First they came for the #christianwomen

It’s been a tough time for Canadian Christian Blogger Sarah Bessey after she started a post on Twitter called #thingsonlychristianwomenhear. For more information go to her website at http://sarahbessey.com Some of the responses have been pretty shocking. A second more positive hashtag has started #thingschristianwomenshouldhear- which I think has had slightly less impact!

I feel very blessed at the moment to be working with a largely female leadership team in a church which at one point would not have welcomed women at all in these roles. Times change and our attitudes sometimes take a bit longer to move along than we’d like. While it’s easy to point the finger at men, we ladies can be just as resistant to change.

Sometimes it’s hard for women who’ve been denied opportunities themselves to see your role positively and sometimes women who’ve spent a lifetime serving others, cannot see a way forward to putting themselves in the spotlight and can’t understand others stepping forward. Others just like hearing a male voice, or can’t imagine it being any different.

Since I’ve been working in the church recently though it’s been those women who’ve had leadership experience and success in other walks of life that have been the ones to step out and meet me on my journey. One of my informal life-coaches at the moment, herself in her 70’s and battling cancer, Mrs Marj has been a senior lecturer and run her own business and is now in charge of the church hall. She’s constantly telling me off for not believing in myself!

I think that we all have a responsibility to be good sisters to one another and be kind if someone in authority is reacting angrily, or allowing their buttons to be pressed, because really that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Changing attitudes and prejudices takes generations to achieve. We can have confidence that God himself is a feminist, as he created men and women in his image:

“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1 v27

That’s why I think when Donald Trump’s travel ban came into force, people united across religions, and ethnicities, sexual orientation and gender waving banners that quoted Niemoller, a Lutheran pastor in the second world war. They united in fear that decades of progress in building a tolerant equal society would be rolled back if Trump is allowed to play the race card against his own citizens.

Niemoller himself anti-Communist, was grudgingly in support of the Nazis when they first took office, however he quickly became a vocal opponent and survived incarceration in a concentration camp to carry on as a prominent member of the church in the 1950’s. His words were part of a speech challenging the church into political resistance, but are now used as a poem more generally. Let’s hope the parallel with the church and Donald Trump is not the same..

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

So let’s take this learning from the atrocities of the 1940’s and apply it today- how can we support and enable women to lead in our churches? Well one way might be to start praying- we know as Christians this can move mountains. Certainly blaming women themselves for being angry is not particularly constructive, more of a “calm down dear” sort of reaction!

So here’s my prayer for working women everywhere

God Our father help us as a church to support women who have responsibilities outside the home

When we care for others, we ask you make it known that you care for us deeply

Whey we can’t juggle everything to the high standards we’d like to achieve, we ask you would gently confirm that you know us better than we know ourselves

When we need to rely on others for help and support, we ask for your protection on relationships that hold everything together.

We thank you for all the people who champion our families.

Help us realise we are not alone, and can accept help gracefully. 

Show us how important the work is you’ve asked us to do, especially when it seems to get in the way of family life

When we get it wrong, help us to remain in your love, to acknowledge our sin, and to seek your forgiveness.

When others oppose or persecute us, help us to rest in your love and gain your peace and not to bear grudges or keep secrets.

When things go well, help us to celebrate and live life abundantly

We ask this in your name, for us and all our sisters 

AMEN

 

Lurking

So I’ve given up Facebook for Lent, but have actually given up posting on Facebook rather than checking it out. This is technically known as lurking. I’ve failed on a few occasions to resist the urge to press “share”, but overall I’ve found it a good discipline to self-edit my online presence a bit more than normal. I’ve never tried this before, normally I give up chocolate or biscuits and fail completely!

I’ve also just been on a silent retreat with college, where I was unable to “share” with the group my insights and thoughts and had to restrict myself to my own company. I got through it with lots of walks, reading, painting and sleep, but again it was helpful to notice how compulsive I am as an Extrovert in just sharing whatever is currently in my head on any given day!

Lurking it seems to me has some benefits. Rather than responding and sharing immediately I can think it over and reflect on what is happening. Is this me and my friends freaking out, or are we actually in the middle of something bigger that is going on. Does everyone want or need to know my political views? Maybe I should save that for Twitter?

It’s human to want to share and be part of the conversation, and in my work in the church I’ve set up a weekly drop-in so anyone who needs some company can come and have a coffee. We’ve also arranged for someone to come in and do some crafts with us after Easter, so I’m really looking forward to doing some of the stuff normally reserved for the kids!

I’ve also noticed recently how lucky I am to have the company of my family. Not always in conversation with them, (often this is really exhausting!) but like now as I write this, they are all off somewhere doing their own thing, so we are together but not really having to chat.  I think when you live alone this is the hardest part is not being quiet with anyone else. On my retreat I found the presence of my colleagues on the course really reassuring, even though we couldn’t speak to each other.

This morning at church I gave a card to lady I’m supporting who literally has noone. Her husband died at the end of last year and she has no parents, children, brothers, sisters or anyone living near her at all. It’s quite rare to meet someone in that situation, but it does happen. I have never felt so happy to give someone a mother’s day card! I can’t be with her as much as she’d like as she really would like someone as a companion 24/7 as she’s not used to being alone, but I am trying to find other people to support her, so that’s not always the case.

As a vicar, there will be a large amount of being around, rather than saying or doing much, and purposefully lurking in places where people may want a chat. In my faith journey, there’s always been times when  I’ve had to take a step back to hear from God, and part of my challenge now is to create quiet times in and amongst the madness of work, study and family life. I’m following another blogger who has just recently posted on this here.. http://lifebynaomi.com/faith/how-to-find-time-for-a-quiet-time

Right when he knew he was about to be betrayed, we hear in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus took himself to a garden and prayed through the night, so late that the disciples all fell asleep. That fervent desire to be in conversation with God, is often easier when we have an urgent request, but God really desires us to speak to him alone all the time, not just when we are after something. Jesus regularly speaks from God because he is in constant dialogue with the father.

So it’s worth doing a bit of lurking around with God, he won’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with you, and any prayer you speak will not be wasted, regardless of how daft you feel doing it. The presence of God, like that of my family and friends is often something I sense but can’t quite describe why it’s important or helpful. When I get chance to really acknowledge it, and praise him for his love, it becomes more of a conversation to treasure and remember.

This Easter I’m going to be away again at college and will miss putting up all the decorations in Holy Week and being part of my church family at that time, but I am looking forward to being free to worship God with other Christians that week, when normally I’d be with the family or at work. The more time I spend lurking with other people the more opportunity there is to give and receive God’s love, which ultimately what it’s all about.

1 John 4 v 7-8

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Knitting

So month number 2 in the process of ordination, and  life is busy as normal. School trips, parents evenings, beavers, rainbows, swimming, study, work, and play are all happening at once, as per normal, plus I’m being re-ordered through the “ordination” process. It’s fantastic and like being rebooted at the same time. I’m learning a new vocabulary of theology, meeting lots of new people, and my ability to remember simple things, or plan ahead seems to have vanished! St Luke’s in York my new church home is different and familiar, and unexpected and traditional, all at once. I’m simultaneously amazed by powerfully meeting with the Holy Spirit, and stunned by how long traditions have been maintained by people in prayerful service.

I’ve been reflecting on this and decided that God’s using different strands of my life and my experience in a new way. Isiah 43 v19 “See, I am doing a new thing!”

I’ve not seen these strands as particularly connected and he’s got some kind of overall wonderful pattern in which it’s being knitted. In January we are planning a new adventure for people with dementia, in church. I’m really excited about progressing this, as I think it will draw on my experience and connections in the statutory world and link this to my desire to share my faith. It’s quite daunting though, as normally I like to compartmentalise my life, so work is about one thing, church is about another. Now church is work, it’s all a bit odd!

I guess this is the best thing though too, because when you are in a state of “flow” as athletes and artists describe their best work, it’s generally when things are aligned and the normal barriers have been swept away. Psalm 139 always reminds me of how well God knows us, much better than we ever realise…

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

Selfies

This week has been really depressing, hearing about Orlando shootings, and the death of Jo Cox. I can’t remember really such a terrible time for ages. The shock of this has put the normal things into context, like politics, religion and all the debate about Europe. It makes me appreciate the little things that I take for granted, and those things that make me an individual. The way I feel about my husband, how the garden grows, the things I’ve seen develop in my family, my grey hair, they are all part of what makes me unique. In accepting my calling to leave my current job and move into the church full-time, I’ve had to accept that God’s calling me, not a better version of me, just plain old me.

I think the sadness I feel about Orlando, is that the guy who murdered all those young people had a conflict about who he was that was driving him to violence. I’ve been to gay nightclubs and felt uncomfortable being in the minority, but not because I thought it was something people should be ashamed of.

The man who killed Jo Cox had an opinion that led to violence. I’ve listened to lots of people talking about Brexit, but never wanted to harm them. Violence  can never be of God, as love, peace and humility have to be trademarks of anything God is saying to you. If those aspects are not there, it’s just not of God. Believing violence can be justified was the Old Testament. Jesus brings a final peace to us, that is new and scary, but ultimately different to “an eye for an eye”.

It’s fine to feel like commiting a violent act, and to feel angry. There are lots of examples of Jesus getting angry in the bible. I’m sure Jo got angry about the issues she campaigned about, but she did something constructive to make the world better, not destructive.

The beauty of God’s love is that we can all be ourselves fully in unity in his mind’s eye. He has a catalogue of selfies taken of us, and he can see it as one big picture. The radical nature of the way christianity spread, was such that even his disciples struggled to comprehend what was asked of them. Share the gospel with Gentiles who ate unclean food? That can’t be right!

I hope Jo rests in peace, and that her family are held in God’s love at this terrible time. I am still praying for the families of those who died in Orlando. I hope to see a world one day where people who are gay or straight, rich or poor, young or old, white or black can live in harmony together. As a christian I pray that faith is never a barrier for this to happen.

Galatians 3: v26-29 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Monsters Inc.

Like most people I hate hearing about domestic violence, the story running on the Archers turns my stomach. I really dread it coming on TV in and amongst a drama series I was previously really enjoying. I think it’s the shock value of someone trusted, loved and in your home, suddenly turning into a monster that is so scary; like a child in Monsters Inc. previously peacefully sleeping!

I was in an abusive relationship whilst a student and it wasn’t a long-term commitment and I managed to leave pretty quickly without a great deal of physical harm. I felt so blunderingly stupid for letting some kind of monster into my life, when in many ways I’m a clever woman.

I’ve analysed why it happened and I’m probably none the wiser, but the legacy it left me is in some ways more damaging than the shock of someone trying to control and hurt me at the time. This and other experiences of being bullied, have affected my confidence at work, created problems in my marriage, my confidence in being a parent, church life, everything.

I think that’s because an abuser will cast a seed of doubt in your mind and then see where that flourishes, and enjoy watching your confidence shrink, your independence get smaller and your need for them in your life seemingly increase. When the situation ends, that doubt can still linger. It happened to me a while ago, so I’m able to think more rationally about it now, but it’s been something that has haunted me, making me question myself and my relationship choices over and over again and almost overcompensating and putting shields up that stop me enjoying life.

One in four women are likely to experience some kind of domestic violence, and people going through a rough time financially, or with an addictions are much more likely to be at risk. For more information this is a really helpful website: 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline 0808 2000  247

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/

As a bystander it can be really difficult to know what to do to help. It’s best not to intervene though if the person (normally a woman) hasn’t asked you to, as this could put her at more risk of abuse instead. Actually physically leaving a situation can seem virtually impossible, due to not having any money, a car or childcare to make this possible. Leaving someone is the most risky time for abuse to happen. When I left my boyfriend that was when he turned violent. The best thing of course is to try and talk, but mainly listen and take seriously what the person is saying, if you witness violence you can ring the police, as it is a criminal offence.

In my faith journey, I initially thought that God would be the kind of God that sits on a cloud and judges you for picking someone  so awful in the first place, rather than the one I know now, who hates to see any one of his children be abused, attacked, humiliated, feel scared, hurt or frightened. At the time, I looked at the bible and couldn’t find anything that spoke to me about leaving a hurtful relationship, only how to be loyal and faithful as a wife.

The passage below from Corinthians, where Paul was writing to new Christians and coaching them about how to behave in this new world, shows the difference between respect that is demanded as a “right” and love that sets people free;

1 Corinthians 13 New International Version (NIV) v1-13

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

 

 

Happy Sibling Day!

I read today that this is national sibling day in the US! I don’t know if it’s official yet, but someone who like me, lost a sib in her early life, has come up with the idea, and I think it’s a good one. I like to think, that because I lost my sister when I was little, I really understood the value of having sibs growing up, although they may disagree! Especially my brother who I used to tickle mercilessly at times.

While my friends, husband and children all know me really well, it’s my brother and sister who know me “no holds barred”;  my foul moods, my tantrums, my bossiness, my doubts, my fears and my paranoia. They get to see me unfiltered, when mum and dad aren’t around, so we can swap stories about the crazy things we’ve been up to without frightening anyone. We’ve covered for each other, and had each other’s backs when things were difficult too.  I hope this will always be the case! As kids you are stuck together, and inevitable comparisons get made, but as adults we really enjoy catching up, and sharing what’s going on.

While siblings in real life are one thing, I think the main perk of being part of a church community is the additional ones you gain. Sometimes that’s a real pain, I mean you don’t get to choose who they are right!! However, I don’t think life would be as easy for me in the real world without my church family around, to encourage, support, and steer me in the right direction. Sometimes one person will receive a word from God, and someone else will interpret it, and it will be for me and my family. Other times I’ll have a picture I can share, for someone else. Often friends from church will help out with practical tasks, and invite us round as friends, when others can’t.

I don’t think it’s coincidence that Jesus appointed 12 disciples. Not 1 vice-chair, 4 directors and 7 general managers as we would have in the public sector, but 12 who shared the leadership of his ministry and all it’s demands equally. In those days, I suspect the average number of children people had wasn’t 2.4, but probably more like the TV show “Brothers and Sisters” with at least 5 anyway.

As you know, I’ve been considering ordination for ministry in the Church of England, and this journey is hopefully coming a conclusion, one way or the another in June this year. I think I’ve been seriously considering it for over 2 years and mulling it over for up to 10 years to be honest. So I think I’ve bored everyone to tears in the process who knows me well, and my brother and sister are no exception. So this blog is an apology for how long it’s taken me to get this,  to all those people who have listened, encouraged and supported. Many have said “I’ve never met a vicar before”, some have said “it’s not the most daft idea in the world”, others ” I can see you doing that”, and without naming any names “at least your not a paedo!”

I really hope I get to be ordained. If I don’t get through then I will deal with it then, and won’t be the same person anyway. It’s been a long, winding road , so no doubt there will be more twists and turns to come. I know if I am accepted I will be giving up plenty of quality time with my friends and family that i have grown up with, and that’s a real sadness for me. Weekends won’t be the same again, and Christmas and Easter, no longer nice lazy bank holiday breaks! I won’t be earning alot of money, and I’ll be on call much more than I am now. I won’t be able to hide behind a desk-job, I’ll be a visible leader.

The reason I’m going forward though is simple, that I love sharing my faith, and seeing others grow through christian fellowship. Also I think if someone turns to Christ its a more permanent and joyful ( and less bureaucratic!) way of helping them get the life they want, than supporting their health and social care needs as I’ve been doing over the last 17 years. I’m not sure the two are mutually exclusive though.I know I will be infinitely better off in many ways;

Mark 10 v29-31: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

When the tears run out

This week I’ve been mostly thinking about Happy Valley the hit UK show set in Yorkshire. I couldn’t believe the last episode was here so soon as I’ve come to look forward to the show so much. The lead character is so human, so complex I’m smitten! It’s hard to comprehend how she’s survived all the drama and how she keeps caring and smiling. 

I think we tend though to put ourselves as women in the impossible situation of either being fragile, beautiful and caring or tough, independent and streetwise. Catherine’s character seems so fully formed and all encompassing its dazzling on a mainstream tv show.

The women I’ve met like Catherine who can embrace all sides of life have sadly had their own suffering to deal with. When the tears run out they carry on and learn to live again despite the heartache.  Mary Berry also reminded me of this in her Easter show, when she mentioned they always raise a glass to her son on Easter Day who died as a teenager. There is something amazing about how as an older woman she lights up Bake off with a grace and charm which is incomparable. 

In Luke 2 v34 When Mary and Joseph took Jesus as a baby to the temple for an initiation ceremony, they were met by an old man called Simeon who immediately recognised Jesus as his saviour- when he had finished praising God he said to Jesus parents what he saw for him;

“Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.””

‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:34-35‬ ‭NLT‬‬M

This Easter let’s pray for all those parents like Mary and Joseph who’s souls have been pierced by a sword of sorrow in losing a child and thank God that there is light and life and joy  as well as suffering in this world.

Out with the old, in with the new

It seems to be the mark of a family home that you own more things than you ever thought possible. I seem to spend most of my time looking for lost teddys, whilst climbing over piles of dolls. Trying to find a birthday card for tomorrow, whilst sorting through ones that for some reason I’ve bought but are no longer quite right. I think it’s because as the children grow up, the stuff they need changes and it’s hard to let go of the past. I’d like to think that I’m still the age I was when I became a mum, and that somehow I’ll go back to that time in my life again, even though when they were babies it was phenomenally difficult.

This year I’m on a mission to de-clutter, I don’t know where to start, so I have begun by ditching about 20 spoons for calpol and some gooey sweets left over from Halloween. I’ve lost weight, so might even get rid of some clothes I’ve not worn for at least 5 years. We recently finished our huge pot of sudacrem, so that’s gone too after living with us for about 7 years! Next on my list is the 11 pots of bubbles scattered round the house, and the draw full of pens for colouring which would easily support a small junior school.

If anyone needs four plastic covers for a Blackberry Curve, please do get in touch.

When I’m thinking about my faith, I think it helps to move other things out of the way. It’s like a mental declutter. Reading, colouring, sudoko, crosswords, getting some exercise, or having a change from the normal routine, all seem to help with this.

This January, my new routine seems to be reading the bible more often. If you are a Christian considering ordination, it’s kind of important. I’m following a bible course through our house group and learning alot.  I’d recommend it if you’ve got a bit stale or or bored, cyncial or otherwise drifted away from the bible..  http://www.thebiblecourse.org/

The more I learn about it, the more I realise I don’t know much about the world’s best selling book. It wasn’t written for us, as it was written so long ago, in a different culture, and uses metaphors and analogies that were much more relevant in those times, but there are plenty of things in the bible which are really powerful and relevant today. When I was on a study session, I once had a picture once of a shadow theatre, which is trying to mimic real life, but isn’t a carbon copy or manual, it’s more creative and mysterious. I think the bible can be like that at times … if we saw God how he really is, it would probably blow our minds.

In a fit of biblical enthusiasm I’ve also signed up to do a study course on Youversion, where I can read the whole bible in one year…. https://www.youversion.com .. so far so good, as it makes a change from playing Candycrush!

 

Glad tidings!

One of the down sides of being a parent it seems to me is the constant list of things you are suddenly supposed to be good at- climbing trees, baking, making food, creating things with bits of paper, entertaining other kids, making stories sound exciting, and patiently listening to lots of stories about things you are not interested in without sounding bored. I think that’s why we compare ourselves to each other too much. You think, if I was more like that mum then I could organise a fundraiser, or if I was more like that mum, I’d be great at cooking and the list goes on. I don’t remember doing this particularly before I was a parent, but I’m sure I did a bit.

Basically envy is the only one of the seven deadly sins that isn’t all that much fun. It’s easy to let your schadenfreude about other people’s sorrows make you think more positively about your own life, or to be secretly thrilled when someone you didn’t get along with, turns out to have problems. It’s harder to be thrilled for someone who got a promotion instead of you..

I did a prayer tonight with one of my children and listed all the things we have to be thankful for, they responded with, well mummy you’ve missed lots of things out! I think that’s probably the case most of the time.

Christmas is all about the opposite of this, wishing others well. Celebrating the joy in the world, not just the bits that affect us. Giving generously and sharing our lives is also a good way to enjoy ourselves too. Feeling miserable about someone else’s achievements isn’t a great place to be. Spending time in contemplation alone, whether following mindfulness or meditation or prayer I find a really good antidote to this at any time of year, but I’m especially conscious of it at Christmas. Writing is one way that helps me.

So a very happy Christmas to anyone who’s ever read this blog, and thank you so much for all your glad tidings over the last few years, it’s meant alot to me that people keep reading this. I am praying the joy and happiness of the arrival of the baby Jesus will in some way remind us all of the good things in  our lives, and help share the blessings out in some way.

 

 

Easter

In our house Easter is a welcome break from school and work, and family time. This year we are going to see alot of family as there is a reunion happening for my Granny Buster’s 100th birthday on Easter Monday.Granny is in the pretty advanced stages of dementia, so it’s unlikely she will come, or if she does will recognise any of us. It seems fitting though that as we are celebrating her 100 year life, and probably the end of her life in the next few years,  the church is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of a new religion, social movement and new understanding of how God works.

The idea of life after death I think is tricky to accept, but as a Christian I’ve had some glimpses of this, which make me believe it does exist. I pray that Granny will be at peace when she dies, and is released from her current ill-health.  I think when the disciples met with Jesus on the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday, they would have really believed in life after death for the first time. The only difference is they didn’t realise it was him to start with, so he must have appeared either different looking or in a way that didn’t instantly mark him out to them. It was through his actions, his words and his manner with them that they knew who it was. If you have lost someone, it’s their touch, their presence and their words that you miss.

As a child I really couldn’t understand why Jesus had to die, why the world would hate something so positive. In his brief 3 years teaching, people were cured from ill-health, demons driven out, hope restored. It has to be a political issue I think, that the establishment were threatened by his message of peace and hope, and that it was almost too good to be true.

Another event taking place this Easter..  My cousin Hamish’s daughter Mia has Batten Disease, which is a terminal illness, and rather than just trying to get by, they are campaigning to raise awareness. This year on March 31 they are asking people to bounce for batten and repost their photos on twitter with #bounce4batten (for more information go to www.bounce4batten.com) I like the campaign, as it’s a celebration of life, rather than focusing on death, and I think this is part of the message of Easter. While it’s hard to understand why God allows bad things to happen, why children have to die, it’s also possible to focus on the hope of a life lived, and the essence of that person living on in heaven.