Monthly Archives: May 2020


One of my favourite Christian words is ‘grace’ – often explained by the mnemonic  – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

Grace tells us of the unmerited love and forgiveness that God pours out on us, as we turn to him. Love demonstrated in the life and death of Jesus Christ and confirmed in his resurrection.

The other day I came home to find on my doorstep a large box. Not unusual in this time when we are getting so much of our shopping through Amazon or other online delivery companies but on this day I wasn’t expecting anything so I was a little puzzled.

When I opened the box I found a carefully packed arrangement of stunning flowers and a card, thanking me for what I was doing, with no signature or sign of who had given them. A moment of incredible grace as I received a gift that was completely unexpected and unmerited. Thank you, to who ever gave me the flowers. They really are glorious.

One of the joys of this time is how many acts of grace we have seen or been the recipients of. These small, and sometimes not so small, acts of kindness have helped transform this potentially painful time into one which has been a time of blessing to many of us. It has been a joy to see how caring and considerate our community and wider society has been. However, we know that there are many people who are still finding this time very difficult. Families who are struggling to make ends meet or cope with children who don’t want to do their home schooling, or for lack of resources, aren’t able to do it. We know there are people trapped in abusive households and others trapped in their homes who are having to shield – and live with the anxiety that compromised immunity causes. How can we show God’s grace to them?

It is Christian Aid week and so we need to remember the work that Christian Aid does around the world for those whose lives are devastated by war, climate change or natural disasters. so many people are reliant on food banks at present. We might not be able to donate food as easily as in the past – although you may always leave donations on my door step and I will deliver – but you can give financially to them. The Women’s Refuge is working very hard to support those who aren’t able to get to them through phone contact and counselling. They too need our support. Although these acts of generosity may seem small on our part, yet they are all acts of grace – just are the cards, phone calls, what’s app messages that are such important ways of showing love.

God’s grace isn’t just for a brief moment. He didn’t stop pouring out his grace after the Ascension of Christ, nor does it stop even when we don’t acknowledge his love and forgiveness in our lives. So our acts of kindness and giving must not stop as lock down eases.

Let us be still for a moment and remember the acts of grace given to us – by God and by others. To give thanks for them and renew our commitment to being God’s ministers of his grace to our families, communities and the world: freely, generously and even where it isn’t noticed, continuously sharing his love, his compassion and his unmerited grace. After all, that’s what we received from him.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you today and always. Amen.

The Peace of the Lord

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.                                                                   Philippians 4: 4 – 9

Paul could have been writing these words for a time just as this. And, I suppose, he was. Writing to the small group of Christian in Philippi – in the area we now call Asia Minor – he was encouraging them to remember what was important to them when life started to get difficult. Written either during the 50’s or early 60’s AD when Christians were just tolerated by the Roman authorities and had very little protection against harassment. They weren’t persecuted at the time, as they would be later in the century, but they were still a vulnerable group, without the protection of either the Pagan temple guilds or the Jewish synagogues.

Paul himself was in prison when he wrote this letter and earlier in the letter it is clear that he was facing possible death. He wrote that he might be ‘poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith …’  He was facing the very real prospect of death and yet he wrote these wonderful words, from the heart. It is clear, not only from this letter but from other letters he wrote at a similar time, he could indeed rejoice in all things. In the letter to the Philippians he not only rejoiced that his death would mean that he would finally be with Christ, but also that his imprisonment meant that more and more people were hearing the good news.

How good are we at rejoicing when we are facing these challenging times? Are we able to follow Paul’s advice to ‘rejoice always’ and ‘not to worry, for the Lord is near’? It can be very difficult – particularly at this time when we are separated from family and friends. Even harder for those who don’t have computers or similar technology so can’t see the faces of loved one – but rely only on phone calls and letters. All of us miss the touch of loved ones – a hug at the right moment or just the clasp of a hand. We miss times in church or at the tea shop or similar ways of being with people. For some people it is a pain similar to bereavement.

It is then we need to return to the second part of the passage where Paul exhorts us to think on the true, pure, just and good things and to hold these things in our hearts and minds. God has given us so much that is wonderful and, if for a time some of these things have to be put aside, they are still overwhelming gifts from God and we need to rejoice in them. Paul reminds us not only to think on these good things but also to keep doing the things that are pleasing to God. We miss our families – then we give thanks for them and pray for them. We are frightened for the future as lock down is slowly released – then we pray for that future, giving thanks that God is ahead of us in whatever is going to happen and will not desert us. So I pray that the peace of God is with you – now and in the days ahead. And that you can go into our uncertain future, rejoicing in all that God has given you and holding in your thoughts all that is good. So, the peace of God be with you, those whom you love and those for whom you pray.

Making the right investments …

Last week the fish and chip shop in Woolpit re-opened, much to the relief of many. I had my first proper piece of fish since the lock down began, this weekend – a really glorious piece of cod – and it was good to see the shop working safely and well. They put a fortune cookie into my bag, along the fish and chips, and having eaten my fish I opened it. The tiny slip of paper said, ‘You will make a prosperous investment.’ My initial reaction was that it was a typical Chinese fortune cookie with a motto about money, and a highly unlikely future for me – as I don’t make financial investments. That first response was immediately followed by the blinding awareness that there are more than finances that are invested.

I made the most important investment of my life when, at the age of 19, I committed my life to following Jesus. It hasn’t always been a smooth path from then on but, although it may have meant that I am not as financially well off as I could have been, it was and is the most prosperous investment I could have ever made. I have all the wealth that I need, for all time, stored in perfect security and where no fluctuations of the stock market are going to affect its value. In Matthew’s gospel, during the sermon on the mount, Jesus said, ‘Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth where moths and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where no thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’ (Matthew 6: 19 – 21)

I think that it is a treasure that more and more people are coming to find is the only one of permanence during this time of lockdown. Investments in friendship, in community and in caring for the vulnerable are seen as having real and lasting value. Of course money matters profoundly and my heart and prayers go out to those whose jobs are insecure, whose firms are going to the wall and all who are fearful of a future of unemployment and debt. In the months and years to come we will have to as concerned and caring about them as we are of those who today are vulnerable to the virus. But at this time we need to really be thinking about the investments that will make us truly prosperous. Investments into loving the Lord and serving him, loving our neighbour – who ever and where ever s/he is – and caring for our fragile world with its damaged environment. You see, we have a God who invested into us. He invested his son, allowing him to be incarnate, to live a human life and die a painful death so that we may know just how loved we are. That was a serious investment – and one that God declares as prosperous as he sees us turning to him and giving our lives into his care.

The Chinese fortune cookie really did know my past and my future – it did, for a moment, seem facile, but actually spoke a profound truth. I have made my life an investment in the love of God and I reap the reward daily, in knowing that I am never alone, that his Spirit guides me and that one day I will find my home in him, secure forever. I pray that you too will be able to rest in your investment in the Lord and know that, as his precious child, you are rich beyond measure.

A prayer for others to find the way to God, in these troubling times:

Lord Jesus, we pray for those who are troubled today,
those worried about money, those looking for work,
those who don’t feel safe.
May they find in you a way forward.

We pray for those whose journey of life is testing,
those who live in places of violence,
those who are a long way from family,
those whose health is fragile.
May they find in you a place to rest.

We pray for those who feel unwanted,
those who have left their countries,
those who live on city streets, those who are neglected.
May they find in you a welcome.

Lord Jesus, we pray for all places of need,
and all people in trouble.
As we make room for them in our prayers,
may we make room for them in our lives. Amen.