Tag Archives: life

He is Risen…

20170416_resurrection-979x514.jpg

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?
Advertisements

Holy Week – what can we expect?

holy-week.jpg

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.

passion.0.jpg

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

An opportunity to be amazed…

IMG_0504.jpg

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.

IMG_0867.jpg

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.

 

A still small voice of calm…

6779240-calm-wallpaper.jpg

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.

education-is-the-most.jpg

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.
God bless.

 

Witness – a living faith

04cca55fea2247b2a15d32ca7227291c_18.jpg

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.

Grow.-Plant.-Discipleship.jpg

The greatest gift this Christmas…

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!