THE NEW NORM IS NOT THE OLD NORM WITH A DIFFERENT HAT ON
23/7/2020 0 Comments I've been thinking about this “new norm” that people think will be happening when we finally get to grips with COVID-19. It’s complicated it really is, especially as Government advice is often strange and seems to be conflicting for so many things, however in the last month, I really get the feeling that people in the main just want to get back to the way things were—as if the way things were was somehow okay I have to say I am not so sure the things we were doing both as a church, as a country or in the world was that great. So many things need to be changed for equality reasons, for justice reasons, to prevent poverty. I remember that early on in the pandemic, Australian journalist John Pilger reminded us via facebook of what the “old norm” was really like: “A pandemic has been declared, but not for the 24,600 who die every day from unnecessary starvation, and not for 3,000 children who die every day from preventable malaria, and not for the 10,000 people who die every day because they are denied publicly-funded healthcare, and not for the hundreds of Venezuelans and Iranians who die every day because America’s blockade denies them life-saving medicines, and not for the hundreds of mostly children bombed or starved to death every day in Yemen, in a war supplied and kept going, proﬁtably, by America . Before you panic, consider them.” The Liverpool Echo reported The long term increase has been driven in particular by a sharp rise in the number of children living in poverty despite one or more of their parents working. Some 39,152 of the children living below the poverty line in March 2019 were in working families - 57% of the total, and up from 26,904 in 2015. The overall rise means that around one in every five children in Merseyside is now living in poverty (21%) - although that figure is higher in some areas than others. Liverpool is the borough with the highest proportion of children living in poverty, with 28% of its children living below the breadline. So we might look back longingly for brighter days, but were they actually that much brighter? Maybe for some, but certainly not for all of us. In August we will be running a course called Sanctuary on Wednesday evenings 6:30 via zoom.which looks at Mental health in faith and how we as churches may respond to some of the issues. One of the subjects raised four movements that we might want to think about as we prepare ourselves for the new norm, whenever that arrives: (The following part of this blog is written by John Swinton but he wrote it so well I thought I would include it here)
From passion to resurrection
From scarcity to abundance
From lockdown to sabbath
From social distancing to loving trust
1. From passion to resurrection: Developing a post-COVID imagination Think for a moment about the story in the Gospels of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. People were really excited! It was a time of great expectation. “The Messiah has come!” (“Yes, he’s riding on a donkey which is a bit odd, but let’s put that to one side for a moment …”) Then came the passion and the chaos of the cross. Everything seemed to be falling apart. All of the people’s hopes, dreams, and expectations that were embodied in Jesus seemed to come crashing down. There was nothing but grief, sadness, lostness, pain, suffering, and fear. People inevitably feel deeply vulnerable in a time when their hopes and certainties are crushed and their control over the world is stripped from them. But then came the resurrection. Jesus overcomes death, and in so doing offers us new life: A new norm. This new norm is not a return to the victorious hopes of Palm Sunday. The crucifixion had shown us the reality of pain and suffering and the lengths that God will go to help us to find God’s love. The new norm that was heralded by the resurrection was different from the old norm. It was a call to go into the world and proclaim the gospel in the midst of pain, suffering, and lostness. It was a revelation that the might of God is revealed in vulnerability and suffering love. The new norm was that people recognized their inter-connectivity and were called to live under the wing of God, who is love: to care for the sick; to live life with and for others; to seek after wisdom, gentleness, peace, love and joy; to overcome the old gods of greed, individualism, and false idols; to live together as one Body. The new norm of course included pain and suffering, but not without hope. The COVID crisis is not a good thing. It is horrible, painful, fearful. We have to name it as such. Nevertheless, if perfect love does drive out fear and if Jesus truly is risen, then perhaps the new norm that will emerge when the virus is defeated will help lead us to a place where we can see life more clearly, and love God and one another more fully. The old norm may have been an illusion that we would be unwise to chase after. The new norm has to be built on stronger foundations. 2. From scarcity to abundance: Cultivating awareness of others One of the things that made me laugh (kind of) was the controversy early in the pandemic around hoarding toilet paper! People didn’t seem to know why, but they definitely knew that it was important! And pretty soon, the supermarket shelves were emptying as people began to hoard not just toilet paper but everything! Apparently, it didn’t matter that there was enough food in the country to feed everyone three times over. Apparently, it didn’t matter that by hoarding food we were jeopardizing the most vulnerable within our society. As long as I and my family have all we need everything is fine … apparently! In some ways it was funny. In other ways it most certainly was not. Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann notes that in the Old Testament the people of Israel developed a similar “scarcity mentality.” Pharaoh introduced the principle of scarcity into the world economy. They always lived in fear that they wouldn’t have enough, and even when they did have enough, they lived in fear of losing it. Brueggemann also notes that for many of us money and possessions have become a kind of narcotic: “We hardly notice our own prosperity or the poverty of so many others. The great contradiction is that we have more and more money and less and less generosity—less and less public money for the needy, less charity for the neighbour.” And yet the gospel calls us to love a God who gives abundantly. We are called to be generous people who steward both love and possessions with grace, peace, and generosity. The virus has revealed something of ourselves that is not so good. If we carry that into the new norm, then we will be in even more trouble than we already are. It’s time for change. 3. From lockdown to sabbath: Embodying the habits of generosity So how can we change? How do we begin to develop the habits of generosity that will prevent us from rejecting vulnerable people when we feel threatened? Well, think about this: Lockdown for many has been a bit boring and monotonous. How do we fill our days when the structure of our lives seems to have become so loose and disorganized? One way we might think about it is in terms of sabbath. When Pharaoh decided to oppress the people of Israel by burdening them with more and more work, God responded in a very unusual way. He said, “Take a Sabbath! Take time and remember who I am.” In the midst of the horribleness of their lives, the people of Israel were asked to recognize that the God of hope and redemption hadn’t forgotten about them and was with them now and always. God was asking the people of Israel to develop the habits of worship and the habits of generosity. What might it look like if we were to think of lockdown as an opportunity to practice sabbath? Almost all of us, perhaps for the first time ever, have a lot more time on our hands. What do we do with it? Do we bake or count our rolls of toilet paper? Or do we decide to give some of that time to God—to practice sabbath so that when the new norm finally emerges we will be ready and able not just to replicate the bad habits of the old norm, but to really be open to the new things that God is doing and the possibility that God might be doing them through us! Sabbath is a time of remembrance. So maybe we should practice remembering God? 4. From social distancing to loving trust: Investing in long-term relationships Finally, it might be worth thinking about the “social distancing” that we have been asked to do. We really don’t know the long-term psychological and social consequences of social distancing. What will happen if we continue to implicitly or explicitly assume that everyone, including our family and friends, are potential threats to our wellbeing? Social distancing is clearly necessary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. But how easy will it be for us to stop doing it? Social distancing could be used as another name for stigma—something that many of us are all too familiar with. Think about it this way: There is a difference between social distancing and physical distancing. Physical distancing is a medical term which is intended to stop us being infected by the virus. But social distancing is a relational term. We really don’t want to get into the habit of social distancing even if physical distancing might be necessary! The other day I spoke to an elderly woman—Amanda—about the situation regarding social isolation, social distancing, and the like (she was in her doorway, and I was walking past, doing my one hour of daily exercise). She just laughed and said, “I have been in isolation for the past ten years! People have become experts at distancing themselves from me. But now with the coming of the virus, suddenly everyone wants to help me. It’s odd, really.” I felt a bit bad as I was probably one of the social distancers she was commenting on. She lived but a few hundred yards away from my house, and it took a pandemic for me to notice her. It is worrying that people can be amongst us and can be so vulnerable to being lonely, isolated, friendless—to not being noticed. The real tragedy was that Amanda had gotten used to being lonely. She was genuinely surprised when people started to pay attention to her. Loneliness is one of the most painful experiences for human beings to go through. God creates human beings and tells us very clearly that we are made for community, that our natural state is to be in relationship: to belong. We belong to God, we belong to creation, we belong to one another. In order to feel that we belong, people need to affirm us, to notice us, and to offer the gifts of time and friendship. To belong is to be loved. Amanda has had very little experience of receiving the fruits of the practices of belonging, but now when things are so radically changed, suddenly people want to find out about her. That is potentially a beautiful thing, but only if it continues. There must be nothing worse than finding company in the midst of a crisis, only for it to disappear again when things get back to “normal.” The revived sense of community that has emerged during this time of COVID might just be a gift that we should not lose as we move towards healthier times. Love your neighbour. Questions to shape our new norm:Are there other “pandemics,” crises, or acute instances of human suffering that were neglected under the old norm? What might it look like to hold these in remembrance? What might it look like to live out of the resurrection? Where are there opportunities for generosity moving forward? How have you practiced remembering God recently? Is there an invitation to enlarge this practice? How can you love your neighbor during this season of physical distancing? How might you continue to cultivate a revived sense of community? 0 Comments Its ok to be not ok! 19/5/2020 0 Comments ver the last few weeks, it has been a privilege to continue to work in our community here in Croxteth Park and we have been doing such a lot via social media and I hope that you feel involved. There have been the ‘family weekly challenges’ where families can craft things daily together often recycling things they have already in the home. We have asked families to also share them on social media so we can see the fantastic work families are doing together which improves mental health and resilience to the lockdown situation. We also have the #StCuthbertsRocks these are rocks painted up with messages of hope for people to find on their daily walks, we also take photos of them so that people on Facebook and Instagram can also share their work and hence share the hope we are creating in God’s love. If I can be of any assistance do please let me know and I will get in touch or of course, get you a St Cuthberts buddy for either shopping, prescription pick-ups or even just a phone call. At the end of May in the celebration of Pentecost we are having a St Cuthberts Pentecost Quiz! This will be held at 2:30 on 31st May on Facebook live and I hope many will join in the fun and through the comments we can share the experience together. Via Zoom we are also holding prayer meetings twice a week, standing committees and of course PCC though APCM will still need to be held when we return to our church building. All of this is brilliant and fantastic to work together with the community and to work with Croxteth Park residents too in the Mental health and Wellbeing ‘Whats app group’. I also work on a Hardship Group with our councillors helping us to ensure those in need are cared for, but I still have concerns for those alone or mums and dads who may be at breaking point. Hellinger wrote that war, natural disasters, and pandemics are ‘the greater forces that shape us’. We are not used to this level of ‘not being in control. It is a shock to our systems and I know after working years as a nurse and having had trauma training that our normal coping strategies may or may not work for us. We need time to process and understand where we are as individuals and name out loud what we can influence and what we can’t, and this in itself can be liberating. In systemic work, this is described as agreeing to something exactly as it is. The world won’t be the same again is about naming the truth of what is. Patterns of belief and behaviour which may give rise to problems in daily life, here and now, they may also be tracked back through the generations. These patterns are strongly influential, the more so if they are unrecognised However they can also be a source of strength and resilience. Inviting ourselves, or someone else, to say out loud I am feeling trapped/ I’m feeling like the walls are closing in,/ I feel like I am so alone in my own home, I’m’ feeling angry/scared/ fed up if that is what they are expressing, then we need to help them, and not to be just ‘reassuring’ them that lots of other people are, too, as this can diminish what they are feeling. We need to help them to understand and process where they are at. Reassurance minimises what they are feeling and is more helpful to us as people listening, however, agreeing to what they say -yes you are feeling very alone at this time how can we change how you feel? is vastly different from trying to make something OK.” Just saying out loud" I am not ok "can begin the process of healing and awareness of the issues your having. Active listening and coaching can help in these situations to help people realise what they can change and what they cannot. The World is becoming increasingly complex and interdependent and being able to care for not just the worldly response, but the spiritual too is essential. God is in all things and made all things and recognises our pain with us. If you feel this way do please contact me and I am happy to listen. I hope you continue to enjoy the services and we have bought new software that I hope makes the experience more inclusive of the way you join in. We continue to broadcast live daily prayer and compline twice a day at 12 and 7pm. We also have a midweek communion at 9:30am on the Wednesday as well as the Holy communion service on the Sunday at 10:30am and sharing these with All Saints Stoneycroft in our deanery has helped up to work closely together and bring a different dimension to our worship. So let me know if I can do anything to help you during this lockdown, it’s a privilege to work with you all. 0 Comments Live Lent Action Calendar for each day. 11/3/2020 0 Comments 0 Comments #LiveLent Thinking Differently 11/3/2020 0 Comments Live Simply Try a “no buy” Lent. In the Gospel, Jesus invites us to consider the birds, whose every feather is accounted for by God, in order to remind us that God knows all of our needs and will take care of us. So perhaps we might take stock of the things that we possess, evaluate what we really need and then consider letting go and donating some of these things to charities, such as TearFund or CAP As days lengthen, try using less artificial light -- and if we’ve not yet done so -- let’s switch out our lightbulbs for LED lightbulbs. Do you drive to Church each week? Perhaps try carpooling with others who live nearby. And . . . wait for it . . . can you go meatless for a day or better still a week? during Lent as a way of reducing our environmental impact. Everyone can help to reduce our environmental impact by making sure all compostable items go in the compost bin, rather than in the trash. Live Justly Do justlly and love mercy is a favourite part of Micah for me and I think it helps us to think about about climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable. During Lent, take time to study up a bit on this. https://www.gotquestions.org/do-justly-love-mercy-walk-humbly.html For those who are traveling over Easter holidays, consider donating to one of the organizations that supports eco-friendly actions as carbon offsets like https://climatecare.org/carbon-offsetting/ or buy a few trees and plant them locally through https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ They even plant locally in Huyton and I think in Dam wood too. Live Prayerfully For those who have not yet had the opportunity, - and want to do more than the Live lent app or booklet then perhaps make a prayerful read of Marks Gospel its so small it can be read in an hour, or consider using this guide from https://content.scriptureunion.org.uk/wordlive/god-comes-near Which provides weekly reflections helping us to connect deeper with God and brings in the Lenten themes of prayer, fast, and act. Perhaps take a few minutes each day to pray with the Scriptures or the daily LiveLent readings , which can be found https://www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/living-out-our-faith/lent-holy-week-and-easter/livelent And all are invited to participate in any of the many available opportunities to pray over the coming weeks using the Apps or booklets - Attending the Lent Course on a Wednesday and attending the modern reflections on the way of the Cross, as we go through Holy Week As a Church we have joined in our Bishops Rule of life Pray, Read, Learn so that we can tell serve and give to make a bigger church making a bigger difference bringing more justice into the world. It begins with us making small changes each day Finally, let’s all pray for and support each other through our Eco Livelent Caring for Gods Creations so that it helps us , to Live Simply, Justly and Prayerfully, and to have a Sacred and blessed Lent 0 Comments Say Yes to Life! 9/3/2020 0 Comments Its wonderful to be fully back with you all since January2020 and its exciting to begin to pray together and form ideas together so that a vision for our future can be formed. As part of our Rule of life and our discipleship- this Lent we are engaging with #livelent20; As well as looking at 'Lifting the Lid' on mental health each wednesday in the lent group. Everyone in the church has been given the opportunity to have a booklet or to download the app to their phones or to ask for email reflections. This is good as it means the whole church is engaged with the campaign and we learn together about whats happening in the world in regards to climate change and environmental issues, while looking at this through the Creation stories in Genesis. As a church, its allowing us to Pray, Read and Learn together as part of our Rule of life. Through the books and the reflections we learn to rebuild our relationship with our planet, and in turn with the God who is the creator of the Universe. As part of our challenge I have asked the local children in the congregation with their parents permission (crucial)to post to instagram their activties showing them completing the actions set, or to send to me so I can make a collage for the back of church; to help them understand the damage we can do to the environment. Its helpful if they use the #livelent and #stcuthberts and the #ecochurch hashtags as this means we can see them and connect them to St Cuthberts. We can also use the photos to make a great display of our 'ecowarriors' at work in Church. To aid writing the sermons /reflections Ruth Valerio has written a book called 'Say Yes to Life.' This has been part of my own Lent reading and I would encourage you to give this book which is the Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent book for 2020 a try. - (Dr Ruth Valerio imaginatively draws on the Days of Creation in Genesis 1 to lift our focus from everyday concerns to issues that are affecting millions of lives around the world. Bursting with practical advice as well as biblical reflection, discussion questions and prayers, this is a stirring and liberating call to look after the world that God has made – and to share in God’s joy and creativity by making a difference for good. ) Get your copy now from SPCK. This Lent, we hope as a church that both adults and children might engage in God’s plea for us to “Care for Creation”. We hope we can learn together to help our church live in better harmony with our local park and our local community. Its also helping people step up to the mark and challenge some of thier behaviours and habits. The sermon slot this Sunday was given by Racheal our Environmental officer for St Cuthberts and was based on water -which is appropriate when we think of all the local flooding that has happened caused by climate change, and it was fascinating hearing some of the facts and figures that she gave us. Each week we will focus ourselves around the Genesis readings as we learn to reflect on the goodness and wonder that God has given us. I wonder if you knew how many litres of water are wasted a minute if we leave our taps on while cleaning our teeth? - The answer was 6 litres. 6 Litres of life saving water that in just 30 years will be in a global shortage if we dont begin to love what God has given us to enjoy, and love. It may sound strange but flood water is undrinkable, wasted water costs money, and costs electricity too to clean it and make it useful. Water thats contaminated with waste products and mircro plastics and that waste we I am afraid to say have put there. So this lent I hope you join us either for our Lent group on a wednesday which is studying Mental health and the Christian faith or with our #livelent challenges. your planet or health will thank you! 0 Comments The Mountains and valleys before us. 17/7/2019 0 Comments Life is a series of peaks and troughs, ups and downs, highs and lows. It's easy to go from the highest of highs to the lowest low in a matter of minutes, often forgetting the joy and goodness of the previous season- instead we trade it in for the heartache and hurt of the present instead. We view others at their best and compare them to us at our worst, and it's easy to let this make us jealous and negative. The woman celebrating her degree – well you'll never know the hours she sacrificed, the sleep she lost, or the test she had to re-take three times to pass. Your friend who glows in her recent pregnancy announcement? You don't see the pain she felt every month for a whole year when that second little line didn't show up. That couple sharing the lovey- dovey post Facebook as they celebrate their anniversary. All it did was make you feel even more single? But, we need to step back because we just don't see the years they waited to find one another, the failed relationships, the counselling, the things they've had to work through. It's easy to forget the peaks behind us, and feel alone in the midst of our pits, because our society doesn't often share both sides with the world. We don't post an Instagram photo of us losing our cool with our child or sitting in a long period of waiting, just hoping and praying that a new hill will rise up ahead of us, offering us relief. So, it feels like we're the only one walking that path, when in reality there are so many trudging along that same road. But in those moments, let's remember: celebrating someone else's peak with them, does not make us any less likely to someday be celebrating our own joyful moment. Nor does it take the pain and hurt that we feel in our season in the "pit". Looking up at the happy moments for others. We can feel both emotions, both pain and joy, at the same time and they can both be valid and real. So, let's choose to build each other up. Let's choose to celebrate and also empathize: to feel joy and pain alongside those we live life with. Let's trust that, even when it seems like we'll be stuck in a valley forever, there is a hill up just ahead- good things waiting for us, better than we could have planned, if only we can hold on, trust just a little bit longer. And then, when we finally reach that peak, there will be people there along with us, celebrating, cheering, crying tears of joy knowing the ups and downs that have been there along the way. Then the valleys will fade as part of a beautiful struggle that led to this incredible end. And remember through them all God is with you in it all. 0 Comments What kind of person do you really want to be?” 9/5/2019 0 Comments Ask yourself today.. “What kind of person do you really want to be?”Writing this in the form of a individual mission statement or as a diary entry has a powerful effect on your mental health and your self-esteem. Writing it down helps to concentrate the words and thoughts that we have, and the very act of writing that you want to be “kind” and “compassionate” and “caring” motivates positive action. The question “What kind of person am I ?” Is answered by the way you speak to others and what you do for them. For a healthy self-esteem and good mental health, you also need to remember that you are unique. You’re Unique! One of the major causes of low self-esteem is, comparing ourselves to others. We get caught up in the bubble of thinking that you don’t measure up or you’ll never be like so and so, or the one that really hits home, ‘your just not good enough.’ Today, we live in a society that reveres fame and fortune, and many will hero worship celebrities, constantly comparing ourselves with others and trying to be like certain celebrities in how they look and act (ask the hairdressers in the area!) The truth is, you are the only person in the world who is exactly you. God, has not made anyone else like you. Only you have your unique genetic makeup and your unique life circumstances. No one alive now, and no-one who ever lived before, and no-one who will ever live in the future, was, is, or will be, just like you. You are the only person in the world with your unique positive qualities and challenges. You are the only person in the world who has your particular life vocation and mission path. Psalm 139:13–16 (New Living Translation (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. You, like everyone else alive right now, are a work in progress. You have a multitude of positive choices that you can make throughout each and every day. So lets all choose to live well! Choose positive thoughts, words, and actions. With every positive choice you make, you build yourself. So, we need to keep making those positive choices, and you need to remember you are also important! Considering yourself important is an essential mindset and one that’s often lacking in today’s society. Feeling good about yourself is a basic human need. Knowing your inner strengths and positive qualities enables you to use them over and over again. You see, Gods commandment was love others as yourself and its really important to try and do this. We need to acknowledge our past, remembering the accomplishments and the achievements that we have had a long the way. By doing this, it will help you to have a happier life and enables all of us to continue to accomplish and achieve much more. Your self-esteem helps you to have a better quality of life.” As you build your “self”, you will have a greater positive influence on the self-outlook of others. As I have said already it’s no wonder that God gives us the commandment to ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.” Mark 12:31 So, the way you view yourself, is the same way you’ll always view or treat others. If you view yourself as a failure or a no body, if you constantly listen to that little niggling doubt then I’m afraid that sadly, you’re going to seek out and see those around you as failures too. It takes an entire lifetime to live your life. Building your self-esteem is also lifelong process its something we all battle with, including me! “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela Throughout your life there will be events that will build your self-esteem, while other experiences do the opposite. The positive and elevated thoughts, words, and actions that you think, say, and do, are all part of the process of building your self-esteem. But what ever happens, whatever you feel about yourself today you need to remember this one thing…. You are Loved! - God loves each person, far more than each person can love themselves. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Hope... that’s a powerful word and knowing God loves each and everyone of us is a powerful message for our self-image and our mental well-being. I am a person who God, loves and considers valuable, Very Valuable. Why? Because He has a plan for my life. It’s a great and a better plan and because He sent his Son to show us the way. Try building Your Self-Esteem and your mental well-being just one step at a time. It is important to try and improve ourselves a small bit every day, because it takes work! I’m afraid there is no way to make quick progress; faith, and becoming what God intended for us, is a journey that takes time, and its certainly not a sprint to the finished product. I only wish it was. The daily question to ask yourself is: “What small improvement can I make now?” Every time you get to know yourself better in any way, you build up your self-esteem. You will become someone who is gaining more and more control over their emotions and actions all the time. Every time you have the emotional self-control to do something that you find difficult to do, you build up your self-esteem and mental well-being. Every time you refrain from saying or doing something then you will build up your self-esteem. It’s important to get to know who you are…Do something out of the ordinary from your usual routine, something you were afraid of doing before. Some people find mindfulness helps, that’s something we are teaching presently at St Cuthberts, and it helps a great deal of people in the world to improve their mental health and well-being in a structured way. Helping us to become present to the moment that where in. Checking our emotions and body and reducing our stress levels. Some will keep a journal and that’s another great way to see and note down your blessings each day, in fact seeing the positive in black and white can really help. Some will use blessing jars to the same effect. (place a marble in a jar every time you feel something positive or write a note, and then place in jar, then open the jar each month or year (if you can wait that long!)) Write down your successes and your positive actions and thoughts. Get to know your strengths and the things that have been positive and focus on them. Don’t be afraid to try. “In order for people to be happy, sometimes they have to take risks. It’s true these risks can put them in danger of being hurt.” – Meg Cabot As Arrow says in the TV show – “To beat fear, you have to become the fear” which is a nonsense way of saying by facing fear courageously then fear can have no power over you.” Courage isn’t being heroic, Courage is being afraid and taking a leap of faith, or a positive step, even though we may feel frightened. “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill “ For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ” 2 Timothy 1:7 So, go on do something positive today, and remember always that God loves you! God bless Laura x 0 Comments A picture tells a thousand words... but are you feeling stressed? 12/4/2019 1 Comment They say a picture tells a thousand words, but I wonder if you know about this one? If the picture is still, then your calm, if the picture is moving slowly, your stressed. If the picture is spinning, your extremely stressed and need to take urgent action! Mental Health is something that has been hidden for along time. People where “ashamed” to ask for help if they needed it. People where shunned if they openly admitted it. Yet, and here’s the big statistic, 1 in 4 adults are suffering from an issue with mental health, the most common is depression and anxiety. What’s even more destressing is one in three children are suffering too! The speed our society has changed and become more technologically advanced it seems, the more problems we have with our mental health! I am not saying the internet is bad, or that phones are are the devil in disguise, but I am saying that we are a country that works the longest hours, and our society has forgotten how to be happy, We have forgotten how to make relationships and sadly loneliness is one of the biggest problems in the UK. So what as a church are we doing about it? Well two things. Every Monday we hold APlace2B from 11:30 -2pm. Where you can have a one to one, or just sit and make friends with people. We have crafts and games and we also have food, all for free and just a donation. We often have police doing a surgery or a local councillor, offering support and advice. We sometimes get the Mental health support team and once a month we have the learning bus, which offers help with switching, phones, and benefits, to finding a job and computer support. We can refer you to our pastoral care team, and I am always happy to help where I can. The second is -we are holding our Mindfulness course which begins May 1st. 2019. 6:30-9pm. Come and learn how to do Mindfulness and how the benefits of doing this ancient practice are helping millions to take control of anxiety, stress and depression and put a plan into process. The course is free and registration is through Alt Valley Communiversity or via Rev Laura. The course needs 10 people to run and be viable. So if your wondering what it’s all about, or you maybe you have been thinking about this for a while, or even just want to refresh your skills come and join the course. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Being creative can also help, so here’s my heart painted for the people of St Cuthberts and Croxteth Park today. Like many hearts it’s a bit scarred but with Gods love and grace, I hope it’s one that you will find a connection with. Let me know if the picture moves, or if you want to join the mindfulness course or wish for more information around APlace2B. Happy to help. Godbless Laura 1 Comment WHEN TIMES ARE HARD? HOW DO WE KEEP GOING? 11/4/2019 0 Comments In good times it’s easy to talk about faith. It’s easy to see why we believe and encourage others to “keep the faith” when they’re feeling down. But what about periods of prolonged suffering or surprise attacks? So, how do we keep the faith in tough times? I pondered this question this week. Why? Well just like everyone else I have good days and bad days and this week proved challenging with flaring emotions, less-than-graceful communication and the temptation to, yet again, go over details in my head. It was easy to say to my self, “where did I go wrong” “I don’t deserve this or that person doesn’t deserve this” and plain old “Where are you GOD? Even with all the reading, all the praying and all the practice of trying to stay peaceful, this week was overwhelming, and I found myself begging God to drop me a line and send me the answers written in the sky. Nothing happened. I prayed over and over for Him to bring relief and change the scene. Nothing. I felt discouraged, depressed… and impatient. Why wasn’t He answering my prayers? Why wasn’t God showing up? And then I remembered something: We grow in our faith, and it takes time. The struggle strengthens us. ‘Poppycock’ I hear you say but its true, bear with me on this. KEEPING FAITH Our faith isn’t always tested in the good times; our faith is tested during trials and times of challenge. When we ask, “Where are you, God?” and hear just birds singing or even just silence, that’s when we’re left to decide what to do. Will we believe anyway? Allowing ourselves to grow a more mature faith? Or will we decide Gods not there, falling back on all the voices we’ve heard in the past, from those around us? Sometimes we can see the temptation at work in these moments; sometimes we can’t. We take forward steps and backward steps (and side steps and missteps), sometimes we just stand still, hiding our heads in the ground with all the pain. But we’re growing and being stretched when the number of forward steps we take -out grows the backward ones! Taking that forward step is making yourself and your faith active. Trust the faith you do have! Choose to remain faithful when there is no visible finish line and no feeling of relief. Lean into it and bear through the discomfort that comes from trusting in what you cannot see. It’s not taking a risk–it’s strengthening your faith, your resolve. It allows you to change how you feel about the circumstances, taking back a little of the control allowing you to focus once more. Are you struggling with trusting God? Because honestly, this is all of us at times. You are not the only Christian out there who is struggling, wondering if you really believe or even feeling like you just can’t feel God. We all struggle in different ways at different times. Why? Well for most of us we just cannot reach out and touch God with our hands like we can a person, a phone, computer screen or something in the physical world. And in that moment of nothingness, what do we do next? Where do we turn our eyes? “I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). This is the psalm my mother told me was mine- God wanted me to know it all of my life, and its sort of helped in these times, because our Faith is our freewill choice. It requires believing in what we cannot see. It is an action to take; it requires us to move. To take that leap of faith that we see Indiana Jones take in the final movie when looking for the Holy Grail. What (You’re thinking) is she on about? But faith requires us to not just think about it. We need to grow into it and trust it. Ask God for More Faith Sounds simple. Have you tried it? James 4:2 says that we do not have, because we do not ask. Jesus said that we should ask, seek and knock. Not my words, His: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt 7:7-8). And when we enter hard times that just keep getting harder, deeper, more intense its in those times we can pray- Lord, take me another step; allow me to have more faith in you. The moment we face choosing to trust God or going it alone—which can happen many times in the course of a Christian’s life—we have an opportunity to put our faith in action. We might think at times, But I’m tired of always choosing to take the high road. I’m tired of reaching out, giving, taking the food to foodbank, not yelling at other users of the road etc. “We walk by faith, not by sight” is what 2 Corinthians 5:7 says. We participate in this process. We make these choices in the quiet of our hearts, when no one would ever know or see. Does it look weak on the outside? Well it requires great strength. We can get that strength from God. “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39). We will not always (and in some cases ever) be noticed or thanked by the world around us, and thankfully, because that is not at all the point. Allow God’s Word to Work in You and Through You The Bible is called the living word. Hebrews 4:12 tell us, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Have you ever read a Bible verse and it cuts right through all the rubbish and gets right to the point? Maybe it convicts you or maybe it confirms something for you. It is powerful. So, if you are “staying in the word,” you are having this living water refresh you, fill you, nourish you, teach you, correct you, redirect you. The bible is still exciting, and more than that its formative. Yes, we need to ensure we understand the lens in which we read it. (by this I mean, if our culture reads it one way, doesn’t mean another culture may read it differently) God is ok with that, but Gods word is the inspired word of God. Written for the culture at the time, by the people of the time. It’s the Holy Spirit that will make it relevant for us today. So, what can I do? Well seek forgiveness when you get things wrong and try to do better next time. We work at it because we want to improve. We have to forgive ourselves for the mess as much as the other person. If we don’t, we just eat ourselves up mentally. We are human and we will end up getting ourselves into problems and situations. We will make bad / wrong choices, but this is a process, and we’re all in it, and we all mess up. Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’ (Matthew 18:21-22). Find Encouragement in New Places Where is God calling you to learn more about Him? Maybe you’re trying to read the Bible at home on your own, and it’s a struggle. Some ideas:
Have you considered watching an online Bible study?
Listening to a podcast on your drive to work in the morning?
Do you feel God calling you to a certain ministry?
Maybe you could come on a Sunday to St Cuthberts or to a different Church in the area?
I grew up a Catholic at one point (its complicated), so whenever I attempted “going back to church,” that meant a Catholic mass. But I had also been taught my bible from a Baptist and a non-denominational. At first it felt strange because it was different to what I knew, but hearing the Bible taught in a way I could understand opened my eyes. After that point, I visited several local congregations, so why am I telling you this well just because generations of your family have celebrated their faith in one denomination, there may be something different for you. Ask God where He’s calling you. I hope I see you at St Cuthberts but I understand if I don’t! Remember What God Has Done in Your Life When I feel faith slipping in any way, I think about all the times God showed up over and over again, especially when I was broken and hurt. I think about these things and remember them. How do you share your story with others? With those closest to you? With yourself when you need it the most? Remember a problem shared is a problem halved. In our modern lives we have forgotten how to communicate with one another. Put down the phone and have a chat to someone. Remember too that Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus really appeared to the other apostles after the resurrection? So, then Jesus appeared to Thomas, right there in front of everyone, and Thomas said, “My Lord my God!” And Jesus replied: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). So be unshakable in your faith and believe. Think of a yoga stretch or new skill; getting to the next level requires a time of discomfort while pushing forward. You will feel (and eventually see) the difference. What’s the hardest part about keeping faith in tough times for you? Let us know…. God bless Laura 0 Comments #DO1NICETHING St Cuthberts new challenge for lent 20/3/2019 0 Comments #Do1NiceThing -St Cuthberts Challenge for Lent! Lent is a time of preparation around remembering the forty days Jesus spent in the desert praying and preparing for his public ministry. It is the period from Ash Wednesday to the events of Easter weekend - a time traditionally of giving up -but this year can we also encourage you to GIVE OUT? #Do1NiceThing is about loving and serving others the wider community. It is about being the change, making positive steps to make life better for others (and yourself in the process!). The ideas are generally very simple and require not much thought or pre-planning. If you don't like one of the ideas, do something else! Please Tweet about and update your Facebook status as you do your daily challenge - encourage others to join in! Use #Do1NiceThing as a way of pooling all the mentions together... Wednesday 6th March - Sunday 10th March 6th March - Say thank you to someone as they work and say how much you appreciate them- Ash Wednesday service.7:30pm St Cuthberts 7th March - Call in on an elderly neighbour - take some cake, have a cup of tea and a chat 8th March - Shop locally and support local farmers, local veg growers and local shops 9th March - Walk round your neighbourhood and pick up litter (please wear gloves ) 10th March - Engage in conversation with the people who serve you (e.g. shop keepers)bag) or see if there is anything more you can recycle at home- Speak to our Eco Champion at Church Monday 11th March - Sunday 17th March 11th March - Smile at people 12th March - Be a nice driver - spread road-calm! 13th March - Email / write local charity you think does a great work and thank them and those who volunteer. -7:30 Altogether Course for Mental health and wellbeing looking at 5 different aspects of the bible 14th March -time to pray for your neighbours 15th March - Spread the niceness on Facebook and Twitter - compliment some of your friends 16th March - Hold doors open for those behind you 17th March -spread the word about our Lenten Family Quiz on the 30th March and Invite 1 or more friends! Monday 18th March - Sunday 24rd March 18th March - Say hello to people 19th March - Look at joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch 20th March - Spot ways of helping people and do it. 7:30 All together Course for Mental health and wellbeing looking at 5 different aspects of the bible 21st March - Go on a thankful walk - see all the positive things you can be thankful for in your neighbourhood 22nd March - Buy Fairtrade where you can today 23rd March - Take a single person (elderly person, single mum...) out for Sunday lunch 24th March - Write a letter to a local emergency service and thank them for the work they do Monday 25th March - Sunday 31st March (Mothering Sunday) 25th March - Commit to collect used stamps for The Leprosy Mission 26th March - Catch a bus (#Do1NiceThing for the environment) and say thank you to the bus driver -7:30 Altogether Course for Mental health and wellbeing looking at 5 different aspects of the bible 27th March - Give a drink to a homeless person or take part in 'Suspended Coffee' 28th March - Email / write to your MP and say thank you for representing you and that you are praying for them 29th March - Take a prayer walk round your neighbourhood and pray for needs 30th March - Buy seeds ready to create a wildlife garden (or tub or window box!) attend the Quiz Mothering Sunday 31st March - Take some flowers to mothers and grandmas on your street Monday 1st April - Sunday 7th April 1st April - Look for ways to volunteer one hour of your time for someone else 2nd April - E-Mail your local councillors and say thank you for what they do and offer to pray for them 3rd April -time to discover some new tourist attraction in your area (e.g. wildlife park, play area, etc) 7:30 All together Course for Mental health and wellbeing looking at 5 different aspects of the bible 4th April - Give away a book you think is worth reading/ Deliver the Intouch Magazine 5th April - Pay for the drink of the person behind you in a coffee shop 6th April - Write some inspirational messages on Post-It notes and randomly leave for people to find 7th April - Say sorry even when it’s not your fault! Attend the APCM at St Cuthberts 10am Monday 8th April - Sunday 14th April 8th April - Help someone down the stairs or hold open a door for someone with a pram 9th April - Offer your skills to someone else for free 10th April - Write a letter to the boss of someone who has given excellent customer service to tell them so-7:30 All together Course for Mental health and wellbeing looking at 5 different aspects of the bible 11th April - Clear out unwanted items and give to a charity shop 12th April - Organise a free car wash for your community/ deliver the Intouch Magazine 13th April - Sit in a coffee shop and chat to some strangers or buy a 'Suspended Coffee' or pay for a stranger’s drink Palm Sunday 13th April - Thank people for the virtues they have. Monday 15th April - Easter Sunday 21st April 15th April - Give a New Testament or inspirational book to someone you don't know, come and join St Cuthberts for Compline and quiet time. 16th April - Take a box of chocolates to work and say thank you to your colleagues, come and join St Cuthberts at 7:30 for Evening prayer 17th April - Send flowers to a friend as a thank you for your friendship, and come to 7:30 Compline- confirmation course following. Maundy Thursday 18th April - - invite people to our Easter egg hunt! Easter Weekend Good Friday 19th April - Put spare change in a charity box attend if you can last hour at 2pm 20th April – Holy Saturday - Visit a local shop you have not visited before or in a while (support locally!) Easter Sunday 21th April – Easter sunrise service at 5:30am and Easter Eucharist at 10am then join our Easter egg hunt! ......keep on your #Do1NiceThing challenge
Laura is the the Vicar of St Cuthberts church. A Nurse for 26 years means she has a heart for health and wellbeing for all. Laura herself is a disabled person and understands the difficulties that being disabled, different, socially isolated can bring and her main aim is to share Gods wonderful love for all and to help people to hear the Good news that we have been given, while working with the community for the community. Laura is married to Howard who is also a vicar in Old Swan and has a son who is Dep Head Chorister at Liverpool Cathedral. Her views are her own and not necessarily the views of the Church of England.