Having compassion

I live in a rural middle class village. That’s not to say there are no poorer areas, there are of course, but mostly it’s an affluent village. Many residents commute to the city, on the more rural fringes are some very large houses with lots of land & a few even have helicopter pads!
And I love living here. There is a real sense of community, a lovely village school and an even better pub ;)

The thing I find frustrating is that there are people here, who in the most part want for nothing, they have good salaries (more than good), wives do not have to work, they have horses and land and hunter wellies… ;) But along with that comes a level of judgement. Now I do not wish to be judging them in saying this, because then I come down to that level, I just am trying to paint a picture. That it seems in a large part, (thankfully, there are exceptions to this of course) that the more well off people are, the more those people comment on those around them. Or even the more they ignore the needs of those around them, becoming self absorbed with ones own life. Please don’t hear me condmening them for that, we all have times in our lives when things overtake us, but I would just love to see compassion being the first thing that affects peoples judgement of others.

For some time I have felt called to people worse off than myself, broken people, those in pain, or suffering, but I just don’t know where to start. I have friends who run various projects in a nearby city and could very easily offer to go and help them. But at the same time, whilst our village may not have heroin addicts on every corner, or high numbers of homeless, there are still those in need, and I feel the need to start here.

Just last night in prayer, I felt God reminding me of this, and then this morning I looked in my daily prayer book (given to me by my Nan) and this line stood out from todays prayer:

….that I may help the succourless and comfort the comfortless, Oh my dear Lord, pardon me for the neglect of this duty and make me to redeem the time….

So my prayer for this year is that God will use me to reach those in need in my neighbourhood, that compassion and kindness will be the underlying sentiments in all those who live and work here.

I read this from Robb @changingworship this morning, via the Big Bible Project. Great story of the church showing compassion to one in need. Well worth a read!

I had a brief online ‘chat’ with Robb this morning and that old fave from St Francis of Assisi was mentioned:
Preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary.

Might be a cliche, but how true it is. As Christians we are all called to represent Christ and that doesn’t just mean in word. Robb said this morning: ‘Many tell the world it is wrong without offering a good model for how it can be right’ and how right he is. It’s all very well me noting the judgemental attitudes in this place but what am I offering in its place? What is needed is a catalyst to enable compassion and kindess to overcome the negativity.

and that catalyst is Jesus.

So where I start is by being Jesus to those around me.

Christingle: Christmas in pics

Just a quick pic today, of the beautiful chapel at my sons school, for todays Christingle service. I have never been to a Christingle before (sheltered..) and it was just lovely…. and the chapel beautifully decorated too.

I may not be able to post tomorrow, so may I wish you all a very happy and blessed Christmas.

Christmas in Pics: gingerbread house :)

No Christmas is complete without gingerbread! My youngest made this from a  kit we bought at the school fair. And it kind of reminds me of Christmas…

 It was all planned out, pieces made and put in place, but it didn’t quite fit together right, partly from lack of patience and partly because it wasn’t exactly cut out right. It took far longer to put together than initially thought and once done it is rather wonky but still lovely. It is of course comnpletely over the top, decorated to excess, but with love and with lots of sweets…. But when it comes to the eating, it is delicious and fun :)  not sure the analogy works 100% but hopefully you get where I am heading…. ;)

Day 12: Christmas in pics: vegging out

First day of the school hols… Lie in, time for quiet time while kids have some telly and not so stressed about bedtimes… Tonight we had veg out story time in front of the fire. love it :)

In this season where God is teaching me about rest, being still and so on, one thing I am enjoying so much more is being a mum. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it before, but just having more time to ‘be’ with them is just fantastic. So often I have been in a hurry to get them out the door or off to school or out to an appointment. mostly because I haven’t allowed enough time, or I have to be at work. I am sure that is why they are so unconcerend about time and schedules, they have been rebelling against my being in a hurry!

My son made us a Christmas card at school this year, which came in the post via his teacher. In it they had obviously been asked to write about what they wanted to give their parents if they could choose anything. he wrote this:

If money was no object, I would give Mummy and Daddy peace because they work so hard and I would like them to relax.

blub central….

That was about the final straw… If I didn’t get the message before, via God, he certainly made sure I did through my son!

Day 11: The Nativity/Panto

So Today was the day of the panto, or nativity, or carol concert, whatever you want to call it… It was a great success! Thankfully. After just one full rehearsal, some initial worries about not being reverential enough and a very early start this morning :)

The pic below is our worship leaders daughter singing a solo of Away in a Manger. She’s just 5 years old and sang to the whole church! What a star… :)

One more service to go tonight (for which I have done precisely no preparation, so am completely relying on the Holy Spirit,) and then I can relax a bit.

Bring on Christmas!!

Day 10: Church Set Up

A vid today instead of a photo!

So, I have mentioned before that our church meets in a Sports Hall, rather than a church building. This is because it began as a Fresh Expression in someone’s living room and it has graduated through the years to hiring a school.. This little vid gives a small snapshot of what has to be set up every Sunday morning, usually with people meeting from 8am to set up for a 10.30 service.
Tomorrow we are having a panto (sort of mixed with a nativity), which means we have extra set up – 2 screens rather than one, 2 stages, a choir, larger band, all of which means lots of extra mikes/speakers/wires….. So we set up today instead. It’s at times like these I wish we had our own  building…
Sorry about the stupid commentary…

Day 9: The Nativity

Missed yesterday so 2 pics today!

This is our nativity set. Made by my lovely friend who is an artist and sculptor. It was actually made as a maquette for a larger version which was for our then village church (which incidentally is still used today and spends all year under the altar, only to be revealed at Christmas!)

She gave it to my daughter (her Goddaughter) years ago and so it comes out every year. I love it because it is so simple, just the natural colour of the clay and yet so expressive. I love Joseph’s expression, looking rather weary! perhaps he is wondering what lies ahead…
I also love the little shepherd boy, pointing at the baby in the crib.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the hype, presents, entertaining and pressures of Christmas, so it’s good to have this as a daily reminder of why we are doing it all!

Day 8: Christmas in pics: The Tree

Well I am calling this ‘Christmas in pics’, and there haven’t been many Christmas ones yet, so here is our tree. It has a story of perseverance behind it. It took me 2 hours just to get the thing in the holder… What did I learn from this experience? What little jewel can I share with you, my readers?

I learned not to bodge it (and not to be so bloomin’ impatient). I learned that I am so determined I refuse to be beaten (this probably has something to do with what I wrote earlier about being ill…)

In the end I had to go buy a new tree holder, which was the best £16.99 I ever spent (!) and then took me a total of 5 mins to put the tree up….

My yoke is easy..

So, I have said a few times that God has been teaching me about rest recently. Today I was really struck by this passage in Mathew 11:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I was spending some time just thinking about it this morning. It was like I could almost picture Jesus saying it. Earlier in the passage it says he was visiting the towns in Galilee and I just imagined him in a rural town surrounded by all that entails, maybe there are farm animals, people heading out to the fields and so on. In my imaginings he looks out to a nearby cow, with a yoke on (maybe on its way to the fields with its owner) and says . MY yoke is easy (perhaps almost jokingly, not like the cows..), MY burden (looking at the load on the cow) is light…

This passage is quoted so much, and sometimes it really doesn’t seem like being a Christian is a particularly easy or light load. Sometimes the yoke seems pretty difficult, not easy at all. When I first got ill, it was within 2 weeks of praying the sinners prayer and giving my life to Jesus. Was that a coincidence? perhaps, but I have always had this thought that the devil would have been pretty pissed after that, so maybe he threw his worst at me. I don’t know, perhaps that is refusing to recognise where I was in my life. Throughout the last 2 years I have found it pretty burdensome being ill. I guess to a certain extent I think I have blamed God; not for being ill, but for not healing me certainly. I have fought the illness all the way, refusing to give in to it. It has not been an easy yoke to wear that’s for sure. But either way I know that God has been using this illness to teach me about Him and about resting in Him. And, that his burden IS light and his yoke IS easy.
And when I imagine this passage I imagine Jesus stressing the ‘my’ parts. Almost emphasising that burdens and yokes that are not easy and light are not of him. That if we are finding things a heavy burden, maybe we need to look at that burden – is it really of God? Are we carrying it the way he intended? if it were packed better or loaded in a different way, would it be easier? would it be as he intended? Or maybe we just need to let him lighten the load…   I think my yoke has not been easy because I have been fighting it.  Psalm 32 says this:

8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.

Well I have most definitely been that mule, needing a bit and bridle… ;) so no wonder the yoke has not been easy! I think what I realise now is that the load is not of him, the illness is not something God gave me, but perhaps the yoke is, perhaps if I just allow the yoke to gently guide me, then I will find the burden easier to carry, perhaps it will even get lighter. So that’s where I am now. Ready to be guided, ready to listen, ready to accept that whatever it is I am trying to get to right now, is probably not where God wants me. And I don’t think that decision has come soon enough!!