Tuesday, 31 July 2012

31st July 2012 Matthew 13:36-43

The Parable of the Weeds Explained
Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”. He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

I can't help but giggle at the last verse of this passage; ears - corn - hear. Sorry.

Jesus tells of the weeding out of all evil at the end of time; and as Matthew often referred to as Jesus' death and resurrection as the end we can assume that it is a message about forgiveness and accepting into the kingdom of God. Yet we can't rest on our laurels; there is work to be done in sharing the kingdom. That is our task.

#365photoproject Day 223

Title: London 2012 Olympics
Date: 31st July 2012
Location: ExCel London

Outstanding Olympics

I take back any criticisms I have expressed ever about the London 2012 Olympics; we have had an amazing day at what are an absolutely astounding Olympics.

We went to the ExCel stadium this morning to watch the Weightlifting. We left home at 5am, drove into west London and caught the tube straight through to Stratford where we picked up the DLR to ExCel. As soon as we arrived at the station we were greeted and directed by the most cheerful volunteers I have ever seen, even in the rain. It's a long walk from the station to security, up and down and along, but everyone was excited and the volunteers were massively enthused. Security was efficient and straightforward and it was great to see our armed forces there and enjoying their role. We were at ExCel by 8.15am and there were no queues to be seen anywhere, the whole venue was slick and smooth.

The venue itself was hosting five events today but you'd never know they were facing over 30,000 people through the day; no stress, no panic, just calm and happy people. We were directed into the event area where there was a ticket check and loads more friendly volunteers.

At 9am, with a countdown, they opened the venue itself and we saw the stadium for the first time. We had bought £20 seats (£6 for Rachel) so knew we'd be at the back, but we had no idea how great a view we'd have. The venues are perfect, so impressive.

With an hour to wait there was music and Olympic news and weightlifting facts on the screens; never a chance to get bored and lots of busing excitement.

The competition started at 10am and we were lucky enough to see Gareth Evans from Wales representing Team GB. He broke PBs and Welsh Recode and it was amazing to support him in an event he clearly loved.

I knew the sport would be great, and it didn't disappoint, but the lovely surprise was the buzz and excitement and chilled happiness of everyone at the Olympics; volunteers, workers, security, spectators and everyone.

LOCOG you have pulled off something amazing, a truly outstanding Olympics, well done.

PS - the men's event over nearly 2 hours was more than enough for Rachel, in no way did we feel cheated.

Monday, 30 July 2012

They've cancelled half our London2012 Olympic event!!!

I can't believe what's just landed in my email inbox. Look at it.

Due to a lack of qualifying women in the weightlifting category they have CANCELLED the session we were due to see tomorrow.

Yes we still see the men, but that's a much shorter competition.

Yes they'll refund half the cost, but that hardly covers the disappointment.

I am not a happy bunny; my Olympic spirit is very depleted!!

#365photoproject Day 222

Title: Rachel and her mascots
Date: 30th July 2012
Location: Noah's Ark @St Nics

Make your own Olympic inspired mascot

At our church summer holiday club "Noah's Ark @St Nics" today we looked at mascots.

We drew our own mascots, made some with junk modelling materials and created some mascot toys out of old squares of material and buttons. It was a huge amount of fun and all the kids created something individual to them.

Everyone kept asking where the idea and plan for the mascot toys came from; I kept saying telling them it was a crazy formulation of my own mind. Well in case anyone else wants a go, here is how to make your own.

- squares of old fabric or old socks, gloves or tights
- soft toy stuffing
- needle and thread
- old buttons

- lay your square of fabric on the table
- put a wodge* of stuffing in the centre of the square
- bring together two of the opposite corners and knot twice
- bring together the other two opposite corners and knot over the top of the first knot
- choose where the face of the mascot should be eg on the knots or with the knots as hair or with the knots as feet etc
- sew on buttons for eyes, noses and any other features

*technical term

I am no creative whizz and my sewing skills are virtually non existent; that tells you how easy these are to make. They really appealed to the kids; being a cross between a mascot and a moshi monster - hence monster mascots.

Look at the varied creations the kids made, from frogs and pigs, to rabbits and parrots and some lovely fish and mice. I love them.

30th July 2012 Matthew 13:31-35

The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”. He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”. Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables,
I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

Is it just me or do you have problems getting into the meaning of parables? I know they were perfect for their time, but they need a bit of translation to help me. I prefer straight talking. Perhaps that's why I was called; straight talking is what I do.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Self check out woes

It'll be fun, the kids love it
I try to convince my friend
Don't queue up, stay over here
We'll scan from start to end

Ok, she says, I'll give it a try
Her face doesn't look very keen
She waves the packet up and down
The red light doesn't turn green

The kids help out, well try at least
Fun seems to be seeping through
Until that last packet of beans
Won't swipe, she's going blue

All is done and totalled up
"Please remit your payment promptly" it drones
The card won't pay, 'now what?' we say
'Never again' my poor friend moans

Jenny Matlock

The prompt this week was: " PLEASE REMIT YOUR PAYMENT PROMPTLY!'

#365photoproject day 221

Title: go team GB banner
Date: 29th July 2012
Location: home

Shame on the Olympic Sponsors

Have you seen all the empty seats at so many of the Olympic venues? Blocks of empty seats at the gymnastics, row after row at swimming, and endless empty at the table tennis.
It's everywhere.
It's disgusting.

So why has it happened?

Well it seems that the empty seats are those given to sponsors and other corporates associated with the Olympics.

So they were given free seats and what....
They didn't want then?
They had better things to do?
They had too many?
They weren't interested?

It's disgusting;
truly appalling.

What about all the people who were desperate to support the sports events and would have given their right arms to be able to go? What about the sports people who should be cheered on for their efforts?

Shame on you Visa
Shame on you Coca cola
Shame on you Acer
Shame on you Atos
Shame on you Dow
Shame on you GE
Shame on you McDonalds
Shame on you Omega
Shame on you Panasonic
Shame on you Samsung
Shame on you P&G

So little you care about the sport, about the Olympic spirit, or about the people who buy your products and make your profits.

29th July 2012 John 6:1-21

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”. Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”. Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

Jesus Walks on the Water
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.

This part of Jesus' story is known by anyone who's ever attended Sunday school; it's the miraculous feeding of the 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. The message is clear; a miracle can meet the needs of everyone.

But you can dig so much deeper and find meaning beyond this first one.

There's the giving of so little and it being more than enough. Have you ever felt as if you have nowhere enough to help in God's plan? Well this reminds us that God takes what we have abs multiplies it for His needs. We can have faith in this.

There's the fact that everyone is fed, everyone. Not just some, not only those that made the grade, not only the holy and perfect. Jesus opened his arms in welcome and fed everyone - that's something we should learn from.

It's more than just meeting the physical needs of people; it's about growing the kingdom with spiritual feeding. We may start with small seeds but we can grow the whole kingdom of God with them.

There's the breaking of the bread to share. It's the Eucharist right there. Jesus is the bread of life; here he broke bread for all. Jesus gave of himself and so he keeps doing.

Jesus thanked God and blessed the bread; he shows us how we should thank God for our food and gifts and share it widely.

And then there's the gathering up of all the leftovers. Jesus does not throw the leftovers away; he gathers them up and keeps them. He is showing us that everything comes back to him and he welcomes it all. The fragments of the kingdom are as important as the rest.

Will you ever see the feeding of the 5000 the same again?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Inspiring a generation?

The London2012 Olympics has the aim of inspiring a generation. We've been watching the weightlifting, equestrian dressage, road racing, rowing and gymnastics and this is how Rachel has been "inspired".

1. It's the horse that deserves the medals, it's not fair that the people get them

2. The weightlifters are crazy and very very brave with those heavy weights

3. The cyclists are not being safe, they are too close together

4. We wanted to see the horse riding, why did it say there were no seats left when we went online?

5. We wanted to see the gymnastics, why did it say there were no seats left when we went online?

6. We wanted to see the rowing, why did it say there were no seats left when we went online?

7. We wanted to see more weightlifting why did it say there were no seats left when we went online?

8. Even the ones who are really really the best at weightlifting in their country don't get to be best in the Olympics. They even look like they're not good at all. It's super hard to be the best.

9. I can do great gym like that, look at my hand stand.

10. I think what I'm best at is drawing the sports.

How to ... Run a Summer Holiday Club

For two years I wanted to run a church summer holiday club for the local community. For two years I researched and prayed and planned and asked for volunteers. For two years I believed it was out of my reach and beyond my ability to pull off and guess what - it didn't happen.

Then this Easter I had an epiphany; KISS. Keep It Simple Silly.

It's good to aim high, I don't believe in going at anything half hearted; but it's also important to go for what's achievable, and that's what I've done.

I'm no expert, and it could all go wrong yet; but this is my ten step plan to running a summer holiday club for your community.

1. Book a date and time
I looked at my summer holiday plans and decided that being available every Monday afternoon would be easily achievable. Since we normally run a toddler service on Monday afternoons it was merely a case of expanding that.

2. Find a suitable venue
We hold the toddler service in church but with increased numbers, wider age ranges and messy activities I changed the booking to the church hall.

3. Set a budget
I asked the Church PCC to approve a budget of £20 per session. They were more than happy to agree to this. In reality I won't be spending that much for each session and there will be donations received.

4. Select a theme
This was simple this year; with the London2012 Olympics happening I decided to go with that theme incorporating peace and joy.

5. Outline the structure
I went for a very simple structure of having parents/carers attend with their kids. Start with craft and play for an hour, then snack and story, before olympic 'games' and finishing with singing.

6. Plan the activities
I took a part of the theme for each of the five weeks; the rings then mascots, oath and flags and medals. The activities then follow these. We also broke down the 'games' into running, throwing, ball, bat and heptathlon.

7. Invite the community
Use the networks you know to spread the word. I told people by mouth, on Facebook, with a few posters and with fliers in the book bags of the local school. I didn't want to go too wide in case I couldn't cope with the numbers.

8. Ask for volunteers
Having struggled with volunteers in the early planning stage I didn't expect much. But actually people came forward as needed when they saw what I'd planned and how much fun it would be. Teenagers have been a complete blessing and I would recommend seeing if any young people are available.

9. Break down the roles for the sessions
It's important that people know what they're able to do and allocate hem tasks. I'm notoriously bad at this but I'm learning and it's wonderful to know people can take responsibility for something like snacks.

10. Keep Positive
Throughout the process I am sure that my insistence that it would be OK has helped. It's generated interest, encouraged volunteers and even kept me going when I wasn't sure.

Last week we had 62 kids and 18 parents/carers attend the first session. I'm expecting the same on Monday. It was organised chaos and a lot of fun and I'm so pleased I kept going.

If you've ever thought about running a free holiday club for your community then please go for it; it's easier than it looks and it's a whole load of fun.

#365photoproject day 220

Title: Sid Pampering
Date: 28th July 2012
Location: In the Garden

Daddy Daughter Time

This poem is written as part of the 100 word challenge for grown ups for the prompt
.....the line was drawn .....

"I won't go on the swing
If you don't give me the string"
And so the line was drawn
Daddy refused to give in

Of course a squabble ensued
And none of it made any sense
She cut off her nose in spite
And continued to pick a fight

Eventually I had to step in
Someone had to make some sense
"Give her the string, get on the swing
Stop shouting and making me tense"

It's like having two kids not one
They bicker before they have fun
But today I just rest, out in the sun
And eventually they calm and are done.

Jiving, Jesting and Joking with James and the Junior Jewels

Did you see the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony last night? What a show!

I have to admit to Jesting and doubting about what would be achieved. But I am more than happy to eat my words and really pleased I never put them into print.

Danny Boyle you are still the superstar I rated you as when I first saw your film Trainspotting. You are a Jewel in the British crown. What a show. The history, the memories, the social commentary, the music, the dance, the atmosphere, the flame cauldron from petals. I could not be more proud to be British or more impressed with what was achieved.

We all adored the joking about. Rachel laughed out loud at Mr Bean; and we enjoyed the fact that she didn't realise it was a character being acted out. Mike loved the scenes with James Bond and who wouldn't be blown away by the Queen and her jesting in that sketch.

I couldn't help myself jiving along to the music of my life; from the sixties music my parents played, to the seventies I remembered, the eighties I loved, the nineties I enjoyed with Mike and through to the music we experience with Rachel's fresh ears. I even enjoyed Macca, but then I sang loud enough not to hear his bum notes.

I was thrilled to see Steve Redgrave being the torch into the stadium and had tears in my eyes as the junior athletes took it to the cauldron. What an ending to a world class show.

Jenny Matlock

#snaphappybritmums Memories

What a great prompt and so apt for the last two days. We have been with great friends from our time studying for Masters Degrees at The University of Birmingham in 1996/7 and their gorgeous daughters.

There's very little better in life than getting together with great friends, and it's even better when you're making new memories. The three girls got on as if they've always played together; no arguments, no friction; just a lot of fun and laughter and gorgeousness.

It's a week of memories ahead as well. After last nights opening ceremony we get to attend the London 2012 Olympics on Tuesday; a memory that will no doubt be a family favourite for many years to come (we hope).

28th July 2012 Luke 23.1-12

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.’ Then Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered, ‘You say so.’ Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no basis for an accusation against this man.’ But they were insistent and said, ‘He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.’ When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

Herod wanted to save Jesus, he wanted to see a sign that would allow him to save Jesus. But Jesus didn't play ball, he didn't give a sign, this was not a game he was entering into.

Do we enter the game? The game that society requires of us?

Do we act as if our faith is less than everything to us? Do we allow culture to overshadow Jesus in our lives? Do we play their game?

Or do we dance to Jesus' beat? Acting against injustice; standing up for equality; making a difference?

As we bask in the memory of last nights London2012 Olympic opening ceremony and all it stands for, let us stand up for peace and fairness and equality as Jesus calls us to do.

Friday, 27 July 2012

#365photoproject day 219

Title: friendship through the generations
Date: 27th July 2012
Location: Highcliffe

#365photoproject day 218

Title: Morris men invading our peace
Date: 26th July 2012
Location: New Forest

Ready, set, go

It's been seven years; and I have to admit to not being as excited about the Olympics this morning as I was when I sat watching the announcement that London would host in 2012.

But thanks to Danny Boyle's wonderfully amazingly stonkingly fab
opening ceremony I am now ecstatically excited again. How great a job did he do! Pardon our doubts.

On Tuesday Mike, Rachel and I get to be a part of it. We get to watch an Olympic event, weightlifting; introduce Rachel to the excitement that is live sport; and take part in a once a lifetime experience.

We are ready
and steady
and can't wait to go.

Good luck team GB.
Good luck everyone.

It's all about the taking part, enjoy every second.

27th July 2012 Luke 22.63-end

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him. At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.” Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”. They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?” He replied, “You say that I am.”. Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

For those standing in judgement against Jesus they got what they wanted. But for us we see it positively; we know Jesus is the Son
Of God; we celebrate it.

As we celebrate the Olympics today let us celebrate that Jesus lives.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

26th July 2012 Luke 22.57-62

The Cost of Following Jesus
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”. Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”. He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”. Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”. Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”. Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

This passage was my main stumbling block when I was exploring whether I would follow a calling into a vocation in the Church of England. I knew I fell short of these standards and I knew my family came first. It was a mighty hard passage to deal with. But a brilliant vocations advisor and a spiritual guide both spoke to me about my calling as a mother and it helped me come through.

I still find these words hard but I know that I am called and God provides a way. If you are worrying about these words and are exploring a vocation then I advise you to speak to someone who knows. I pray you find a way.

Come as a child SUMMER challenge #caacc

Welcome to the summer holidays; isn't it wonderful to have weeks ahead with no school runs.

And yes I know that applies even if you don't have kids at home - I remember how much easier the commutes get.

To celebrate the summer I've got a wonderful challenge for you, an activity that will truly find your inner child.

Your come as a child SUMMER challenge is to make shadow shapes.

You can use your whole body as Rachel has to make her gingerbread man; or make something smaller. The choice is yours, the fun is in the trying.

If you make any fabulous shapes then please come share them with me; I'd love to know how you got on.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The moon's on fire

Look at the moon mum
I think it's on fire
Why's it so orange?
Why isn't it higher?

It's the sun reflected
At least I think that's what it is
And yes the sun has gone now
My explanation's getting in a tizz

I wish I knew for sure
Why the moon is so bright
But at least I answer honestly
The moon's not on fire tonight.

25th July 2012 Luke 9.46-56

An argument arose among them as to which one of them was the greatest. But Jesus, aware of their inner thoughts, took a little child and put it by his side, and said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me; for the least among all of you is the greatest.’ John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him; for whoever is not against you is for you.’ When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set towards Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’ But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

There's a lot of learning in this passage; about what and who matters, about miracles and who can be a conduit for them, about acceptance of all people. The disciples needed constant directing and so do we; that's why reading the bible and praying are essential parts of our lives as disciples.

God hits me with 62 kids

It's not been easy re-entering normal life and ministry after Zambia (it sounds more like I've been released from captivity than a mission trip).

I've felt very separate and alien from our society and extremely frustrated with the lives we all lead. The extremes of each country have been impossible to reconcile.

I've also felt conflicted as to where God wants me, surely I'd be more useful in Zambia. Luckily, and unsurprisingly, God is good and God knows what I need.

First off I have been able to take forward some projects for the Jubilee Centre whilst here in the UK; in fact they're only possible here.

Then on Monday I had 62 kids and their carers come along to the first Noah's Ark @St Nics holiday club. 62 kids; wow! How much more of a sign did God need to give me that I have a ministry and purpose in the UK.

A study of the hand

Have you ever wondered where the bones of the hand lie?

Rachel has found a way of finding out and it beats the "draw on yourself with sharpies" that a medical student I know favours.

By sprinkling sand on her hand she could see the lines of her bones in her hand.

The shadow's not bad either is it.

#365photoproject day 217

Title: keeping energy levels up at the beach
Date: 25th July 2012
Location: Barton on Sea

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

#365photoproject Day 216

Title: flowers of thanks from parents at church - never expected that
Date: 24th July 2012
Location: my conservatory

24th July 2012 Luke 22.31-38

‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’
He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’

Peter denies.
Thomas doubts.
How then can we feel guilt when we are finding our faith hard.
And don't get me started on judging those who are having trouble.

Jesus we know you understand, help us understand and help people too.

Monday, 23 July 2012

To visit or To donate

I know I've only been back from Zambia for a tiny bit more than a week, but already I'm thinking about whether or not to go back with the next trip in 2014.

I desperately want to go back to Zambia and the Jubilee Centre.
I want to visit the projects, encourage the amazing people running them, see the individuals who benefit from the projects and give what I can. It's about the mission work and God's plans in that place. But let's not pretend otherwise; it's about me as well, it's my passion.

What does it take to go?
It takes Mike's support to pick up the baton whilst I'm away.
It takes cover for the work I do here.
It takes money, about £100 a month for the next 18 months or so to make it happen.

How else could those resources be used?
£100 a month would go so far if given directly to the Jubilee Centre instead . Is it right to instead take myself out there?

Everyone is busy and the kids work ministry I'm doing needs volunteers. If I go away then these people give their time to cover me rather than perhaps giving their time at other times when bigger events happen. And I know the same is true of Mike.

So how do I decide?
What do you think?
Would you plan to go?
Or would you donate the cost of going?

Perhaps I should hope that a rich supporter comes along and offers to pay for me to go on their behalf and we get the best of both worlds. I can dream cant I!

23rd July 2012 Luke 22.24-30

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

My prayers today are taking me to a reflection on service and egos. There are many people in congregations across the world who want to be seen as important; and who like to rank others by their importance - usually perceived. Then there are those we all know who serve their communities within and outside the church and ask for nothing in response. Most of us are somewhere in the middle and it is Jesus who keeps me true when my ego comes up against service.

22nd July 2012 Luke 8.1-3

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Today is the celebration of Mary Magdalene. And this is where we 'meet' her; it's not much of an introduction is it? Seven demons had been sent from her by Jesus; that is all we know. But we also know that she was a trusted friend of Jesus, possibly a disciple; and that she was with him to the end and on his resurrection. A woman well worry celebrating.