Thought for the Day 19th Oct – 30th Oct

 

19th October  – Rev Paul Bettison

It’s that time of year again – and what a bumper crop of conkers there is.  I remember, as a child, collecting conkers and recall one year in particular.  There was a bumper crop and I arrived home with a carrier bag full to the brim with fine specimens. Despite suggestions that the conkers be shared out among friends, they remained in the cellar until spring when, mouldy, they were consigned to the dustbin.  What a waste.  I should have given most of them away!
A few years later, I came across a worship song that had become popular – you may remember it. ‘The Magic Penny’.  It reminds us that love is something if you give it away;
 Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.
It’s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
The story of  Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath reinforces the point.  Having only a jar of flour and a jug of oil, she shares what she has with the prophet. Read the story in 1 Kings 17:7-16 to see what happened.
God shares his love with us – we saw it in Jesus – what will we do in response?
Our Prayer;
Loving God,
you have given us so much and ask so little –
A loving heart, an open mind,
and a willingness to accept others.
Why then do we try to hoard your love
in clenched fists,
protecting our place and fighting our corner,
when all the time
your love is unconditional and generous?
We know when we are limiting your love
through our words and actions,
and yet, somehow, we cannot help ourselves.
Strengthen us to walk the way of Jesus,
allowing his message of love
to transform our lives,
and open our hearts to love you more.
Loving God, you have given us so much;
may we respond with generosity and love
for you and for all people.
                                                                      Heather Whyte
                                                                       in  ‘Prayers from the Heart’

  21st October  – Rev Paul Bettison

It was over sixty years ago that Pete Seeger wrote the song ‘Turn. Turn. Turn.’  Those of us mature in years will remember it. Occasionally it makes a reappearance.  Maybe now is a good time for it to stage a comeback.  The lyrics are based on a passage in the book of Ecclesiastes. It begins,
To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under heaven.
 
Then the song proceeds to quote the bible references to some of those purposes;  A time to plant, a time to reap. A time to laugh, a time to weep.  A time to build up, a time to break down.  And so it goes on.
Ecclesiastes forms part of what we know as the ‘Wisdom Literature’ in the Old Testament.  And wisdom is an attribute sorely needed in these days.  Current events suggest that we are living in what the ancient Greeks called a ‘Kairos’ moment.  That is, the right, critical, or opportune moment for something to happen or be done.
Think of the pandemic. Leaders in the United Kingdom and throughout the world are having to make life and death decisions about what to do and when to do it.
Think also of climate change, Black Lives Matter and Black History Month.  Surely, this is a Kairos moment when some things of great importance are happening and when something needs to be done.  Maybe we need to take heed of the wisdom of God and ‘Turn. Turn. Turn’.
Our Prayer:
Gracious God,
It can feel as if the world is in crisis.
So many challenges, arising from both natural phenomena and human action and inaction.
It can feel as if we are at a crossroads.
We need guidance and support as we try to respond to it all.
Grant us, we pray, wisdom, resolve, and the assurance of your presence.
Amen

23rd October – Rev Paul Bettison

Goodness only knows what the Wesley brothers would make of it – the old chapel, bearing their name, now
Albert’s Eatery and Museum of Whitby Jet. The up-market eatery is a relatively new arrival on Church Street.  Until a couple of years ago, the former chapel was the home to the Whitby Gansey Museum.  To the uninitiated, a gansey is a hardwearing, hand knitted, woollen jumper worn by fishermen around the coast of Britain for many years.  Each gansey has a unique pattern which varied from village to village and from family to family. Fishermen could be identified by their gansey as being from a particular village and family.
I guess that few of us wear ganseys, so how can we be identified as belonging to the community of disciples of Jesus?  Not by what we wear, but by how we live.  Jesus had no truck with the idea that outward appearances were evidence of a godly life.  He had harsh things to say about those who ‘are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with all sorts of impurity’ (Matthew 23:27).  What then will identify us as being disciples of Jesus?  In his Gospel, John gives us a clue; ‘Everyone will know that you are my disciples because of your love for each other.” (John 13:35)   As we show love to each other and to all who God loves we will reveal to who it is that we belong.
Our Prayer:
God of love,
let our love be our work,
and love be our fame;
let love be our house,
and love be our name;
for this is the mark of discipleship,
that we love one another and all that you love.
Amen
                                                            Nathan Eddy (Abridged)

 26th October  – Rev Paul Bettison

 

For multi-national chains to Churches, Mission Statements are the thing.  But what are they?  A dictionary definition suggests that ‘A mission statement is a short statement of why an organization exists,’
I was reading about a hospital porter who, hearing that the management were devising a new Mission Statement, came up with his own. It was simple, and to the point – ‘IT’S NOT ABOUT US’. “Put that in the staff rooms. Paint it in big letters on the front of the hospital, if you like.  Maybe even in Latin.”  Our experience, during this pandemic, of the selfless care offered in our NHS and beyond has reinforced that truth.  The devotion of staff in all areas of healthcare is positive proof that such a notice has not been necessary.
I’d like to suggest that ‘IT’S NOT ABOUT US’ could well be adopted, as a Mission Statement, by Churches.  For, along with its Creeds and Scripture, the Church, in Mission Statement speak,  exists to point to Jesus who, in turn, says ‘IT’S NOT ABOUT ME’, and points beyond himself, to God and the Kingdom of Heaven.  In these challenging times, there is the danger that the Church may become pre-occupied with concerns about self-preservation, whereas our calling is to be signposts to the God who is at work in the world.
Our Prayer;
Gracious God,
I thank you for all the people I know who,
rather than thinking that the world revolves
around them, are selfless,
and look to the needs of those around them.
I’m thinking of people such as those
working in the health and social care areas of life, informal carers, loving friends and neighbours.
I’m thinking of people whose Mission Statement
could well be
 ‘IT’S NOT ABOUT ME’.
Help those of us who belong to a
Church family, to adopt that same
attitude and purpose as we
by what we do and say,
seek to point beyond the Church
to You and your Kingdom.
Amen

 

28th October  – Rev Paul Bettison

November 1st is All Saints’ Day.  Sandwiched between All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween) and All Souls’ Day, it provides an opportunity for us to remember, and give thanks for, saints, both known and unknown.
Who are these saints?  Some, still alive, have been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List.  Yet, I would be reluctant to suggest that all on the list can be described as such!  It was good to learn that this year, many of the recipients of honours are the ‘unsung heroes’ who, day in day out, show loving kindness to those in the communities of which they are part. If their names had not been included in the list, we would have never known them.
So back to my question; who are the saints remembered on November 1st?  Or maybe a more helpful question; what is a saint? The short answer is, I believe, anyone who, through their life, reveals the nature of God. Malcolm Guite, in a couple of his poems describes these saints as having ‘quiet lives and steady lights undimmed’, often ‘shy, quiet, and kind’.  I invite you on All Saints’ Day this year to remember and give thanks for those people, both dead and alive, who have revealed something of the nature of God to you.
Our Prayer:
For all the saints who’ve shown your love
in how they live and where they move,
for mindful women, caring men,
accept our gratitude again.
For all the saints who loved your name,
whose faith increased the Saviour’s fame,
who sang your songs and share your word,
accept our gratitude, good Lord.
For all the saints who named your will,
and showed the kingdom coming still
through selfless protest, prayer, and praise,
accept the gratitude we raise.
Bless all whose will or name or love
reflects the grace of heaven above.
Though unacclaimed by earthly powers,
your life through theirs has hallowed ours.
                                                                                         John L Bell and Graham Maule

30th October  – Rev Paul Bettison

Asked by Nick Robinson on the Today programme whether he ever wondered ‘what’s my father banging on about?’ Prince William replied “I regularly wonder what my father’s banging on about. I’m sure every son thinks the same.”  The focus of the interview was the environment and Mr Robinson suggested that Prince Charles’s ideas were sometimes regarded as being a bit “dotty”. “I think the dotty person now would be the person who doesn’t believe in climate change,” Prince William responded.  It appears that there are quite a few “Dotty” folk around!
Faced with the damage to the environment manifested in global warming, loss of wildlife, and widespread pollution, it would be easy to fall victim to despair.  Yet, there is hope.  For the human beings who have been responsible for the catastrophe – intentionally or through ignorance – are the human beings who can turn things round. Governments and individuals, each have a part to play in restoring the world.  A massive task and privilege.
Now a story, abridged, and maybe I’ve shared it before, but it’s worth an encore. There are many versions, but their message is the same.
The beach was littered with thousands of starfish, marooned after a storm.  An old man was throwing them, one by one, back into the sea.  A young boy, puzzled, asked why he was wasting his time on what seemed to be a futile task.  “There are thousands of them” he said, “What you’re doing won’t make any difference”. Then the old man smiled, bent down, gently picked up a starfish and threw it into the sea. “Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”
Our Prayer:
By Jimmy – a pupil of Trinity St Michael’s Primary School, Croston (Published in The Earth is the Lord’s)
Dear Lord,
Earth is a world of water,
Earth is a special place,
Earth is a mind-blowing miracle,
Earth is truly ace.
Forgive us for our sins
And let us rise not fall.
Let us stand together and change
For the good of all.
Please help us save this beauty,
For there is only one.
Please help us save the planet,
Lord, help us change this wrong. Amen

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