A Thought

A Thought 19.08.2017

 

“Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength… It is wisdom to take occasional furlough. In the long run, we shall do more by sometimes doing less.” – Charles Spurgeon

 

“God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” – Augustine

 

I was in Bakewell the other day feeling very righteous that I’d resisted the wonderful puddings and custard!! Then we walked by the river and saw the ducks appearing to stay still on the water. Yet the ducks were paddling like mad. There was complete frenetic activity underneath the water. In the Autumn or late Summer, we need to remember that life throws a lot at us. We, like the ducks, are paddling just to keep up sometimes.

But our Christian Tradition calls us to live a balanced life – one of work, prayer, rest and exercise. Too much of any one of these can quite literally throw us out of sync and damage our mental, physical and spiritual health. In our Community we have some great church buildings and these should be places of refreshment and revitalisation. They should be places of spiritual enlivening and spaces where we can meet our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. In these building there should be a warm welcome and a feeling of love, forgiveness and peace, but also on other occasions, joy, excitement and hopefulness.

So the two themes in this letter are firstly, we all need to remember in our busy lives find time for rest and relaxation – these two things are not optional for a healthy life. Secondly please do not be afraid of our churches.  The churches of Darley Dale, South Darley and Winster are your churches. They do not belong to a ‘holy few’; they belong to all of us, broken people who need God’s loving mercy in our lives.  Our churches are places where you will always be welcome.

So, finally, may I wish you and your family every blessing and love and peace, in God’s name. Amen

 

With the kindest of regards

Revd. Stephen Monk

 

 

Thoughts 13th August 2017

A Few mini thoughts for the week ahead

“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”    Augustine of Hippo

 

“A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them; then work which one hopes may be of some use; then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbour — such is my idea of happiness.” Leo Tolstoy

 

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”  John Lubbock

 

 

“The most valuable thing we can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of room, not try to be or do anything whatever.”    May Sarton

 

 

A Thought

This coming Tuesday is the ancient feast of Mary the Mother of God. This was the first title given to Mary during the Council of Ephesus. It is important because it points to the reality of Jesus being fully human and fully divine. Important because in His divine nature Jesus was able to redeem humanity and creation and in His human nature He could empathise with humanity. He could understand what it was to be a human being. So as in all families (for better or worse) Jesus was formed by His mum and His stepfather. Our parents form us in so many ways and these can bring about positive and negative attributes.

Mary is an example of a good mother – a mother who was humble in her ‘yes’ to the Angel; a mother who was broken by the cruel world she lived in; a mother who lost endless nights’ sleep because of worry about Jesus and His development and His chosen path to serve His Father. Mary is an ecumenical figure in that she is the Mother of all Christian traditions. For which son would not want all people to respect their mums? And the life Mary lived is an example to all of us. This example is an aid to how we can walk closer to God in our daily lives. Her example calls us to trust in God’s call; to be open to God’s promptings and to worship the Lord whatever happens in life. May we not see Mary as a plaster cast model but as a real woman, a model Evangelist and an example of what a Christian’s life should be like. Let’s not be sectarian and see Mary as only belonging to one tradition but as the mother of all Christians.

May you have a very Good week. Take care and God Bless.

Yours.

Stephen

Thoughts 6th August 2017

6th August

A Mini Thought

“The new heavens and the new earth are not replacements for the old ones; they are transfigurations of them. The redeemed order is not the created order forsaken; it is the created order – all of it – raised and glorified.” ― Robert Farrar Capon

“To put it simply: The Holy Spirit bothers us. Because he moves us, he makes us walk, he pushes the Church to go forward. And we are like Peter at the Transfiguration: ‘Ah, how wonderful it is to be here like this, all together!’ … But don’t bother us. We want the Holy Spirit to doze off … we want to domesticate the Holy Spirit. And that’s no good. because he is God, he is that wind which comes and goes and you don’t know where. He is the power of God, he is the one who gives us consolation and strength to move forward. But: to move forward! And this bothers us. It’s so much nicer to be comfortable.” ― Pope Francis

 

A Thought

Today we celebrate one of the greatest feasts of the Christian Church. We remember the words of the Book of Genesis – God created all this and it was good. Our world has the potential to be ‘good’, to be ‘amazing’, though our world is fallen and is darkened by sin and brokenness. There is still the faintest echo of that Good World but when Jesus was transfigured he was seen as he really was – blessed, beloved, divine. We are called to be part of that amazing relationship. Inspired by the Holy Spirit we are called to recall our blessedness, our belovedness.   As one prayer goes: ‘Where Jesus has gone we are all called to go. He is the pioneer and the first born’. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is familial – He is our brother.

Today we remind ourselves that we are called to life in all its fullness. That fullness is ours as long as we are faithful to our calling to serve this world in creation, in humanity, in standing for Gospel Values and the most important calling – to worship God our Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit.  Let us all remember that on this feast day we are called to be the people God dreamed that we could be and let us all listen to the voice of Jesus Christ today and every day.  The following poem helps us reflect on this feast:

Transfiguration

We want to know you, Jesus.

We want to cherish and hold Adore and revere Esteem and glorify you.

Keep you in our hearts Glimpse you in our lives Trace you on our paths,

Comforting the homeless Grieving with the mourners Forgiving our sins Healing our wounds Raising our dying

We are afraid, awed, overwhelmed at your glory. We are touched, moved, transformed by your love. We are cleansed, renewed, refreshed by your forgiveness.

We thank you We praise you We love you.

You… the transfigured One. You… the resurrected One. You… the One…

“This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him.”

Amen.

[Author unknown]

A Thought 24.07.2017

Part of being a Christian is to dream dreams. It’s about listening to the small voice of the Holy Spirit. We are all empowered by the Holy Spirit by the virtue of our Baptism  – that’s why we celebrate often Baptism, like Rose’s in our main services. Baptism is the heart of the Christian vocation. Pope John Paul II said the most important day of his life wasn’t when he was elected pope but the day of his Baptism when he became truly a child of Jesus Christ. In Baptism there is a community of believers. An equality and a outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit isn’t given to a few to celebrate a holy huddle – it is a gift to the whole world to be of service to all. To invite all into the body of Christ and to speak in His name; to speak words of healing, love, forgiveness and challenge.

When he was only 14 years old William Wilberforce wrote a letter to a newspaper saying how very evil slavery was. In 1807 he finally, convinced parliament to ban the slave trade. On the 29th July 1833 he was given a public funeral in Westminster Abbey. All that came from this spiritual boy who became a spirit filled man. Our own Bishop Alastair speaks out and works against modern slavery and prostitution today. The Holy Spirit calls us to make this world more like the Kingdom Jesus proclaimed. Baptism isn’t magic it isn’t a get out of jail free card. Baptism is a challenge in love to: 1. Be the person you are called to be. 2. Work in the Body of Christ to serve the people of God. 3. Always be open to new ways of serving the kingdom and the peoples of the world. 4. Lastly but most importantly; pray in love not duty. Build up ones own relationship with our Lord then we can speak words of love and healing with great integrity. I hope this short reflection will help you think about the Person of the Holy Spirt, the vocation of a Christian and the amazing grace and love God has for all people.

With my love and prayers.

Revd. Stephen Monk 

A Mini Thought

Some people think of the glass as half full;

Some people think of the glass as half empty;

But they both miss the point – as a Christian

we believe that the glass can always be filled up again!!!

(That’s what grace is)

 

A Thought 17.07.2017

It Ain’t half hot mum!!!

I don’t know if you remember this BBC comedy. I used to love this and other comedies of the time. Why do I tell you this? Well, last Sunday evening we went to a friends Birthday Party in  Derby. one of the guests phones went off which isn’t unusual. But the call was, it was from this lady’s husband who is a serving soldier in Iraq – he had a video call and he was their in his body armour and with his pack and gun etc.  He said the temperature was 51 degrees!!! Imagine if we were having to cope with that heat and that weight? I’m dying when it’s 22 Degrees!! So I thought this would be a good prayer intention for the week. Please keep the members of our armed forces in your prayers. Equally let us all pray for peace in every trouble spot of the world. May the Spirit of Peace come upon the earth once more. Amen.

A Thought 09.07.2017

Children, teachers, parishioners, educationalists, clergy and all people must be aware of thinking we know everything without critical thought. And also humble enough to know we also need faith in and through Jesus Christ to understand a little of God’s love for us all.
I know we all have to beware of statistics but I heard on Radio 4 (so it must be true!!) the average age for having a mobile phone is 7 1/2 years old. I find this troublesome for a number of reasons but the one I wish to think about in this summer letter is do our children have the tools for critical thinking? We’ve all seen certain dangerous thoughts on the news or the internet. Examples are the comments President Trump comes out with on climate change or the upsurge of religious hate and bigotry (everything from ISIS to the Christian right wingers or various religions thoughts on honour killings, the list goes on.) By now you may be thinking, a secularist is writing this piece but I think that my faith in religion and science is rooted in the phrase of Jesus, “I have come that you might have life and have it in all its fullness.” Everyone needs to have a filter when looking at the news or the internet. What is the back story; what is the politics behind the stories; or where science is concerned, who sponsors the data…etc. As parents we need to balance the protection of our children with offering a safe place for critical thinking. Religion is very frustrating for many people. It is not simply because much of Christianity is rooted in the mystery of ‘Why would God wish to die for humanity on a Cross’, in our world today we cannot understand, ‘why would the most powerful become powerless?’ The simple yet profound answer is this something is much more important than power; love. Love is at the heart of God and the reason why God came to earth. God so loves humanity. Loves each one of us. I would suggest that if any religion is not rooted in God’s love, and the wish of God that we flourish and serve each other then it is somewhat suspect. The other day the children in juniors challenged me about ideas like ‘eternity’, ‘who created God’, ‘why do people suffer’ etc. It’s so hard to say to our children that, although we cannot answer fully these questions in all certainty, our human life is a journey in searching for the truth and as Jesus said the ‘truth will set us free’. Missionaries, scientists and other people in the fields of the arts and literature have created amazing things and helped humanity jump in its understanding of the universe and the earth. These questions are not fully answered but the journey to understand enriches our humanity and our souls. May we all give our children or grandchildren the space and the time to ask the difficult questions of life. Then maybe we adults will learn something else, something new. Whatever age we are, are we not always open to learning things? As Albert Einstein said:
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” (Einstein) Finally, people often think that Darwin was the great scientist who once and for all disproved religion. Sadly so often people who are looking to disprove religion and faith rewrite certain scientists’ views, Pascal, Einstein and Darwin being a few. Even the scientist who came up with the big bang theory was actually a Christian. Whatever our beliefs we need to be humble about knowledge, faith and the wonders of the known universe. I leave the final word with Darwin: “The question of whether there exists a Creator and Ruler of the Universe has been answered in the affirmative by some of the highest intellects that have ever existed.”
–Charles Darwin,

With Kind Regards and every prayer.

Rev’d Stephen Monk

(Rector Darley Dale, South Darley & Winster.)
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