Over The Wall Letter, October and November 2017 edition
If you had the choice between a dictionary and a novel, which one would you prefer to read?
A dictionary has good words; in fact, it has all the good words. A dictionary is a book with an excellent vocabulary, but it is not a story.
A novel is different. In a novel, words are carefully selected and arranged to tell a story.
Are our lives like dictionaries or novels?
Life can be like a dictionary with each event, each phase of life, standing on its own, like a word in a dictionary. That may have its interest, but most of us want life to be more than just a collection of random experiences.
Life can be like a novel. That is when our lives seem to have a plot, to be moving toward a goal that is bigger than us and when we understand how our stories fit into the grand scheme of life. I suspect most of us would want our lives to be more like a novel than like a dictionary.
The words of a dictionary need an author to fashion them into a novel, to give them a purpose, a plot. In the same way, the experiences of life need an author if they are going to be more than a jumble of loosely connected events.
For centuries the Bible, the world’s best-selling book, has been changing the lives of people who encounter it. Bible Sunday, which falls this year on October 29th, is a day on which churches celebrate the continuing impact the Bible has on individuals and communities.
Some people say the Bible is just a loose jumble of events and stories. But we people of faith say that God is the Author of this book. God shapes these stories and events into a story of redemption and life.
It is the Holy Spirit who brings God’s Son, Jesus, into our hearts and minds today. Because of the Holy Spirit, Jesus becomes a part of us, inside us. The word of God is not static, but dynamic. It is not locked away in the bible. And the Holy Spirit makes our lives a novel, not a dictionary. The Holy Spirit shows us how we have a part in the story of the whole creation, keeps us from thinking that our own individual stories are disconnected from the story of God, keeps reminding us that we are part of the whole story of God's creative work in the world.
So let’s read our bibles, whichever version you prefer, for there are many different translations; the King James Version (KJV), the Revised Standard Version (RSV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the New International Version (NIV), the Good News bible and so on and on…..
Sadly, the most common version is probably the “SSV”; the “Stays on the Shelf” Version, whose pages might as well be blank if the bible stays on the shelf and is never read.
The Holy Spirit is the author who can write the novel of our lives.
So which one do we want our lives to be like - a dictionary or a novel? If we will let God be the One who writes and directs our lives, we will find them to be stories with meaning and purpose. Our lives can become a compelling kind of novel in the hands of God. Our stories can be a part of His story.
Make sure your Bible is well thumbed, not an SSV!
Reader St Chad’s Farndon and St Mary’s Coddington
Over The Wall Letter, August and September 2017 edition
I came across this prayer the other day in a book entitled " Asking God" by Oliver Tomkins, who was the Bishop of Bristol and I was very surprised by its frankness. "Father, I often get impatient with those who are slower and more stupid that I am. I listen with difficulty to those who say only what I have heard a thousand times. Help me to remember always how you could be utterly bored by me, who am slow to hear what you are saying and so quick to whine about the same old things: but, mercifully, you are not, because you are long suffering. Teach me to be so, too." I am not sure that I would ever say a prayer like that, but it does show us that we need to be honest in our prayers and let God know exactly how we are feeling.
The little book of prayers has some delightful and helpful prayers for all occasions and can be a tremendous help when we cannot find the words to say and can even help us to get into "prayer mode", so to speak. I know that many people, myself included, can sometimes have trouble praying. Even Jesus' disciples found prayer difficult, so they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. And so he taught them the Lord's Prayer (or the Disciple's Prayer as it is sometimes known).
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen.
In essence, prayer is basically having conversation with God. It can be like talking to a friend because although God is Almighty, he still wants to have a relationship with us. So, prayer is an opportunity for us to let God know what's going on in us and around us. And the Lord's prayer says it all - help us, protect us, forgive us, deliver us. This is the model that Jesus taught his disciples and it's the perfect model for us to use today. For using this prayer is a good way to begin to build a relationship with God.
So the next time you feel you might want to pray but are struggling to find the words, remember the Lord's prayer and also the words of Jesus in Matthew's gospel chapter 7: verses 7 -8: "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened".
Revd Captain David Scurr CA
Over The Wall Letter, June and July 2017 edition
I have recently been reading a book about the life of Mother Teresa - not our prime minister, but Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Apparently when she was still living in Macedonia as a young girl, God spoke to her and told her to leave her home and go tell other people about Jesus. So she left her home and began work as a teacher and later as a head teacher of a Catholic School in India. It was while travelling on a train in India that God said to her," Go and serve me among the poorest of the poor."
And that was on the 10th of September 1946 and she knew exactly what God meant. In India she taught the children of the rich, but now she knew that God wanted her to teach the poorest of the poor - the street children of Calcutta. So the very next year, Mother Teresa left her school and set up a new school in the poorest slum in the poorest city of India - Calcutta. And it would be here that she would live out the rest of her life serving the poorest people of the world. During her time there many people from around the world came to help Mother Teresa with her work and in the years that followed, she began helping the poor of Calcutta in other ways. She opened an orphanage, a soup kitchen, a hospital, a youth centre and a hospice where dying people were cared for.
Over her lifetime she won many awards and prizes for her work, but she gave every penny of her prize money to help the world's poor. When she died on September 5th 1997, her only personal possessions were a metal bucket for washing herself and two cotton saris -
Obviously, I have only touched on a few highlights of the book, but it's a book I would recommend to anyone who would like to read about faith in action - to be challenged at Mother Teresa's willingness to serve God in the most difficult of circumstances.
Because God had spoken to her in a kind and gentle voice, Mother Teresa believed in speaking to everyone she met in the same way and encouraged the people who worked with her to do the same. She said that you should "speak tenderly to people. Let there be kindness in your face, in your eyes, in your smile, in the warmth of your greeting. Always have a cheerful smile. Don't just give them care, give them your heart as well."
Throughout history, many people have believed that they have heard the voice of God. However, in reality, only very few like Mother Teresa have heard it and acted upon it and, if more of us spoke to each other in the way that she suggested, perhaps more people really would hear the voice of God.
Revd Captain David Scurr CA
Over The Wall Letter, April and May 2017 edition
Over the last few months, I seem to have been overcoming one bout of illness after the other and started to wonder if I would ever feel well again. From the conversations that I have had, it would seem that many of you have also been feeling this way, particularly with the effects of the last flu bug - which in some cases have been lasting for weeks and months after the event. These lasting effects can so easily make us feel very low and have a negative impact on our well-being. So it was a wonderful tonic for me when one of my old friends sent me an email after hearing of my last illness and said that now I am in my 60's I should expect things to go downhill. He then sent me a list of signs that are signs that one is getting older. So I share this with you in the hope that if you are feeling under the weather, they will make you smile.
20 Signs You're Getting Older:
1. Everything hurts and what doesn't hurt doesn't work.
The gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
You feel like the morning after and you haven't been anywhere.
Your little black book contains only names that end in M.D.
Your children begin to look middle aged.
You finally reach the top of the ladder and find it leaning against the wrong wall.
Your mind makes contracts your body can't meet.
You look forward to a dull evening.
Your favourite part of the newspaper is "20 Years Ago Today."
10. You turn out the lights for economic rather than romantic reasons.
You sit in a rocking chair and can't get it going.
Your knees buckle, and your belt won't.
You're 17 around the neck, 42 around the waist, and 95 around the golf course.
Your back goes out more than you do.
Your pacemaker makes the garage doors go up when you see a pretty girl.
The little old grey haired lady you helped across the street is your wife.
You sink your teeth into a steak, and they stay there.
You have too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
Your arms are almost too short to read the newspaper.
You sing along with the music in the lift.
Here's wishing you all an ailment free Easter and that the risen Christ may bring His healing love into all of our homes and lives. And may the good news of the resurrection fill us all with eternal hope and gladness - this Easter and always.
Every good wish
Revd Captain David Scurr CA
Over The Wall Letter, February and March 2017 edition
Now that the Christmas season is well behind us, we turn our attention to the coming of Lent, which this year begins on Wednesday the 1st March.
Lent is a time when the church and its people prepare themselves for the coming of Easter, through fasting and prayer, or by simply making time for God in our very busy lives. One way of doing this is by spending a few minutes each day reading a portion of scripture from the Bible or by reading one of the many daily reading booklets that are readily available in Christian bookshops.
We at St Chad's and St Mary's use the New Daylight daily reading booklets which helps us to journey though Lent together.
These booklets help us to reconnect with and/or discover more about God by encouraging us to read a recommended piece of scripture every day.
I find that spending a small amount of time every day with some bible reading notes helps us, not only on our spiritual journey but also on our life's journey as well.
Even Jesus himself needed to spend time in prayer to connect with His Father and to hear His Fathers voice. He also encouraged his disciples to follow his example and even taught them the Lord's Prayer as a way to pray when they struggled to find anything to say. As prayer can be hard - even for the most devout. This is one of the reasons why bible notes are helpful, as they can get us started on the right path to beginning a daily time of prayer and bible reading.
Did you know that when we read the bible, we discover about God's great love for us and that He has a plan for each one of us. We discover how God longs to be part of our lives and how He wants to be with us on our life's journey.
One of the great psalms, psalm 139, tells us that God made each one of us and that He knew us even before we were born. It's a psalm that has helped many people over the years and a psalm that is still relevant for each one of us today.
In fact, many of the psalms can speak to us in many of life's situations, if only we but make the time and read them.
So, this Lent, why not try starting the day with a bible reading booklet instead of the TV Guide or newspaper?
Because if we do, we might just discover that this can have a very positive effect, not only on our spiritual - but also on our physical and emotional wellbeing as well.
If you would like to subscribe to the New Daylight bible reading notes via the church, then please contact me for more information.
May I wish you all every blessing this Lent.
Revd David Scurr
Over The Wall Letter, December 2016 and January 2017 edition
I have always loved Christmas. Perhaps you are now expecting me to say that this year is no different, but I have to say that it is different, because I love it even more.
My faith in the most important Christmas gift of all, the gift of God’s Son Jesus Christ, has been deepened and strengthened by the Christian love and support I have been privileged to receive in my battle against cancer this year. Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers which have been truly tangible and wonderfully effective.
Advent is a season of waiting, of preparation for the gift of our Saviour.
For my family and I, the last nine months have been a season of waiting – waiting for results and outcomes of many months of chemotherapy treatment, wonderful NHS medical care and months of prayer by so many caring people, may God bless them all.
My early Christmas gift is that I am now in remission and I still have the tremendous celebration to come on Christmas Day when we give thanks that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
What a gift to prepare ourselves for in this Advent season! To pray, to wait, to be still and know that He is God!
Of course, it is difficult to make space to pray, to wait, to be still in our busy lives. We live at such a pace. Everything must be done quickly. All the space is taken up with important jobs and commitments.
We might even think that stopping just to think and reflect is time wasted, but nothing that helps us to align ourselves with God’s direction for us is ever wasted. If we expect God to make time for us we should make time for Him. For as we search for God’s presence around and within us we can find in God’s love the full meaning and purpose of our lives. Over time and with patience we can come to know God more and more as we glimpse the divine, glimpse the extraordinary in the midst of our everyday ordinary lives.
Maybe we could do no better than look again at Jesus and his whole method of working. Did he not take the ordinary and invite people to see beyond the carpenter, beyond the shepherd, beyond the farmer, the housewife, the leper, the wise and foolish girls, to wider and deeper truths? His invitation to the early disciples was to ‘come and see.’
Why would he change now? His invitation is the same to us today: ‘come and see.’ Look in the Bible. See how he lived his life. Understand why he lived it as he did and for whom: … for us.
An ability to see beyond the ordinariness, to see beyond the immediate, is at the heart of our faith, to sense that, behind anything that can be experienced, there is something that our mind cannot grasp and whose beauty reaches us only indirectly and as a faint reflection.
Christianity began with a man who allowed others to glimpse God in his life, and he told them that God would one day be glimpsed in them.
The first disciples met a mere carpenter from Nazareth but they saw in him something more; they saw the height and the depth and the breadth of God’s love, and they caught a fleeting glance of what their lives might become.
Many families come together at Christmas, come home.
Let us make sure we invite Jesus to be right there at home with us.
May God bless you and all those you love this Christmas and always.
Reader, St Chad’s Farndon and St Mary’s Coddington