Why we worship

Welcome to a new academic year, I hope you had a great rest over the summer holidays with loads and loads of fun. This term we are going to be looking at a particular type of worship that we participate regularly in at Archbishop’s and that is sung worship. Each week we are going to look at a different hymn that is on our worship sheet, and look at the meaning behind the words that we are singing. But we are going to start off with a bit of an introduction as to why we worship in the first place.

A few years ago my husband and I were spending Christmas in Birmingham, with my parents. On Christmas Day we didn’t go to the church that I had always gone to and which my mum still goes to, instead we went to a church I’ve never been to. Why? Because at my mums church there weren’t going to be any hymns, and we couldn’t quite cope with a service on Christmas Day when we weren’t singing Hark the Herald or O come all ye faithful. For me and my mum singing was a necessary part of our Christmas celebrations.

Singing is by no means the only form of worship but it is one that most of us recognise as worship and will be our focus for this term. But why do we worship? Why do we sing?

Our thought for the week comes from Louie Guiglio who says “worship is giving God his breath back”. I love this quote. Essentially worship is acknowledging what God has given us and thanking Him for it. The book of Genesis tells us that God chose to create a good and beautiful world, he chose to create humans, he chose to breathe life in to us and for me that is something to be thankful for. The word worship means to give someone their worth, and that is what we are doing by joining together. God is worth us taking our time to stop and to focus on Him and to thank Him for all that he has done.

Songs have always been a route for people to express things others that they couldn’t necessarily say in person. How many of you remember the exact words that were spoken in an assembly or a speech from an MP? How many of you are able to sing at least a chorus from a song, any song? Musical worship is able to express what we couldn’t necessarily say for ourselves, the people who write it are writing truths about the God they worship, and are enabling those of us to sing those praises and declare those truths for ourselves.

For many people singing is a fundamental part of their worship. They may not agree on the type of worship they enjoy, but they agree that sung worship is necessary. It helps us to learn about God, it gives words when we can’t find any sufficient, and it brings together a collection of people. Singing is good for health and well being anyway, sung worship helps with our spiritual well being as well. So let’s sing

Challenge What is your favourite worship song? What spiritual truths are declared through that song? Is it based on the Bible?

Prayer Thank you God that you created the world we live, you created us and you breathed life in to us. Help us to give you your worth in our worship. Amen


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

What does the Bible say about Temptation?

Ginger nuts! I can resist most other biscuits, but put a ginger nut in front of me, especially when I have a cup of tea in my hand, and I will normally have to give in and have one…or two…or… I love ginger nuts so much that when I was searching for the definition of this weeks word I searched for ginger nuts rather than TEMPTATION!!!!

This week we continue to look at what the Bible says about different things that affect us and we are considering what the Bible says about temptation. The definition of temptation is

 The wish to do or have something that you know you should not do or have

We have all experienced temptation, and the things that tempt us will be different. When I was looking at videos for form time worship the majority of videos related to temptation were related to food. However, that isn’t going to be the case with all people. It might be that your temptation is to procrastinate when you have a job to do! Another one of mine, depending on the day I’ve had, will be to sit down on the sofa and watch TV rather than going out for a run.

None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they could be if they became habit or the norm. For example, the issue is not having a ginger nut with my cup of tea, the issue is that I could easily eat the entire packet with my cup of tea, and an entire packet of biscuits is not going to do you any good whether you are on a diet or not. Procrastination can sometimes be helpful as thinking time, but if we always procrastinate then nothing will ever get done. There’s always a time for sitting on the sofa and watching TV, but if you do that every time you feel like it, or instead of doing something else then it’s not going to be beneficial. I know that running makes me feel better, but that’s hard work!

Temptations are often referred to as guilty pleasures. They are things that we like, that make us feel good momentarily but because we know that they are something we shouldn’t be doing they also make us feel guilty.

It is not bad to be tempted, it is human. The issue, is how do we deal with the temptations when they come. I’ve already used the word resist when I said that a ginger nut is the one biscuit I can’t resist. Resist is a word we often use in relation to temptation and the definition of resist is to fight against something or someone that is attacking you. One way in which the word resist is used is “antibodies help us to resist infection”. I liked this idea because a temptation can be like an infection, it may start off with something small, one ginger nut, one night on the sofa but can easily turn into a whole packet of ginger nuts and never doing exercise again.

How do we resist the temptation? I think it’s best to look at the example of Jesus. In fact our thought for the week comes from Rick Warren who says

Every time you defeat a temptation you become more like Jesus

I like the fact that Rick Warren uses the term defeating temptation. If we go back to the idea of the body resisting infection, eventually the resisting infection will result in defeating it and being healthy. I had a virus earlier in the year, it wiped me out completely, even when I was feeling better I was taken over by exhaustion every now and again but now my body has defeated it!

It makes me feel better that Jesus was tempted as well… it makes me realise that everyone really does get tempted. I imagine he was tempted a lot, after all he was fully human, but the temptations that we know of are right after his baptism when he goes in to the wilderness, where he fasts and prepares himself for his ministry. He is tempted with 3 things, turning stones to food, jumping from a high place knowing God would save him, and bowing down to Satan in order to have power. All of these things would have made his life much easier, especially as he knew what the next 3 years would entail and how it would end. However easy and momentarily pleasurable it would have been Jesus resisted and defeated the temptation. How? He reminded himself why he shouldn’t give in. He quoted scripture “man shall not live by bread alone” “do not put God to the test” “you shall worship only God”.

A temptation is wanting to do or have something you know you shouldn’t do or have. You KNOW you shouldn’t therefore the best way to defeat temptation is to remind yourself why you shouldn’t. But also to think about the things that you should be doing, and how those will make you feel. The Bible verse given with this topic was from Philippians 4:8 which says

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Focus on the good things in life, and good actions. These things will become our antibodies fighting against the infection of temptation, and helping us to defeat it one ginger nut, or one temptation at a time.

Challenge: think about the things that you are tempted by, come up with a sentence that you can repeat to yourself next time you are tempted.

Prayer: Father God we thank you that you came to earth and showed us that it is ok to be tempted, but also demonstrated how we can defeat temptation. Help us to focus on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable things, so that we can resist temptations when they come. Amen

What does the Bible say about anxiety?

Ironically I have been thinking more about what to include in this post more than any other. I wanted to be helpful, but not offend anyone, and not try to give medical Advice! I think that’s why I’m actually going to keep it quite short!

I was so pleased earlier in the year to see members of the royal family, William, Kate and Harry speaking about mental health, and raising awareness of it. Mental health is a real issue, and yet one which doesn’t seem to get as much support as others, but more horrifically one which is considered to be a taboo subject – one which people don’t talk about. This then means that people aren’t willing to share when they are struggling, which will often make the issue worse. There are many specific conditions within mental health, but this week we are going to talk about anxiety.

Everybody gets anxious. People will get anxious about different things and the anxiety will affect them in different ways but everyone gets anxious.

Rather than giving specific advice again, I’m going to talk about the affect that anxiety can have. Our thought for the week comes from Charles Spurgeon which says

“Anxiety doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrows but only empties today of its strength”

Quite often we can spend so much time worrying about things in the future, that we don’t necessarily have control over, that we lose the day that we are living. When I think about some of the things that I get anxious about I sometimes think “what on earth were you worried about that for?”. This isn’t to say that the anxiety wasn’t real in the first place, but actually when I look back I realise I was anxious about things that were out of my control, or things that wouldn’t have been so much of a concern if I had just tackled them in the first place.

Unfortunately this is all in hindsight, which is a wonderful thing, but not particularly helpful at the time.

So what does the Bible say about anxiety? There are a number of passages which express that we shouldn’t worry, but that we should trust that God make sure that we are OK. We saw in the garden of Gethsemane that Jesus himself was anxious about his crucifixion, and asked God the Father to “take this cup from me”. Which reminds me of a present I was given a few years ago which said “let go and let God”. As tempting as it seems to be that you can just write down everything that you are anxious about and give it to God, that isn’t what it means. Instead we should allow God to give us the strength to deal with things we can deal with, or if it is something beyond our control that we trust God to help in that situation. Talking is a necessity when it comes to anxiety, whether that is talking to other people or whether it is talking to God. Keeping it to yourself is never going to be beneficial, but talking to too many people isn’t always helpful either. I know I have a few people who I confide in regularly which isn’t too overwhelming.

Although there are many verses about not worrying in the Bible the verse that was given for this topic was actually from 2 Corinthians and it says

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul, who wrote Corinthians went through a lot persecution, and was probably anxious a lot of the time. Here he is being honest and saying that he specifically asked God to take away his burdens from him, but instead he realised that God’s power is made perfect in weakness. There is a clip I’ve seen numerous times which shows how artists taken broken pots and then put them back together with Gold, which makes them all the more beautiful.

Quite often we will see God at work in our lives more when we are struggling than when things seem to be hunky dory. The famous Poem footprints talks about Jesus carrying the person during the tough times. This is not to say we should seek difficulties and make ourselves more anxious, but when we find ourselves in those situations, we should ask God to help us and strengthen us, and then we will see his glory.

Life is a journey, there are many twists and turns, highs and lows, but if we are walking that journey with God at all times, then we will have someone to rejoice when things are great, and someone to turn to, cry on and be carried by, when things are rough. Personally, that’s the kind of company I’d like to keep.

Challenge: write a list of things that you are anxious about. Which things can you do something about? Ask God to strengthen you. Which things can’t you do anything about? Hand it over to God.

Prayer: father God, we thank you that you walk alongside us. Help us to not hold on to our anxieties but to hand them over to you, to help us with them. Help us also to be an ear for others who are anxious. Amen

What does the Bible say about JEALOUSY?

When I was younger I spent a lot of time with a family that lived up the road from us, I always felt that the girl had all the toys and games that I wanted… including a Mr Frosty; an oak tree that opened into a doll house; and one of those mini oven/kitchen things. I was jealous… so jealous that I still remember it today. When I was in sixth form my brother got diagnosed with cancer, I felt like suddenly I was unimportant, and that he was getting all of the love and attention. I was jealous.

I have chosen these two examples because I think they refer to two different types of jealousy that we all experience. Jealousy of people’s possessions and jealousy of relationships. We all experience jealousy, it is a human flaw, and once again I’m not necessarily going to give you advice to stop being jealous, but consider the effects that jealousy can have.

Our thought for the week comes from Gary Allen who says

“You can be the moon and still be jealous of the stars”

No matter who we are, what our circumstances, we are likely to be jealous of someone else. So many of us may have had dreams of being famous, but how many times do we hear stories of people who are famous who miss the anonymity of walking down the street and not being recognised; of not having their entire lives scrutinised by the press. When we are children we are desperate to become adults, but when we are adults we miss the freedom and excitement and lack of responsibility that comes with being a child!

Lets take my two examples… the toys… I had so many games and toys, so why has it stuck in my brain that I wanted the ones my friend had? It turns out, she felt the same about my toys and games. I think our parents actually decided together what to get as we spent so much time together. I had so much but I wanted what I didn’t have. I admit I feel awful that I was jealous of my brother with cancer, but I’m just being honest. The truth, again, is that I wasn’t being ignored, in fact my parents did arrange some extra things with me and for me to ensure I didn’t feel it. But all I could see was that I was always being asked how he was, he was getting all the visits in the hospital and treats, whilst I had to get on with my everyday life.

Its about perception, we may have everything we need, but there is always that one thing which someone else has that we want and are convinced will make our lives better.

Adam and Eve were in paradise, they had 1:1 access to God, they could eat from any tree that they wanted except for one… but all Eve had to be told was that the fruit looked much nicer on that one and that it would bring special powers… so she ate it and that was that!

So… what does the Bible say about jealousy? There are many examples of it, especially with sibling rivalry, and even with the disciples wanting to know which disciple was favourite. This sh was, that it is human, but advice doesn’t really come… but Proverbs tells us “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.” We cannot necessarily stop jealousy but we can know the effects of it. It doesn’t literally rot our bones but it can take away our enjoyment of life if we are constantly comparing what we have with other people. What benefit can it have to want what other people have? That’s what advertisers rely on, is that need to make better lives. That can only happen by buying one of their products. How many times does that ACTUALLY happen though?

So jealousy is going to happen, but when it does, when you get that feeling of “I wish I had that” or “their life is better than mine” take the time to stop and think abut all the good that is in your life, things to be thankful for, what will that thing/person add to your life. It’s not about not being jealous it’s about being content with what you have, that will bring you peace, and as proverbs says, that peace will bring you life.

Challenge: go through all the things in your life that you are grateful for and give thanks for them.

Prayer: Father God, we thank you for everything that you provide us with, we are sorry that we always seem to want more than we have. Help us to being content with what we have, and live the life that we have been given. Amen