Seeking the truth in love

Famously, we are living in the era of ‘post-truth’ a phrase that ought to be enough to send fear into even the most courageous of hearts. Post-truth – makes it sound like ‘the truth’ doesn’t exist anymore and it some sense it doesn’t. The technological era has enabled people, groups and organisations to share whatever opinion they like and brand it as ‘news’ or ‘truth’ and share it with millions of people, who gobble it up and regurgitate it at their will. And we then take that ‘truth’ and brand ourselves with it like some flag of allegiance.

Yesterday evening, about the time Donald Trump was being sworn in as President of the USA, I was preaching to 800 or so teenagers at a local school. The theme was ‘Come Follow Me’ which struck me as particularly ironic, and in that talk I said: 

“For example, my truth is that Donald Trump is a mysoginistic, racist liar.

And yet…

women and people of colour voted for him, their truth is very different to mine…

And excuse me for getting political but we are living in a time where it is becoming more and more important for us to distinguish between the voices who are shouting out to us. The loudest or most retweeted or most viewed is not necessarily the right one. Often the quietest ones are: the most important, and the most vulnerable, and perhaps the ones telling the most truth.

Choose carefully people.”

 

A well used quote notes:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

(It is popularly attributed to Edmund Burke although no one seems to be able to prove it was actually him)

and it is a good sentiment for a time like now, where something or someone, causes such divide and has the potential to grow into what we might call evil.

But the danger in that, in feeling fuelled to do something, is in how we respond. Right now, anyone in a position of leadership, with authority and influence, has a responsibility to stand up and be a voice of truth. Not just their own brand of truth, but in a desperate seeking to see through the opinion, the spin and rhetoric and seek the actual truth. We need to model a way of living that does not spread more hate and anger but seeks to love in difference, to bring grace where there is judgment and humility where there is arrogance. And equally as important, we need to help others find their way through this mist of words.

Trump is a dangerous man – completely aside from what you think of him or his politics – just look at the way he has been able to gather the support of millions of Americans who on paper should despise him, to be where he is now. He has gone from a potential laughing stock to arguably the most powerful man in the world.

But far more than that, and here’s where I worry most, it is in how he affects his opponents. His words and his behavior have incited people to fear and hatred. And not just those with a tendency to discriminate, but actually all of us, ordinary people, who might be trying to live in love, and yet we find ourselves equally fuelled with anger and vitriol, it’s just pointed in a different direction. So how are we any different?

I’ve spent months thinking about this, about how to take a stand against the injustice that has come through the rise of Trump and Brexit, but without adding to that increasing fire of anger and hate. I, with others, started the Movement of Love and yet I am still angry and frustrated.

But. At the end of the day all I can come back to is that Jesus died for Donald Trump as much as he did for me. I am no more special than Donald Trump and if I think I am then I have missed the whole point of The Gospel (and perhaps in the wrong job).

Let us not sink to the level of those who hate, we are better than that – you are better than that, I am better than that. We were made for more. I saw singer Martyn Joseph in concert last night and he noted that there are no less kind people in the world today than there were yesterday. And that’s the thing, we all have the potential to be lovers or haters, to do acts of kindness or acts of discrimination.

Let’s choose for ourselves to be loving and kind and to bring people with us on a journey of hope for a better future.

 

Movement of Love (again)

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So I’ve been going on about this for ages I know but it seems that God is taking the whole #MovementOfLove thing to another level. So as you know I’ve been writing and preaching about this theme for a while and I have been promoted to actually do something with it. But you know I never felt it was the right time and anyway I’ve been preparing for Ordination and Curacy, and if there was ever a time not to take on something new it would be now, I have enough ‘new’ to keep me going for a while!

However earlier this week I was praying and I felt God prompting me that now was the time. Well, my reaction was not entirely positive for the reasons I just said. So I put a short line on my FB and Twitter to see if anyone might be up for joining in with it. At the same time I prayed, Lord I need a sign! I’m not normally one to do that, I’m happy to be led by prayer and prompting, but this needed more.

So, cue masses of positive feedback and support, emails from people in positions of responsibility who thought it was a good idea. Hmm, ok God…. But in a moment of ‘me of little faith’ I asked for another sign, so the following day I headed off to a Christian conference and left it in God’s hands. Mid afternoon there was a prophetic word given out that pretty much matched what I had been thinking and when I went to talk to the person who gave it after, he went into more detail and I knew I couldn’t ignore it any more. Plus by that evening I had a few people committed to helping run it and one key person in Cate Williams (Mission and Evangelism Officer for Gloucester Diocese) who was up for helping getting it all going.

So I know it’s crazy, I have enough to be doing right now, and I am well aware of time constraints and being careful but I just know God is in this and so ‘Movement of Love’ is launching Monday morning… (and yes my Training Incumbent does know about it!)

So if you want to know more, here’s the blurb below, but do sign up to the Facebook page and Twitter and please join in, the idea is to be a community where everyone inputs and everyone receives, it won’t be me and Cate running the whole thing (apart from anything else neither of us have the time for that!). The launch will be at 8.30am Monday so we’re asking people not to start sharing the page or links until then so as to create a real buzz, but for now please do like the page :)

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Movement Of Love is a new online community (launching officially Monday 4th July) for people who want to spread a message of love across our nation, to counteract the hate. It is for anyone and everyone who wants to see a difference and bring a more positive atmosphere to their communities, towns and country. We have an opportunity and a desire to speak love and life into our nation from the ground up. 

Why?

Like many, we are struggling to come to terms with what we are hearing in the news and concerned at the current levels of hate and anger in our nation. Recognising the disappointment, anger and hurt that many are expressing we realise we have a choice at this point about whether to despair, or, to hope.

We may not be able to do anything politically or change decisions that have been made but we can choose not to partner with hate, darkness and ill feeling. We can be a part of the healing of our nation’s divisions and the making of a better society.

What?

Movement Of Love is a new online community of people who want to see an attitude of love prevail across the nation. Anyone can join simply by agreeing to try and be a more loving presence in their daily lives.

The group of people who have started this off find inspiration in the Christian faith and in a passage many people will have heard read at weddings, 1 Corinthians 13, love is described as:

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

We hope that others will join us and pledge to have an attitude of love like this, impacting our nation from the ground up, regardless of their beliefs. We have set this group up for people of all faiths or none, for anyone who wants to be a part of a movement of love in our nation. We will be open and honest about our inspiration but we have no expectation that all who want to be a part of this movement share the same faith. We want and need to work together, because healing of what divides us is what this is all about. The message of God is that love is abundant, extravagant and beyond expectations. Our aim is to see more of this and less hate and bad feeling.

 

How ?

Anyone can join and we encourage you to:

  • Take the pledge: Simply agree to try and be a person of love. Sign up to the Facebook page or Twitter and join the community.
  • Put it into practice: We will be sharing ideas of things you can do to be a loving presence and we encourage you to share what you are doing, or ideas of how you can impact your community on a smaller or larger scale.
  • Get others involved: Use your networks – perhaps your school, workplace, church or organisation to share a message of love

 

What it is not!

Movement Of Love is not political and does not stand for any agenda other than sharing love and encouraging an atmosphere of love. There are plenty of places and ways to express criticism, hurt, pain, anger or strong opinions and agendas, so our aim is that this will be a community or place of peace.

 

A Movement of Love | Preach 5th June 2016

Finally back online after moving house and the horror of no wi-fi for over a week, argh!! Busy few weeks moving, leaving our church and finishing college, and I have so much to write about but for now, here’s my preach from last weekend, our last one at The Point. It’s focussed on 1 Corinthians 13 and love with a bit of my testimony thrown in…

 

A Movement of Love

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You know what I think our society needs? A movement of love.

Over the last year or so the thing I have felt God talking to me about the most is, all about loving each other, loving people. Our culture now seems to be largely formed upon what is best for ‘the self’ and yet God’s word tells us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. We seem to be doing ok with the loving ourselves bit, but what about our neighbour?

Individualism is the thing that rules us. We want what we want, and we want it now, often at the expense of others. And well, maybe you could say that’s a good thing, we won’t be lorded over by dictators or tyrants. We have freedom to act and live as we want, there is greater safety and support for the marginalised, we might say we are free to become who we were always meant to be.

But…

I feel that the more we do that the more we are isolating ourselves from each other. We have no responsibility for any other, no concern for our community or clan, no regard for our country, and yet we can feel free to tear down and criticise those who do.

Years ago people generally lived within an area, extended family were nearby, locals knew each other and looked out for each other. Now, how many of us even know who our neighbours are? I live in a tiny little rural village and here, if you are connected in, maybe through the school then you do live a bit like it once was. You walk to school and see people in the village, you get to know local characters, you chat to parents at the school gate, you have probably met the local Vicar, even if you are not a church goer. When I was injured people rallied to cook for us. When a local man dies, people gather. There is something here about respect for each other.

And yet, I know for many, they don’t know their neighbour, they don’t feel connected to their community, they don’t know what is going on locally. They just happen to live there, going in and out daily.

…o0O0o…

I wrote a while back about us living in bubbles and that’s what has happened, we live in our own individual bubbles, often unaware of the wider world, and when we do take an interest it is largely only because it might affect us.

and we love this right? we love that we get to do what we want and when we want to don’t we?

But…

There are thousands of people living and struggling every day with loneliness. Whether the elderly, isolated and perhaps less capable, stuck at home, no friends to talk to. There are thousands living daily with depression and mental illness, isolated and suffering, often alone. There are refugees in corners of the world who have lost everything and struggle daily just to live, just to feed their children. What happens to them? well now we have organisations and groups and governments to handle them right? We just palm off any sense of responsibility, or dare I say compassion, on to someone else, onto something else.

We need a movement of love.

…o0O0o…

These are our fellow human beings. In our communities, in our towns, in our villages, in our world. Because of course community means something else these days – we talk of the global community, the online community, and we need that, people need that, the lonely, isolated and suffering need that.

But how can it be that an elderly man can live in squalor and ask for help and after months is still waiting for it? How can it be that a sick woman, once with a life filled with friends and fun, is alone and isolated when she needs love the most? How can it be that a couple struggling, but desperately trying, to find work are treated as pariahs and penalised rather than supported? How can it be that troubled young people are looked upon with disdain and disrespect when they just need someone to love them.

We need a movement of love.

Of course we need organisations and bodies and support groups but above all:

we. just. need. to. love. people.

…o0O0o…

My Nan was in care home for about 5 years before she died. For the last year of her life I visited her once a week for about an hour. 1 hour a week – not much is it? Sometimes it was a chore, sometimes (often) she was very grumpy but I know she loved me visiting, just being there. In an average week she had 2 visitors – that’s 2 hours a week of just being with other people. How would you find that?

When I was out with my back injury, how many people came to see me? in 3 months – a handful.

This week I made a promise to God that if I passed any homeless people on the way to uni I would stop. I bought coffee and food for two men. And I just stopped to say Hi, ask them their names and bless them. One of them, Simon, was feeling unwell and so I offered to pray for him. When I left he gave me a smile that was full of love. Who is this man? why is he here on the street, begging, in freezing temperatures? He was once a baby, a child, how did he end up here? My heart breaks…

…o0O0o…

For goodness sake, where is our sense of community? Is it just a word we use for groups and programmes and technology? We need a movement of love that brings love and compassion back to the heart of our communities…

Ask yourself, do you know who your neighbour is? Do you know what their life is like? are there people you know who are sick and just need some human company? Do you have a relative in a care home? how often do you visit them? Do you know someone who has just had a new baby? Why not take them a meal, do some housework for them? Or just stop and talk to people. The homeless guy on the street? buy him a cuppa and ask him his name, he has a story. Make time to meet up with people for a chat, it’s so easy to overlook, we are all so busy but so vital that we do. 

It’s Valentines day, so how about we start a movement of love?

 

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