Rise Up and Walk!

Silver and gold have I none,

But such as I have give I thee:

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

Rise up and walk!

These lovely words are from Rob Evans, aka The Donut Man, and form a children’s song paraphrasing chapter 3 of the book of Acts.

Cheesy. Corny. Cutesome. My kids used to love Donut Man when they were small. What a beautiful illustration these words are of how God works in our lives, how He uses the unexpected to accomplish what we never even imagined possible, and how He doesn’t need what we think is necessary to do what He needs to do.

Lord, help me, today, to ‘rise up and walk’, and may it be for Your glory.  Amen

Clarinet and Ukulele

Last week Fluff (13) had her first clarinet lesson. Her piano teacher also teaches clarinet so we’re very fortunate. Fluff often feels like she lives in the shadow of her sister, which is difficult when it’s your little sister. Chip (11) is one of those (annoying) people who is gifted at everything: she’s very academic, she’s a natural swimmer, she played for the school football team in primary school, she’s a gifted actress, she was voted form captain within the first fortnight of secondary school, she’s friends with everyone, she got the Head Teacher’s Commendation Award at the end of the first term (December ’16), she currently has both bronze and silver merit badges… Need I say more? I marvel at this girl. Is she really bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh?!

I adore my Chip but sometimes find it hard to relate to her seemingly inevitable success, not to mention her gushing abundance of self confidence. Fluff – fiercely independent, creative, very much her own person, not as academic but determined, a bit of a loner – I confess I relate to better. Fluff is currently discovering her innate talent for music (she’s just picked up my ukulele and begun playing, never having touched it before). We bought her a second-hand clarinet for Christmas and by the end of Boxing Day she was playing In the Bleak Midwinter.

The delightful thing, for me as her parent, is that because she’s not used to being as naturally good at something as her sister, she takes such joy in the discovery of music. She’s also recognised that hard work pays off: she has a natural talent but knows that musicianship is found in practise, and plenty of it.

I wonder if there’s a lesson in that? I wonder if something is the more wonderful when it is hard won? I wonder if joy is only truly found in the space between sorrows?

“The kingdom of heaven is like [yeast], which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till all of it was leavened.”

“…the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:33, 45-46 (NKJV)

emphasis mine

When Starbucks Meets Jesus

“We’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business serving coffee.”

~ Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks,

as quoted in The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

It struck me, on hearing these words, that that’s exactly the kind of thing Jesus would say. Not the coffee bit. They didn’t have hot beverages in 1st century Palestine, to my knowledge. Mind you, the Romans were big on street food, weren’t they? Anyway… You may recall the words in the gospel of Mark, chapter two:

“…Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralytic – “I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.”

Mark 2:9-11 (NRSVA)

and later:

“The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath…”

Mark 2:27

Jesus must have really got up the noses of the (self) righteous o_O This utterly delights me, perhaps more than it should. I like to imagine that an altered version of Mr. Starbucks’ phrase, coming from the mouth of Jesus, would be something like this:

“We’re not in the business of serving God, we’re in the God business, serving people.”

There is nothing that you or I can do to ‘serve’ God. There is no way we can build the bridge between us and God. It’s impossible. Instead we love because He loves us, and when we share this unconditional love – also known as grace – then we are in the God business.

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Hurrah! Be blessed, friends. Receive what is freely given.

Image from idpinthat.com

LENT DAY FIVE: Robust in Love

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift… 

No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Ephesians 4:4-7,14-16 (The Message)

‘Robust in love’ – I like that. A prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me today to remain robust in love for those around me and for those far away. Help me to be robust in love for myself and, especially, robust in love for You. I can never give to You what You give to me. Help me to stop trying to repay You for what You have done! May we, Your children, all grow up healthy in mind and in spirit and may we always walk in Your ways, following Your footsteps where the need is greatest. May love reign above all. Thank you for the gift of love, and for the gift of prayer. Thank you for the gift of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Hear our prayers. In Your blessed name I pray, thank you Jesus.

Amen