There Is A Time For Everything


atime for everything

 

1  There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2         a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6     a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7     a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8     a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 – 8

It’s The Little Things


Have you ever noticed how it’s the little things that get you when you are feeling vulnerable? I don’t just mean the bad things, but the good things too. You can cope with the big things that happen – the bereavement, the sudden illness, the car accident – but when someone is randomly kind to you, or offers you a smile when you weren’t expecting it it can undo you, can’t it?

That kind of happened to me today. I went to Asda at lunchtime to get some things for tea tonight and there was a huge Mother’s Day display at the entrance. I thought I would get my Mum’s gift today because tomorrow is going to be hectic and while I was thinking about what to get her it suddenly struck me that this year, I only have one mum to buy for. My mother in law, Doreen, died just after Mothering Sunday last year and the thought that I only needed to pick up one card, one gift this year took my breath away.

small things

The thing that surprised me most was that even though we were not particularly close before she died, she was still my husband’s mother and I still cared about her, and it upset me to think that she wouldn’t be included in the thanksgiving this Sunday. Obviously I was upset at the time of the death (I was with her when she died), and I grieved for her in the weeks around her funeral but the list of “firsts” that come in the year since someone dies have come and gone without much emotion. Christmas, New Year, her birthday, her wedding anniversary, all our birthdays etc have all come and gone without any drama but for some reason, the sight of the tacky Mother’s Day stuff in Asda today nearly undid me.

Another little thing that means more than grand gestures was this morning when I came downstairs and Kevin had made me a cup of tea on a thermal cup to take to work with me. I was running late and didn’t have time to get a drink before heading out in the snow, but he’d thought ahead and made me that tea. A small gesture but it speaks volumes..

Do the little things go deeper than the big things do you think? Or is it just that we notice the small things because they shine out in times of darkness? Let me know your thoughts.

 

A Time To Be Still


Everybody needs time to be still. Stillness implies stopping something – moving, talking, eating, worrying, crying, laughing, agitating – whatever it is, we all need to stop and be still.

But how difficult is it to stop yourself and just be in the moment, in the presence of something bigger than yourself and not to fret about what you are not doing?

I suppose the answer lies in the difference between being and doing, and sometimes, when we are so wrapped up in doing we forget what it’s like to simply be.

When are the best times to be still? Anyone can be still when they are relaxed or comforted, restful and happy, but what about the times when you are stressed and angry, or agitated and sad?

Are you like me, who when I get stressed and bogged down with things to do, I turn into a ball of spiky energy and get so wrapped up in myself that I can’t function? If you are, then you’ll recognise the added angst I feel when someone tells me to ‘calm down’. The worst two words in the English language!

But what happens if you can calm down, and you can stop yourself getting tighter and tighter wound up into a ball? I had a wonderful opportunity this evening to be still, and to be calm, and to not be distracted by the jobs and tasks mounting on my my ‘to do’ list and it was wonderful. For the space of an hour and a half I was in fellowship with some of my church family, which in itself is a calming atmosphere, but in that time we spent just 3 minutes or so listening to some music with the lights low which was like a shot in the arm for me. I didn’t really focus on the music and I didn’t even focus on the things I’d left at home but I did manage to just enjoy the moment and to feel a connection to the world that gets lost in the stress and anxiety of living.

I feel better for it too. The things that were making me so angry have simmered down and don’t seem so prominent now, and I have been able to get a grip on my sliding anxiety. I still have a lot to do but it somehow doesn’t feel so frightening now.

What ways do you find to be still? Do you find it difficult to justify the time to yourself if you do take some time out? How do you recognise the need to be still?

Or is it something you hadn’t thought about before?

If that’s you, then take some time to be still and let yourself simply be, not do. Let me know how you get on.

be still

Mary Anoints Jesus


At study group tonight we looked at the passage of the Bible in John’s gospel where Mary anoints Jesus just before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12: 1- 8). We looked at it in terms of where we see God in the picture, and our discussion meandered its way through the relationships of the people there. In case you are not familiar with the passage, here it is:

Jesus anointed at Bethany

12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about half a litre of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

‘Leave her alone,’ Jesus replied. ‘It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.’

 

Vallotton Annie  Vallotton drawings _Good news bible  Collins Fontana 1976 British and foreign bible societies 146 Queen Victoria Street London

I think that in the past we have concentrated much on the roles of Martha and Mary in this story but as we discovered tonight there is far more to it than just those two.

For example, Judas Iscariot. According to this account he has already been named as a thief – it raises the question to me over whether his betrayal of Jesus was in punishment for this crime, or if the two are not linked. I can’t see them not being linked, which leads me to think about Judas’ motives for wanting to preserve the expensive perfume. We can look at his motives in terms of our own stewardship of our churches, and to some extent to our rites and practices in our worship. Do we hang on to things that are better off being used, or are we guilty of trying to preserve our assets based on their value…just in case? On the face of it, Judas was acting in the interests of the poor – ‘why wasn’t that sold and the proceeds given to the poor?’ he asks. But his own selfish motives were lurking underneath and I wonder sometimes if we are serving our own interests rather than those we are here to serve and hiding behind the words ‘it’s for the poor’?

Another aspect is the inclusion of Lazarus at this dinner. Lazarus was raised from the dead not so long ago by Jesus, and here Jesus is dining with him as large as life. This is doubly striking because not only do we know that Lazarus lived on (and lived well), but that he was dicing with death simply by hosting Jesus and his disciples in his house. Anyone who knew where Jesus was at that time was risking being arrested and put to death themselves, but here, Lazarus simply doesn’t care about that. He is reclining and enjoying peaceful and unhurried dining with Jesus at home with his family.

Wow. That makes me think.

Having brushed with death once before you’d perhaps think that Lazarus would want to steer clear of trouble and would not have Jesus over his threshold. But he didn’t, and it raises with me the point that he must have had absolute faith and trust in Jesus that all would be well. He welcomed him in, he threw a dinner in his honour, and he was relaxed and enjoying his company rather than worrying about soldiers knocking on his door.

What a great picture that paints for us if we do the same; if we welcome Jesus into our hearts and honour him with the everyday things that we do, being relaxed and enjoying his presence then how much easier would life be because we are not worrying about anything knocking on our door.

So, my question to you today is this: Where do you see yourself in the scenario of when Mary anointed Jesus before the Passover? Do you see yourself as Lazarus, relaxed and happy, or do you see yourself as Martha, serving the others in Jesus’ presence? Do you recognise the Judas Iscariot in you where you are perhaps saying one thing that looks good to the others but with entirely different motives underneath? Or how about one of the unnamed disciples there too? Are you watching and listening, or are you engaged and taking part in the conversation? What would you be saying? Maybe you are too worried about the soldiers outside the door to be fully enjoying the experience of having Jesus by your side.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.