Repent

4779161348_ebfb5dc684_z

Why do we get presents for our birthday?

There isn’t really a reason for it, it’s a celebration of us living, but we don’t actually do anything for it – there is no cost. If anything, it should be our parents receiving presents for us coming in to the world in the world and bringing us up in the first place, but it is us.

As Christians we believe the greatest gift we have received is the gift of Jesus, and especially the gift of Jesus dying on the cross. Because of this gift we are able to receive complete forgiveness for anything that we do, at no cost to us, and therefore our lives can be complete. A lot of people think that it is unfair that forgiveness is offered to ANYTHING, and think that there are some things that should, perhaps be unforgivable. BUT this is a bit of a misunderstanding, Billy Graham said

“The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance”

Yes anything can be forgiven but we have to repent, this isn’t a specific set of words that has to be said, but a recognition of something we have done wrong, an apology for our act and trying to change behaviour in the future. The prophet Isaiah said

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost

As this shows, God will provide all we need, with no cost at all… however… as with forgiveness… we have to go to God to be able to receive it. As with all gifts, they are of no use if you don’t show some willingness to receive them in the first place.

Challenge: Are there any things that you need to repent for, and make changes in your life?

Prayer: Thank you God for giving the greatest gift at no cost to us, help us to come to you to be able to receive it. Amen      

Advertisements

Imitating God

When you do an activity for the first time, how do you go about completing that activity? There is a chance that you will pay attention and watch someone else who is already completing it. That may be following someone, copying someone, acting like someone. Often, in order to do the activity you need to see someone else do it first.

We are called to imitate God in this life, but how do we do that? Our thought for the week comes from C. S. Lewis who says:

“Our imitation of God in this life…must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions”

Essentially we should read the Gospel stories, see how Jesus lived his life, and live in the same way: talking to people that others rejected; speaking to crowds; challenging the religious and political leaders.

We may struggle to follow Jesus himself but there may be other people who we can imitate, Paul wrote to the Church in Philippi saying:

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ”

The best way to imitate is to follow the example of others, and you never know, you may end up being the example that other people imitate.

God’s Generous Heart

Have you ever gone to a supermarket and decided that you don’t need a basket – afterall you’re only going in to get one item. You’re walking around, and see different things that ‘might’ be useful, but by the time you get to the one item you have gone in to get, the one item you NEED your arms are full and there’s no room for that one item – I know I’ve been there a number of times, rushing back for a basket to drop all the other items in so I can pick up the one thing I actually need.

This is how I see the thought for the week this week, that we get from Augustine – although I doubt he was thinking about supermarkets and shopping baskets! Augustine says

“God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full to receive them”

Rules; Rules; Rules; that’s the misconception that people have about God, when actually it’s all about giving. God has given us the gift of creation, the gift of His son, and the gift of a relationship with Him. This is as well as the gifts that He gives us every day. I guess the question is… do we notice them?

Every week at our Church we have a section of the service we call Moment of the Week, an opportunity to share the good things that have happened during our week and to thank God for them. These range from a favourite meal, a good day at school, to hearing from God, and answers to prayer. By having this time in the Service it reminds us to look out for the good that God is doing in the every day.

To get remotely close to God, or even to be able to enter the Sacred space you used to have make sacrifices, and follow certain rules BUT THEN the most generous gift of all… God came to earth in the person of Jesus, who was Crucified for us, and then raised from the dead so that all of humanity could be saved. There is no longer any need for us to go through any processes, but what is the use of a gift if you aren’t able to enjoy it?

God is generous beyond comparison, and gives us never ending love. By receiving the love of God, and recognising the sacrifice that Jesus made it can transform our lives, however, like in the supermarket, we have to empty our hearts of all the other stuff, and focus on the thing we need to be able to receive the love.

Challenge: What is filling up your heart, and stopping you from receiving God’s generous love?

Prayer: Thank you God that you are a generous God, help us to be open to your generosity, and to share that with others. Amen

Return to Me

I always remember our family holidays and being amazed that my mum would always know where we were driving, even though we didn’t live there. I also remember many guide DofE walks we did and got lost on. I have just got back from a few days in Birmingham and just before we left I saw my mum planning a journey that she was about to take to Leicester (from Birmingham) – I know now that this is how she used to spend the evenings in the tent when we were younger after my brother and I had gone to bed!

How many journeys have you been on? How many times have you got lost? When you’ve got lost have you ended up in the correct place eventually?

We are about to start the season of Lent, a season of the Church calendar that leads up to Easter and that the Church of England this year are referring to as a pilgrimage. A pilgrimage being a religious journey, with the aim of developing faith and growing closer to God. We too will be using this term to journey to God, learning about God and our relationship with Him.

At Easter we celebrate Jesus dying on the cross so that we can be in relationship with him, however that journey is going to be different for different people, and as our thought for the week from Max Lucado says

“God never said the journey would be easy, but He did say the arrival would be worthwhile.”

We can’t get where we want to go unless we go on a journey, we can’t go on a journey unless we make a start. Lent gives us the opportunity to think about where we want to go, what we might need to do to start the journey to reach our destination and to actually make that start. As long as we are ready for the journey to not be exactly what we want or expect then it’s an exciting adventure we are called to be part of, which will help us return to God who is calling us!

I pray that you enjoy your journey this Lent… no matter where it takes you! AMEN

Feel free to share your Lent experiences by emailing hnetherton@archbishops.kent.sch.uk

Making an effort

On Christmas Day my husband was working – he works in a hospital so somebody has to. Therefore I knew that I would be home alone, I happened to be chatting to a friend who was talking about all the people who would be going round to their house, so I ended up inviting myself round as well. I figured if you don’t ask, you don’t get. I ended up having a lovely Christmas lunch, and all because I asked.

Our Bible verse this week encourages us to take those bold steps, but not in inviting ourselves round for dinner but in prayer to the Father. In Matthew 7:7 it says

“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”

It is so easy for us to complain when things don’t go the way we want them, or if we don’t achieve what we want to but, the question we always have to ask ourselves is…. Did we put the effort in?

Our thought for the week comes from Winston Churchill who says

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential”

I love this quote because it shows that we all have potential, but we are the only ones who can bring that potential out. If you see any professional athlete, dancer, singer, musician, actor they are the ones who have had to keep putting in the effort to get better, to develop their skills, it couldn’t just happen because they wanted it to.

What is it that you are passionate about? Where do you need to put in more effort? What will that effort be?

Prayer: father God, thank you that you have given us all gifts, and strengths. Help us to put in the effort to develop those to be a blessing to others and to glorify you. Amen

Social Action

Our school motto is ‘enter to learn, go forth to serve’, the second part of this is a reflection of the Gospel and is shown at Archbishop’s in so many different ways. This week alone there have been cake sales to raise money and collections for food bank. So often people associate Church with a service in a building, when actually the focus should be on the collection of people serving the community.

Our theme this week is social action, and it is easy for us to think that we, individually, can’t really make any difference but as Achim Steiner says in our thought for the week

“Every small action matters because when 7 billion people do that thing it changes the world”

If we all do small things the impact could be huge, we are also more likely to encourage others to do small actions as well if they see us doing them.

In the parable of the sheep and the goats Jesus lists actions that will be rewarded, these actions include giving food to the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, inviting in the stranger, giving clothes to those without any, caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison. Although it says we will be rewarded for these things, that isn’t the reason we should do those things, but as if we were doing them for Jesus himself. Jesus said that when we do these things for the least of the people we are doing them for him.

So… how can you make a difference? Where do people need support in your society?

Challenge: do a small action each day to help someone who is struggling, see what effect it has on others

Prayer: thank you God, that you chose to come to earth and live amongst the people, thank you that you helped those who needed it and help us to do the same. Amen

Public Image

I was watching a programme today where a woman, recently widowed, found that her husband had kept all the photos that she had told him to throw out because she didn’t like the way that she looked. This, of course, was in the good old days where took a photo and had to wait for it to be developed, no chance to keep retaking it, and editing it, the only option was to keep it or to throw it away.

As we look this week at public image, there are two things I want to focus on. I’m not going to go into the e-safety stuff… but to think about how we are viewed and how we can have a positive impact.

Our thought for the week comes from Germany Kent who says

“You are responsible for everything you post and everything you post will be a reflection of you”

We are the only ones who have responsibility for the things that are posted either by us, or mentioning us. What does your profile say about you? Are you hiding behind a constant filter, is there a lot of negativity, or is it positive and encouraging?

What impression do you get of other people from their social media profile and posting? What would people say about you? I am aware of people who have deleted friends because of the negativity of their posts… but we also have to remember that so often employers look at our public image as well.

This brings me on to our second point. Our profile is a reflection of us and Christians believe we are a reflection of God. Is this reflected in our public image? When Paul was writing to the Ephesians he wrote

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

How can we use our public image, whether online or in person, to encourage others and build them up? It may be making a choice only to share the positive, or if it is negative then to approach it with care and practicality as opposed to just whinging. But most importantly do not use public places, online or physical, to belittle, or show anger at other people. A lot of the time it is not necessary, and is most definitely not helpful. By all means talk through concerns with others, and speak to the person involved but in a private and safe setting. This verse doesn’t suggest that we have to get along with everyone but that we should approach conflict with care, and use our words wisely.

Challenge: think about your public image, and if there is anything you need to change.

Prayer Father God, thank you that we are able to communicate in so many different ways, and that we are a reflection of You. Help us to communicate so that we are a reflection of the love that you have for us. Amen