All of us need calm and tranquility somewhere in our lives. A sense that we can find a time to stop, even for a short moment, to find an inner peace that grounds us in some basic way.
This week we have celebrated the feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, that reminds us of God’s presence amongst us in the world and the challenge we have been given to live out faith inspired by the life of Christ. As the Holy Spirit is not visible, physically, it is often represented by wind, fire or a dove. It may help us to have something tangible to think about and represent the power of God.
All of us have been shocked and horrified by the recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester and mourn the innocent loss of life. Sometimes we can only understand it fully by thinking of our families, our children, us being in the same position. It can make it more real to us rather than just the latest images on 24hr news. The challenge is for us to use this time of darkness to bring greater light and hope.
We live in a democracy and as we prepare for our general election this week we need to make a commitment to not relying on tabloid headlines that divide us or breed distrust or hatred. We need instead to make a renewed commitment to tolerance, understanding and unity in all that we do.
Working in education we are privileged to have the opportunity to transform the lives and futures of every young person in our care. This is a gift but also a great responsibility. Let us grasp this opportunity to make a real difference in all we do.
When we find ourselves challenged by all that happens around us this is an opportunity to ask for God to be with us – “come Holy Spirit”. Rather than disbelief I hope and pray to find God in the love, compassion, care and selflessness of people who reach out and act with such loving kindness.
A few questions for the week ahead;
- What can you do to encourage love, tolerance and understanding when faced by the challenges we see in the world?
- How can we use the gift of education to transform people’s hearts and minds and build a better future?
- How can we feel the presence of God amongst us as we think about the power of the Holy Spirit?
Thank you, in advance, for all you will do this half term to make St Paul’s a place of vitality, happiness, light and hope.
We continue to hear about how Jesus seeks outs opportunities to heal those left marginalised in society. In society at the time there was a direct correlation between suffering and sin. When Jesus heals the blind man this week we can see he makes him “whole again” by healing him and challenging the suffering and prejudices he faced. Once he is healed the blind man is summoned back to bear witness to what Jesus had done ending in him being driven away by the authorities. You can feel the rising pressure and plotting for Jesus’ downfall during this time getting us ready for His entry into Jerusalem and the sacrifice of his crucifixion.
We at times can fall into a trap where we are quick to judge others and cast them aside. We can be tempted to ignore the needs of others, particularly when we are under pressure from others.
A few thoughts for this week…
- How can you offer an unconditional love, forgiveness and support of others?
- What do we find difficult to bear witness to in our lives?
- How would we have responded to the blind man? Would we have walked towards him or away from him?
- Do we have a heart for justice, peace and equality?
For me in a basic and simple way my faith is about the challenge to live it out in the everyday moments and interactions each day. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and bravery to do the right thing, even if it is not the popular thing, even if it goes unnoticed or is un-popular.
So stand strong, stand proud and ask God to give us the bravery and confidence to bear witness in the world today.
What is on your Christmas list this year? We all can fall into the trap that we start to think what is missing from our lives…
Is it that special new outfit? Is it a sparkling diamond or the latest technology?
As a parent it is a challenge to think about how we can push our children to recognise the “joy of giving” or being grateful for the basic things they have in their lives that we may take for granted – food each day on our plate, a roof over our heads or the privilege of an education. The pure joy of the boys in this clip receiving their shoeboxes puts this in perspective.
Let me tell me about my friend Joe. I remember talking to him years ago about the plans for his life. He felt he was not heading for a career or a life that would be fulfilling and needed to do something different. God works in mysterious ways…
That same week, when we were together in Lourdes on pilgrimage, he was offered the opportunity to go to Uganda to visit an orphanage and evaluate the work they were doing. Since that moment he has never looked back, or even returned home, and he has established a wonderful charity that I am privileged to support as a Trustee called Uganda Hands for Hope. This small charity does inspiring work by supporting opportunities for children in Kampala to get an education, feeding them twice each day and supporting their families to build a better future through setting up small businesses.
So what is the greatest gift this Christmas that you could give or receive? I believe it is the gift of life, hope and a better future.
So what’s it worth?
Well £20 a month or $25. What could you buy with this money for Christmas?
- A pint for you and four friends in the pub.
- A candle.
- A pair of gloves.
- A new T shirt .
As you can see it doesn’t go far… but you could make a real difference. You can sponsor a child this Christmas and change their lives for the better in a very real way. We are hoping to welcome a new nursery class in January but need to find new sponsors to offer this opportunity to children in the community.
So when we look for Christ today and someone bringing light to the world around them I will be thinking of Uganda this Christmas. If you want to you too can volunteer to support the projects.
So this advent put simply – Joe I salute you!