Sunday, 19 July 2020

Small group reflection...


As our small group comes to an end and we go our different ways, I’d like to offer a brief reflection on and celebrate its success. Something of a blueprint, perhaps, to take with us.

Over the last fifteen years, since we started with Martin and Sarah, quickly joined by Garth and Karyn, we have seen members come and go.  Yet the ethos of the group has remained the same and there is much to celebrate.

I think our group has, largely, been successful. That is not to say there have not been differences of opinion, absences, misunderstandings and tensions at times. Of course there have. We are flawed human beings, prone to sin yet saved by grace.

So as I reflect on what has made Thursday evenings the highlight of my week for many years, I find ten characteristics spring foremost in my mind.

1.  Commitment. We agreed to meet weekly, so we do. For fifteen years everything else, unless unavoidable, has come second in my calendar. Thursday night is home group: end of story.

2. Bible study. Seeking Jesus through His word has been a priority. This has been through a variety of ways: reading and talking through a chapter of the Bible, often with a study guide; watching an inspirational DVD while desperately trying to stay awake after a long day; or discussing a topic in the context of what the Bible says. Just a few of the ways we have focused on Jesus and tried to understand from His word how to follow him more closely.

3. Open sharing. A degree of honesty and openness, a willingness to share thoughts, opinions and application from our personal lives have all contributed to the building of ...

4. Close relationships. Developed through Bible study and prayer, coloured by...

5. Trust...developed by....

6. Praying for one another. The times of sharing and prayer have been infinitely precious , offering one another...

7. Support, especially through times of difficulty, grief and sorrow.

8. Laughter. Lots of it.

9. Meals. And more laughter.

10. Love. Last, but most important. Without love for one another, a determination to think the best of each other, forgiving one another when words touch raw spots and appreciating the deep care we have had for one another, this group would not have been able to continue for so many years.

Now, as the group ‘multiplies’, we will all of us experience separation to some degree or another. Richard and I have valued and loved everyone in this group and are grateful for the relationships we have. I hope and pray that we will all continue to seek Jesus, live out his words and seek to bring His kingdom, lavishing grace wherever we go.

So there we go. Opportunity awaits. What next, I wonder?

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Covid-19 - and Easter.

This pandemic has certainly got the world's attention. Quite extraordinary. It has prompted a flurry of posts from me on www.mamampira.blogspot.com but really, I should be posting here.

Just listened to a thoughtful message from Lisa on Psalm 61 and Psalm 37 on 'the rock that is higher than I'. It is the second time I have listened, so I turned briefly to Twitter, only to find that Eric Gaudion had posted a blog on exactly the same psalm...

Otherwise, our vicar Jon speaks deeply and movingly for a few minutes several times a week. Tuesday's of Holy Week was particularly poignant, but I will post the others here as well. They are not easy to find on youtube, so best collected in one place.







We have our dear son and daughter-in-law staying with us. I enjoy reading Jen Schmidt's account of the lessons she too is learning in this time, as her 4 bedroomed house is filled with 12 people, most of whom are young adults...Her wisdom comes in 5 useful points.
Rest and refresh; realign; retreat when necessary; reach out to others; rejoice.

This is also a useful listen, about how we experience high levels of danger combined with low levels of control: watch the video.

I particularly like the phrase 'don't expect grace and consistency' !

So much good stuff on the internet to remind of Easter: I loved these paintings which Mary de Muth has done:




Monday, 24 February 2020

Ponderings on grief


The shock of Stan’s sudden passing has stayed with me and, it seems, almost intensified. I find myself more teary, more upset and more unable to talk about it. 

This morning, in church, I was in pieces afterwards. We sang an old hymn, reminding me of an incident with Stan and Tami in Africa Gospel Church we attended together all those years ago. Sharing a hymn book, I saw Tami smile at Stan – and of course he smiled back, with that wonderful kind grin he had – as they sang together. Now they can do that no longer.

And I just wonder how Tami is feeling. Unimaginable: for I must feel only a fraction of the grief. Surely she must wish to be with him.

The world was a better place with Stan Brown in it. Fortunate is heaven, now, to have him. His body may have entered the decay process, but his soul continues on forever.

Just don’t ask me how I am. I will probably not be able to choke out a reply.

Sabbath

In the aftermath of the devastating news of Stan's early death, I am drawn to practising Sabbath rest more intentionally than I have, perhaps, done before.

Sabbath. How did I enjoy it?

I went to church, joining with the fellowship of believers in painful praise, my heart sick with sorrow at the same time. 

I reconnected with old friends in meaningful conversations both face to face and by email. 

I lay in front of a log fire, basking in its warmth. 

I wrestled - still wrestle - with questions of meaning and purpose, wondering what my next life step might be and how I can be fruitful. 

I tidy a little, clear a little clutter, organise and plan. 

I create a web listing, wanting to host strangers, engaging with what this might look like. I dream, and plan, and dream. 

I delight in my granddaughter’s amazing prowess: has there have been such a curious, funny, imaginative, creative and adventurous little girl? Yes, of course: her mother, my daughter. 

I thank God for the wonders of the internet: Skype, Instagram, electronic photos and videos…

And I prayed. I prayed comfort and consolation for my dear friend Tami and family who have lost our dear Stan. The world was a better place with him in it and now there is a gaping hole.

Sabbath. A good day. Let me create moments of Sabbath, as I do now, in my every day.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Forgiveness

Just read a great post by Jennifer Dukes Lee. 'How to deal with people who try to bring you down.'

Such a good reminder. I have been in this place of 'having' to extend grace - how can I not, after everything Jesus has done for me?

But it is the hardest thing. I have found that I have to maintain this attitude, keeping kindness on repeat when I REALLY REALLY want to get revenge, expose the wrongdoer, be openly vindicated.

It brings me closer to God and I recognise - and try to be thankful for - that this hurt and rejection is therefore a useful tool in transforming my character.

Doesn't make it any easier, though!?

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Lent. Communication.

Learning to use time wisely, I sometimes feel it is a waste if time to do little projects just because I want to do them.

Take the tray I plan to restore, for instance.

I have long wanted a larger tray and found one in a junk shop recently. It needs stripping down and repainting. Then I plan to create a collage with some old maps. I might even start today on my return from school.

Yet a little part of me feels guilty. I don't need to do it. Perhaps I should be using my time in other ways: good works of some kind, or dedicated prayer.

No. Working creatively - restoring a piece of junk, crocheting a baby toy, cooking or baking, colouring a doodle on a journal page - all these free my spirit to worship as I work.

It is not a waste of time, but an exercise in becoming more aware of God and his amazing creative presence in my life.

An awesome use of time. Pity I have to go to work in half an hour.

Time to get creative in the way I dress, perhaps....!

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Lent. Listen.

How would I know what to do?
Listen.

Listen to his voice
whispering quietly in my heart.

Listen to his voice
murmuring in the morning wind.

Listen to his voice
Speaking in winter trees waiting
for spring.

Listen for the moment
to speak,
to act in obedience.

Listen to his voice
of encouragement.

Today. Today is the day.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Lent. Focus

Be still.
Find that space apart
to be with Jesus.

Let him
be the altar I
build my life upon.

Take time
to listen to his voice.
Hide his words in my heart.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Lent. Sacrifice. Ash Wednesday.

Lent 2019, Day 10 Ash Wednesday, 6th March.

Ezra 2:68 '...some...gave freewill offerings...'

Some of them. Not all.  Generosity is a decision for oneself, not looking to left or right to see what others are or are not doing.

My family motto: 'Choose for yourselves which way you shall go...As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.'

This is a day of challenge, of self-denial. I shall choose...

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Authority


Jesus speaks. Authority
is in His words. He is THE
Son of David, Christ.

He commands us to
give God our everything.
He is worth our all.