Jenny’s letter 30th June

Dear Friends,

I am conscious that very many of you are going through difficult and testing times at the moment.

For some, the issues are related to health. For others, there is the care of someone you love who is sick in mind or body. A few of us have significant financial worries. Others of you are being challenged in terms of your ability to live out the ministry to which we have been called (whether that is clearing the churchyard, watering the flowers, working in the centre, administration, teaching or praying). We can even be tempted into things which deplete us or limit our ability to thrive and live out a Christian life. As Christians, we are called to much more than being good but actually to share in God’s ministry on earth. 

I want to remind you today in this newsletter, that Jesus knows your struggle. You are not alone. Though some may preach what is known as a ‘prosperity gospel’ that is, ‘that put your faith in Jesus and everything will be ok’, I am not sure that the gospels or the epistles (a churchy word for letters) actually say that.

What they do say is that when we turn to Christ, we invite the Holy Spirit to live and move within us. They tell us that, for believers, Jesus walks alongside us showing us the way to God the Father. And that way was not easy for him, just as it is difficult for us.  We see the struggle in the way that Jesus is tempted in the wilderness. We see difficulty in the way he is pursued and harassed during his teaching ministry. We see anguish in his prayers in the garden of Gethsemane. We see him endure pain on the cross, so that through faith in him we are protected from eternal punishment. 

I know some of us use the ‘App’ called Lectio 360 (talk to me if you want to know how to get it and use it). It’s free and offers morning and evening opportunities for short prayers and reflection. Today’s text uses the last prayer of Jesus which we find in John 17. 12-19. Jesus prays:

While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost, except the one who had to be lost. This happened so that what the Scriptures say would come true.
13 I am on my way to you. But I say these things while I am still in the world, so my followers will have the same complete joy that I do. 14 I have told them your message. But the people of this world hate them, because they don’t belong to this world, just as I don’t.15 Father, I don’t ask you to take my followers out of the world but keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They don’t belong to this world, and neither do I. 17 Your word is the truth. So let this truth make them completely yours. 18 I am sending them into the world, just as you sent me. 19 I have given myself completely for their sake, so they may belong completely to the truth.

Jesus’s desire for us is that we know joy even in the midst of suffering. He asks the Father to keep us safe from the evil one. When we say, ‘Yes I believe’ we live under God’s protection. You may not feel very joyful as you read this, but it is good to focus on the bright spots of light we see in our daily living however small that they are.

Practicing acknowledging the positives really can change a mindset. It may be as simple as instead of thinking about all the washing needing to be done, reflecting on the gift we have of clothing and a choice of it at that. It might be that instead of being overwhelmed by the trials of life, we thank God that we are alive.

I do not say these things lightly. Sometimes (and I know) the darkness is very powerful around us, the difficulties can feel overwhelming. In those times I hold on to the fact that the battle of good and evil has been won. I might feel awful and be thinking negatively but that is not what God wants for my life. Sometimes “Jesus help me” is the only prayer we can manage. Sometimes, what we hold on to is simply the knowledge (even without the feeling) that we are loved by God, watched over and protected. 

Don’t know Jesus yet? Not sure if he really is the son of God? Some of you reading this may be in that position. A step forward might be to acknowledge you are angry with him or struggling without him and invite him to be part of your life.

When you have done that, tell someone. If nothing else, text me: 07806608219. 

I pray for each one of you, that you will live this week, as one who is loved and protected by God.

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