“We human beings don’t realise how great God is. He has given us an extraordinary brain and a sensitive and loving heart. He has blessed us with two lips to talk and express our feelings, two eyes with which to see a world of colours and beauty, two feet which walk on the road of life, two hands to work for us, and a nose which smells the beauty of fragrance, and two ears to hear the words of love. As I found with my ear, no one knows how much power they have in their each and every organ until they lose one.”
The quote comes from the autobiography of Malala – the girl who became famous for being shot by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school! Her book is an inspirational and fascinating read – I read on holiday and strongly recommend it. It shows incredible courage and resilience of character.
She continues: “I thank God for the hard-working doctors, for my recovery and for sending us to this world where we may struggle for our survival. Some people choose good ways and some choose bad ways. One person’s bullet hit me. It’s swelled my brain, stole my hearing and cut the nerve of the left side of my face in the space of a second. And after that one second there were millions of people praying for my life and talented doctors who gave me back my own body. I was a good girl. In my heart I had only the desire to help people. It wasn’t about the awards or the money. I always pray to God: I want to help people and please help me to do that.”
Malala is a Muslim and her belief in a God of love and generosity appear, in this reading, to be the same as my understanding of the God I meet through Jesus in the Bible. In these days when awful violence and terror are perpetrated by people who call themselves Muslims, do remember the Muslims of good faith who are appalled by the way their faith has been claimed by people with very contrasting and violent views, just as we are when people who claim to be Christians speak words of hatred and violence.
We live in an instant era of news and the headlines can be shocking and evoke knee-jerk responses. As a Christian, I know I mustn’t jump to conclusions but above all else be prayerful and faithful to the God of love that I know, love and serve. I thank God for Malala’s faith and testimony.
By the time this magazine is published the result of the referendum will be known and there will be tension and uncertainty whatever the outcome. The question that someone asked me recently was: “How does you faith influence the way you vote?” Some people say religion and politics don’t mix, but faith, I hope, influences every area of my life – otherwise it’s less important than many hobbies – and that would be an insult to God. The world in which we live is complicated and there is no simple religious answer to these questions – I know of Christians I respect who have thought deeply and decided differently. The issue which seems to be the most contentious is one of migration.
I like lots of things about Britain and feel very lucky to have been born here. Democracy, free education up to 18, the NHS and peace and safety for the majority of the residents are amongst the reasons that make the UK a good place to live – even the weather could be a lot worse than it is!
I know that if my family were unlucky enough to be born in Syria then I would want to do my best to protect them and escape to a safer place. If my family were unlucky enough to be born in a country where there was no democracy, no healthcare or education that I could afford I would want to try to change that – but without democracy how would I do that? Perhaps I might encourage my adult children to go somewhere with better prospects – much as I would miss them.
The Bible is full of stories of people desperately trying to find a safe place to live and to flourish. Migration has always been part of the life of the world. As we thank God for all that we value in this country, is not also incumbent upon us to pray for others who are seeking the same things for themselves and their families? Is this not also part of the second great commandment? I know this is complicated but surely where God has blessed us, so we too need to be ready to be blessing to others.
Praying for a better world for everyone,
On Sunday 12th June at Madeley Church, we will be joining in the celebrations to mark the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth. Whatever your views about the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth has had a remarkable life. She has been a very committed servant of both the British people and of Jesus Christ in whom she believes and trusts.
At her Coronation, she asked the nation to pray for her – that God would equip her for the task ahead. Each year she has made her Christmas Day speech in which she has encouraged us to look to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. She is clearly someone for whom faith matters. She speaks very openly about how her faith has given her courage, strength and wisdom for each and every day. The Queen said in 2014: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is an inspiration and anchor for my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretches out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.” The Queen has clearly been through some difficult and testing times herself: globally, nationally and within her own family – coping with bereavements, family break-ups and tensions. Through all of those times, she has remained outwardly dignified, composed and committed to her calling. Looking forward to the year ahead, in 1976 she said: ”the gift I would most value next year is that reconciliation should be found wherever it is needed. A reconciliation which would bring peace and security to families and neighbours at present suffering and torn apart. Remember that good spreads outwards and every little does help. Mighty things from small beginnings grow as indeed they grew through the ministry of Jesus Christ.”
Our world today is arguably more fraught with tensions, injustice and heartache than ever. Reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration is as vital today as it was back in 1976 or even 1953. We may not be the Queen of England. But each of us can have a life-giving partnership with God through Jesus Christ – which doesn’t make us perfect but does offer to us extra resources, wisdom and strength. Through prayer and with the help of the Holy Spirit, God can use our impulses, gifts, talents and energies for the greater good, for justice, reconciliation and for peace. None of this is easy but then nor was it for the Prince of Peace.
Queen Elizabeth has had a privileged life but, through it all, she has used her influence for good and, with God’s help, so can we. Why not join us for worship on June 12th and help us to celebrate alongside our servant Queen and the King she worships.
You never know what’s round the corner”,
not a quote from the bible just a statement which we know is true.
That was the experience of everyone living through the first Easter – from the Pharisees who hoped their troubles were over as Jesus’ body was buried – to the Roman soldiers guarding the tomb, never expecting they would still be talked about 2,000 years after their own deaths – to the disciples who moved from devastation to confusion then to delight in the space of a few days.
But Jesus’ resurrection was not the end of the disciples’ problems. Not everything became straight forward and easy for them. Life remained as unpredictable and at times risky, perhaps even more dangerous than it had been before.
What changes at the resurrection for the disciples is their confidence in Jesus – not the miracle working parts – but the sense of realising that they had been in the presence of someone so special. And therefore that what he had been teaching was not just a good idea but THE way to live – the life of love and forgiveness, for them and for everyone.
And so they followed in Jesus’ footsteps – trusting when things were difficult – getting things wrong (read the Book of Acts to see how) and somehow coping when life was hellish.
I don’t know what lies around the corner for me, or you or for the world? But, I do know I would rather face whatever it is in the company of the risen Christ and follow in his footsteps which is, of course, Jesus’ invitation is to us all.
All Saints’ is a friendly and welcoming church in the village of Madeley, six miles from Newcastle under-Lyme. We are a lively community of all ages and backgrounds, and we are passionate about the message of Jesus.
Whether you are just searching or you have been a Christian for years, we want to help you to grow in your relationship with the Lord. If you are a family with children, we have lots of activities for all ages – and we think the sound of young (and very young) children in our church is a sign of life.
We enjoy our worship, love to hear what God says to us in the Bible, and long to share our faith with anyone who will listen. So after your virtual tour, why not come for a ‘real’ experience. We’d like to meet you.
10am to 1pm
Methodist Chapel, Poolside
for help with medical transport
phone Debbie on 751164
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