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Thy Kingdom Come

I have been sharing Thy Kingdom Come posts on the church Facebook page but didn’t think to post it here! So I’m starting with today – Better late than never…

 

Monday, 29th May – #Pledge2Pray #Offer

The Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio
Bishop of Cuba

‘God loves a cheerful giver.’
Let us offer our whole selves and work for the purposes of God.

(Two Videos Below)

A short video from Bishop Griselda: https://vimeo.com/218623586

A short Thy Kingdom Come video: https://vimeo.com/217821068

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Sri Lanka – He is risen!

After seeing the horrors that have taken place in Sri Lanka earlier today my thoughts 
and prayers go out to all of my brothers and sisters affected by these acts of evil: 

May Christ rise inside of each of you, 
May the power of the Spirit work in you his people to strengthen you with hope,
May the power of Christ's sacrifice overcome the evil acts of cowards. 

Father forgive! Amen.

God bless,

Nigel.

Surprise!

He is risen! Surprise!

Surprises are wonderful things. One of the worst things that you can do to a child is tell them what is in their Christmas or birthday presents. That is so cruel because much of the fun is in the anticipation. It’s like telling the score to someone who has recorded the big match to watch later. You might be excited but they won’t thank you for the news! I know people who will read a book or watch a film only once, after that it is no longer any fun because they know how it ends. I understand the joy of a surprise but the surprise isn’t everything.

When you get a child a present you and they hope that they will not only love the surprise but also love the present too; going back to it again and again, weeks and months later. When you get the right present the surprise is only the beginning. After the surprise comes the joy of playing with the toy or whatever, and really getting to know what it can do. The same is true of a great book or film, the more you go back to it, the more you learn, and the deeper the joy.

This morning I should have given you all a spoiler alert. On Good Friday we left Jesus, dead in a tomb. The world turned black, all hope was gone. Then this morning, before telling the rest of the story, I proclaimed “He is risen!” before reading the passage in the Bible that gets to that bit of the story. But I suspect that none of you were surprised; you all knew the ending already.

I hope though there was still some expectation, and some excitement. One of the reasons for Holy Week is to get us back into the story, so that we can capture again some of that wonderful joy and surprise at the news that Jesus is alive. As with any favourite story, now is the time to think what new insight has come with this retelling. For me, this year, it is Luke 24:11 that really hit me:

The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe.

The women had seen two angels and had been told the Jesus was risen from the dead. They told the eleven remaining apostles and they were laughed at! It reminds me of Jesus words recorded in Matthew 11.25, “My Father, Lord of heaven and earth, I am grateful that you hid all this from wise and educated people and showed it to ordinary people.” The apostles thought that they had become too wise to be fooled by foolish women, so God sent these women to make fools of them!

There is so much fancy theology written about the resurrection. Wonderful words about what it means and does not mean. Wonderful ideas to read and explore, but on a morning like this I’ll set all that aside, for now at least. I need to let the wonder of a man coming back to life sink into me. Later in Acts Peter realised this too when he said, “Now I am certain that God treats all people alike.” (Acts 10.34)

Perhaps, I need to question less; not worry over much about ‘how’ or ‘why,’ and accept deep inside the reality of the eternal life that is started in me.

God bless…

Feeding the 60,000

I’ve just had a message from my local Foodbank saying:

DURING 2018-19 we gave out enough food to give, ONE meal, to every person living in …

  • HARLESTON
  • DISS
  • LODDON
  • LONG STRATTON
  • EYE
  • FRAMLINGHAM
  • BECCLES
  • BUNGAY
  • STRADBROKE
  • FRESSINGFIELD
  • LAXFIELD
  • OLD AND NEW BUCKENHAM
  • PORINGLAND and
  • HEMPNALL

….NEARLY 60,000 MEALS”

That is a truly wonderful achievement from volunteers and supporters in my area. This story is being repeated right across the country. Foodbank is an initiative by Christians to care for everyone in need, whoever they are, wherever they come from, and whatever they believe. It is a true example of faith in action. It is also a scandal that this voluntary support of last resort is now an essential part of the lives of so many people, even in this relatively affluent part of England.

I pray giving thanks for the generosity and faithfulness of people here. I also pray that I can shout through the noise of brexit to our political representatives that they need to get their head out of wherever they have shoved it and start caring for the most vulnerable people that they represent. I pray that they will start leading with the same level of generosity of spirit and faithfulness as those who support my local Foodbank.

I am saying this publically now. When we next get a chance to vote, I will be calling on anyone who will listen to forget whatever political loyalty they once had and to vote for the candidate that is most Christlike in terms of how well they promote: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Christlike also in the way in which they take to heart Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 25.37-40:

Then the ones who pleased the Lord will ask, “When did we give you something to eat or drink? When did we welcome you as a stranger or give you clothes to wear or visit you while you were sick or in jail?”

The king will answer, “Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.

God bless…

Why do bad things happen?

 

Why do bad things happen?

Why indeed? I don’t have any simple answers; No neat and tidy formula and explanation, that shoots down the question. I live with the reality of the bad things in life, just like everyone else. I am certainly not immune to suffering, no one is; not people of faith, not the greatest saint, not even Jesus himself. Indeed, being a Christian can bring more bad things my way. At the moment in England, being a Christian priest/minister is very suspect, and I have been called a paedophile simply because I wear a clerical collar. I too suffer from illnesses and stresses, and those close to me do too.

I know the Christian faith to be Good News but that doesn’t mean that all pain and suffering are over, at least not yet. Suffering is a fact of life. It was a fact of life for Jesus who suffered rejection, disappointment, torture and an agonising death on the cross. I though know that Jesus is with me now, suffering with me. He can give me strength when I suffer, he can also give me the hope that I need to continue. Through Jesus I also have the hope that ultimately pain and suffering will pass away, when all is completed.

For now I am content with the company of Jesus. I love the way that through the Spirit I am able to enjoy the good things of life with added savour. I love the inner strength and purpose that comes to me, a peace too, that does indeed pass all human understanding.

Why do bad things happen? I don’t have any simple answer. I do though have a way of life that gives meaning and purpose in good times and in bad. I also have a sure hope that good will overcome completely in the end.

God bless…

 

Maybe I should just get my nails done?!

I’ve been reading through the Bible and one word struck me, ant that word is ‘harmony’ (Colossians 3.14 NRSV). What could be more ‘right’ this Mothering Sunday, than ‘harmony’. How many mothers have dreamt of harmony? harmony in their home? harmony in their lives?

So I thought some more about ‘harmony’ and what ‘harmony’ might look like in my life. What would harmony be like in me, my family, in my church, and outside the church? But first I thought I needed to know what ‘harmony’ actually meant. I looked to the Oxford Dictionary online and found that ‘harmony’ means:

  1. The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect;
  2. The quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole; or
  3. The state of being in agreement or concord.

 

Apart from the technical musical meaning I found that ‘harmony’ means:

  1. The quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole; and
  2. The state of being in agreement or concord.

 

So I’m to work towards forming a pleasing and consistent whole, where ever I am. I am to do my best to find agreement, or at least concord in all of my relationships. This is an aim, a goal, something to aspire and look forward to. But if I’m honest I’d rather leave all of this harmony business to my Mam. It all seems beyond me. How can I get harmony?

“How can I get harmony?” That question wouldn’t let go. So I went online again. This time I just typed ‘harmony’ into my search engine. I wanted to know what was ‘out there’ to help me find harmony. I typed ‘harmony’ and pressed enter, and up popped the results:

  1. The Harmony Centre – Alternative Practitioner
  2. Harmony Hair & Beauty Ltd.
  3. In Harmony Beauty Studio Ltd.
  4. Harmony Store, London
  5. Harmony Sex Shop
  6. Harmony Home Cinema
  7. Nail Harmony UK

 

These were the top 7, the others were similar or dictionary definitions.

The world out there seems consistent and clear. I don’t have to work too hard for harmony, harmony can be bought. I need to let an ‘Alternative Practitioner’ heal me and harmony will come. I need to look to my body, my hair, my nails, and my beauty. Then I need to buy a little ‘help’ from a sex shop, and relax in front of my home cinema system.

Simple, no more working for harmony. First thing Monday morning I’ll book in for a total make over: Or maybe not!

Perhaps, I would do better to go back to Colossians 3.12-17 and find what harmony is really about. I did just that and read:

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

That’s more like it! First I’m God’s chosen, so are all of His people. So it’s not about me, it’s about God and what he can and is doing in me, to make me “holy and beloved”. I need to let God clothe me with, “Compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience”. I need to learn what it is to forgive and to be forgiven but most of all I need to let God clothe me with love.

I need to let Jesus rule in my heart; let his peace and wisdom in, then I can perhaps begin to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Then and only then is harmony possible. Then the love of God can weave me into others and others into me. Then the Spirit can pour in the love that I need to build harmony, within myself and with those around me.

Or maybe I should just get my nails done?!

Violence, Rage and Revenge?

There was outrage last week when a Home Office official misused the Bible to deny that Christianity is a religion of peace. This was used to justify refusing asylum to an Iranian refugee and to deny that they would not be safe to return to Iran. The person in question had renounced Islam and had become a Christian.  The Home Office statement went on to say, “These examples are inconsistent with your claim that you converted to Christianity after discovering it is a ‘peaceful’ religion, as opposed to Islam which contains violence, rage and revenge.”

Not surprisingly the passages quoted were not about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5.39) or unconditional forgiveness (Matthew 18.21-22). The passages used were of vengeance from the Old Testament or from the word pictures from Revelation.

Christianity is a religion of peace, at least it should be, but looking at Christianity through history you might find a very different story. We have always preached peace but there have still been wars, crusades and persecutions. We even killed other Christians for having a different view of God to us. None of this can be justified by the teaching of Jesus nor by any part of the New Testament. There are Christian ideas about a just war, and for allowing authorities to enforce law and order. In each case force can only be used as a last resort, to limit evil and to make it possible for people to live in peace. However, in practice these ideas have largely been used to justify whatever a Christian in power wanted to do.

We are a religion of peace but we have to recognise that we wade through a lake of blood, shed by Christians. We are a religion of peace, the Bible gives us no other option. The task now is to live that peace. For myself, I need to let the Holy Spirit work in me to make me more peaceful, and forgiving. I need to to pray for the self-control not to speak or act until I am peaceful and can speak out of a place of peace!

There has been outrage about the actions of the Home Office, and about the slandering of Christianity. Now to make sure that it is slander!

God bless…

(Joining with the town of Harleston to call for peace last week – Thanks to Ian Carstairs for organising this!)

Bees, Frogs, Joy and Creation

I’ve been watching my bees already out and about, visiting the spring flowers and filling the garden with activity. The frogs with their golden eyes are back in the pond, and I even spotted a newt before it wriggled back into the depths. The world around me is coming to life to the chorus of birds.

The beauty fills my senses and infects me with joy. I love to hold one of my bees on the tip of my finger and look into her eyes, the eyes of a creature fully aware, looking straight back at me. It all makes me think of the stories of a perfect world where all was in harmony with itself and with its Creator. I walk into my garden and get a taste of Eden. I smile inside and feel good.

Then I remember the other part of those stories. I remember that Eden is broken, and that I’m supposed to be caring for all of this, we all are.

I’ve been watching my bees already out and about visiting the spring flowers. As I do I worship our common Creator, and pledge myself again to make earth care an act of worship, a Communion between creature and Creator.

Whether you share my faith or not, I hope you can share my wonder and joy. I hope you can join with me too in pledging yourself anew to the care and protection of this amazing planet, as we soar together through the fastness of space.

God bless,

I’ve been watching the news, and weeping

I’ve been watching the news, and weeping.

I’ve been soaking up the horror of the attack in New Zealand. Names are coming out, faces, stories, and pictures of grieving families. I cannot express the depth of my horror that a rational human being can hate so much that they can plan to kill helpless people: All for the crime of being different.

I’ve been watching the news, and weeping.

As the Brexit crisis deepens in my own country, I hear the cries of hatred. I hear human beings, Muslims, the Polish, or whatever, stripped verbally of their humanity. I hear the same evil, only with English accents.

I’ve been watching the news, and weeping.

I grieve for those Muslim worshippers and their families. I deeply disagree with so much of Islam, but I still see men and women and children, people precious in the sight of God. Indeed, faithful Muslims have taught me. They have reminded me of the importance of prayer and of my utter dependence on God. They have reminded me how important it is for me to live my faith.

I have been watching the news and weeping.

I look deeply into my own Christian faith and see how urgent it is for me to proclaim a God who suffers with us. I hear again the words from the Bible, “God is love, and those who live in love, live in God, and God lives in them.” I pray that I can live this faith, in words and actions. I pray for love and compassion for all, whoever they may be.

God bless,…

I’ve been watching the news, and weeping – taster

Recent events have led me to change my reflection tomorrow morning. My original reflection will still be published here tomorrow.

“I’ve been watching the news, and weeping.

I’ve been soaking up the horror of the attack in New Zealand. Names are coming out, faces, stories, and pictures of grieving families. I cannot express the depth of my horror that a rational human being can hate so much that they can plan to kill helpless people: All for the crime of being different…”

Hi,

I’m on Park Radio again at 7.45 am on Sunday morning and my post this week is the short reflection I’ve prepared for that. I don’t feel right about posting it before I spoken on the radio so it will not go out here until 8.30am tomorrow. If you want to follow it live instead you can tune in on 107.6 FM (Diss & Eye) or 105.2 FM (Harleston), or online at  http://www.parkradio.co.uk/

God bless…

Bees, Frogs, Joy and Creation – taster

I’ve been watching my bees already out and about, visiting the spring flowers and filling the garden with activity. The frogs with their golden eyes are back in the pond, and I even spotted a newt before it wriggled back into the depths. The world around me is coming to life to the chorus of birds….

Hi,

I’m on Park Radio again at 7.45 am on Sunday morning and my post this week is the short reflection I’ve prepared for that. I don’t feel right about posting it before I spoken on the radio so it will not go out here until 8.30am tomorrow. If you want to follow it live instead you can tune in on 107.6 FM (Diss & Eye) or 105.2 FM (Harleston), or online at  http://www.parkradio.co.uk/

God bless…