About Andy

GodLifeChurch, is where I ponder, reflect and wonder as a father, husband and church leader about where I see God at work, how Jesus inspires me, through life's great, good and sometimes ugly.

Brexit/trump a wakeup Call.

 

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This post is a quick reaction, in relation to the political fall out of this last night and this morning!

It has been an interesting year so far, how it will be looked at in 10 years is an interesting one to consider. My kids are especially shocked at the decisions ‘grown-ups’ have made!  Politics in the UK and USA globally has built metaphorical walls, become isolationist and right wing in temperament. Pundits and reporters claim Brexit and US elections are votes  against the political elite, which is a little ironic if you think about it for a moment.

What can we learn here as faith communities, about those we serve and minister to? Is it to shout louder, into a cauldron of apathy, for those who are marginalised and rebuffed; the widow, orphan, Syrian, Iraqi and Afgan? How do we stand and be counted if the tide is against us? If we God forbid are seen as establishment, how do we change?

Within our communities how are the voices of discontent heard and valued properly and from them how can we grow as disciples and build Gods Kindom?

Let me be vulnerable for a moment, I do not understand why people voted trump or voted to leave the EU, I don’t get it. Perhaps that makes me establishment or blinkered. What I need to do, and perhaps the church alongside is to reengage with that alternative view, that perhaps has been stifled. The very view of  people who are on the other side of the argument and who are in the driving seat now, the very people we claim to fight on the behalf off.

There may be earlier questions you want to chew over, or perhaps focus on how we hear one another’s voice where we disagree so completely. How we value the other, love the neighbour and serve the Lord together, in harmony rather than division.

 

Feel free to comment it would be good to hear some views. Though if this year gets any more ‘interesting.’ I might take the option to eat, a lot of food, find a warm cave and hibernate until spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff’s Huge Mistake

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We are used to hearing stories of dysfunctional families. It may be we come from such a family ourselves!

Jesus in Luke’s Gospel chapter 15 tells us of the story of a dysfunctional family, there are three main characters. There are two sons, and their father. One of the sons we will be focusing on in this blog post we shall call him Jeff.

Jeff would become known as the prodigal son, the black sheep of the family, a title to be fair he earned. His older brother was the perfect son. Happy, to follow the rules and the social expectations of his time. He might be unkindly thought of as a bit of a nerd!

Jeff was nothing like his brother, he was adventurous, outward looking. He felt that the social norms, to which he was expected to adhere to, were more like a straitjacket squeezing the life out of him.

He wanted to be free, and that freedom to Jeff came at a cost, to this relationship with his father and brother, and financially for the family. Jeff made a decision, based on the idea, that the grass is greener on the other side, he believed, that his identity was found else where.

So Jeff leaves, heads out into the unknown on his, quest of self-discovery, and he discovers, he can’t handle it, disaster befalls him. In the grubby, pit of a pigs sty. Jeff hits rock bottom. Only there, does his attitude of self-entitlement change, only there amongst the pungent stench of a pigs living quarters,  does he realise he needs help, that all he had lost, was actually all he ever wanted!

Jeff understands the social ramifications of what he has done to his family. He has dishonored and disgraced his father publicly, and there is no coming back from that. Can you imagine the surprise, when his father, reinstates him, can you imagine how profoundly humbling that experience might have been. Of unexpected, unprecedented, a socially incongruent Love and forgiveness offered to him by the one he has shunned and totally rejected.

Can you imagine the surprise, when his father we might call Love, reinstates him? Or how profoundly humbling that experience might have been for him. Of unexpected, unprecedented, socially incongruent Love and forgiveness offered to him, by the one he has shunned and totally rejected.

Some questions to ponder:

  • In what ways are you like the prodigal son?
  • If you were the parent what would have done differently?
  • How do you see society or others mimicking the values of the prodigal son?
  • Would you have gone home in the same way that Jeff did?
  • When have we been humbled by love/forgiveness/grace?
  • How is Gods Love different from human love?
  • How can we live up to that standard?

 

 

 

 

Venice, Taxis and God

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I set out at 8:30AM from the campsite, quick walk to the bus stop, arrived at the ferry terminal saw a ferry and ran onto it. Showed my ticket and took a seat, ready for my day in Venice, I was aiming for a 10:30am service at St Georges Anglican church. The only church I could find online in Venice, (a city full to bursting with churches) that advertised its welcome for international visitors but that’s another blog post!

The Ferry Set off in the wrong direction, actually it was I who was going in the wrong direction! I couldn’t have been going in a more wrong direction if I had taken a bus and caught a flight to nearby Switzerland!

I was instructed to get off at the next stop and catch another river taxi, which I did. Which also went nowhere near Venice, stopping in the middle of the Adriatic near some random islands to transfer its passengers onto another ferry. Which like the previous one stopped at every single stop! still,  I had allowed myself extra time all was not doomed, yet!

Upon arriving at a port on the wrong side of Venice to where I needed to be, I had a choice. A quick check of apple maps showed me either I should continue on the next water taxi number 3 by this point, or walk 19 mins to st marks port and then get a taxi, I was now around 10 mins late for the service. I chose the taxi and this sealed my fate, I didn’t check how long the taxi would take, it like my previous two water taxis stopped at every stop and I was in for a further 45 min water taxi trek.

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Eventually I made land in Venice at 11:15am, a number of hours later than what should have been a 30 min ferry ride, frustrated, swearing under my breath, very angry with God, half-heartedly deciding if God would not help me get to church on time, what’s the point, in ever going to church or believing in God at all! *!!!%&^

My day got better and I had a lovely if not exhausting day in the end. My error was to believe I didn’t need others to help me nor that I needed to check where I was going. Even though experience should have reminded me, that my navigational skills are pretty rubbish especially in a foreign country. Indeed wondering through the streets of Venice, Siri had to come to my rescue a number of times!

To Ponder:

Do you have a similar story and what might it be?

I wonder what might God be trying to teach us through such experiences?

How does society, use God as a scapegoat for when things go wrong? Is that fair and if not how might we re-educate people?

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We Are Better Than This

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In light of the upsurge in discrimination and hate crime, the Methodist Church has called last week for its people to ‘challenge racism and discrimination.’ The Church went on to list a series of actions for people to engage with:

For a political debate which neither demonises any nor leaves the vulnerable (the foreigner, the immigrant and refugee) in danger of victimization.

On political leaders to work together for the good of the whole community putting the needs of the nation before party politics.

On all those in positions of power and authority to hear the voices of those who have been marginalised and alienated and to respond to them in ways which offer real hope for the future.

Whether you identify as Methodist or not is not the point here, the church across the board would agree with these sentiments including people of faith and of none.6a47f2a318a76564d268a9f5b1e83e03

How far outside of our comfort zone will we go for others, whilst honouring and maintaining the call God has placed on our lives to love our neighbour?

How might we respond as a group to the actions of the statement? eg one action might be to engage with the local media.

Hospitality & Church

d0efdb54d70df07d73bc0e20d8ecbcadHospitality and hospital are words that have similar roots in english. We all understand how someone should be treated in hospital, with care and compassion and consideration.

When hospitals get it wrong when patients are let down or God forbid die unnecessarily, there is an outcry and shock.  Headlines are written and professional heads roll and rightly so because our expectation of what a hospital should be and  the way its staff should act are clear.

The way a good hospital works, the value we all have for that doctor or nurse is a good definition for what hospitality should look like. At its best a hospitals sole focus is your health, your care, and your wellbeing. But this isn’t a post about the NHS or hospitals,

What Might Church Look Like?

This is a post about hospitality and how this translates to our church communities, can be a tricky one. We all know how the church should be, however we can turn a blind eye when it isn’t good in terms of being hospitable. We might say that we turn a blind eye because we are being gracious, and perhaps it is gracious. But can ‘being gracious’ negate our responsibility to call us as communities to a different standard? Being ‘gracious’ might sometimes look like not upsetting the apple cart, and colluding with the status quo!

This is not about pointing fingers and blaming people. Instead its perhaps about asking different questions that engender insight rather than reproach. For example asking the most recent incomers how they found themselves to be there, looking with fresh eyes at how things are done. Trying to metaphorically step into a new persons shoes and look at things afresh.

What Hospitality Looked Like To Steve.

Steve was in the merchant navy and he ran marathons. A few years ago he joined our church and was warmly welcomed and felt included and cherished, he became heavily involved in messy church as a helper bringing his three kids with him. Steve became part of the chapel there and his wife and kids came too, one of them getting baptised. He found a spiritual home that concluded him, and loved him for all he offered.

Fast forward two years the family had fallen on hard times. Steve began to drink heavily and sadly he attended less and less. The church tried its best to reach out and keep contact and he was often part of the conversations and the churches prayer life, and whatever state he attended he was welcomed and loved, which meant so much to him and his family.

In January this year Steve died, through his alcoholism. Some in the wider community openly criticised his family and what Steve had become. The church community however practiced hospitality here too, the minister lead the funeral and the church on mass attended his funeral sitting near the family so that the three kids and ex wife know, profoundly prayerfully and unshakeably that they were and will always be loved and welcomed.

There was little outward expression of faith, but that didn’t matter, there was no expectation, just the enduring hand of hospitality, generosity and love.

ideaTo Ponder.

How did the churches hospitality, affect Steve and his family? I wonder what ways have you been made to feel welcome in your life? Thirdly how might the church show hospitality through its structures as well as door step welcome?

dChurch/ a moment to pray and reflect

 

Here is a space to pray for the needs of others – add situations & names of those you are praying for (1st names only please).

‘like’ the post as a way of adding your Amen.

Listen to these inspirational stories…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxoMbPWuk0I

A great image of forgiveness

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHqi6ZB_F0U&feature=youtu.be

In this clip from the film ‘Inviticas’ Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan freeman) speaks about forgiveness saying, ‘Forgiveness starts here, forgiveness liberates the soul, it removes fear, that is why it is such a powerful weapon.’