A View From The Bridge

A view from the bridge

My apologies to devotees of the playwright Arthur Miller. This is not an attempt at a literary review. For that you can be grateful! Instead it’s an attempt to get us not to overlook the blindingly obvious. As you negotiate each day, you come across lots of ways to get yourself thinking God- wise; that is, allowing Him to speak through the everyday events of life, and offering back something of yourself.

Over a river in a forest close to my home, there’s a bridge. When you stop and watch the river flowing beneath, you can allow yourself a minute or two to be reminded of something God has been saying to you. Often, though not exclusively, it’s about water, there’s a fair bit about water in Scripture. In fact it can be anything- some insight into situations at home, at work or among friends and fellow worshippers. The more we picture these, the more we are exposing them to God’s wisdom and scope of action. The busy world we inhabit is back there beyond the forest entrance. Here is the sacred space where God’s proportions apply, not human ones. It’s a fine opportunity for silent prayer, particularly of the listening kind. If it only makes us think bigger than what is actually before our eyes, then it is helping us to meet God and offer something of our mind and will. Therefore it’s the start and the heart of worship.

It’s a good idea to go on from the bridge along the path through the forest, keeping the ideas alive that came to mind on the bridge. On the way I see lots of ordinary things (or not a lot, depending on the season). Whether they lead me to develop my thoughts, or just offer a way to almost unwittingly receive from God without words, I’m getting different nutrients, as it were, to feed my life.

bridge.jpg

If there are worries, difficulties, blind corners ahead, and so on, that litter our lives, then here is our chance to gain peace. The more we give up, the more we get from God. He tweaks the perspective we have, and some great work is done that we or someone else may experience. Only, we have to believe, and keep trying this, because it shows we are willing. Somehow our usual surroundings start to teach us. They are not just obvious, ordinary and unchanging. And yet the most important development isn’t in how the scenery looks to us, but inside us. So, what might you put in place of the bridge? Where might your comfortable space be? Maybe a view from the bus, a view from the desk, a view from the living room, or a view from the shopping centre? You supply your own. Just keep looking to meet God in the blindingly obvious, and take the experience forward with you. Your ears shall hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30. 21).

 

Philip James

The Children’s Society

the-childrens-societyEarly in October I attended a meeting at Christchurch Rectory. Joanne Nicholson of The Children’s Society came to share with us some information re the crucial work of the Society.
Who they are; The Children’s Society has helped change children’s stories for over a century.
What do they do? They fight poverty and neglect, helping children to have a better chance in life. 
I must admit I knew very little about their work and I was very impressed by what I heard. During the afternoon I remember thinking that our congregations should hear about this as I am sure that there are those who would like to be involved in and support this vital work.
I brought away an information pack and these are available from the Society.
They have speakers who are willing to come to take Sunday services and to tell of their work.An important work happening right here in Manchester.
Some of you will probably be fully informed re this amazing work but I would encourage others,to go to their website.childrenssociety.org.uk
The Society has need of help in so many areas it would be great if our churches were able to be involved.
I am leaving you with this prayer which can be found in one of the information leaflets.
Loving God, open my heart to your children.
May my ears hear their laughing and my eyes see their hurt.
May my hands be gentle and caring, yet strong and resolute where change is needed.
May I speak so all your children, the happy and laughing and the troubled and lost, may come to know your love and justice no matter where they are.
Amen
Sylvia.
For more information, please contact the Support Care team by Email on supportercare@childrenssociety.org.uk or call 0300 303 7000

Happy Epiphany

Good Morning

If we have not had a chance to do this before today, may we wish offer you our very best wishes and our prayers prayer for a blessed 2017.

Today though is the Feast of the Epiphany.  The revelation of Jesus to the nations.  There are all kind of traditions you could try observing today if you felt up to it.  You could chalk a blessing above your front door frame, there’s a recipe available for an Epiphany cake but the one I would suggest you definitely swerve is the tradition of a bit of winter swimming in a public place which the Eastern Orthodox Christians are very fond of.  They re-enact the Baptism of Christ which we will be remembering in a more comfortable way on Sunday!

I was thinking last week about how quickly we pack up the decorations and say goodbye to Christmas and yet somehow that is when the real work of Christmas begins – the ‘incarnational’ ministry we all share to be (as) Christ in our homes, workplace and communities.

By lunchtime yesterday we had booked 10 funerals for families who had obviously had a difficult time this Christmas and yesterday we took two funerals for North Manchester General for people who either had no families or the family had relinquished the right to arrange a funeral.  Pam and Nick took the lead on these two unusual and difficult services and they did a brilliant job of it too.

At Epiphany, when we remember the wise men entering the room where Jesus lay, they continued with the thrust and theme of the Christmas story.  The God who honours Mary, Joseph and the shepherds (who have zero status and are on the very edge of society) decides that it is equally important that the rich and powerful come to see what he values.  I can’t imagine what the wise men thought as they deposited their valuable and poignant gifts but I know that they didn’t turn back and claim that it made no sense.  They saw beyond earthly status and onto something more. Pam and Nick did a bit of that yesterday as they celebrated the lives of two people who you might mistakenly judge had little by the way of status.

I pray that our ministry together in 2017 might reveal something of where God places value and, in doing so, might reveal him in a new way to the world.

Happy Epiphany and I hope to see some of you on Sunday.

Rev Eddie Roberts