Acts 28:3-6 “Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, when a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, ‘This man must be a murderer; though he has escaped from the sea, justice has not allowed him to live.’ He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were expecting him to swell up or drop dead, but after they had waited a long time and saw that nothing unusual had happened to him, they changed their minds and began to say that he was a god.”
Monster! The headlines tear like shards of glass through ripped reputations and tainted talents, to be heard no more.
Hordes! Names, stories, lives, compacted into an anonymised mass. Contempt for care, rejection made righteous.
When will we turn and dare to see the sister in the surge of displaced existence, and the brother in the monster’s shame?
Acts 28:1-2,7 “After we had reached safety, we then learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed us unusual kindness. Since it had begun to rain and was cold, they kindled a fire and welcomed all of us round it …Now in the neighbourhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who received us and entertained us hospitably for three days”
Well done for sticking with these reflections until Day 6 – you are rewarded with the discovery of the source of the phrase “unusual kindness”!
I open my door and welcome the newness of uncertainty.
The presence of possibility resides in the unfamiliar received with outstretched, vulnerable arms.
The gifts brought are for sharing among us, not trading equity.
This stranger and I, we resolve to put warmth in the cold places, compassion in the hard places, hope in the dark places, and peace deep within.
We kindle the fire together and gather for warmth, before the next pilgrim, brings gifts for us all.
Acts 27:33-36“Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing. Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ After he had said this, he took bread; and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat. Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves.”
Go and Do (see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Work for the day when good healthcare is available for all.
Local: Hold a ‘bring and share’ meal together with the churches in your area where you have a conversation about what Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Supper means to each church.
Personal: Visit, send a card or call someone who is currently unwell that you know.
For last night there stood by me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before the emperor; and indeed, God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will have to run aground on some island.”
Almighty God, our personal suffering leads us to cry out in pain, and we shrink in fear when we experience sickness, anxiety or the death of loved ones. Teach us to trust You.
May the churches we belong to be signs of Your providential care. Make us true disciples of Your Son who taught us to listen to Your word and to serve one another.
In confidence we ask this in the name of Your Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest raged, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.”
Mark 4:35-41 (Jesus calms the storm)
There will be times when, standing in the storms of our own making, we are challenged to demonstrate unusual kindness in the face of worldly indifference. Here are some suggestions to Go and Do:
Go and Do (see www.ctbi.org.uk/goanddo)
Global: Take action by adding your voice to the call to address the climate emergency.
Local: Are your churches involved in the eco-church/ eco-congregations award?
Personal: Individual actions on reducing carbon are not enough to make the difference but together they add up.Source: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2020 Resources https://ctbi.org.uk/resources-for-week-of-prayer-for-christian-unity-2020/
For this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we accompany the churches of Malta, praying with and alongside them, praying also for them in their Christian journey as they seek the unity for which Christ prayed. And we rejoice with them that Malta traces its Christian origins back to the time of the Apostles. And in so doing, we enter into the drama of St Paul, those that travelled with him, and the inhabitants whom they met, to discover our shared unity, and in so doing recognise the importance of unusual acts of kindness that bear witness to the Gospel of peace and reconciliation.
We will be joined by Churches Together Sandhurst on Sunday January 19th 6:30pm at Crowthorne Methodist Church to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity that happens between 18th and 25th January each year.
All the churches are invited to a “New Communities” Day (organised by the local CoE churches – Sonning Deanery)
It’s at St John the Baptist Church, Crowthorne, Sat 18th January 9:30-12:30 focussing on how we might engage with our neighbours, but particularly our new neighbours on the housing estates springing up across Crowthorne.
Come along to hear how we can engage with the new communities in our areas. To consider how we build new congregations, and to share ideas on engaging with our neighbours.
The guest speaker is Will Donaldson, Director of New Congregations, Oxford Diocese. Will has lots of experience of developing church in unusual settings.
Please join us for a very appropriate way to start the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2020!