peace keepers?

As a christian sometimes I find it hard to know what to pray, or indeed do, when there is such hatred and commitment to conflict in the eyes of those who would kill us to get there way. So perhaps I might hold the big picture of a world in chaos before God, remembering that there are moments when peace can break out even ever so briefly.

Such a day was 25th December 1914. The history books recall that the day before German soldiers began singing christmas carols, this lead to conversations between the warring sides, leading to the moment on christmas day, where soldiers tentatively trusted that the other side wouldn’t open fire, as they walked onto mans land, and together the germans and british shared gifts and played football.

But as I hold that wide picture before God, I set about seeking God with the vision of my local situation. Trying to answer the question of how I can be a peacemaker in my own back yard? Whether that is the class room, work place, family or church. How can I enable change in those who slander, or spread the cancer of cynicism and violence?

Make me a channel of your peace, where there is hatred, let me bring Your love, are the opening lyrics to the famous hymn of the same name. When it talks of Gods love, I do not think of his love as being soft, but instead, tough. The harder than nails kind of love.

A Love that demands sacrifice, that compels us to challenge those places where violence has become the norm. To restore peace, to bring about a rediscovery in the innate God given value in humanity and the individual right to live, life in all its fullness and potential.

Lets pray

Jesus may we have the courage to be a peace maker, that those through circumstance, the conviction of others or themselves may choose life above death, words above the gun or bomb. Finally lord if I am ever faced with the opportunity to inflict harm on those who  harm my own, compel me to choose peace.- Amen

D-day: Fighting For Peace

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As a peace loving christian minister, it may seem strange to you and certainly uncomfortable for me to say, but perhaps at times, war might be a necessary weapon in a fight for true freedom and equality!

As one of the Call of Duty playing generation, I have never tasted the realities of war, the cold harshness of comrades cut down in their prime. The mental scarring of survivors guilt and horrors of post traumatic disorders.

In the game, you are immersed into the heat of battle, win medals and feel a victorious surge of adrenaline when you complete your mission. Yet when you can always respawn, (come back from the dead) and the people you shoot are computer generated, it’s hardly real or authentic as much as gaming companies try to make it.

Unlike when I was listening to the stories during the D-day commemorations, of brave men and women civilian and not who lived through a real battlefield, not lasting minuets but years with no chance to respawn; it truly reminded me of the reality of sacrifice.

I suspect that the pacifist in you and I would disagree with this next statement. Regardless I do wonder that sometimes this side of heavenly perfection, blood is the only currency that can win freedom. It is the currency paid in full by countless numbers of veterans across the history of humanity and a currency that through Jesus death and resurrection, will win our freedom from the consequences of our sinfulness before God.

I listened to the old soldiers of World War Two and see in them something truly heroic as they retell these events.  I see something in their eyes and hear it in their voices, perhaps it’s my imagination, but I glimpse an inner strength and resolve, that if called upon again even though in advanced years they would step into the breach once more for you and I, and for there families.

These are the men and women who journeyed into a hellish storm of lead for you and I. Who killed in the name of liberation, bringing peace ultimately. As well as exposing the lies and hidden horrors of a nazi regime. To them I am grateful they stepped up to a line and crossed it for a higher ideal for something bigger than themselves.

However what of the smaller conflicts, what of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine, the western political stomach for war seems to have been tamed. The critique of politicians. and of our men and women in uniform comes from all quarters. It seems hard to find reason for a just war, perhaps that is as it should be?

However, sometimes it looks like opinion polls and political posturing somehow matter more, than lives, than freedom, than justice for the common man and woman, the ones who have no voice to and are being oppressed by legalistic barbaric customs, the Sudanese women sentenced to death, the school girls kidnaped from their place of education and the countless thousands slaughtered in Syria as the world watches on. Yet as I write this I am not sure what good a military solution would do in those cases.

I am not offering an answer just wrestling with the realities of our world. War has to be a last resort, and perhaps our national hesitation is good, wise and proper. However there needs to be a line when with heavy hearts we say enough is enough. Then we act with steely determination for something bigger than ourselves, something honourable and even good.

It may seem strange that as a christian I say these things, but past the vainer of wealth, and technological advances, the world still has the same issues, the same injustices and no lasting solution that works. religious, political or military solutions are not perfect, because as humans we are often manipulated by our own or others agendas.

Dear God,
I recognise I am flawed, but follow you who is perfect. In my imperfection, I pray that as far as it is down to me, I will make a difference where I am. Lord I pray for the government who make tough decisions not for the faint hearted, may they know wisdom and courage in there deliberations. Amen 

 

A Practice Of Love

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During my Mothers pregnancy and whilst I was growing in her womb there were all kinds of complications and worries, and conversations were had with doctors and consultants whether to keep me or not. When I was actually born I was so poorly there were real worries that I would not survive for very long. I am pleased to say, that was nearly 40 years ago and I am pretty fit and well despite those anxious opening months for my parents and the nurses and doctors of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Rabbits-Love-Cute-Fluffy-Animal-Two-Rabbits-In-Love-1024x1280 What does love look like to us? Past the honeymoon period, behind the pictures of happiness, loving that is sometimes more a decision than a fluttery feeling that moves us to action. What might that raw, wonderful, beautiful thing we call love look like? Perhaps seeing past our friends severely disabled sons disability and instead seeing who he is and the joy he finds being with his mum and younger brother, or my Facebook friend who posts pictures of her blind little boy playing with his baby sister.

What about the elderly women who though totally exhausted, changes the bed for the umpteen time for her husband of many years, who has now grown incontinent. Or the husband helping his disabled wife who together are isolated by the geography of where they live is also isolated along with his wife from the help of neighbours and friends. Sometimes love can be an act of will, a decision as habitual as brushing your teeth.

Do I enough will power to love in such a sacrificial way? I haven’t been tested to that extent yet but I hope so. However I know that love is not a list of fairy tale sequels, nor is it drudgery of every day moments. If we look we may find that there are moments within the relationship that are cherished, a moment of clarity and humour for someone racked with depression or Alzheimer’s, the wonderful surprise at someone offering to help you up the curb with a wheel chair or open a door for you.  We live in a world where there are plenty of people who live with and love the dying, the disabled person, who sit alongside their loved one who can’t feed themselves, or who carry their partner up the stairs at night to bed because their legs have forgotten how to work. These people model a kind of love that is deeply challenging and vibrant and lived out as a practice of love in action, so much deeper than a fuzzy feeling or the superficiality that love can be.

This practice of love is also an image of Godly love, A God we see in Jesus that’s steps into our world and sits alongside our innate brokeness and sees beyond our inadequacies to the man, women, child the lord always wished for us to be, that circumstances and life may have robbed us of for now, but Christ takes our hand and leads us into eternity where all will be well and all will be made well.

Love takes effort, it’s looking past the honeymoon period which is where most romantic comedies lie. It’s not the hell of the film What Dreams May Come where Robin William’s travels from his place in heaven into hell to rescue his wife, but perhaps for some they feel they need rescuing. Today I choose to love my wife, that may mean beginning with sorry, rather than flowers, that may mean stepping into her world, rather than telling her what I think and feel or whats going on in my life. The practice of Love is about loosing ourselves a little for the sake of the bigger picture, of an enduring relationship, of family stability to model a love that lasts, endures and overcomes.

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Easter Day: Told You So…

entry two in a disciples diary might read:

Dear Diary,

Not really sure where to start, apparently i have been a bit short sighted, my self loathing of yesterday has been overturned, to mind bending joy. I cannot really totally believe it.

Apparently God you can walk away from crucifixion, who knew! And me and the guys are acting like we knew it was all part of the master plan. But diary, i didn’t know. Am wondering if  I should scrub out yesterdays entry, I should have listened more, maybe I would have released.

I suspect i am not the only one who didn’t know, I wonder if the 12 knew? The chosen Jesus team, I saw one of them yesterday, if they knew he was coming back, they weren’t showing it. Anyway not one of them has said i told you so yet!

So what now, everything was true about Jesus, what does it mean? I am not sure which is easier, believing he was dead and it was all over. Or dealing with the ramifications of Jesus rising from the dead…

Since then 2000 years ago  believers has been figuring out what Jesus resurrection might mean, for how we worship, and live for God. There have been colossal mistakes along the way, illustrated by damaged people who have left, and those who think Jesus is still dead. There has also been an awesome, global outpouring of charity motivated by the love Jesus showed, which has begun schools and hospitals, feed and clothed the hungry and poor, and has and continues to fight for the rights of the oppressed and not listened too.

Lets Pray

Lord forgive our imperfect attempts at building your kingdom. May the power of the cross that broke you, also break our pride, busyness, personal agendas and give way to renewal of self and your calling to the church. Show us lord what you see.Amen

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