New Year Prayer

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Lord , as we come to the end of 2012 ,

Attempting to break through the emotions that have held us fast during the past year

we recognise that 2012 has been filled with many experiences,

some happy

some sad,

some celebrations

and some frustrations.

We pray that as we stand on the cusp of a New Year

you would transform

our fears into opportunities

our regret into optimism

and illuminate our lives with grace, hope and love.

Amen

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Growing in Grace

ImageOne of the most wonderful, comical and I think realistic observations of teenagers growing up are in the Harry Enfield TV shows and the sketches of Kevin and Perry. Teenagers at their worst, speaking in monosyllables, teenage babble, and Kevin has a total disrespect for his parents. I can recall this programme vividly as I had a teenager at that time….who had adopted some , although not all I am glad to say traits of Kevin and his friend Perry.

Everything was an effort.. to communicate … to learn… to generally be sociable and polite.. and as for Church.. well I think it was fair to say .. it was not high on their agendas….. and being connected and having a relationship with God was like speaking another language to them

Did you know that the Bible only gives us one story and one comment on the life of Jesus from the time he was approaching the teenage years until he’s a thirty-something starting his ministry?.. Luke 2 : 41-52

He is twelve years old.. on the verge of adolescence, and he has a mind of his own… and to a young man who has his mind set on learning about God and growing in grace , he cannot see why Mary has panicked so much !!

I remember experiencing the terrible possibility of losing my grandson William… It was a couple of years ago, granted a lot younger than Jesus is supposed to have been … but I had been walking with my mum at the Lowry centre.. He was with me on moment.. then gone from my side the next.. my heart sank , then panic , then fear , then how do I explain it  to his Mum. We found him a minute later sat on a step, watching the rays of the sun through his fingers !

Teachers tell us that Children are a joy to teach , yet they also tell us of children who disturb others , and that all too often they come from Dysfunctional families … indeed the Christian church is often referred to as a dysfunctional family… with petulant teenagers, rival siblings, anxious Mum’s and judgemental Grandfathers and Grandmothers

However the key ingredients for families… is to be nurtured in God’s grace .. to be immersed in the grace that God Gives us… not the Cheap Grace that Dietrich Bonhoffer speaks about, that is  Grace which ignores discipleship, Grace that ignores the cross and Grace that does not require repentance.

To Grow in Grace means to aware of God’s goodness , to be aware of the bountiful gifts God wants to give us .. Jesus recognised this as he sat in the synagogue as a young man, he recognized God and wanted to Grow in maturity, wisdom and stature.

At the start of the New Year, and as 2013 progresses, I pray that all people grow in wisdom , surrounded by God’s Grace… what a world that would be !!

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

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Advent .. lets de-clutter !!

As Christmas approaches, the shops are full of toys and gadgets to buy and food supermarkets are stacked to overflowing … and many buy one get one free offers abound. However as Christians, this causes a dilemma. We want to celebrate the birth of  Jesus, and not to loose heart or loose the true meaning of what the babe of Bethlehem brings us.. that is

God came to dwell with us ,

God came to be a shining light ,

a great presence in our lives ,

however we have turned Christmas into a huge shopping spree, that favours those who live in some degree of wealth.

For those who live in poverty, or on the edge , Christmas can be a trying time , a time that some dread, and celebration is the last thing on their minds .In my experience Faith can be stronger when there is ‘nothing left’, by that I mean that when you are at the end of your tether…. God is still there and will never abandon you.. But for those who see success in material wealth, for those who focus on self and not the other, God has no where to dwell in their lives .

In the western world we are very fortunate , for the majority of us live in societies  than enables us to live in relative comfort, so PLEASE spare your time and money, to think of others who are not as fortunate… put an extra tin of food in your shopping and give to a food bank, help at a homeless project on Christmas day( my children still remember us doing that , and they said it was the best Christmas’s !!) , look around and see if you can help God find a home….

God did not come to palace , or an expensive luxurious home …

God came to dwell alongside us… in the mess, in the pain , in the Spiritual and Physical poverty .

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God came to dwell … so as we wait … let us make room… let us de clutter, and throw out the rubbish that accumulates, and make ready… not toys or gadgets … but build a manger in our hearts, that the Christ child may enter.