What the King thinks of Meghan and Harry?

Yes, you read that right, I said what does the King think about Meghan and Harry. The coverage and responses to an interview between Oprah and the Sussexes has saturated the media, followed swiftly by accusations, judgements and a resignation or two. You’ll no doubt have your own opinions, yet what does Jesus think about it all? I certainly don’t have insider information on what God thinks on this specific issue, but as we look at the Bible we see evidence of the way God feels, responds and hopes we will respond.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Romans 12:15

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way
you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

Before doing or saying anything we should show compassion. We don’t know the full story, but we know enough to respond. As Christians we can recognise the emotional and mental struggles shared and weep as we heard about the couple’s miscarriage.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ‘I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:9-11

The next thing we can do for everyone and anyone who suffers or struggles is to hold out Jesus. In whatever way our lives have been marked so far, Jesus offers us life. Not only that but Jesus offers us the love and protection of a shepherd who is willing to give up his life for his sheep. It’s easy to observe people like Harry and Meghan, those we consider privileged or well off, to make assumptions and even covet their lives. Yet life to the full is not found through anyone no matter how successful or attractive their life may seem, but only through Jesus. He is the only way to have it all. So how do we do it? How do we live like Jesus? What does he want us to do?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Matthew 22:37-39

May the Lord help us to respond compassionately to what we see and hear, may we react differently to those around us. May our response reflect the heart of God, and in doing so may we point to the life Jesus offers to all.

Successful living

What does success look like? Where does your mind take you? Do you think about financial security, health, expertise in your field or a happy family? With all our ambitions where does God fit in?

Jesus had a very different view of success or to put it another way, what it really means to be human. For Jesus the most important part of anyone’s life is their relationship with God. Jesus’ first recorded words in Mark’s gospel make it clear: 

‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’

There is good news, great news in fact, but when God comes near we need to know where we stand. We have rejected God which is why Jesus calls us all to repent. In Mark 8 Jesus frames the issue by challenging the way that we look for meaning in this world. 

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?’

Jesus makes it simple, we have a choice, we can focus on this life or on what matters, saving our soul. We can find life in Jesus, through the weakness and foolishness of the cross, and by believing be saved and embraced by God. Or we can live for the here and now, revealing that we are ashamed of Jesus. Not only will life be devoid of real and lasting purpose and joy, it will also mean forfeiting our souls. 

Jesus is kind enough to challenge us and show us what really matters in life. We can live for today and lose everything or we can embrace a different ambition, and accept a life shaped by death, humility, weakness and sacrifice.

This is the call of Lent, to examine ourselves, to take a spiritual health check and to remember the lengths that Jesus went to, that we might know life now and forever. Then we will be able to celebrate on Easter day with all of our hearts, as we see all that Jesus has done.

Do we share the family likeness

Sometimes we can over complicate things and one of the things we can feel totally mystified by is how we share and witness to Jesus. Yet if we take a familiar concept it might make things a whole lot easier.

I still remember the day when a stranger said “Are you Bill Bazely’s son? I recognised the smile.” I thought he was having me on for a second, I found it hard to believe that someone I’d never met could identify me by my smile. Yet you may have had a similar experience, with identifying you by your family likeness.  

In the Bible (John 2) we discover that Jesus once turned water into wine, and that it was because of this miracle that his disciples knew who Jesus was. It was in the abundant generosity of the miracle that they recognised the family likeness. They saw the work of God, their heavenly Father in what Jesus did. Yet it was more than just generosity, it was the way that Jesus also saved a family in the process. The disciples didn’t understand everything about Jesus, but they knew enough to see the family resemblance and put their faith in him.

How can you show that you are part of God’s family? 
How can you point to such a loving, caring, generous heavenly Father, the one who has graciously rescued us? When we remember who God is, and remember who it is we are trying to introduce to others, it isn’t so mysterious any more. Yes, we still need to be ready to explain the hope we have in Jesus as we live like our heavenly Father. Yet as we pray and seek to live like Jesus, there is every reason for people to ask who it is that makes us live like this. So as we model a godly character and seek to be generous like God, we will point people to Jesus.

Let’s pray for our neighbours, friends and family to ask us why we’re different, or to ask us about God. Once they are interested pointing them to Jesus is easy, we can invite them to read a gospel, read this blog, go to church, read a book or watch a talk. If you are interested in knowing more about the joy and generosity of God then you might like to watch this talk on Youtube.

The reality of home schooling // Article

This week I am sharing the words of the Revd Jenny Bridgman, Director of Studies for Pastoral Workers, Associate Vicar of Timperley, and mum of three primary aged children. Read on to hear her personal account of the challenges of homeschooling and the opportunity to reach out to friends, family and neighbours and “be the calming presence” they might need.

My day revolves around a whiteboard. Each morning, we copy very carefully the day’s timetable for each of the five people in our house:

9am – B Maths lesson
10am – Dad funeral, C Literacy lesson, Mum phone calls
11am – Mum meeting, E Phonics work
12 noon – Lunch
1pm – “PE”
1.30pm – Mum desk work, B Literacy lesson, E Painting, Dad meeting
3pm – Mum meeting, C “Storytime” live lesson
7pm – Mum teaching, Dad meeting, B, C E – bedtime!

It looks so orderly, but the whiteboard lies. It doesn’t tell you about the crumbs and spills, the toilet accidents and the squabbles, the meltdowns (mine, mostly) and the curveball phonecalls and the malfunctioning technology and the pressure. It doesn’t tell you that our youngest child has taken to regular toileting accidents because of her lack of routine, that the middle and eldest children cry to be in school with their friends (and that Mum and Dad are WAY too embarrassing to appear anywhere on the camera during live lessons). It doesn’t tell you about the sheer amount of Haribo needed as bribery for one sentence of writing: nor about slammed doors and frustration bubbling into anger and the 3am nightmares and the sheer endlessness of it all… You can read more here.

Maybe you could help support or pray for parents in our own church and community who are dealing with the realities of having become teachers overnight and working and living in ways that are unsustainable.

Jenny ended with these words: Through these days I am holding onto a prayer from the New Zealand Prayer Book, with the line:

It is night after a long day.
What has been done has been done;
what has not been done has not been done;
let it be.