Tuesday, 27 March 2012

What we've been up to recently...

This week a lot of our ministries are winding down for Easter. We have had our last Footprints (toddler group) and youth club for 2 weeks, and also our final assembly and Friday Club of the term. Monday will be the last Take-A-Break coffee morning before the bank holiday, and while the sun is still shining out brightly, it seems the perfect time to start thinking about sitting back and resting a bit.

March has been, for us, a particularly busy month. We have had extra events (the Women’s World Day of Prayer service, a funeral, a visit from Home Mission about a possible grant, and an extra preach at Clare Baptist Church) as well as the usual engagements - home groups, youth work, ministers’ and members’ meetings and of course Mothering Sunday too!

In assembly this morning we re-enacted the crowds cheering Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I feel a bit like doing that at the minute, giving Jesus a big cheer! I know it sounds cheesy, but He’s helped us through such a lot of hard work and new experiences this month. This whole term in fact.

We’ve had quite a few leaders away from time to time this term, in assemblies, Friday Club, leadership meetings, Youth Club, Take-A-Break, and at Footprints too. It makes you realise how much you love and value your team members, because it’s not just harder without them, but you just miss having them around! It also makes you grateful for a God who provides new brilliant people to step in when you need them.

Our Sunday congregations seem to have been fluctuating a bit recently too with various holidays, work stresses, illnesses and different circumstances. It was a real blessing to see a good gathering of our church family together again for Mothering Sunday. Well done God, pulling us together again, when we seem to have been been almost too busy to see each other recently!

Easter, a time to celebrate God's goodness, a time to rest and time for fellowship, seems to be coming along at a good moment.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Socks to be you

I put my favourite socks on this morning. I considered this decision carefully because normally I reserve them for weekends. It’s odd (I’m sure you’ll agree), but I do tend to prepare myself for the day by my sock choice.

On Sundays I normally wear black socks to make myself feel professional for the service. On normal week days, black socks are preferable but most socks are okay, as long as they’re not shabby or exuberant. Favourite socks - weekends and days off only.

But today, (a ‘normal week day’) I reached for my favourite socks. They do go well with these jeans. And I thought to myself, “Why not?” the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day – I think today could be pleasant enough to deserve the good socks."  And that right there, is when I wondered. Is it possible that my general mood for the day is decided every morning as I hover over the sock drawer?

The thought that before 9 o’clock in the morning the day has already been written off as either a good one or a bad one (or a fun one or a serious one) is a bit of a concern.

Socks are not a great way to decide your general happiness and neither are feelings. Whether you wake up feeling great or feeling nervous and anxious, or whether you’re tired or energetic, it doesn’t have to dictate your day to you.

Check out these cheery lyrics from the brill Christian band Downhere:

 “Every day comes with the promise, that it could be, great if you want it! We are living the dream...”

Happiness is not about your mood or about what the day has in store for you, it is about trusting God that He’s got it under control, so we can be at peace.

Paul tells us how:

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4: 12-13)

Peace, happiness, contentment, they all belong to God, so we need to get them from Him. He’ll give them in any circumstance if we take the time to ask.

For more thoughts on living peacefully – come join us on Sunday at Bures Baptist Church! J

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Worth a Laugh

Laughter, I read in a magazine this week, boosts your mood. Maybe that’s a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg statement, but the idea was that, amongst other things, if you’re feeling a bit down, you could try organising some laughter for yourself.

It’s incredible, laughter has been attributed the power to relieve stress and tension, boost your immune system, relieve pain, trigger endorphins (happy hormones!) and even improve blood vessel function, protecting your heart.

How much of this is true I can’t say, but you do feel better after a good laugh don’t you? We presented the story of Abraham and Sarah having a baby in their old age at the school assembly this morning. They thought Sarah couldn’t have children and that God’s promise of a child was laughable - then when the baby came they laughed with joy. They even called him “Isaac” which means “laughter”.

Abraham and Sarah knew that a busy home, full of family and laughter is a blessing. For me, friends and family make me laugh more than anything I watch on TV, so I try to spend as much time with them as I can. Fellowship is for our benefit. Have you spent much time around the people who make you laugh the most recently? Maybe you need to take the initiative and make it happen.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Me and Coolio in the Valley (of the shadow of death...)

I've been quite busy this week with various pastoral matters. It really is a privilege to stand with people in their time of need, but it can often be sad coming alongside them in their pain. Especially when, as Coolio once rapped, they are passing through the 'valley of the shadow of death'.

As good Christian folks we look to the bible for help when things get hard, but the problem is, sometimes the bible can be such a puzzle. We ask a lot of questions and we flick through it urgently, maybe sometimes angrily, hoping to see something new, something that will solve our issue once and for all. It can seem so forbidding, a lot of words and not a lot of answers.

The thing is, no matter how long we look through, the bible can only offer us the truth. There is a lot of sadness and despair in the world, and the wickedness and hardship which is so appalling to us, is appalling God all the more, because of his great love and care for his creation.

Jesus spent much of his ministry healing the sick, raising the dead, feeding the hungry, but he knew that the problems on the Earth ran too deep and too wide, too personal and too universal to just be whipped away.

In Romans 8 we read the whole of creation is “groaning” in expectation of being made 'right' again. It waits on the second coming of Christ, when all of heaven and earth will be changed and made new. In that time, Revelation says:

He will wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things [will have] passed away."

In the mean time, Christ, who died so that we might approach God, not stained and broken like the world, but pure and holy, like himself, remains our comforter still.

I have seen people bear up under enormous strain with Christ's help. I have seen people made whole again, after they have been brought to the very edge. And I have seen the blessings of God paving a way through for his children, even though they “walk through the valley of the shadow of death”.

So not just a line from that song “Gangsta's Paradise” then, but actually a useful promise from Psalm 23...