Communion a pastoral moment in deep prayer:

There is for me a deeply profound moment that comes as I am about to place bread into the empty hands of a brother or sister, everyone’s hands are different – I notice that.

Everyone’s experiences are different too – I often know something of those life experiences as well, as I place the bread (the body of Christ) into the hands (cupped into a cradle) I say a silent prayer that Christ’s will be done in this person’s life. This is for me, the supreme moment of pastoral ministry

Redundancy

Redundancy is a word none of us want to hear, yet for many of us it’s a reality we are going to have to face.

When my boss meets with me to discuss the redundancy and the future of the organisation in another building, another phase of its operation, it hurts a great deal.

Knowing I’m not going to be involved in shaping it’s future, I’m no longer needed, it feels as if with each meeting a plaster is ripped off, I’m stabbed and the plaster is put back on.

I am told that the prison population contains a worrying number of young talented football players who have been nurtured by a premier league club but, because of injury or the stiff competition, have been “let go”. The impact of losing a future that has been one’s intense desire for as long as you can remember is devastating. The football life and the military life alike generate the most unbelievably intense passion. These are not just jobs; they amount to an identity, an investment of our being, our state of mind.

Passion for one’s occupation is not wrong. To be fulfilled in work is one of God’s blessings. To find your vocation in life is to discover and be able to use and develop the gifts that God has given you by his divine grace.

Where I work there is a tangible sense of bereavement, the spark has vanished and heartbeat is faint, There have been tears, even wails of anguish. The loss of one’s job is bad enough, there is also the loss of one’s identity some of the questions we’ve all wrestled with are:

Who am I?

Am I any good at anything?

Will I find a job?

How will I cope?

It’s not just the loss of Job, it’s the loss of community, as a group of people who work together we’ve built a community, we’ve broken bread together in the form of sharing cakes and thoughts together, we’ve shared the high’s a lows of being human with each other, yet one word has dismantled that community forever.

I can only speak through my own personal circumstances, but from what I hear from others in the same place some of what I’ve said is true for them as well.

In times of austerity unknown for at least a generation, we can perhaps be even more grateful for Jesus’ reminder that where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. Having our treasure invested in a job is never enough for a meaningful life.

Investing in the treasure of a relationship with God is the only identity that finally counts.

I end with a prayer that sums up everything I’ve said:

Loving Father, we live in a society that often values people according to the work they do and the salaries they earn.

 People without work can feel lost and discarded.

Teach us, good Lord, to value them as you do. Help us who know them to assuage their bitterness and anger. May they find peace in the knowledge of your love, and the confidence to offer themselves for retraining and employment.

 Grant them that security in your love which will enable them to bounce back from their sense of rejection, and know that delight in your providence  through which they may move forward and prosper in new-found work or in their new way of life.

War Games

I think the world is playing into ISIS/Daesh dangerous game, they are not, in my view interested in humanity, diplomacy or talks, they are purely and simply bullies, picking a fight, goading us, wanting us to retaliate so they can justify upping their game and making the world a far more dangerous place to life in.

At least during the first and second world wars we knew who our enemies were and how they would attack us, yet today we have no idea of who the enemy is, or how they will get to us, which makes things a lot more difficult.

War can never be justified, it’s just about playing this game of right and wrong, the death of another no matter their view can’t be right can it? In killing others can we truly say we are any better than those that seek to do us harm, I don’t think we can. I also agree we can’t sit back and allow this evil to take hold, as I said above, talking is not on the table, in their eyes they have the truth.

I do wonder if this isn’t the fruits of something far bigger than we imagine, we need to have a greater understanding of those involved, what makes them believe what they are doing is right, is the truth, if we can get a hold of this then we might be able to disrupt them and cause them to rethink – maybe this is just pie in the sky but fighting is fulling the fire of hate and in my view things can only get worse!

Lord have mercy on us all this day!

The bible – a parable of words

Parables are stories with hidden meanings, stories with depth to them, we can either merely read the surface one or dig deeper for something more powerful and amazing, I think this is true for the bible, many just skim the surface, get court up with the superficial issues, we need to dig deep and explore the true meaning behind the words.

We are in this together?

We’re in this together so the government tells us daily it seems, I’m seriously wondering if they feel if they keep saying this, not only us but they might one day truly believe this to be reality not just a pipe dream, dreamed up in some swanky wine bar which is patronised by the elite of society!

We are in this together – The royal family, great big palaces, full of nice things that sparkle and glitter, ornate statues, fine paintings, the best food, excellent health care, huge amount of protection in case someone dares to use them as shooting practice, little understanding of real life lead by us little people. I see a huge amount of cost cutting which could be done here, England is falling apart around our ears yet the royals seem to be going on as normal, no sense of them being in this mess with us – is there?

We are in this together – The fat cats of the business and voluntary sector, wage packets that are bursting. Have you ever heard of a CEO of a company or charity ever say ‘I’m willing to take a wage cut’ if it means many of my loyal staff get to keep their jobs, no, you haven’t because it’s pule greed, want, want and bugger everyone else as long as I’m OK and can life in the world I’m used to living in, the little people don’t really matter to me, they are an ends to meet my need, at least that’s what it seems to me!

We are in this together – Even religion in this land wants more and isn’t willing to give anything. Look at the amount of land and property religious institutions hold and gather up vast amounts of money to hoard away for what, a rainy day, well it’s pouring here, want to get the money out, I doubt it! I know of a church that has many thousands of pounds hoarded away, yet insists on being poor and needing more money to keep going, having over seventy grand in the bank does not make you poor in my book.

The good old Archbishop of Canterbury got on his moral high ground and spoke out about the companies that loan out money to the poorest in society then bleeds them even dryer with the repayment interest on top of the loan, yet it was later uncovered that the church of England had in fact brought some shares in said loan company and made a tidy bit of money from it, funny how the church has gone very quiet on this matter now! The church is supposed to be there for those on the margins, to care and support as Christ who it reports to follow would be doing, in the bible it talks about the evil of money but the church seems to love the stuff, can’t get enough of it! The church needs to love people more than it loves its money, buildings and structures!

We are in this together – The government well I don’t think I need to say much, rich, and public school educated kids, telling us we’ve never had it so good, maybe for them as they themselves take the rich pickings of a dying world, leaving us little people with the bare bones of a society!

We are in this together – really?

How do we solve the refugee/asylum seeker problem?

Firstly we need to stop seeing these people who are refugees/ asylum seekers as that, they are first and foremost ‘human’ like us, just the same as us, we need to treat these people as we’d like to be treated, with dignity and respect.

Many of these people have seen shocking scenes first hand, other have left behind family and friends some of which they may never see again.

Personally I’d find it hard to suddenly up sticks leave behind those I love and care for and risk my life to travel to a new country and culture and attempt to rebuild my life there, face it would you be willing to do this, whatever these people have faced can’t be good can it?

What I find worrying is that our response is so blinkered that all we can think of is building higher fences. Keeping those who need our help out, worrying about what they might do to us when they come – come on look at their faces, they are scared we have to help, somehow don we?

Imagine the Good Samaritan saying “Sorry, we are going through a time of austerity, I can’t help.”

Maybe though we have to go even further, as Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’re falling in.” I’m not suggesting another war, they don’t work, they just build up more strive and anger, we don’t need more of that in the world, but we do need more peace.

I think we need to find ways to work within other cultures, not as the worlds police, saying what’s right and wrong, the world is not that black and white, we need to listen and discuss and work together to build peace so that in the next generation we won’t need to find homes for those people displaced.

Until that day comes we need to find ways to allow those in trouble and need to find a safe place to live find ways to heal then in the future maybe return home and become part of the solution!

Being open to the will of society or dictating to society is a thin line

Over the last few years I’ve noticed a trend towards so called opening up decision making so that society can have an input into change, sounds great, I’m all for this but are we really being given the opportunities to   effect change, or are we being hoodwinked into a sort of dictatorship which on one hand is giving us a say yet also giving us the answer that is required, no other option is ever given any credence, we are either told, that’s not the will of God or that’s not the real option of the people, here are a couple of examples:

  1. Election of Women to be ordained as Bishops in the church of EnglandThe church stated that it felt a movement of the Holy Spirit to allow women to become Bishops in the church of England, the church spent a great deal of time in prayer then followed this by a vote, the vote result come back as a ‘No’ to the idea. Soon afterwards the church said that it didn’t feel the vote was the true movement of the Holy Spirit and that the question being asked would be reworded and at the following General Synod (the parliament of the church) the vote would be counted again!

The following year  the church re-voted on the proposition  of women bishops and guess what, the vote was ‘Yes’ – I ask the question why, why did the vote change, why wasn’t the first vote the move of the Spirit, isn’t this type of tactic making God in our own imagine – (i.e. God thinks the same way as me)  I’m not for one moment saying I’m anti Women in the church but it does worry me the church says it listens to God but maybe God’s not answering the way we think God should, therefore we ignore God and do what we think God really means – dangerous!

  1. Scotland independence from England

Alex Salmon said this was the most important vote for the Scottish people, the vote would never happen again within the living memory of this generation.

Mr Salmon and others in Scotland really went to down to achieve a Yes vote and make him the first Prime Minister of Scotland, they all felt this was the will of the people, the people wanted, needed independence for England, it was going to happen and happen at the vote, sadly for Mr Salmon the people voted no. Mr Salmon resigned the same day as the vote was announced; he was a defeated man, the independence idea was dropped for another generation, or so we thought?

Within a year of the vote the new first minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon announced that she now felt it time to ask the question again, the question which we were first told would not be asked again within the life time of this generation, Mrs Sturgeon said she would not go for a vote until she was sure the answer would be Yes!

I wonder why she thinks she will ever know beyond doubt the will of the people, people are quirky individuals, just because they say ‘yeah I’ll vote for you dude’ does not mean anything, it’s a ploy to get you off their door step. Scotland have asked the independence question and voted no, I can’t see any reason to ask again unless it’s more of an ego trip on Mrs Sturgeon’s part, hey Salmon I got the Yes, so go me!

If the structure of society wants its people to vote then it needs to listen to what the people are saying and allow it to say what it thinks and accept it!

It’s over to you know what are your thoughts?