Rector's Thoughts For Lent
A new thought each day
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Today is St Patrick's day. I'm never sure if we're supposed to be celebrating our Irish heritage (if we have any) or remembering St Patrick, a Bishop of the Church and amazingly brave missionary! Either seem to require a large amount of alcohol...😉
I wonder what Patrick would think of the church today? Would he be as passionate about his calling? Sometimes we seem to have lost our way. Living as a Christian is in many ways as difficult today as it was in Patrick's time. It's just that the poisonous snakes look a little different. They wear suits, and are good at fooling us into believing that they aren't dangerous at all. They can sell us practically anything...
We should be a beacon of hope for people. Helping us all to live with love in our hearts, and a care for the world that God has made. But too often we pick the wrong battles and worrit (good Lincolnshire word! Well, certainly not Irish...) at the wrong things. We are too much like Martha, distracted by many things, rather than joining Mary to sit at Jesus' feet and learn. What would Patrick have done?
It's the church AGM this Sunday. I've been trying to write reports for all the different groups about what we've been doing, numbers come into it too...🙁 Paperwork is not my strongest skill (does anyone remember Bernard's tax form in Black Books?). I'm more of a 'lets-just-do-this' type. So it doesn't really make my heart leap to be looking back and working out what I need to say.
But as I've been sorting through my diary, looking for the details and some hint towards the numbers I need, it's been taking my mind back to things we've done. The wonderful display of poppies in the churchyard, keystage 1 visiting to christen two of their dolls, and all looking so smart in their best clothes, with very proud 'parents' and 'godparents'. Redwood drive school walking up to visit the church. The great celebrations we had with everyone at Christmas, and the Pancake Party.... The group that meet at Creative Spirit a couple of times in the month, Prayer Wave, which faithfully prays each week for the parish and the world, and the wonderful cameraderie at the monthly Fish and Chip lunch...
We have a lot to celebrate and to thank God for. We are making a difference to our community. We celebrate with joy, support those who are finding life hard, and enable people to see the difference God makes in our lives and in our living. We have a long road ahead of us, but sometimes it's just good to look back and see how far we have come.
We spent some time in the Lent group this week trying to decide what 'wisdom' was, and how it was different from knowledge. Someone quoted the old saying 'knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad!'
I wonder where the voice of wisdom is today? There are plenty of people around with detailed knowledge of all sorts of things that the rest of us don't understand. The 'experts', who would like to be responsible for decision-making, it gives them a sense of power. But often there seems to be little wisdom being shown, and decisions made without wisdom are usually short-term, and may spell disaster over time. I wonder what future generations will be thinking of our use of plastics when they are trying to clean up the microgranules polluting the rivers and seas? Maybe we are not as wise as was once thought!
Wisdom takes a much broader view of life and events. It considers the factual evidence, but it also sets that into a much bigger picture. Ideally, this bigger picture is unlimited by time and human understanding. We can try to act wisely and prayerfully, but in the end it is only God who has the view that gives true wisdom.
I woke today to the news that Stephen Hawking has died. When we lived in Cambridge we'd occasionally see him purposefully heading around town on his own in his famous wheelchair, and I must admit I am one of the many who, with the best of intentions, never quite finished reading A Brief History of Time. He was very unusual, not that many 'Celebrity' physicists!
He died at 76, having fought against motor neurone disease for most of his adult life, he was an inspiration to many people. Not just because he was a brilliant scientist, and (by all accounts) very good company, but maybe also because he really summed up 'hope'.
He lived a relatively long life by normal standards, and an amazingly long life given his health challenges. And I think it's worth paying tribute to our wonderful NHS. His health needs in this country were met at no cost to himself or his family, and not just because he was a brilliant scientist, but because he was a person who was sick and needed care. And because in our NHS we have a fantastic and often unappreciated resource.
But for me it is his hope fulfilled that strikes me as most important. His life wasn't as he hoped it would be, but he fulfilled many of his dreams against all the odds. He was a great believer in the saying 'while there's life there's hope'. But hope is eternal, and life an amazing gift from God, as I'm sure he now realises....
I was once involved with editing a Diocesan magazine (not in the Lincoln Diocese, but 'elsewhere'). It was supposed to be funded by the sale of advertising. Unfortunately, the agency selling the advertising had little understanding of what it meant to be a Christian. They complained about the editorial saying it was supposed to be a 'lifestyle' magazine. Somehow they couldn't understand that the Christian lifestyle was not based around things you could buy!
The Letter of James in the Bible makes interesting reading. It talks about how having faith without doing something about it as a result is death. It's what's behind our 40 Acts for Lent, challenging us to do something for other people during Lent, rather than just giving up chocolate!
I wonder what you think the Christian lifestyle is? How does your faith affect how you live? Does it make you concerned about how political decisions affect the very poorest people? Do you take your role as steward of this earth seriously? How do you act differently because of your faith?
Today I shall be sewing. This is how most of my 'days off' are spent. The rhythm of needle and thread allows my mind to drift, often quite productively! I've been trying to get some of my UFOs (UnFinished Objects) finished and either gifted or at least in use. I'm actually nearing the end of them. But I have another group of UFOs that I inherited from my mother when she died. They were started many years ago, before the dementia set in and many of the threads she used are no longer available.
In her time, she was a very accomplished needlewoman, which gives me something of a challenge. I have finished one or two of her projects, but have neither the skill or the patience to finish others. I'm beginning to think I just need to be a bit more creative with them, and maybe use some in an unorthodox way in one of my 'different' artworks!
It set me thinking about the legacy we all leave behind. What will happen to our unfinished projects? Will there be ready hands to take on the things that we have started? And what of God's great 'project' of creation and care for the world he made? How can we work with him to leave something beautiful for those who come after us?
Try asking some small children to describe their mums. Even better to get them to draw them! 😀 They use words like 'kind', 'lovely', 'helpful' and 'fun'. The pictures all have big hands and very smiley faces! But they don't say 'she's a woman' and you can't always tell from the pictures!
In Jerusalem Jesus talks about wanting to gather the people of the city to him 'as a mother hen gathers her chicks'. It's a lovely image of caring and protecting. An image of a God who mothers the world he has created and those who live there.
I hope you enjoy Mothering Sunday. Perhaps you can think of some new ways that you can be a mother to those who need someone kind and lovely in their lives. Perhaps being helpful or fun are the words that best describe you. Maybe you too have big hands and a smiley face. The world needs many more mothers, of both sexes!