Welcome the naked!

Dear Friends,

There was a time when people would look so different at church in their Sunday best that you could be forgiven for not recognising them. We should always look our best for God, but isnt it wonderful that Jesus accepts us at our worst!

For some people what they wear during the week is all they have to wear so it could be intimidating to go to church and be among people all dressed up in their Sunday best. The scruffy jumper, worn shirt and creased up trousers could be the best the least among us have to wear, but thats how Jesus could be dressed!

Whoever welcomes the person who obviously needs some better clothes — often said as the naked! — welcomes Jesus and whoever welcomes the hungry looking or the sickly, or the person we dont like the look of, welcomes him. If he isnt welcomed, he or she, wont come back! Is that why church congregations have declined?

Some people can be at their best, but be judged as looking a mess because of the clothes they wear rather than the attitude they bear. We can look like one of the least in society on the outside, but among the first to be blessed by God because of what we wear on the inside! We can be at our best for one day a week, but we should be at our best every day of the week.

When we went to Lymington I said that they should judge me at my worst and accept me for who I am, not measure by my best that I can produce for a special occasion. I hope I can look good, prepare well and impress with time to plan, but our Lord wont come when we are ready so our worst should always be our best!

So how could Lymington see me at my worst? I sang! Yes, I sang as the only voice in the congregation that sang — and they remained to hear me preach! I sang — and they invited me to be their minister! I sang, or at least made what was at best a tuneless noise, and they suggested I could join a choir. Me, in a choir, I asked. Yes, they said, the Warblers meet every week and everyone is welcome to come and make a joyful sound — but it need not be a tuneful one. The Warblers are people who, like me, regard themselves as among the worst singers but are invited to come and sing with joy in their hearts. Lymington heard me at my worst! Being among the worst didnt mean I wasnt doing my best and God accepts us for what we try to be!

As we start Christian Aid Week today I remember attending a church in rural Kenya under a clump of trees with a congregation dressed in the only clothes they had. They came before God every day dressed the same — outside and inside — and what matters most to God was how they were clothed on the inside! Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience with a cloak of love (Colossians 3: 12-14) are your daily bestwith no need to change for Sunday.

We can all look good for a special occasion, but the best relationships are made when people see you at your worst and still love you. God sees us ALL THE TIME — at our best and at our worst — and we should measure with the same eyes of our Father!

A prayer of encouragement: Thank you, Lord, that when you see me at my worst your Love is at its best! May my love be at its best when I see people at their worst. Amen!

Christian Aid Week starts today and they invite us to begin our reflections for the week by reading Genesis 1: 3-5 and then consider that each morning, the sun rises, and each evening, it sets. How incredible that the rhythm of life at the beginning of creation is still the one that all inhabitants of the Earth experience. Reflect for a moment on the rhythm of life and the enduring promise of sunrise. Consider the wonder and beauty of creation, which we have the joy of inhabiting. How can you ensure a light touch on the Earths resources and live in closer communion with creation? Pray:

Giver of life,

thank you for the light of each day,

and for your mercy, new every morning.

Turn us into the rhythm of your will,

renewing, restoring and releasing creation

so we may be co-creators with you. Amen.

On Saturday we are setting up a book stall from 10 am with all proceeds being donated to Christian Aid so please come along and find that book for reading on a rainy day or from the garden deckchair in the sun! Pass the word round, please!

We had notice of a planning application for the shop opposite us at 76 High Street, that has been unused for about seven years, to become a hot food takeaway/restaurant opening seven days a week between 0900 and 2300. Any thoughts?

Congratulations to Margaret and Mike Taylor who celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary on Wednesday.

Continue to pray for: Gerard following his operation big operation last week .

Also for Naomi Pam Susan Michael Frank and Christine Victor Kathy Hancock Tom and Janet Vicky Margaret

If you have any memories of Mavis Payne please let me know as every little story helps to shape the celebration of her life on Monday May 24th at the Vale Crematorium. It will be at 3pm and if you would like to attend please let me know. Please pray for the family.

Pray for Israel, the Methodist Minister, and his family and friends in India during the pandemic crisis.

Pray for Kate who is expecting a baby that will need to be delivered early by c-section.

Heavenly Father,

we pray, as so many of us cast our votes yesterday throughout the UK,

that what the pandemic has shown us and taught us

might inform our politics

so we vote in alignment with our faith and Your values,

as revealed in the life and sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless, Richard