When childish things are not forgotten!
1 corinthians 13: 1-13
As a child I talked and behaved like a child. As a child I thought and reasoned like a child, but as I grew-up I was able to leave my childish ways behind me. Most of us can look back and remember the childish things we did, but not everyone can leave them in the past.
The most read and best known chapter from the bible, 1 Corinthians 13, is written in the context of the Love that never fails, but I have been wondering this week how it will win and forgive the childish thoughts of a woman so that she can grow to be healed by the greatest gift God can give. I was disturbed by the story of Shamima Begum last weekend and her picture from the newspaper looked at me as if asking for prayer. I can pray, but is that enough?
Shamima was one of three 15-year-olds who ran away to join Isis in 2015 and her childish actions then are something she is having to live with now and, possibly, for the rest of her life. I have seen so many people who did foolish things as children who have been healed because they were embraced by Love, but I have also seen others who have met with anger. A record of their wrongs lives forever in the minds of so many as the world has run out of patience. There comes a time when we must protect our own interests; trust that what we do is right and always hope that if we persevere we will overcome the evil in the world it is argued. Yes, it is understandable, but I do pray Love will meet Shamima where she is and that she will find new life for her and her children.
I am not proud of some of the things I did as a teenager, but I really didn’t know much better. In truth I hadn’t met Love in whom I could have faith that would give me hope for the future and it needed face to face encounters before I could begin to understand the power of God working in humanity. I pray Shamima will have those face to face encounters with Love in her Syrian detention centre and I am told that all I can do is leave it to God!
Yes, it is difficult to do much more for Shamima, but what about all the others who do foolish things as children and carry a record of wrongs with them into the future? They are not allowed to leave their childish ways behind them and unless they encounter Love face to face how will they learn to trust that with faith there is hope? If we believe anything is possible with God why does fear seem to overcome love and exclude so many people from society because of what they did as a child?
Leave it with God in prayer is the first step we can take, but what do we do when God answers our prayers and sends us to be the voice that shouts for justice; the hands that reach out to heal; the ears that listen to the stories and the eyes that see the true need? When the Lord says, “whom shall I send?” (Isaiah 6: 8) do we say “here I am, send me,” or do we expect someone else to go for us into the community to meet the families who don’t come to us?
Is it really possible that a child can be so radicalised into evil ways that not even the Love of God can change them? I pray the Church is — or will — exchange the comfort of the buildings and visit the prisons and detention centres where so many people are paying a high price for what they did as children…. If Love never fails we can’t give up on them because with patience and perseverance Love will win!
How different would the ‘Church’ be if everyone took a responsibility to be the light of Christ in the community, reaching people where they are with the Love that changes lives? As we reflect on John 2: 13-22 this evening we can see Jesus turning the tables on religious attitudes and, perhaps, knocking down an institution of ritual and tradition so we can have a true relationship with God through our prayerful conversation. The Church seems to be falling apart, but I believe God is still putting it together through all of us, not just a few of us!
Unless the Government road map takes a change of direction for any reason we plan to resume services in Church on Easter Sunday with the same social distancing policies as before lockdown. You will need to email or phone me to book a place because numbers will be limited but we hope that in June we will be able to increase the numbers able to attend — and even SING!! From the end of this month we encourage groups of up to six to meet outside to continue supporting each other and in May we plan to resume Look After Yourself.
Apparently the future of Britain’s bees hangs in the balance. Over the last few decades, we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows and our bees’ food supply is starting to run out. If they’ve got less food, there’ll be fewer bees to pollinate our crops – which means we’ll have less food too and last month, the UK Government approved the use of a bee-killing pesticide, suggesting the health of our bees isn’t a priority for them. However, following a petition calling on the government to avoid using bee killing pesticides the harmful Neonic seed treatment will now NOT be used on crops this year. It shows how we can be heard through petitions and campaigns so don’t dismiss them!
There’s more we can do to protect our bees. Evidence shows that planting bee-friendly flowers in our gardens could be the key to saving our bees so if thousands of us plant bee friendly flowers in our gardens, on our windowsills, or in a nearby green space, we can make sure our bees are able to thrive this spring. So start planting! Last year over 60,000 of us planted seeds to help protect our bees. And this year we can go even further, and make sure that even more of us fill our gardens with flower food to help our buzzy friends.
Many of you will remember David Savage who was a member of the Methodist Church and did so much for Churches Together in Broadway. He and his wife Christine had moved away and we were told at our Lent meeting on Wednesday that he died on Monday. If anyone wants to send a letter or card of condolences please contact me.
God Bless, Richard.