Are you feeling comfortable?

Then I will begin…

I have just returned from an inspiring couple of days at Greenbelt where Scargill were privileged to lead an act of worship. What inspired me about Greenbelt was the passion and commitment from many young people to God, and to see His Kingdom worked out on earth. Justice, peace and reconciliation are themes that run through much of Greenbelt. I was reflecting, after hearing an inspiring talk from someone a lot younger than myself, ‘where has my passion gone?’ Being passionate and angry about injustice in our society is not the prerogative of young people.  I think it is fair to say for most of us that as we get older, when life can become more comfortable, we can loss that cutting edge. Complacency can settle in. Perhaps when we get older we lose the fire within our belly that calls us to be radical and, instead of being passionate about what we do, we strive for a balanced life. Beware of balance!

Mike Yaconelli [once a Greenbelt great] wrote, ‘Balance is a dangerous, illusionary characteristic and a seductive temptress. Disguised as normal and sensible, it is silently destructive crashing the unbalance of giftedness, taming the extremes of passion, snuffing out the raging fire of a genuine relationship with Jesus. Jesus and his disciples were constantly criticised for being unbalanced.’

We are never too old to be passionate about the things that are close to God’s heart. As an well known saying goes: ”the Holy Spirit comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable”. Lord get disturbing…

I found this prayer the other day which invites God to challenge us:

May the God who dances in creation,

who embraces us with human love,

and shakes our lives like thunder,

bless us and drive us out in the power of the Holy Spirit,

to fill the world with his justice,

this day, and always.

Amen

Greenbelt 2013 Musicians

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I have a dream…….

Today we remember that amazing speech by Martin Luther King Jnr. If you haven’t listened to it yet, there is a modern recording on the BBC Radio 4 website where the original speech is overlaid with modern voices speaking those same words, voices of those who have also campaigned for justice and peace.

This inspirational speech, which I feel must have been inspired by God, began to change American society. But how did it all start?

It started with an act of defiance from Mrs Rosa Parks, a 42 year old Montgomery seamstress, who refuses to relinquish her bus seat to a white man – and then is arrested. I doubt if Mrs Parks though her act would gain the momentum that would lead to the march on Washington and the amazing speech that we celebrate today.

She says, “At the time I was arrested, I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

Rosa with her quiet eloquence, her commitment to her faith, was a role model of courage. God often uses “small” acts of courage to bring about change. I doubt if many of us will become like Dr King: charismatic and powerful in speech and a leader of many people. But we can all be like Rosa Parks where we can make a stand for courage against what is wrong around us. It could be something in our community; it could be at work or at home; and even in our church! It will often make us unpopular and there may be uncomfortable consequences to being courageous.

Someone said, “don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is”,  and as Edmund Burke said, “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing”

Courage will never be easy, its risky. But as the speech proclaims,”No,no, we are not satisfied and will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Slide18

Being ‘living water’

Wet and Wild at Scargill Summerfest

Wet and Wild at Scargill Summerfest

These last 2 weeks we have been enjoying Summerfest at Scargill. Summerfest is an all age arts festival where we have guest artists, all age teaching, a myriad of activities and a chat show every evening. It’s full on!

These last 2 weeks I  have doing quite a lot of speaking and succumbed to ‘foot in mouth’ when trying to quote Jackie Pullinger. It is funny that when we are tired  when brain and mouth sort of come disconnected.  I found myself saying she had lived for many years in the Walled Garden, and yes, we do have a beautiful Walled Garden at Scargill but sadly this is not where we will find Jackie Pullinger. For those of you who don’t know, Jackie spent many years working in the Walled City area of Hong Kong, bringing ‘cups of life giving water’ to prostitutes and drug addicts.

The verse from Matthew 10 that speaks about giving a cup of cold water to one of these little ones….has been resonating in our hearts and minds. There is nothing so refreshing as a cool glass of water. It is worth spending some time thinking about those who have been living water to us, those who have shown us kindness and compassion, who offered us ‘a cup of water’. It is good to give thanks for those who have brought us to life by their generosity and their belief in us, and, of course, not all these people will be Christians. I was remembering my primary school teacher who encouraged me and helped me believe in myself when education was such a struggle. Who are those who have offered cups of water to us, that have made a difference to our lives?

But, the challenge then is how can we be living water for others?

We are privileged to have this living water within us and we are called to give it away, not to hold it for ourselves. I’d like to encourage you to think about who you could give a ‘cup of living water’ to this week. It could be a word of kindness, it may be a ‘phone call to a friend we have not spoken to for some time in order to show them how we love them, it may be a listening ear. It will be an act of love that will bring life. Jesus brought life to the woman at the well (John 4) and we too have this opportunity to give Jesus to others, as the source of living water. Isn’t this just a wonderful gift that we can offer?

A friend posted this wonderful prayer on Facebook.

Holy Trinity, Well of love, Refresh us with your presence. May we drink of your life-giving water, Filling us with you, Overflowing to all those around us.