Yesterday we had out annual meal with Keith White and after a little miracle in a tunnel on the A38 with the clutch we joinwd Paul for a meal. We have shared aspects of our lives for several years now and one of the best parts of my clergy training was my placement at Millgrove which he and his wife Ruth run together. One of the most interesting parts of the conversation was around trauma. All of our lives are touches by it and I know from a quick look at social media that I have traumatized friends this morning. I had not really considered before the Good Samaritan as a trauma story, it was he who met the traveler at their time of trauma, not those you might expect to. The context was partly Paul’s chaplaincy setting and the connection that sometimes exists over years between the staff member who was there at the crucial time. Trauma studies are growing in prominence and it is an area I want to read more about but I am aware that I experienced God positively in a very traumatic event which is not true for all but another time my faith took a bit of a bit and there are tendrils which still reach out from that time which can catch me unawares. I pray for hope this morning, hope we can hold on to.
This prayer is for a new year, however, it feels like tomorrow and the General Election heralds a new year and I wanted to share it today. The church new year starts on Advent Sunday so it feels apt for that too. The prayer comes from a book titled “What does the Lord Require?” (the question comes from Micah 6.8 where the answer is “do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” which is good advice. This prayer is written by Francis Brienen:
God of all time who makes all things new, we bring before you the year now ending. For life full and good, for opportunities recognized and taken, for love known and shared, we thank you.
Where we have fallen short, forgive us. When we worry over what is past, free us.
As we begin again and take our first few steps into the future, where nothing is safe and certain, except you, we ask for the courage of the wise men who simply went and followed a star. We ask for wisdom, in choosing to pursue the deepest truth, not knowing where they would be led.
In the year to come, God of all time, be our help and company. Hold our hand as we journey onwards and may your dreams of shalom where all will be at peace, be our guiding star.
Francis Brienen (ed) What does the Lord Require? Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2014, p68.
A wonderful aspiration, but what interpretation of God’s values, character and practices do we discern in our local and national issues and policies? Perhaps more precisely, to what degree, do we identify the hierarchy of the most important, relevant, top trumps of Kingdom in various policies and parties?
Sally and I went to our hustings last week. We heard from 3 of those standing in our area. What struck us most, more than policy, Brexit position, was about character, honesty, integrity, transparency, kindness, humility or not! This seems to be important in our choices, as well as policies, values, as well as consequential spending plans and national leaders.
I guess the best we can do is to pray, to discern what God is like and wants, and this direct how we vote.
May God’s Kingdom come.
Cormorants dive deep to find food so you often find them drying their wings which get waterlogged. I admire their elegance and this one caught my eye as it was on a lake in the Midlands, not by the coast. I am looking forward to having time to dry my wings this weekend, by which I mean recuperating from some of the challenges I have faced in daily life this week. This is a theme I return to often in this blog, the importance of a Sabbath, a rest, following the example of God who looked at creation and declared it good and rested. The idea of sitting gazing at water and birds like the cormorant is very appealing and hopefully water and birds will feature in my resting!
This is the beautiful altar frontispiece which last week was hanging in Birmingham Children’s Hospital Chapel. It was lovingly and prayerfully designed, created and stitched by a band of faithful women led by the amazing Tina Milne in Harrogate. They provide banners for all sorts of mission and ministry contexts.
Last week I sat gazing at it again as the Bishop of Birmingham licensed a CMS mission partner as a lay chaplain at the hospital. She is the first lay Anglican in that setting to be licensed and it was deeply moving as Ruth shared some of her story of being in South Sudan while over her shoulder I saw this picture and read these words ‘the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22.2). At this time in our nation and in the world the healing of nations is something to long for and pray for and wonder how we can play our part in it.
One of my least gracious times is when I am behind someone at traffic lights and they take an age to pull away when the lights change. My language is reasonable ok, but the volume and attitude is not! “Come on, what are you waiting for?” The righteous part of me, justifies it with that they are not just holding me up, but all the others in the queue who have places to be. It is just inconsiderate.
The time of advent is a time of waiting and preparing for the coming of Jesus.
Waiting is not a passive activity, it is a verb. When i am waiting at the lights, i have stopped, but i actively waiting. I move the car back in gear, i watch the lights and pedestrians, i reach for the hand break. I am not just waiting, i am getting ready. I might be getting impatient, frustrated, waiting because I have to, but I am ready to continue.
This year, i have brought a very different type of present for our team. To prepare, waiting to share Christmas with others. I will let you know in a future blog how it goes.
If unfortunately, you are a bit like me at the lights, let’s pray for a more virtuous Advent, but let’s also get ready for a great wondrous celebration of Christmas, the coming of our Saviour.
A blessing from our service this morning.
Faith, hope and love remain God has faith in us, hopes for us, loves us. Let us take the good news to all in what we say and how we live. Stephen Shakespeare
I have loved Peanuts for many years, particularly Snoopy and Lucy. A photograph of me by a giant Snoooy is one of my favourite holiday photos of all time. With a small sum of money I was given whilst a student I bought a Snoopy necklace. I am always drawn to Snoopy memes on social media and they are one of my biggest collections on Pinterest
I deeply appreciate the people who get me, it’s not always my experience, being misunderstood is not that rare for me. So I am grateful to those who I feel a sense of unconditional positive regard from even though sometimes I am not sure they get me. I am grateful too that I have a God who gets me, who sees the bits of Sally that may not always be obvious. This is probably one of my more vulnerable posts but sometimes that’s what is required.