This weekend, communities everywhere will be getting together around large bonfires and enjoying spectacular displays of colourful, explosive and noisy fireworks!
Everyone has their favourites, the rockets soaring high into the night sky, colourful Fountains spraying up from the ground, whizzing Catherine wheels squealing round and round or Roman Candles shooting balls of crackling sparks into the air. But essentially they all work the same way. Every firework contains black powder which when lit, explodes and causes a force which launches the firework. They also contain different metals which burn in different colours, and little balls of salt compounds called stars which, when the atoms are heated, give off light energy. The uniqueness of each firework is down to which metals and compounds are added together.
So a question for you….if you were a firework, which one would you be?!
We are all made up of the same atoms yet God made each of us unique, we are ‘coloured’ by our individual DNA, and we all react differently when God’s fire sets us alight!
It may be that you’re wishing you could fly a little higher like the rocket, or had a more colourful life like the fountain. Or if, like the humble sparkler, you fizz away quietly and feel that your light for God is not particularly bright, then just remember that “God distributed the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to his will” (Hebrews 2:4) and “Jesus is not ashamed to call any of us his brothers and sisters”. (Hebrews 2:11)
We are all called to serve him and when the Spirit of Jesus explodes into our lives, we cannot help but light up the darkness around us, in our own unique and spectacular way!
This is the time of year when we set aside a special day for remembering. In particular, we remember all those who have lost their lives in the past, fighting for their country; fighting for peace, for justice, for freedom. Every year their names are read out and their stories re-told so that they keep living on in the hearts of friends, families and communities. We keep the memories alive and we pass the memories on so that others may learn and remember also.
Centuries ago, when very few people could read or write, the verbal re-telling of stories, life events and history from one generation to the next was vital for learning and vital for keeping memories alive. How tragic would it be if the sacrifices of all those brave men and women of war were forgotten? Didn’t their lasting epitaph include the words: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, ‘for your tomorrow, we gave our today’”?
Jesus talked a lot about remembering in the Bible. He said “remember my words”, “remember from the past and learn” (see Hebrews chapter 3), “remember what the prophets said”, “remember the poor”. And most significant of all, he said “Remember me…every time you eat the bread and drink the wine, remember me”. Every time we come to the Lord’s table we remember his death and his resurrection, and we proclaim his salvation. Sharing the Lord’s supper keeps him alive in our hearts, keeps us alive to his Presence and proclaims to others just what his sacrifice achieved. So that others may learn and remember also.
To pick up on last week’s blog theme - it’s good to remember the past, it helps us learn for the future. But there is a saying that goes: “Remember the past, plan for the future, but live for today, because yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.”
Are you someone who lives a lot in the past, re-living happy memories when you were younger/fitter/richer/happier? Or perhaps you spend a lot of time looking forward to what must certainly be better times around the corner? After all there’s a lot of trouble in the world at the moment and it’s right to hope and pray that things will improve. But what about meaningful things for your own life, do you postpone those to some future date when you will have more time or more energy or not so many demands on your life? Perhaps you’re putting off a trip to the doctor, or putting off mending a broken relationship, or even putting off taking some rest and relaxation? Maybe we all need to live in the moment a bit more and take care of today?
That first saying was a quote from St Luke the Evangelist, here’s a similar one, this time from Elvis Presley: “Never wait for tomorrow, what if tomorrow never comes?”
Our Bible reading for this Sunday talks about entering into God’s Rest and yes, that is a hope for tomorrow but it’s also an exhortation for today: “God set a time for entering his rest and that time is today…todaywhen you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts!” (Hebrews 4:7) Don’t put off responding to God’s call on your life and God’s invitation, it is the most meaningful thing you will ever do. A friend of mine dropped dead on Saturday night, his tomorrow never came.
“Learn from yesterday, live for today.” (Albert Einstein)
The shops are telling us that we have begun that ‘run up to Christmas’! It’s designed to build our anticipation and fuel our expectations; to work us up into a buying frenzy so that on the big day itself, no one is disappointed! “We mustn’t disappoint the children!”
As a Church and Community, we are building up to the moment when we will receive our new Priest-In-Charge. We expect him or her to have certain skills, gifts and talents; we anticipate their undoubted excellent pastoral and preaching skills and their ability to run the PCC, the Tech Team and the Mother & Toddler Group with equal proficiency. All wrapped up with a large dose of charm!
Our Bible passage this Sunday speaks of some of the roles of an earthly priest:
“Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.” (Hebrews 5:1-2)
Notice though, the very important point it makes: “he himself is subject to weakness.” There is only one perfect High Priest who has no weaknesses at all and that is Jesus. No human being will ever totally fulfil all our earthly expectations. No one will tick every box on our search criteria. At some point and in some way, most of us are going to face some level of disappointment if we expect our new incumbent to be ‘all things to all men’.
So let us keep our hope fixed on Christ alone; we can expect he will never disappoint us.