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From the minister’s study

Some of you will know that I live by myself and you’ll know that when things go wrong it can be a bit scary with no-one immediately on hand to help. How blest we are with the help available to us in this country, though. In my case I had to have an ambulance out on 2 consecutive days and ended up in A&E for some treatment. It was all very friendly and professional and thankfully that did the trick.

The first time the ambulance came my neighbour noticed and whilst the paramedics were still with me he came round to see what was happening & if he could help in any way. What a joy & a relief to know that someone close by cares enough to find out if he can help. It makes me wonder if I would be so caring if the circumstances were reversed. I hope I would.

It is so easy to feel that no-one cares and we’ll have to manage on our own, especially if we are at some distance from family. I wonder if that is a reflection of how we are towards others though. Do we isolate ourselves? Sometimes that happens when we have been hurt by someone and we put up barriers for fear of being hurt again. When we care for others and want the best for them it does open us up to a certain vulnerability and our caring can be thrown back in our face. That is uncomfortable and may lead us to conclude that it isn’t worth the effort. Loving others can be hazardous even at the best of times.

There is also the question of who to blame when things don’t go as we expect. We are tempted to believe that it takes the pressure off ourselves if we can blame someone for our misfortune. I wonder how many times I’ve thought that another person’s behaviour has caused me to act in a certain way, which I wouldn’t have done if they had treated me properly. Of course no-one can make us react badly. That is up to us ourselves.

I know someone who never reacts badly whatever the provocation and is always ready to help however he is treated. This person even wants to share the pain and anguish we all feel from time to time and has gone to the extent of taking on the consequences of our bad behaviour and lack of love for others. Someone who was very close to him and let him down badly was eventually reconciled to him and had this to say – “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

By now you will have guessed that I’m talking about Jesus and it was his disciple, Peter, who let him down. I might say, as we all do. But he still takes all our pain & wrongdoing upon himself if we will let him and, as Peter wrote, helps us to live in the right way which includes, in the words of Jesus, ‘Lov(ing) your neighbour as yourself.’ I take that to mean caring for them at least as much as we care for ourselves.

And, joy of joys, in the process all of those things that cause us anxiety and stress can be dealt with by Jesus – ‘by his wounds you have been healed’. Real wholeness and wellbeing.

God bless

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