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Love, love, love!

Posted on June 24th, 2012

Today I went to ‘Love Bath’ – a free festival organised by the churches of Bath for the community.  It was a great chance to get to know people and to meet up with some people who I’d spoken to over the internet (mostly Facebook!).  Hats off to Emma Gypps, everyone at Springboard Bath and the whole organisation team!  I think everyone especially enjoyed the free hot dogs, bottles of water, hot drinks and ice cream!

It was interesting seeing so many Christians together just having fun and enjoying themselves.  I was on bouncy castle duty for the afternoon, which was fun…I definitely got more assertive as time when on!

I just thought the name for the festival – Love Bath – was so great.  Especially when the reading from the Old Testament this morning was altered so that instead of Zion or Jerusalem we had Bath and Aque Sulis!  It was really powerful and got everyone involved.

After the festival today I came home and saw the latest video by Jefferson Bethke, whose video ‘Why I hate religion but love Jesus’ I’ve blogged about before.  I didn’t watch all of it because it didn’t really grab me at the time, but there was a theme that came through for me from both what I saw of the video and also from the festival today.  That theme is, of course, love.

How can we put love into practice?  I was thinking about how much I’d like to move into Bath city and had a look at house prices.  Sob!  But why can’t I be satisfied where I am?  I could give you lots of reasons but really…I have a roof over my head.  What more do I need?  Jesus says we don’t even need two shirts – share what you have with others.  And yet most of the Christians I meet (and I include myself in this) have comfortable lives with plenty of material possessions.  It doesn’t mean they’re all obsessed by their possessions (how could I ever make that judgement?!) but they have them.  I have them.  So how does this sit with the teachings of Jesus?

I’ve heard many people criticise the Vatican for the amount of wealth contained within it and I completely understand where they’re coming from.  But are we any better?  Where do we draw the line between what is needed and what is excessive?  Who gets to make that decision?  If we gave away everything we owned today we wouldn’t be able to function very well in the modern world of Great Britain.  We couldn’t do our jobs properly if we didn’t have technology to communicate or complete work, for example.  So what should we give up?

Perhaps our time, like Street Pastors.  I’m very precious over time as I’m always busy and desperately try to create some downtime to just relax and read a book or watch TV.  Perhaps we should give people the time and support that they need like organisations such as The Samaritans.  I try to make myself available to talk to people about what’s happening in their lives as much as possible and think that this is something I’m not too bad at doing.  Perhaps our money, as we’re encouraged to do by charities.  I try to give away what I can but often worry about money.

If we are trying to show love to others, does it come down to these things – time, support and money?  Is there more to it?  How do we find that balance?  And do we need to make sure that we show love to ourselves, too?

So many questions!  I don’t know the answer but I would love to be better at showing love and living a life of love as we have been asked to do.  Perhaps by opening ourselves up to receive our love we let that love flow through us and by surrendering and opening to the love of God, we become instruments for his love.

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The Light of Life

Posted on April 12th, 2012

‘Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.’
Sir Thomas Browne

What is it that drives people to seek God?  Is it the soul, this part of us which makes us ‘in God’s image’ and which is drawn like a magnet back to the Creator?  Is it that we are aware of the darkness around us, through which the light of God is seen?

If this is true, that God is inside each of us (as God is inside everything!), then it is hardly surprising that people are drawn back to faith throughout their lives.  In my experience, even people who leave organised religion will often find comfort in some sort of spirituality at some point in their life.  I can remember reading a book of letters by Evelyn Underhill for my degree which included one to a young teacher.  She said to this teacher something along the lines of: the girls cannot understand what it is you teach them at 14, but at some point in their life, some catastrophe will strike them and they will remember everything you have taught them about God.  I hope that’s right and I haven’t just made it up!  But it really struck me because it’s true that people fall back on God when times are hard.

It’s a strange paradox – going to God when you are struggling, when that God went through some of the worst suffering we can imagine!  Try holding your arms up as high as your shoulders. See how long you can hold them there for until they hurt or until they start to fall slightly.  I bet it’s less than 5 minutes.  Jesus hung on the cross for 6 hours like that, with nails driven through his flesh; having been tortured, spat at, shouted at and accused; having not eaten or drunk since the night before…but it’s because of this suffering that we know God understands us.

I agree with this quote by Sir Thomas Browne – life is a flame and we do live by the light of something we cannot see.  But remember: fire can light, heat and cook but it can also burn and destroy.  It is how you use it and how carefully you treat it that matters.

So how will you look after the flame of your life?

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