Advent 1 – 1st December 2013

I came across this short essay by a boy named Case which was posted on the blog site “Momastery” (http://momastery.com) just yesterday. I wanted to share it with you as many feel disheartened at the state of the world and wonder whether it is worth even trying to impart positive, loving Christian values to our young children. I think Chase shows that our children can and do make a difference! And it starts with us and our nuture of them now!

No Matter What

By: Chase

Tolerance is one of the Laws of Life. It is any community’s foundation, what it is built upon. You can have tolerance for the homeless, neglected animals or someone who you don’t think wears the right clothes or has the right hair. But I believe in the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I’m going to give you an example of this. Say a group of preteen kids is out on the playground laughing, playing and simply having an all-around good time. A little boy with a special need like autism or ADHD or Down Syndrome or something else walks up to them and shyly but bravely asks if he can play. The “leader” or oldest in the group says no way and proceeds to make fun of the little boy and push him away. Now, let’s reverse from here right to the part when the older boy is making fun of the little boy. First of all, I absolutely HATE when kids are made fun of by other kids, especially older kids.

I think and know that making fun of someone who might have a condition that might make them look a bit different than most kids and that THEY CAN’T HELP (emphasis on those three words) is just as stupid as making fun of them for their gender or the color of their skin. It is proven that the entire human race has an instinct inside of them to either remove themselves from a bullying situation or to support the bully to make themselves feel higher or better than the other kid. Well, to that I say BOO, and it doesn’t have to be that way. You have the power to make a decision bigger than your mere instincts. You have the capability to be a hero and step outside off your own comfort zone to stop bullying in your community. We can do this. One by one, community by community, upstander by upstander-  (don’t stand by stand UP!) we can help kids nationwide. With everyone helping, it is possible. So step outside of your comfort zone, break your little instinct shell surrounding you, and make a change. TODAY. NO MATTER WHAT.

By Chase M, age 10

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan

17th November 2013 – 23rd Sunday After Pentecost C

I have been reminded through this week, how very important it is to take time to consider the positives… or the blessings… rather than focusing on what is wrong or difficult. Jim Burns in his book Radically Committed tells about an incident a few years ago when police in New York City were called to a building where a woman was threatening suicide. She was standing on top of a fifty-four-story building ready to jump to her death. The police suicide squad was taking the woman extremely seriously. She didn’t look the type, in her expensive dress and distinguished appearance. But every attempt to convince her to get down from the ledge ended in failure. One of the police officers called his pastor to pray. His pastor said he would come right over and see if he could help.

When this wise old minister surveyed the situation, he asked the captain if he might try and get close enough to talk with the woman. The captain shrugged and said, “What do we have to lose?” But as the pastor started walking toward the woman she screamed as before, “Don’t come any closer or I’ll jump!”

The minister took a step backward and called out to her, “I’m sorry you believe no one loves you!” This got her attention, and also the attention of the suicide squad because it was such an unorthodox style. The pastor went on to say, “Your grandchildren must never have given you any attention.”

At this statement the woman took a step toward the pastor and emphatically replied, “My family loves me and my grandchildren are wonderful. I have eight grandchildren.” The pastor took a step toward her and said. “But then you must be very poor to be so desperate as to jump.”

She looked at her plump body and very nice dress and said, “Do I look like I’m in need of a meal? We live near Central Park in a beautiful apartment.” The pastor took another step. He was now within three feet of her. He asked, “Then why do you want to jump and kill yourself?”

Her surprising reply was, “I don’t remember.”

The pastor had helped the woman turn her focus off her problems and on to reasons to be thankful. They continued to talk, and she even showed him pictures of her grandchildren, with lengthy descriptions of each family member. A year later she was a volunteer on a suicide prevention hotline helping other people to choose a thankful life.

In the light of recent disasters in The Philippines … isn’t this worth thinking about?

Prayer for the Philippines

O loving Creator, bring healing and hope to those who, at this time, grieve, suffer pain, or who have been made homeless by the force of flood in Philippines.
We remember those who have died and we pray for those who mourn for them.

May we all be aware of Your compassion, O God, which calms our troubled hearts and shelters our anxious souls.

May we pray with humility with our troubled and struggling brothers and sisters on earth.

May we dare to hope that through the generosity of the privileged,

the destitute might glimpse hope, warmth and life again.

Through our Saviour Christ who lives with us, comforts us and soothes us. Amen.

-from the Church of England

Blessings

Reverend Shan

All Saints and Baptism – 3rd November 2013

What mixed blessings we find ourselves sharing this Sunday. At 7:00am we celebrate the Saints of the past … those we have read about and learnt from, together with those we have known and loved, who have laid the foundation stones of our faith and our community.  At 9:00am we welcome Elizabeth Malinda Irmer as our newest and youngest member of the faith. We also celebrate the anniversary of Miranda Collins Confirmation. People of faith are growing in our midst! So we look, with gratitude to the past, and with hope towards the future.

The story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, told in the 9am gospel (according to Luke)  is a wonderful story of  acceptance. The character of Zacchaeus is full of contradictions – his shortness in stature and status present obstacles and the “grumbling” crowd is quick to judge both Zacchaeus and Jesus for their association. Jesus silences the crowd, calling Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham,” thus restoring him to the covenant community. Just as some people in Jesus’ day did not accept tax collectors, prostitutes, and Samaritans, some who consider themselves the “in crowd” today despise and exclude people they think are beneath them.

How does this story speak to us today? And what are the ways God’s love is made visible in our day, in our community, and in the world?

We are pretty accepting here in our faith community, but its worth thinking about our connections in the wider community and across the face of the earth.

Love and Blessings

Reverend Shan