Reverend Jenny's Lists of 10
After reading ‘Ten’ by John Pritchard Rev. Jenny was prompted me to make her own lists of ‘Ten’.
What would be on your list?....
November's list of 10 on Suffering
Remembrance Sunday and All Souls lead us to question suffering, war and death. WHY do bad things happen to good people? IF God loves us why let us suffer? – timeless questions asked in the Old Testament Book of Job (written c. 3000 years ago). Is suffering our fault?...Is suffering sent by God to punish us?...Christian opinions differ but what does Jesus say/do?
1. God does NOT cause suffering*. Wherever he goes Jesus heals people. Jesus takes suffering away and asks us to do this too – feed the hungry, tend the sick, lonely, poor etc (Matthew 25:40).
2. Suffering is NOT good. On the night before he dies, Jesus prays in anguish to God to take his suffering away (Luke 22:42).
3. Suffering is NOT God’s punishment*. Jesus corrects this view: The sun shines on the good and bad. The rain falls on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:45, Luke 13:5)
4. Suffering is NOT sent by God to test us/make us stronger.* God, our Heavenly Father, wouldn’t give us a stone if we asked for bread, a scorpion if we asked for fish. (Matthew 7:9)
5. Some suffering is due to sin (people’s evil/selfish choices), some (like natural disasters) to the way God created the world - complex beyond human understanding (Job 42).
6. There is a time for everyone/everything to be born and die (Ecclesiastes 3) but Jesus’ death on Good Friday is NOT the end* – it’s the way for us to eternal life with God.
7. Suffering is lonely. Jesus cries in agony on the cross: ‘’My God, why have you forsaken me?’
8. Being with those who suffer feels useless but it matters. Mary and John are powerless to help Jesus, but they stay at the foot of the cross. (John 19:25)
9. When we suffer, when we can’t do anything, we can still pray for/care/for look out for others as Jesus does for Mary, John and the thief on the cross. (Luke 23:43)
10. In suffering Jesus still trusts God: ‘Father, into your hands I commit my Spirit’ (Luke 23:46)
*contrary to some Old Testament verses
‘All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.’ Helen Keller
‘To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in suffering.’ Friedrich Nietzsche
‘Where is God now?...Here He is- hanging here on this gallows’ Elie Wiesel in Auschvitz
October's list of 10
Most weeks I get a call or email from village parents or grandparents with questions about having their baby or child christened in one of the village churches. I’ve listed 10 answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Did you know?...
- A Christening and a Baptism are two words for the same service.
- A Baptism/Christening is joining the church family so it usually takes place during the Sunday morning service.
You can invite as many people as you wish.
- A Baptism/Christening is FREE – there is no church charge, just the usual collection/offertory in the service.
- A Baptism/Christening is not just for babies – anyone, at any age, can be baptised.
- A Baptism/Christening is the FIRST step on our life long journey of faith – people choose to believe for themselves when they come to be Confirmed.
- You can only be baptised/christened ONCE.
- You can have any number of Godparents – Godparents just have to have been baptised/christened themselves (Note: Godparents can be baptised/christened as part of the same service). If they haven’t been baptised/christened they can be Sponsors.
- There are 3 parts to Baptism/Christening – first the sign of the cross in oil on the forehead, then pouring of water as you receive your name, finally being given a special lighted candle.
- Parents (and Godparents if they would like) meet me in the rectory to go through service and do the admin – this usually takes an hour on a Saturday morning.
- Each person being baptised/christened is given a special card and candle in the service and an anniversary card for the first 5 years after their Baptism/Christening.
Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)
July and August's list of 10 Thoughts on SIN. Sounds old-fashioned but everyone
(including the Church) gets things wrong every day - it’s part of being human...why sorry (confession) and forgiveness (absolution) is part of every service.
- Sin = SELFISHNESS, forgetting others.
- 7 deadly sins ‘greed, pride, lust, anger, envy, gluttony and sloth’ HURT us and our world.
- Sin stops us being who we want to/could be.
- Sin SEPARATES us from each other.
- Sin is NOT doing the good we could.
- Sin is what we say/think as well as do.
- Sin is a closed mind - refusing to listen to others/God.
- Sin is breaking the work/club code of conduct.
- Sin is forgetting the goodness of God (old Jewish saying)
- Sin is messing up through ‘ignorance, weakness, our own deliberate fault’–
but, thank God, far more can be mended than we know.
‘’The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be INDIFFERENT to them:
that's the essence of inhumanity’’ George Bernard Shaw .
“Hate the sin, love the sinner” St Augustine and Mahatma Gandhi.
June's list - about CHANGE and MOVING ON - not me planning to leave! what Jesus’ Ascension and Pentecost say to us today.
Life is full of endings and new beginnings...in families, in politics(!), in the world. Like it or not things change. Life moves on. Ascension Day (25th May) marks the end of Jesus’ life on earth. Pentecost (June 4th) marks the beginning of the Church, Jesus’ Spirit with us.
- Ascension Day is Jesus’ goodbye to his friends – the end of His physical life on earth.
Saying goodbye to those we love/rely on is hard. They leave a gap in our life. We miss their physical presence.
- Jesus’ friends/disciples have to let Him go. They don’t have a choice. It’s what happens. Ascension Day reminds us we’re not in control – GOD is.
- As He leaves them, Jesus tasks his friends to be HIS BODY on earth, His hands, His voice to share God’s love. Losing people we love/rely on invites us to learn, grow and do GOOD.
- Like us, Jesus’ friends can get stuck in grief/loss. Or PRAISE/THANK God for what we have.
- Like us, Jesus’ friends can look backwards to the past. Or FACE/EMBRACE all that lies ahead.
- What lies ahead is UNKNOWN for Jesus’ friends, for each of us and for the Church. We don’t have the whole picture – God does. We find our way one step at a time... trusting God.
- Jesus’ friends don’t always understand Him when He’s alive. We/the Church still struggle to understand, we get things wrong but we keep listening and asking His help to FOLLOW HIM.
- Friends matter. Jesus’ friends support each other. They pray, eat and work at their new life together...the CHURCH begins at Pentecost to love and serve.
- After Pentecost Jesus is a friend in a new way. Unseen, His SPIRIT is with us to inspire and support us. Always. If we ask/pray.
- We can’t explain the ‘how’ of Jesus’ Ascension or Pentecost. But we can trust God and let His Spirit grow in us His love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
My list of 10 ACTIONS for LENT.
Ash Wednesday tells us ‘from dust we come and to dust we shall return’. Lent challenges us to make a difference with our life.
1. Start each day counting your blessings... block out negative thoughts.
2. Give unwanted clothes, toys etc. to charity shops or friends...enjoy what you keep.
3. Buy a fair trade product... you’re helping someone get a better life.
4. Spend 5 minutes a day in quiet...unwind...be kind to yourself.
5. Slow down and savour what you rush - a meal, phone-call, meeting - enjoy the now.
6. Help someone...pick up litter, give blood, tidy the garden or house, volunteer.
7. Put change in a charity box.
8. Contact someone you haven’t seen for a while. Forgive someone you’ve fallen out with.
9. Have coffee or lunch with someone you don’t know very well.
10. Feed the birds, plants some seeds.
Revd. Jen’s Top 10 VALUES for Church today.
Schools and businesses have VALUES that shape them ... so do churches*. this is my list of 10 VALUES for church for 2017. How would you rank your top 10 VALUES?
1. TRUST in God’s goodness and love whatever happens
2. RESPECT and welcome everyone...everyone matters
3. OPENNESS to change and grow...listening to God and other people
4. HONESTY about doubts, questions, challenges, failures and needs
5. PERSEVERENCE... everyone meets setbacks....progress is usually slow
6. PATIENCE with others and ourselves ...life is messy...we learn by mistakes
7. HUMILITY /REALISM... we won’t get to bottom of the mystery of God, life etc.
8. INTEGRITY ...become the best we can be...try to live out our faith in daily life
9. JUSTICE ...at the heart of God’s kingdom...work that all may flourish
10. LOVE – the core value - look outwards – seek to bless
*Churches are flawed because people are flawed but Jesus’ values are flawless!
Philip Pullman isn’t a fan of churches (or any organised religion) but he echoes Psalm 1 as he writes: ‘churches should be like a tree with its roots deep in the soil, that shelters every kind of bird and beast and gives blossom in the spring and shade in the hot sun and fruit in the season...’ I strongly agree.
Rev'd Jen's top 10 Christmas Bible verses
Christmas carol services have 9 lessons (short bible readings between carols), including verses from the Old Testament
prophet Isaiah. Isaiah foretells the coming of Jesus and new life with God. My top ten includes some made famous in 'Handel's Messiah'. I wonder how many you know ...........
1.The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – upon them light has shined... Isaiah 9:2
2. For a child has been born for us...he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace...Isaiah 9:6
3. The wolf shall live with the lamb...a little child shall lead them...they will not hurt or destroy...for the earth will be full of the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea... Isaiah 11: 6 and 9
4. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms...and gently lead the mother sheep. ................Isaiah 40:11
5. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine...I will be with you...you are precious in my sight and honoured and I love you... Isaiah 43:1-5
6. I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places...Isaiah 45:3
7. Even when you turn grey I will carry you. I have made and I will bear (you)... I will carry and will save (you).......Isaiah 46:4
8. I will not forget you. See I have inscribed (tattooed!) your name on the palms of my hands... Isaiah 49:16
9. Return... to our God, for he will abundantly pardon...For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are my ways your ways my ways, says the Lord.’ Isaiah 55:7-8
10. As a mother comforts her child so I will comfort you...You shall see and your heart shall rejoice.
Share the hope and joy of Christmas in our village carol services listed in the Parish News.
10 Cliches to Avoid. What would be on your list of trite sayings to avoid?
1.‘The Bible clearly states…’ No! the 66 books of the Bible need interpretation ...when were they written? who by? who for? how do they fit with the whole Bible?
2. ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ ... God doesn’t pick on you and protect me!
3. ‘We have God on our side’... God’s not tribal! God sides with the poor, with peace and justice.
4. ‘God didn’t listen to my/our prayers’... God always listens and already knows our thoughts and needs... but do we always listen to God?
5. ‘If only we had enough faith’... No! Faith doesn’t force God to act. God’s always on our side.
6. ‘If only we were like the Early Church’ ... St Paul’s letters show they had flaws and problems too!
7. ‘Everything’s part of God’s plan’ ... No! Suffering comes from selfish choices or how the world/we are made. God doesn’t send pain or tragedy.
8. ‘God’s in control’...God’s not a puppeteer pulling our strings. God chooses to give us free choice.
9. ‘God’s got his eye on you’… sounds like a policeman waiting to catch us out, not a loving parent!
1 0. We’ve always done it this way’...God continually creates and renews - we should too.
What would your 10 New Testament bible verses be?
1. ‘God is LOVE. Those who live in love live in God and God lives in them.’ 1 John 3:16
2. Jesus said: ‘I came that they may have LIFE, and have it to the full.’ John 10:10
3. Jesus said: ‘Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you REST. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle of heart and you will find rest for your soul’. Matthew 11:28
4. Jesus said: ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take courage: I have conquered the world.’ John 16:33
5. Jesus said: ‘My PEACE I give to you, my peace I leave with you… do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.’ John 14:27
6. Jesus said: ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the LIGHT of life.’ John 8:12
7. ‘Jesus said: ‘If I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and will take to myself so that where I am there you will be also’.
8. Jesus said: ‘Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age’ Matthew 28:20
9. Jesus told them: ‘Just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
10. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.’
10 STORIES that tell the big Bible Story… friendship is the key…
1. MAKING friends: God creates the world and humankind to live in friendship with Him (Genesis 1 and 2).
2. Friends FALL OUT: Adam and Eve go their own way but God doesn’t give up (Genesis 3). The bible tells of God’s ‘search and rescue mission’ to bring us home.
3. Friends LIVE together: God give Moses 10 Commandments - ground rules to live by (Exodus 20).
4. Friends look to the FUTURE: people ignore God’s ways but God sends prophets, then promises His Son, Jesus to help us get back on track (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah etc).
5. Friends get a NEW START: God comes in Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John’s gospels).
6. Friends LEARN together: Jesus teaches by stories and example – we’re still learning what it means to follow him (eg Sermon on the Mt Matthew 5-6).
7. Our Best Friend DIES: In Jesus God offers himself and all he stands for; the world crucifies Him.
8. LOVE doesn’t die: Jesus is raised from the dead and meets his friends at the tomb, on the Road to Emmaus, in the Upper Room, by the Sea of Galilee… (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John’s gospels).
9. Friends made NEW: the Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost to give us power/energy to be like Jesus (Acts of the Apostles, St Paul’s Letters).
10. Friends FOR EVER: God promises to make all things new –we will be gathered up with Him for ever (Book of Revelation).
10 Reasons Why Christianity Has Lasted So Long (And continues to grow worldwide today…)
What do you make of this list?
Note: Christians/the Church often fail to live out this Christian faith BUT these reasons still hold true…
1. Christianity is about LOVE - accepting God’s love for us, loving God and our neighbour.
2. Christianity is about JESUS. His teaching and example inspires people of all faiths and none (Ghandi read the Sermon on the Mount every day!)
3. Christianity recognises we all carry burdens – it’s our privilege to HELP each other along the road.
4. Christianity CHANGES ideas of life and death, power and weakness, success and failure. The greatest serve, givers receive, Jesus’ death on the cross is the way to life in God’s kingdom.
5. Christianity is real about EVIL (SIN), the flaws in us and the world, and helps us deal with both. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect – he invites us to travel in the right direction.
6. Christianity values EVERYONE equally as made in the image of God, unique and precious. We all matter to God.
7. Christianity encourages us to enjoy and care for our WORLD. God is interested in every part of life not just the churchy/religious/moral bit.
8. Christianity works for JUSTICE, the well-being of our planet and everyone on it.
9. Christianity believes in God beyond us (Father), God with us in history (Son), God in us (Holy Spirit) - one God revealed in three ways (Holy Trinity) to sustain, befriend and inspire us.
10. We can’t prove Christianity is true but it changes lives - millions of Christians find new hope and purpose in suffering and in joy – we each have to try it and see for ourselves.
10 things I don't believe about God
1. I don’t believe in an ‘Old Man in the Sky’ God, interfering randomly in the world. I see God as always with us, even when we’re not aware of Him through busyness, indifference, ignorance etc.
2. I don’t believe God is dead, killed by scientific thinking. Science and religion are not natural enemies, they just ask different questions and contribute to each other.
3. I don’t believe God is waiting to catch us out, like a divine traffic warden. I see God as a loving parent, encouraging us to do our best, hurting when we hurt, guiding us to do good.
4. I don’t believe God condemns people to Hellfire for eternity. I think Hell is the absence of love. People make life Hell for themselves and others but God never stops searching for the lost.
5. I don’t believe God sends suffering to test us/punish us/make us better human beings. Bad stuff happens through selfish choices or because that’s just how the world/our bodies are.
6. I don’t believe God has favourites. I believe God loves everyone (not just Christians!) and wants everyone to flourish, whatever we believe or don’t believe
7. I don’t believe God means us to read the bible literally. We read the bible as the ‘truth’ story of God’s love and purpose, with respect, an open mind and awareness of when/why it was written.
8. I don’t believe an angry God kills off his innocent Son to appease his sense of justice. I believe the cross and Easter are about God facing and defeating evil through love.
9. I don’t believe God worries about Church statistics. God’s concern is for human flourishing in a just and joyful world. God loves the world and encourages us to do the same.
10. I don’t believe anyone on earth knows everything about God. Sometimes the Church gets God wrong eg over slavery, women, intolerance etc. We grow when we listen to and learn from others.
1. Take care what you worship (put first). Will work, ambition, image, possessions etc. really matter when the going gets tough, when bad stuff happens?... will it take the strain?
2. Don’t let technology, celebrity, looks, houses, cars, holidays become idols … life’s greatest gifts are life itself, strong relationships and purpose.
3. Don’t expect God to back up your thinking. God is for peace and justice. God wants everyone and everything to flourish, God has no favourites
4. Find balance in life – take time to be refreshed (Sabbath rest). Be kind to yourself and live mindfully.
5. Look after your parents and family – we’ll all be old one day!
6. Don’t hurt others by word or action – treat others as you would like to be treated - take Climate Change, world poverty, Fair Trade seriously.
7. Be loyal to your partner – selfish choices hurt everyone.
8. Don’t take what isn’t yours, give what you can to people in need.
9. Don’t lie to get out of trouble or get someone else into trouble.
10. Don’t envy what friends, neighbours, celebrities have – value and enjoy your life – it’s the golden key to contentment and inner freedom!
* You can check God’s list in the bible in Exodus 20 verses 1-17 and Deuteronomy 5 verses 4-21