Thought for the Days 27th April – 2nd May 2020

Irene Richardson April 27th

Previously, I’ve not stayed inside the house for so long. Perhaps you’re finding this, too. There’s only so much sorting, tidying and cleaning that can be done. A good chance to re-evaluate who and what are important to us. Family and friends are to many of us. What about our relationship with our Father God? Would this be a good opportunity to learn more about Him and come to know Him better?

Prayer:- Father God, we thank you that you are still there with us during this epidemic.
Help us to find you close to us and ready to meet us where we are. In Jesus’
name we ask. Amen

Paul Bettison April 28th

Hearing that in these Socially Distant times, one Priest is offering ‘Drive In Confessions’, I was reminded of a story sent to me by a Roman Catholic friend. An enterprising young priest had introduced into his Church, several features that had ‘brought in the crowds’; lively worship, popular music, and, instead of uncomfortable pews, upholstered chairs – you know the sort of thing. However, an elderly and wise old priest suggested to him that he may have gone a step too far in erecting a sign over his Drive-in-Confessional proclaiming ‘Toot and Tell – or go to Hell’!

Yes, he may well have gone too far, but there is a place for confession in our worship and personal devotions. None of us are perfect. Thinking about sin, neurosurgeon 38-year-old Paul Kalanithi wrote in his autobiography, published posthumously, “We all have a notion of what it means to be good, and can’t live up to it all the time”.

I believe that the God revealed in Jesus understands that. And my belief is backed up in the story told, in his Gospel, by St Luke. You remember it – the penitent thief, hanging beside Jesus on the cross, is promised a place in paradise.

For us too, confession of our failings opens up the gateway to heaven.

Our Prayer;

Gracious God, you know me better than I know myself.

I thank you for loving me with a love that wills the best for me, whilst knowing the worst.

So, I Toot and Tell, not in order to ‘escape hell’, but because I love you and I want to love you more.

Amen

Paul Bettison April 29th

Those who ‘go down to the sea in ships’ know that storms can brew-up from nowhere! In the foyer of St Christopher’s Hospice in London, hangs a painting by Marian Bohusz-Szsysko, husband of Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the Hospice movement in the United Kingdom; its title – ‘The Storm on the Lake’. I had, some years ago, the privilege of meeting Dame Cicely at St Christopher’s. She spoke most movingly of the painting, the story in the bible which is its inspiration, and the message it offers to all who face storms in life.

In the painting, we see the figure of Jesus, standing in the prow of the boat, the storm still raging (rather different from the Gospel story – little sign of stillness here!). Yet I sense that those in the boat, tossed around in the storm, feel calm, reassured, and unafraid because the one in whom they now put their trust is there, in the boat, with them. What is our response as the ‘Corona storm’ is raging?

Maybe the words of Anna Laetitia Waring can be our prayer for today;

In heavenly love abiding,

No change my heart shall fear;

And safe is such confiding,

For nothing changes here:

The storm may roar without me,

My heart may low be laid;

But God is round about me,

And can I be dismayed?

Paul Bettison April 30th

“I’m alright Jack (or Jill!); I’ve a garage full of pasta, beans, and Andrex.” There are some selfish folk around, but plenty of kind-hearted ones too! As well as bringing out the worst in some folk, a challenging situation such as we find ourselves in now also brings out the best in, what I believe to be, the majority. It would be easy in times like these, to get downhearted, but look at St Paul’s encouraging advice in his letter addressed to the Christians in Philippi about filling our thoughts with good things and being known for our consideration for others. (Philippians Chapter Four, verses 5-9). The words attributed to Dale Carnegie come to mind – “Two men looked out from prison bars; one saw the mud, the other, stars.”

A prayer for today;

Gracious God, surrounded by so many people offering care to those in need, help me to show such consideration to others that they see stars shining in what seems to be a dark world, and experience the warmth of your love. And may I know you, the God of peace, to be with me today and always.

Paul Bettison May 1st

Those who ‘go down to the sea in ships’ know that storms can brew-up from nowhere!  In the foyer of St Chrisopher’s Hospice in London, hangs a painting by Marian Bohusz-Szsysko, husband of Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the Hospice movement in the United Kingdom; its title – ‘The Storm on the Lake’.  I had, some years ago, the privilege of meeting Dame Cicely at St Christopher’s.  She spoke most movingly of the painting, the story in the bible which is its inspiration, and the message it offers to all who face storms in life.  In the painting, we see the figure of Jesus, standing in the prow of the boat, the storm still raging (rather different from the Gospel story – little sign of stillness here!).  Yet I sense that those in the boat, tossed around in the storm, feel calm, reassured, and unafraid because the one in whom they now put their trust is there, in the boat, with them.  What is ourresponse as the ‘Corona storm’ is raging?

Maybe the words of Anna Laetitia Waring can be our prayer for today;

In heavenly love abiding,

No change my heart shall fear;

And safe is such confiding,

For nothing changes here:

The storm may roar without me,

My heart may low be laid;

But God is round about me,

And can I be dismayed?

 

Paul Bettison May 2nd

Maybe you watch, on Christmas Eve, ‘Carols from King’s’, first broadcast on 23rd December 1954. A more recent innovation is ‘Easter from King’s’. I was moved as, on Holy Saturday, I watched it. Did you tune in? If so, you can’t have failed to notice, behind the High Altar, the imposing painting by Peter Paul Rubens – ‘The Adoration of the Magi’. It fits well in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, but into the context of Holy Week?

Near the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel we read that the Magi arrived in Jerusalem asking “Where is the new-born king of the Jews?” And, near the end of all four Gospels, Jesus is afforded that same title. ‘King of the Jews’ – remember the inscription placed above his head as he hung on the cross ‘This is Jesus, the king of the Jews’.

Because of the restrictions relating to the Covid 19 pandemic there will have been, this year, no performances of Maunder’s ‘Olivet to Calvary’. But the paraphrase of John Chapter 18 verse 36, sung by the tenor, came to my mind – ‘Not of this world the kingdom of our Lord. He sought not the victor’s wreath, nor monarch’s crown, with peace and tidings of great joy he came’. The child in the manger, adored by the Magi, grew to become the man on the cross, mocked by the crowd. A king, whose Kingdom of justice and joy will come, on earth as in Heaven’

Words of Timothy Dudley-Smith for reflection –

Child of the stable’s secret birth,

The Lord by right of the lords of earth,

Let angels sing of a King new-born;

The world is weaving a crown of thorn:

A crown of thorn for that infant head

Cradled soft in the manger bed.

Child of the stable’s secret birth,

The Father’s gift to a wayward earth,

Ours is the prize for the road he trod:

Risen with Christ; at peace with God.

From Hymns and Psalms 124

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