Tag Archives: hope

Will you plant the seed for greatness?

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In the Gospel account this week we hear the parable of the Mustard Seed. In this story I can picture Jesus reaching down to pick up the tiny seed to bring His story to life and make it memorable for the people who were listening – surely He was simply doing what any great teacher would do to hold His audience and help them remember the moral of the story in a creative way.

What stands out to me is a really simple lesson about having trust, faith and belief in the power of potential. Jesus said that the mustard seed would grow into a great and strong tree and we are asked to spot this potential in those around us.

We are asked to help people to grow and flourish in their gifts, talents and faith. As teachers and educators we have the opportunity to build people up and help “find their greatness”.

As usual we are caught up in the euphoria of an England win at the World Cup. This is only the third time for the team to win the first match in history. This in turn leads us to jumping around in our sitting rooms and shouting at the TV! I listened earlier today on the radio to proud teachers speaking about the boys they had taught and what they’d given back as the “superstars” to the schools that they belonged to.

I really loved the Nike clip from the London 2012 Olympics challenging us to overcome our prejudices and see greatness as something all of us can achieve.

In the simplest way I believe that God makes us all great – the journey in life is discovering the depths of these gifts and talents and how we can use them in some way.

A few reflections for the week ahead;

  • How do we build people up to reach their potential rather thank knocking them down?
  • What can we do to inspire, support and nourish people to find their greatness?
  • How can we plant the seed of faith in our lives, and in those we meet, to allow it to grow into something great?

There is a great joy in spotting potential and seeing it flourish…  so let us all this week rejoice in planting the seed and having faith in God’s plan for us to fulfil all we have been given. We too can build people up to doing great things and making a real difference to the world we live in, this in itself gives great fulfilment. Enjoy the journey!

God bless.

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He is Risen…

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I hope you’ve had a really good Easter and had the opportunity to be challenged to engage with faith in a new way. Every year I find that I experience Easter in a new and different way. This year on Good Friday and Easter Saturday I watched the Passion of Christ once again and was once more inspired and challenged by the way it depicts the Easter message to us.

It is really important to immerse ourselves within the Easter accounts – at times we can take different roles. A times we can be;

  • disciples – following Jesus and at times perhaps misunderstanding what kind of Messiah He would be.
  • the joyful crowd welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem.
  • the crowd calling for Jesus’ blood and crucifixion in front of Pilate

Holy week seems to be a rollercoaster of emotions as we experience these things in our faith. We can recognise the true suffering and sacrifice that Jesus makes but we know that this is not the end of His mission.

The Resurrection 

The Easter season lasts 50 days, until Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit. The accounts of Jesus’ resurrection are very varied in what they reveal to us;

  • The empty tomb – with the stone rolled away and the body of Jesus gone do we truly believe? This is the original ending of Mark’s Gospel and poses the question to the early Christians and us today – do you truly believe that this could be the Son of God?
  • Appearance to the women in the Garden
  • Appearance to the disciples in a locked room when Thomas missed out!
  • Walking alongside disciples on the road to Emmaus
  • Appearing at breakfast on the shores of Lake Galilee

All of this gives us a simple message Jesus is risen, darkness has been overcome by light, death has been defeated by life, good overcomes evil. This is where we are challenged to respond.

  1. How can we be people of light, life and hope?
  2. Where will we meet the risen Christ?
  3. What can we do to bring to faith to the world in a meaningful way?
  4. How will we respond to the Easter message over the next 50 days and what can we do to be Easter people?

Holy Week – what can we expect?

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We’ve made it until the end of the journey of Lent – have we lived up to expectations?

The aim of the journey of Lent is to focus on three things that can bring us closer to God.

  1. Prayer – a time to reconnect to God
  2. Fasting – giving something up or being able to show sacrifice
  3. Almsgiving – being willing to give to others in some way

If we do any of these things in a very basic way I believe we will have become better people over the last 40 days. Ultimately I hope this has happened and you have grown closer to God by deepening your faith.

As we approach Holy Week we can capture the highs and lows of the final days of Jesus’ life.

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Many of you would have watched the moving film The Passion. I remember seeing it when it was first released sitting alongside my Mum as a devout Catholic and other movie-goers (accompanied by the obligatory popcorn) on Easter Saturday when it was first released. In a beautiful, challenging and graphic way we recounted the sacrifice that Jesus made in His final days and ultimately the miracle of the Resurrection. This in essence is the centre of the Christian faith and year.

It is an amazing, and very human, journey from the triumphant entry of the longed-for Messiah into Jerusalem to Jesus’ crucifixion in a horrific and public execution, sometimes sanitised by the crucifixes we have on our walls. A tale of darkness and human cruelty, a death of faith in some way perhaps.

But ultimately this is not the end of the story. In fact the sacrifice and suffering Jesus endured is a lasting symbol of God’s love for us. We long for the resurrection, for the stone to be rolled away. As Christians we need to be people of light and hope, this Easter especially, but ultimately in the world we live in each and every day.

So three challenges this Holy Week…

  1. Take time to stop and reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for us and simply give thanks in some simple way.
  2. Reflect on how we can commit to sacrificing something in our lives to benefit or show our love for others.
  3. Let us always know that light overcomes darkness and be a witness to this Good News in our daily lives.

I hope you have a good journey in the week ahead and a very happy and blessed Easter.

God bless.

Rob

Sacred space

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In the Gospel account this week we hear about Jesus throwing out the traders from the Temple in Jerusalem. How do we find a “sacred space” in our lives to give us an opportunity to encounter God in a real way?

Jesus Goes to the Temple

(Mt 21.12–17; Mk 11.15–19; Jn 2.13–22)

Then Jesus went into the Temple and began to drive out the merchants, saying to them, “It is written in the Scriptures that God said, ‘My Temple will be a house of prayer.’ But you have turned it into a hideout for thieves!”

Every day Jesus taught in the Temple. The chief priests, the teachers of the Law, and the leaders of the people wanted to kill him, but they could not find a way to do it, because all the people kept listening to him, not wanting to miss a single word.

It should not have been a surprise that there were traders in and around the Temple as people were selling animals for sacrifice to God. What may have been the deeper message was that they were no longer there for religious respect but in essence to serve their own needs – a dishonest motivation.

The verses following this account are some that I have never really noticed before – “the people kept listening to him, not wanting to miss a single word.” We need to be open to God’s word and message for us. In a wider sense I believe we are challenged to think about how we find “sacred space” in our lives. This may be looking to find opportunities to be at peace spirituality or a physical space that is special to you.

The journey of Lent can helps us “drive out” the things that get in the way, the distractions that don’t allow us time and space to live our lives in the right way. I hope you have the opportunity to find some space and time for faith and God in your life in the week ahead and beyond or even just find a sense of inner peace and your own sacred space.

God bless.
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An opportunity to be amazed…

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Sometimes in life it is worth us being able to step back and appreciate what we have around us. At times we are forced to slow down for a moment and see the big picture. Last week we were forced to do this by unpredictable weather provided by “The Beast from the East”.

In the Gospel reading we hear about the Transfiguration where Jesus was fully revealed to His closest disciples;

The Transfiguration

(Mt 17.1–13; Lk 9.28–36)

 Six days later Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain, where they were alone. As they looked on, a change came over Jesus, and his clothes became shining white — whiter than anyone in the world could wash them.

Then the three disciples saw Elijah and Moses talking with Jesus. Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, “Teacher, how good it is that we are here! We will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He and the others were so frightened that he did not know what to say.

 Then a cloud appeared and covered them with its shadow, and a voice came from the cloud, “This is my own dear Son — listen to him!” They took a quick look round but did not see anyone else; only Jesus was with them. As they came down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has risen from death.”

Jesus took them to the mountain top and revealed where His life would be heading, ultimately to His sacrifice, death and resurrection. Jesus was linking the past and the future.

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If you have ever been blessed by the opportunity to see the world from a top of a mountain you will know that there is a sense of awe and wonder. We also need to find the peace of space to think in our lives. The weather made us do things that we may not normally do – to take a step back from the routine and normality. This might have been the opportunity to walk in the beautiful Sussex countryside at 5am to check the weather, being out in the snow with our children, or just recognising the beauty around us.

Transfiguration may be  about becoming ourselves to “the full” perhaps but also about putting our lives in perspective. My hope and prayer is that all of us have the opportunity this Lent to find the chance to journey closer to God and appreciate the blessings that we have in our lives – by doing this we can be truly amazed each day.

God bless.

 

Ready for a journey?

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Last week we started the journey towards Easter in the season of Lent. It seems like just yesterday we were taking down the Christmas decorations and yet we now have to get ready for getting ready for Easter. It is an opportunity to do three key things;

  • Fasting – an opportunity to put others first and give up some of the luxuries in our lives. This may give us a chance to recognise how truly “blessed” we are by the basic things we have in our lives – food on our plates and a roof over our heads.
  • Almsgiving – making a sacrifice to give something to those less fortunate than we are. This could be close to our homes or supporting international charities.
  • Prayer – finding time to invest in our relationship with God. At times it is challenging to find time to pray or even finding the space to just stop and listen to God’s call and message for us.

A practical way to do this is to commit to 40 Acts.

This is a brilliant way to find practical ways to live our lives to benefit others, taking the challenge to live with generosity towards others. By doing these simple acts I believe not only do we “live more simply” but also will become happier and more fulfilled ourselves.

If we can live in happiness and harmony with others we are truly becoming God’s presence in the world. This is how we can become more Christ-like and bring life and hope into the world.

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Last week we were in the USA and later in New York as we heard about the tragic loss of young lives in Florida. We also heard today of a young student locally who was tragically killed in an car accident on a railway track. In these times of darkness, globally or in our own lives, we need to seek out God in some way. People can feel abandoned and without faith – yet when we walk alongside people we can help to carry their cross with them and truly become disciples.

So this Lent – let us live generously with faith, hope and love. Will you take the journey?

We are one body…

It seems like we are living in a divided and troubled world.

We have shared a minutes silence more often in the last 4 weeks than I remember in twenty years of being a teacher. We have witnessed the horrific Grenfell Tower fire with such tragic loss of life and continued extremism and terrorist attacks, the latest at Finsbury Park Mosque.

This is combined with a country divided by the election, the start of Brexit negotiations and a Government formed on a deal with a small group of politicians never before at the heart of the political system. I was proud to see the alternative speech written by a fellow Headteacher, John Tomsett, in the days following the election. Well worth a read – if only politicians could show brave leadership and integrity at the times it is most needed.

In all of this unease and confusion we need to strive to find Christ among us. We can see this in the goodness of human action in responding to challenge and tragedy. God is good and God is love. This is what we need to see shining through even in the darkest times.

The Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ, marks how we invite Jesus into our lives in the sacrament of the Eucharist or Communion. He is truly present in this moment. It also prompts me to consider how we can be “in communion with one another”.

So perhaps we can do a few small things this week;

  • Look to find the goodness in humanity
  • Be able to offer light and hope in some small way to others we encounter each day
  • Stop for a minute to give thanks to God for all we are blessed with – our safety, our homes, our food, our faith…

I hope and pray that we can all be part of one body, one community to enrich the gift of life that God gave us all.

God bless.