Count your blessings

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When the month of April is mentioned, the word that usually follows very quickly is “ showers” . April showers reminds me of the song made famous by Al Jolson.

It goes like this;

“Life is not a highway strewn with flowers, still it holds a goodly share of bliss.
When the sun gives way to April showers, here is the point you should never miss
Though April showers may come your way, they bring the flowers that bloom in May
So if it’s raining, have no regrets, because it isn’t raining rain, you know(It’s raining violets)
And where you see clouds upon the hills, you soon will see crowds of daffodils.
So keep on looking for a blue bird, and listening for his song, whenever April showers come along”
lyrics by B. G. De Sylva.

Al Jolson recorded ‘April Showers’ in the autumn of 1921 and a critic said that he sang it with faith to move mountains and audiences. The lyrics remind us that even “April showers may come” our way,” they bring the flowers that bloom in May”. Of course, the rain is synonymous with bad things, and troubled times and ‘the mayflowers’ with good things and brighter future. We are told to “keep on looking for the Bluebird’ while listening for his song”, which again is urging us to look for the good and not to dwell on the bad things in life.

When I listen to these words, for me the “bluebird “ represents God, the Daffodils, the flowers that bloom in May and the violets, which are growing in the church yard, are a few of the many blessings God showers on us. God showers us with so many blessings , that at difficult times it is hard to bring them to mind.

This year, the beginning of April coincides with the end of Lent, when the Church journeys with Christ to the Cross during Passion tide. On Easter Sunday Christians all over the world celebrate the Resurrection of the Risen Christ. It is a time also to remember our baptism. Christ’s death and Resurrection brings hope to all, in his death he bought to us reconciliation with God, a great blessing.

I once heard an interview with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, when he was asked if he considered himself to be an optimist. His reply was “I consider myself a prisoner of hope, yes, I am a prisoner of hope” Without hope, where would we be ?

So the next time you are caught in an ‘April’ shower or any rain shower, instead of worrying about getting wet, smile and think of Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain and count your many blessings.

CARRY YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW ME.

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Jesus call us to take up our cross.

MARK 8.34-38 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel will save it.  For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?  Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Today we are challenged by Jesus to take up our Cross. We carry the Cross, we received at our baptism. However, just because we wear it and carry it doesn’t mean to say that live our life any differently from those who don’t wear the Cross. We have to chose to live by the cross,to follow Christ,listen to his teachings and carry them out.To carry the Cross will not be a walk in the park , it is not to been viewed as the  road to wealth and ease. It will be a life of self denial and sacrifice, a walk towards the riches of a deeper relationship with God.

I found this song by Scott Krippayne which I share below;

Cross of Christ

I will lay down the burdens I’ve spent my life bearing
And confess I’m a sinner for whom Jesus died
I will live every moment in the light of His mercy
And I won’t take for granted His loving sacrifice

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, yeah, yeah
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

I will make it my mission to serve those around me
To care for the broken and pray for the lost
I will walk in the footsteps of my Lord and my Savior
And I’ll live out the gospel no matter what the cost

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, show them love
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

And I will not lay it down ’til I lay it at His feet
No, I will not lay it down ’til I touch eternity, yeah

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, show them love
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

I will carry the cross of Christ, hold to the hope I’m given
Reach out to those in need and show them love, show them love
Yeah, with all of my soul and strength, as long as my heart is beating
I’ll follow the one who laid down His life for mine
And carry the cross of Christ

IS GOD DRIVING YOU THROUGH YOUR LIFE?

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Is God in your driving seat?

Last week we had Jesus being tempted/tested by Satan. Satan appears again this week, but in the person of Peter who seeks to prevent Jesus from doing what he must do.
Why does Peter do this? He has not “set his mind on” the things of God, but on human things. Jesus’ harsh critique of Peter involves more than just the few words spoken on this occasion. Jesus say to Peter” Peter get out of my way! Satan ,get lost! you have know idea how God works.Even after the clear words from Jesus, Peter still hasn’t got the proper picture. He needs an “attitude adjustment”. He is seeing with “human eyes” rather than through the will and eyes of God. He tells Jesus what is and what is not going to happen — typical of first-born children? He wants to be a leader, not a follower. Are we ever guilty of having such attitudes?

Jesus then proceeds to tell those around him the following him how things will be.
“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.
You are not in the driving seat, I am.”

Something that is not always easy to let somebody else be in the driving seat. As Christians we must accept that God is in the driving seat, he has our route planned from the very beginning. I take you back to the words we heard a couple of weeks ago “ this is my son ,listen to him”

God is in the driving seat.

Being a follower of Christ means making sacrifices, the disciples left their families, not knowing where they were going or what they would end up doing. Following the teachings of Christ doesn’t make for an easy life,it is not a paved road to wealth and an easy life.It involves hard work, persecution,deprivation and deep suffering.
Peter saw only parts of the picture and we must be careful not to make the same mistake.

As Satan tempted Jesus, life brings us many temptations, the temptation to turn away in time of difficulties when the cross gets to heavy to carry. At times it is so hard to love your neighbour. The message says ‘we must not run from suffering’ our suffering and the suffering of others. Jesus calls us to embrace suffering. He says follow me and I will show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to save yourself your true self. Jesus wants us to choose to follow him rather than lead a life of sin and self-satisfaction. He wants us to stop trying to control our own destiny let him direct us as I said before he is in the driving seat and he knows better than we do what real life is about he also submission, He asked us only to lose our self-centred determination to be in charge.

Jesus addresses the crowds saying “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me”. We wear the cross of Christ crucified from our baptism, we carry his cross and as I said last week we cannot walk away from this cross it is with us always whether we remain faithful.
Jesus call us to self-denial so that we may continue to evolve spiritually as God intended. By learning to lives together unselfishly in this life, we may be preparing ourselves for the next great evolutionary leap forward, when individuals willingly sacrifice all so that we may live together in love. If you had begun to imitate Christ, you are ready for the next step in the great adventure of life the God puts before us here for.
We have a duty, we are trustees not of the church but of the christian faith. we are responsible for the continuing faith in this place and in the country, so no pressure. When reading compline at Abbotsbury I was reminded of the benedictine monks who did the same nearly a thousand years ago. Will there be a christian community here in a thousand years time.? if we do as jesus directs and we continue to carry his cross, listen to God and do his bidding and above all let him, God, be in the driving seat.