Read Mark and Inwardly Digest: Are you Ready for Christmas?

I asked this question this morning at a gathering, ‘Are you ready for Christmas?’ There were sincere shaking of heads, and I could feel the palpable weight of ‘things to be done’ before the festivities could begin. Even good, faithful Christians get bogged down with the expectations of turkey and all the trimmings. I think we are asking the wrong question, and the passage from Mark’s gospel today helps us to realign ourselves with the right one: Are you ready for Christ?

Advent is not simply the countdown to Christmas, although our Advent calendars would suggest that it is. Advent is about the expectation of God coming to be present with us. Nowadays, that coming of Jesus, is often the retelling of the Christmas Nativity, whether it be told by infants wearing dressing gowns and tea towels or bedecked in tinsel, or by 9 lessons and carols read and sung by candlelight. Both are part of our traditions, but do they really engage in us the sense of hope and expectation that builds our faith? Do they help us look forward with God, or to review history?

The retelling of John’s role as prophet and baptiser reminds us to keep looking forward. It is also, quite helpfully for our year of engaging with Mark, the opening verses of his gospel. If you have been following Mark, Read and Inwardly Digest on Facebook and twitter courtesy of the Walloping Vicar, you will have had chance to mull over these 8 verses already. Mark doesn’t give us any account of Jesus’ nativity (which is why he will go silent on the lectionary readings over the next few weeks) or childhood, he doesn’t even give us any sense of his ancestry. Mark jumps in with ‘the good news’, or Gospel if you like to read New Testament Greek, that God is with us here and now.

What we do get, though, is a reminder of the promises of the prophets of long ago. John isn’t Elijah whose return had been expected ahead of Emmanuel’s, but one who looks and dresses like Elijah – an Elijah looky-likey if you like! A prophet who looks, acts and speaks like one of the greatest all-time prophets has come, and he is pointing the way for one greater than him! All the connections are being made, and the people of Israel are excited and responding to John’s call to be prepared. The wilderness is no longer the empty place it once was, it has been swamped with expectant people hearing the call to repentance and diving headlong into hope. John’s call isn’t to sweep clean your homes, but to disinfect your hearts. Yes, God is coming in person, and will need a place to rest his head, to eat and sleep, but Jesus is looking to make his home in hearts made ready to be filled with his love.

That is the message of the dessert, but it is also the message of Advent too.  Prepare ye the way: hang your tinsel and light up your house if you so desire, but be sure to make ready your hearts and souls, because that is where the baby Jesus longs to be born this Christmas.

This Sunday we light the second candle on the Advent Wreath, it is the candle of Peace. If we are willing to offer up our customs and traditions and the tearing around overcrowded shopping centres and Black Friday websites, we may find time to be still. We may find time to re-engage with that sense of expectation we had when we were children and felt no responsibilities for stuffing turkeys or stockings or over boiling sprouts and dry roasting parsnips. Perhaps if we rediscover the longing and hope for God’s presence with us, we may also find our seasonal woes and stresses lifted, and Emmanuel’s peace descend.

Something to do:

Light 2 candles. Read aloud the passage from Mark 1: 1-8. Take some time to sit quietly with the reading. What images are created in your head? What associated words come to mind? What feelings and emotions are created within you? What music can you hear? If you feel comfortable, share these with others.

Something to watch:

 

Something to think about:

  • What is your least favourite ‘preparation’ for Christmas celebrations? Which is your most favourite?
  • Are there things that you feel obliged to do in order to celebrate Christmas ‘properly’?
  • How do you hear John’s words to ‘Prepare the way’? What could they mean to us as we embrace Advent?
  • Mark is the first to refer to the ‘Gospel’ of Jesus, thus coining the term ‘The Gospel according to…’ what Good News can we see in the portion appointed for today? Is this news good for society today, or just for that part of history. How does it differ?
  • What do you think of this quote from Lamar Williamson Jr? Do you agree with him?

In no Gospel is the humanity of Jesus more transparent, nor his divine authority more striking.

  • Can this be seen in today’s passage? Can it be found in our understanding  of Advent?
  • What would it mean to receive an Advent baptism – what would you want to be cleansed of? What would you want to repent with regards to Christmas?
  • How can we release ourselves from ‘Christmas’ in order to experience the Peace of Christ?

Something to pray:

As we light the candles we will rejoice that Christ has come to us.
He is Emmanuel…God with us.

On this second Sunday of Advent,
as we think about the coming of Jesus Christ,
we light the candle of peace.

Jesus, help us to light candles of Peace in our own hearts. Help us to prepare a way for you to come and live within our hearts and homes. Rekindle that sense of hope and expectation, as we await your return.

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Soul Food: Honey and Locusts

John the baptist appears twice during advent. This week he features among the prophets and next week he has his own show. John was known for many things, most obviously that he baptised people in preparation of meeting with God, and even Jesus himself, the Son of God. John was also known for his zany dress sense (camel hair) and bush tucker diet.

I felt that in order to get into the advent vibe, a bake was needed, and my daughter’s big baking book came up trumps with these honey and spice cakes. The recipe doesn’t include locusts, but as I don’t have any in the pantry, I’m not too worried. The almond on top will give enough of a suggestive crunch I am sure, and if not, well I have just discovered an online source for edible locusts and they even come dipped in chocolate, so maybe I will have a second try next week – or maybe not!

https://www.crunchycritters.com/shop/edible-insects/chocolate-dipped-locusts-8-grams/

Honey and Spice Cakes (without locusts) taken from The Big Book of Baking

Ingredients:

  • 140g butter
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 100g honey
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • whole blanched almonds (1 per cupcake)
  1. Preheat oven to 180c Gas 4
  2. Melt butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan on a medium heat.
  3. Sift the flour and spice into the pan and mix into a smooth batter.
  4. Spoon into cupcake cases and top with an almond.
  5. Cook until golden, enjoy!

Image may contain: dessert and food

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Read Mark and Inwardly Digest: Advent Sunday, Where is God?

What do you see?

GODISNOWHERE

If you see God is Nowhere then you are in Advent. In fact you are pre-advent. You are in the place in history where God seems to have disappeared. You are in the ‘Intertestamental’ part of the Bible, that yawning gap between the promises of the prophet Malachi and the hope of the opening of the gospel of Matthew. The Old Testament closes with these words from the prophet:

 Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.

God’s people are promised that God will return, that he will come and that ‘Elijah’ will prepare the way. They are also promised that families will be reunited, and that God will bring with him blessings. Such a hopeful way to end a lifetime of prophecy, such a hopeful way to leave the Israelites hanging. But left hanging they were. There are several hundred years between the two Testaments, between the promises spoken by the prophet Malachi and anything actually happening – well, nothing if you ignore the Maccabean Rebellion that is, but that’s a story for another day.
For those who had heard and believed and trusted in the hope given by Malachi, the years, decades, generations that passed without  fulfilment of the prophecy led many to believe that God is nowhere.
When we switch on our news, whether it be the World Service, Sky News, or Social Media, it can seem as if God is nowhere. The world is full of pain and suffering and idiotic and incompetent rulers of the free world. This world is broken, stressed to the point of collapse, we are imploding upon ourselves and no-one, earthly of otherwise seems to care.

GOD IS NOWHERE

However if you saw God is Now Here you are in Christmas. Just like the rest of society which decorates their tree before December even begins, completes shopping in January, starts eating mince pies and playing Christmas songs as soon as Halloween is over, you are ahead of the game!

Mark’s Gospel makes a similar leap – his opening lines are:

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Mark continues to speak of the ‘Elijah’ promised by Malachi, who would come before God himself. The prophet is already here, preparing the way, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God is here, and this is Good News. This is the hope that we have all been waiting for since Malachi made those promises. Jesus is here, God is here, among us, reuniting families and drawing God close to his people once more.

GOD IS NOW HERE

But wait. Today is Advent Sunday, not Christmas Day, and not any of the long turgid days of brokenness and forgotten hope. Today is the day we commence our waiting with expectation. Today is the day that we start to prepare our hearts and homes to welcome the most wonderful guest. Today is the day that we rekindle the hope that may have been damaged and dented in what has been a difficult and troubled year.

And so, today’s reading from the gospels isn’t one of the expected Advent stories. It isn’t the Annunciation, or even John’s birth, there is nothing about Mary or Joseph. The angels in this passage don’t have any important news to bear, in fact they know nothing:

 But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Mark 13: 32

The angels do not sing in heavenly choirs, they are sent to gather up  the faithful, when the end of this world comes, and the new creation is brought into place.

The reality is, we have all moved on from Advent and from Christmas. Yes we re-visit them each year, and remember the stories, but just like those pre-advent Israelites, we have lost some of the wonder, we have lost the hope. Mark’s passage today reminds us of the promise that Jesus is coming. It has been a long time. So much longer than the Israelites had to wait between Malachi’s promise and Jesus’ birth, 2 Millennia have passed and who knows how many more – not the angels that’s for sure – but the promise is just as true as the first. If the promise is just as true, just as trustworthy, then we have something sure to place our hope in.

Today we light the first candle on the Advent wreath – the candle of hope. Let us bring before God all that has diminished our hope, all that has left us feeling spiritually battered and bruised, all that has left us thinking that God is nowhere, so that we can rekindle in our hearts the hope of the promise that Jesus will return.

Something to watch:

Something to do:

Light a single candle. Read aloud the passage from Mark 13: 24-end. Take some time to sit quietly with the preadinng. What images are created in your head? What associated words come to mind? What feelings and emotions are created within you? What music can you hear? If you feel comfortable, share these with others.

Something to think about:

  • What do you first see – God is nowhere or God is now here?
  • What has advent come to mean to you?
  • Is this time about the waiting and hoping of Advent or the preparing for Christmas?
  • What rituals and traditions do you have in place in your home? Are any of these ‘spiritual’?
  • What do you think of this quote from Tom Wright? Do you agree with him?

The symbolism of darkness awaiting dawn makes sense in a post-modern world where Christmas razzmatazz has been debunked, demythologised and deconstructed. Hope in the night is what we want and need.

  • Verses 24-27 speak of ‘end times’ – do you find these encouraging, exciting or fearful words?
  • Why do you think nobody knows the date except the Father? What is to be gained in not knowing?
  • How can we ‘keep awake’? How can we keep our hope alive?

Something to listen to:

Something to pray:

In this first week of Advent, we light the candle of hope. Hope is our assurance that God will finish all He has started. Hope is our confidence that he will do all he has promised.

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Keep it Reel: Danger in the Manger

The youth group decided that what they liked most in this film, apart from the abseiling donkey, was the journey. The songs and competition were fun and interesting, the ‘Justin Bieber’ character was just like JB, and when Mr Peterson stood up to his father we almost cheered, but the journey involved getting to know each other in a different way.

As members of St Bernadettes, led by Mr Poppy, first kidnapped their teacher, then bunked school in a ‘borrowed’ Duck Tour bus, we discovered who each of the characters really were. No bravado, no stupid games, no breaking or hiding behind rules, only a ridiculous sense of adventure and a stowaway baby helped them discover their own truths.

Christmas is full of ‘stuff’, the Christmas stuff of commercialism, the Christmas stuff of painful family traditions and memories which should really be forgotten. As St B’s choir trudged through the welsh mountainside they made a connection with the reality of Christmas.

The first Christmas was about a broken family trying to keep it going. A family with little wealth, miles from home trying not to despair. Trying to hold onto hope. Hope for them wasn’t the glittering star, or the singing angels, but the infant born in a barn. So too for this Christmas cast, hope didn’t arrive in the glittering prize, but in the unexpected witnessing of Mrs Peterson giving birth to not one, but two baby boys. Surprisingly Mr Peterson’s world famous brother didn’t find joy in another trophy either, despite his endeavours to win at all costs, and even the angel turned out to be somewhat tarnished; in becoming an uncle though, he found his place in a loving and forgiving family once more.

This is what Christmas offers to each of us. Hope, a loving and forgiving place in a family, and the chance to discover who we truly are as we adventure forward, towards the manger.

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Stir up Sunday (Christ the King)

This Sunday, the final Sunday in the church year, is known as Stir up Sunday,  so named because of the collect for the day,

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The call to ‘stir up’ our hearts, also brought a timely reminder to ‘stir up’ the Christmas pudding. There are only 5 weeks until  Christmas now and making the pudding needs the whole family’s help. This clergy family gathers three generations together for the event. In new money, this Sunday is also known as the feast of Christ the King. Although in our cyclical calendar our hearts are already turned towards Christmas celebrations once more, in the more slowly turning church order, we have reached the fulfilment not just of the church year, but of Christ’s mission.

Those who follow Jesus have travelled so far since the helpless, vulnerable baby was born. We have revisited the stories, parables, miracles, we have even stretched our hearts and minds as we have been called to ponder upon some of Jesus’ more ‘difficult’ teachings. We have made the long journey with Jesus and his disciples through Holy Week, mourned his death on the cross and celebrated his victory as he burst through the grave and carried us all into eternal life. Now, now at the end of the church year, we pause to reflect his true position on the heavenly throne, and that’s where we find him in our gospel passage from Matthew today.

Jesus is sat on his throne, and it is the day that he has promised, threatened, would come, when each will be judged according to their actions. It is a time we fear so much that we ignore it, pretend that it isn’t going to happen. We focus on Jesus’ identity as love personified, his death on the cross so that all might live, we focus on his promise of forgiveness of sins. We claim these generous gifts of God and hide any thoughts of being judged ourselves. Of course others need to be judged eternally just as there is a need for law and order in our earthly lives; Hitler for example, murders, rapists and paedophiles, but not us. We need to be forgiven and loved.

However, Jesus seems to be saying that the day of judgement will surprise us all. Not just in the sense that we do not to know when to expect the dreaded day, but because of who will be judged the hardest: who will be found lacking, and who will be rewarded.

This story in Matthew reminds us that Jesus referred to himself as the Good Shepherd, who knows each of his flock by name. In Jesus’ time (and to this day, I believe) sheep and goats are grazed together, but at night have to be separated, as goats are softer creatures who need more sheltered overnight accommodation. From a distance it isn’t easy to distinguish the 2 creatures, although sheep’s tails hang down and goats’ point up. We could try to make something from the sensitive nature of the goats, or even the sheep’s more humble tails, but I’m not sure that would help.

When it comes to the separation of humans to the left and to the right, Jesus will not be looking at our tails, but at out hearts, and it seems as if we might be surprised as to who will be assigned each side. Perhaps we won’t. In more recent years we have seen those who are ‘respectable’ members of Christ’s community be named and shamed as having caused harm and damage to those who were in their care. We have seen those in authority who had turned a blind eye be brought to account. We know that those who often look the holiest are often the most broken inside. Some would say disease ridden.

Conversely, those who we would normally expect very little from, have surprised us with their gentleness, humility and generosity. I remember at the beginning of this year, after the shock announcement of George Michael’s Christmas death, the flood of stories that had not previously been shared which revealed his true heart and soul. At times the pop star had been demonised for his drug taking and even his sexuality, but Jesus had known all along the truth of his heart.

If we are to be honest with ourselves, we all know that there are skeletons hidden within our own closets that we wish to remain out of sight, and perhaps that is why we deny to ourselves the reality of a day of judgement to come. Perhaps that is why we like to skip over this last Sunday of the year when we are reminded that Christ our King is enthroned on his judgement seat, and we, his subjects, loyal or otherwise, will be judged, not just by the piousness of our hearts, but by the actions and deeds our hearts lead us to take.

Something to watch:

 

Something to think about:

  • Are you racing headlong into Christmas? What plans do you already have in place?
  • Do you have family traditions which link back to ‘stir up’ Sunday?
  • How does it make you feel to consider Jesus as judge?
  • Is there anything hidden in your closet that you need to deal with?
  • Are there things in your past that you have been dealing with like a stubborn goat, when really you need to be gentle as a lamb with a shepherd?
  • What can it mean in such a broken and corrupt world to know that Jesus sits upon the throne?
  • How will your worship this Sunday help you prepare to great the infant Jesus?

Something to do:

Jesus called to him those who had put their faith into action, those who had loved and served those who had been humbled and broken. How can we take on that challenge in our lives?

Something to pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, humble yet exalted, servant yet sovereign, teach us afresh today that through honouring others we honour you, and through serving them we serve you. Awaken us to your presence all around us and to your call, especially in the cry of the needy, and in responding t the hungry, the sick, the lonely and the oppressed, may we respond also to you. Reach out to us in mercy, that we might reach out to you and to them in love. Amen

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Soul Food: Birthday Blessings to my Unborn Child.

25th November was the due date of my first child. Of course it is very rare that any child is actually born on the date they are ‘due’, but that date becomes etched on a pregnant mum’s mind. It is the date they look forward to, the date that they will finally see their longed for and much loved baby face to face, and not some blurry black and white image. If the due date is accurate it will mean the first time that the child will be cradled in the arms and not the womb, the first time those tiny feet can be measured and held and dressed in minuscule booties, rather than being the focus of butterfly kicks. Even if the baby isn’t born on its due date it will be soon. Of course after just a few months of form filling, the due date is replaced with the birthdate of the child, unless the baby isn’t born.

Our first child wasn’t born. He didn’t make it beyond 10 weeks, he just seemed to disappear leaving me in a mess of blood and tears and a hollow emptiness inside.

Had this first child been born then his due date would have been forgotten, but he wasn’t, and it hasn’t. So each year this date is his date, and I remember him. I remember the joy at discovering I was pregnant. We had wanted a child, but ordination was looming and we weren’t sure when would be the best time, so we left the timing to God. It was lent, I was on retreat in a monastery, a silent order, and I woke up wanting to giggle. I made my way through silent breakfast keeping the giggles inside, the tune to Tell Out My Soul based upon the Magnificat, the song Mary sang when she was pregnant, was going around my head in the holy silence of the retreat.

The first year that the 25th came around we decided to spend the day doing something special. We went to our favourite city and had hot chocolate and began our Christmas shopping. It had been a tough 6 months. Six months of longing and hoping and heartbreaking negative pregnancy tests, we were determined not to spend the day dwelling on the loss, but hoping for the future.

Had this dear child made it to his due date he would have been 13, a teenager. How would we have celebrated if he had been with us?

We now make it a family day as that first 25th turned out to be the day that the pregnancy test was positive, and our hope became real. So on this 13th year we are heading out to the theatre following a day at a local National Trust venue. And there will be cake. Of course there will be cake, after all what is a birthday without cake?

This Cafe Latte Cake is based on Nigella’s Buttermilk Birthday Cake. I used a tin of custard instead of buttermilk – I like to think that this was a conscious decision to give the cake a creamy taste, but the truth is that I had forgotten to buy in any buttermilk and had run out of my usual alternative. I split the mixture and flavoured one half with a few tablespoons of strong coffee, before ladelling alternative dollops of coffee and custard batter. I then used a butter knife to swirl the two mixtures and create a marbelled effect. To create the shape I wanted I used 2 loaf tins and a carving knife.

Butter icing was also flavoured with coffee before using it to ‘glue’ the two loaves together, and then shaping into a tall takeaway coffee cup. More icing was smoothed over the cup before layering with white Royal icing and decorating. The lovely frothy top my first attempt at Italian meringue, and made with the help of my youngest daughter. Life has a way of thriving, of bringing joy and hope, despite the sadness and the tears and bumps along the way.

Cafe Latte Birthday Cake

 

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2nd Sunday Before Advent: Being a Smartie

What would you do if I gave you a tube of smarties?

You could hide away in a corner and guzzle them all down. You could separate all the colours and eat them one colour a day to make them last all week. You could share them with everybody here at church and make them smile. You could take them home and hide them in a cupboard for a rainy day. Or you could just say ‘No thank you’ and leave them behind.

 

If I gave you a tube of smarties, but asked you to use it to raise money for Children in Need  what might you do?

You could eat all the smarties and replace them with pennies from your pocket money. Although the new £1 coins fit perfectly, so perhaps you could sell the smarties for a pound each? You could ask people to guess the answer to the alphabet question on the lid – 50p a go and they win the tube if they get it correct.

These are slightly risky strategies. There are about 30 smarties in a tube, but the packet costs 60p to buy. So if you replaced each smartie with a penny we would lose money. You could try 2p each, but 2 pence pieces don’t fit in the tube. Perhaps you could fill the tube with all the pennies you could find until it is full – I think you could fit at least 60 pennies in the tube, possibly more.

Selling the smarties for £1 each would make £29.40 in profit, but £1 per smartie is quite expensive so you might not sell any. Asking people to guess the answer would only need 2 people to have a go to make 40p profit, but if the first person to have a go guessed correctly, you would make a loss of 10p. You could use the smarties to make Pudsey cakes to sell. It’s much easier to sell a cake for £1 than it is a smartie. Using 5 smarties per cake you could decorate 6 cakes which would make £6 minus the 60p for the smarties, although of course you would have to factor in the cost of the baking ingredients.

Gosh there’s a lot to think about. Making money is quite risky and involves some creativity. Perhaps it would be easier to do nothing and just keep the smarties in a safe place or return them to me unopened? Then you definitely wouldn’t lose any money, but you wouldn’t make any either.

In today’s Bible passage Jesus tells a story a bit like this one – it’s known as the Parable of the Talents and can be read here.

A boss gives three of his workers some money to invest for him. One man was given 5 talents, another 2, and the last just 1. A talent was worth hundreds of pounds, which means even to the one who was only given 1 talent, he was entrusted with something very precious. The first talent was invested with a huge return – 100% – from 5 talents the worker made another 5. Likewise the worker with 2 talents also made a profit of 100%, but the third worker didn’t make a profit at all. There was no return on his talent because he didn’t invest it. Instead he hid it in a hole to keep it ‘safe’.

Of course this isn’t a true story – the ending is rather a fierce one if it is. The worker who failed to invest wasn’t just ‘fired’ Apprentice style, he was kicked out, without a home, to live in fear on the rubbish heaps.

We get confused with the term ‘talent’ – the word for us is synonymous with celebrity status, or amazing abilities. We might think how easy it is for someone with lots of affluence and power to use their profile to make money – after all that is what happens on Children in Need isn’t it? We might think how easy it is for those who are really clever and gifted to use their special skills to raise money, but not all of us can sing or dance or bake or know how to invest in the stock markets.

The ‘talents’ in this parable aren’t like that though. Perhaps we could say that God is the master, the boss, who has given the most precious gift to each of us. This gift is worth hundreds and thousands of pounds, it is priceless. God has given us the gift of his love, an understanding of how precious we are in his sight. Each of us has been affirmed as being worthy. How valuable is that in a society in which we are judged as lacking in just about every other way.

Perhaps we could say that the person given 5 talents was someone who had done bad things with his life, had ended up in prison for armed robbery. Perhaps his childhood had not been good, perhaps he had been neglected, perhaps he’d had to steal to survive, and this ‘necessity’ had turned to greed. Perhaps he had received God’s love and forgiveness and had a passion to let other people know how wonderful it felt. Perhaps he had told 5 people and each of those had all repented, given up their old habits and ‘gone straight’ in the knowledge of God’s love for them. Perhaps he had told 50 people but only 5 had truly understood, but that hadn’t stopped him. Perhaps he had lost friends. Perhaps his family had left him. That didn’t stop him. He had 5 ‘talents’ to invest and he was going to.

The worker with with 2 talents could have been a mum, struggling to keep everything balanced, to keep each plate spinning. Perhaps she found time in her hectic life to stop and pause and give thanks for the beautiful children (even if they did drive her mad), a home for the family and a soul mate to share the burden with. Perhaps she used her talents to give a break to other mums who were struggling, perhaps she baked cakes for birthdays for people who lived on their own, perhaps she carried casseroles to those whose family members were in hospital, and had no energy to cook for themselves. Perhaps her acts of kindness led to each recipient asking her why she was blessing them. Perhaps just 2 people did, but they wanted to know more….

The worker with 1 talent was too scared to tell anyone. It was his private faith and he wanted to keep it that way. Yes God loved him and that was a good enough statement to live by, but was it?

This parable isn’t about whether we go to heaven or hell, it’s about how we live our lives. Are we thankful recipients of God’s love who want others to benefit from that knowledge too? It is challenging though. Not everyone wants to listen. It takes courage in our very private culture to open up and share the vulnerable things in our lives. If we don’t though, how will anyone ever get to know and experience that love?

Jesus told us to love one another, to take the step of faith, to risk it for the sake of others. Who knows how many people out there feel unloved and unlovable? Too many, would be my guess, and we have the opportunity to share just a little of God’s love with them, isn’t it worth the risk?

Something to watch:

Something to think about:

  • What’s your most memorable moment from Children in Need? How were people’s ‘talents’ used?
  • What talents do you think you have?
  • How can your talents be used to help others?
  • What challenges do we fear in using our talents and sharing God’s love?
  • How can we help each other to use our talents and to share God’s love?

Something to pray:

Christ as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me.

Christ under me, Christ over me, Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, Lowly and meek yet all-powerful.

Be in the heart of each to whom I speak, In the mouth of each of speaks unto me.

This day be within me and without me, Lowly and meek yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light, Christ as a shield, Christ beside me on my left and my right.

from Patrick’s Breastplate.

PS I am especially proud to say that I worked with Andy when he was a youth worker and I was a curate!

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