chaplain's log

  • Nathan writes... 16th February 2020

    This week I listened to a podcast on loneliness and although it was a UK focused programme I know that it is a big issue here too. Just before Christmas I met with the lady responsible for social welfare in Tervuren to ask what the biggest needs in the community were and without drawing breath she said ‘loneliness’.

    Loneliness is a big problem in our society, it isn’t just an issue for elderly but it is increasingly effecting younger people too. Despite being more connected than ever before loneliness is growing. I am confident that as I write this all of us at some point can relate to it and some of you will be feeling it right now.

    I believe that the church has to have an answer to this. Actually church done well is the answer.. A community ready to embrace, welcome and love. Last Sunday we talked about how important it is to continue to meet together in order to encourage one another and send each other out. I absolutely see this as a priority of the church, going out. But it is also OK, to come and just be together, to be welcomed, connected and loved. Psalm 68.6 tells us that God sets the lonely in families. We are family and a refrain that crops up again and again through the pastoral letters of the New Testament is to be devoted to one another.

    So let us be aware of one another and devoted to each other. Church is about ‘we’ not ‘me’. I’m an advocate of Home Groups. My heart isn’t simply for small groups that gather two or four times a month at someone’s house—as great as that step is. My hope is that from it we find true community together. A small group is a people, not a time on the calendar. Healthy groups encourage, challenge, and support one another.

    If any of this has stirred something in you then I’d encourage you to pray about it, have a listen to the podcast, which isn’t from a faith perspective but as you listen ask God, what is my response? What is our response?

    BBC Radio 4 Women’s Hour ‘Loneliness – the last taboo’?

  • Nathan Writes... 9th February 2020

    This Sunday we will be wrapping up our sermon series looking at our Frontlines. It has been encouraging to see how we have all engaged with series and God clearly working in our lives. I can say that because of the conversations I have had with some of you and those of you who have sent me messages saying so. What a genuine joy!

    The real work starts now! What difference will it make in our day to day? Will we continue to allow God to change us, work through us and move us forward? As we continue to see that wherever we are, whatever we do & who ever we are, we are significant and what we do is significant and as we continue to realise that God is in this place and with God’s help we can make a difference we will see the atmosphere and culture around us change. When we couple this with continuing to be intentional about asking God who we can invite to something and stepping out and asking, then I believe we will see more lives transformed by the power of the Gospel.

    It is not easy but thankfully we have the Holy Spirit with us at all times. So as we close the series we want to commission one another, to pray for and send each other out into our everyday lives with a different and intentional mindset. As we do this there is an opportunity to prayed for and be ‘anointed’ with oil.

    Throughout scripture anointing with oil symbolizes consecration to God. (we will look at this a more next week) There is a link between oil and the Spirit of God and in the New Testament ‘anointing’ is seen as a sign of receiving the Holy Spirit. There is nothing special about the oil, anointing with oil is an external act which gives a physical and tangible action to the internal desire to dedicate someone to God in a special way. Anointing with oil signifies the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is used to consecrate someone or something to God’s service.

    I am looking forward to hearing stories of how God has been at work on your frontline having given ourselves afresh to his service.

  • sarah-jane writes... 2nd February 2020

    Brexit – what now?

    As this goes to print, we are facing the reality of the UK leaving the EU on Friday. For many in our church, our Diocese and our wider communities this is a very sad time. What can we do?

    Lean into God. When things are too painful, then leaning on the One through whom all things are created, the One in whom God reconciles all of humankind by the Cross, provides a strange but true sense of comfort. A sense of belonging to Someone who knows and cares for our world, who is infinitely bigger and sees dimensions far beyond our field of vision. That Someone is Jesus.

    Beg for the grace to notice. Earlier in our current Frontlines series, we talked about the Examen – that discipline of noticing God at work in our everyday, and giving thanks where we can. Gratitude gives birth to generosity: an awareness of having been blessed and consciously making space to see what God would show us, enables us in turn to show kindness to others. To join in the roomy hospitality of the Trinity at work in and among all of creation.

    Call out scarcity, unkindness and othering. Sadly, this is on the rise over the past few years, and not only in the UK. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son, to give life in all its fullness. Practise reflecting that love to all.

    “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:30-31