Yesterday, today, and forever.

I woke up this morning to the news of our exiting the EU. I had such a feeling of sadness and then a fear of the unknown. I watched friends throw insults at each other through social media and hurtful racist discourse linger around like an oil slick on a clear sea. But where was God in all of this? In all this change and uncertainty the answer came to me clearly.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

He is constant, our saviour who never changes, who doesn’t vote to leave us or step down when we make mistakes. He is there guiding us, carrying our burdens, and nourishing us when the journey ahead is long and complicated.

I walked passed a patch of long grass on the way back from another failed job interview and in this wild rubbley mound was a patch of wild poppies. They seemed to have sprouted up and found a way to grow even in this seemly barren and not very favourable environment. I thought about the poppies as their pretty petals flopped in the breeze, they were such a beautiful sea of red. These poppies had grown because they had something that was in constant supply. And like the poppies, I believe that Jesus Christ being our constant supply of hope, of love, and of joy enables us to grow and bloom even when our environment isn’t in the best shape. His ever faithful presence in our lives renews our strength and our faith and hope in times of crisis and the unknown future ahead.

Jesus walks with us in these times of confusion and uncertainty, he is in the stillness beckoning us to keep moving, he is in the storm silencing the waves when we are overwhelmed, he is a lighthouse when we are covered in mist and cannot see in front of us. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And he’s telling us not to be afraid because he is right here with us all.

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and under his wings you will find refuge

I’m an avid follower of BBC Springwatch, today I was watching one of their live cameras with bated breath as one of the sparrowhawk chicks was breaking out of its egg. What a wonderful sight it was, watching this tiny fluffy exhausted chick wriggling around his fellow unhatched siblings in the nest. The nest was unattended but the chick’s parents weren’t far away, they were sharing a meal and soon she landed ever so delecately back on the next and embraced the chick with her beautiful warm feathers.

This week has been a terrible week for news, so much death, so much hatred, yet this morning in a small nest life was beginning, bursting from its speckled tomb. As I circled my thoughts in prayer on the joy of the emergence of the chick and the terrible shocking news reports, I began to think about that light which pours in during these darkest times. Like the chick covered in the darkness of the shell we too are covered by the darkness of the times that are happening before us. Soon we will begin to see a light, a glimmer of hope which raises us up and we move closer towards it, we follow and see that the light, the hope becomes bigger, soon there is more light than dark and from this shell we emerge under the warm and loving wings of our God.

Our hope, that light, is our determination to make our world a better place, to love our neighbour, to help the sick, the poor, the lonely, the isolated. Christ in us is our hope and glory, who renews our strength when there seems to be no way out and we are exhausted. The Holy Spirit lifts us and directs us inflating our wings to soar high. But when the wind is low, and the storms are growing, we return to our nests and take refuge under our Heavenly Father’s wings. There we wait until we see the light again, a light that never goes out, one which invites us to peak out from the feathers and once again feel the wind in our wings.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” (Psalm 91:4)

Leadership is offering something, big or small

This article written by myself was published by the Student Christian Movement on the 7th June

Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there) Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” (John 6:9-12)

I love reading the feeding of the five thousand. The miracle where Jesus fed his people with such a small offering of food always makes me stop and think about what we can offer. We all have unique gifts, some are more obvious than others, but sometimes we have an idea that might just be a little risky or out of our comfort zone. Leadership can certainly feel like this, especially as a young person. We become just like the boy in the story, our hands out in front of us, offering up to Jesus what we would regard as something small and possibly insufficient. We start to think about what we are offering, our thoughts turn to why we might not be good at leadership; I haven’t been part of church that long; I’m the youngest person here; I’m not sure anyone will listen. Jesus looks at us and takes what we offer, he sees past our worries, blesses our offering, and transforms it into something amazing.

After the crowd is fed, what really strikes me as comforting, is the collection of the pieces that are left over, Jesus says, “let nothing be wasted”, telling us here that our experiences that we bring either from school, from our jobs, from church life, from our whole life, are never wasted.

Skills we have grown outside of formal leadership structures bring such diversity into the church. Being part of a band or a team creates an environment where leadership can grow and thrive, Jesus sees all these skills and gifts and brings them into his church. We always have something to offer, from being an excellent tea maker (this is how I started!) to being able to give someone the space to be listened to. Sometimes past struggles and difficult situations become just as useful as positive experiences. I didn’t believe that the negative experiences in my life would be useful, but Jesus uses everything, he calls us loud and clear, “Let nothing be wasted”.

It’s important as young people to take this message as an invitation to offer up our gifts, our experiences, and our leadership skills. Congregations are becoming older and the need to reach out to younger people is a necessity. Jesus did not turn the boy away with his offering because he was young. He shows us how that boy helped him to feed five thousand people!

Jesus has faith in you to feed his people, he will take you, your talents, your gifts, your experience and turn them into something that maybe you had never even realised you could do before.

I have hidden your word in my heart

We had to create something to show our faith journey for the last session of Foundations for ministry. Here is a poem I wrote and read out, full of emotion and hot tears. The title is scripture that has been whispered to me recently during prayer asking for forgiveness and guidance. This course has been such a blessing, God continues to surprise me with unconditional relentless love.

I have hidden your word in my heart

You were always there when I was small, when life was tough, you heard my call.

Through careless comments and ridicule, you wiped my tears, you were my fuel.

A lonely childhood filled with pain, you held me close, sheltered from the rain.

You told me to cherish my soul, I felt loved, even when I wasn’t whole.

In my heart you’d whisper words, supportive, guiding, graceful like birds.

In dreams you saved me from the darkness, showing me where, my gifts were harnessed.

Into your church I finally came, my heart wide open, full of shame.

I poured out my sins, I turned to Christ, you asked me to tell others of my strife.

Waving palm leaves, My heart aflame, filled with joy you called my name.

Really Lord is it I? You must be mistaken, have another try.

Reaching out in my dreams, I touched my collar, my heart exploded in sunbeams.

Yes lord I hear you twice, I will serve, I will give you my life.

Communions, services, courses too, Making tea, sweeping the floor through.

Be a warden, no Lord not I, There must be some other guy.

Fill the form you say, I’ll show you the stave, I’ll give to you my eyes ablaze.

Moving quickly I’m calling you, trust in me, my journey is true.

Catching my breath, bleary eyed, I’ll follow Lord be my guide.

I’ll drink your water flowing, Pierced from your loving side.

Deacon you say, all robed in white, I’ll serve you Lord, hold me tight.

At your feet my tears do flow, Overwhelmed by your love, the worst of me you know.

I don’t have much Lord take me as I am, I owe everything I have, to you the lamb.

The father, the son, the Holy Ghost, trinity surround me, hold me close.

Your word is hidden in my heart, You’ve always been there for me, right from the start.