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April's Daily Message

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1 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Thursday 1st April 2021

Thought for Today

Today I am going to write about Joseph of Arimathea. Joseph was a wealthy follower of Jesus, who, after the crucifixion, went to Pilate to ask for Jesus’ body. Joseph took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb. According to Matthew’s gospel, Joseph then rolled a great stone to seal off the entrance to the tomb and went away. And this is the last we hear of Joseph of Arimathea.

However, later generations were intrigued by figure of Joseph, and various stories were told about him. It was said that he had come to England and built a church at Glastonbury. Some said that he was buried at Glastonbury. It was said that a special thorn bush, known as the Holy Thorn, had sprung from his staff. There was also a tradition which connected Joseph with the Holy Grail. While such stories have been good for the Somerset tourist trade, it has to be said that it is unlikely that they contain any grain of historical truth.

If we are looking for hard facts about Joseph, we need to confine ourselves to the pages of the New Testament. It is clear from all four gospel writers that Joseph was a powerful man, with wealth and political connections. I suspect he was also physically strong, as Matthew tells us that he was able to roll a great stone to seal off the entrance to Jesus’ tomb.

Joseph seems to have had no difficulty in arranging a meeting with Pilate, and in getting Pilate to agree to hand over Jesus’ body to him. I wonder what gave Joseph so much influence? Why didn’t Pilate simply say no – no to a meeting, no to Joseph’s request to be given Jesus’ body? Perhaps Joseph and Pilate already knew each other. Or perhaps it was Joseph’s wealth which was so persuasive.

And Joseph chose to bury Jesus in the tomb he had prepared for himself. It was an act of remarkable generosity. I wonder why Jesus had come to mean so much to him?

Thought for Today

Lord, when we are in positions of power or influence,
help us to use our power or influence for the good of others;
help us to be generous with our resources,
and compassionate in the decisions we take. Amen.
2 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 2nd April 2021

Thought for Today

Over the last two weeks, I have been writing about various people who appear in the accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. Today I’m going to finish the series with some words about Mary Magdalen.

Mary was a popular name at the time of Jesus, and the New Testament has several references to women with this name. Mary Magdalen derives the second part of her name from the town of Magdala, in Galilee; this helps to distinguish her from other women named Mary who are found in the pages of the New Testament. Mary Magdalen had been healed by Jesus, and she ministered to him. She witnessed the crucifixion and the burial and seems to have been an important figure among the disciples.

In John’s gospel, Mary Magdalen plays a prominent role in the events of the first Easter morning. As she stands outside Jesus’ tomb, weeping, she sees a person she takes to be the gardener. She can see that Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb, and so she assumes that someone has taken it away. So, she asks the person who is standing there whether he has taken the body away. He then says to her, “Mary!”, and at this point realises that the person who she took to be the gardener is none other than Jesus himself, risen from the dead. Mary then went and announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord”.

John tells us that Jesus’ tomb lay in a garden, and it has been a tradition at Eastertime to decorate churches with a profusion of flowers. In some churches, there is also an Easter Garden. Things are different this year, of course, but our online Easter morning service will include a virtual blessing of Easter gardens. So, if you have prepared an Easter garden, or have Easter flowers in your home, please do send a picture to Andrew Kaye at standrewspccchairman@gmail.com. Andrew will be turning the photos into a short video for our online service. It will be lovely to see all the pictures!
Easter is, above all, about new life: God’s gift of new life, given to us all through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection means that there is hope: hope for ourselves, our communities and our world.

Prayer for Today

Lord, you are the God of new beginnings;
help us to greet the future with hope and confidence,
trusting in your great love for us and for our world. Amen.
3 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 2nd April 2021

Thought for Today

Over the last two weeks, I have been writing about various people who appear in the accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. Today I’m going to finish the series with some words about Mary Magdalen.

Mary was a popular name at the time of Jesus, and the New Testament has several references to women with this name. Mary Magdalen derives the second part of her name from the town of Magdala, in Galilee; this helps to distinguish her from other women named Mary who are found in the pages of the New Testament. Mary Magdalen had been healed by Jesus, and she ministered to him. She witnessed the crucifixion and the burial and seems to have been an important figure among the disciples.

In John’s gospel, Mary Magdalen plays a prominent role in the events of the first Easter morning. As she stands outside Jesus’ tomb, weeping, she sees a person she takes to be the gardener. She can see that Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb, and so she assumes that someone has taken it away. So, she asks the person who is standing there whether he has taken the body away. He then says to her, “Mary!”, and at this point realises that the person who she took to be the gardener is none other than Jesus himself, risen from the dead. Mary then went and announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord”.

John tells us that Jesus’ tomb lay in a garden, and it has been a tradition at Eastertime to decorate churches with a profusion of flowers. In some churches, there is also an Easter Garden. Things are different this year, of course, but our online Easter morning service will include a virtual blessing of Easter gardens. So, if you have prepared an Easter garden, or have Easter flowers in your home, please do send a picture to Andrew Kaye at standrewspccchairman@gmail.com. Andrew will be turning the photos into a short video for our online service. It will be lovely to see all the pictures!
Easter is, above all, about new life: God’s gift of new life, given to us all through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection means that there is hope: hope for ourselves, our communities and our world.

Prayer for Today

Lord, you are the God of new beginnings;
help us to greet the future with hope and confidence,
trusting in your great love for us and for our world. Amen.
4 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 2nd April 2021

Thought for Today

Over the last two weeks, I have been writing about various people who appear in the accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. Today I’m going to finish the series with some words about Mary Magdalen.

Mary was a popular name at the time of Jesus, and the New Testament has several references to women with this name. Mary Magdalen derives the second part of her name from the town of Magdala, in Galilee; this helps to distinguish her from other women named Mary who are found in the pages of the New Testament. Mary Magdalen had been healed by Jesus, and she ministered to him. She witnessed the crucifixion and the burial and seems to have been an important figure among the disciples.

In John’s gospel, Mary Magdalen plays a prominent role in the events of the first Easter morning. As she stands outside Jesus’ tomb, weeping, she sees a person she takes to be the gardener. She can see that Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb, and so she assumes that someone has taken it away. So, she asks the person who is standing there whether he has taken the body away. He then says to her, “Mary!”, and at this point realises that the person who she took to be the gardener is none other than Jesus himself, risen from the dead. Mary then went and announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord”.

John tells us that Jesus’ tomb lay in a garden, and it has been a tradition at Eastertime to decorate churches with a profusion of flowers. In some churches, there is also an Easter Garden. Things are different this year, of course, but our online Easter morning service will include a virtual blessing of Easter gardens. So, if you have prepared an Easter garden, or have Easter flowers in your home, please do send a picture to Andrew Kaye at standrewspccchairman@gmail.com. Andrew will be turning the photos into a short video for our online service. It will be lovely to see all the pictures!
Easter is, above all, about new life: God’s gift of new life, given to us all through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection means that there is hope: hope for ourselves, our communities and our world.

Prayer for Today

Lord, you are the God of new beginnings;
help us to greet the future with hope and confidence,
trusting in your great love for us and for our world. Amen.
5 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 2nd April 2021

Thought for Today

Over the last two weeks, I have been writing about various people who appear in the accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest, trial and crucifixion. Today I’m going to finish the series with some words about Mary Magdalen.

Mary was a popular name at the time of Jesus, and the New Testament has several references to women with this name. Mary Magdalen derives the second part of her name from the town of Magdala, in Galilee; this helps to distinguish her from other women named Mary who are found in the pages of the New Testament. Mary Magdalen had been healed by Jesus, and she ministered to him. She witnessed the crucifixion and the burial and seems to have been an important figure among the disciples.

In John’s gospel, Mary Magdalen plays a prominent role in the events of the first Easter morning. As she stands outside Jesus’ tomb, weeping, she sees a person she takes to be the gardener. She can see that Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb, and so she assumes that someone has taken it away. So, she asks the person who is standing there whether he has taken the body away. He then says to her, “Mary!”, and at this point realises that the person who she took to be the gardener is none other than Jesus himself, risen from the dead. Mary then went and announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord”.

John tells us that Jesus’ tomb lay in a garden, and it has been a tradition at Eastertime to decorate churches with a profusion of flowers. In some churches, there is also an Easter Garden. Things are different this year, of course, but our online Easter morning service will include a virtual blessing of Easter gardens. So, if you have prepared an Easter garden, or have Easter flowers in your home, please do send a picture to Andrew Kaye at standrewspccchairman@gmail.com. Andrew will be turning the photos into a short video for our online service. It will be lovely to see all the pictures!
Easter is, above all, about new life: God’s gift of new life, given to us all through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus’ resurrection means that there is hope: hope for ourselves, our communities and our world.

Prayer for Today

Lord, you are the God of new beginnings;
help us to greet the future with hope and confidence,
trusting in your great love for us and for our world. Amen.
6 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Tuesday 6th April 2021

Thought for Today

I do hope you have enjoyed the Easter weekend. During the two weeks leading up to Easter, I used these Rector’s Reflections to look at various characters who appear in the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. I’m going to stay with the Bible in the week ahead, but I’m going to switch attention to the Old Testament. There is so much in the Old Testament which can help us as we reflect on the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Today, I’m going to write about one of the poems in the Old Testament, known as Psalm 30. No one knows who wrote the poem, or when it was written. It was probably written somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 years ago, but the emotions expressed are timeless. The poem talks about what it feels like to be rescued from an experience of extreme suffering. The author might well have been close to death or have felt so weighed by suffering that they were as good as dead. In their suffering, they cried out to God. God heard their prayer and brought relief. The author rejoices that God has turned “mourning into dancing”. In the words of verse 5, “Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning”.

Indeed, the author felt as if he had come back from the dead. When the poem was written, some people thought of death as a great Pit somewhere in the depths of the earth, a Pit from which no one returned. So, the author of the psalm gives thanks: “You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored me to life from among those that go down to the Pit.”

In other words, the author of this poem sensed a profound truth: only God can rescue us from death and only God can restore us to life. The truth that the poet sensed all those years ago was proclaimed to the world by the resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter Day. God will indeed bring us up from the dead; he will indeed restore us to life. Praise be to God!

Prayer for Today

Lord, when we are overwhelmed by the troubles of this world,
help us to trust in you and your good purposes for us and our world;
help us to trust that while heaviness may endure for a night,
joy will come in the morning. Amen.
7 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Wednesday 7th April 2021

Thought for Today

Are you looking forward to the future with hope and excitement, or are you worried about what the years ahead might bring?

When things aren’t going well, or we are facing lots of challenges, it can be helpful and reassuring to focus our attention on the prospect of a better future. This is true not only for individuals, but also for organisations and even for whole countries. Back in the 6th century BC, life was hard for the Jewish people. The city of Jerusalem had been conquered, and the Temple destroyed. The Jewish State itself had been demoted, to become nothing more than a province in the Assyrian Empire. Some Jews felt that God had given up on his people. But other Jews were convinced that the future was full of promise: God would never abandon his people, and, in due course, God would bring a rich time of blessing. This would be “the year of the Lord’s favour”: a time of comfort and restoration, a time of freedom and release from captivity, a time of healing and wholeness. The “year of the Lord’s favour” would not be limited to a mere calendar year: it would mark the beginning of a new era. It would, in fact, be a new act of creation.

The book of the prophet Isaiah is full of beautiful descriptions of this new era, and Isaiah’s prophecies gave hope to generations of faithful Jews. But when would this new era begin? Was it imminent or a long time off?

At the start of his ministry, Jesus declared that the new ear had now begun. He quoted part of chapter 61 of Isaiah and told his hearers that the prophecy had at last been fulfilled. Jesus’ miracles of healing strongly suggested that the new era had begun. And when Jesus was raised from the dead this seemed to be the crowning piece of evidence that the new era, promised long ago, had indeed arrived. Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t just about him: it was about the whole of creation. At long last, God had started the process of a new Creation. The resurrection of Jesus was only the beginning; the re-creation of the rest of Creation would now follow.

No wonder Jesus’ resurrection was greeted with such joy!

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to see ourselves and our lives in the context of the bigger picture:
your plans to bring blessing to our world and to the whole of Creation. Amen.
8 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Thursday 8th April 2021

Thought for Today

Yesterday I wrote about a passage from the book of the prophet Isaiah, which looked forward to the wonderful “year of the Lord’s favour”: the beginning of a new era, when God would inaugurate a rich time of blessing. For some early Christians, Jesus’ resurrection showed that the time of waiting was now over: the longed time of blessing had come, and the new Creation had started!

What would this time of blessing look like? How would people recognise that the new era had indeed arrived?

The Prophet Joel knew the answer. Joel probably lived in the 5th century BC. We know very little about him, but some prophecies attributed to him are found in a short book in the Old Testament, known appropriately enough as the book of the prophet Joel. Joel believed that the time would come when God would pour out his spirit on the people of the world: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men see dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit”.

This passage must have intrigued all who read and heard these words. When will God pour out his spirit? What will it mean to those who receive God’s spirit?

Many early Christians felt that they were living in a spirit-filled age. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God had indeed started to pour out his spirit on all flesh. Joel’s prophecy had at last been fulfilled! So, it is not surprising that Peter quoted Joel’s prophesy when he addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost.

Ever since New Testament times, many Christians have been convinced that through Jesus, God has poured out his Spirit upon the world: a Spirit of love and mercy, of healing and new beginnings. We have not been left to face the challenges of life alone: we have been given God’s Spirit, and his Spirit is at work in our lives and our world.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes life is hard;
remind us that you have given us your Spirit,
and in the power of your Spirit we have all the resources we need. Amen.
9 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 9th April 2021

Prayer for Today

During this week, I have been looking at some passages from the Old Testament which help us to understand the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today’s passage comes from the first book of the bible, the book of Genesis, and it’s all about the importance of being obedient to God.

The ancient Jews were well aware that, as human beings, we find it hard to obey God’s commandments. We tend to think we know better. We’re happy to follow God’s rules in theory, but we often ignore them in practice. Experience would seem to teach us that human nature contains a strong element of disobedience. As adults, we sometimes try and cover this up, and talk about the importance of “making up our own minds” and “being old enough to make our own decisions”. But I think often it’s about human nature: when it comes down to it, we don’t like being told what to do. Where does this come from?

One of the most famous stories in the bible, the story of Adam and Eve, suggests that it’s all about a conscious decision to disobey God. We feel that we can’t trust God, and so we cannot obey him. And our disobedience brings pain, suffering and death in its wake.

This pain and suffering will continue until we can become obedient to God. Can this happen, or are human beings so self-centred that this is no more than a mere pipedream? For some New Testament writers, the problem has been solved in Jesus: Jesus, being fully human and fully God, has offered perfect obedience to God. Jesus’ willingness to be crucified on the Cross was the ultimate act of obedience to God. The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world; the obedience of Jesus brings forgiveness and life.

The celebration of Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ perfect act of obedience, and the resurrected life is the fruit of this obedience. Obedience to God is not necessarily easy, and sometimes it is painful; but it brings the gift of new life.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes we know what you want us to do,
but we simply don’t want to do it;
help us to find the strength to be obedient,
and the courage to trust in your love and your wisdom. Amen.
10 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 9th April 2021

Prayer for Today

During this week, I have been looking at some passages from the Old Testament which help us to understand the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today’s passage comes from the first book of the bible, the book of Genesis, and it’s all about the importance of being obedient to God.

The ancient Jews were well aware that, as human beings, we find it hard to obey God’s commandments. We tend to think we know better. We’re happy to follow God’s rules in theory, but we often ignore them in practice. Experience would seem to teach us that human nature contains a strong element of disobedience. As adults, we sometimes try and cover this up, and talk about the importance of “making up our own minds” and “being old enough to make our own decisions”. But I think often it’s about human nature: when it comes down to it, we don’t like being told what to do. Where does this come from?

One of the most famous stories in the bible, the story of Adam and Eve, suggests that it’s all about a conscious decision to disobey God. We feel that we can’t trust God, and so we cannot obey him. And our disobedience brings pain, suffering and death in its wake.

This pain and suffering will continue until we can become obedient to God. Can this happen, or are human beings so self-centred that this is no more than a mere pipedream? For some New Testament writers, the problem has been solved in Jesus: Jesus, being fully human and fully God, has offered perfect obedience to God. Jesus’ willingness to be crucified on the Cross was the ultimate act of obedience to God. The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world; the obedience of Jesus brings forgiveness and life.

The celebration of Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ perfect act of obedience, and the resurrected life is the fruit of this obedience. Obedience to God is not necessarily easy, and sometimes it is painful; but it brings the gift of new life.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes we know what you want us to do,
but we simply don’t want to do it;
help us to find the strength to be obedient,
and the courage to trust in your love and your wisdom. Amen.
11 April 2021Rector’s Daily Reflections: Friday 9th April 2021

Prayer for Today

During this week, I have been looking at some passages from the Old Testament which help us to understand the significance of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today’s passage comes from the first book of the bible, the book of Genesis, and it’s all about the importance of being obedient to God.

The ancient Jews were well aware that, as human beings, we find it hard to obey God’s commandments. We tend to think we know better. We’re happy to follow God’s rules in theory, but we often ignore them in practice. Experience would seem to teach us that human nature contains a strong element of disobedience. As adults, we sometimes try and cover this up, and talk about the importance of “making up our own minds” and “being old enough to make our own decisions”. But I think often it’s about human nature: when it comes down to it, we don’t like being told what to do. Where does this come from?

One of the most famous stories in the bible, the story of Adam and Eve, suggests that it’s all about a conscious decision to disobey God. We feel that we can’t trust God, and so we cannot obey him. And our disobedience brings pain, suffering and death in its wake.

This pain and suffering will continue until we can become obedient to God. Can this happen, or are human beings so self-centred that this is no more than a mere pipedream? For some New Testament writers, the problem has been solved in Jesus: Jesus, being fully human and fully God, has offered perfect obedience to God. Jesus’ willingness to be crucified on the Cross was the ultimate act of obedience to God. The disobedience of Adam and Eve brought sin and death into the world; the obedience of Jesus brings forgiveness and life.

The celebration of Easter is a celebration of Jesus’ perfect act of obedience, and the resurrected life is the fruit of this obedience. Obedience to God is not necessarily easy, and sometimes it is painful; but it brings the gift of new life.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes we know what you want us to do,
but we simply don’t want to do it;
help us to find the strength to be obedient,
and the courage to trust in your love and your wisdom. Amen.
12 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Monday 13th April 2021

Thought for Today

Earlier today I was in a meeting with someone who, out of the blue, quoted a particular phrase from the bible. They talked about the need to be “rooted and grounded in love”. This phrase comes from the letter to the Ephesians, which is traditionally ascribed to St Paul. The phrase has got me thinking: how might we lead our lives in such a way to that we are truly “rooted and grounded in love”?

I thought I would offer some particular thoughts on this subject in my reflections in the week ahead.

Perhaps a good starting point is to take some time to reflect on our aims in life. Of course, we can have different aims at different stages in our lives, and there are those times when we’re not quite sure where we are going. But let’s take the present moment. What is, at present, our main aim in life? And what does this tell us about our values?

We can focus our attention on so many different things. Typically, we look for power, recognition, security, wealth, and a sense of control in the face of the uncertainties of life. None of these goals are bad in themselves, and a certain degree of power, security and wealth are needed for our own well-being and the well-being of our families. But they can have their dangers.

For example, the desire to be rich. We can focus so much on the acquisition and preservation of wealth that nothing else seems to matter. We pursue our own economic well-being at the expense of others. Our friendships and our family life suffers and we are never happy, because we never feel that the wealth we have is quite enough.

So, what is our main aim in life at present? Is it an aim which helps us to grow in love: not just love for our self, but love for our families and our communities, love for our world, and love for God? If we look at what’s driving us in our lives, can we say that we are “rooted and grounded in love”?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to root our lives in the knowledge of your love;
calm our fears, and help us to face the challenges of life
with your wisdom and in your strength. Amen
13 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Tuesday 13th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week, I am reflecting on how we might lead our lives in such a way that we are truly “rooted and grounded in love”. This phrase comes from the Letter to the Ephesians, one of several letters to be found in the New Testament.

Yesterday I wrote about our aims in life: what do our aims in life tell us about our values? Are our aims in life helping us to grow in love?

One way of answering this question is to look at the quality of our relationships, and relationships will be the theme of today’s reflections.

How do we relate to other people: do we treat them as real human beings, with a story tell, and gifts to share? Or do we just ignore them, writing them off as if they didn’t really exist at all?

Do our workplaces, organisations and communities enable the formation and flourishing of good relationships?

I think it is probably our shared experience that effective and healthy organisations are those where relationships matter. This doesn’t just happen by chance. It happens because the members of the organisation deliberately invest time and energy in developing good relationships. What does a good relationship look like? I think it’s something about respect, trust, time, and honesty. The parties need to respect and trust each other; and this mutual respect and trust provides an environment in which honesty is both nurtured and honoured. But it takes time. Both parties need to invest the time the relationship needs if it is to grow and mature.

In the words of The Relationship Foundation, “a good society is built on good relationships”. Indeed, it is. I wonder how we might improve our relationships with one another during the week ahead?

Prayer for Today

Lord, we know that sometimes we treat each other pretty badly;
help us to develop better relationships, based on trust and respect for one another. Amen.
14 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Wednesday 14th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week we are looking at what it might mean to live our lives “rooted and grounded in love”. Today I thought I would share a particular verse from the bible, which will probably be familiar to many of you. The verse goes like this: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” These words come from the 13th chapter of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, and they are often chosen as one of the readings in a wedding service.

What might these words have to say to us about living our lives grounded in love? Well, to start with, note that patience comes right at the start of the sentence. Patience is about giving people the time and space they need. This can be hard for us, as we like things to happen according to our own timetable. But sometimes we just need to let the timetable slip a bit.

And then there is kindness. What does it really mean to be kind to someone? It doesn’t always mean that we let someone do whatever they want to do. For example, it wouldn’t be kind to let a child play with a sharp knife. And if we are dealing with adults, part of being an adult is understanding that actions have consequences: for example, an action which breaks the law will incur a penalty. It might not be a “kind” act to let a speeding motorist off their fine, as this might encourage dangerous driving and put lives at risk.

And then there is the question of envy. We are often envious of what other people have: their money, status, good looks, or whatever. But if we love other people, it is unlikely that we will feel envy towards them. Quite the opposite: we shall be delighted at their good fortune.

So, these are three practical ways in which we can ground our lives in love: we can exercise patience towards others; we can show real kindness - kindness which promotes the true well-being of another; and we can try to break free from the shackles of envy.

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to grow in love:
help us to be more patient with one another;
help us to grow in understanding of what true kindness is;
and help us not to be envious of the good fortune of others. Amen.
15 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Thursday 15th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week we are looking at how we might live our lives “rooted and ground in love”. Yesterday I quoted a verse from the 13th Chapter of Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.” In the next verse, Paul continues: love “does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth”.

These words are pretty challenging. To start with, Paul tells us that love does not insist on its own way. Many of us, perhaps most of us, like to be in charge. We like to be the one who tells other people what to do. Of course, there are times when it is right for us to stick by our guns and insist that the course of action which we are proposing is actually for the best. But there are also times when we’re simply being arrogant or pig-headed, and it would be much better for everyone if we stopped insisting that we are right and everyone else is wrong!

And when someone doesn’t do what we want them to do, how easy it for us to become angry and full of resentment. We can be unhappy at the way someone has behaved, or at the action they have taken. But we should try to avoid letting ourselves become irritable or resentful in our day-to-day dealings with one another. I don’t think Paul is thinking about those exceptional circumstances when someone else has intentionally caused harm to ourselves or someone else: in these situations, it is quite natural to feel resentment towards the person who has caused the harm.

This links in with Paul’s final comment: love does not rejoice in wrongdoing. I wonder: do we sometimes succumb to the temptation to applaud or approve an act of wrongdoing? Surely not, you say. But are there times when we have approved of a criminal act, because the perpetrator is suave and glamorous, or simply because they have managed to get away with it?

Prayer for Today

Lord, help us to be gracious in our relations with one another:
help us to be open to the possibility that others might know more than we do;
help us not to become easily irritated;
and help us to rejoice in what is good and true. Amen.
16 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Friday 16th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been thinking about how we might live our lives “rooted and grounded in love.”

I wonder if you have been thinking to yourself: this is all very well in theory, but it’s very hard in practice! Sometimes it’s hard to feel particularly loving towards someone else, especially if they have hurt us, or if we’re feeling tired or worried. Is it really possible for us ground our lives in love?

Over the last few days, I have quoted some passages from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Today I wish to refer to another of Paul’s letters, which is known as the Letter to the Galatians. The Galatians were people who lived in Galatia, in modern day Turkey.

In chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians, Paul lists what he terms the “fruit of the Spirit”. The “fruit of the Spirit” is as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The “fruit of the Spirit” are the result of trying to “live by the Spirit”.

What does this mean? It means that we should try to be guided by God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is God himself. In the traditional language of Christian theology, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: these are the three “persons” of the Holy Trinity. Each “person” is fully God, and together the three “persons” form a community of perfect love. In other words, to “live by the Spirit” is to live by love, because God is love.

Note that Paul lists “love” as the very first of the fruits of the Spirit. If we are to live our lives “rooted and grounded in love”, we can only do so if we try to “live by the Spirit”. Jesus himself lived his life “by the Spirit”, and so Jesus’ own teaching and example will help us to see what this might mean as we meet the challenges we face in our day to day lives.

So, is it realistically possible for us to live lives grounded in love? Yes, it is - but only if we take our lead and inspiration from Jesus himself.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes it’s hard to put love at the centre of our lives;
fill us your Holy Spirit, and in the power of your Spirit,
bring forth the fruit of love in our lives. Amen.
17 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Friday 16th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been thinking about how we might live our lives “rooted and grounded in love.”

I wonder if you have been thinking to yourself: this is all very well in theory, but it’s very hard in practice! Sometimes it’s hard to feel particularly loving towards someone else, especially if they have hurt us, or if we’re feeling tired or worried. Is it really possible for us ground our lives in love?

Over the last few days, I have quoted some passages from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Today I wish to refer to another of Paul’s letters, which is known as the Letter to the Galatians. The Galatians were people who lived in Galatia, in modern day Turkey.

In chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians, Paul lists what he terms the “fruit of the Spirit”. The “fruit of the Spirit” is as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The “fruit of the Spirit” are the result of trying to “live by the Spirit”.

What does this mean? It means that we should try to be guided by God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is God himself. In the traditional language of Christian theology, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: these are the three “persons” of the Holy Trinity. Each “person” is fully God, and together the three “persons” form a community of perfect love. In other words, to “live by the Spirit” is to live by love, because God is love.

Note that Paul lists “love” as the very first of the fruits of the Spirit. If we are to live our lives “rooted and grounded in love”, we can only do so if we try to “live by the Spirit”. Jesus himself lived his life “by the Spirit”, and so Jesus’ own teaching and example will help us to see what this might mean as we meet the challenges we face in our day to day lives.

So, is it realistically possible for us to live lives grounded in love? Yes, it is - but only if we take our lead and inspiration from Jesus himself.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes it’s hard to put love at the centre of our lives;
fill us your Holy Spirit, and in the power of your Spirit,
bring forth the fruit of love in our lives. Amen.
18 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Friday 16th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week we have been thinking about how we might live our lives “rooted and grounded in love.”

I wonder if you have been thinking to yourself: this is all very well in theory, but it’s very hard in practice! Sometimes it’s hard to feel particularly loving towards someone else, especially if they have hurt us, or if we’re feeling tired or worried. Is it really possible for us ground our lives in love?

Over the last few days, I have quoted some passages from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Today I wish to refer to another of Paul’s letters, which is known as the Letter to the Galatians. The Galatians were people who lived in Galatia, in modern day Turkey.

In chapter 5 of his letter to the Galatians, Paul lists what he terms the “fruit of the Spirit”. The “fruit of the Spirit” is as follows: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The “fruit of the Spirit” are the result of trying to “live by the Spirit”.

What does this mean? It means that we should try to be guided by God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Holy Spirit is God himself. In the traditional language of Christian theology, God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit: these are the three “persons” of the Holy Trinity. Each “person” is fully God, and together the three “persons” form a community of perfect love. In other words, to “live by the Spirit” is to live by love, because God is love.

Note that Paul lists “love” as the very first of the fruits of the Spirit. If we are to live our lives “rooted and grounded in love”, we can only do so if we try to “live by the Spirit”. Jesus himself lived his life “by the Spirit”, and so Jesus’ own teaching and example will help us to see what this might mean as we meet the challenges we face in our day to day lives.

So, is it realistically possible for us to live lives grounded in love? Yes, it is - but only if we take our lead and inspiration from Jesus himself.

Prayer for Today

Lord, sometimes it’s hard to put love at the centre of our lives;
fill us your Holy Spirit, and in the power of your Spirit,
bring forth the fruit of love in our lives. Amen.
19 April 2021Rector’s Reflections Monday 19th April 2021

Thought for Today

Have you ever been challenged by some about your Christian faith? If someone were to ask you why you bother being a Christian, what might you say?

I thought this week I would write a short series of reflections on some of the answers we might give to others who ask us about our Christian faith. The general term for this is Christian Apologetics. The word “apologetics” is a bit confusing. It’s nothing about being “apologetic” for what we believe. What it means is that we should be prepared to explain to others why we believe what we do believe, and we should be able to do so in a way which is rational and respectful of other beliefs and other religions.

I’m going to start the series with honesty and humility. For many people, the foundation of the Christian faith is an awareness of our own failings as human beings. This is about looking at ourselves and our world with honesty and humility. It’s about admitting that we don’t know all the answers, and that sometimes we mess things up. Occasionally, we deliberately do something we know is wrong. But perhaps more often, we try to do something for the best, but actually it turns out for the worse. Good deeds sometimes have unintended consequences.

The Christian faith acknowledges that human beings aren’t perfect. Furthermore, it says that this imperfection lies at the heart of human nature, so you can’t get rid of it through social engineering or by creating the perfect market. Human beings can certainly be encouraged and enabled to act in better ways, but they can’t be made perfect.

In short, human beings are sinners. God loves us, nonetheless, and God wants us to take care better care of ourselves, our communities, and our world. But if we think we can do this in our own strength, we’re deceiving ourselves. And if we are running a country and think we don’t need God because we know all the answers, things will probably turn out very badly indeed.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we know that honesty and humility lie at the heart of the Christian faith,
but sometimes we need to be reminded of this;
help us to be honest about our own failings and the things we don’t know,
and help us to be humble in our relations with one another. Amen.
20 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Tuesday 20th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week I am writing a short series of reflections on some of the answers which we might give to others who ask about our Christian faith. Yesterday, I wrote about how one of the foundations of the Christian life is an awareness of the fact that human beings aren’t perfect. We don’t know everything and sometimes we do bad things. In short, human beings are sinners – sinners loved and forgiven by God, but sinners none the less.

But of course, there is so much more to the Christian faith. There are various core beliefs which have formed the heart of the Christian faith since earliest times, often summarised in short statements known as Creeds. One of the best known is the Nicene Creed, from the 4th century, which is still recited today.

In other words, if you’re a Christian, you can’t just believe whatever you want to believe: you have to agree to certain core beliefs, which are set out in one of the Creeds. The number of core Christian beliefs are very few, and they can be interpreted in imaginative and flexible ways. But they are there, none the less. This might seem very restrictive – why are Christians told that some opinions are correct, and some are erroneous? There are various reasons for this. To start with, Christians have felt that truth matters – we can’t live our lives simply pretending that everything is merely a matter of opinion. It might be your opinion that the moon is made from green cheese, but I’ve got news for you: it isn’t. Furthermore, all organisations need to have their agreed rules - the rules of the club, if you like. If you want to play cricket, you have to agree to abide by the rules of cricket. Indeed, abiding by the rules of a sport is an integral part of what it means to play the sport in question, and it allows the sport to take place. If you don’t like the rules, choose another sport.

The core Christian beliefs, set out in the Creeds, remind us that as Christians we are part of something bigger than ourselves: we are part of the worldwide Christian community, and our beliefs are based on the life and teachings of Jesus himself, and the teachings of the earliest disciples.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for the rich inheritance of truth which the Church has inherited;
help us to interpret this inheritance wisely,
and be open to what you might be saying to us in our own generation. Amen.
21 April 2021Rector’s Reflections: Tuesday 20th April 2021

Thought for Today

This week I am writing a short series of reflections on some of the answers which we might give to others who ask about our Christian faith. Yesterday, I wrote about how one of the foundations of the Christian life is an awareness of the fact that human beings aren’t perfect. We don’t know everything and sometimes we do bad things. In short, human beings are sinners – sinners loved and forgiven by God, but sinners none the less.

But of course, there is so much more to the Christian faith. There are various core beliefs which have formed the heart of the Christian faith since earliest times, often summarised in short statements known as Creeds. One of the best known is the Nicene Creed, from the 4th century, which is still recited today.

In other words, if you’re a Christian, you can’t just believe whatever you want to believe: you have to agree to certain core beliefs, which are set out in one of the Creeds. The number of core Christian beliefs are very few, and they can be interpreted in imaginative and flexible ways. But they are there, none the less. This might seem very restrictive – why are Christians told that some opinions are correct, and some are erroneous? There are various reasons for this. To start with, Christians have felt that truth matters – we can’t live our lives simply pretending that everything is merely a matter of opinion. It might be your opinion that the moon is made from green cheese, but I’ve got news for you: it isn’t. Furthermore, all organisations need to have their agreed rules - the rules of the club, if you like. If you want to play cricket, you have to agree to abide by the rules of cricket. Indeed, abiding by the rules of a sport is an integral part of what it means to play the sport in question, and it allows the sport to take place. If you don’t like the rules, choose another sport.

The core Christian beliefs, set out in the Creeds, remind us that as Christians we are part of something bigger than ourselves: we are part of the worldwide Christian community, and our beliefs are based on the life and teachings of Jesus himself, and the teachings of the earliest disciples.

Prayer for Today

Lord, we thank you for the rich inheritance of truth which the Church has inherited;
help us to interpret this inheritance wisely,
and be open to what you might be saying to us in our own generation. Amen.
22 April 2021
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