Month: March 2017

Rejoicing


As we approach the countdown to Easter we look at the final of our spiritual disciplines, this is one which doesn’t necessarily seem like a discipline, but also one which can be hard to do, or one which we fail to do the most, and that is… rejoicing
We live in a world where we are told about the bad things that happen all the time; a world which takes great joy in sharing mistakes that people have made; spreading other people’s misfortunes; a world where it is all too easy to complain about things that are happening but it seems more and more difficult to rejoice.

After the shocking events in Westminster this last week I was overwhelmed by the amazing responses of the people in London, around the world and in the media. The response to show that we will not be deterred or afraid; the love of those who helped; the unity of different religious leaders coming together. It would have been so easy to focus on this awful act being done in the name of a religion, but instead there was a rejoicing of the love being shown. In fact I am reliably informed that the highest trending twitter feed the following day was national puppy day.

When a major city is attacked we all come together, show our solidarity, show we are one people not many. Unfortunately, on a day to day basis this unity which does take place isn’t reported, but the differences and disagreements are. Why does this have to be the case?

This is why rejoicing is a spiritual discipline. And why it is so powerful. The only way to dispel evil is through love. Yes we can act in love, which is powerful, but we also need to rejoice in love. Easter is the most important of the Christian festivals, it was at Easter that Jesus defeated death, it was because of his resurrection that we all have the opportunity to have eternal life, and to be in relationship with God. Joseph Prince says

Whatever barren situation you are in, rejoice and tell God, “Father because of the sacrifice of your son, I am blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. You have already given me everything. So I am going to act like it is so and rejoice!

As I say so many times, if you choose to live a Christian life and follow Christ then that is most definitely not taking the easy option, and is likely to face difficulty. But throughout it all we must remember all the blessings we have been given and rejoice in those. They will give us the reminder we need of good in our lives, but will also be a witness to others. Maybe we can start a new trend of sharing only the good things we see, or focussing on them anyway? We have good reason to rejoice, so let’s do it!

Have a great Easter Break, celebrating the news the Jesus Christ is risen! 

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Charity

What are you passionate about? 

One thing I’ve always loved about The Archbishop’s school is the willingness to want to raise money for charity. The charity events that are most successful are the ones where pupils have chosen the charity because it means something to them. The passion that they have for the charity, the personal story that they are willing to share empassions everyone else. The individuals put more in to the organising and advertising and this pays off. 

Earlier in the year we were visited by Emily who came to speak to us about her charity Khushi feet which raises money to give education to children in India. She had visited India and was deeply affected by what she witnessed. She felt that she needed to act, to make a difference. 

She was passionate about these children having an education, this passion came across as she spoke to the school, and the CU have already decided that they want to raise money to support Khushi Feet. 

In case you hadn’t guessed the Spiritual discipline that we are considering this week is charity. 

Many of us may give money to charity but is that what we are talking about in terms of a spiritual discipline? I’m not sure. 

Aquinas describes it as the friendship of man for God… it extends not only to the love of God but also to love of neighbour. 

The way I read this is that if we love God and we experience the love of God then that will extend to how we act towards our neighbours. Just to clarify, our neighbour are our fellow humans. The love of God and for God will be our passion that we will then want to share. 

Charity doesn’t have to be giving money, it doesn’t have to involve a cake sale or a non-uniform day. But it does have to evolve out of love. 

Loretta Scott said

“We can’t help everyone but everyone can help someone”

We all have the capacity to show charity, it doesn’t have to be extravagant and elaborate but it will normally involve sacrifice on your part. Whether it is giving up money, or time, or practical help.

What are you passionate about?

Is there an issue on you heart that you, like Emily, think, I want to do something about? Think about that, focus on that, how can you show Gods love in that situation? How can you demonstrate Gods love? 

Prayer: father God we thank you that you first loved us that we may now love others. Help us to know what issues we can make a difference to and how we can sacrifice ourselves to help others Amen

Challenge: think about what you are passionate about and work out how you can show love in that situation. 

Fasting

I have two big questions to ask you.

1. How many pancakes did you manage to eat?

2. Have you given up anything for lent?

We continue on our journey to Easter considering different disciplines that aid our Christian journey of faith. This week we’re looking at fasting. This is possibly the word we associate most with lent, although I do seem to see more and more people taking up something during lent rather than giving up something.

I had 6 pancakes this year, 3 on Tuesday, and 3 on Wednesday – we still had lemon and it seemed a shame to waste it!

Why do we have pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? The ingredients needed to make pancakes were considered to be luxurious, and lent was a time of fasting from those luxuries, and therefore the ingredients needed to be eaten. Whereas now people specifically go to the shop to buy things for making pancakes, which bizarrely defeats the whole point!

So… fasting. Why? Mike Bickle says

Fasting is a grace that significantly increases our receptivity to the Lord’s voice and His word

Grace suggests that it is a good thing… how can fasting, giving up something you enjoy, be a good thing?

If we are completely honest, when are the times that we turn to God the most? I may be wrong, but I imagine for a lot of us it is when we are struggling, when something is going wrong, when we need something. Why? Human nature! Why talk to God/listen to God when everything is hunkydory?

When thinking about Lent, and what to give up, it shouldn’t be something that you could easily live without. It should be a struggle. What happens when we struggle? Where do we draw our strength from? God!

Lent isn’t an instruction from God, we haven’t been ordered to give up chocolate. It is a choice that people make, in order to reconnect with God. The 40 days is in remembrance of Jesus, who went to the desert for 40 days after his Baptism and before his ministry began. It was difficult, he struggled, he faced temptation but… every single time he remembered words from the scripture and he turned to the Father for strength.

What I’ve found with God, is that I take a certain problem/issue to him and then he will often talk to me about something else! Lent may be a time when we are seeking God to help us through whatever we have given up, but all we are doing is opening up those channels of communication again.

Challenge: you may or may not have already given up something for lent, but what can you fast from this week? What luxury would you struggle without?

Prayer: father God we thank you that your lines of communication are always open. Help us to turn to you no matter what the situation we are in. We pray for al those who have set themselves a challenge in Lent and pray that it will strengthen their relationship with you. Amen