People watching

Members of my extended family love to people watch. They enjoy drinking coffee in public places and ponder the stories of people going by. I on the other hand either imagine myself playing a role in a detective novel (paying attentioin in case i end up the star witness at a trial – yes officer, he was 6′ 1″, driving a blue car and had an unusual tattoo on his left arm, no his right arm!) or I ignore everyone in case I see something I have to get involved in.  At heart I am quite a scaredy cat.

But I am finding Christians very interesting at the moment.  Perhaps we could have a David Attenborough show dedicated to the Christians! Okay, maybe that is being flippant but we are fascinating at the moment. Or at least to me.  There are those who simply glow and have that inner joy that lights up the world around them.  I love watching them but wonder if they know about light shines from them.  Maybe they even even glow in the dark…

Today as I spotted another in the city of Edinburgh, I wondered what people saw in me.  I had never met this person before but in a room full of Christians she had a sparkle.  Now that is not to say the rest of us don’t but I know some of us need to find a duster! One thing I have found that really brings sparkle and glow to a Christian is a healthy prayer life – a deepening relationship with God that treats Him more than an acquaintance or problem solver.

Think of all the Christians who glow for you – who is the source of their light? Who is watching you glow (or not)?

For me, the glow is something of great beauty like a stunning landscape or work of art. I want to glow too, not for my glory but His.

This little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine,

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

May we all be beacons of light in this dark world.

God bless and let it shine.

Love Sarah  

Giving God the credit

We live in exciting times. Yes we do. And I don’t just mean because Christmas is coming, or the Olympics are around the corner or Strictly or X-Factor are back on our screens. Sorry I don’t know any good football references but perhaps you can think of some. I believe we live in exciting times because the Christian community is reengaging with its identity. All over the church, in almost every denomination we are having the conversations about who we are as the church.

We are uncertain, desperate to hold onto what we know yet even more desperate to truly understand our faith. Is there more than Sunday mornings? How do I live out my faith in day to day living? Am I really saved and if I am how does that change my priorities? I am reading lots at the moment – whether scripture or any number of authors around the area of missional communities. Try Mike Breen, Alan Hirsch, or Hugh Halter for a challenging journey into discipleship and living our faith. Each one has their own take and when you come at all three you see the parallels and it becomes so exciting.

With every book I read I feel a deeper call to throw away the rule book (not Scripture) and think again. We have become programmed into following certain rules, abiding in certain etiquette and generally down playing our witness. We have become so swept up in statistics and performance indicators that we miss the real message of faith. Does that sound arrogant? It isn’t meant too – honestly. God isn’t about performance indicators or even bank balances – he is all about people and relationships. Look at what Jesus did. He ate with people (usually the down and outs of society), he taught unlikely students – check out his disciples or the woman at the well (a Samaritan), he hung out at parties and went fishing. Yes, he went to church (synagogue) but he did his learning and then lived it, becoming a powerful witness to Gods love. He challenged he status quo, he annoyed the leaders, he loved the unloveable, he cured the sick, welcomed the unchurched and developed the faith of those who would listen and comprehend even just a fraction. This is the God who knocks on the door of our hearts.

How much learning have you done over the years? What have you done with the learning? I always wanted to preach to a large gathering (thousands if possible). For a while I thought if I became a great preacher and worked my way up the (imaginary) ranks I might get there. Now, as much as I love preaching, what I really want to do is live a life of faith and hopefully still preach to thousands but only because Gods family grows that much that there are thousands who want to learn in order to live a rich faithful life. Faith is more than words. Faith is love in action – in our words, in our body language, in the time we give to another in need, in opening our homes, in embracing the unloveable.

Living our faith will bring huge sacrifices and I pray that I will practice what I preach. I recognise that change is happening and I am excited but not scared, because no matter what God is constant. There are thousands of people who need to meet the God who actually loves them and we will only do that we finally learn the lessons, and get off our soap boxes and start loving and living.

The huge realisation I came to tonight is that we are doing that in a myriad of ways but not giving God the credit. Jesus always gave God the credit – we don’t. Well not deliberately because culture makes us too self effacing. It is often said the church doesn’t sell itself and we don’t. So when you read this and think I am getting at you – I am not. I am encouraging you to reflect on what you have said and done this day, this week, that has shown others Gods love. And then I want you to give God the credit he deserves. That is the hard bit yet oh so important.

I want us to celebrate those moments when we have made time for others especially when it has cost us dearly. When we have bitten back the cruel retort because that is the Christian thing to do. When we have visited or phoned our difficult neighbour whoever that be knowing it will upset our routine or inconvenience us. When we have given generously knowing that our sacrifice will bring great joy to another. I could go on but I won’t.

Jesus said “whatever you have done for the least of my bothers or sisters, you did for me.” Celebrate and give God the credit in prayer and when people ask you why you did what you did. That is how we change the culture of the church and people’s perception of God.
God works with and through all who trust in him.

Lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
God bless,
Love Sarah

To love and be loved…

Tomorrows theme (9/10/11) is Love with Holy Communion being celebrated.  And at the afternoon service we are using this reflection written by Eddie Askew in his book Many Voices, One Voice.  Eddie is an author I enjoy who always brings a fresh perspective.  And he shares his gift and abilities with the Leprosy Mission so if you are looking for more of his work, do pay their website a visit.

Be loved and then share that love today and this week and let’s change a little bit more of the world in love. 

God bless,

Love Sarah

 

 

Lord, can I just concentrate of your love, today?

So often, when I talk with you,

I concentrate on me, My feelings, My bruises.

I come to you breathless,

agitated from fighting all the ills

– real and imaginary – which people my world.

My world, Lord? Sorry, your world.

A world you built in love. For love.

And though at times it seems out of balance,

like the wheel wobble of an old car,

you built it in love.  Made it for love.

 

I thank you Lord, for all the evidence I see.

Not in abstract debate or routine sermon,

three points, every Sunday, six feet above my head,

but love at work.

Love in the tender eye, warm hand stretched out.

The empathy and sweet sorrow of shared pain,

as one stands by another.

I see the beauty of your love.

Honey light warming the stony ground around me.

The generous breeze of love,

blowing in every corner,

lift the dull dust of routine

to make life sparkle once again.

Polishing the worn corners of my life until they glow.

 

And love’s particularity  I see.

Making me one with you.

Not as some fragment of a computer database,

but just as me.  Made in your image.

Cared for. Treasured. Unique.

And, Lord, I see the cost of love to you.

No easy option, bought with small change.

But sacrifice, free given.

The cost was life, for life.

From you to me.

I take it, Lord, your life, your love,

and hold it to myself. 

I’ll live in it today. 

And pass it on. 

 

Our heavenly home

My mum shared this wee tale with me and I am passing it on to you.  It comes from some daily readings from around 20 years ago!  My mum recycles…

The author of the daily reading notes has been talking about how faith, hope and love are the building materials which we send before us into eternity:

The story is told of a man who died and went to heaven.  Arriving at the Pearly Gates, he was asked his name and, after identifying his name in the Book of Life, an angel escorted him through the streets of heaven.  As they walked together down the different streets, the man said to the angel: “where are we going?” The angel replied: “We are going to the dwelling place that has been prepared for you.”

As they walked, the man looked at the magnificent dwelling places that were all around, and wondered just which one had been prepared for him.  Eventually they came to a small, rude and tumbledown abode at which the angel stopped and said: “Here is where you are to spend eternity.” The man was taken aback and said: “Surely – not this.  Why couldn’t my home be like the beautiful mansions we have just passed by?” In solemn tones the angel said: “I’m sorry, but we did the best we could out of the materials that you send up.”

Of course it is just a story and there is no theological basis for it but it certainly caught me by surprise.  What if our home in heaven was built out of what we sent up – everything that enters heaven must go through the refiners fire – and we know that faith, hope and love will survive when we read for 1 Corinthians 13 – “But surely these three remain, faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love.”

If you were building your heavenly home with faith, hope and love, what kind of home would it be?  A mansion because you are generous with love, full of hope and convinced in faith or a tumbledown shack because you withhold love, drown hope and faith flickers like a candle in a draft?

The most powerful witness I have seen recently is from one so convinced he has met God that his very life sparkles with love, hope and faith.  Even the dourest of Christians has not yet put him off.  We forget so easily that our very attitudes of faith, hope and love are far more important than even the words we use to tell others about Jesus (or evangelise) or the fact we turn up every Sunday at God’s house.

In our imaginations let us build mansions and every day send up the bricks required by loving more, believing more, hoping more – knowing that God not only builds the mansions, he provides the bricks.

God bless,

Love Sarah