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A Work in Progress: Walking with Jesus

Find the Voice of Hope

Picture credit: Lily Padula, New York Times

The world is full of competing voices clamouring for our attention. During this challenging season, our country- our world even- seems to be increasingly polarised. There are lots of big, loud opinions around (mine included!) Lots of people are fearful, or angry, or both. We are frequently bombarded with negativity on our social media feeds and TV screens.

But we can all choose which voices we listen to.

We can listen to voices that wind us up, make us more angry and cynical, make us feel bad about ourselves, cause us anxiety- or we can make a concerted effort to spend more time listening to voices that leave us feeling encouraged, hopeful, at peace; that speak the truth to us in love. Maybe these voices belong to trusted friends or family members; maybe they belong to public figures that seek to build up and reconcile rather than divide and tear down. Maybe it means changing what we watch or what we listen to.

During lockdown my family and I have been walking- a lot. First of all it was because it was all we could do, and more recently because it’s grown into a habit we all enjoy. Sometimes we walk together, but I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time walking alone. We are lucky enough to live within walking distance of Mote Park in Maidstone and I have been getting up early and walking around the park before work. This has given me time and space to be still, and to reflect, and to pray, and to listen- to the still, small voice of God.

He tells me:

 I am chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4)

I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am blessed (Galatians 3:9)

I am set free (John 8:32)

I am strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10)

I am accepted (Ephesians 1:6)

His is the voice that tells me who I really am; that encourages and challenges and strengthens me; that brings hope, and peace.

If we seek out and listen to voices that build us up, we can then speak hope and encouragement into other peoples’ lives, and help to spread peace and reconciliation, rather than negativity and division. It’s a big challenge- but one that I think is well worth accepting.

Originally broadcast as a Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Kent, Sunday 5th July 2020

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Thought for the Day: Created for Community

Last week I went to meet a young mum who had been referred to our Princess Project Mum2Mum befriending service. I really enjoyed spending time with her and her gorgeous baby girl. Materially, they seemed to be doing OK. There was clearly a close and loving bond between mother and daughter. But she was isolated, living alone with her little one, with no real friends to speak of. When I asked her what her biggest concern was at the moment the answer was simple- that she was lonely. She was longing for community.

I believe that as human beings we have been designed by God to walk through life in the company of others; that we were created for community- to share our joys, our sorrows, our successes, and our failures. As we read in the book of Ecclesiastes “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up!”

Of course, being in relationship with other people is not always easy. Being honest with each other, sharing of ourselves, making ourselves vulnerable, can be very uncomfortable. As well as love, support, encouragement, and friendship, we open the door to being hurt, disappointed, and let down- because none of us are perfect. But as Theodore Roosevelt famously said “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…”

As we’ve heard this morning, and will be thinking about this week in the run up to Easter Sunday, Jesus himself was no stranger to difficult relationships and experienced conflict, disagreement, betrayal, and disappointment just as we do. But he also models for us healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. My prayer today is that we too would embrace and invest in the communities that God has placed us in, be they our families, friendship groups, or churches, however imperfect they may be. I pray too that we would be prepared to open up these communities to those who are lonely, isolated, and vulnerable- because I truly believe that we are better together.

Broadcast on the BBC Radio Kent Sunday programme 20/3/16 (1:47:48)

 

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