Wow - Thank you!

A huge thank you to Lynsey, her team at the Co-op and to our local community for raising a total of £2,169.33 through their Local Community Fund initiative. This money will go towards supporting our Seasonal Lunches.

We are now regularly catering for up to 50 and we invite over 100 pople within our community whom otherwise may not get the opportunity to socialise in this way.

Forgiveness - reflection for 18th Sept.

Forgiveness   Matt 18:21-35

My favourite quote on forgiveness is from the film ‘the first wives club’ actually said by the former Mrs. Trump, ‘don’t get mad.  Get everything’!’

Actually that is a quote on the very opposite of forgiveness, it is scorched earth policy, leaving no room for any kind of comeback.

The best quote on forgiveness I know is from Martin Luther King, ‘Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.’  Ultimately the quality of our spirituality is defined by our capacity for forgiveness.

In the Gospel Peter is the one to speak up; almost certainly he was asked to have Jesus clarify what he meant by forgiving your enemies.  There are two levels to forgiveness.  The first is decisional and the second is from the heart.  You can decide to forgive but can’t let go.  Forgiving from the heart is the work of Grace.  It is also attained by practice.  It is a discipline practiced every day.  Letting go of all frustration, grudges and reactions of the day, as St. Paul says ‘do not let the sun set on your anger.’  It is what St. Ignatius means by his daily practice of the awareness examen.  Whatever practices we do everyday to help us reduce the levels of un-forgiveness in our lives.

In the pew sheet I share with you a story about the consequences of un-forgiveness and I would like to read it for ou as the lesson is vital for our spiritual growth.

 

Parable on Forgiveness.

‘One of my teachers had each one of us bring a clear plastic bag and a sack of potatoes.  For every person we’d refuse to forgive in our life experiences, we are told to choose a potato, write on it the name and date, and put it in the plastic bag.  Some of our bags, as you can imagine, were quite heavy.

We were then told to carry this bag with us everywhere for one week, putting it beside our bed at night, on the car seat when driving, next to us at our desk at work. 

The hassle of lugging this around with us made it clear what a weight we were carrying spiritually, and how we had to pay attention to it all the time to not forget and keep leaving it in embossing places.

Naturally, the condition of the potatoes deteriorated to a nasty slime.  This was a great metaphor for the price we pay for keeping our pain and heavy negativity!  Too often we thing forgiveness as a gift to the other person,  and it clearly is for ourselves.

So the next time you decide you can’t forgive someone as yourself ---isn’t your bag heavy enough?

 

You can download this reflection here

Reflection for Sunday 27th

Reflection for 12th Sunday after Trinity

Peter is at the centre of last week’s and this week’s gospel.  Last week he was the bright-eyed boy who declared Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, so got lots of affirmation for that.  He must have been very pleased with himself.  This week, it’s the opposite.  He gets rebuked.  It must have been very confusing for him, feeling that he can’t get anything right.  It is difficult for him and his friends because they only know part of the story.  As they are in the story and watching it unfold and eventually get out of their control.  It is bad enough to only know part of the story but when things unravel with Jesus being arrested, their characters are put to the test, and we know Peter let himself down by denying Jesus.

We, on the other had know the full story; we have the benefit of having the Gospels and the letters in the New Testament.  If we have any doubt we are reminded by Paul to the Romans what genuine love is; there is genuine love where this is mutual affection, showing honour, zeal, service, patience, prayer, generosity, forgiveness, hospitality, empathy, compassion, humility and restraint.  Elsewhere, in Galatians 5:22, Paul spells them out again as the fruits of the Holy Spirit. 

Genuine love is a decision to cultivate and grow into a life in the spirit.  Unlike Peter, we know the whole story.  He had to learn the hard way by hitting rock bottom, by exposing his worst self; capable of betraying the one he loved.  How did he come back from that?  How could he face his friends and face himself after that?

The self-loathing he felt must have been extreme; like anyone else who hits rock bottom you fall back on God’s grace and mercy.  Peter encountered the Risen Lord and so repaired the relationship.  People who experience addictions find the twelve steps a useful ladder out of their addiction by placing their trust in a higher power.  Step 5 of the 12-step process says the person as to admit to God/Higher Power, ‘to oneself and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.’

I want to share with you a charter for spiritual growth.  It is an agreement or a covenant you make with yourself and so putting others and God into a genuine perspective.

 

Charter for Spiritual Growth.

I have a basic human right to make myself well and to sustain my well being.  I have the right to protect my psychological and spiritual self.  Forgiveness is a choice, a decision I make everyday.  I choose God’s remedy of forgiveness over every other way.  God’s remedy says ‘if you want to heal your heart forgive; if you want to live again, forgive.’  I have the God given right to heal my heart.  I choose to live by God’s creative word; I am God’s temple!  Whatever is blocking my path to wholeness I ask the Holy Spirit to melt me, mold me, fill me, and use me to radiate compassion to all who journey with me on the way.  This is my mantra ‘Jesus I thank you I am precious in your father’s sight’.  This is my big idea ‘I am good enough being the person I am today’

 

To download this reflection please click here.

Reflection for 20th Aug.  Matt 15.12-28 

Tyre and Sidon, gentle cities on the coast, of now Lebanon, were historic enemies of Israel; A place where Jesus chose to go and perform miracles.

The disciples were out of the comfort zone; out of their own territory.  They told Jesus to get rid of the woman, but Jesus used the opportunity to highlight the fact that Faith, wherever it is, and whoever expresses it is acceptable to God.

Jesus reflects he Prophet Isaiah where he said in the 1st reading ‘ my house shall be a house of prayers for all peoples’. 

I suggest that the Gospel today challenges us to look at our own comfort zones, and invites us to go beyond them, so we may witness the coming to faith of people we do not ordinarily mix with or encounter.

There is no doubt we are very good at welcoming people who come into our churches.  It is safe to say our churches are our comfort zones.  The challenge is to extend ourselves into groups and communities around us who, for one reason or another don’t or won’t come into our church..  This is not so much trying to get people to come into our church but is going out to where people are at…  I suppose it begs the question what are we offering that people don’t have?

I was home on leave one time, my dad and a couple of his friends were in the house and my Dad, in an attempt to wind me up, asked me, in front of his cronies, ‘Noel, what are you selling in Nigeria?  Everyone is selling something’.  I had a quick answer for him because the programme I was involved with is the SELL programme.

But is it a fair question?  What are we selling?  What business are we in? What is it that we have that others need?  Are we just another club on offer, with U3A, walkers or golf?  What brings us here, week after week that really matters to our lives?

St. Paul in I Corinthians 13 says three things that really matter.  Faith, hope and love; the woman in the gospel was vindicated by her faith. 

Above all else we are selling hope.  No matter what happens or how bad life gets, there is hope that all will be well.

Love is the primary purpose of our motivation for being Disciples of Christ.  Love as seen in service, shown in respect for all peoples, without discrimination.

We do in fact attempt the impossible, ‘to love our enemies’.

I want to conclude by quoting a former Bishop of Grenada, who used to say,

‘why is it that people who need love the most are the ones who least deserve it?’

 

You can download this reflection here.