All posts by danbalsdon

Christian. Methodist Minister (Presbyter) serving in the Bognor Regis area, South East, UK. Husband, Father of 2. Book hoarder. Wanna-be chef. Heart for living in community and for seeing the presence and activity of God in day to day life.

Learning from Lockdown #3: The Value of Relationship

Throughout August I will be encouraging us to reflect on things we have learn and are learning through lockdown about self, God and being Christian community.

Who are you connected to?

At the start of lockdown, I spent a lot of time on the phone.

Many people in my churches have been shielding, or choosing to isolate, and lots are not on the internet, and so from the start I could see regular phone calls were going to be incredibly valuable during lockdown.

We reorganised the church pastoral system to ensure everyone would have at least 1 assigned regular contact and encouraged everyone to regularly call each other to share fellowship, friendship and maintain relationship.

The hands down thing that has I call people now, people say they have valued most is the phone calls they have been receiving from each other.

People have shared that lockdown has offered the opportunity to get know each other better.

People who live on their own have shared how the phone calls have helped break up their day and left them feeling less alone, that they feel valued, loved, thought about.

That it has not only helped maintain relationships, but that they have grown and deepened.  

What has this meant I have learnt?

I think it has shown me just how essential relationships are for human well-being.
We need one another.
God has created us to be in relationship with one another.
Human interaction is in our DNA.

But why has it taken lockdown to get to know each other better?

In Luke’s gospel we find a story of Jesus and his companions, visiting sisters Mary and Martha.

Mary sits as Jesus feet listening to all he has to say.
Martha is busy doing – organising the hospitality necessary for Jesus and his companions, fretting that Mary is not helping her.

She stops, and says to Jesus – don’t you care that my sister is leaving me to do all the work on my own?

Jesus says to her, Martha my child, you are so distracted by many things, but there is only need for one thing.

Jesus doesn’t criticise Martha for wanting to be hospitable.

But he does suggest that Martha may be letting the doing get in the way of what really matters.

(To read the story in full, take a look at Luke chapter 10)

I wonder if the absence of meetings and events has meant that the distraction of doing has been removed, and suddenly we’ve discovered new ways of being with one another. Where we can be interested in one another without the distraction of the next task that needs doing or event that needs planning.

And I’ve heard testimony to the same with people’s relationships with God.

Not being busy doing has meant people have been able to spend more time focused on the one thing that matters – their relationship with God.

Now what might this mean we learn from lockdown?

The value and importance of relationship – with God and with one another.

What does that mean for the future as we begin to emerge from lockdown?

I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t have face-to-face activities and events.

But I do find God’s Spirit challenging me to reflect on what may need to change, what we may need to do differently, to keep relationship with God and one another as the one thing that matters.

What ways of being together can we discover that do not tie us up in so much doing that we can’t be?


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Learning from Lockdown #2: Worship is bigger

Throughout August I will be encouraging us to reflect on things we have learn and are learning through lockdown about self, God and being Christian community.

In John’s gospel we find a story of a woman who Jesus encounters at a well. It’s the heat of the day, the disciples have gone to get food and Jesus is leaning against the well when a Samaritan woman comes to draw water.

They talk, and the Woman is confused about what Jesus is saying.
Jesus talks about the living water he has to offer.
She doesn’t understand.

Jesus says to her you worship what you do not know – we worship what we do know. The hour is coming when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. (John 4)

Lockdown has taught me that worship is bigger than I understand, or imagine, or ever intended.

Before lockdown, worship tended to be something I went to and often led.

As I prepared and led my hope was always that the offering was a tapestry of music and song and words and prayer and conversation and reflection and gathering and fellowship and participation – with the hope and prayer that God’s Spirit was moving as the thread that weaves it all together into a beautiful tapestry that gives God glory.

A beautiful image, but when lockdown hit, worship was no longer something I could go to. Fellowship and gathering changed. Many of my congregations are not on the internet so it wasn’t feasible or inclusive in the beginning to even think about zoom and streaming.

Worship had to change for us. But worship also had to change for me…. or maybe it was me that needed to change.

Suddenly worship was not something I could ‘go to’.
Worship now was not an event to attend, but a practice to inhabit wherever I am.
A way of life.  

I think those words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman are words that can encourage us today as we seek to learn from lockdown.

We don’t see here Jesus saying – true worshippers will worship in a building for an hour on a Sunday.

We hear Jesus say true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth – true worshippers will not let rules and restrictions (of which there were a fair few back in Jesus day) get in the way of the spirit of worship, not get in the way of the truth of the God we live to glorify and praise.

The effect of lockdown, and the absence of things to ‘go to’ and worship to formally lead has enabled me to begin to embrace the practice of worship in the day to day, every day.

And I know I’m not alone.

There are things people miss – I long for the day we can belt out in song from the depths of our souls – but even as we look to facilitate face-to-face gathered worship in the coming weeks, that won’t happen for now.

But despite the things people miss, through time at home, in our gardens or walking in towns and hillsides people have found opportunities to worship with what they have, where they are, resources we’ve shared, and in doing so been meeting with God – who is with us and receives our worship no matter where we are.

People have been singing to CD’s, radio and TV, gathered online, or via phone conferencing. It may not be a physical face-to-face gathering, but whether alone or in number, these undoubtedly are gatherings of God’s people living a life of worship, where the Spirit weaves our offering into a tapestry that gives God glory.

Lockdown has taught me that worship is bigger, better, stronger, than I had ever truly imagined.

I wonder, as we learn from lockdown, how this might challenge us in how we worship in spirit and truth in the future?

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Recommended read: ‘Finding God in a Culture of Fear’

Living in fear is when “day-to-day living becomes more about knowing how to survive rather than thrive”.[1]

Where do we pin our hope in an age of fear? Fear can be both rational and irrational, it can make our world smaller and less hopeful. Fear can be a place where it is harder to dream big for the future, and can be harder to know where God is in the middle of it all.

And in the midst of global pandemic, fear is undoubtedly a part of human living for many of us at the moment. But what do we do with it? How do we fit the fear we feel within our Christian faith that speaks of freedom, healing, and transformation?

This is a book for anyone living with the realisation that the life is a little broken. For anyone wanting to resist the temptation to retreat into our armchairs and ignore the world.

This is a book that resists the culture of fear that can be seen to be growing in society, and growing among Christian communities.

This is a book that encourages us to discover and rediscover the mystery of hope, which will bring us face to face with the nature of God, character of Jesus and playfulness of the Holy Spirit.  

Using the biblical story of the exile, Cox-Darling brings a prophetic voice for Christians to hear. During the exile, the absence of a place of worship was destabilising to sense of community. Yet the story of the exile can was a catalyst to God’s people discovering the true identity of God.

Through rich threads of biblical exploration. Joanne Cox-Darling is convinced hope can be a present reality for us, not just a distant future. That we can find hope in the Christian story, that the church is a window to a community of hope-filled rebels striving to seek first the kingdom of God.

Within these pages, be encouraged to look again at the Christian story as a place to discover a hope-filled resistance, reminded that at the heart of the gospel is the truth that death and despair are never the end.

Discover hope as a catalyst that believes the world can be different, that our living life can be different. That hope thrives in a community of broken people willing to live in brokenness. 

Find a call to faithfully and hopefully respond to God who knows our struggle, can meet us in unknown places and offers us stability and constancy, and the hope that things can be better and brighter. God who is the source of all hope, who begins to restore the brokenness, makes a difference to our living, and help us glimpse the light of the kingdom of God.

Hope that says ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’. [2]


‘Finding God in a Culture of Fear ’ is published by Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), written by Joanne Cox-Darling.

Purchase from your Local Christian Bookshop or visit the BRF online shop.


[1] Joanne Cox-Darling, Finding God in a Culture of Fear, (BRF, 2019), p27-8.

[2]Joanne Cox-Darling, Finding God in a Culture of Fear, (BRF, 2019), P.96.

Learning from Lockdown #1: Diversity + Difference

Throughout August I will be encouraging us to reflect on things we have learn and are learning through lockdown about self, God and being Christian community.

Learning From Lockdown #1 – Diversity & Difference

These giraffes sit on my office windowsill, you might have seen them in previous videos. We bought them on a holiday in France in 2012 and they remind me of our holiday.

They sat on our mantel-piece in Cornwall, then went into storage while we were in Birmingham. When moved here Louise my wife thought we should get rid of them, I didn’t, so we found a compromise and they ended up in my office.

Now they not only remind me of our holiday, they also remind me that as human beings, include married couples, have differences of opinion.

Lockdown as a time to learn

I want to encourage us to reflect this month on what we may learn from lockdown, because I do not believe this is a time of life on pause that doesn’t matter. I don’t believe this is a time that God wants us to waste.

Just as the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness was formational for them, I believe our living in lockdown is a time that can be formational to us. Where God has and continues to speak to us, challenge us and change us. 

For some of us, we may feel like lockdown is over, for others, we may still very much feel like we’re in lockdown, for others again, maybe we’re in the middle.

Wherever we stand on that spectrum, it doesn’t really matter, it just goes to prove one of the things that I’ve been increasingly conscious of over the last few months – just how diverse and different we all are.

Diversity & Difference

And that’s where this month of learning from lockdown reflections is going to begin.

In the book of 1 Corinthians we read:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12, NRSV

The body of Christ, the community of faith, is made of lots of different parts, we all look different, we think differently, respond to circumstances in life with the full colour pallet of human diversity.

I’ve seen the diversity and difference in so many ways through lockdown. Some people have seemed to thrive during lockdown, Energised by the new opportunties and environments and challenges others have really struggled, and others somewhere in between – with good days and some not so good days.

Christian faith is not about conformity – not about creating robots that think and speak the same. It’s about being a community of faith that can call itself a communtiy while celebrating the fact we’re different.

It’s about being people tuned into God’s Spirit, collectively discerning what Gods Spirit is saying to us as individuals and as a community of faith

As we’ve worshiped from our homes, I’ve found my role as minister being less of a leader of worship, and more of an enabler of worship – offering lots of different resources by post and online, seeking to resource the diverse people that make up the churches I serve. It’s been a joy to see diversity thriving, but a challenge at times to keep up!

So as I encourage us to reflect this month on what we may be learning from lockdown, I want to start from a recognition of the diversity and difference among us.

And I want to encourage you all, to think and pray and reflect for yourself… what would you say you’re learning, or have learnt during lockdown.

And try to be go a bit deeper and further than saying I’ve learnt to use zoom.As much of an achievement that may be! `

Where has God spoken to you, challenged you or encouraged you?

What is God’s Spirit saying?

Join the Conversation

Comment below with your own reflections on leanring from lockdown.

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Reflections: Grazing the pastures

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;he restores my soul.
He leads me in right pathsfor his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3, NRSV

At zoom family church last week, we thought about stories in the Bible about animals. Donkeys, foxes, sheep, goats, pigs, ox, frogs, locusts and more.

Then we thought about shepherds and sheep. Along with playing hide and seek the sheep in each of our homes, puzzles, games and songs, we watched a video clip which I found enlightening and challenged some of my assumptions about the meaning of Psalm 23.

The video clip is set in the wilderness, mid barr, also known as Green Pastures. Whenever I read Psalm 23, I would picture one particular field of lush green grass on my grandparents farm – the field we always knew as Meadow.

But, it seemed obvious once the video had pointed it out, that there was not such lush green grass at the time Psalm 23 was written. The Green pastures of the Psalms are the not lush green fields Cornish meadow of my grandparents.

Green pastures were brown, rocky, wilderness hillsides. Yet they were places where some moisture was present, enough to allow small tufts of grass to grow up from the edges of rocks with seeds and moisture are both caught. To graze in green pastures, shepherd and sheep are always on the move, a tuft here, a tuft there. Seeking food for the day, and finding just enough.

To graze in green pastures is not to sit down in one spot, forever, with every bite of sustenance we need at our fingertips. Life as a disciple is not a bed of roses where everything is sorted for us from the comfort of our homes without us having to do anything.

To graze in green pastures, is to keep moving, searching for the more that could be growing behind the next rock. To be a disciple is to learn that God will provide for todays needs, and to trust in God for enough for tomorrow.

‘give us today our daily bread’

The Lords Prayer

I find that all gives helpful meaning to ‘give us today our daily bread’. There were no supermarket shelves stacked with Hovis and Kingsmill! Bread making was a daily activity of providing enough for the now, and trusting for tomorrow.

I find this a helpful encouragement to me to keep journeying. That being a disciples is not about having everything sorted, a banqueting table before us or the answers to all of life’s questions.

It is to keep trusting, and through trusting to keep journeying and searching, because I never know what God has in store for me behind the next rock.

What about you?
What do you think?
How do you respond to the suggestion that green pastures may not be the image western society has often assumed?

Please watch the clip and reflect for yourself, and comment with your reflections below.

Downloadable Version of Dan’s Reflections

Flying Any Day – Creation’s Symphony

**IF YOU DON’T LIKE ANTS – LOOK AWAY!**

For this week’s reflections I talk about how Flying Ant Day as a signpost to God as creator of all that is – creation’s symphony .

Our garden was transformed for an hour or so this week.

Across Bognor, Felpham and Yapton, any maybe other places too, it was ‘Flying Ant Day’.

I saw one post commenting it was good that at least one thing planned for 2020 had actually gone ahead!

As you can see, our garden and patio were crawling with Ants.
Every corner of the garden seemed to be covered!

It wasn’t long before social media was populated with posts from across the area commenting on the ants swarming, and according to one post, the swarms were even picked up by satellites.

But why does this phenomenon happen?
How do thousands of ants, in separate nests and colonies across a geographical area all decide to fly at the same time?

There’s probably a scientific answer, to do with the inbuilt nature and DNA of an ant which means they all fly when certain atmospheric conditions are met.

Or something like that. I don’t know the science, maybe you do and it would be great to hear, do comment below!  

But even if the science does give an explanation of how this phenomenon happens, Does it really tell us why?
Where does the science come from?
Why does the science mean it happens in this way?

For me, science is a great to way to understand how things happen and work. But for the why – science isn’t where I look.
I look to God.
Who I believe is the source of life and breathe,
Is the reason we live and move and have our being.
And through God being the source of all life,
all creation is connected to God.

Colossians 1 speaks about the connectedness of creation, and Eugene Peterson puts it this way:  

 We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.

Colossians 1:15-17, The Message

So whether it be ants on flying at day,
The beauty of a flower blooming,
The crispy taste of a fresh apple,
the wonder of new birth…
Know that by the nature of our being,
We are connected to the source of all life, The creator, God.

And through that connection to the creator,
all creation is connected to one another,
We are part of God’s amazing symphony,
Creations’ Symphony
Which comes together to sing to the awesome, amazing, mind-blowing and intricate design of creation, reminding us that God is creator,
that God is the why of all that is,
and leaves us “lost in wonder, love and praise”.[1]  


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Join the Conversation

Did you see Flying Ant Day?
Do you know the science behind how the phenomenon happens?
What reminds you of the creator?
Do you even believe God is creator?

Comment below and join the conversation!


[1] Line from Love Divine, Charles Wesley, Singing the Faith No.503

Pride before a fall

I tripped
Running in the dark
Through the woods

Crash
Splash
Crunch
Ouch

I should have used my torch
Or followed someone else,
Or slowed down.
Then I might have seen the ditch.

But I thought I knew best,
My 15 year old self.
Thought I would be ok.

Instead, I came away covered head to toe in mud,
And one A&E trip later my broken wrist was in bright blue cast.

Grappling in the dark, I thought I was ok.
Thought I could find the way on my own.

My pride, my foolishness,
and subsequent fall and resulting pain,
taught me that sometimes to find my way I need help.
From other people, who can hold my hand in dark woodland.
From other resources, like a torch to see pits and potholes before I fall.

In John’s gospel we read these words of Jesus.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life”.

John 8:12

Look to Jesus. The ultimate light.
Be wise enough to keep close to Jesus,
who will guide us, challenge us and change us by his unwavering love for us

Jesus helps us navigate the ditches and woodlands of life.
No matter how dark things may feel, with Jesus the light will never fade.

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Sharing Together

Is there an episode from your life that taught you something about Jesus?
Please share in the comments below, stories shared are often a great source of encouragement to others as we pursue faith together.

Emerging

Sunday Reflections from Rev Dan: Sunday 5th July 2020.

Over the last fortnight…the same verse of the Bible has kept coming up all over the place for me.

Now when this happens for me, I always know God is saying something. The Bible is so huge – 66 books, 1189 chapters, over 31,000 verses. So, for the same little bit to keep popping up in the space of a fortnight…

That’s no coincidence – it’s a God-incidence.

Do not remember the former things or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:18-19

I think there is something attractive and comforting about this verse because it can easily be seen to speak into our current living. The former ‘old normal’ that we remember cannot simply resume or return, and so we prepare for a new thing as we begin to embrace a ‘new normal’.

But that may be being slightly too simplistic. The journey from old normal to new normal is not a simple transaction. It is not a straight swap. It is not the same as my journey one day this week to change from one pair of shorts to another because the button popped off…

Embracing whatever this new normal will become is a journey in itself. And I think we are merely at the very beginning of new normal’s formation. It is going to take time to explore and experience. Some of us may be excited and desperate to step out, others may be taking very tentative steps, and others, not wanting to take a step at all.

When we look at the story behind those two verses in Isaiah 43, we see a similar journey. After being exiled and in Babylon for some time, the prospect of ‘returning’ to Israel was a scary and uncertain prospect. Many of those who were fit and young now would have been born in exile, so Babylon may well have felt like home, even though not their true home of course. To leave Babylon would break something of the limited security and familiarity they had.

For some of us, there may also be a sense of uncertainty about breaking security. As hard as it has been, living in lockdown and not leaving our homes except when essential, 100+ days on there is also a sense of coming to terms with it. Life has adjusted as we live in our own Babylon, and the idea of leaving the safety and security of home and entering what we may perceive as a dangerous wilderness where much is not as we remember it, may not feel as attractive to us as we wish it did.

For others of us, we may be really excited. We may see now as a time when there is potential for real change, where we can embrace new ideas and new ways of being, and really contribute towards the shape of our communities and their direction of travel. That through lockdown we will have been forced to learn new ways of being church, community and nation and we see real potential for this experience to transform the future.

Ok, so I’ve created an unfair contrast there. You may find it helpful, but I imagine at least some of us will identify with aspects of both of those characterisations but wouldn’t’ put ourselves in either. It may be more helpful to see these as points on a spectrum, a spectrum within which we swing our pendulum, feeling different about it all day by day.

But what this verse does remind us is that for those in exile, the memory of Israel was just that, a memory. What was had gone, their ancestors had died, they were the next generation and the former things were just that, former things.  If unchecked, they could become an idealized world that overshadowed the reality of the present, and emerging future. A future within which God was doing a new thing that was already beginning to spring forth.

Hope was not just a possibility.
It could be perceived, experienced and known.  

It is that reality that we must hold on to. We must not let our memories of the old normal become an idealized past which holds us back from the future. A future in which God is already springing forth and making the way in the wilderness, even in the wilderness of risk assessments!

Today some churches will be opening their doors again, though many are not. Some of that is, I think out of fear. And some of that fear may be irrational, but much is totally rational. Coronavirus has not gone away.  

Some of the ‘not yet’ is because of the practical fact that we have only had a week since the government guidance finally arrived and there is still time needed to process and implement it.

But some runs deeper. The reality of what is emerging as the ‘new normal’ means we have to carefully think through what the purpose of a church building is now. The church building was a key tool in facilitating gathering as community, worshiping together as one people, being united as the body of Christ. But it is just those things, when physically together to share fellowship, sing at the tops of our lungs and share stories with one another face to face, that coronavirus also seeks to exploit.

So just as the exiled were anxious, required God’s reassurance, and needed time to be ready for the next steps on the journey, so we need that time too. Time to work out who we are and what we are for. To ask God to aid us in working out how we use the resources we have to the best of our ability to continue to proclaim the gospel message of love and salvation. To continue being God’s chosen people in the emerging new normal.

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

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Join the conversation

How are you feeling about the emerging ‘new normal’? confident? anxious?

How is God speaking to you about it?

Join the conversation and comment below, be part of the community as we continue to be physically distanced yet unwaveringly together.

Finding Home: Ruth 4

As part of Bible Month 2020 we are unpacking the short story of Ruth, a story of finding hope and finding home in the midst of vulnerability and loss. Find out more here.

Video: Ruth 4 – Finding Home

Growing up one of my favourite films was Toy Story. I loved the idea that my toys lived in a world of their own every time I left the room.

In the first film, Buzz is a new toy who enters Andy’s toybox community as an outsider. Buzz believes he is a real space ranger, not a toy, and believes he can fly. Throughout the film Buzz is on a journey of discovering who he really is, while the rest of the toys are on their own journey of learning to welcome difference  into their community.

In Ruth 3, we found Ruth visiting Boaz at night, hoping he would give her a home, long term security and survival for her and Naomi.

Naomi and Ruth had lost much, their husbands, their security, safety. They were grieving. They were struggling for hope. The nature of the culture of the day meant they were vulnerable to the nth degree.

But Boaz is not the immediate next-of-kin. There is someone else who is a closer kinsman, and in keeping with the culture, has first rights to act as next-of-kin to Naomi and Ruth. 

At the start of Ruth 4, Boaz takes centre stage. It’s his turn to take action. He speaks to the closer next-of-kin who does have first rights to act.

Now Boaz, perhaps, pulls a bit of a sly move here. I think as readers of the story we’re encouraged to see Boaz in a positive light, but it could also be said he’s possibly a bit manipulative here, or self-seeking.

Maybe he really did like Ruth and wanted her to be his wife, and twisted things in his favour. Or maybe he saw an opportunity to obtain land and so did what he had to do to get it.

So Boaz meets this closer next-of-kin, at the city gates, in public, with 10 of the city elders with them. He says to this man, – “hey, you know Naomi, she’s back, and she’s selling the land that belonging to our kinsman, Elimelech. So, I thought I’d tell you about it here and now in front of all these witnesses. If you will redeem it, do, but if not, tell me and I will redeem it.

The unexpected discovery that Naomi own’s some land is a surprise, it was Elimelech’s, perhaps left during the famine and never returned to. The fact she’s selling the land is probably a sign that Naomi has lost all other hope, and selling the land, that would, one would think, offer long-term fruitfulness,  is the only way for her to survive in the short term.

The man says to Boaz “yes – I will redeem it”. Then Boaz goes on, and claims that by taking the land, he must also take Ruth, the Moabite, and maintain the dead man’s name. This would mean any children they had would be named for Ruth’s dead husband… and that they would, in the end, inherit the land.

The man says – “I can’t redeem, it will; damage my own inheritance. You redeem it.” Does Boaz use Ruth’s foreigner status to his advantage? Or does he use this to overcome the fact that there was a prohibition against marrying a foreigner – because by becoming next-of-kin he can legal marry Ruth despite that.

They have a son, Obed, who Naomi cares for – in some ways he becomes a son to Ruth, Boaz and Naomi – Obed becomes symbol of the restoration of hope – because there can now be descendants.

No longer is Ruth an outsider, she’s found hope. She’s found home.
And not just with Boaz, but with the community.

Ruth and Boaz marry, all the people and elders are at the marriage, and bless Ruth – ‘may she build up the house of Israel’ they say (Ruth 4:11). Ruth is now seen as a member of the Israelite community.

And that’s where Buzz and Toy Story come in.
In life we often encounter people who are strangers to us.
People different from ourselves.

As Churches – Christian communities, I believe God call us to be a community that reaches out in love to all.
To welcome in the name of Christ those we perceive to be, and not be, like us.
Cowboys or Space Rangers.
Slinky Dogs or Potato heads.
Barbie dolls or dinosaurs.

To help each other discover who we are – made in the image of God – to work out if we are real or just a toy, if we can fly, or fall with style (if you don’t understand the references – do watch the film).

To make space for all people to find hope, through faith in the God who is a God for all.

To discover that the community of faith is the place in which all people, no matter background or belief or race or gender or sexuality or ethnicity or self-confidence – can find home and belong.

Church – God’s challenge to us, regardless of lockdown, regardless of what gathered community is going to look like in the coming weeks and months, is to make sure that this call from God is the reality found among us.
A community of hope.
A community that points to the home that can be found when we discover we belong to God.
A community that reaches in love to all.

God works through the unexpected.
God works through the stranger.
We are never without Hope.
In God, we find home.

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Join the Conversation

How does Ruth 4 speak to you?
What is on your heart today?

How have you benefitted from Bible Month 2020?

You can share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Uncovering Identity: Ruth 3

As part of Bible Month 2020 we are unpacking the short story of Ruth, a story of finding hope and finding home in the midst of vulnerability and loss. Find out more here.

How do you define who you are?        

Perhaps by your Relationships?
Me – I’m a Father, Husband, friend, minister

Maybe your Roles and Responsibilities.
As a Minister I may be seen as a Leader, Pastor, Preacher…
I’m a Treasurer for my daughter’s school PTA

Or perhaps by labels, descriptors of identity?      
I’m White, I’m British, I’m heterosexual and male

Or perhaps by how we look?
I’m average height, bald – and really not bothered that can’t go to the barbers right now.

All this and more contributes towards our identity – our sense of who we are. But our identity can also be impacted by how others see us.
Some see me as a Christian leader – others as a Jesus freak…

In my teens I was very bothered by this question of how others see me, to the point that, at times, it negatively impacted on my well-being, and rather than being who I am, I succumbed to peer pressure, suppressed some of my own identity and put on a mask in an attempt not to stand out, to avoid bullying and make life easier.

Last we saw that Ruth is an outsider in a foreign land and how Ruth wasn’t prepared to just submit to the identity society would place on her, but determined to take action, to resist the cultural ‘norms’ and cross boundaries for find hope and home.

In chapter 3 Ruth takes another step (with a bit of a push from Naomi) and heads to the threshing floor, the town’s marketplace, a place of gathering and distribution, transaction and thanksgiving.  

Here, in the dark of night this time, she meets Boaz once more. Naomi it seems, and perhaps Ruth too, is hoping Boaz will take his kinsman responsibility and provide for them permanently.

There, in the dark of night, Boaz asks Ruth – who are you? Maybe he couldn’t see, maybe he wanted to know more about this woman beyond that which he already knew.

There’s much more that could be explore here about the relationship, the actions, the physicality of the encounter – some suggest that this is the moment Obed is conceived.

But I want us to focus on that question Ruth is asked in this encounter ‘who are you’? In that moment, in an intimate encounter by the shadow of the moon, Ruth is perhaps given space to answer that question for herself. Given space to define herself on her terms.

And later in the chapter, she goes back to Naomi and we find the same question – Naomi asks ‘who are you?’ – surely she knew who Ruth was. Unless, something had changed…

This question comes twice, like bookends to this encounter – and marking, I think, a moment of transition, a sign that something has changed for Ruth in her appearance, perhaps not physically, but in terms of how she is seen by others. Her identity as an individual, is beginning to be uncovered.

As Ruth’s encounter’s help her uncover who she is – through our encountering God, we discover more of who we are, how God sees us, and who God made us to be.

God doesn’t want you to try to be someone you are not.
Doesn’t want You trying to fit the mould others create for you, like I did in my teen years. God wants you to be who you are.

A person of beauty, wonderfully made, filled with great potential for love, goodness and compassion.

yes – all those things and more are God’s words over you.
And God has placed them within you.

I truly believe God wants you to know that he loves you.
He sees who you are, and wants to help you uncover your identity more, to inhabit in your whole being a sense of who God has made you to be.

I encourage you this week, if you can, right now, to pause…
to pray, to think about who you are.
how do you define who you are for yourself?
and how does that compare to how God sees you?

If you see this video and want to talk about who you are and how God sees you – please get in touch through our website, through social media – we’d love to hear from you.

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How does Ruth 3 speak to you?
What is on your heart today?

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