December 2011

Beatbox nativity

If you are looking for a fun, different version of the nativity story to play at an outreach or youth event then this is the one! A Devon vicar who used to be a professional beatboxer has produced a Youtube version of the Christmas story. He is very serious looking but the whole story is told with great rhythm and clever lyrics.

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Forgive and Forget?

This past weekend I have felt extremely challenged to deal with some personal failings. Like most of you, I have friends and family. And where there are people, there are misunderstandings, tensions and fall outs. Over a period of two days I have had to deal with two instances where I needed to apologise for something I had said/done in the past.As Christians we know we should forgive, but how often do we actually do it? These episodes caused me to think about the whole issue of forgiveness, what it means, how we can benefit from it and the damage that can be done if it is withheld. Here are some thoughts :

What is forgiveness?

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
•stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake
•no longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake)
•cancel (a debt): he proposed that their debts should be forgiven
•used in polite expressions as a request to excuse one’s foibles, ignorance, or impoliteness

All these are useful in helping us understand, yet I would like to think about forgiveness like this:
•Forgiveness means letting go of those things which hurt and damage our well being. It does not deny we were wronged (or we have wronged ourselves), rather forgiveness allows us to be free of it.
•Forgiveness has more to do with the forgiver, than the forgiven. Forgiving an offence or mistake means the offender hasn’t got away with it, rather that the forgiver chooses not be burdened by it.

What are the potential benefits of forgiving oneself?
•It provides a route for healing personal hurts
•It can free us of guilt
•It makes room for greater self worth/self esteem
•It allows for personal restoration
•It can create greater well being

What are the potential benefits of forgiveness in relationships?
•It can pave the way for a rebuilding of trust
•It allows space to share other other past hurts/shame-cleared air
•It creates an avenue for greater equality in the relationship
•It can lead to reconciliation

What damage is done if forgiveness is withheld?

For an individual:
•Overwhelming guilt
•Continual poor choices in an attempt to cover the guilt
•Reduced self esteem
•Limited potential in every area of life

For a couple:
•More arguments
•More blaming
•More unhappiness
•An inability to trust again
•An inability to put wrongs/mistakes behind
•An inability to move forwards

I’m not suggesting for one minute that forgiveness comes easily. It certainly doesn’t to me. And yet, without it, there is little hope for our future. We cannot go through life trying to avoid getting hurt, it is inevitable that we will. What matters most is how we handle that inner pain and whether we allow it to destroy our inner peace or embrace what life has to offer. Forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean forgetting, it does mean letting go of the offence and being free of it.

As Christians we are in relationship with someone who set the greatest example to us all. Through Jesus Christ our sins are forgiven. Allow God’s grace to flow through you as you forgive and let go of those hurts which keep you captive. Feel the peace that follows and enjoy the freedom of living the life God designed for you. Why not make 2012 the year you wiped the slate clean by forgiving those who have hurt you?

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Waiting for the Bus!

Last weekend as I sat waiting for my daughter in the local shopping centre, I was fortunate enough to be part of a most interesting conversation with two old ladies. Sitting right next to me, they chatted away about how pretty the Christmas decorations were, glistening and sparkling as frenzied shoppers weaved their way in and out of the shops. After a few mintues they told me that they had time to kill whilst waiting for their bus. I asked them if they had far to go.

“Oh yes, they replied and then went on to tell me they lived in a village which would take them two buses and about two hours to get there.

“You must like travelling” I responded. And again their resonse was

“Oh yes, we love it”.

Even though they must have been in their eighties, rather wobbly on their feet and somewhat bent over with the unkindness of the years, they had a lesson to teach us all. Their wrinkled expressions became animated as they revealed how they loved to visit Hull, not the most salubrious of places and certainly not somewhere one might expect two elderly ladies to want to travel three hours by three different public buses to get to. And yet, every few months, they don their most comfortable shoes, smartest coat and hat and head off on their escapade to Princess Keys in Hull. What is most remarkable is that although the journey to get there takes three hours, they only spend two hours in the shopping centre before they catch the next return bus. That’s a total of six hours on a public bus for two hours shopping! Intrigued, I asked them why they do it.

“We love to get out and about, see the countryside, look in the shops and spend time together. We’re planning to go to Eastbourne early next year.”

What a wonderful reply. They could have moaned about the state of their health, the current economical climate, and the cold weather. Instead, they had chosen to focus on what they could enjoy, where they might go and what they would do next. I decided, there and then, that I would share their tale with you as an example and an encouragement that even in old age, life can be fun, an adventure even. Despite their apparent ailments and limited mobility, they put some younger people to shame with their positive outlook and determind attitude.

As Christian woman shouldn’t we have an even greater attitude than these two. With Christ as our motivator, we have so much to be thankful for and enjoy. In him we are made whole, he gives us strength,and because of his grace we can indulge with him in the greatest love affair of all time! Even though we are surrounded by the media which portrays so much doom and gloom, why not choose to focus on our Saviour’s love instead?As the New Year approaches, perhaps you could use this story about these two remarkable old ladies to motivate you to live life to the max with Jesus Christ in 2012.

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