Amazing Grace

My sister got married this weekend and it was really a special day for our family and for her new husband’s too. There were two moments that I loved in the ceremony apart from the obvious bits of my sister looking lovely… first one was when the vicar said “snogging” which has to be a first in our local church, and the second was a song being played by Nick Cave whilst they signed the register.. which made me cry…

I don’t believe in an interventionist God

But I know, darling, that you do

But if I did I would kneel down and ask Him

Not to intervene when it came to you

Not to touch a hair on your head

To leave you as you are

And if He felt He had to direct you

Then direct you into my arms

Afterwards we went back to my family’s home for the party and it was very wet! My sister had cleverly purchased some white wellies which looked lovely with her dress, and we had a lovely dinner, and some speeches. The best woman who spoke was my new brother in law’s sister who had come over from Australia especially, it was lovely to hear her perspective and she’d been given alot of material to go on from his friends. He is one of the only grooms I know who have had both a stag and a hen do to keep all his friends happy! 

The other thing that struck me was how unfair it is that she can’t get married to her lovely partner, as it’s currently illegal in Australia for gay and lesbian couples to have any kind of marriage or civil partnership. I know how important this not just for personal but for practical reasons, as my uncle recently lost his long-term partner, and he said it was such a blessing to be able to be recognised as his next of kin in hospital, and to be able to organise the funeral and not have to get into family disputes about his partners’ property. My uncle grew up when it was illegal to be gay, and he is really reluctant to even discuss this part of his life. We have another old family friend who I think is probably very unhappily gay and having a difficult time looking forward to retirement on his own.

I mentioned this to a colleague who is very open about her sexuality and she said, “it’s not that I don’t respect other people’s religious views, it’s just I don’t understand why people don’t think it matters whether or not I get married!? I also don’t know why people don’t want me to know God? Why evangelise to everyone except gay people..!?”

I couldn’t answer this but it made me think of the lovely hymn written by the guy who campaigned to end the slave trade… “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me”.. this was also one of the hymns they chose to sing in the ceremony on Saturday. None of us can come to God without his grace, as we are all human and driven by our own issues and concerns, and none of us know his wisdom as much as we’d like to think. We must however surely recognise that he is everyone’s God, not just those who have already come to know him. There is nothing more special than someone getting to know God, and he’s always ready to listen.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:7-10”

My storage is empty and I am available to you…

I was watching a bit of property TV this week with Phil Spencer, showing people how to sell their homes. One lady had loads of stuff, and three daughters, and obviously alot of attachment to their family home. The book shelves were stacked high with books, and as she tried to get rid of them, she found herself reading each one, and remembering how she’d come to own it. Her day  job was helping people de-clutter, but obviously had her own personal belongings she’d grown attached to. 

I don’t have alot of clutter at home, but at work we are supposed to moving to a hot desking scenario, and I am quite nervous about the whole prospect of not having a drawer with loads of random things in it near me at all times.  I have also this week had issues with my email account at work, it seems that I only have to send one or two emails and my account is full. I need to delete, archive and file a whole pile of correspondence before I email anyone anything at all! I always worry that I won’t be able to find information later when I need it, or I will delete something important, or just find it difficult to process the particular email I’ve been sent and don’t want to deal with it straight away. Often I find a whole load of messages about the same topic, that I’ve not looked at, but probably feel I should one day when I’ve got more time.

Shortly afterwards I heard this song on my ipod which is one I used to sing when I was in a gospel choir. I had never before understood the lyric “My storage is empty”! However it struck me, that if we want to be open to God’s plans in our lives, having empty storage, space in our diaries, time in the day for reflection and all sorts of other challenging ways of living, seem more and more important! We need to have space for God’s influence to shape what we are doing, and we need to embrace change and disruptions to our hectic schedules.

With small children and routines, spontaneity can feel fairly limited, but one of the things I’ve learnt recently is a good parenting technique is sometimes to do the opposite of what you normally do, just to catch them out! Instead of coaxing and nagging, just walking away or tickling our son can help him get over whatever strop he’s in. Doing things differently can help any of us whatever age we are, to snap out of a particular mood or feeling or even lifestyle choices. As Albert Einstein put it… Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

 

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJznj1a8I1w&feature=related

Song lyrics:

 

You gave me my hands to reach out to men;

to show him your love and your perfect plan.

You gave me my ears. I can hear your voice so clear.

I can hear the cries of sinners, but can I wipe away their tears?

 

You gave me my voice to sing your Word;

to sing all your praises to those who’ve never heard.

But, with my eyes I see Your need, for more availability.

I see hearts that have been broken, so many people to be free.

 

Lord, I’m available to you. My will I give to You,

I’ll do what You say do. Use me Lord,

to show someone the way, and enable me to say,

my storage is empty and I am available to you.

 

Now, I’m giving back to you all the tools you gave to me –

my hands, my ears, my voice, my eyes; so You can use them as You please.

I have emptied out my cup, so that You can fill me up.

Now, I’m free and I just want to be more available to you.

 

Use me Lord,

to show someone the way, and enable me to say,

my storage is empty and I am available to you.