Today I was preaching mainly on Genesis 9 and the Noahic covenant with the whole of creation. We had hymns and songs that mentioned rainbows and rain... and the rain came down in torrents, including inside the foyer of the building...We (I) really need to learn not to choose songs about rain... :-)
Surprise, surprise! Whoops, I already sort of did this one!
MAKE 'EM SMILE
It doesn't take much to make someone feel special. A treat through their letterbox or on their desk, or an unexpected compliment, can go a long way.
DO THE UNEXPECTED
If you don’t normally cook, surprise your friends or family with a meal. Don’t forget acquaintances or strangers. Give out flowers on the bus or pay for someone else’s parking.
Your imagination is the limit. You might write someone a note of encouragement every day for a week, send them on a treasure hunt, take them out for an unexpected treat or even throw them a party 'just because'. This is the day to go all out, no reasons required.
Hmm, well I will be seeing quite a few folk one way and another today, so I'll get my thinking cap on... but just in case any of them happen to see this, I'd better keep mum!!
Today came news that someone on the very periphery of church life had died. Most church folk would not have known them, and those of us who did were aware that this was a person whose life was hugely complex and hugely sad. Not someone I found easy to get along with, yet one of those who find their way under your skin (in the positive north of England use of the phrase) and despite everything you care deeply for them.
Part of a group that meets on a Friday afternoon, they paused to remember their departed friend. The nonagenarian leader spoke warmly and tenderly of a person whose life had been affected by chronic illness, before announcing a one minute silence to remember.
At the end of the silence I commended the person to God and uttered the words "may they rest in peace and rise in glory"
These few short minutes were beautiful in their simplicity and authenticity.
I will always remember the times I was told terrible jokes, the assurances (on better days) that I was OK as Christians went, and forget the difficult days when my patience was tried.
Cleaning up the environment today! I have yet to do my chosen challenge, but that's the theme.
Pick up any litter you spot today and drop it into a bin. (You might want to wear latex gloves or use a litter-picker!) Not going out? Sort out your kitchen so that you can get into the habit of recycling easily.
I'VE GOT MORE TIME
Pick a patch of land around where you live and commit to keep it litter free. You might also plant a few bulbs or flowers that will attract bees and butterflies.
GO THE WHOLE HOG
Organise a community clean-up or find out about conservation groups in your neighbourhood. Connect with other 40acters in your area and arrange a date/time to scrub off some graffiti or do a group litter-pick.
So, I thought I'd do the first one on my way to church... but by the time I'd walked about fifty yards I knew that wasn't going to work, I'd have needed several sacks and not a few pairs of gloves. It was salutary to realise how acccustomed I have become to the appalling level of littering in this part of the city. I recalled how shocked I had been when I first arrived here, and to a degree still am, at the casual attitude people here have to dropping litter - often when they are in arm's length of a bin. So, what kind of things did I see...
drinks cans, plastic bottles, glass bottles (broken)
pizza cartons, burger boxes, chip wrappers
lollipop sticks (dozens), sweet wrappers, crisp bags
carrier bags (which are no longer free here) and re-usable shopping bags
paper, tissues, card
a mop, gloves, socks
a cat food sachet
and then I gave up keeping a mental list after I saw a council refuse truck take a corner at speed and scatter broken glass aross the road in the process...
Once I have posted this, I will go a litter pick round the church grounds... there is an empty salad container in the sand bucket by the back door, and any amount of empty cigarette boxes and fag-ends abandoned by folk from the support groups that use our premises. Good job I have plastic gloves and bin sacks in the vestry!!
And here is the perversity of it all - I will actually derive pleasure from picking up this mess!
One last thought, back in the day when we were at school, litter-picking was a task that every registration group had to take a turn at... if nothing else it taught us not to litter! Should I mention this to the nice people at Holyrood and Westminster... ;-)
Today we are invited to talk meaningfully to our nextdoor neighbour... I know my nextdoor neighbours reasonably well and they are currently away, so that's a tad tricky. So I'm going to have to find a way to adapt the action!
Here the options:
I'M A LITTLE SHY
Start with a smile and a wave, instead of avoiding eye contact! For bonus points, pop a 'hello!' note through their door.
FEELING A LITTLE BOLDER
Introduce yourself. If you can go beyond small talk, do. Make an extra effort to remember details.
I'M ALREADY FRIENDS WITH MY NEIGHBOURS
Great – so let’s take that friendship to the next level. Make today the day to organise a social; a shared meal, trip to the cinema or even just a healthy walk around the block together.
So, what will I do? I have a cunning plan! I will get some nice blank cards (I have loads at church) write a little message on them, pop in a small bar of chocolate and give them to all eleven neighbours in my block :-)
There, now I've said it, I have to do it!