Month: July 2017

What does the Bible say about thankfulness?

We have come to the end of the school year and the end of our theme of “what does the Bible say about…”. It therefore seems appropriate that our final theme of the year is “what does the Bible say about thankfulness?”. Our thought for the week comes from one of the greatest literary characters of all time and says

Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold rather a lot of gratitude

A lot of the topics we have looked at this term haven’t necessarily had a huge amount answers, or advice, but have raised further questions, or have challenged the way we approach things. But this one is quite simple. What does the Bible say about thankfulness? It says you should be thankful!

I feel I have spoken a lot this year about recognising the good that is happening in our lives, trying to avoid the culture we live in of focussing on the negative, or focussing on what we want and need. The best way in which we can do that is to be thankful for what we have, and for what people have done. More so, is to thank those people who have helped to make those things happen.

Do you say thank you? One thing a few of our supply teachers have mentioned is that Archbishop’s is one of the few schools where pupils will say thank you when they leave the lesson. How amazing is that? It is so easy to fall in to the trap of not thanking people for what they do because ‘it’s their job’! It may their job, but they are still doing it. I always wondered why my mum waved at so many people in the car, or when she was crossing at Zebra crossings, until she told me that she was saying thank you. I will always say thank you when I’m getting off the bus, and feel slightly bad that I can’t say thank you to train driver! Yes… they are doing their job… but if they weren’t doing their job then I wouldn’t have got to place I needed to get to.

Thankfulness shows a recognition that someone has done something good for you or for others, it doesn’t have to be something that they didn’t have to do, it just has to be something good. Think about your day so far… how much of it have you done on your own? How much has been helped along by other people? Have you thanked them?

The bible verse linked with this theme is from 1 Chronicles 16 and it says “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever”. We are so good at complaining to God when things are going wrong, and asking God when they are things we need/want, yet how often do we thank God?

We have so much to be thankful for. Christians believe that God gave us life, that God created the world in which we live. Do we thank God for that? On Tuesday we will be celebrating the Eucharist together, the Eucharist is meal of thanksgiving. Reminding us that we are forgiven people because Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Being forgiven. Being free. Being able to be in relationship with God. Now that is something to be thankful for.

I’ve recently given out some gifts to say thank you to some people, and the response I often got was “you didn’t have to.” I may not have had to, but I wanted to. Thankfulness is one of the most amazing, affirming gifts we can each give. As Piglet noticed – he was only small but he had a great capacity for gratitude.

So… have a great summer… and thank you for reading this blog. See you on the 3rd September (the Sunday before we start back)!

Prayer: we thank you father that you chose to create this amazing world, and that you chose to create us to be in relationship with you. Thank you that you sent Jesus to become human on earth, to live among us, and to die in our place, that we may be forgiven and reunited with you. Thank you for being good and for loving us even when we don’t deserve it. Amen

Challenge: spend a day thanking people!

What does the Bible say about worldliness? 

When I was at school I can’t remember why but I was doing a project on TV advertisements. The project was based around what type of adverts were shown at different times of the day, and how those adverts differed in style. Not surprisingly those shown in breaks during children’s TV on a Saturday morning were for toys, and games. The adverts were brighter, faster moving, and clearly aimed at children.

We live in a consumer society, where the focus seems to be on whether we have the latest things, how could we possibly cope without them? They’ve changed TV adverts so that you still know what is being advertised even though you fast forward through them. Our computers and smart phones are inundated with adverts all the time, adverts which are tailored for us based on our age and gender, but especially on what we have looked at on the internet, and shopped for in the past. Things are suggested to us which we didn’t know that we needed, but suddenly we are not sure how we could live without them.

I have been informed that my phone is due for an upgrade in December, there is absolutely nothing wrong with my phone, but I’m already planning what phone I am going to get. We live in a consumer world.

We also live in a world where there are certain expectations of us, that we are supposed to follow a certain path. If we choose to go against the grain, and stand out from the crowd then we can be judged for that as well. As much as society goes on about accepting everyone and embracing those differences, how much does that actually happen? A lot of the time we get all of the consumer things so that we fit in with our friends.

Does it make us feel better when we have those things? Possibly. Momentarily. But then… there’s a new new thing which we need to get. As Phyllis Bottome says in our thought for the week

“The unfortunate thing about worldliness is that its rewards are rather less than its appetites”

What does the Bible say about worldliness? This is our theme for this week, and one which I think is especially important in today’s society. In the book of James it says that friendship with the world makes us an enemy of God, but also that God is a jealous God.

That seems quite harsh, so I’m going to quickly try and explain. A couple of weeks ago I gave a friend a birthday present, he said thank you and then just left it. Eventually I asked him if he was going to open it. Why did I care? I was quite chuffed and wanted to see his reaction. Another example I’ve been teaching for a long time now, I never get over how quickly a form group or a teaching group get over not having me as their teacher. There may be upset in July, but then suddenly in September that’s forgotten and they are getting on with their new teachers.

These are silly examples I know but I think it helps us to explain where God is coming from when it says we become an enemy and that he is jealous. As Christians we believe that God created us, that he knows everything about us, and yet we choose to be in relationship with what the world tells us we need, and tells us we should as opposed to being in relationship with God. It’s about the choices we make. Right back in the beginning Adam and Eve had everything they could have wanted, but they still went for the one thing they were told not to touch.

If we are choosing the world rather than God, and if this makes God jealous and us an enemy of God then why does he still want to be in relationship with us? James tells us that too… there’s always more grace. In the same way that I don’t ignore pupils who seem to have moved on from me, God doesn’t ignore those of us who seem to be in relationship with the world more than him. However, he does long for our relationship to be with him, after all, he made us and the world we live in.

None of this is to say we should avoid the world, after all we live in the world, we rely on a lot of these things. It does also say in the Bible that we are to be in the world but not of the world. However, we could think about what our priorities are. Three weekends ago I went on a retreat to a place with no mobile phone signal and the wifi wasn’t working. It was amazing, refreshing, and surprisingly freeing! Is our focus on the world, or is our focus on God? What is your priority?

Once again, I don’t really have any answers, mainly because this is a journey I am onat the moment, trying to make my focus God, in my every day. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Challenge: spend some time in quiet without any gadgets. Turn everything off. You may want to go for a walk. Turn your focus to God.

Prayer: father God, we thank you that you created us, that you know us, that you want to be in relationship with us. We are sorry that we sometimes turn away from you and get distracted by things in the world. Help us to turn back to you, for our desire to be to spend time with you rather than the things we own. Amen

What does the Bible say about preparing?

Last Wednesday I went to a course in London. I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to be, but it had been raining the night before. I packed my waterproof coat, but I also packed my flip flops. I packed the flip flops because I knew that if my shoes got wet they would be uncomfortable so I had something to change in to.

When I do the washing up at home I pile up everything in order. Glasses, mugs, bowls, plates, cutlery, pans. Then it’s much easier to just get on with it once I’ve started.

When I cook, I chop everything first, before I even put a pan on the hob. Then I know that I can just focus on the cooking.

My parents met through scouting, I grew up surrounding by cub and scout things, I was a brownie, then a guide. It is no surprise that I am very familiar with the scout and guide motto ‘be prepared’. When Baden-Powell wrote about what was meant by the motto he said that it had two parts. Firstly to be prepared in the mind which means to have disciplined yourself to be obedient to orders, and to have thought out any situations. Secondly to be prepared physically, meaning to make yourself physically strong and active. Both of these are to then enable you to be able to do the right thing at the right time.

The reason that I pile everything up in that order when I am washing up is because I still remember doing an interest badge at brownies, I think it was housekeeper or something, and I was stood that you always wash glasses first, as they are to most delicate, and pans last are they are usually the dirtiest and the most robust. It’s probably common sense, but I still remember being taught it.

To do the right thing at the right time. That’s quite a daunting prospect, but actually it’s about developing the necessary skills to be able to deal with situations.

To be prepared doesn’t mean that you necessarily know what your goal is and exactly how you are going to reach it, it is about building up a set of skills to help in any situation. You probably don’t think about this on a daily basis but one of the principle aims of school, in my opinion, is to prepare people for the big wide world. Not only does it teach core subjects such as maths, English, science, but it enables people to develop social skills, whether that’s through friendships, but also working with people who we don’t necessarily get on with. Skills such as accepting all people, team building, following rules – after all every work place has them. Opportunities to volunteer, and taking responsibility. Then at Archbishop’s we also have our motto of enter to learn, go forth to serve, and our values of love, service, faith, perseverance, and forgiveness.

The bible verse for this theme comes from Ecclesiastes 11:7-10 and it aka about enjoying everyday, enjoying your youth, knowing there will be darkness and knowing that there will be judgement.

 Being prepared is not just about packing your bag for school with the right equipment, or having a goal and doing everything you need to reach that goal. It is also about recognising that even if you are prepared things aren’t necessarily going to go smoothly. Scar recognised this in the lion king and his son be prepared. There were lines such as ‘a shining new era is tiptoing nearer’ but this is only going to come with hard work of ‘meticulous planning, tenacity spanning’. Scar also recognised that to get that final goal there has to be a certain sense of responsibility “of course quid pro quo, you’re expected, to take certain duties on board”.

You may have a certain goal in mind, of what you want to achieve, but it’s not just going to fall in to your lap. You have to take responsibility for it. In Christianity there is the belief of a reward of eternal life, but also of a day of judgement. Yes there are rewards but with rewards comes responsibility.

Benjamin Franklin said “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” this is both for specific events but also for life generally. Preparation may be boring but it is the groundwork we need to build on.

When I was in Brownies I enjoyed playing the games, singing the songs, spending time with friends, going on day trips, going camping, but the one thing I remember is to wash glasses first! It takes time to be prepared, but it leads to more enjoyment and less time in the future.

Challenge: what skills do you have that will help you to do the right thing in the right situation? Are there any skills that you think you need to develop?

Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you provide people who help us develop the skills to be able to do the right thing in the right situation. Help us to listen to the advice given, and to take it on board, that we may be prepared for whatever comes up. Amen