Faith

Nov 23

I Can Revise 2

Advent begins at the end of this week.  The links between I can revise and Advent are …………

How about Advent being a time of preparation and that we mark Advent with a calendar and good revision needs organisation to be effective?

Here’s a 2 minute guide to Advent as a reminder: (you might want to turn the music down or off!)


So, how are you going to make Advent special this year?

* How about using a thoughtful (not just a chocolate-full) Advent calendar, either a bought one or an online one?

* How about using some special Bible readings or prayers during Advent?  I’ve signed up for AdventWord, http://aco.org/adventword but there are many good sites.

* If you would like to take a slightly different path, then try https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/get-involved/adventchallenge/

Back to the link with revision, if you don’t do anything then Advent and/or learning will pass you by.

You may have used this collect (special prayer) in church:


Stir up, O Lord, the wills of your faithful people;

that they, richly bearing the fruit of good works,

may by you be richly rewarded; through Jesus Christ, who is alive with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God now and for ever.

Amen.

We are singing this Taize song at the Christmas services.  Here’s an instrumental version but with the English words displayed. It’s good to give us some moments to plan our Advent.

 



Here’s another take on a spiritual Advent.

 

 

Tags: Faith
Nov 17

I Can Revise 1

It was my birthday last week. I had a good time celebrating with friends, eating good food and thinking about the year that has gone and the year that will come. Some people dread birthdays as they can feel like a reminder that we may not be where we would like to be. However, there are so many people that were heading one way and switched up their life to great success. It’s important to remember the life lesson made in this video about Anthony Joshua, ‘Nobody ever moved forward standing still.’  

 



If you want to live differently, it's important to stop and think about what you would like to change. I often come back to this verse in Romans 12:2:

 

Don't copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

 

Remember, we don’t have to wait for a new year to think about change. I want to encourage you to take a moment to think about the following questions. How can I be more of a blessing to those around me? How can I care less about what other people think? How can I make more time for the things and people I love? How can I make the most out of this year?  

Dear God, we want to be people who make the most of our time on earth.

Help us admit where we have gone off course, and to start again where we need.

Give us humility and courage to keep going forward.

Amen.

 

Tags: Faith
Nov 9

I Value Faith 2

 

Faith stamp

 

What command appears most in the Bible?  Love your neighbour, don’t sin, don’t worship money or something else?

That’s right, it’s something else: “do not fear”/“do not be afraid” appears in the Bible over 300 times. 

There are several interesting things about this. First of all, the Bible isn’t saying, “There is nothing scary so you don’t need to be scared.” Let’s be real… life is often scary. That, however, does NOT mean we need to be scared of it.  Secondly, the command “do not be afraid” more often than not, is followed by an action that God is or will be taking. Here are a few such examples:

 

 

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.

Deuteronomy 3:22

 

 

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

Luke 12:32

 

Another interesting thing is that 10 times “do not be afraid” is followed by “do not be discouraged.”  Have you stopped to consider that being afraid and being discouraged are related? After all, the opposite of “discouraged” is “encouraged.” And encouraged means to be filled with courage!

So, how might you and I be more courageous this week, at school, at home, in your community? Not everyone is to be courageous in the same way but God gives everyone who asks strength, wisdom and reassurance.

Have you heard of Yusra Mardini, a Syrian Christian refugee?  She’s had and continues to have great courage.  Here’s a video about her:

 

 

 


A prayer that all faiths can pray:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

Optional: A song written about when we feel we don’t have enough courage:

 

 



Here’s Yusra speaking about her role with the United Nations:

http://webtv.un.org/news-features/un-stories/chinese/watch/olympian-yusra-mardini-appointed-as-un-refugee-agencys-youngest-ever-goodwill-ambassador/5413789489001

 

And here’s a link to more details about her: 

http://www.elleuk.com/life-and-culture/culture/longform/a39703/syrian-refugee-olympic-swimmer-yusra-mardini/

 

Tags: Faith
Nov 2

I Value Faith 1 and Remembrance 2017

 

Faith graffiti flickr photo by duncan shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

 

How would you describe faith?  Sometimes we lack the words to describe how or what we are thinking.

Which one of these three songs best sums up how you feel about faith at the moment?

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus, in Matthew 17:20:

 

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

 

It can be so hard to have faith, but if what Jesus said is true, what ‘mountains’ would you like to move in your life? In the city of Bristol? In the world? Take some time to think and to pray about these things.

For this fortnight of faith, I have taken the words of Psalm 31 and edited and rewrote them to make this shorter prayer of faith for troubled times.

 

PSALM 31

LORD, I come to you for protection. I put my trust in you;

Do as you have promised and rescue me.

Be my armoured car, my walled city, my safe house.

Lead me and guide me. Protect me from tripwires and traps.

You are faithful, and I trust you because you rescued me in times gone by.

You saw all my suffering and you cared about it!

 

Help me now, as my mind and body feel hurt and confused. Like a fearful failure, I’m full up on sorrow.

 

Friends and family appear like enemies. People I know ignore me on the street.

I am completely forgotten like someone dead. I’m afraid, and I’m alone.

 

But I trust you, and I claim you as my God. My life is in your hands.

Save me from my nightmares. Smile on me, and shine down sun on me.

I pray you don’t disappoint me. I know you store up blessings for all who honour and trust you.

You are their shelter from storms, a protection from vicious gossip, and a bed to lie down on.

The LORD looks out for the faithful.

So all who trust the LORD be cheerful and brave.

Amen.

 

 

Remembrance 2017

 

Poppies image

 

We are asked to remember at this time of the year.  I’m not remembering nations or political parties or even issues of right and wrong.  I’m remembering how many individuals are affected by war and terrorism, of course, not just individuals but their families, communities and precious resources. 

Please keep a minute’s silence as we remember those on our minds and hearts this Remembrance-tide.

Here’s a prayer to finish:

O God of truth and justice,

we hold before you those whose memory we cherish,

and those whose names we will never know.

Help us to lift our eyes above the torment of this broken world,

and grant us the grace to pray for those who wish us harm.

As we honour the past, may we put our faith in your future;

for you are the source of life and hope,

now and for ever.

Amen

 

 

Oct 19

Gratitude and Thankfulness 2

 

Thank you heart image

 



Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.

A.A. Milne

 

Thank you if you took part in any of the Harvest activities last week.  There were some very heartfelt thank-yous.  Hopefully, gratitude will play a larger part in all our lives.


Here’s a poem to help us think more:

Be grateful that you don’t already have everything you desire,

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?


Be grateful when you don’t know something

For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be grateful for the difficult times.

During those times you grow.

Be grateful for your limitations

Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be grateful for each new challenge

Because it will build your strength and character.

Be grateful for your mistakes

They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be grateful when you’re tired and weary

Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be grateful for the good things.

A life of rich fulfilment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Author Unknown

 

St Paul lived a thankful life as he recognised what God’s love had done to and for him.  Here’s part of one of his letters:

 

 

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.  Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

 

The grace that Paul recognises prompts us all to be grateful to God.  How could you show that gratitude more in your life at school and in your community?

 

Prayer:

Dear heavenly Father: We thank you for food and remember the hungry.

We thank you for health and remember the sick.

We thank you for friends and remember the friendless.

We thank you for freedom and remember the enslaved.

May these remembrances stir us to service, that your gifts to us may be used for others.

Amen.

Our ‘hymn of the year’ is a gratitude one.  Here’s a very different version to the one a couple of weeks ago.  Do you like this?

 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

 

 

Tags: Faith