Don’t forget to breathe!
You won’t necessarily be able to tell – but over the last couple of months I’ve been training for my first ever Triathlon. It’s a pretty popular sport in Weymouth and I needed a goal–so I thought I’d give it a go.
Of the three disciplines – swimming was always going to be my biggest challenge. I like running and cycling – but getting the swimming right has been a challenge.
To try and help I have had a few swimming lessons – and now (thankfully) I’m not doing too badly. But to start with, my technique was all over the place! My arms, legs and head were all doing the wrong things, in the wrong place and at the wrong time and I just could not get the hang of breathing.
The swimming teacher told me to focus on one thing at a time – and to start with getting the breathing right. This was not easy but, with practice, I did start to get the hang of it. The teacher then encouraged me to work on my head position, stroke or leg action. I soon realised that – focussing on more than one thing is really hard! So very often I would start swimming along – focussing on my arms or legs and then suddenly realise – that I’d forgotten to breathe!
It got me thinking about discipleship, our church and this series we are doing on Spiritual Gifts. It made me realise that very often I find myself so focussed on trying to get everything right (being a Christian , a husband, a Dad, a Vicar, doing church right etc etc) that I forget to breathe. In the busyness of life and with our short comings – we can forget to come back to the source of all that is good and life-giving.
A few people have said that they are feeling a sense of renewal with God as we are engaging more with the Holy Spirit – Praise God for this – and let’s keep going. But what I think we’re really doing as a church – is coming up for breath – and it feels good!
So let’s keep breathing deeply – enjoying the life and love that God pours into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
I’ll let you know how the Triathlon goes.
Pause for thought…
The word true appears 113 times in the NIV Bible and I came across a Church Council Meeting which I think raised some good thoughts in the light of a recent sermon series.
It is not true that this world and its people are doomed to die and be lost. This is true. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction. This is true. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10
It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction have come to stay forever. This is true. “For to us achildisborn,tousasonis given, and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Councillor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world. This is true. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me… Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… surely I shall be with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the church, before we can do anything. This is true. “In the last days, God says I will pour out my Spirit on all peoples. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17. See also Joel 2:28–29 so we can finish by saying “…WE KNOW THAT IN ALL THINGS GOD WORKS FOR THE GOOD OF THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” ROMANS 8:28
In May Liz, and I joined Bishop Karen and about fifty other folk on a Pilgrimage to the Norman Chapel at St Aldhelm’s Head, to celebrate communion in the chapel for the feast of St Aldhelm. We met in a car park at Renscombe Farm to walk the 1.5miles, pausing to read from the Bible and pray at four different places along the way. The chapel is quite small and dark, with just one window to let in the light. There were candles placed around the walls to shed some brightness and light from the open door. I was glad I could remember most of the prayers from the Eucharist as reading was quite difficult. Afterwards we sat outside in the sunshine to eat our picnic lunches and to enjoy the views along the coast; Swanage to the east and Weymouth and Portland to the west.
As we planned to go on the pilgrimage I thought I ought to Google St Aldhelm to find out exactly who he was. In a nut shell, he was born in 639 and was a very well-educated man who eventually became an Abbot. When he discovered that the local people were spending their time gossiping and not coming to listen to the monks at Mass, he decided to go to the people. So he stationed himself on a bridge like a minstrel and began to sing ballads, and entertain. When he had gathered a crowd, he began to preach the Gospel to them.
Liz and I thoroughly enjoyed our first pilgrimage.
Prayer and Prosecco
In June over 30 ladies of our parish convened at St. Aldhelm’s Church for an evening of prayer and socialising.
After the prayer stations had been explained everybody was free to wander around and pray at each station according to their own needs and conscience. My first encounter was with God’s Creation, the incarnation of Jesus and the sending of the Holy Spirit: the foundation of faith.
The other stations encouraged us to pray about the power and the glory of God and his Kingdom; Britain, the country in which we live, and other countries of the world; the street/community in which we live and our neighbours and finally our family and friends. It was a wonderful experience and an encouragement to widen the scope of our prayers and to use prayer as a way of strengthening our relationship with God.
Having fulfilled our spiritual commitment to the evening the corks were popped on the prosecco bottles and we enjoyed a refreshing glass of fizzy wine and some very tasty nibbles. There was lots of friendly chat going on around the tables.
I have not been to one of these evenings before, being fairly new to this parish, but it was quite uplifting and very enjoyable. So, make a mental note, ladies, to come and join us next year.
On a personal note: what Shirley said in her sermon on Sunday morning (9th June) about being ‘a fixer’ resonated with me. As a young navy wife in married quarters I was known as ‘Christine the Coper’ but as life goes on one realises that you can’t fix everything so you have to turn to God the fixer and trust in Him. This brings us back to prayer. If we pray to God with sincerity He will fix things. Not always as we expect, but He will fix them!
Most of us probably have too much.
Most of us probably reduce/reuse/recycle/upcycle/ repurpose what we can.
Most of us are probably overwhelmed when we watch TV programmes which focus our attention on the plastic pollution in our oceans and other ecological disasters. Governments need to do more but then probably so do we.
Here are a couple of things that most of us could probably do:
There are always items which are difficult to recycle – these include old pens.
Unearth all your used felt tips, biros, marker pens and highlighters and give them to Ruth who will make sure they are recycled by taking them to a local Terracycle collection point.
They will end their days happily as watering cans (or other useful things) and not in landfill!
You heard us right. Our world has a rubbish problem, and it’s hitting people living in poverty the hardest.
Multinational companies could make a big difference to this rubbish situation by taking responsibility for the plastic waste mountains their products are creating.
Read more about this latest Tearfund campaign at www.tearfund.org/rubbish and sign their petition.