Thought for the Week 23/11/20 

“Try. Fail. Try Again.”
Who wants to fail?
From driving tests to school exams, none of us want to fail. We carry this fear of failure into our lives and into our faith. This strange season is an ideal opportunity to explore with God what it is we can really do with the lives God has given us.
Fear can stop us from exploring the gifts and abilities God has placed into our hands. We fear getting it wrong.
So much do we fear failure, that we can end up living a life when we only ever do what we know we can do.
What if God is asking you to do what you don’t know you can do? What if God is asking you to risk failing?
There’s a book called Art and Fear which shows how failure is linked to learning. A pottery teacher divided their class into 2 groups. One group would be assessed on the quantity of their work. The more they made – the better the grade. The other group would be marked on the quality of their work. They were to make just one pot of the highest quality.
Who do you think produced the best pots?
Surprisingly, the highest quality pots were turned out by the quantity group. While the quality group were making pot after pot they were learning from their mistakes. As they went on, they got better and better. In contrast the quality group sat around trying to work out how best to go about making their prefect pot. They never got any better.
Trying and failing, learning from failure, and trying again led to better pots.
What about in life?
Try. Fail. Try again.
It’s a model Jesus used when it came to teaching his disciples. Given the importance of the task one might have thought that the disciples had gone to the University of Jerusalem.
Given the importance of the task one would have thought that the disciples at least went to the College of Galilee.
No again.
Open University? Online learning? Google?
No. No. And No again.
When it came to learning Jesus liked his disciples to try. And when they failed, to try again.
Look at Peter. Peter was quick to try and often got it wrong. But Jesus did not give up on Peter.
And Jesus will not give up on us either.
Our failures have the potential to teach us great things. Maybe our fear isn’t failure – but rather the discipline of being discipled.
Peter would later compare discipleship to a building project writing: “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 5)
Try. Fail. Try again.
Sometimes the only way to find out what God has made you to do, it to give something a try.
Is there something God could be calling you to try?

Keith Wilson, 23/11/2020

Thought for the Week 16/11/20 

“Here’s Hoping!”

What are you hoping for at the moment?
Lockdown 2.0 and worries about pretty much everything have caused people to search for something to hope for. Something to look forward to.
And the solution?
Get ready for Christmas early!
Shops have practised this for years. In 2020 everyone is being encouraged to put up the decorations and look forward to Christmas early. I have already spotted a light up reindeer in a Lower Earley garden. Very tasteful!
On Radio 4 Kirsty Allsopp commented that she had suggested to her teenage son that they take a daily walk together to see the Christmas lights in their location. Or should that be ‘Location, Location, Location’! The teenage response was less than enthusiastic: “Mum, you’ve just suggested something worse than lockdown!”
Getting ready for Christmas early may be one attempt to put 2020 behind us.
But what are we really hoping for?
An end to lockdown? A return to seeing family and friends? Normality?
News that a vaccine may be on the way, has lifted hopes that a solution to this crisis may yet be found.
As a people we need hope.
Yet, what if Christmas is a little rubbish? What if normal does not return quickly? What if our hopes are dashed?
The Bible has a lot to say about hope. The route to hope may not be one we would choose to travel.
Look at what the Apostle Paul wrote: “we glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit..” (Romans 5: 3-5)
This season is a tough one. Covering it over with some Christmas decorations does not really get to the heart of the matter.
We need hope.
And as followers of Jesus we have that hope.
How might you bring hope to someone this week?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Keith Wilson, 16/11/2020

Thought for the Week 09/11/20 


“Meaning less or meaning full?”

The box set we all hoped we wouldn’t see again has begun.
Spoiler alert! In this series nearly everything returns to what it was 6 months ago.
Welcome to the world of ‘Lockdown: Season 2.’
Yes, disappointed. Here we go again. In such difficult times, it is only human to stop and wonder: what is the meaning of life?
Ecclesiastes is an Old Testament book of the Bible in which the Teacher explores the meaning of life. If the Teacher was King Solomon, then he was the richest and most powerful person in the known world.
Solomon had everything – yet he apparently found life meaningless.
“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
“I refused my heart no pleasure”
“Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”
Have you felt as though you are trying to chase the wind? It is as though you can never catch up with all that is being expected.
A life filled with stuff – but a life that still searches for meaning.
What is the meaning of life?
What is life all about?
What is the purpose of our existence?
A Monty Python film attempted to answer the question and concluded that the meaning of life is:
“Try to be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book now and then, get some walking in and try to live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.”
We have a choice about the life we live.
Will we find meaning less? Or live meaning full?
The Teacher concludes:
“Fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)
To which Jesus adds:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-39)
This is not where we want to be. But it is where God has placed us. God has designed and prepared us for this season. Can we live this week seeking to discover our meaning filled moments? And to remember that it is the small moments when we stick with God that add up to a meaningful life of faithfulness?

Keith Wilson, 09/11/2020