Revd Philip Bee – 18th May 2020
SSU 20 – Secrets and Spirituality
It’s been said that every single person has a secret that would break your heart! I suspect that is true. Sometimes we do things wrong that make us feel guilty. On other occasions something happens to us which makes us feel ashamed. These are human emotions which can sometimes weigh us down badly. There’s a website (www.postsecret.com) which invites people to post their secrets anonymously online. What an odd thing to do! Surely, the last thing you would want to do is to take your tightly held secret and share it with the world. However, the simple act of telling someone else what makes us feel bad about ourselves can bring a huge sense of release.
Spiritual people don’t need a website, however. When they pray, people of faith tell God the secret hurts that weigh them down and ask God to lift those burdens from them.
My times are in your hand (Psalm 31:15)
Take all that I am and make me all that I can be. Amen.
What secret do you hold tightly to?
Revd Paul Bettison – 19th May 2020
Food for the Soul
Who would have thought that, in order to buy our weekly shop we would find ourselves standing two metres apart in a queue – or joining a supermarket ‘telephone’ queue as we wait to place our order? But we’re food dependent. We need to eat and a balanced diet at that.
But, what about our souls? They’re food dependent too. So what feeds your spirit? In these challenging times, our souls need nourishment. We’re grateful for the sustenance offered to the Church Family and beyond, by the reflections, sermons, and suggestions for worship to be found on social media and the weekly newsletter. The sights of spring and sounds of birdsong, inspiration discovered through poetry, music, and art or conversations shared, can all provide nourishment for the soul.
‘Bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore’
Blessings today, God, give unto me
Blessings today in all that I see
Blessings today, God, draw near
Blessings today in all that I hear
Blessings today, God, let them be such
Blessings today in all that I touch
Blessings today, God, and joy as well
Blessings today in all that I smell
Blessings today, God, let nothing waste
Blessings today in all that I taste
Blessings today, God, make me aware
Blessings today, for you are there
David Adam (Abridged)
Revd Paul Bettison – 20th May 2020
‘Silence is Golden’, a phrase embodied in our vocabulary, but what does it mean? A dictionary definition reads; ‘it’s often wise to say nothing’
But, in these unique times, I think it may also mean something like – ‘Little sound from traffic, or aircraft, or much else for that matter – bliss’. The relative silence enables us to hear those things that, for much of the time, go unheard. Birdsong, the sound of running water, the laughter of children.
Maybe too, we can hear an ‘inner voice’. Free from noisy distractions, we may have become more reflective, and that can be both unsettling and restorative. In that silence we may have rediscovered ourselves, and also the God who created us and in whose image we are made.
Like Elijah in the seclusion of the mountain-top, we may have discovered that God ‘speaks’ in a soft whisper, only heard in the silence.
Revd Paul Bettison – 21st May 2020
A Reflection for Ascension Day
Outside the bank, Alan Bennett sees the local vicar, his arms full of balloons and a Sooty Teddy bear in the crook of his arm. “It’s Ascension Day” he explains.
We can only imagine where the vicar is going, and what he will do when he gets there. I imagine him standing in front of a school hall full of children and teachers, attempting to explain how the risen Jesus continued his journey into heaven. So, how would you attempt the task? Answers on a postcard.
St Luke, unlike other writers in the bible, separates the Ascension of Jesus from his Resurrection. Look it up at the end of his Gospel, and the beginning of Acts. So, was it, or was it not, a departure aboard a cloud? And does it really matter? What are we to make of it all?
One theologian (Walter Brueggemann) suggests that the doctrine of the Ascension affirms the ‘good news that the link between heaven and earth is not broken’
In John’s Gospel we read;
‘In the beginning the Word already was. The Word was in God’s presence. The Word became flesh; he made his home among us.’
In the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus we see the Word returning to the Father, maintaining an unbroken and unbreakable link between earth and heaven.
And that’s good enough for me. How about you?
My Lord and my Friend,
my Companion and my Mentor,
you made a promise which still holds true.
For we have not been left alone.
And it is through our unfailing togetherness
in the here and now
amidst the not-knowing and not-seeing,
that all you wish for us
will be accomplished.
from the URC Prayer Handbook –
‘Prayers from the Heart’ (adapted)
Revd Paul Bettison 22nd May 2020
‘A hand reaches out’
Reflecting upon the recent ‘Thought for the Day’ in which we were encouraged to recognise the value of reading, I was reminded of the teacher Hector, a character in Alan Bennett’s play ‘The History Boys’. He likewise reflects on the discoveries that can be made when opening a book.
“The best moments in reading” he says “are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.”
He could have been talking about the Bible.
So if in in these strange times you find yourself with time on your hands, why not rekindle a love of reading, open a book or better still The Book? Who knows, you may find that a hand reaches out and takes yours.
Revd Paul Bettison 23rd May 2020
In the field next to our home the ground is being cleared in preparation for the laying of foundations. Before long, houses will rise, roads will be constructed, and gardens will be created. The foundations will be hidden, yet the stability of the homes, come rain or shine, will depend upon them.
You know where this is going; the story, told by Jesus, of the two builders, one building a house on the rock, and another on the sand. Come the rains, we know what happens. Firm foundations make it possible to stand firm when storms arise.
And here we are amid the Corvid 19 storm and goodness me, in order to stand firm, we need firm foundations maybe like never before.
Christians believe that the teachings of Jesus offer firm foundations on which to build our lives. St Matthew, in his gospel, assembles a body of that teaching in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. It begins with teaching on what brings blessings and true happiness. We can read it in chapters 5-7.
So, ‘clear the ground’ – its never too late to lay firm foundations.
Gracious God, today I want to say ‘thank you’ for those people whose teaching has enabled me to build my life on firm foundations. Teachers at school, in church, and in life.
And I want to thank you for the teaching of Jesus who showed us, by the stories that he told, the wisdom that he shared, and the way in which he lived and died, what are trustworthy and firm foundations on which to build our lives.