28th May 2021 – Revd Philip Bee
Although we value being independent, we still rely on many people for support. We often feel a deep sense of gratitude to those we depend on most. God is generous to us in all sorts of ways and we have much to be grateful for. Thanking God builds us as spiritual people.
I will always thank the Lord (Psalm 34: 1)
Loving God, open my eyes to all that you give and make me grateful. Enlarge my heart in love of you and fill my life with joy. Amen.
Where in your life do you feel a deep sense of gratitude?
31st May 2021 – Revd Paul Bettison
Last week I heard, on the radio, poet and author George Szortes speaking about Spen in Alium, a piece of sacred music for 40 voices, composed by Thomas Tallis in 1570. He said that listening to it was, for him, “Like stepping into Heaven”
A couple of days later, we watched on TV ‘The Hundred Foot Journey’, a film with the feel-good factor. Muslim Abbu Kadam and his family, after their restaurant is fire-bombed, flee Mumbai and make their way to France, via the UK (They don’t stay long in London – it’s too rainy!) Making their way through the Midi-Pyrenees region, the brakes on their van fail and a passing ‘Good Samaritan’ invites them to take refuge in her apartment where she serves them an amazing and mouth-watering meal. Marguerite shows great sensitivity in not, despite it being a local delicacy, serving pork to a Muslim family. During the meal and reflecting upon Marguerite’s kindness (and wonderful cooking!), Hassan, one of Abbu’s sons and himself a cook, like George Szortes, declares “It’s like walking into Heaven”
And again, today, whilst horse riding on the moor high up in the Hope Valley, amidst amazing countryside, surrounded by ewes and their newly born lambs, my companion observed “It’s like walking into heaven”
So, for our thought today – when for you has it felt like walking into heaven?
This world of ours and the world unseen,
how thin the boundary between!
2nd June 2021 – Revd Philip Bee
Contrary to the popular imagination, it is not true that we can be anything we want to be. Someone who is tone deaf may rightly experience the joy of singing, but is unlikely ever to become an opera singer or pop star. God invests all of us with an array of gifts and talents that make us unique from one another. God calls us to develop those abilities to their fullest potential. That way, we can be all that he intends us to be in the world.
Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. (Romans 12: 2)
Loving God, help me to know and appreciate all the gifts you have invested in me. Help me to fulfil all your purposes for me. Amen.
What gifts and abilities has God invested in you? Where are you called to use them?
4th June 2021 – Revd Paul Bettison
‘Its not a race’ Directions given to entrants in the annual Car Treasure Hunt. The goal was not to arrive at the finishing point first, but rather to follow the route at our own speed, being guided by the clues left at strategic points. Enjoying the drive and taking in the sights and sounds along the way.
Good advice for a Car Treasure Hunt, life in general, and a life of faith. As Bonnie Mohr puts it, “Life is not a race – but indeed a journey.”
Karen Campbell offers a reflection that is the focus for our ‘Thought’ today;
A journey, not a race
It is not a race,
though sometimes we behave as if it is.
you make yourself known in different ways,
to different people, at different times.
Some have a confidence, a certainty,
which prompts them to jump straight in
and run to you,
never really looking back.
Some run ahead
with eagerness and passion,
when the realities of life loom real and large.
Some are overwhelmed –
wanting, needing, and yearning for you –
not sure what to think,
how to make sense,
what to dare believe.
Whatever our path or experience
you call us all to you,
and give each a message
to share with different people
in different ways
It is a journey, not a race,
and we bless you for the gift of faith.
7th June 2021 – Revd Philip Bee
Our consumer culture tries to persuade us that happiness is discovered as we acquire possessions or enjoy particular experiences. However, true happiness is found only as we connect spiritually with the God who made us. Our experiences and possessions satisfy only like chaff that blows away on the wind. Deep happiness is rooted in God, like a tree that grows by the riverside.
Happy are those who… are like trees planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season. (Psalm 1)
Creator God, help me to discover the deep happiness that comes from a sense that you are close to me each day. Root me deeply in your love and through that love connect me deeply with others. Amen.
What makes you truly, deeply happy?
9th June 2021 – Revd Paul Bettison
Perched high on the hillside above Matlock Bath on the edge of the Peak District, Gulliver’s Kingdom attracts thousands of visitors who, if the advertising blurb is to believed, ‘Enjoy adrenaline-fueled adventures’. I never succumbed to the temptation to put it to the test.
Whilst its use seems to be on the wane, The Lord’s Prayer is, I believe, still familiar to a fair proportion of both the visitors to Gulliver’s Kingdom and the population of this kingdom. In worship and in personal devotions, we pray ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done’. The words almost trip off the tongue. But what sort of kingdom is it that we anticipate, and yearn for? Bryn Rees’s hymn offers an answer; ‘The kingdom of God is justice and joy’. In this kingdom ‘The prisoners are freed, the sinners find place, the outcast are welcomed God’s banquet to share, and hope is awakened in place of despair’. This kingdom is not, like Gulliver’s, perched on a heavenly hillside, pie in the sky high above the hustle and bustle of life, but rather to be found ‘down to earth’. As scholar John Dominic Crossan puts it
‘The Kingdom of God is not about heaven; it is for the earth.
Heaven’s in great shape; earth is where the problems are’
So lets embark upon the ‘adrenaline-fueled adventure’ that will bring closer the day when all of God’s creation will enjoy the justice and joy of God’s kingdom.
Beauty for brokenness, hope for despair,
Lord in your suffering world this is our prayer.
Bread for the children, justice, joy, peace,
sunrise to sunset, your kingdom increase.