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Believe Belong

Belonging Before Believing?

Lindisfarne Castle taken by myself Sept 2022

There is a saying in a lot of churches that we should encourage people to “Belong” before they start “believing” but on a walk with a friend the other day we got to pondering this. I might not get all the conversation but I’ll put down some of they key points I remember and that have got me thinking not just about church but about the town I live in and the projects I’m getting involved with there.

Would you want to go to someone’s house if you did not know who they were? And what if you did go but didn’t know the etiquette? Would you want to go back again? Also what if someone took you to someone’s house but they didn’t know the way you were to behave because they didn’t know the owner of the house, how would you both feel?

A sample of the questions from our conversation on Saturday

I think that if the person who takes someone to the House of God knows God really well they can help and support that person through the intricacies of who they are meeting with. They know what to do. They ease the way. They can make things feel safe. But if that person doesn’t know God that well, or even has had a tiring week and wants to just curl up with God, then they may not be able to help their visitor through the spaces needed. The visitor comes away having had an ok time but they still haven’t come close to meeting with God, meeting the being whose house they have entered.

My thoughts are that if I bring someone to meet with God I have to have a relationship with God and be in the right frame of mind to want to share that relationship.

I often think we try to rush that whole process. So we are encouraged to get people “through the door” so to speak so they feel like they belong to the community, when in fact they are just going through the motions but not meeting the being of God. Instead we need to slow things down, deepen our relationship with God and then get others to meet our friend, our creator, our lover, the one who thinks we’re awesome even when we screw up, the one who loves us unconditionally.

When I was doing Qigong this morning Mark, who leads it, was talking about fire and what we need for fire. We need a spark, we need kindling but to keep the fire really going we need a solid seasoned log that won’t burn up quickly, will keep going for the time needed.

Qigong might not be Christian per se but so often God speaks through it [because if God is as big as we are taught then God is in all and everything anyway] And for me that quick way of getting people to belong in a church community is the quick kindling and if we don’t have the solid seasoned log of our relationship with The Creator of the Universe then the belonging may never become believing because belonging fits all the component parts that that person needs.

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fixing healing

Wounded or Broken?

Walk by river at St Asaph taken by myself August 2022

I am blaming The Naked Pastor for bringing my attention to the difference between saying you are broken to that of saying you are wounded from a trauma. He says, and I think I agree, that if I am broken then I need fixing but if I am wounded then I am ok but have parts of me that need to be healed.

Here’s a quote from David’s last newsletter and a link to the cartoon relating to it:

When you set out to ‘fix’ yourself, you end up changing the person you are and causing extra hurt and extra trauma. 

But when you change your mindset to one of healing, you begin to realize that you were never broken and that you never needed fixing at all. 

David Hayward The Best Healing Cartoon

I’ve just done a Biblegateway search of the words “broken” and “healed”. Broken only applies with something physical, like bread or bones, or branches of unbelief. But Jesus does loads of healing and if fact Peter says of Jesus:

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24

And Isaiah says, when foretelling of Jesus

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

Not broken but wounds. And for transgression read “all the things we’ve done wrong, had done wrong to us, our traumas, hurts, fears, physical, emotional and spiritual.”

Yet last night I was at a meeting where the host, who was the pastor of the church where the meeting was happening, said that the church was for broken people and that he was the most broken of them all. See now I don’t think that’s a great boast. Why would I want to be part of something that seems to be proud that people are attending and being led by someone who is more of a mess than they are. What I love about QEC is that not only does it help me to be healed of my hurts, fears and traumas, but also gives me tools that I can then do this for myself. I don’t need to keep seeing my therapist to go over stuff. I have been healed, set free. Oh yes it does sneak up and bite me often but I know how to recognise it and deal with it.

I am slowly growing towards being the person I am meant to be. As Naked Pastor says we aren’t broken and needing put back together as if there is something wrong with us but we are hurting and wounded and need healing. And this is what the Bible tells me Jesus died for and yet why is this church, and others, saying that it is ok to be broken and to want to stay that way?

I am so grateful that when I met with God I was in a total mess and got filled with a great reassurance that I was loved unconditionally just as I was. Yes I have gone on to be fixed but have learned that it is about being healed not fixed. I am not broken and don’t need fixing. I am awesome as I am but need to be healed so the real me can get out into the world. And I am learning to do this with a mix of Jesus, Holy Spirit, God, some great friends who like me as I am, and also [and I know I keep publicising it but it is awesome] with the help and support of QEC and the tools that come with it.

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lent meditation Oscar Romero

Oscar Romero – 24th March 2022

From https://www.mccrimmons.com/shop/church/st2e-oscar-romero-cross/

Today I’ve been asked to share a meditation for our church’s Lenten Zoom sessions. The readings are from Galatians 3:26-4:7 about how we are true heirs within God’s family, all fully adopted and all equal. The vicar also put up a reminder that it was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Oscar Romero, a Catholic priest in El Salvador who was shot for preaching about corruption in the government and how the government and army were killing poor people to get rid of them.

As I read through the verses and thought about Oscar Romero I wondered how often we see God as the one who answers all our prayers if we are really part of his kingdom, if we pray enough and in the right way. But are we really willing to stand up for truth and justice even if it means we could be killed, our families harmed, what we hoped for never happen in our life time? Oscar Romero was willing to. Oscar Romero died for it. But then again Jesus did all that his Father asked of him and look what happened to him. How often are we willing to step out and do what is right even if if has dire consequences?

Here is the PDF of my meditation for Thursday 24th March

I hope you enjoy spending time reading it. I know it has challenged me and I hope it challenges those few who turn up on Zoom today

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forgiveness God healing heart Jesus maya angelou unconditional love

It is Unconditional

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Yesterday I finished “Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas” by Maya Angelou. I’d also just done another QEC session which involved forgiving myself for misinterpreting church teachings and working too hard to earn God’s love and acceptance, whilst at the same time teaching and sharing about that self-same unconditional love and acceptance!!! Goes to show how often we can teach and share on things that we know to be truth but haven’t accepted into our hearts!

In the last few pages of the book, Maya goes to see her vocal coach to unload about how awful she feels she has been to her son, and lots of other issues, and he says “God forgives you, that’s a given. But you now need to forgive yourself”. Wow! How often do we browbeat ourselves about not being forgiven when in fact God who’s totally forgiven us but we are not forgiving ourselves? If God really loves us unconditionally, which I do truly believe God does, then like Maya’s vocal coach we need to believe that it is a given that God has forgiven us. As my OEC coach told me, and she isn’t a Christian in the ‘purest sense’, “From what I gather God loves everyone unconditionally, even the murder and rapists, and wants to heal them too, and so will forgive them so they can be healed.” We need to forgive ourselves so we can be healed.

Maya ends with this book with a story about her and her son in Hawaii. He was only about 9 years old and had gone off on his own, leaving her asleep, for a swim. She was really worried about where he was because he hadn’t eaten breakfast in the hotel. When the police finally find him he says he ate breakfast in place down the street. He had told the proprietor of the place where he ate “See that name?” pointing to the sign above the hotel with Maya Angelou’s name in lights, “She’s my mother and she’s a great singer.” It made me think that I don’t often enough say “There’s my God and it will be cover by our relationship”.

I should be able to know that I can go wherever I want and do things knowing that the “payment” is covered by God because I am God’s child and am totally loved and looked after and will always be fed. Surely this is the message of the Cross – Jesus made the payment for us and we don’t need to have too any more! Now that is exciting! But to believe that I needed to forgive myself for all the times I’d not quite got it.

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accepting belief change choice connected espectations forgiveness freedom Glastonbury2017 hope Kate Tempest opinion peace prejudice unconditional love US Election

What we going to do to wake up?

(Apologises if I’ve miss quoted lyrics or missed the point. These are my thoughts and how I heard this)

Last night I watch Kate Tempest at Glastonbury. In fact I watched her the night before p056s313too. I don’t do the “watching music” normally – in fact I don’t often listen to music. In the car maybe but not just to sit down and listen to. I have to be doing something else. But someone from one of the writing groups that I run suggested we watch her. I have not been able to get her out of my head since. Then, as things generally do, I met with a friend for coffee and she was talking about similar things to the things Kate was singing about. Last night when I watched I also took notes of the things that had stood out to me the night before. The title of this blog is one of the lines and it is the line that fits in most with what my friend and I were talking about – “what we going to do to wake up?

She starts with a knock out song about the present government and really does take down Theresa May using actual words that May has said. And this is where the media stops in their reporting but Kate Tempest does not stop there. She takes things onward. I think that is what made me listen twice. Yes it is great to hear someone speaking out against the mess our world is in but it is even more awesome to hear someone talk about what “WE” can do. Not them but us. I did a lot of journalling around that afterwards.

Her main song tells the story of 7 very different people being awake at 4.18 and I challenge anyone to listen to it and not see bits of themselves and bits of those they love in it but she challenges each of us to look for the “gods” out there; that each person is born to greatness – “Gods rise in the most unassuming and human way“. Each of us has the power to act. What I felt Kate was challenging each one of us to live out was; justice, kate_tempest_-_let_them_eat_chaosrecompense, humility and most importantly to realise that we are connected and to live with unconditional love for each other.

One bit that has stayed with me is when she says to realise that the oppressed and the oppressor are connected. I felt, and feel too that it is reflected in the medias response to her set, that we blame the government, blame “them” when in fact each of us holds others back, holds ourselves back, turns a blind eye to things, when in fact we need to realise that we do get what we either vote for or can’t be bothered to vote for.

I loved how she finished – that there is nothing new, nothing set in stone, we have it all in us and there is peace in face of people, but that things will not change until we all realise that they have to and are all willing to rise up and change things. We need to stop consuming and start looking to each other, encouraging each other, releasing each other, helping each other to dream our dreams.

What are we going to do wake up?” Before the US elections I read of a prophet (I’ve lost the piece so can’t quote fully) that I remember saying that Trump was in the running because we all needed a “trumpet call to wake up“, and that things were going to come into the light. I believe instead of reacting and fearing we need to ask what caused that boy to want to blow himself and lots of young girls as well after a concert in Manchester, aaeaaqaaaaaaaaesaaaajdc5yty5ytlmltfkyjmtngfjoc1imze4lwq4y2vlzjuyyzhmzgwhat caused those young men to drive a van into people they didn’t know and then go on a killing rampage, what causes the person in the town next to me to want to stab his wife, what causes builders to put cheap inflammable materials into a building and authority figures to turn a blind eye, what causes suicides, murders, the need to buy sweatshop made clothes, to drink, etc etc.

We all need to have that wake up call to find out what makes us happy to moan but do nothing. How much more needs to go on before we all take responsibility?

One of the things I journalled last night was “have I ever spoken to a potential terrorist, rapist, murderer? I don’t know. But maybe I have. Maybe something I have said has awoken a dream in them for something more than destruction. Or maybe because of things I do and say then those thoughts never cross their minds. It is time we all got out forgivenessfearlessness-unconditional-love-tmu702there, stopped blaming them and started seeing how we can LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY. Perhaps we can only do that when we realise we are all connected, all loved and all have something to contribute?