Thought for the day 25th -30th May 2020

25th May 2020 Revd Paul Bettison 

‘This is the Day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.’ So exhorts the psalmist. All well and good, but what day is it?
Pre-pandemic, I knew that if it was choir practice, then the day was Monday; if collecting grandchildren from school and bringing them home for tea, then it was Wednesday; if worshipping with a Church Family, then it was Sunday; thank goodness that the bins are still collected on Tuesday, at least some things don’t change. If the loss of routine and structure has proved to be somewhat of a challenge, then join the club.
And yet, whatever day it happens to be – and whether we can remember what day it is – it is a God-made day. There will be something in it that will speak of God’s love revealed in Creation. Something that lifts the spirit and feeds the soul. That something may be a sight or sound, a feeling or discovery. Whatever it is, rejoice and be glad in the day that the Lord has made.
And if for you the day, whatever day it is, seems dark and joy is hard to find, remember that Creation is never abandoned by the Creator. Then perhaps you will find that reassurance to be cause enough to be glad.
Our Prayer
Gracious God,
One day may seem like another and the structure and shape of my life may seem to have been dismantled but help me to remember that each day is your gift to me.
And if the day seems to offer little in the way of joy or celebration, may I discover that you are with me nonetheless, and find reason to hope that days of gladness and rejoicing will come.
Amen

26th May 2020 Sue Ellis 

Escapism?
I have been recently seeking out the company of many new and interesting people, through the joy of reading, in my case usually fiction but sometimes biography.
This has always been a great source of pleasure to me but currently I can indulge in this escapism without feeling guilty!

The word ’escapism’ tends to carry a negative connotation with it, assuming that people who seek a break from their standard reality are being irresponsible and avoiding “real life.”
I looked up what the Bible has to say – firstly the words of the prophets:

In Proverbs 12 verse 11-‘A hardworking framer has plenty to eat, but it is stupid to waste time on useless projects’. That’s quite harsh!
But it says in Jeremiah 31 verse 25 ‘I will refresh those who are weary and will satisfy with food, everyone who is weak from hunger.’
And in Matthew 11 28-29
‘Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke and put it upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest.’
I believe that imagination is another of God’s gifts. And of course there are many new and interesting people to encounter in the Bible.
It is undoubtedly healthy to have a balance in the rhythm of work and rest. – it just needs to be kept in proportion.
Prayer
Thank you for the gift of books and my continuing sight to read and enjoy them.
Thank you for the gift of imagination that enables me to build from the written word
Help us to keep balance in all that we do, taking on your gentle and humble sprit
Amen

 

27th May 2020 Revd Paul Bettison 

The Blame Game
“It wasn’t my fault”, said Adam,” Eve made me do it”
Eve then passed the buck, “It was the serpent – he made me eat the forbidden fruit” – Its always someone’s fault!
The story in Genesis emerged from a community feeling alienated from God and asking the question “How did we get here?”
And here we are, alienated from life as we knew it, asking the same question. Surely, it must be someone’s fault. ‘They’ should have acted sooner, or later, or differently.” We’ve begun to hear those criticisms articulated by some journalists and commentators.
But this is where we are, and surely a better question is “How do we move forward from here?” There will be much to learn from the experience of the pandemic, but for the time being that will have to wait.
There will be much that each of us have already learned from all this; how important are our relationships, how wonderful is Creation, how we can adapt to new ways of living, what really matters in life, and so it goes on.
Playing the ‘blame game’ didn’t help the two in the garden. It won’t help us either.
Our Prayer;
Gracious God, I want to say thank-you for all the people using their skills, knowledge, and wisdom to address the challenges of this pandemic.
In the stillness, and for a few moments, I think of them now……
Help us all, without pointing the finger of blame, to move forward into a world in which, though there will be difficulties and demands, hope is to be found.

 

28th May 2020 Revd Paul Bettison 

Letting Go
I’m not very good at getting rid of things, letting things go. Clearing out the drawers in the garage, drawers that contained lots of precious things, it was a real test of my resolve to dispose of that bit of metal that ‘may come in’. Throwing away the length of twine that may in the dim and distant future be of use, took a real effort on my part. How will I manage without them?
Letting go of things that are in life important to us, is challenging to say the least. Even more so perhaps when those things have been taken away from us.
In this time of restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, there will have been things in our lives that have gone. There are things in our families, in our communities, and in our Churches, – ways of doing things, assumptions, habits – which we have had to let go. Maybe think of some of them now.
Now, a question; which of them, when the restrictions are lifted, do I need to pick up again, and which would it be wise to let go?
I recall, in John’s Gospel, the words spoken by Jesus to Mary as, outside the empty tomb, she mourned his death and contemplated her loss. “Do not hold on to me”. In order to experience his presence with her in the future, she needed to let go of what she had known of him in the past. A lesson for me, and for all of us.
Our Prayer;
Gracious God,
you know how difficult it is for me to let go of things I hold dear.
But, deep down, I know that there are some things that I need to leave behind. The things that will, in the future, be of little use to me.
And painful, even frightening, though it can be, perhaps there are things in my understanding of the Christian Faith that I need to let go, in order that I might flourish and grow.
So, I pray, help me to discover what I need to keep and what I need to let go.
Amen

29th May 2020 Sue Ellis

Hope and loss
Through the winter the trees look unpromising, and then, almost without our noticing, suddenly they bud and then blossom. We see its beauty, and can give thanks for the hopefulness of spring in this blossom. Then it goes, often blown away quite quickly, and we may forget again.
Can the turning seasons and trees offer the cycle of promise, as a sign of hope revealed? Can we see promise of Jesus in its blossom the, the hope of the world, coming around year after year, come what may?
And yet this year, it is also a time of loss for many – of loved ones, of financial security, of the family ties which support them and their familiar routines.
Prayer
Heavenly father, we want to see the changing season as a sign of hope.
Be with those for whom this is especially hard this year due to personal loss- soothe them and hold them in your care.
Be with those who feel the lack of certainty about when this will change- soothe them and hold them in your care.
Help us to see the cycle of promise and that hope will remain in our world.
Amen

30th May 2020 Revd Paul Bettison 

Prayer
From Ascension to Pentecost we are encouraged to pray, using material produced by the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ movement. So, a question today; does prayer change things? And if so, does it change God, or the one who prays? It’s worth spending some time reflecting upon the question – but the suggestion comes with a ‘Spiritual Health Warning’ – it may change you.
Another question; ‘Are prayers ‘heard’?
I leave the Anglican Poet-priest R S Thomas to answer that one. He struggled throughout his ministry, with periods of doubt and uncertainty and offers this reflection;
Prayer is like gravel
flung at the sky’s
window, hoping to attract
the loved one’s
attention. But without
visible plaits to let
down for the believer
to climb up,
to what purpose open
that far casement?
I would have refrained long since
but that peering once
through my locked fingers
I thought that I detected
the movement of a curtain
And now a story –
An old man sat, day by day, at the back of church.
The minister, curious and impressed, asked “What are you doing, hour by hour?”
“Speaking with God?” – “No”
“Is God speaking to you?” – “No. We just listen to each other, God and I”
Our Prayer:
Gracious God,
Here I am, offering prayer, so I guess I do believe in it!
But sometimes, I wonder why I do it.
I’m pretty sure that all of life can be seen as prayer.
But setting time aside to, as it were, sit with you and share my thoughts and feelings, certainties and doubts, joys and sorrows, is a real blessing, and listening to your ‘still small voice’ is both comforting and challenging.
So, encourage me to keep on praying.

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