Mike`s Blog

The musings of a Methodist Minister

Archive for August, 2014

Prejudice

Posted by mike redshaw on August 30, 2014

Earlier this week I posted on Facebook, for a bit of fun this picture (below) of a new pair of crocs that Alison has got for me; my hope was that it would raise a bit of a laugh, and I think it did.

Mike Redshaw's photo.

However it did set me off thinking………………..

What if the world was divided according to our footwear ? Those who wore crocs the whole time and those who wore `sensible` footwear. What if this created an economic situation whereby one group or the other were prejudiced against in terms of income, housing, education etc. You`re probably reading this and seriously wondering if I`ve eventually lost it !

But stick with me on this one for I want to suggest that the world is sadly divided between those who stick rigidly to the latest fashion in clothes, footwear, styles, and those who don`t. The older generation criticise the younger generation for their style “look at the way she’s dressed !” “Ha, men wearing ear rings“, “hairs too long (or short)” and so on. Meanwhile the younger generation are criticising the older generation “dad-dancing !“, “grannies always wear cardigans and slippers“, “they shouldn’t be doing that at their age, disgusting !”

It’s always been that way, and I recognise that but it reveals a rather nasty human trait and that is our ability to be judgemental of others based on the most inconsequential of things such as fashion, style, football teams, pop stars, film icons etc.  Worse still humanity takes it to its extremes as we base our prejudice not on the goodness of a person but on the colour of their skin, on their sexuality (even if we hide behind the comment “I`m not racist but….”  or, “I`m not anti-gay but the Bible says……”), on their different culture, and it all smacks of our judgement that our way, our way of thinking must be better than everyone else: we are right, they are wrong.

Alison recently bought an excellent fridge magnet which says quite simply “Don`t let facts get in the road of my opinions” and its so true of all of us, myself included.

What frightens me is when such prejudices are escalated and heightened by certain groups. I fear the current rise in anti-Islam fuelled by the atrocities of ISIS, and the way in which the media are beginning to predict Jihadist atrocities in Britain. This way of thinking, even if its true, will lead to some British idiot “getting the first blow in” against some innocent Muslim. Groups such as “Britain First”, BNP, NF  are behind some of this fear.

I look further afield and I see the fighting in Gaza between Palestinian and Israeli, in Afghanistan, in uprisings against certain religions in Pakistan and also in India, and I find myself more and more crying “Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, send peace”

The President of the Methodist Conference has asked all Methodists to pray in worship tomorrow the following prayer…………………….. as you read it please pray it with me

 

  • God of love, guide us as we pray: God of love, guide us as we pray.
  • God of all nations and people, hear our prayers for the people of Syria and Iraq, and for all whose lives are torn apart by hatred and violence, whose heartbreak is more than we can imagine: God of compassion, guide us as we pray.
  • For leaders and politicians and those who seek to negotiate for peace, whose responsibility is more than we could bear: God of wisdom, guide us as we pray.
  • For aid workers, medical staff, those who care for refugees, orphaned children and older people, whose daily workload is more than we could tolerate: God of goodness, guide us as we pray.
  • For those who feel compelled to accomplish their justice through warfare or terrorism, whose motivation is more than we can comprehend: God of justice, guide us as we pray.
  • For ourselves, who look on, devastated and helpless, praying to our God whose peace is beyond our understanding: God of peace, guide us as we pray.
  • In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:
  • Amen
  • IMG_0963

 

 

 

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Romania

Posted by mike redshaw on August 23, 2014

Just realised in a conversation that I`ve only got 4 weeks, 3 days, 9 hours before we fly out to Romania 2014

 

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Please hold our preparations in prayer. This year there are only three of us going, Alison, David and myself

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Blessed

Posted by mike redshaw on August 23, 2014

In many ways this has been a hard week, emotionally. Over the last three weeks I have been involved in five funerals, two through Church (including that of the very first lady I visited in this Circuit) and three personal funerals. This week saw the last of the five and it was for a very dear and personal friend of mine, with whom I have journeyed for the last seventeen years. he and I have shared in much and at an extremely deep level as we have sought to support each other.

I had the privilege of conducting his funeral at which about 150 people attended: a time of both tears and laughter it was a special occasion. As we had held the cremation first and then returned to the Chapel where he had belonged we were able to engage in an uplifting and encouraging service in which we remembered his personality, his wisdom and rejoiced in his faith which has assured us all of the next part of his journey.

I`m very much reminded of the sense of Scripture which says those who follow Jesus will see Heaven. Now, I`m not about to get into a debate about what or where heaven is but I see that in some way its about continuing the journey, begun in this life, with Jesus; its about seeing Him face to face; its about understanding more of Him; its about `running the race and claiming the prize`. Most of all I think its about faith, hope and love (and the greatest of these is love); surely the greatest gift is receiving the love of Jesus in its fullest sense, not impaired by our earthly understanding and our prejudices.

And so I can delight that, although I miss him, my friend is with our Lord Jesus.

New Monasticism; re-imagining the Church

The second thing that has happened this week is the sense I have gained of true colleagueship and friendship around me. On Thursday I was part of the Circuit leadership team meeting and to be honest I wasn`t really `with it` as my mind was still on the events of the previous days funeral and I was emotionally drained. It was during this meeting that I felt a sense that they all understood and were in prayerful support. My strength grew as the gathering went on and then at the end they prayed directly for me.

Thirdly, there are two very special people who have come into the life of Alison and I; Mark (Vikkis partner) and Michelle (Rebeccas flat mate). They too have both been very supportive and encouraging and simply a joy to have in the family. They have lifted me this week with kind and caring words and also making me laugh at the right time.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.  And so as I come towards the end of the week I hope you can understand why, far from feeling down about the events of the last few weeks, I actually feel very blessed. God is good

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International

Posted by mike redshaw on August 8, 2014

As you settle for the night please remember in your prayers those for whom this won`t be an easy time…………….

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The whole Israel/Gaza conflict

the persecution of Christians in Iraq

a young man in Australia going through a tough time just now

our friends in Poiana, Romania experiencing wonderful Christian growth but finding time for

themselves difficult

 

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`strangers` on lifes journey ?

Posted by mike redshaw on August 8, 2014

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I don`t know if it’s a sign of age but it does seem that the older I get the more I realise that my life, its shape and its happiness is determined by the relationships I hold, seek and let go of.

Let me explain: in this last week I have spent time with my daughters partner a young man, Mark, who has come into our lives bringing with him joy, freshness of life, a wonderful sense of priorities and above all else love. I look forward to his posts on Facebook and spending time with him is an absolute delight. Along with the day out we spent we met his Mum Yvonne; again a delight to meet and hopefully over the years spend time with. It was so easy to chat to Yvonne and we loved her company.

This morning I spent time discussing evangelism and mission with another long-established friend, Roger, whose support I have come to value and at the same time I was aware of a new friend, Caroline, working on finalising the Circuit preaching plan.

In the midst of all of this I have lost a very dear friend who passed away last week, who has been a part of my life since 1997, in a variety of ways. His enthusiasm, wisdom and faith right to the end were not only infectious but inspirational. I had the privilege of taking his Mother-in-Laws funeral at the beginning of the week in which he died and now I`m preparing for his. I hope I will have honoured his Mother-in-Law and now I hope I`m honouring him.

 

Comings and goings on life’s journey, it reminds me that we all begin as strangers with each other: some we will simply pass and let go whilst others we will spend more time with. At what point we move from being strangers to acquaintances to friends I`m not sure but I do know that if we wish to make friends from strangers then we need to be prepared to put the work in ! We need to spend time with them, listening, sharing, not being judgemental, being sacrificial. Too often we are dismissive and assume `they aren’t our type` or `I don’t have time` but I have found that the more I`m prepared to put in then the more I`ll get out.

Yes, there are times when we need to let go of folk and realise that they aren`t good for our life journey or we aren’t good for theirs; time to assess good relationships against bad ones; BUT against this is the knowledge that its only in spending time with folk that good will come out of it.

This is why I despair sometimes of the world for I see people being categorised by their religion, sexuality, culture, sub-culture, etc. instead of a glorious coming together of folk with an acceptance of each other as God-created human beings. That doesn`t mean that anything goes and nor does it throw values, standards, ethics etc. out of the window but it does speak of a desire to know and love other people. The world would be far better if there was more tolerance and understanding of each other, if the Israeli nation could find a way of reaching out to the Palestinian (and vice versa), if Russia and Ukraine could settle differences, if the political group isis would accept a non-Islamic state in Iraq. If this were possible then surely there wouldn`t be the horrific images on our televisions or in our papers.

Wesley referred to this as `the catholic spirit`, but it is an Old Testament concept of offering hospitality to `the stranger in a foreign land`, and its surely the gift of the Holy Spirit to the world to love as Jesus would love.

 

New Monasticism; re-imagining the Church

 

The photo is of the previous Mother house to the Northumbria Community where I was privileged to spend three days in 2010.

I post it here in honour of my friend who taught me an appreciation of Celtic Christianity and showed me its worth.

 

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What have we learnt ?

Posted by mike redshaw on August 4, 2014

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“The lamps are going out all over Europe.

We shall not see them lit in our life-time”

 

    Words attributed to Sir Edward Gray, Foreign secretary at the outbreak of the 1st world   war, 100 years ago today: but  the start of the “war to end all wars” hasn`t really lived up to that description has it ?

  Earlier today I bemoaned on Facebook that it was ironic that on this commemoration day FB was still advertising war games, as if it didn`t really matter. I found myself quite offended by the insensitivity of the matter.  Now I`m wise enough to realise that it was a continuous computer link which generated the latest advert onto my screen and not some human being who couldn`t care less.

However it does serve to remind me that the world hasn`t really moved on. For all our fine words and good intentions the world is still a place where evil flourishes in the hearts of many. Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said “The battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man”. In other words we are all capable of good and evil, and too often evil is chosen. Oh yes you and I might not start world wars but we can still be inconsiderate towards our fellow human beings; we can still take hurt when none is intended or cause hurt without any sense of feeling; we can still put our feelings before those of others as if they don`t matter. In other words whilst our mistakes may not cause a world war they still cause dissent and distrust, hurt and pain, suspicion and recrimination.

Look at whats going on in Gaza/Israel or in Russia/Ukraine or even in our own country between Muslims and Christians/the West. We have learnt very little because there seems to be an inbuilt selfishness about us.

Little wonder that our Lord Jesus called upon his followers to `lose self` and follow his way of life; a life of caring for others; a life of putting others first; a life of supreme sacrifice for others. The whole life of Jesus was for others and he calls us to do the same.

I pray every day for peace in the world but I also recognise that it’s no good for me to pray for peace in Afghanistan if I`m thinking bad on my neighbour for then I`m no better than others.

Tonight at 10.00 p.m. we will remember by dimming our lights and lighting a candle but we will also pray for peace in our time, and that our lives may be the means of peace.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

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