Well we’re back…in the full swing of the new school year, so much so that last week I didn’t have the breathing space to write on the first theme of the year, humility. So I am aiming to do two things.
- Make a commitment to find the time and space to write a blog reflection each week on our theme for each week. It is good to stop, think and pray.
- Look to see if I can offer a 2 for 1 deal by reflecting on the theme of this week, discipleship and link it to humility…
So I will try and keep it simple… if we are serious about faith we are challenged to reflect and follow the example of Jesus in some small way.
Jesus didn’t seek out the good and the great to follow Him but simply invited “normal people” to come and follow Him – this is a call for all of us too. After living alongside Jesus they still made very human mistakes by denying their faith, arguing with one another and failing to understand Jesus’s message for them, most in fact deserting Him at His time of need. This humanity in discipleship should reassure us that it is a message for us too and not an impossible ideal.
If they were to serve or live out their faith Jesus taught them to be humble and simple in their service to others. They were sent out into the world to spread the Good News of life, faith and hope. This forms the foundation of the Christian community, and St Paul’s as a school, in the world today.
In the Gospel account this week we hear how Jesus was criticised for spending time with Tax Collectors, seen as sinners in collecting money for the Romans as the occupiers. Nobody could trust them as they gathered taxes for the enemy often creaming off a cut for themselves. He explained that God celebrates the return of anyone comes back to Him and in fact searches them out. Jesus goes on to teach some of the accounts found in Luke’s Gospel on “Lost and Found”. This includes the lost sheep, lost coin and in one account the lost son.
What does this tell us? Put simply God loves us and God forgives us. If I was asked to summarise all of Jesus’s teaching I would use simply two words – love and forgiveness. Sounds a good starting point for us to sign up and give discipleship a go.
A few thoughts for the academic year ahead;
- What can we do to listen to God’s plan for us and become disciples?
- How can we share faith by being Gospel (Good News) people?
- How can we seek out those who are lost and offer love and forgiveness to those around us?
If we can live our lives in this way I believe we will make our community at St Paul’s a better place but also be a shining light of faith to the world around us. Let’s ask God to guide an bless us on this incredible journey.
At times in our lives we can feel “lost” in some way. What might make us feel like this?
- Feeling disconnected from those we love or care about most.
- Being so busy that we don’t have the time to breath or stop to think.
- Not having a clear sense of purpose or direction.
All of these factors, and others, can have a negative effect on our sense of calm, happiness or wellbeing. Like any relationship, if neglected, our relationship with God can become distant and detached in some way.
We hear this week in the Gospel account about how Jesus us like the shepherd loving and caring for his sheep. He knows them by name and they listen to, and trust him. Ultimately they are safe in His care and close to God.
Perhaps sheep are not renowned as the brightest animals. The Priest at Church this week talked about how they can get stuck on their back and find it impossible to get back on their feet. I’ve even found evidence of this online… perhaps with that gentle and loving hand of faith we too can get back to our feet and get back on track in life.
What can we take from this account?
- However far from God we feel in our lives we are challenged to listen for God’s voice.
- God knows us and call us by name – the challenge is to find the space to listen and understand his plan for each of us.
- The image of the shepherd is one of sacrifice and unconditional love. At times the shepherd will endure suffering and risk in order to protect and care fro the sheep. This reflects God’s love and care for us too.
If we want to live fulfilling lives as Christians today we need to ensure those around us feel our support and love unconditionally. It is only then that we can be truly “found” and inspired by God’s love.
This week our theme is about reconciliation and is based in the beautiful account of the parable of the Prodigal or Lost Son. What can we take from this during this season of Lent?
The parable has a real resonance as an account rich in its humanity… all of us at times can be lost in our lives, whether for a short moment or a whole chapter of life. We can find ourselves at a distance from those we love most, our faith or from God in some way. The story narrates to us the very normal and human tendency to be tempted to make decisions based on our love of a very short term pleasure or hedonistic motivation.
What would these be for you?
- A temptation to want more in our lives?
- The lure of money or possessions?
- The temptation to try and do things to be popular rather than do what’s right?
- The attraction of power and status?
All of us could, to a greater our lesser extent, see how we have been drawn, like moths to the lights, by one or more of these things. We have an opportunity to make a change or choice to do the right thing and the parable of the Prodigal Son challenges us to do just this.
How can we do this?
- We can look to heal broken relationships one small step at a time. Sometimes making the first move is all it will take (even if we think we were in the right!)
- We can aim to “live simply” in some way – could we give some of our possessions, great or small to others?
- We can look to stick to what is right, however challenging or unpopular this may be. This may be simply being true to your faith or core beliefs when being challenged.
- We can empower others and take a deep rooted joy in being them take the lead or credit for something we have been a part of.
Even in writing these suggestions I find a smile on my face and can feel how worthwhile some of these small steps may be. As we hear in the parable even if we are at life’s lowest ebb if we stop to think and listen we can hear God’s call for us. God, like the father, will be longing and waiting for us to set off on that journey. The journey back to his loving arms… May be time to get packing!