There are Stars behind the clouds

Dear Friends,

There are stars behind the clouds

Philippians 2: 3-17

The telephone calls you make this week can be like the wind that blows away the clouds to reveal stars shining in the dark sky above

You will probably telephone someone because you know there are clouds hanging over their lives and you want them to know you are thinking of them in these stormy times. I have done it many times and more often than not I find a star bringing some light into my life!

So often the person I telephone gives me much more than I give them. They ARE the star because they dont complain, blame or grumble but bring a light into the darkness. They hold out the word of encouragement that I thought I could give to them, but they give to me.

One of those calls was with Kath Hancock, one of our members not many will know because she hasnt been able to visit church for more than three years because of mobility difficulties. Her neck is collapsing; her spine is falling apart and her back is breaking up, but she was still able to laugh on the phone. We reflected on the skeleton song, Dem dry bones,and how the head bone is connected to the neck bone; the neck bone is connected to the back bone and the back bone is connected to the thigh boneThe big problem for Kath is that every bone seems to have a consultant and if the head surgeon doesnt agree with the neck surgeon and the neck surgeon isnt connected with the back surgeon then NO surgery will happen. They all have to agree and they dont, so Kaths bones arent connected as they should be!

Its hard enough waiting for a replacement hip operation with one consultant and I cant begin to imagine what it must be like for Kath yet she was my encouragement on the phone more than I was hers. She even laughed when she said how she dislocated her knee but with nerves so damaged she couldnt feel the pain so relocated it herself. There are advantages, she said. Yes, behind the clouds the stars still shine!

Kath is not the only one for whom I can blow away the clouds with a phone call, but Susan Nuttall is another star that I find shining in the darkness. She is isolated in her room at Cavendish Park, but still preparing for an Advent service in the home and is encouragement for the care staff who look after her. The carers can blow away the clouds, but the cared for can be the stars!

I could name so many people who are stars because everyone I speak to brings light into MY darkness. Some worry that they are complaining, arguing or blaming, but in their suffering and the coping they become the light of encouragement behind the clouds.

So now Im like a child playing games and pretending to blow away clouds as I pray …… then, I pray, the star will shine and hold out that word of life that encourages us to keep on running, working and rejoicing with the Lord. Dont forget the phone calls this week because they WILL blow away the clouds….!

Our Advent Avenue of Trees will be created this week to lead us to new life through Tree Planting Week that starts today. Our Avenue of trees will be lit up and lead to a Nativity scene in the front widow reminding us of how Jesus was sent from heaven to save the world that God loves so much. The world comprises of more than people, but God gives people the responsibility to care for all of creation. Each tree we plant is a sign of HOPE for the future and that is where Advent starts — with HOPE! God planted many more trees that were pleasing to the eye and in hope there were others producing the fruits of PEACE, JOY and LOVE and then THE TREE OF LIFE itself. The value of tree planting week is that we help the earth give us the new life we seek at the end of our Advent Journey. Think about it: isnt the earth the cradle of creation?

I don’t often get on my soap box in Facebook Corner, but this week I made an exception and if in the end you want to call me a silly old goatI hope you can be sure that you are one of the sheep!Jesus is talking about sheep and goats this week, but I hear him speaking up for lives that dont seem to matter,and that strikes a chord in our society today, doesnt it? I dont dispute that all lives matterto God, but sometimes we need reminding of the lives too easily neglected and Jesus does that in no uncertain terms.

The lives of the poor and the wealthy;

The lives of the sick and the healthy;

The lives of the young and the elderly —

all lives matter to God!

The lives of the laughing and crying;

The lives of the living and the dying;

The lives of the silent or the shouting —

all lives matter to God!

When we forget we must be reminded:

Black lives matter like ALL!

If you want to read more from my message this weekend click here https://youtu.be/d53NrmjHlzE

When I joined the Zoom annual meeting of Signpost last week I was reminded of the valuable commitment of volunteers who help our community. I hope they will be able to continue their good work after lockdown and that all our churches and organisations will find ways of supporting each other. Together Everyone Achieves More was the theme of a meeting we hosted in March and Signpost will achieve more with our support. Thank you for everyone who maintains the work of Signpost!

Caring Hands have written to say thank you to everyone at United Reformed Church, Broadway, for the wonderful donation of produce from our Harvest Celebration which will be used in our food bank, drop-in diner and community pantry. Our generosity will be a blessing to many individuals in need in the Vale of Evesham.I know it is an organisation all our churches in Broadway support and it is needed more than ever during these Covid lockdown challenges.

On behalf of the Traidcraft team Pat Wallace says: “A huge thank you to everyone who bought goods from the Traidcraft shop this autumn. The total money spent was £458.05 !! This was a £100 more than last year. There are some benefits from Lockdown.

The Monday Prayer for the Nation is for schools, colleges, children and young people so we pray for all those involved in the shaping of young lives. We give thanks to God for the sacrifices and commitment of teachers and all those involved in serving children and young people in education. We pray that all might be nurtured and cared for and that every needful resource would be made available — that all lives can flourish even in these difficult times and that no-one would be overlooked.

The suggestion has been that as many of us as possible unite to pray at 6pm during the lockdown.

Also pray for: Frank and Christine, Naomi and family, Nancy, Vicky, Pam, Michael Eden, Susan Nuttall, June and John, Margaret

And think of someone you can phone to blow away the clouds so YOU can see a light in YOUR darkness!

God Bless, Richard