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Pastor’s Pen

Mystery of our Faith

Dear Friends

In our gospel lesson this week (Mark 4:26-34), Jesus compares the preaching and sharing word of God by Him and His disciples to seeds sown in the soil. How that seed germinates into faith may be unique to each one of us based on our different personalities, backgrounds and circumstances. How we come to believe might be explained by philosophers and sociologists in different ways. But we who are in Christ; His followers and disciples need only to wonder at the mystery of our faith.

 

By this time of year, spring is turning into summer and seeds which have been sown are already springing up and flourishing. Due to the need for a succession of flowering in our vegetable and flower gardens, some of us might be planting and sowing in preparation. The miraculous interaction of soil and seed is mind-blowing. Something in the seed responds to the perfect conditions of warmth, moisture and darkness when it is buried in the soil. The nurture of those tiny plants depends on the gardener to provide the right conditions as they grow.

 

With Father’s Day approaching, there are many events springing up with fathers in mind. Yesterday, I answered an invitation to join in a game of kickball with Robert’s second grade class. It was “the best time” according to Robert. That was the same response he gave when we helped park cars at another community event.

 

Many of us will be celebrating the joy of fatherhood and the gift of being part of our families’ lives.

 

Perhaps we’ll get to sow some seeds this week and enjoy watching them grow into something as wonderful as our children and the faith we share.  

Pastor Cliff

God is present. Are you?

Dear Friends,

In the rush to get on to the next thing, we are often so distracted that we fail to be present with the people and tasks right in front of us. Not only do we deprive ourselves of being in the moment, but we often present a version of ourselves that is less than our best.

 

I know that I sometimes catch myself rushing and must pause for a moment to remember the message of Carl Honore’s books ‘In Praise of Slow’ and ‘In Praise of Slowness’.

 

One of the worst things we can do is eat quickly. We give ourselves indigestion and other more serious health problems. I remember my mother telling us that rushing our food to the extent that we eat standing up or as we go, may lead to stomach problems. And over the years, I know to my cost the dangers of eating too much, too fast, because our brains need time to tell the stomach that they are full, and when our pace of consumption is excessive, we end up feeling overfull too late.

 

Slowing down at the table also allows us to be mindful of those with whom we are sharing each meal. The last book we read at the Book Group was ‘Meeting Jesus at the Table’ and the author reminds us that every table is the Lord’s table.

 

Today’s ‘Our Daily Bread‘ reading was Luke 25:28-35 in which the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were preoccupied by their grief and conversation. Even when Jesus walked beside them, they could not see it was Him. Once they reached their destination, they invited Jesus to eat with them. And in that moment, I wonder if it was slowing, sitting down with Him to eat, and focusing on Him that opened their eyes as He gave thanks and broke bread.

 

As we sit down to our next meal, let us remember that every table is the Lord’s table at which He is present, every person needs to be recognized and always give thanks for the food and those who have prepared it before we tuck in.

Pastor Cliff

Reflection and Prayer

Dear Friends,

Before another long hot summer gets under way, there is some essential business that needs our attention! Last week, this week and weeks to come are devoted to school concerts, moving up and graduation ceremonies. These rites of passage help those involved to conclude a chapter of their lives. Teachers, students, and families all have something of which to be proud, and you deserve the recognition of a job well done. But education is a marathon and not a sprint, so before we put away those books and thinking caps, let us prepare for the next chapter.

 

Summer camp or summer school beckons for some people, whilst hard earned lazy days on the beach or by the lake await others. Travel might be on your agenda at some point, or perhaps caring duties mean that those who are travelling will be coming to you.

 

Whatever the summer holds, it will probably mean a change of or break in routine. Some of us will enjoy a complete break from any structure, apart from sleeping, waking, and eating, but most of us will experience something different especially if we are parents.

 

I am so thankful for summer schools, camps, and Vacation Bible Schools. Grateful that the children will continue in some kind of educational and or physical activity. It all adds to their continuing education, growth, and development. But what about the rest of us?

 

When it comes to our spiritual and physical health, we grown-ups are at risk of neglecting ourselves if we take a complete break from any routine at all. We still need the structure and stimulation that our daily routine gives us. On the other hand, it may be that a change in routine could open up opportunities for reflection and prayer that our busy lives had previously prevented. Therefore, I invite you to insert a new spiritual practice to break up the routine of normality and freshen your devotional and spiritual growth. I hope and pray that the change will be better than a rest and give you opportunities to grow closer to God in your walk with Christ Jesus our Lord. So whether you find that chance for change in your garden room, on a beach chair, on a forest walk, or the open road, I wish you the blessing in the weeks and miles ahead this summer.

 

Pastor Cliff

The Holy Spirit

Dear Friends,

During the season of Pentecost our thoughts turn to God in the person of the Holy Spirit. The triune God through whom the world was made, sent Jesus to save us from sin and sends His Holy Spirit to remain with us as His continuing presence in the world. Our Book of Order states (W-1.0105)

 

“The Holy Spirit is “the giver and renewer of life . . who instils our faith and enables us to follow Jesus Christ. The Scriptures describe how the Spirit moved at the dawn of creation, anointed Christ in baptism, raised Jesus from the dead, and was poured out on the Church at Pentecost. The same Spirit is still at work in the life of the Church and the life of the world.” 1

 

And so when we speak of our relationship with God, it is His Spirit in our hearts that sustains that relationship and with whom we pray. He is our guide, our counsellor, or sustainer, inspirer, helper, and friend.

 

In the Old Testament, the translation from Hebrew for ‘spirit’ is the word ‘breath’. And this comes to mind when we sing one of my favorite hymns, Breathe on me Breath of God (GtG#286) and sums up for us the essence of the Holy Spirit in the world.

“Breathe on me, Breath of God;

Fill me with life a new,

That I may love what Thou dost love,

And do what thou wouldst do.” 2

 

Pastor Cliff

1 Book of Order 2023 – 2025, p78 W – 1.0105.

2 Glory to God The Presbyterian Hymnal #286.