Respect

respect

If you are given something that belongs to someone else how do you treat it? I imagine you would care for it, look after it, possibly find out more about it. In Psalm 24:1-2 we are told

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.”

As we continue to look at Christian teaching of stewardship of the environment, this verse reminds us that as the creator and sustainer of the universe it all belongs to God. Therefore we should care for it, look after it, and our theme for this week – treat it with respect. But what does it mean to respect something? Some synonyms for respect are: consideration; thoughtfulness; attentiveness. I think these three words show what it means to respect the world in which we live, and is what George Washington Carver was thinking about when he said “Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.”

We are often to respect people, but I find that I gain respect for people as I find out more about them. I always have a general respect for all individuals and try to treat everyone with respect, but the more I get to know people and learn about them the more respect I have for them. It is the same for the world in which we live. We can easily find pictures of it’s beauty, watch videos of amazing scenes etc, but it is not until we actually spend time in it, experiencing it that we will develop more of a respect of for it. And if you listen and look carefully, you may well see or hear God, continuing to work in His creation.

Challenge: Go for a walk in a park/wood away from the streets what do you notice

Prayer: Father God, thank you for your creation, and that you allow us to experience it. Help us to seek you and experience you in your creation. Amen.

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Stewardship

stewardship

When you catch a plane what do you see the role of the steward/stewardess to be? Do you expect them to tell you exactly what to do, force you to do certain things, or to give you some guidance and ensure that you get to the other end of the journey safely and successfully? Giving support as and when you need it?

In Genesis 1:28 we come to the end of the first creation story, God had created humans in his image and then… God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

God put humans in charge of the world he created. When you are put in charge of something how do you respond?

Is there a difference between the way that you treat something that you are looking after and something that you own? Maybe we think more carefully about the way we treat it if we know we have to give it back afterwards.

Pope John Paul II said “The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”

This week we are looking at the concept of stewardship, this is the belief that the world is a gift from God, and that we are stewards of the earth. Last we spoke about the creation of the earth and the beauty in it. However, what have we done to the world, what state is it in? In the same way that the role of an air steward is to ensure that the passengers are taken care of and get to their destination safely, we are called to look after the earth and, as John Paul II says ensure it is available for use by future generations.

How can we do this? It’s difficult to get your head around if you think about the whole world. BUT if you think about what you can do in your day to day life then it’s simple things such as recycling paper, taking your own bags to shops, not using plastic straws, turning off lights, not leaving things on stand-by. If all of us do these things in our day to day lives then everyone together can make a difference.

Challenge: Think about your everyday life – are there changes you can make that may make you a better steward of the earth?

Prayer: Father God, thank you for giving us the gift of the earth. Help us to enjoy what we have been given and be stewards of the earth, to look after it for those who come after us. Amen

Creation

creation

This half term we are looking at the concept of stewardship – looking after God’s planet – and why it’s important. The themes and thoughts for the term have been put together by our environmental group along with Mrs Muller.

This week we are considering the concept of creation. The Bible starts with the sentence “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. Although there may be a variety of different ways of looking at the creation story within Genesis (which we’re not going to go in to now) but all Christians agree that God created the world.

I feel very privileged to live so close to the sea, but also so close to the country, although even growing up, yes I was in a big city in the middle of the country (Birmingham) but we had a huge country park just behind our house. I love nature, and I have to say that agree with Dante Algheiri from whom we get our thought for the week who says “Nature is the art of God”.

Have you ever had those moments when you have just had to stop in your tracks because the natural world surrounding you is just so amazing? It may be that it is completely beautiful and stunning, or it may be the way in which the natural world works.

Think about it, we need oxygen to survive, and we breathe out Carbon dioxide. Trees and plants require Carbon dioxide and give off Oxygen.

People have so many arguments about how the universe came in to being, that it takes us away from experiencing and appreciating the creation around us. The creation that each and everyone of us is a part of. Does it really matter exactly how the universe came in to existence? Or should we just focus on the belief that God created this world that we are a part of, that is amazing in so many ways. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some of the ways in which it is amazing, but also the role that we have to play in looking after that creation as well.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating this beautiful world that we are a part of. Help us to appreciate it more, and to see your beauty in each and every thing. Amen.

Challenge: Take time to look around you and appreciate the natural world this week

Happy Birthday

Did you watch the wedding? I have to admit that I wasn’t that excited about it all but I did watch it. I also have to admit that I was amazed by the address given by the Bishop Michael Curry. I think it was unlike any message that has been given in any ‘official’ service in the U.K. This was for a number of reasons but mainly the animation and passion. He spoke so passionately about love, and the power of love, not just romantic love, but the love of God and how that love could and should be reflected in our lives. To imagine what the world would be like if we all lived and acted in love.

This week we celebrate Pentecost which is, essentially the birthday of the Church. After Jesus resurrected he spent 40 days with his disciples before ascending to heaven. He gave them instructions that they should wait until God sent the gift that had been promised of the Holy Spirit which would enable them to share the good news all over the world. The disciples did this and on the day of Pentecost a wind came in to the house where they were staying and they were filled with the spirit. This spirit enabled the disciples to have the confidence to leave the house, to speak in languages so that others could understand them. They were able to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection and this is how the Church started.

What does this mean for us? John Stott said

“We do not need to wait for the Holy Spirit to come. He came on the day of Pentecost. He has never left the Church”

When Jesus ascended to heaven he told the disciples to wait for the spirit to come, but there is no longer any need for us to wait. The spirit is here, and can fill us and enable us. The Holy Spirit enables us to do God’s work, it gives us strength and courage, it comforts us. It enables us to show love when it may be the last thing we feel like.

With birthdays we have a tendency to celebrate on the day, or maybe the surrounding days, but we don’t tend to celebrate our existence every day. I think it can be the same with the Holy Spirit. We tend to focus on the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and can have a tendency to focus on the other two members of the trinity – the Father and the Son. Yet what John Stott reminds us and challenges us with our thought for the week is we don’t have to wait for Pentecost to be filled with the Holy Spirit, yes it’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the sending of the Spirit. BUT the Spirit is there, if we choose to be filled by it. Remember those fruits of the spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Imagine a world where everyone was filled by the spirit and showing those fruits! The disciples had been living with Jesus who showed these fruits all the time, how were they meant to live up to that example? Through the Spirit.

Prayer: Father God, in this week when we remember Pentecost we thank you for sending your spirit so that we can share your story, show your love, live your word. Fill us with your spirit we pray. Amen

Challenge: look at the list of the fruits of the spirit again. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Is there one you feel you need more help with?

Promise

When do you make promises? Do you keep promises that you make? Or have you been known to make a promise to get something that you want? Maybe promising to tidy your room? Why are making and keeping promises important? It’s a short blog this week!

Over the last term we have been considering why the resurrection was important and what it means for us. Our final thing that we are going to consider is the idea of promise. Throughout the Old Testament there are promises given by God through the prophets about the Messiah. Throughout Jesus’ life we see that he is a fulfilment of those promises. The resurrection is that final act to show that he truly was the messiah, the saviour that God had been promising through the prophets for so long.

There are so many promises in the Bible, promises that God makes to us. That we will have eternal life, that there will be peace, that we will be forgiven to name a few. By seeing that God fulfilled the promise of a saviour of the world through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can have faith that he will fulfil all the other promises that he makes to us. How amazing is that!

Challenge: try to find some of the promises that God makes in the Bible

Prayer: thank you God that you fulfilled your promises of a saviour in the person of Jesus. Help us to trust that we can trust in the other promises you have made. Amen.

Grace

Consequences! Why do we have consequences? If we’re talking in terms of punishments then normally it is so that the person who has done something wrong takes responsibility for their actions, but also so that others see that responsibility is being taken. That’s one thing pupils are very ‘hot’ on at school, whether things are being done fairly, are people being punished. They quite like coming up with suggestions of punishments as well, a lot of the time you have to ask if they really think those punishments are fair. Essentially people want to know that they are getting what they deserved. We like to see people rewarded IF they deserved it. We like to see people punished IF they deserved it. Consequences are also there to hopefully stop people from doing something silly in the first place!

This term we are looking at what the resurrection means to Christians, what is it that Christians receive from Christ rising from the dead. This week our theme is Grace. Romans 6:14 says

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

At the moment I’m listening to the Bible in one year as I walk to work. I’m currently on the book of Judges in the Old Testament meaning that I have listened to Genesis Exodus Deuteronomy Leviticus and Numbers. These books, known as the Pentateuch, are full of complicated names and places and I have a lot of respect for David Suchet for reading them out, but there are also a lot of rules. A lot of things that people had to do to make up things to God. There are whole lists of if you have done this thing, then you must do this. That’s what it means in Romans by being under law, sin is called master because people had to keep a careful watch on what they were doing in case they went against God so that they could do whatever they needed to do to make up.

Paul says, in Romans that we are no longer under the law but under grace. What does that mean? Grace means the undeserving favour of God to those under condemnation. We’re under condemnation because we are human and we do things wrong, we are never going to be perfect, but we don’t have to follow all the laws of the Old Testament anymore because God has shown us his favour. A J Tozer says…

The cross is the lightning rod of Grace that short-circuits God’s wrath to Christ so that only the light of his love remains for believers

If we believe in the cross, and the resurrection, we are no longer faced by the wrath of God but only see his love. This doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want, after all when someone is kind to you, or gives you an amazing gift, do you not want to do the same back to them. We will make mistakes but grace means we are forgiven, and are still in relationship with God without having to do anything to earn it. Therefore, for many, they will try to reflect that light, and try not to make mistakes in the first place.

Prayer: thank you God for your grace, that is completely undeserved, and yet so amazing. Help us to respond to your grace, and reflect your light. Amen

Challenge: can you give a gift to someone who doesn’t deserve it?

Peace

What do you associate with the word peace? For some of us we are going to link it with the idea of quiet – we might refer to something as ‘peaceful’ if there wasn’t much noise. We may associate it with war, or should I say no war, after all a definition of peace is lack of conflict. But what do we mean when we say that peace was something we received with the resurrection?

Our quote this week comes from Paul Chappell who has ‘because of the empty tomb, we have peace. Because of His resurrection, we can have peace during even the most troubling of times.’ And our bible verse is from a week after Jesus first appeared to his disciples following the resurrection, they are gathered together behind closed doors and he appears saying ‘peace be with you’ is this peace talking about a lack of noise or a lack of conflict? No. It’s talking about the peace of Fo – which, to be fair the Bible does say passes all understanding but let’s give it a go.

The peace of God is a state of tranquility which transcends circumstances. Even if we are feeling troubled, or anxious, then God’s peace can bring calm upon us. Why? Paul Chappell continues in his quote ‘because we know He is in control of all that happens. We live in a world where bad things happen and will happen, and although we can ask for them to be taken away if we pray for God’s peace then we will be almost in a sense of calm throughout it all.

If we look at the examples of Jesus he knew he was going to be arrested and tried and crucified. Before all of this happened he did go to pray to the Father to take the cup away. As he wen through the arrest, trial and crucifixion at no are we told of him getting upset or angry, but it is almost as if he was a visible sign of peace.

When Jesus said to the disciples peace be with you, he will have known the mix of emotions that would have been going through them at that time, anxiety, upset, scared, overwhelmed. He would know that they would need to know God’s peace.

The peace of God is readily accessible to us now, because of the crucifixion and resurrection, but it is something that grows within us the more we draw close to God. Maybe if each of us were to experience the peace of God it would and there would no longer be conflict around the world? So that is your challenge this week:

Challenge: what areas in your life do you think would benefit from a sense of peace? How can you bring peace in to them? Are there situations in the community or wider world that would also benefit from God’s peace?

Prayer: father God we thank you that you are peace and that allow us to experience peace. Help us to experience peace and to bring peace into the world. Amen