Careers advice

Forgive me Lord, for I am going to be presumptuous.

I sit listening to careers advice at uni and I already know that half my heart isn’t really listening. 

I am trying to concentrate, trying to plan for the next steps, listening to jobs I can apply for, I’m trying to listen but my mind is being pulled by scripture.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

I remember when this passage was given to me. It was lovely, but at the time I was slightly clueless and they were just nice words of comfort. I passed the passage on to my close friend at Christmas when it was whispered back to me in response to a prayer of encouragement for her. I scrawled it into her card hoping it would make sense. 

And here I am, being inspired by this passage again for the third time. But this time I acknowledge the words, not only in my mind, but in my soul, and in my heart. 

I sit here thinking about the future and all I have in my mind is that I want to visit residential homes and listen to the people there, I want to tell them that Jesus loves them and they are never alone. I want to hold their hands and pray with them, I want to bring them communion and let God’s light shine through their hearts. I want to go to schools and show children how they are all wonderfully and fearfully made. That they dance with the Lord with every laugh and every smile. I want to bring them the stories of the gospel and dress up with them, I want to see their faces shine as God’s face shines on them.

I want to welcome new lives into the world, into the church, I want to see people brought together by God, I want to be there at the end as they rise in glory to be in the arms of Jesus. 

I just want to show you how wonderful our Heavenly Father is, how the warmth of the Holy Spirit can be breathed into your life, how close you can come to walking on the water with Jesus. You only have to put your feet over the side of the boat, and I will hold your hand until you run over the waves to him.

Yes Lord, you give me a future and a hope, and that is more than enough for me.

Hidden gem 

During our ministry day last weekend we were sent out into Manchester to see what other churches were doing on a Saturday. The rain was horrendous, my feet were practically washed as I squelched around the streets looking for a church playfully called The Hidden Gem. The map showed us where it was and as we walked away from the main road I began to see groups of people walking together going the same direction. I knew we needed to follow them and I was right. Down the most average back street in Manchester was the sound of Latin pouring out of this building.

Standing outside the church, the rain was even harder now, and as I looked to my right I saw a camp of tents pitched up opposite the church entrance. I knew if I could hear the Latin, they could, maybe it brought comfort hearing mass from their tired tarpaulin. 

I’ve never experienced a Eucharist in a Catholic Church before, so I was excited to see what Mass was like and to see the Church inside. I popped my head from around the screen and my mouth opened in surprise. Not only was the church beautiful it was full! 

My friends and I snuck into a back pew just as the priest put the Monstrance on the altar. It was the most golden object I’d ever seen. The Priest then disappeared and as l am an Anglican I had no clue what was going on, but the kneeling pads looked inviting so I knelt and prayed in the silence.  

I noticed that the absolute silence in the church felt thick in the air. If there was a squeak from a pew the noise was absorbed. My skin was tingling all over, wave after wave, God was here with us. We were three foreign women in a foreign church yet he was here with us.

Out of the stillness I heard the faint cry of a newborn baby. It awoke me from my prayers with a start. The shrill wailing became louder and louder. Here in this moment all I could think of was Jesus as baby, bursting into the world, his very presence so human yet changing the whole dynamic of our earthly life. My thoughts switched to the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, here I was in this surreal experience, heart pounding, skin tingling, continually amazed by his glory.
The baby continued to cry but was soon settled just as Mass began. Afterwards we saw the little one, not one peep was made through the whole service. The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ was upon us all.

I received a blessing from the Priest as I knew I couldn’t take communion from him, the whole experience was fascinating and afterwards I realised that it was significant too.

I remember my first dream that led me to follow Jesus, it was Mary that led me into a temple and pointed me to a huge statue of her son’s feet. I bought a necklace to remind me of Mary’s message, it had a charm showing the depiction of Mary appearing to Bernadette at Lourdes. When I visited The Hidden Gem, according to their pew sheet, the feast this week is Our Lady of Lourdes.

I’m taking that as a sign that I am certainly following what God has planned for me. It has been three years since that happened (new year 2013) and it all made sense after walking into the church that has filled my heart everyday since. I thank God everyday for calling me to find the love of Jesus there. The Church of England is certainly my home but I will hold a soft spot for the wonders of Mary in The Catholic Church.