Sunday, 10 May 2015

Pause for Thought May 2015

 Many years ago during a  general election campaign every bit as close as the one that has just finished I saw  an old  car driving down the High St, in Wem, with a  sticker on the back window   “  It read; Don’t vote it only encourages them!"
But we have voted  and I stayed up as late as I could  to watch the results because  I just  love the drama of election night when we see raw  human emotions displayed for all to see- those candidates  so excited at victory ,they pump their fists  with sheer elation and hug their supporters at the count  – those trying hard to conceal their bitter  disappointment at their loss - that so much effort and toil  has come to nothing- those who simply can’t hide their despair  and bury their heads in their hands to conceal the tears rolling down their cheeks . What human drama !  Behind the rosettes of whatever colour there are living, breathing, emotional human beings

It reminds me of that other drama   played out so publically at this time of year - the end of the football season as the hopes and dreams of your favourite team are either realised or shattered in a 1000 pieces
Politics like football is intensely tribal but although some will disagree it really is more important
So what do I look for in a new Government? 
Well the bible doesn’t say much about political parties but it says masses  about the qualities of great leaders  and so
I hope for a government that has a servant heart
In the Bible
The mother of the disciples James and John asked Jesus to promise that they would sit in the top positions at his right and left hand in glory. Jesus said ,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant For Jesus the greatest ruler is the greatest servant
I hope for a government that is wise;  that has the wisdom not just to seek the party interest but has the wisdom to see the bigger picture ,serve the common good and make the right decisions in a competent way
I hope for a government that cares about justice because God cares about Justice
As the book of Proverbs says
A ruler who oppresses the poor is like a driving rain that leaves no crops.
I hope for a Government that is compassionate

God cares for the poor and needy and the Bible lists some of those He cares for; the fatherless ,the widows , the sick the aliens, the prisoner  It is not always popular to care for these people but God calls us to do so,  for like the politicians themselves these  are real human beings made in the image of God Himself
So the posters will shortly come down, the long period of electioneering has now ceased , the people have spoken  but it’s worth remembering that God too has spoken and though Governments come and go and  parties rise and flourish and then decline and disappear  God is watching
He looks for us to serve people, to act wisely, to be just, and compassionate

In what ways will you demonstrate those qualities today?

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Pause for Thought 1st Feb Radio Shropshire

The building looked just the same as when I had last seen it   some 10 years ago.

Inside it was painted the same colour had the same green chairs, the same carpet -Everything was as I remembered and so very familiar …    except the people..   I had not seen many of them for 10 years or more they had more grey hair, more wrinkles many of them were now frail.  More than once people came up to me  and asked” Do you know who I am ? and the truth was I often recognised the  slightly changed face but could not get the name…. but then I am getting older too

As is so often the case with reunions, we were gathered in chapel for a funeral …Pats funeral
When I was a young man Pat an older minister had been my mentor. He was generous with his time, wise with his advice, unstinting with his encouragement
Over the years we had become friends. Now I had come to this familiar chapel in the countryside to say goodbye
The hymns chosen by Pat before he died were well known - the ones I would have expected him to have chosen by the hymn writers I knew he appreciated most, but it was the words that were said that astonished me .
 Now I knew Pat was a dynamic minister a man of great vision,I knew that many years ago he had received an MBE for services to the church and community. I knew that he had once even persuaded Cliff Richard to come to  the chapel to do a fundraising concert for charity, but I listened to the speaker that day talking about Pats life I realised I  did not know the sheer breadth ,and indeed the depth of the work he had undertaken both at home and overseas
A man who had left school at 14 had blessed a surprising amount of people in a huge variety of ways.
When the service had ended with John Rutter’s magnificent benediction the Lord Bless you and Keep you,we mingled over sandwiches and tea and cake and person after person came up and shared how Pat had helped them, encouraged them through some tough time or other .How much his life had blessed their life
What a legacy he left in the lives of those he met.
We often measure greatness in human beings by the things they have or by the awards they have received, or the qualifications they have gained, or the wealth they have accumulated, or the family they have been born into 

Jesus defines greatness very differently
On one occasion He took a towel and a basin and redefined greatness by washing the disciples’ feet. The Lord of all becomes the servant of all
In that one act Jesus demonstrates that in the topsy turvy world of The Kingdom of God the greatest person is the greatest servant
By that definition Pat Goodland was a great human being
As we drove down the A 49 heading through the darkness, on familiar roads towards Shrewsbury I wondered what my legacy would be when my turn comes.

This Sunday you may like to ask yourself the same question.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas carol service 2014 message

Not many more shopping days to go
My hope for you all is that you have an amazing Christmas filled with love and joy and peace That you will experience The Good will towards human beings on whom Gods favour rests
My prayer too is that blessed as we may be we   will   Be given grace to remember the hungry ,the lonely ,the sad,the bereaved the suffering  the prisoner this Christmas
Our world appears to be on the edge of a cliff Ebola ,ISIS, famine war disease and disaster fill our news papers and dominate our news bulletins this very week people have been murdered in a coffee shop in Sydney and The Taliban have massacred innocents  in a school in Pakistan
For people not least in the middle east and in the lands Jesus walked in his time on earth there is constant bloodshed and violence
With austerity still biting hard  and all the lonely people we do not remain untouched by sadness  in The UK
Yes there is much to be thankful for here in Monkmoor the work of good local schools ,the passion of Monkmoor friends the scouts  and many other people of goodwill Christian and otherwise who long to build a great community here
Of course there are profound problems but there are some great people who have been  blessed with the gift of tears  which they shed with those who are hurting and hearts and hands with which they bless others
What has all this got to do with Christmas ? A time of light and peace joy and if your lucky great parties
The answer is more than we may think
Travel back with me to that first Christmas God sent His Son into the world God is a lavish Giver ! He gave His best for us and it was not easy
Yes there were angels and stars there were Shepherds and wise men
there was also genocide ,mass murder on theorders of a tyrant King Herod a man who would kill his wives his children,his friends had no qualms at all at killing little babies
It is into this dark and dangerous world that Jesus is born Instead of making himself great He makes himself vulnerable He empties himself BECOMES DOWNWARDLY MOBILE
As one translation puts it he set aside the privileges of God ,took on the status  of a slave became human and moved into the community
As Herod begins his killing spree Jesus and his family become refugees in Egypt  yes there were angels and stars Shepherds and wise man that first Christmas but also suffering and pain and death
Suffering pain and death marked the arrival of a vulnerable baby the prince of peace born into a world of pain
Pain is still a reality for many people and many people here this evening too and that sense of pain is magnified at Christmas time
So Christmas tells us that God understands our suffering
For the baby born in the middle of mass murder
Hunted down so he has  to flee to Egypt
grows up to be a man who is persecuted mercilessly by religiouscpeople more interested in form and structure and ritual and power  than faith ands truth and love and at 33 years old having been betrayed by a follower and denied by a friend  he is put to death on a cross  for challenging the status quo
He understands your suffering your sadness your pain your loneliness  considerJesus as each  of these things – vulnerable, poor and on-the-run – speaks to me of a God who desperately wanted to experience the very worst of what this world has to offer.

A God who desires more than anything to be able to relate to us in our own poverty, brokenness and times of despair.

A God who is not distant but desires to be near. To walk amongst us as one who has been through everything, that we might go to Him with anything, so that He might be our counsellor, comforter, saviour and friend. God who is not only with us but for us

The second thing Christmas tells us is that you are loved
Many of us feel unloveable perhaps we feel unworthy ,unwanted alone
But the Christian message is this that God is love God is love God is Love
Jesus is the image of the invisible God if you want to know what God is like look at Jesus
Christina Rosetti wrote
Love came down at Christmas love all lovely love divine love was born at Christmas

And so he was Jesus values people he cared for those no one else cared for
He accepted those society rejected
He welcomed those the religious leaders despised the poor the vulnerable the rejected the bereaved ,the ill ,those with special needs and yes He loves  you you are loved you are so  so loved

Christmas shows that love wins
The bible says the light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not put it out
This Christmas the light is shining in the darkness
Things are not hopeless one day good will overcome evil life will overcome death
Indeed I see hope now
Hope in the  people the communities that open their hearts to the weak and the rejected
those who refuse to surrender to  hate and violence hope will one day crush despair light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it
Good Friday is followed by Easter Sunday
Life overcomes death
The baby born in the manger died for us on a cross but is Risen and Is  alive today
The winter makes me sad  I ts not dramatic but I have a few down days every year at this time bit one thing that helps me is that in the winter I feed the birds so I head across in the autumn to the cheapest place i know to stock up on bird seed  hint ?
I bring it back and fill the feeders  when I get a  spare moment I sit amd watch the birds coming to the table  all are welcome all come and feed there is room at the table for them all they didn't buy the food they just have to eat it to receive it  it is a gift
To all who received Him  by faith Jesus we are told gives he right to become chidden of God  you don't have to earn this recieve it just to accept Jesus into your heart

Have a blessed Christmas have fun remember the vulnerable and remember the baby born in a stable is The Saviour of the whole world ! Amen

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Good Friday Video

We showed in church this morning
I think it is powerful
Press here

Friday, 21 March 2014

New Wine Leadership Harrogate 2014

Just back from the  New Wine Leaders Conference 2014  in   Harrogate
It was the second time I had been to this conference and like the first I came back grateful for the opportunity to be there
There were things that I struggled with and things that I was blessed by and this post is about those things

7 great things about New Wine 2014
  1. .      There is a passion for Jesus that is evident everywhere from the worship to the teaching they really do desire to put Jesus front and centre of everything
  2. 2     The teaching of John Tyson from New York, I had never heard of him before but he was a very clear expositor of the Bible text and also applied it to our context
  3. .      The seminar programme  was very helpful and stimulated lots of ideas as we think about our next steps as a church in Shrewsbury .There was also an excellent seminar on the impact of Fresh Expressions
  4. .      The chance to chat together with other church leaders in a relaxed environment including and indeed especially those from our own church
  5.       The encouragement and affirmation  of the ministry of women
  6.       The worship band were again wonderful and introduced some beautiful songs
  7. .      The missional focus of  many of the speakers. I am not sure New Wine were first to the missional party but they have certainly arrived

Things I struggled with (note I am not saying these are wrong just that I did not find them helpful personally)

The endless appeals to go to the front for a whole myriad of reasons –I don’t ever get the impression that quiet reflection is a New Wine value ! At one session I personally felt the need to leave before the message was appealed out of me  Sometimes it is enough just to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work

·        The  fact that after a healing meeting when scores of people claimed they had been healed ,there was no follow up or mention of individual cases in the following days that I heard It would have been good to hear those stories

·        I don’t think New Wine has yet decided finally whether it is the charismatic wing of the Anglican church or a trans- denominational movement. It claims to be the latter but behaves like the former nearly all the time.

Monday, 20 January 2014

The need to change

I  think there is a lot the church can learn from this story
see here