Couldn't have said it better myself...

"Life is God's gift to us. What we do with it is our gift to him."

Maya Angelou



Friday, January 11, 2013

Green shoots

My post of yesterday seems to have struck a chord or two given the amount of traffic it has generated on the site... That's encouraging, as I was very reluctant to post it, because, contrary to popular perception I'm not grumpy about everything all the time. I'm forever telling my congregation that we are good news people not bad news, so in contrast to my 12 mid-winter gripes of yesterday, here are 12 signs of hope that keep me going. They are not direct responses to the issues I raised, but are examples of the things that remind me that, in the midst of a fallen world, God in his grace is at work redeeming and renewing that which he once looked on and called good... So here goes:

  • The commitment of Christian people across the UK to help the poorest in society through food pantries and other initiatives, including the Trussell Trust Foodbanks which have grown into a 300 strong network over the past 13 years, with 100 being established in the last year... with, hopefully, one opening in our area soon... It is appalling that they are needed, but good that they are there...
  • The compassion of one particular congregation (who will remain nameless but they know who they are) who, when they learned that our own community project had to close because of lack of funding leaving a number of families without a support worker, donated £1000 specifically for those families...
  • The generosity of one of our community group's funders who did not want to claw their funding back when the project closed, but are working with us as a church (despite not usually funding churches) to find a way to continue funding a particular strand of work with Dads and their kids...
  • The selflessness of certain Christians, churches and faith based groups who do not turn their backs on disadvantaged and disaffected areas of society, disappearing to safe, middle class suburbs, but stick it out, even in the midst of rioting, investing time, imagination, energy and money... 
  • The faithfulness of those who are prepared to pray publicly and regularly for our troubled city, and those with the inspired creativity to prompt such prayer, and other public events where alternative visions of this city and province can be articulated... 
  • The usefulness of social media for organising such events and allowing the exchange of ideas between people who may feel they cannot voice them locally... it may also be used by individuals and groups interested in fomenting violence, but why should the devil get all the good websites? (to misquote Larry Norman)
  • The prayerful support of friends from overseas, informed by and expressed via social media and often backed by generous practical and financial support...
  • The courage of some politicians in the morass of Northern Irish politics, arguing for a truly shared future even though it may not win them votes within their community or indeed party, indeed it may bring censure, threat and damage to their property...
  • The blessing of the NHS and those who work within it against enormous odds, within tight financial constraints and in the face of criticism from all quarters (often fuelled by sensationalist and ill-informed media coverage), to meet people's medical needs without an assessment of the ability to pay... I say this not only because I work within the system as a chaplain, but particularly in the light of the care my No1 son has received during the past annus horribilis...
  • The inspiration of those who have turned their own profound experience of illness into a channel of blessing for others, whether out of an explicit faith position or not... 
  • Those within churches who may disagree on issues, be they political, theological or social, and not become disagreeable about them... listening to and learning from each other without feeling threatened, or needing to have a coterie of like-minded friends around them.
  • The Ulster rugby team... Although by the looks of it, supporters may have difficulty getting to tonight's match because of flag protests... 

Those are my 12 (at the moment)... What are yours?

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