Gloomy Introduction (by Rachel)
It is baked beans on toast week in our house. The Christmas goodies have been eaten; the groceries are running low. The expenses and excesses of Christmas take their toll around about now. Back in 2005, the austerity measures we impose upon ourselves and our families, along with the weather, the darkness (and the fact that most New Year’s resolutions have been broken) led Dr Cliff Arnall, to term the third Monday in January – January 16th this year – Blue Monday. His supposedly light-hearted formula to calculate the most depressing day of the year is something I try to ignore (and I am too busy to consider a duvet day when my daughter’s birthday falls the day after, on Blue Monday+1).
But you can’t get away from it. Christmas bills roll in. It is always dark. The half-completed lego sets end up under your freezing cold feet for the hundredth time. Somebody has a bug. You are snappy and short with people and you work twice as hard to catch up at work and cover for sick colleagues. Worse still, you become more selfish. A survival instinct kicks in and you just want to shut the door, put the fire on and watch Sherlock.
You know what I’m going to say next. Be a friend. Open the door. Share your popcorn. Well, the good thing is, I am not going to say anything else, Rhiannon is! Here is something she wrote after Christmas. I should really have posted it sooner, but I can pretend it was all perfectly timed because, actually, it is the perfect time to remind ourselves of these wise words. So, over to Rhiannon (and Her Majesty):
Uplifting Article (by Rhiannon)
After the turkey had been eaten, the crackers pulled and the laughing died down (a little) we stopped to listen to the Queen’s speech as tradition dictates.
One bit pulled at my heart and felt very ‘Activate’. ‘…thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine’.
Quotes from the Queen’s Speech 2016:
… When people face a challenge they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath to find courage or strength. In fact, the word ‘inspire’ literally means ‘to breathe in’. But even with the inspiration of others, it’s understandable that we sometimes think the world’s problems are so big that we can do little to help. On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.
At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby some two thousand years ago. It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary, did not think they were important.
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.
The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows.
In the Bible, it says,
For God is good, and he loves goodness; the godly shall see his face. (Psalm 11:7)
But what is goodness and how can we do “small acts of goodness”?
In the thesaurus, ‘goodness’ has may synonyms: friendliness, generosity, goodwill, grace, honesty, kindness, mercy, rightness, honour, kindheartedness and many more.
It reads a little like the fruit of the spirit:
But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness..(Galatians 5:22)
How often has a small act of kindness/goodness brightened my day or made me feel special? From a friend bringing flowers, one of my children making me a cup of tea (without me asking), the park run volunteers clapping me as I slowly jog by at the back of the race, the smile and hug from someone when they know it’s a tough day or the quick timely text of a friend as they celebrate your success. In a world where we are bombarded with the terrible, horrible and wicked through every form of media, I think we need to look closer to home, where we can still see many acts of kindness. You just have to look closely. and they can be “bigger than we imagine” if we do the “small things in great love”.
Here’s what I mean:
The Fruit of the Spirit
This took me back to January 2016. I went to my life group and we decided to go through the Fruit of the Spirit. The first task was to remember them all (without looking them up). One of my life group members knew a song from Sunday school and surprised us by singing them to us (never underestimate the power of the old Sunday School songs). We went through them over a few weeks. At the end, the challenge was issued to choose one to work on though your life over the coming year. To be perfectly honest, I often forgot to keep my challenge. I also twice changed my ‘fruit’ to work on because the one I had was tough and I kept failing. But we periodically reminded ourselves throughout the year, and yes, I’ve made progress. I still haven’t overcome all my issues in that area, but if we hadn’t started we would have seen no change at all.
And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up. Psalm 34:14
Turn from all known sin and spend your time in doing good. Try to live in peace with everyone; work hard at it. Colossians 3:12-14
This Christmas I asked a few members of my family 2 questions:
What do you want to pick up in 2017?
What do you want to lay down?
I think I’m gong to add one more question:
What small acts of goodness can you do this year?