Tag Archives: ascension

Will you feel the force?

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I am very tempted to be lured into a full focus and reflection on religion, film and the media. Whether we talk about Yoda challenging Luke to “feel the force” or Neo breaking out of the Matrix…

There is however something amazing about the last few weeks of our journey in the Christian year. We celebrate two events in quick succession that challenge us to think about what it means to be a disciple in the modern world.

Firstly we mark Jesus’ Ascension – essentially following the resurrection we hear of His return to God with a few simple messages left for us. I believe two of these are prominent in my mind;

  • “Go and spread the Good News (Gospel) throughout the world.”
  • “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Maybe these are simple messages but living them out is where the challenge lies.

  • What does it truly mean to bear witness as a disciple in 2018?
  • How can we learn to love one another as Jesus or God loves us?

We need to take time to think about what the “good news” means for us. How can we express and live out our faith in a way that shines the light of Christ on each part of our lives and is witnessed those we meet, not in our words bit our actions. Even in our most cherished personal relationships it is difficult to keep on simply loving one another when things get tough so we need to work really hard to love all those we meet, even those who are strangers to us, in some way.

So where can we start?

This weekend we marked the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit. It is often represented in powerful ways including the symbols of wind and fire, in some way uncontrollable forces to us. The story of Jesus’ disciples being inspired by the Holy Spirit and given the talents to preach His message is a great one for us. With God with us, the Holy Spirit beside us, we can achieve anything. People will hear and understand the message in a new and meaningful way.

So put simply my prayer is that we can set off on this journey of faith knowing that God inspires and guides us with the Holy Spirit. With this confidence and faith there is nothing we cannot achieve.

Let’s “feel the force” and be guided in all we do to commit to being disciples in any way we can, large or small.

God bless.

 

And finally for those in need for their Star Wars or Matrix fix I have included a few clips below!!

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Be the change you wish to see in the world…

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We need to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. This week after the horrific scenes in Manchester we need to have a shared commitment to live with love, compassion and forgiveness. If people look to drive us apart, accentuate our differences and conflict we have a chance to move closer together instead.

As we celebrate today the Feast of the Ascension we remember Jesus is not leaving us alone but saying, “I will always be with you” and reassuring us that the Holy Spirit, the power of God in the world, will always be with us.

In times of tragedy or suffering we need to trust in God to heal the hurt, division and distrust.

We pray today for our leaders to use love as the most powerful weapon to destroy hate and terror.

We pray for all the innocent victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester and their families. May God comfort them in their suffering and angush.

We pray for those vulnerable in society to being led towards violence and hatred in the world. May God give them strength to listen to His voice within them to do good and reject evil.

We pray that we can live our lives full of faith, hope and love.

God bless.

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I am proud to be Catholic and proud of the example of Pope Francis #thisismypope. This week he spoke these words in Mass to all of us.

“You can have defects, be anxious and live irritated sometimes, but do not forget that your life is the biggest company in the world.

Only you can prevent her from going into decline.
There are many who appreciate you, admire you and love you.

I would like you to remember that to be happy, is not to have a sky without storms, road without accidents, works without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the box of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only valuing the smile, but also reflecting on sadness.
It is not just to commemorate success, but to learn lessons in failures.
It is not just to have joy with applause, but to have joy in anonymity.

To be happy is to recognize that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings, and periods of crisis.

Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but a conquest for those who know how to travel within their own being.

To be happy is to stop being a victim of problems and become an actor in one’s own history.
It is to cross deserts out of itself, but to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul.
It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings.
It is knowing how to talk about yourself.
It is courage to hear a “no”.
It is safe to receive criticism, even if it is unfair.
It is to kiss the children, to pamper parents, to have poetic moments with friends, even if they hurt us.

To be happy is to let the free, happy and simple creature live within each one of us.
It is to have maturity to say ‘I was wrong’.
It is to have the audacity to say *forgive me*.
It is to have sensitivity to express *’I need you’*.
It is to be able to say * ‘I love you’ *.

May your life become a garden of opportunity to be happy …
May you be joyous in your spring.
In your winter you are friend of wisdom.
And when you get in the way, start all over again.
Then you will be more passionate about life.
And you will discover that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.
But use tears to water the tolerance.
Use the losses to refine the patience.
Use flaws to sculpt serenity.
Use pain lapping pleasure.
Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up ….
Never give up on the people you love.
Never give up being happy, because life is a must-see! “

Pope Francis

Will you do the right thing?

ascension_by_eddiecalz-d678cy0.jpgMy favourite definition of integrity is “doing the right thing when nobody is looking”… and now more than ever we have an opportunity to think about what this means with a life of faith.

Jesus lived, breathed and died with His disciples but what had they learnt from walking alongside Him? He had taught them with the richness of parables to enlighten them of God’s message, they had seen Him the blind and cure the lame challenging the injustices in society.

We can take faith from this to inspire our faith in the world today. So what are the challenges this provides for us?

  • How can we take time to be disciples and discern the message of the life of Jesus?
  • What can we do to live out the Gospel message in the world we live in?
  • How can we support one another in living a life of faith?

We need to take a chance on marking the feast of the Ascension to give thanks for the life of Christ but also take the challenge to live a life of faith as disciples in the world today. We will need to walk side by side with one another to achieve this challenge and I give thanks for being part of a Christian community that gives us a chance to do this each day.

So will you do the right thing in your faith when nobody is watching?

 

It’s over to you…

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At the weekend I had the joy of being with family and friends on a Sunday afternoon walk. We are blessed at St Paul’s to have been joined this term by a “new recruit” in the form of our school dog, Amber. She took the decision that this walk was a great opportunity to have a cooling swim in the river with “her cousin” Lottie! All sounds fairly healthy… the one challenge was how she might get out of the river which led me clambering down the bank to retrieve her and some unexpected consequences!!

IMG_5542I ended up knee deep in mud and water as evidenced by this picture taken by my loving brother! What has all this got to do with the theme for this week? It prompted me to think of the two areas which we have as our focus… the Ascension and Pentecost.

In essence on the walk I was trying to “do the right thing” and save our floundering (if slightly adorable school dog) but got stuck, bogged down and “deeper than I ever expected”. At times we end up in the same situation in life and we have to look for the ability of being uplifted in some way. In the feast of Ascension Jesus is “lifted up” and takes his place beside God in Heaven.  Jesus had been resurrected and inspired the faith we follow today as Christians but from this point it was over to us to live it out in a meaningful way.

The image of being focussed on looking up and forward is significant for us. We need to take ownership for our actions and not wait for God to sort things out. I believe in our lives faith presents opportunities and our challenge is to spot this and respond to it.

Next weekend, when we are on half-term, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost where the disciples were filled with the “fire” of the Holy Spirit. What’s this all about? On one level when Jesus was leading his disciples it must have been exciting, engaging and inspiring. Ultimately probably easier to believe… the challenge, as in all leadership, is what would happen when He had gone? The disciples were sitting together considering this very question and hesitating to take a leap of faith and go into the world. The symbols of wind and fire represent how the Holy Spirit moved and inspired them to spread the Good News and have the conviction and faith to live out their calling.

A few questions we could consider include;

  • How can we make sure we don’t get “bogged down” and stuck in life, even when we have the right motivations?
  • How can we look to be uplifting to others as well as looking for God when we need this inspiration?
  • What are the challenges that make us hesitant to do the right thing or live out our faith?
  • How can we be moved by God’s plan for us and inspired by the Holy Spirit to do so much more than we can ever imagine?

If we can be uplifted and inspired in this way perhaps we will become the ultimate “independent learners” and live up to Jesus’s challenge for us… it’s over to you!

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