SOMETHING NEW FOR 2024           

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent

25th February 2024

Quick Fix Remedy?

 

Do you bound out of bed each morning eager to get to work ….. enthusiastic about all the challenges that lie ahead? Well probably not! Life is a series of highs and lows, but we all know that the ‘highs’ are few and far between. For most of us life is a series of chores and we can often feel burdened by drudgery and frustration.

 

In today’s gospel reading, Peter James and John are feeling demoralised and fearful about talk of Jesus’ imminent death. Perhaps the disciples felt that the goal they had been working towards was not the goal of which Jesus is now talking. We have all felt like this at some time. Even the most motivated amongst us will slump from time to time. We might all have felt at some point debilitated by fear and anxiety, or overwhelmed by tiredness. At times like these, a life mentor might advise us to re-visualise our goals. We might be advised to find inspiration and get excited. We might be advised to focus on our most important priorities and not set too many goals which will eventually sap all our energy. Funnily enough, two thousand years before the terms ‘life mentor’ or ‘life coach’ were coined, these were exactly the strategies that Jesus used to motivate Peter James and John in this difficult period of their discipleship. Jesus leads them up a high mountain where they see a vision of a transfigured Jesus in dazzling white accompanied by Moses and Elijah.

 

Peter, James and John had a moment of revelation that day on the mountain top, and although they could not capture that moment by erecting tents as Peter proposes, they had that glimpse of glory to remember and keep with them forever through the testing times ahead.

 

Christians do not have a quick fix remedy for making problems in life go away, but we share the same motivating vision of God’s kingdom as we struggle with life’s ‘lows’.

 

Women’s World Day of Prayer  Friday 1st March 2024

The Women's World Day of Prayer is a global, ecumenical grassroots movement of Christian women. Its centrepiece is a church service in which the liturgy is prepared by women in a different country each year. It is celebrated worldwide on the first Friday in March.

 

This year, the Christian Women of Palestine are calling us to connect with the land from

where Jesus came; where he was born, ministered and died – and from where our faith began and is rooted. Despite living in an area of the world where there is ongoing conflict and the future is uncertain, the women of Palestine are sharing with love a reminder that they are there, and they want to give hope to everyone. The theme of the service 2024 ‘bear with one another in love’ seems very appropriate for these women who will not give up

witnessing the love of Jesus Christ.

 

Saint David 1st March

What makes a great person? Skills talent motivation and courage can get us so far, but at the end of the day we discover the necessity for self-discipline, hard work and doing the little things well. 'Do the little things well', were the last words of St David to his followers …..  today a well-known phrase in Wales, and an inspiration to many. Particularly relevant to us today in the twenty first century, Saint David is a model to us on living simply and sustainably.

 

Care for Our Common Home   Carbon Fast 2024

Each year more than 100 billion items of clothing are produced globally, with 65% of these ending up in landfill within 12 months. The fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions, more than aviation and shipping combined.

To do:-

Buy quality classic clothes that you are going to wear year after year.

Buy more clothes from thrift shops.

Think twice when buying fast fashion. Is there a viable alternative?

Revamp last year’s clothes.

 

Bitesize

If you don't know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.

Lawrence J. Peter

Gospel Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent

18th February 2024

It’s Tempting

 

What are you giving up for Lent? Chocolates …. smoking …. television … wine? It’s tempting to think that Lent is about saying a few extra prayers and giving up sweets or alcohol, but in truth, we are in serious danger of trivialising Lent. This forty-day journey with Jesus is so much more than resisting a few bad habits.

 

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained there for forty days to be alone and consider his priorities away from distractions. Whilst he was there, Satan confronted him with all the temptations we lesser mortals are great at falling for …. the promise of wealth, fame, power, and worldly success. Having overcome Satan’s temptations, Jesus emerged all the stronger, and proclaiming God’s gospel.

 

This Lent we are invited to share Jesus’ wilderness experience. Over the next forty days, we are challenged to retreat into our own wilderness and face our demons. The power of evil seeks us out in our weaknesses. Lent is a time when we can strengthen the areas in our life that show weakness. Lent is a time when we can change our sinful habits, change our minds about the way we live and decide what we are really about. The wilderness is a place where we can be tested, where we can get to know ourselves better and grow in maturity.

 

The theme of today’s gospel is the close link between the preparation by Jesus in the desert and the start of his preaching. Lent has an end result. What end result are we preparing for? In what ways could we emerge all the stronger by Easter? Could this Lent provide the starting point we need to change the direction in our lives?

 

This Lent (Year B)

Lent comes each year in three different cycles. This Lent we follow the gospel for the ‘Year B’ cycle. As the wisdom of the readings of the following weeks unfurl, we are invited to confront and overcome the temptation in our lives that prevents us from living the gospel. We are reminded that life is full of daily choices. What negative aspects do we need to drive out of our lives before we can make those choices? To motivate us when the demands of the gospel seem altogether too difficult, we are given a glimpse of God’s glory and reminded that with death comes resurrection. Finally we are reminded that we must all ‘die to self’ …like the grain which must die in order to bear fruit, so too must we always humbly put the needs of others before our own.

 

CAFOD Lenten Fast Day England and Wales

Friday 23rd February 2024

No one should have to risk everything to feed their family.

This Harvest Fast Day focuses on the fishermen of Liberia who risk their lives on stormy seas to feed their families. Your donations can buy signalling mirrors, GPS to track fish and help find safety in a storm, and life jackets. Your donations can help hard working people making a living safely.

Please take a donation envelope from the back of church, fill in the gift aid slip and return the envelope with your donation next week or soon after.

 

Lent Talks- BBC Radio 4 Mondays at 11pm

Six people well known in their fields reflect on the story of Jesus' ministry and Passion from the perspective of their own personal and professional experience.

 

Politics at the Service of the Common Good.

Each year ‘Churches Together in Britain and Ireland’ offers a Lent resource for inter-church groups to engage together in study and prayer around a theme that is relevant to the Church on these islands, and often in a wider international context. It can also be used by individual congregations wishing to join with groups from other denominations in prayer during Lent around issues that are of shared concern, and by individuals seeking inspiration for their own prayer and reflection.

This year CTBI is inviting participants to reflect on the question of how we might be called to engage as Christians with the political realities and processes that shape our society, impacting our own lives and the wellbeing of our communities. You will find the reflections at www.ctbi.org.uk/lent-2024-reflections/

Care for Our Common Home

Carbon Fast Lent 2024

This Lent commit to eating low on the food chain. This means eating mostly fruits, veggies, grains, and beans. Livestock, meat and dairy, is responsible for 14.5 percent of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions. Start by committing to Meatless Mondays and Fish and Chip Fridays.

Bitesize

Never mind searching for who you are. Search for the person you aspire to be.

Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com

Gospel Reflection for the Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time 11th February 2024

The Power of Empathy

 

In the 1870’s, the idyllic sunny island of Molokai might not have been one of your top holiday destinations. Molokai was a settlement where the government kept segregated all persons afflicted by leprosy. It was here that a young priest named Joseph Damien de Veuster (Fr. Damien), at his own request arrived at the settlement to preside as its resident priest. There were then six hundred lepers many rendered helpless by the disease. For a long time, Fr. Damien was the only person to bring them the help they needed, both spiritual and practical. After twelve years of this heroic service he eventually contracted the disease himself. At the age of forty-five he stood before his brethren and addressed them, “My dear brethren …. my fellow lepers. … I am one of you now.”

In today’s gospel Jesus is called upon to cure a leper. Jesus could have done this with a few words, but he does more than this … he reaches out and heals the leper not only with words but the touch of his hand. This might seem a small detail, but the simple gesture speaks volumes. The gesture tells us that Jesus was setting aside the stigma that accompanied this terrible disease. Jesus is able to take on the leper’s condition and know his needs. We call it empathy, an empathy essential for true compassion. This is the example that we see Fr Damien live to the letter.

To learn from Jesus’ example, we do not have to rush off and find a leper colony as Fr Damien did. There are plenty of social lepers everywhere we look. There are all sorts of social misfits that we stigmatise and push to the edges of our society. If we are to learn by Jesus’ example, we have to employ all our powers of empathy before we can even begin to make changes.

That Jesus uses his powers to cure leprosy is amazing, but more important is how we can learn from this miracle in changing the lives around us.

 

Day of Prayer for the Sick Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes 11th February 2024

Every year on the 'Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes’, we mark 'World Day of the Sick'. This year’s theme is

 

“It is not good that man should be alone”.

Healing the Sick by Healing Relationships.

 

 …“Brothers and sisters, the first form of care needed in any illness is compassionate and loving closeness. To care for the sick thus means above all to care for their relationships, all of them: with God, with others – family members, friends, healthcare workers – , with creation and with themselves. Can this be done? Yes, it can be done and all of us are called to ensure that it happens. Let us look to the icon of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37), to his ability to slow down and draw near to another person, to the tender love with which he cares for the wounds of a suffering brother.”

 

From Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of the Sick

 

Church Action on Poverty Sunday

11th  February 2024

Give, act and pray as part of the movement to end UK poverty.

The ongoing cost-of-living emergency is driving more and more people into poverty. As a General Election approaches, we urgently need our politicians to take action to tackle UK poverty. We need to explore our dreams of a better world – and work together to turn them into reality.

 

You can sign up for more information, make an online donation, become part of Church Action campaigns, and pray for change. If this sounds like something you want to do visit www.church-poverty.org.uk

 

Day of Prayer for the Unemployed

11th February

Church Action on Poverty Sunday was previously known as ‘Day of Prayer for the Unemployed’ and we still reserve this day to pray for those who are unemployed and for those who are under-employed. Being unemployed is like being locked out of a club where everyone else seemingly has enough money and enough skill to prosper. Not being able to support oneself or one’s family is a horrible place to be. Today we pray that God will open doors for those trapped in poverty.

 

Ash Wednesday

14th February

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning to the season of soul searching and repentance. On this day we are reminded to change our ways and get our priorities straight. Lent is a season of hope and good intention. On this Ash Wednesday we go about our business wearing the sign of penitence and hope.

 

Care for Our Common Home Carbon Fast Give up Washing Your Clothes

During Lent commit to a ‘Carbon Fast’. Each week during Lent think of giving up something that harms the planet, and incidentally, puts a dint in your bank account. The challenge this week is to ‘sponge off’ the odd stain that would normally have us throwing our clothes into the washing machine. Synthetic material sheds microplastics in the washing machine, which find their way to the ocean. The ocean floor holds over 14 million tonnes of microplastics. This number is increasing with textiles contributing 500,000 tonnes yearly. In addition to this we are using energy and water that we don’t always need to use. Our not-so-long-ago grandparents and great-grandparents washed their clothes a lot less!

 

Bite Size

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Bonnie Jean Wasmund

Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time 4th February 2024

The Greater Point

 

When we read about Jesus’ miracles, two big questions spring to mind. Does Jesus still cure people today? And … why does Jesus cure some people but not others? Surely with his power he could cure everybody!

 

Jesus behaves unexpectedly in today’s gospel. Having cured Simon’s mother in law, the whole town turns up at his door eager for miracle cures, and Jesus obliges. This it would seem is his golden opportunity. This is his chance to have everybody eating out of the palm of his hand. Instead, Jesus gets up early and goes off to a deserted place, and when Simon comes looking for him, Jesus suggests that instead of returning to his new found fans, that they move on to the next village. This might seem odd to many, but it is to become apparent that curing the sick was not top of Jesus’ agenda.

 

In some schools today, children are rewarded for a hundred percent attendance. Children come rushing home at the end of term waving certificates to prove that sickness has not kept them away from the classroom for one single day. But there are critics who would suggest that being in school every single day is not the important bit; it’s what the pupil achieves whilst in the classroom that is of true importance. So it is with our lives. Our bodies are merely vehicles in which to get us through life. It is important to look after a vehicle, but what point is there in looking after a vehicle that isn’t heading anywhere?

 

To achieve anything in this world our health of course is important, but Jesus didn’t heal people simply to promote some health and fitness regime. Healing was only part of his primary ministry to teach. Jesus’ healing miracles were signs of his identity and of God’s power and compassion. His acts of healing were often to teach the importance of faith and discipleship.

 

Does Jesus still cure today? Perhaps the question is irrelevant. In asking it, are we missing the greater point? As mere mortals, our health is of paramount importance to us, but is it top of God’s agenda? Saint Bernadette made a prayer that we could do well to adopt. She said “Lord, I do not ask that I never be afflicted, but only that you never abandon me in affliction.”

 

Pope Francis’s Prayer Intention for February 2024

For the Terminally Ill

For the very sick or dying, there may be feelings of helplessness, confusion, anger, regret or fear. But for the Christian, the love of Jesus Christ can help to make sense of suffering, and give hope, comfort, peace and spiritual support. The Bible describes Jesus reaching out to the sick with compassion and tenderness: holding them, comforting them, offering them forgiveness and healing. We are taught that dying well is as important as living well. No one is forgotten by God. This month we are invited to join in Pope Francis’ prayer intention “…that the sick who are in the final stages of life, and their families, receive the necessary medical and human care and accompaniment.”

Peace Actions for February 2024

At some time during Lent, think of someone close to you whom you have been unwilling to forgive. Use this reflection to think of your own need for forgiveness.

During Lent consider doing something extra rather than giving something up. That might mean a giving up of your time to support a community project or campaign close to your heart.

February is the month we traditionally look at health and wellbeing. World peace relies on making sure that our brothers and sisters across the globe have the resources they need to be happy and well. That means clean water, medical supplies and food; things we take for granted in wealthier countries. Consider making a small monthly donation to a charity that looks after the health of those in most need.

Marriage Care Week 7th-14th February 2024

Every February, Marriage Care Week is celebrated from 7th-14th February. We all know that marriage is so much more than a big wedding and a posh frock. We all know that love is more than all the hearts and roses on a Valentines card. Marriage requires a decision to enjoy the good things but work through the difficult times. The result will be a deeper love in old age than we could have initially believed. But what does ‘working through the difficult times’ actually mean. If you are looking for advice on how to care for your marriage take time to visit www.marriagecare.org.uk a great website packed with good advice.

Day of Prayer for the Victims of Human Trafficking 8th February

Migration without Trafficking

On the feast of St Josephine Bakhita we are asked to pray for the victims of human trafficking and to lend our practical support. Unbeknownst to us, human trafficking can work alongside legitimate businesses and can impact anything from chocolate to electronics.  We can combat some trafficking by our consumer habits. If we cared enough to change our habits, if we held ourselves accountable for getting relevant information and acting on it, companies would take note. Horrendous labour practices will never change unless we do.

Care for Our Common Home

Join Ecosia

So close!!! Ecosia have almost reached a landmark planting of 200 million trees! Join 20 million people growing the right trees in the right places. It’s so easy. You can plant trees for free without moving from your computer. Use Ecosia as your search engine (you don’t have to give up Google) and plant trees with approximately every 45 searches.  Visit www.ecosia.org for more information.

Bitesize

Diseases of the soul are more numerous than those of the bodyCicero

 

Gospel Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

28th January 2024

Lessons to be Learned

 

How many people, years after their driving test can still hear their driving instructor loud and clear in their mind’s ear every time they take a corner.

“Slower….  Slower…. Slower… Whoa! Slow it right down!”

 A good teacher is very powerful. The words of a good teacher are with us forever. A good teacher opens up our eyes and helps us to understand. A good teacher adds something to our world and changes us forever.

Today Mark tells us how Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. He tells us how amazed the people were at how he taught and at the authority in his teachings. His authority was powerful enough to expel demons even. You’ll notice that Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught but only how he taught and the impression he made. He taught in a way that was to change all our lives. It is testament to his skill as a teacher that news of him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.

We do not have the benefit of listening first hand to Jesus’ teaching, but it is testament to his authority that we still read his words twenty centuries after he spoke them. There are still demons in our lives, and Jesus’ teaching still has the authority to drive them out. There are still lessons to be learned for those who believe Jesus can add something to our world and change us forever.

 

Racial Justice Sunday Seeing one another in the life of the Church

28th January 2024

Racial Justice Sunday is the day the Church focuses on the need to oppose racism and pursue racial justice with renewed vigour. Racial harmony works best when we have a shared experience. When we have a shared experience, we stop seeing differences and see similarities instead. On this Racial Justice Sunday we are invited to see Catholicism as that shared experience. In particular we are invited to look to our Catholic saints around the globe and celebrate their heroic deeds.  

 

Presentation of the Lord February 2nd

Simeon had waited all his life to see Jesus. The Holy Spirit had promised him that he would live long enough. When Mary and Joseph presented the baby at the temple, Simeon said, "Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples."

Seeing Jesus satisfied Simon's life. We are prompted to ask what would satisfy us in our lives. Are the goals we set worth a lifetime of wanting, as Simeon's was?

World Day of Consecrated Life 2nd February 2024

In 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples.

Please pray for all those who have made commitments in the consecrated life, and be sure to thank them on their special day. May they continue to be inspired by Jesus Christ and respond generously to God's gift of their vocation.

 

Feast of St Blaise The Blessing of Throats 3rd February

Saint Blase was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the fourth century. According to various accounts he was a physician before becoming a bishop. His cult spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages because he was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fishbone in his throat. From the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat. In a ritual dating back to the 17th century, the blessing was originally made by touching the throat with two crossed candles.

Care for Our Common Home Woodland Trust New Year Raffle

The Woodland Trust has announced its New Year Raffle. Every ticket you buy helps to plant more trees. For rules, details of prizes and eligibility visit ww.woodlandtrust.raffleentry.org.uk  While you’re on the site, take a look at all the other wonderful ways you can support tree planting.

Bitesize

A teacher should have maximal authority, and minimal power. Thomas Szasz

 

Gospel Reflection for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time

21st January 2024

Change of Heart

 

“Wanted:- Men and women willing to leave behind their old way of life and become fishers men.”

Can you see job applicants queuing round the block? Would we respond to Jesus’ call with the same immediacy as those first disciples? Probably not! Chances are we’d hesitate long and hard. A hundred and one questions would hold us back. What would being a disciple involve? Would we be up to the job? What would we have to leave behind? What would we have to give up? Would part time discipleship be okay … after all we’ve got lots else to do! Would candidates be permitted to serve two masters, giving up one’s own agenda is surely too much to ask!

There would be lots of questions we would ask, but sadly no easy answers. There is no one answer that is right for everybody. But the one important message for us today is that discipleship usually means a major shift in direction; a change that involves leaving behind things that get in the way of our relationship with God. It is left to each of us to decide what our particular mode of discipleship might be, and what stands in the path of our new direction. Our new direction has to start with some good hard soul searching, and a change of heart.

 

Conversion of St. Paul 25th January

The great thing that we learn about God is that forgiveness and conversion are possible for all of us. Paul is portrayed as the greatest enemy of the earliest followers of Christ, but rather than smite him, or demonise him, Jesus instead takes his gifts of zeal and persuasion, and puts them to work for the Gospel.

An encounter with the risen Lord can do that for any of us. God doesn't give up on Paul, nor does God give up on us.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2024 Fragility of Freedom

 

Freedom means different things to different people. What is clear is that in every genocide that

has taken place, those who are targeted for persecution have had their freedom restricted and

removed, before many of them are murdered. This is often a subtle, slow process. There is always a set of circumstances which occur, or which are created, to build the climate in which genocide can take place and in which perpetrator regimes can remove the freedoms of those they are targeting.

 

On HMD 2024, we can all reflect on how freedom is fragile and vulnerable to abuse. As we come

together in communities around the UK, let’s pledge not to take our freedoms for granted, and

consider what we can do to strengthen freedoms around the world.

 

CAFOD Reach Out Raffle

CAFOD has announced that its Reach Out Raffle is now open. We are invited to play the Reach Out Raffle and help CAFOD reach out to more people who are fighting against poverty, social injustice, conflict and climate disasters. “Every raffle ticket you buy helps people living in poverty around the world to flourish. The more tickets you buy, the more people CAFOD can reach out to with love and support. www.cafod.org.uk/give/cafod-raffle

 

Be a ‘Good Winter Neighbour’

The children might be waking up with squeals of delight to see snow, but the rest of us might not be. ‘Age Concern’ advises us to keep an eye on elderly neighbours. Offer to do some shopping if the ground is very icy, or check on people you haven’t seen for a while.

 

Care for Our Common Home

Ski thermals for the planet.

During the winter months we obviously use a lot more energy and this costs the planet and our pockets. Invest in a set of ski thermal base layers to wear underneath normal clothing. You will feel amazingly toasty and as long as you are young and fit, should resist the temptation to put the fire up that extra bar.

 

Bitesize

Great minds have purposes, others have wishes. Washington Irving

 

 

Gospel Reflection for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

14th January 2024

Great Expectations

Have you ever had to live up to someone else’s expectations? At first it can feel daunting, but the strange thing about great expectations, is that very often they have the power to transform us. Living up to raised expectations can make us into better people.

In today’s gospel, Jesus meets Andrew’s brother Simon. He looks at him and says, “You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas, meaning Rock.” The new name must have filled Peter’s friends with astonishment. “A rock” Peter certainly wasn’t. Peter we know was a bit of a hot head. He was impulsive, rash, sometimes misguided and often passionate. To describe him as a ‘rock’ was surely inappropriate. Yet slowly and surely, Peter starts to live up to Jesus’ expectations, and slowly but surely, Peter changes from a hot headed fisherman, into a steadfast leader of the Church. As we see so often in the Bible, Jesus’ expectations have the power to transform.

By comparison, we seem to live our lives with fairly banal expectations. Our greatest ambition, as we wake each morning might be to pay a phone bill or get the car through an MOT. Are we missing something? Is God calling us to greater things and we simply aren’t listening?

For each of us God has a job to do. Of each of us God has great expectations. How do we hear God’s calling? Do we listen to the world and the people around us? How do we respond to our calling? What are God’s expectations of us? How must we change?

 

Peace Sunday  14th January 2024

Artificial Intelligence and Peace

Extract from Pope Francis’ World Peace Day Message 2024

“Artificial intelligence will become increasingly important. The challenges it poses are technical, but also anthropological, educational, social and political. It promises, for instance, liberation from drudgery, more efficient manufacturing, easier transport and more ready markets, as well as a revolution in processes of accumulating, organizing and confirming data. We need to be aware of the rapid transformations now taking place and to manage them in ways that safeguard fundamental human rights and respect the institutions and laws that promote integral human development. Artificial intelligence ought to serve our best human potential and our highest aspirations, not compete with them.” Pope Francis

 

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

18th-25th January 2024

Go and Do Likewise

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the best known passages of Scripture, yet one that never seems to lose its power to challenge indifference to suffering and to inspire solidarity. It is a story about crossing boundaries that calls our attention to the bonds that unite the whole human family. We are invited to join in considering what it means to love our neighbour.

“In our approach to the past we have a moral responsibility to acknowledge the corrosive impact of violence and words that can lead to violence.”

 

Changing the Political Winds in 2024

This year is a chance to reassert what we want for the country. The huge majority of us want to end poverty. What might happen if every candidate received 100, 200, even 500 postcards from potential voters, saying: “I want to end poverty and I want you to make it a priority.”

We would change what the political parties saw as priorities.

We would start to shift how much prominence the next Government gave to tackling poverty.

And we would change the country for the better.

Niall Cooper, Chief Executive, of Church Action on Poverty.

 

 

Care for Our Common Home Trees to Reduce Flooding

Flooding is in the news a lot lately. One of the preventative actions is obvious. More trees and fast! Native woods and trees are one of the best ways to tackle the climate crisis. The benefits of trees in the fight against climate change are now well understood. They lock up carbon, reduce pollution and flooding, and support people, wildlife and farming in adapting to the climate crisis. Now is the optimum time to plant and it’s something we can all do. So buy a tree and plant it, or get involved in a tree planting scheme, or campaign for more trees across the land. Whatever you do, remember to share on social media to get lots of other people doing the same.

www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/plant-trees/why-plant-trees/

 

Bitesize

You can't go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending.  James R. Sherman

Gospel Reflection for the Epiphany (England and Wales)

7th January 2024

New Year Same Disastrous Outcomes?

 

It's a well-known saying that if you continue to do the same thing you will get the same results. Yet despite this obvious truth we continue to approach life in exactly the same old ways and repeat the same disastrous outcomes. We tend to get through life relying on the knowledge we already have, instead of searching for something new.

Today the Church commemorates the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles. We call it the ‘Epiphany’ a word derived from the Greek meaning ‘to appear’ or ‘to be shown forth’. The Epiphany is about searching for meaning purpose and revelation. The Magi were men of great learning, intellect and wealth, yet they weren’t prepared to sit back and imagine they knew it all. Guided by a star and motivated by a hunger for truth, they stepped out of their comfort zone and set out across the desert not knowing what they would find or how long it would take. It was a journey of faith and great courage.

In the same way as the star got the wise men questioning, so too we find guiding stars in our lives that make us question. What circumstances get us looking for deeper meaning? The desire to leave a mind-numbingly meaningless job, the need to make sense of a family illness, or the curiosity to research the background to a motivational book are all circumstances in which we might find our ‘guiding stars’. Today’s gospel reading is an invitation for all God’s people to step out of their comfort zones and search for a new way of life and a better truth.

 

 

Gospel Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord (Ireland)

The Past Doesn’t Have to Equal the Future.

What does Jesus’ baptism say to us? Jesus’ thirty years of preparation before his public baptism remind us that it takes time to get ready for God’s mission. How many countless hours did Jesus spend in prayer? What study, what thought, what vision must he have undergone before appearing in front of John asking for baptism?

What do we learn from Jesus’ baptism? January is a time for new beginnings and fresh resolution. John the Baptist was an expert on this. John’s ministry was all about repentance and reform … that’s what his baptism was all about. But anyone who has ever seriously tried to change themselves will know how difficult change really is. We all fondly imagine that change is just beyond our reach, and all we have to do is reach that little bit further. Perhaps we would be more giving if we had more money. Perhaps we would be more helpful to others if we could manage our time better. Perhaps we would manage to be tidier if we had a home extension. Perhaps we could be happier if we found a perfect partner. Perhaps we could feel better fulfilled if we changed our job, passed a few more exams, moved to the country, lost weight, got a promotion, had a baby... the list goes on and on. Yet every January we find ourselves in much the same situation as the previous year. Those who were baptised by John were baptised as a sign of their intent to change from their old ways, but knowing how difficult change can be, we can’t help wondering how successful they must have been. Perhaps John appreciated this too when he said “I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

When we look for change in our lives, perhaps we are looking in all the wrong places. Perhaps all we need to do is to ask the Holy Spirit for help. We are told that the same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus at the outset of his ministry, is the same Holy Spirit that is given to us in our baptism. Validating our baptism anew every day, knowing that we are filled with the Holy Spirit …..  perhaps change isn’t just beyond our reach after all. The past doesn’t have to equal the future.

 

Baptism of the Lord and New Year’s Resolutions

If we remember daily to ask the Holy Spirit for inner strength, then change will not be beyond our reach after all, and world will be a better place because of it.

If you haven’t made any resolutions yet, here are a couple of ideas!

 

Peace Resolutions

Resolve to put Peace Into Action

Peace – based on justice.  A world where human rights are respected, basic needs are met, people feel safe and valued in their communities and where we care for our common home.

Reconciliation – a process which begins when people try to mend relationships – between individuals or whole countries after times of violence or dispute.

Nonviolence – a way of living and making choices that respects others and offers alternatives to violence and war  (Pax Christi)

 

Green Resolutions

The natural disasters we have witnessed over recent years bear sad witness that our climate has changed. Amongst all those other new year resolutions for 2024, a very practical resolution would be to become a better steward of God’s creation.

The Green Christian Way of Life comprises four resolutions:

Daily Prayer and Devotions

Living Gently on the Earth

Public Action

Encouragement

 

Dry January

If your alcohol consumption is nil or perfectly well controlled, then obviously you have no need to consider a dry January. However, if you find that your favourite tipple is persistently standing between you and God’s fulfilling and exciting plans for you, it might be time to cut down, or talk to your GP about giving up. For hints and advice visit www.alcoholchange.org.uk/help-and-support/managing-your-drinking/tips-for-cutting-down

 

Care for Our Common Home

January To do:-

Don’t let unwanted gifts fester at the back of a wardrobe. Declutter to save lives. Take unwanted gifts to the local charity shop.

Take old toy batteries to the local recycling bank. Supermarkets often have a drop off point for old batteries.

 

Bitesize

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.       Chinese Proverb