Time for Re-imagining & Reconnection
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you…to be strengthened…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge… Ephesians 3:14-20
Everything around is changing, is shaky and uncertain…we crave for things to return to normal as we attempt to come to terms with the fact that our current situation is the new normal at least we believe for the next few months until the worst of this viral contagion ceases. We have little or no control over the external things around us, but we do have control over how we respond and where we focus our attention. As The ‘wheels of industry’ have slowed down, even stopped temporarily in many cases, we have move into an enforced ‘lockdown’ and our routines have changed drastically - work, social and educational activities now curtailed. We have the opportunity to reconnect with each other like never before. Many households are managing an intensity of intimacy that seems at best unusual or even unfamiliar – How do we manage our new normal?
Today the theme taken from the above text is one of being ‘rooted and grounded in love’. Looking from the root upward we attempt to understand growth and changes that are experienced but goes on unseen. When it seems to us that we no longer have control over external matters we can shift our attention elsewhere, turn inwards and focus on the things that we can change – we can manage our need for change and control from a different perspective – the change that goes on unseen yet just as important.
The story of The Chinese Bamboo Tree has much to teach us…A poor farmer purchased some seeds which he was told, once harvested would make him a wealthy man. He planted the seeds and followed the regular process of farming and waited for the return of his labour. One year passed, there was nothing; no visible sign of growth…the farmer persisted watering his ground each year looking for a return…four years passed and still there was nothing…the Farmer had come this far so he continued. And year five…there it was, as if by miracle a shoot budded and within 6 weeks the tree grew 80 feet.
In the busyness of life and work it is often so easy to miss what is really important to us but now that we have turned inward we can take a look at our relationships and consider - How important is your family, your partner, children, friends to you? Where does our true wealth really lie? Our relationships have been put back on the top of priority list. What have we found? What needs tweaking? What needs to be cut away? What needs to change to give it the place it deserves in our lives? Those people who are important to us are just like seeds that can be planted to take root and be secured in the soil of love; God’s love. A love that is unconditional and founded upon tenderness, gentleness and the sacrificial act of forgiveness.
Given the opportunity presented to us…
Jesus may our families, our relationships be rooted and secured in your love. Give us the ability to both reimagine a future for our loved ones and the strength to make our vision a reality in our lives
A moment of worship with Hillsongs United, Oceans (where feet may fail) https://youtu.be/6GGFb6LcX3U
Practicing Gratitude in difficult times
Rejoice always, Pray Continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
It is always easy to be thankful in times of great joy, happiness and success but how is it naturally possible to be thankful when things are difficult, during times of sadness and grief. Especially now when all seems chaotic and a virus plagues our World and people are dying in great numbers on a daily basis. Gratitude and thankfulness do not come naturally – it is an act of choice; it is voluntary and when practiced as daily habit it is found to have the ability to change our lives. There are benefits to Gratitude and Thankfulness.
It has long since been a spiritual practice for Christians and other faiths and it is now scientifically recognised for the benefits. In the Old Testament it is recorded as a religious practice known as the ‘Sacrifice of Thanksgiving’ which is in fact a peace offering motivated by thanksgiving. The offering included animal sacrifice and presentation of types of bread and it was a voluntary offering offered by the giver as an expression of thanks to God. This particular offering was presented to God by the Priest in the presence of the giver who following the offering was given the remaining portion of meat and bread. He was then able to share his portion in a feast with friends and family on the same day. This offering of thanksgiving was a moment celebration which connected the giver in relationship to God and in the final instance he too became a beneficiary of the sacrifice presented. This voluntary offering pleased God and that which was freely given as a gift became a blessing to not only the giver but also to his wider network of family and friends. This religious rite is no longer a requirement or practice for Christians today because Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross however, there are principles here that can be carried forward into current everyday practices. That of sacrifice; the act of giving or doing something that is of personal cost for someone who is considered worthy of such a gift. That is done or given voluntarily which communicates a willing desire to express our thanks to God. These principles can be seen to honour God and benefit us at the same time.
Science recognises the benefits that Gratitude has upon our well-being, our state of mind and our general state of happiness. By expressing gratitude people acknowledge what is good and positive in their lives, not only in the good times but especially in the more difficult times of lives. Gratitude recognises the source of goodness beyond the self and connects humanity to something good and greater beyond humanity. Whether you consider yourself religious or non-religious the benefits of being thankful has been found to have a good and lasting effect upon our physical, emotional and mental state.
Today, as we continue to live with the effects of lockdown carrying concerns about the present and the future of our health; the health of the nation and the health of the World. We can stop for a moment and turn outward away from ourselves and begin to identify those good and positive things around us and be thankful. Today I would like to put at the top of thinking the …
Thank you to all. Thank you for all that you are doing and will continue to do. Thank you for all that you do at risk to yourselves and families on our behalf. May you all know God’s divine health, His good guidance, protection and wisdom during this time.
How about we make the act of Gratitude a daily practice? Let’s make it a challenge? Whether religious or non-religious…We can introduce the idea to our children and make it a family practice. (See Link below – a Children’s story about Gratitude)* We can challenge each other online or on the telephone to come up with 3 things to be thankful for…I leave you with this! What three things can you be thankful for today? *https://karenharveycox.wordpress.com/2008/04/04/the-thankful-coat/
Dear Lord, help us in these difficult times to always remember to find something to be thankful for. Help us to remember that a grateful heart is not only of personal benefit to us but that it also has the power to benefit those around us
(Posted 27th March)
You’re on our minds
We’re all in this Boat together!!!
‘So, they took Jesus in the boat and started out… But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”… Mark 4:37-38
Bad News everywhere! Corona Virus is contagious, the rate of people dying daily is rising in great numbers…Stay at Home! Lockdown in almost every Country around the world. Supermarkets are empty and it seems like chaos is reigning everywhere. Fear, worry and anxiety increases as we move into greater uncertainty about our today’s and indeed our tomorrow’s. What does the future hold for the UK and the World at the end of 12 weeks – will things ever return to normal ever again?
A fierce storm hit as Jesus and his Disciples/Followers set off in the boat. Jesus had been sharing the message of a New Kingdom with them in crowds in differing towns and cities as well demonstrating miracles of healing. They were crossing this expanse of water with someone whom was much like them but able to do extraordinary things in the lives of those who were in need. This storm was threatening to overwhelm them, waves had entered the boat and their lives were in danger…and this extraordinary man was fast asleep in the boat. Where is He? Why not put His power to use and save us – stop this storm? The Disciples response are much like any of us when experiencing great difficulty…” if there is a God…if God was here this would not be happening to us…” But we could look at the situation in two ways. Firstly, He doesn’t care or secondly that His presence with us tells us that despite the threats and the impending danger He is with us and everything will work out. Which one will you choose? However, there is hope this journey in the boat doesn’t end at this point… The disciples wake Jesus concerned with His seeming lack of alarm or urgency and He challenges their fear and lack of confidence in Him. Jesus commands the wind to cease and He speaks to the stormy sea and says Peace be still and the storm ended. The Disciples now question ‘Who is this man that even the wind and sea obey Him? This story offers us another way to look at our situation … Yes, we are all in this boat together … we are all in the same boat and Jesus; God’s Messenger – God’s Son is with us in the Boat too!! The one who has power over nature and potentially disastrous events. Where is our focus? Is it on the wind and waves that threaten or on Jesus the one who can stop the Storm? – It is both a matter of perspective and a matter of belief…the choice is ours.
A fierce storm has hit our world like never before. We can no longer point to another nation and draw comfort from the problem being ‘out there’ - somewhere happening to them … it is now happening to us. The World has become much smaller as we now are forced by a common problem to unite and say WE have a problem. And now, in the midst of our storm we begin to recognise as a Nation that there exists a wonderful opportunity to work together as a Global Community seeking and offering support, the exchange of guidance and wisdom to manage this global problem. This same opportunity has presented itself for people of the UK to unite again after a very fractured 3 years post Brexit…
Despite the 12-week Lockdown and the threats that loom we can begin to question, ‘How can we positively reframe our current experiences? Will we seek the opportunity to receive the Peace that Jesus offers? A depth of peace that brings calm out of chaos, freeing us to find that creative ability within each of us; A peace that will enable us to exit this storm not in complete deficit but having gained something despite the turbulence
Jesus, keep us through this storm until it passes…We seek your Peace. Give us your peace that which quiets the internal storms of anxiety, worry and fear within us…replacing with Hope and confidence we need…as we ride out this storm together.
(Posted 25th March)
We may not be meeting at present but we will be continuing to Pray for the present situation.
If you are looking for Spiritual support, especially at this time, please contact Pastor Joyce on 07904996026 or email Pastor@hobc.org.uk
It's okay not to be okay
God meets you where you are.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble"
Psalm 46. V1
Our Motto for 2020 Image- Fota Gardens, Cork, S.Ireland