Baldrick or Beloved?

Although it might seem like old news, I was delighted that Tony Robinson was given a knighthood for his work in politics and in the public arena. It also made me smile when I think of Tony Robinson playing Baldrick in Blackadder. I love that programme, with Baldrick and his ‘cunning plan’, love of turnips, and clueless nature which often made me laugh out loud.

Baldrick, who was valued less than a garden slug (he would like to eat them – hmmm yummy), was often undermined. I can’t help think that most of us have  Baldrick-type tendencies and feel as though we are pretty worthless. The Bible tells us something different as it speaks of God who honours us, who loves us, and says that we are precious in His eyes (Isaiah 43). Jesus views us very differently to how we feel about ourselves, and what we think others say about us. Jesus is not like Edmund Blackadder.

There is a wonderful song we have been singing quite often in Chapel in the last few weeks:

‘I will change your name,

You shall no longer be called

Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid.

I will change your name.

Your new name shall be,

Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one;

Faithfulness, friend of God,

One who seeks My face.’ [D.J. Butler]

God has a marvellous plan, which is far from cunning, that in Christ we are new people. In fact, we are elevated to being heirs with Christ, with all the privileges as well as the responsibilities that go with that. For me, it is a lifetime journey to fully understand that I no longer have a ‘Baldrick status’ but a ‘Beloved status’. Yet it is in this truth that I am to live and move have my being.

As Brennan Manning wrote: ‘Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.’

Life is too short for bad coffee…

What has your experience been of coffee (and refreshments in general) after a church service?

I am glad to say that church communities are waking up to the truth that good coffee is not just peripheral to their life together, a sort of tagged on extra, but says something important about valuing people.

I wonder if it is too bold to say that good coffee is as important as an inspiring and thought-provoking sermon. The smell of percolating coffee is inviting and the aroma is as enjoyable as the drinking.

As I said, decent coffee at the beginning or end of the service, is saying an important truth about how we value people. When you go to places and you are offered a weak, instant coffee in a plastic cup, which is almost impossible to hold, with rich tea biscuits (and then with a little bowl asking for a donation) – what are we saying?

When we moved to Scargill to begin this adventure one of the first things I decided is that we were going to have decent coffee. This was not just for my own benefit, but was hopefully saying something important to our guests: they matter. Being generous with the quality of our refreshments reflects God’s generosity to us. God is not stingy! He wishes the best for his people and of course good refreshments also show our heart of hospitality.

Jesus shows us what our gracious God is like. In fact, Jesus could only do what he saw his Father doing (John 5 v17) and we see a God who gives abundantly in turning water into wine (900 bottles of the stuff, and the best). We see how Jesus treats people with respect. Jesus treats as first class citizens those who are particularly broken or forgotten by society, and we as his followers, who share his generosity and love of people, are called to do the same. And so, even the coffee matters!

This, of course, can be Fair Trade or Rain Forest Alliance certified which will make the experience of coffee drinking even better.