Sharing

Do you worry about what you have, or what you don’t have?

Are you quite possessive or overprotective of things that you have?

What is your greatest skill? What do you do with that skill?

Our thought for the week this week comes from Albert Wells who says “sharing what you have is mor important than what you have”. I love this quote. It really challenged me on whether I focus more on worrying about what I have and being possessive over it or whether I share what I have with others. If I’m completely honest… I think it’s a mixture and probably depends on what the thing is.

Sometimes we can argue that we don’t have much in the first place so how can we possibly share it? But there are plenty of examples within the Bible of those who were blessed more because they gave the little they had. There’s the examples of the widow who only gave a couple of coins, but Jesus said she had actually given more because she’d shared all that she had, whereas people who gave more money it was only a small percentage of what they had. Then there is the Bible story which was linked with the Bible story for this week. A crowd had gathered to listen to Jesus teaching, but it was getting late and everyone was getting hungry but they were far away from any towns. However a young boy came up to Jesus and gave him the food he had, which was 5 loaves and two fish which may not seem much, especially when there are 5000 people there but Jesus was able to use what the boy had given to be able to feed everyone. I’m not going to fully go into the theology of it all here, but it has been suggested that it might not have been that Jesus turned that small amount in to a banquet, but that the crowd saw the boy was willing to share, so they got out their food to share as well – possibly the first bring and share meal!

No matter how we interpret it, the important point is that the boy may not have thought it was much but the boy was willing to share it, and Jesus was able to use it. We may not think that we have much, but if we are willing to share what we have then who knows what Jesus can do with It!

At the beginning of the blog I asked what your greatest skill is, and the reason I asked is because it’s not just possessions we can share but we can share our skills and our talents. We may not think they are much, we may try to hide them, we may get embarrassed, we may think we have worked so hard at them why should we share them with others; but once again by having that willingness to share, who knows what impact we can have, and how God can use us.

The final thing I want you to think about sharing is time. Time is something we can get overprotective about, and yet can be such a blessing to others. There are quite a few examples in the Gospels where Jesus is seemingly trying to get away and get some space for himself or with his disciples and people follow him. He never sends them away, but shares his time, shares his wisdom, shares his power. How do you use your time? Are you willing to share it to bless others?

So I guess the big question to ask yourself today is…. Are you willing to share? Whether that is possessions, skills, or time. Are you willing to share?

Prayer: father God thank you that you were willing to share your son and your Spirit to bless us. Thank you for the example of Jesus who shared his love, his power, and his time with so many people. May we learn from that example, help us to see what our skills are and how we can share them; opportunities to be able to share our possessions; and when we have time that we can share with others to be a blessing. Amen

Challenge: it’s a strange one this week – share your best joke!

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Cooperation

Think back over the last week. How often have you relied upon someone else, worked with someone else, helped out someone else? I imagine that’s going to be most, if not all, of you quite often? Cooperation, is our theme this week, and an essential part of all of our lives. We probably all have times when we dream of solitude, independence and just a bit of ‘me’ time but let’s face it, none of us would be where are today if it wasn’t for other people. Whether that’s family, teachers, friends, others play a fundamental part in helping us to become who we are.

I am writing this on Mother’s Day which seems quite appropriate, as we will all have someone who has been that role of mum in our lives, who may have asked us to do things we didn’t want to do, but actually through cooperation led to success.

Helen Keller gives us our thought for the week, which says “alone we can do so little…together we can do so much”. Helen Keller, being deaf and blind, is going to have had to rely on, work with, cooperate with so many people just to get through day to day life, that she really will have understood the importance of cooperation. Our Bible story today really demonstrates the need for cooperation as well. It’s from the second chapter of Mark and tells the story of a man who was completely paralysed. His friends heard that Jesus was in the town and they believed that Jesus would be able to heal him so they wanted to take him. Unfortunately Jesus was surrounded by a crowd so they couldn’t get anywhere near him, so… they put him on a mat climbed up to the roof, and lowered him through the roof. Jesus healed him and the man walked out. Cooperation was essentially, between friends, as well as with Jesus. If it hadn’t been for people working together, the man would not have been healed.

Other people make life so much more interesting, after all we are all different, we all bring different things to the mix. Others help us to see things in a different way. We see this example with God. On Thursday and Friday I was teaching my year 10 group and we were looking at the Trinity and Creation. God could have just done it all as one, but chose to be in relationship, the relationship of Father, Son, Spirit. We see that relationship, and try to reflect that in our lives.

Prayer: thank you for creating us all different so that we need to work with each other. Thank you for showing us how to work in relationship with each other. We pray that we can see how we can cooperate with others each day. Amen

Challenge: look after someone else today.

Kindness is important

Well that’s been a bit of an interesting week hasn’t it? It’s been a week where we have possibly all had an opportunity to complete the ACT for this week… the theme is Kindness is important… and the challenge or act is to help someone who has fallen over. I know that on my two very slow and careful walks to school this week I was close to being the person who had fallen over. The news and social media has been full of stories of people who have helped others if they have been trapped at home, trapped in the car, if they had fallen, or if they’d had an accident. The snow may have made sure we’ve barely had any school this week, it may have created opportunities for sledging and snowman building, but it has also created opportunities for people to show kindness.

The Bible story that goes with this theme is Luke 10:25-37, which is the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable is told in answer to the question ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ We then discover that the law says ‘to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your strength and with all your mind. And to love your neighbour as yourself’. Jesus is then asked ‘who is my neighbour?’ And Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan. If you are unfamiliar with the story, a man is walking when he is attacked and left half dead. A priest and a Levite (people thought highly of) walked straight past. But the Samaritan (considered an enemy) stoped and helped and took him to an inn. The neighbour is the Samaritan, the one who had mercy and we are instructed to do the same.

The thought for the week comes from Michael Watson who says “strong people don’t put others down… they lift them up”. So often it can be seen as the clever thing to do to make comments about other people and to make the feel insignificant, however this is showing us that it takes strength but it’s mor important to spot those people have physically, spiritually, mentally fallen and to do something to help them back up to the level. This may be by physically helping them, or it may be by paying them a compliment, or helping them to see the importance they have in the world.

We all appreciate it when kindness is shown to us. I hate it that people often feel curious when people offer kindness, wondering what they want. Surely kindness should be expected, and I pray that people are not shocked when I show kindness! May that be the case for all of us!

Challenge: act card number 28 Help someone who has fallen over

Prayer: father God we thank you for the story of the Good Samaritan and the lesson it shows to love your neighbour. May we recognise that everyone is our neighbour and may we show kindness to them. May you help us to see those who have fallen in many different ways, and may you be our strength to lift them back up. Amen

Being Grateful

Are you a person who gives thanks? I always used to think my mum was saying hello to people when she was driving a car until I found out that raising a hand to another driver was a way of saying thank you. My parents would always say thank you as they were getting off the bus, and I still do that now. I tend to say thank you quite a lot, for big things but also for the smallest of things. I know how much, as a teacher, I appreciate it when pupils thank me for taking their lesson! In case you hadn’t worked it out our action this week for Lent, is being grateful. The Bible story used to illustrate this action is of Jesus healing the ten men from leprosy. One of the men, a Samaritan, when he saw that he was healed, came back praising God and throwing himself at Jesus’ feet thanking him. Jesus asked whether the others were cleansed and where they were. Why was it only the foreigner (a Samaritan) that came back praising God?

William Arthur Ward says ‘feeling grateful and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it’ I think the important bit to note is this quote is talking about what to do if you feel grateful. We have possibly all been in that position where we have said thank you because we felt we HAD to, even if we didn’t particularly feel overly grateful. But this is talking about IF we feel grateful, then we must express it. It is important that we show our thanks, for us but also for the people we are thanking. To them it shows an appreciation for the effort they have put in to whatever we are thanking them for, but may also mean that they are encouraged to do a similar act again.

Thankfulness is something so simple to do, and yet can be amazingly powerful. So… this week why don’t you make a special effort to ensure that if someone does something, you say thank you. You may also want to spend some time thanking God for what He has done for you.

Challenge: thank people who do something for you

Prayer: thank you God that you chose to create this world, that you chose to allow humans to have a relationship with you. Help us to be more thankful in our every day loves. Amen

Seeing people as special and valuable

What can you do that no one else can? What is special about you? We are now in the season of Lent, which means that we are in a season of preparation, preparation for the celebration of Easter. For Lent this year, as a school we are going to be looking at the 40acts website. Rather than choosing something to give up, the 40acts website encourages and challenges you to put your faith in to action. There is a challenge to do everyday but we are going to look at one every week., this week our thought, or our act is ‘seeing people as special and valuable’.

This is why I started off by asking if there is something you can do that no one else can do. Gorman Persson said ‘a human being is so irreplaceable, so valuable and so unique.’ Yet we don’t often let people know that we think they are special, we are more likely to let them know why we don’t like them. Zacchaeus was a tax collector at the time of Jesus, he wasn’t very popular because he collected taxes for the Romans but also because he took money for himself. Yet Jesus invited himself round to have a cup of tea with Zacchaeus, showing that there was something special in everyone. Jesus wanted to make sure that everyone knew that they were special, he may have told them directly, or just wanted to spend time with them – which was moore than other people did.

This week can you do what Jesus did? Can you spend time with someone that others don’t spend time with? Can you tell someone why you think they are special?

Prayer: father God we thank you that you made each of us special and unique, help us to see what is special in other people and to be able to tell them, following the example of you and zacchaeus. Amen

God our refuge

When you hear the word refugee what do you think of? Unfortunately because of media coverage we can often associate the word negatively, and may think of people who are taking stuff that doesn’t belong to them. When actually a refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their home due to war, or persecution. A refugee is someone who is seeking a safe place, seeking refuge. No one would choose to be in that position, it is often a last resort, and often leads to the possibility of being separated from comfort, and possibly those who you love.

This week we look at our final definition of God as part of our series looking at ‘who we worship’ and we are looking at ‘God our refuge’. So what does this mean? A refugee is a person looking for a place of safety, a refuge is a place of safety. That is what God is for us, he is our place of refuge. Isaac Watts wrote some words describing God and they say

‘O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the storms that blast and our eternal home’

These words always remind me of when we used to visit lighthouses and lifeboats when we were on holiday! But I think Isaac Watts has got it just right, he is able to say that God is our shelter and our hope, because he recognises that God has helped in the past. Psalm 9 says:

The LORD reigns for ever;

he has established his throne for judgment.

He rules the world in righteousness

and judges the peoples with equity.

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed,

a stronghold in times of trouble.

1Those who know your name trust in you,

for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

So often people make the assumption that a belief in God means that everything is going to be hunky dory, and take misfortune as a reason not to believe in God, yet that isn’t what this psalm, the words from Isaac Watts or the faith of Christianity teaches at all. It is important to recognise that there are going to be storms, there will be difficulties, but in those times we can seek comfort and strength from the God who reigns forever.

When we return after half term it will be the season of lent, and we will be starting to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus. Within the Church of England calendar there are seasons, represented by different colours (Lent will be purple) although this can seem troublesome it is also reflective of life. Throughout our life we will have times when we can do nothing but worship God for all he has done for us, but there will be other times when we can do nothing but question, or cry out. Both of these are fine. The important thing is that we remember that God is always there. I have just been listening to the book of Job, and he really experiences some fantastic things and some truly horrible things. During the fantastic things he praises God, during the horrible he acknowledges what God has done for him, cries out for help, and looks to the hope of his future life with God and the future good that he has faith will come.

In the same way that becoming a refugee is a last resort for any person, to automatically think of God as our refuge will probably also be a last resort, there are so many other characteristics we would possibly prefer to focus on, and yet how great it is to know that when the storms of life come, which they will, we know that we have a person and a place of comfort. We don’t need to fight the storm by ourself, and we don’t need to run away from our God. We just need to acknowledge that God is there, take our problems to him, remember what He has done for us in the past, and cling on to our hope of a future life of blessings with him. It is also important at this point that we remember that the Church is a community of believers in that God. They are also part of that refuge, and can provide the strength and courage for us, when we can’t find it for ourselves.

There are so many examples throughout the Bible where heroes of the faith turn to God as their refuge. I’ve already mentioned Job, but there was also David, Moses, Abraham, Paul in the New Testament and, of course, Jesus himself, who would often seek refuge in God. When he was tempted in the wilderness, he would turn to the scripture to remind him of God the father. For Jesus it was the scripture and his relationship with God the father that he turned to for refuge… I will often turn to certain verses, but mainly my community of friends, when you’re facing the storm what is it that you do to remind yourself that God is your refuge?

Prayer: Father God we thank you for the examples of heroes of the faith who have been very human and have faced trials, tribulations and storms. We thank you for these because we can learn from the examples of how they responded, and how they sought refuge in you. May we, as your disciples, seek refuge in you, but also guide others towards you when they are struggling. Amen

Challenge: read the story of Jesus in the wilderness and how he responded using scripture. Find scriptures that help support you, and if you know anyone going through a trial at the moment then try to support them as well.

God our Rock

Everything seems to have been a bit on the uneven side of late, and I have to admit I’m not quite sure what’s going on or how we’re going to make it through. This is where we are grateful for the characteristic of God that we are looking at this week, and that is that God is our rock.

What does a rock suggest to you? In the book of Isaiah the idea of a rock has numerous ideas attached to it, in clouding creating walls, lasting forever, having the strength to level things to the ground.

A rock is something that can and should be relied on, and that is what we are told we can do with our God, our rock of ages. A rock is something that doesn’t change quickly, therefore we can rest upon it and it can provide a foundation for us, when things seem a bit shaky.

Gandhi was famed for protesting using non-violence and our thought for the week comes from him talking about the role that God the rock plays in us being able to use non-violence. He says “The Spirit of non-violence necessarily leads to humility. Non-violence means reliance on God, the rock of ages. If we would seek his aid, we must approach him with a humble heart.”

Gandhi talks about a reliance upon a rock of ages. I’ve spoken to a few pupils recently who seem to think that asking for help, relying on people is a sign of weakness, and yet actually is it not more a sign of strength, to put reliance upon something else because you are no longer sure that you can do it for yourself, by yourself, but you need something else.

When we looked at the worship that we sing, we looked at the song ‘cornerstone’ which tells us about Jesus being the one that keeps us steady, that is our foundation. In order to do that it is essential that God is likened to a substance that is tough, such as a rock.

Prayer: father God we thank you that you are the rock on which we can stand, that you provide stability for us, that you do not change. Amen

Challenge: look through for biblical promises that provide stability for you