Dear Friends and Neighbours,
I hope you have returned refreshed and renewed from your summer holidays. For a number of us September marks the beginning of a new year, in a new class, in a new school, college or university or even a new career. Settling in to a new environment can be filled with opportunity and a lot of this will be down to mindset. We love being with people we love to be with, and yet new people can often open our minds to new things or help us to see familiar things differently. None of this need be a one way street either as new people are often open to learn, simply because they are somewhere that isn't that familiar.
Three guys working on a building site were too familiar with their lunchtime sandwiches. So much so, that they agreed to jump off of the building that they were working on if they had the same again the next day. At the joint funeral two of their partners were saying to each other, “If only we had known we would have gladly changed their lunch!” The third partner was struggling to get their head around any of this. Apparently, their partner used to make his own!
Jesus was a change from the norm. Armed with little more than a hammer and chisel, He challenged a lot of what was considered normal in His day. The difficulty that his people had was that He had grown up in their midst and yet what He had to say was out of this world. He had no obvious pedigree in terms of background, and the family weren't exactly known for their wealth either. And yet there was something about Him that was world changing. Humility, rather than a pushy personality, was beyond their understanding.
Mercy and pity to Jesus were and are more important than any amount of power and control. We have only to see events in Zimbabwe and Romania to see what too much power and control produces. A holiday in Romania while Nicolae Ceau?escu and his wife had power and control of that country was enlightening. Going to church with the locals, with their prayer books wrapped in newspapers, to be met by a horseshoe of uniformed officers, each of them accompanied by two members of the ‘Securitate' on leaving church, was intimidating to say the least. Encouragement and care rather than criticism and punishment is what our schools do their best to model today. My prayer is that it won't be long before this becomes the norm in the rest of society too.
It's been a long time since children from the age of 4 were used as chimney sweeps, getting on for 150 years in fact. So change can happen. In all of this change Jesus' patience, both as an attitude toward us and as a pattern of behaviour for us to adopt, has been consistent throughout. With Aesop's tale of the 'Tortoise and the Hare' in mind, sometimes the first person we have to be patient with is ourselves. It's when people have been patient with us that we have a better ability to be patient both with ourselves and others, and then we all benefit. Whatever you apply yourselves too this month, however patiently, may it bear a lot of great fruit.
With best wishes and prayers
If you have anything that you would like our village prayer group to pray for please telephone 790088 or