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.