Sunday’s sermon set me on a path of introspection. Andrew took the opportunity to talk about the call placed on him to go and teach in another school. I’ve listened to Andrew in the past when he has questioned whether it is God who is speaking to him. So on the occasion of this position and challenge of the new school, Andrew placed three obstacles in the way of the decision. He described how every single one of them was removed and then he said ‘yes’ to the job. Seven months later, Ofsted has taken the school out of special measures. Andrew is now spreading the word that God blessed the school through His call.
This is, of course, a cause of great joy for all concerned. Why then, did my normally sunny, positive self struggle on hearing Andrew’s talk? As I listened to God that night, he told me that for all that triumphantly reflects his glory, he is present also in the harsh days of darkness and uncertainty.
This is a week when we need to take the long view and we have the perfect example in Christ’s final walk to the cross. In a few days we celebrate Palm Sunday. What glory, what excitement! The spontaneous act of praise as Jesus entered Jerusalem would have made anyone watching believe that it was ‘all systems go’ for Jesus to begin his earthly reign. But we know the end game. In less than a week, he would go from the people’s hero to criminal of the church, apparent blasphemer of God, under the penalty of death. Where were all the people now? Was there no-one left by his side but John? Even His Father left him. Can anyone imagine a lower place than this?
Faith is about the unseen as much as the seen. The signs that Andrew spoke about were visible signs. The fruit that he spoke about was visible fruit. We don’t always receive fruit immediately. We do not always see visible signs immediately. There is a longer view which we must respect as much as what appears to be short term gain or loss.
We can know which we are looking at by following the path of Christ. He stayed close to the Father during his final walk to glory. He prayed. He listened. He acted according to the call. He paid the final penalty for each one of us….and the world did not wait long for a longer view. Three days later, Christ broke the chains of death in the splendour of the ressurection.
Are you in the long or the short view right now? If God has called you to something, no act of man can stop you. Whether you are in a time of blessing or trial, stay close to God. Listen and pray for opportunities. When called to act, move. God will do the rest. Whichever time you’re in, the best is yet to come. As for me and my house, we’re standing on the promises of God.
Life has been pretty crazy lately. The wheels of my daily juggling act are all developing seeds of their own. What started out as a mixed portfolio of life giving activities has turned into barely overlapping wheels of potentially life sapping obligations. Just as in my previous life of The Iron Maiden, Financial Controller par excellence, I am now the Queen of yes, operator par excellence, can do, will do, love to do girl. The only way out is to physically get away from it all and get close to God.
Knowing that I needed more time alone with God, I started ‘prayer and praise’ last August. First gently, sticking a toe in the water, I started bringing along a friend into St. Andrew’s on Tuesday at noon. We would pray and sing and praise and pray and just be with God. After a few weeks it seemed selfish just to keep it to ourselves so I opened it up to others. It is now a regular part of our church life. So with this regular commitment and all the other ways that I regularly pray and study (NT Theology last year, OT Theology this year) I thought I was already doing the right things. I still didn’t get it and my yes girl mentality was taking away all that space I had in my early years alone with God. Those important revelations that once came with a mighty hand, were not as frequent in my swirling world.
Enter Mary D, (code named now MD) over the Atlantic. A few words brought out a life giving beautiful soul. MD comes from Lighthouse Int’l Christian Church which is a mecca and multicultural melting pot for souls who have come from places like Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan. Individuals and families come, many as refugees, new to the christian faith. Many move to other parts of the UK from this entry point. The church itself is growing rapidly, even with this steady movement. Meeting at 4 p.m. for prayer, praise, worship and food (imagine the treats in store with this international pool), they are outgrowing their home and looking to expand. Oh what I wish for this phenomenon to take hold over our population of pioneers in the lakes. But this wasn’t all that MD brought to the table. She was convinced that what I needed was a precious book she was carrying with her called Begin the Journey with The Daily Office by Peter Scazzero.
Now I’ve been studying and praying and praising God with zeal for years. I’ve done just about every configuration of sound bite study. In fact, I’ve determined that what I need is more theology to understand the world and the people and the circumstances of those early days to encourage those stubborn hold-outs with a logical way to come to the grace of the Lord. I thought I needed this little book like ‘a hole in the head’ and was pretty adament that I couldn’t possibly accept it. Mary was having none of it. She insisted that this precious well worn book was for me. God has put us together over the Atlantic for a reason. And so I did what I was called to do and accepted it with a grateful heart. MD’s gift has brought me back to the quiet time that I’ve been missing in my world of (the most maddening combination of visionary, operator and processor) can do it all madness. So starting from next week, we’re all going to begin exploring this precious little book, slowly, in Prayer and Praise. Our infusion with the living Lord just got a whole lot richer.
Jesus loves you
Jesus is the light of the world
C o m e to me a l l w h o are thirsty. I will give you living water.
C o m e to me a l l w h o are hungry. I will give you bread of life.
Jesus is the vine
Jesus is the shepherd
Jesus is the lamb of God
Jesus died for you and me
Let the trumpets sound, let the drums roll, let us walk the streets with banners tall and wide. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Come to Jesus. His yoke is easy, his burden is light. Amen.
Encounter was truly awesome. Four like minded souls, nothing short of angels, just walked through the door and we were simply blown away by the movement of the Holy Spirit Sunday evening. I couldn’t get the experience out of my mind yesterday. I continue to think about it and proclaim the wonder of the love and grace that brought it to our door. Thank you God. Thank you Bath and Yorkshire. Thank you Mark. Thank you Gill and Hazel. Blessings to you all.
Michael Harvey’s talk today was fascinating and brought home many points that can really help us at St. Andrew’s. For me what I see as most important is that we are all working for the same Lord, the same purpose with the same goals. We all aren’t called to do the same things and we all aren’t good at the same things so God gives us different gifts and these must be recognised so that we can be effective. If we can complement one another, we’ll be able to encourage, in the right way, everyone we meet, to join us at St. Andrew’s and come to faith. Father God, open up our hearts so that we can really work together in love for your kingdom here in Coniston and the world where you move us each and every day. Amen.
At St. Andrew’s we celebrate New Beginnings. Yesterday’s blessing service for the new homes was awesome. It is great to have Mark back with us and we have just issued our first ever Annual Report. Praise God! To receive a copy, please contact Mark East on 41262.
Alternatively you can download it in two parts:
Words cannot describe the awesome power of grace at work for the Harvest Supper last term. Spearheaded by Grisedale Arts, the entire village donated food, lots of good cooks volunteered their time and in three short hours, the local Primary School was transformed into a dining extravaganza. A long William Morris print table cloth, candles, mood music, waiters, and personalised service. It was an extraordinary evening where many were fed by the few.
There was nothing we could do to earn it. Like God’s grace, we were given a Harvest Supper to remember. Delivering containers of food throughout the village the next day was even better. An encounter with more lovely souls.
Mark, our Priest in Charge, is studying the dynamic of music in worship. He is looking for views across all ages and has compiled a questionnaire to help the process. Two versions are available on-line:
The word view can be completed on-line and e-mailed.
The pdf version lends itself to printing and posting.
Whichever way you choose, your views are important. If you are interested in this topic and can take the time, your views are very much appreciated.
Thanks to all you shining stars for making our dinner to celebrate Thanksgiving, St. Andrew’s Day and Advent such a success!
Blessings to the churches of St. Andrew’s and St. Luke’s for coming together at the very large table beautifully laid out by Liz and Mike with candles from their daughter’s wedding along with their entire linen supply. For Gill who supported me in planning from the beginning baking beautiful rolls and supplying two massive bags of potatoes. Her nimble hands chopped vegetables diligently, washed every single potato and stood at a very hot stove to the very end. To Linda who gave us that last minute power assist needed to get the sausage and roast potatoes cooked. To Mike Furness, Mike Batho, Nick, Howard and Liz who helped serve every delicious morsel – we even had turkey, mashed potatoes and kale leftover. To Mark who arranged for us to get the Youth Centre making the entire event possible and for personally calling to ensure all were invited. Thank you for leading us in the blessing. To Gill and Linda who supplied lovely pies for the pumpkin pie bake-off and to Peter for being such a good judge. To Mike Furness for a knock-out quiz and the reminder of that exquisite horse, See the Stars! To our surprise visitor who helped massively by washing up at the end.
A special thanks to Howard and Norman who stood by us all the way from the beginning to the end running interference to insure every pass was completed.
To all who came and joined in the celebration with much wine and merry mirth, God bless you all.