Coming home at Christmas?

This is a photo of our wonderful dog Gabriel welcoming me home. Yes, he is in fact standing on the dining room table. Yes, I had only been to the bin. But there he is welcoming me back to the house, with excitement and enthusiasm!

We have an image, about what it is like to be welcomed back home. It is a bit like the movie images, of a harmonious family sitting round the dinner table, synchronising forkfuls of delicious food, with a place setting with your name on it. But it is seldom exactly like this.

This year, we are all so conscious that we can meet up with a few loved ones at Christmas, under the new regulations. But it is so hard. Many people are opting not to visit, as they think this is the best way to keep loved ones safe. Others are travelling or planning, but are worried as to who to invite or not, and how that might be received. There are strained relationships and worries as to what to do. It is so complex, as to what to do for the best.

When we celebrate Christmas, we remember that we are celebrating the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ. His birth brings Hope, Love, Salvation, Forgiveness, Joy. It is a beautiful time, whether we celebrate it alone or with others

And if we are celebrating alone, for whatever reason, we remember the story of the Prodigal Son. He was far from home, he turned away from his family and went and did his own thing. But when he decided to go home, his Father was watching for him, and celebrated with the best robe and a feast of celebration, for the one who was lost was found.

This reminds us, that actually we are never by ourselves, for God welcomes us into His presence with a tender love and care. And this Christmas, my prayer is that every person will know that message of grace and love, wherever they may be.

There is a beautiful song called ‘ You came running’ by Laura Story which reminds us that in Luke 15:20 it says: ‘ while he was still a long way off, his Father saw him, and was filled with compassion for him, he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.’ The Father sees his children, and he runs to welcome us. What extraordinary grace and undeserved love. When we are with God, we are always spiritually home.

Let us pray, Gracious Father, when we feel lost or alone, thankyou that You are looking out for us, and long to welcome us back to you. Lord Jesus, Saviour of the world, You came as the Word made flesh, to open up the door to eternal life, to all who place their trust in You. Holy spirit, prompt us to keep returning to You, to know that You never turn us away, and that we can be reconciled with Yourself. In the midst of disrupted plans, and empty places this Christmas, may we know how much we are loved by You, and find peace, Amen.

Continue reading “Coming home at Christmas?”

The significance of doors

Doors opening and closing.

Our beautiful dog Gabriel is so clever that he can work the door handle to the kitchen, so he could get into the fridge- his favourite place! He looks so very pleased when he manages this.

A great strategy to deal with this, was to replace the handle with a door knob, so the dog can’t work it. This is an excellent solution, except sometimes I can’t turn it either, and then we are both locked out of the kitchen!

This started me reflecting on the importance of doors. Sometimes we try a door, and it just won’t open. It might lead to a geographical location, but sometimes to a new experience or spiritual journey. We pray, we bargain, we plead, but the door will not budge.

At other times, doors open that we hadn’t even known existed, and we are amazed and bemused. Is this a door we are meant to be going through? We pray for the guidance of God to show us. A door might open easily, but this doesn’t mean it is the right one.

We know from Ecclesiastes that there is a season for everything under the sun, but the transition between seasons can often be messy and poorly defined. Knowing the direction of our calling, and our life is not easy to discern.

There is a song by the band ‘King and Country’ called ‘Pushing on a pull door’ . It is such a relatable song, because it is all about making plans, and thinking you know what might happen, and then everything goes upside down, and you realise that you have been pushing on a door that won’t open in the way you thought. All that energy, until you learn to see things through God’s eyes, and that you need to change your approach.

In this season leading up to Advent, we had plans for Christmas, and what this time might look like, but our plans have had to change dramatically. In these days of trying to keep everyone safe from the virus, we seem to be revising all our decisions daily, and it is exhausting. Do we see that person, can we travel there, should we self isolate, just in case? How do we keep people safe, but also help them to know they are remembered and loved?

Whatever our decisions, about Christmas arrangements, or our path through life, may God guide us on His path, and may we be quiet enough to listen to hear His voice speaking to us. May Jesus show is the right door to go through, and his Holy spirit guide our steps.

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will make your path straight. ‘ Proverbs 3: 5-6

May we pray: Gracious God, we start of on our journey, thinking we know the doors to open, but finding that the door will not budge, and we get frustrated and bewildered. We do not know where to turn. Lord Jesus, on the road to the cross, the path was often difficult, with unexpected turns. Help us to know this can be true for us too. Please travel with us, give us courage, and through your holy spirit guide our footsteps, and bring us to the place of your choosing, to a place of healing love, obedience and peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

seeking healing for wounds.

The last 10 days have been very emotional, the book launch, replying to comments, sending out books to people. I am so grateful that the book is published, and my husband’s wishes honoured, and I thank people for their thoughtful insights, and encouragement. Colin would have loved that people heard his poems, and read of his experiences.

It has also been a time of pain – reliving things again, and realising that the impact of some of these things are still very much with us as a family. The memories don’t leave you, but we pray that they will become less distressing, and that we learn from them, and that God uses them for good.

Some people think that for a wound to heal, it needs to be exposed to air. This is controversial, but it could be that at times exposing an emotional wound can be helpful, so it doesn’t fester, and that talking it through in a safe place, might bring understanding and perspective. In life, we often have difficult experiences, and they can leave scars that tell their own story. God can bring healing in different ways, through being listened to, prayer, appropriate trauma therapies etc, often through connection, as it indicates in the quotation above.

One of the books that has always spoken to my soul is that of Henri Nouwen ” The wounded healer” and he talks about how the things that hurt us, can be redeemed. He says:

” nobody escapes being wounded. We are all wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. The main question is not ” How can we hide our wounds?” so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ” how can we put our woundedness in the service of others?. When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and have become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers.”

When we are hurting, the pain is such that we are often immobilised. We cannot see beyond it. But once the healing process starts, it often helps to find some kind of meaning in what has taken place, wherever possible. I believe that God does not want to cause us pain, but that when things go wrong, that He can help us find something we can learn from it, even our hurt and shame. Telling our story can be part of that healing process.

In Isaiah 53: 5, it says of the Suffering servant ” By His wounds, we are healed”, and as Christians we know that Jesus’ death on the cross, brings us cleansing, forgiveness, and healing, the possibility of new beginnings. For all those who are wounded veterans, and their families, or people struggling with disabilities or mental health issues, or people weary of lockdown, may they trust in Jesus, and find the deep healing that he can bring.

Let us pray,

Lord Jesus – You understand the things that have hurt us and caused us pain,

The memories we struggle with, the injuries we have endured, and inflicted.

In your life, you were mocked, beaten, and died on a wooden cross,

Yet your Love shone, even then.

For all who hurt today, come along side us and bring healing grace and hope,

Bring healing in the way best for each individual,

So that we in turn, can provide a listening ear, prayer, and a safe space for others,

To feel heard and valued and loved. Holy Spirit help us we pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.