Serving Jesus to experience Jesus

I live 200 miles away from my mum, so I can’t visit her at the moment, but I am probably speaking to her more at the moment than I did previously. What I have found is that actually my relationship with her is building, I’m getting to know what’s going on her life, and in a way I am serving her through the phone calls.

In the Gospel of John 3:16-17 it says

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

One of the fundamental beliefs of Christianity that makes it different to others is the belief that God CHOSE to come to earth in the person of Jesus so that humans could be in relationship with Him but also so that they could be saved by Him.

Charles Spurgeon, who was a Baptist speaker, who spoke out against things he felt were wrong in his society said

“You cannot have Christ if you do not serve Christ”

Some people just want the gifts of God, the blessings, but this is only possible through service. But what does service look like? It can be all sorts of things, in the same way as I’m serving my mum through regular phone calls, we can serve Christ through prayers. It may also be through helping other people, seeing where there is a need and helping out. Then if we look at the story of Mary and Martha we see that although Jesus recognised what Martha was doing by doing the house work etc he appreciated Mary sitting at his feet listening more, so service could just be sitting and being.

Christianity is not about following a load of rules, it’s not about going to a place of worship, it’s about building a relationship with Christ. There is no way that is set in stone to do that, personally I think that’s pretty great!

Think about the different people that you are in relationships with… how are they different and how have they grown?

Serving in the every day

How do you want to be treated? Do you ever think of your actions as a form of service?

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus talks about judging others, and says if we judge others then we will be judged; if we are kind to people we will receive kindness. We can serve our community through the way we act towards other people.

We often think that serving others; serving God have to be humongous acts. But these opportunities don’t come very often. However everyday we have the opportunity to respond to other people and to treat them well.

Service is something we can do everyday, what are you going to do today?

Serving others

I am part of a whatsapp group for my cul-de-sac and nearly each day somebody on the group will say that they are going shopping, and ask if anybody needs anything – the most frequently requested is strong flour!

It’s not something that my husband and I can really offer, because we don’t have a car so can only really carry our own shopping.

But this is OK?…

In 1 Peter 4:9-10 it says that we should not whinge about being hospitable, but also that we each have our own gifts that we can use to serve others.

We may not be able to do additional shopping for others, but we can do other things.

Each of us is unique, there is no one exactly like us, personally I think that is extraordinary. Because we are unique no one can serve others in the same way as us.

Within Christianity, and many other religions it is believed that we serve God through serving other people. It’s not about going to a building, or doing certain things, it is about using what we have been given by God.

As you go in to this week, another week of isolation, think about how you can serve those you are in contact with, and maybe even those you are not. How will those actions impact the community?

Called to serve

Happy Easter and welcome to term 5. This term we are looking at the final of our school values … service.

People often assume that Christianity is all about following rules, but actually it’s more about service. Jesus demonstrated service in his life, washing his disciples feet, and the ultimate act of service through sacrifice in His crucifixion and resurrection.

We are called to serve God, how do we do that? We can serve God through serving others. The Parable of the sheep and the goats that Jesus told shows the kind of actions we should be doing. By helping the poor, the hungry, the ill, the prisoners we are helping Jesus and will be rewarded for doing so.

I think we can safely say that things have been very strange recently and yet we have seen so much service and kindness. Our road has a whatsapp group where people offer to get shopping for others; I have been collecting prescriptions for a friend who has been unable to get hers; the amount of people who have volunteered to help the NHS as well. It’s been phenomenal.

Service involves some sacrifice, a willingness to help others even though it may cost you something such as time.

So in this time of weirdness, how can you serve people in your household, people in your community, or keyworkers?

Perseverance leads to rewards

Golden tickets! In Charlie and the chocolate factory people did whatever they could to get golden tickets, in order to enter the Chocolate factory. We have started a Golden ticket scheme with the year 11s, they get regular rewards of golden tickets for all sorts of things, which are then drawn out on a weekly basis. Part of the reasoning behind this is to try and encourage the year 11s, they are coming close to their exams, but they probably seem far away as well. It’s the end of two years of hard work, but they won’t know the result until August. These weekly rewards give a motivation on a short term basis which will lead to the final reward. It’s working well, but I’m slightly concerned it will be similar to Charlie and the chocolate factory in order to get tickets soon!!!!!!

We have spent the term considering perseverance, looking at different ways that we keep going even when things get difficult. It could be argued that this so much easier when we are aiming towards a goal, when we know there will be a result.

Throughout our lives we face many trials, and many times we will need to persevere. Sometimes we don’t necessarily see a reward, and that can be really hard. However within Christianity there is a belief that we will be rewarded, it just might not be in this life time. In the book of James it says

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Those who have a faith in God and a belief in what Jesus did on the cross, are promised a reward in heaven. This gives many Christians hope, when they are going through hard times, or when people they know are ill or close to death.

Last week rev Lawan Andimi was executed by Boko Haram for being a Christian. His words to his wife before he was executed were “be patient, don’t cry, don’t worry but thank God for everything.” These are not the words you would expect of a person about to lose his life, but they are the words of a person who knew that he was going to be with his Father God, and that he would be rewarded for not denying his faith – he would receive his crown.

Reward is not the reason we should persevere, but it is good to know that within Christianity we can have a faith that we will be rewarded for our perseverance.

Choosing to persevere

I’ve just had lunch with my mum and my brother, and we were talking about teenage freedoms. As teenagers we didn’t have curfews – the only rule we had if we were going out was that our parents needed to know where we were going. I didn’t realise it at the time but this actually gave me a great deal of freedom and responsibility when making choices. I took it to the extreme and phoned home every time we changed location but still… it was my choice. I could have chosen to lie, and then something could have happened and my freedom would have been taken away.

A couple of weeks ago I had quite a ‘magnificent’ seizure leaving impressive abrasions down the side of my face and a damaged wrist. I had no warning before this seizure, when I normally do, and this scared me. I wouldn’t leave the house unless I was with someone. But over the last week cause I’ve had new classes I’ve had to give the epilepsy talk numerous times and I have realised that since I was 11 I could have chosen to give up and give in to the epilepsy or I could choose to live my life.

We have choices to make every day, and in all areas of our life. Perseverance is one of those choices.that we need to make. When those troubles come our way, when we think we’ve failed, when we want to give up, we can choose to persevere or we can choose to give up. Scott Hamilton said:

“Adversity and perseverance and all these things can shape you. They can give you a value and a self-esteem that is priceless”

We have been given freedom, freedom allows us to make choices, choices shape our lives.

How are you going to use it?

Long race of perseverance

The year 11s and year 13s are being spoken to a lot at the moment about working hard to reach their goals, but also having to think about what they need to do to achieve. This week our year 9s will be starting to think about what GCSEs they want to take. Our thought for the week comes from Kalpana Chalwa who says

“The path from dreams to success does exist. May you have the vision to find it, the courage to get on to it, and the perseverance to follow it.”

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher, and most of my academic decisions have been affected by that aim. It wasn’t always as straight forward as I would have liked, but I made it.

Most people have dreams, they might think they are unobtainable, or they are likely to change throughout time. But… that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take them seriously, consider what we need to do to reach those goals and then persevere. It is likely to take time, it is likely to be difficult, you’re likely to want to give up at times, but imagine how it will feel when achieved.

When the letter was written to the early Hebrew church there is a recognition of the things that can get in the way, but the support and perseverance that is needed in the race of life, but also our other races and dreams. The verse says

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a

May you have the courage to find and follow your dreams and run your races. Amen

Perseverance to weather the storms

We all face storms in life, it is something that we have to accept. We can choose how to respond to those storms. We could just choose to hide away from them until they’re gone… or we could choose to face them head on and walk on through.

If we choose to face them head on then we are going to need to be prepared. Recently I’ve needed to make sure I’ve had decent boots, a coat, hat and hood to face the physical weather, and it is the same in our metaphorical storms as well. To be prepared, but also to know we are not alone. When paul wrote to the Church in Rome he said

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”

Facing the storms with God, and with hope, patience and faithfulness in prayer. Storms are not easy to travel through, they take perseverance but they are a necessary part of the journey.

Although we could see life as one long journey, if we see each day as a journey of its own, with its own forecast, then that can make things easier.

Our thought for the week comes from Walter Elliott who says

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other”

If you face each day as a new race with faith, hope, prayer you will be amazed at what you can achieve over a month, a year, a lifetime.

Perseverance in the every day

When you describe your characteristics do you ever include perseverance?

I think perseverance can quite often be seen as a negative thing, after all our quote last week told us it’s the hard stuff you do after the hard stuff you’ve already done. However Joseph Wirthlin who gives us our quote this week says

“Perseverance is a positive, active, characteristic”

This quote tells us a few of things

1. It is a positive thing, we shouldn’t think of it as a chore but as something that will benefit us.

2. It is active, it is something that we should choose to do and that we have to do. We can’t just hope that we will persevere.

3. It is a characteristic, it shapes who we are. People will recognise perseverance within us.

It’s difficult though to be positive about perseverance and to actually choose to persevere, EVERYDAY. However we are given lots of examples throughout Christianity of people who have persevered, and people who had to encourage others to persevere. Moses, Abraham, Paul, Joseph, Esther, Ruth. Our verse this week is one of my favourite verses, it comes from the book of Joshua. Joshua encouraged the people to walk round the walls of Jericho to bring them down (a very short version of the story). Imagine having to keep walking round the same area over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. In the first chapter of this book we have one of my favourite verses which is God talking to Joshua saying

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Perseverance is positive, it’s active’ it’s a characteristic, it’s hard, but we’re not on our own!

What is perseverance?

How difficult is it to get up on the first day of term? I know it can be rather difficult, especially the first day after the Christmas holidays – well, let’s face it any morning can be difficult.

However, this term can be difficult because we’ve done a term already, it’s dark in the mornings, it’s dark in the evenings, it’s cold, and there isn’t anything like exams to focus on. Motivation is slim, we may have made New Years resolutions but, how long did they last?

That is why we have chosen perseverance as our value to focus on this term. And our thought for this week as we start to explore the concept of perseverance comes from Newt Gingrich who says

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after the hard work you already did”

Essentially it is keeping going, even when you want to give up, there’s other things you’d rather be doing and when you can’t really see the purpose of it.

As we will discover throughout the term perseverance is an important value, because it makes us stronger people, and if we persevere in the things like waking up, doing our school work etc and we see how that benefits us it will be easier to persevere in the difficult things. In the book of James he says that we should consider it pure joy when we face troubles, that seems odd, but it is because that’s where we develop our strength and courage, and become the people we are.

I’m going to leave it there for this week, but as I sign off think of the fact the church is celebrating epiphany this week which is when we remember the magi visiting Jesus. They travelled from a far away land, following a star and they weren’t even really sure what they were looking for. But they didn’t give up, they persevered, and we still remember them today.

What do you need to persevere with this term? What will help you to do that?

Thank you God that you give us examples of people who persevere and you also provide us with strength. Help us to know that we are not alone but that you are by our side. Amen