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Apr 7

Easter Hope

 

 

That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord!

John 20:19-21

 

Can you imagine how the disciples reacted when they first saw Jesus killed and buried in the tomb?

Or how they felt when they saw him for the first time after he had risen?

They must have thought nothing was impossible for God.

The Easter story has so much meaning in it but, for me, it often speaks loudest about hope.

Hope as the veil of darkness

Transformed to the brightest light.

Hope as the most dreadful end

became the most beautiful beginning.

Hope as the depths of despair

Faded to reveal hope everlasting.

Hope as the curse of death

was defeated by eternal life.

 

I love how the Easter story is still bringing hope and new life to people today. Check out this story I came across recently. What do you make of it?

 

 

I want to pray, thinking particularly of people in the holidays;

Who will be studying, and revising.

Who will be going through challenging times with faith, health or relationships.

Who will be grieving or missing loved ones.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. May the God of comfort draw near to you, counsel and guide you, and may the God of peace guard your mind, body and spirit, through Jesus.

AMEN

 

 

Tags: Faith
Mar 31

I Can Forgive 1

Are you aware of any stories of forgiveness (or of not forgiving) in the news recently?

There’s been quite a discussion about Martin McGuinness. This man who died recently has been called a peacemaker by many of the world’s leaders but he was involved the ‘struggles’ in Northern Ireland previously and this led Norman Tebbit, the Conservative cabinet minister who was injured and whose wife was left permanently disabled in the IRA’s 1984 Brighton bombing, to call him “a coward who never atoned for his crimes” and said “there can be no forgiveness without a confession of sins”.

In 2015, SMRT put on ‘Les Miserables’, a great musical with a very interesting storyline.  A key moment is,  

 

 

Jean Valjean was struggling to accept the Bishop’s forgiveness.  It reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the Lost Son and his teaching on ‘turning the other cheek if someone wrongs you’.  Sometimes it is easy to accept forgiveness.  Sometimes it’s not.  Sometimes we think we’ve done something so bad it can’t be forgiven.  Sometimes we think forgiveness is a sign of weakness.  What is definitely true is that love is the key to forgiveness.  The greater the thing we have to forgive or the bigger the thing we regret, love is the answer.  If we know that someone loves us or that we love someone who needs forgiveness, then that is going to make the situation easier.  Jean Valjean needed to understand both the Bishop’s and God’s love. 

 

Christians believe that we can see that love in action both in Jesus’ life and in his death, but more about that next week.

An older prayer but one that still rings true:

My Lord and my God,

remove far from me

whatever keeps me from you.

My Lord and my God

confer upon me

whatever enables me to reach you.

My Lord and my God

free me from self

and make me wholly yours.

Amen.

(A Prayer of St Nicholas of Flue (1417-1487))

 

Music:

 

 

 

Remember to visit our Lent Calendar daily: https://smrtlent.wordpress.com/

 

Tags: Faith
Mar 24

Mothering and Fathering 2

I love the fierce loyalty displayed in this video. Perhaps human parenting is not so different from parenting in the animal kingdom?

 

 

How long do you think parenting lasts? And what makes a good parent?

Would you like to be a parent in the future? What do you think would be the hardest aspect?

Proverbs 1:8-9 says,

 

Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. What you learn from them will crown you with grace and be a chain of honour around your neck.



What is some of the best advice you have learned from a parent, carer or older family member or friend?

I have received a lot of wisdom from my Father and Mother, but also believe that it takes a village to raise a child!

Let’s pray for our parents and carers:


God, Our Heavenly parent.
You entrusted your Son Jesus, to earthly parents Mary and Joseph,
Bless all parents as they care for their families.
Give them strength and wisdom, tenderness and patience;
support them in the work they have to do, protecting those who look to them,
as we look to you for love and salvation, through Jesus Christ our rock and defender.
Amen.

For further listening, enjoy this mysterious gospel number ‘Father Stretch My Hands’ (100 points to whoever can guess who sampled it)

 

 

Remember to visit our Lent Calendar daily: https://smrtlent.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

Tags: Faith
Mar 16

Mothering and Fathering 1

This is a reminder, Mothering Sunday is next Sunday.  Will you/your family do anything special for the day?  Discuss with those around you.

What is Mothering Sunday?  Here’s an explanation,

 

 

I was surprised how few videos there were to choose from on this theme. Perhaps you could make one for next year.

It’s good to celebrate Mums and Mothers and it’s good to celebrate all the good things our churches mean to us. However, some people find this difficult as they have had bad experiences of their mothers or they have absent mothers or they can’t be mothers or their church has let them down. Please spare a thought for people in these sort of situations as it’s especially tough to be sad when others are celebrating.

Bible/Prayer:
We’ll use video to help with our prayers. This video uses verses and images from the Bible which could be seen as more ‘feminine’. There are also short prayers to use. Before you play the video, think of particular situations and mothers and orphans you want to remember. There is a crisis in parts of East Africa and sadly far too many places of conflict in our world.

 

 

Remember to visit our Lent Calendar daily: https://smrtlent.wordpress.com/

 

 

Tags: Faith
Mar 10

I Am Questioning 2

maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com Women International Womens Day Woman Womens Day 281474

 I was particularly struck by this video recently.

 

 

What is the point of the video? How did it affect you?

 

Who are we?

We are women born of the past generations,

we are women present in the here and now,

we dream of a future that is yet to be.

 

Who are we?

We are women made up of all nations and all races,

we include people from all countries of the world,

we come from down the road and round the corner.

 

Who are we?

We represent all cultures and languages,

we consist of all ages and abilities,

we embrace strangers as neighbours.

 

Who are we?

We are called to be God’s people.

Welcoming, embracing, relating, creating,

woven together into God’s community on earth.

Clare McBeath, 2011

  

Last Wednesday marked International Women’s Day, and in this worship I wanted to mark that day again.

 

International Women's Day has two key aims:


• celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women

• declare bold actions you'll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda

Throughout his life, I see how Jesus celebrated women and took bold steps to progress gender equality. This is embodied in John 4:28, when Jesus has a game changing conversation with a Samaritan woman, who was arguably the first to hear 'first hand' that Jesus was the Messiah.

 

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,

29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”

30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

 

How could we continue to celebrate women? What could we do to #BeBoldForChange? Please share your suggestions with me! I will commit to marching, writing, and praying.

 

Prayer:
Loving Father, creator of all.

Grant us humility and wisdom so that we may fight, not to conquer, but to liberate.

To liberate the women silenced by the violence,

from inequality and abuse,

from unjust and discriminatory cultural or religious practices.

And we give thanks,

for women who have confronted warring powers, challenged violence,

and whose lives, directed by necessity, are moved by compassion.

Blessed are you, gracious God,

who has created women in your image,

and in whose name we pray.

Amen.

 

Based on prayers by women of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia.

 

Remember to visit our Lent Calendar daily: https://smrtlent.wordpress.com/

 

 

Tags: Faith