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Dear Mum,

Just FYI - YOU'RE LIVING WITH A THIEF.

May have to come home early coz clearly all the locks I put on my bedroom door and all the Indiana Jones/Home Alone stylee traps have not been sufficient.

Love from Rachel

PS. Please inform the fam that I am now recruiting a new favourite sister. Interviews and auditions will be held in August. Extra points to anyone who makes me a cake and buys me all the books on my wish list.

Guide us, O Lord,
When we have lost our way.
When we are stumbling from one path to another
Because we took our eyes from your lights on the path.
When we are no longer certain of our direction
Because we are confused about the purpose of our journey.
 
Guide us, O Lord,
When faced with an abundance of options
We are paralysed with the fear of failure.
Having fallen in love with holding out for the best opportunity
We have forgotten to be thankful for the freedom of choice.
And in our efforts to do your will
We have forgotten that burning bushes are not an everyday occurrence.
 
Guide us, O Lord
When we boldly dare
To renew our search for your lights on the pathway.
When in following your word
To the pathway of holiness
We shall find the gateway of the narrow path
 
We ask you to remind us of our identity with You;
And to guide us in re-imaging our future
In strength, courage, hope and love.
 
This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Based on Disturb us, O Lord by Francis Drake. Part One: Comfort us, O Lord

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?

I haven’t, I broke nearly all of mine last year and the one I didn't break I completely forgot about till last week.

Last year my intentions (I thought calling them intentions would be less serious and so by logic of reverse psychology I would be more likely to keep them) were:

1. To find a kick-as chocolate brownie recipe – two rounds of disappointing brownies later and I gave up.

2. To do more exercise - hahaha. hahahaha. ha!

3. To have more fun (2012 was Too Serious) - I definitely had more fun. Karaoke in Nashville anyone?

So this year I resolved (see what I did there?) to not make any New Year's Resolutions. But then I stumbled across OneWord365 - instead of making resolutions, pick one word that ‘sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day all year long.’

This year I will be Investing.

I will be investing in my relationships, my job, my health, my writing, my community, and everything and anything else that comes up.

I don't mean the kind of investing when you throw money at a situation hoping to get a pot of fairly-mined gold within a week (sorry friends and family hoping for some cash). But rather, investing by showing up, being present and giving the best of myself. Because all these things are important and worth investing in.

Wanna join me in picking out One Word?

In January I didn’t write anything. Unable to face not being able to write something funny I dealt with it in that o so mature way of just not writing. Yeh, I’m a real grown up.

So in February I kicked off my writing year by identifying my Quarter Life Crisis and wondering who I will be by Christmas 2055.

But then in March I didn't write a thing.

In April I learned some truths about lost sheep and school trips, grudgingly tipped my hat to Angelina Jolie and realised that Syrian refugees are not randoms but Actual Real People.

Then in May I proudly declared I am not a Disney princess.

In June I got angry about those damn blurred lines.

July was a busy month where I singlehandedly uncovered the truth about the Royal Baby and discovered how to solve indecision.

August was the beginning of my 25 for 25 challenge.

In September I wondered what we are watching, where our phones are and what happened to the water.

October saw the launch Life in Exile and I pondered what loving your neighbour really looks like.

Then in November I confessed that I am scared and came to understand that it's ok not to be perfect.

Finally, in December I realised that Adam and Eve were the first exiles, identified lifestyle as an idol, pondered Mary and our response to the God who can do all things.

Take that 10,000 hours. Happy 2014 y'all!

Sunday 19th December 2010

Season's Greetings

Hey. Hows your Christmas going so far? Finished your shopping? Been to any carol services? Sent all your Christmas cards? (I’ve massively failed on the Christmas card front this year. Not because I don’t love you and want you to have an unmerry Christmas, but because it’s so expensive to post home. How paper can cost so much to send I’ll never understand).

For me Christmas this year is a bit different. To start with its not cold. In my mind a prerequisite for  Christmas is that it’s a bit cold. It doesn’t have to snow  (it never does) but a bit of frost wouldn’t go amiss. Not gonna happen here. It’s in the twenties at the mo and it’s still raining. We spend a lot of time complaining that it’s so humid. Kinda like it probs was when Mary and Joseph trekked to Bethlehem (did you see that seamless transition from weather to seasonally relevant Bible story? The weather really is a good starting point for any conversation).

So we all know the Christmas story, so much so that you might zone out a but when they read it in carol services (or maybe that’s just me). But how well do you know the Christmas prophecies? You know, the short readings before the nativity bit gets read?

So the other day I was reading Isaiah 9 when my Christmas prophecy alarm bell was triggered (it sounds like Away in a Manger and smells like mince pies and mulled wine):

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

This year this scripture means more to me than just another part of the carol service. It’s a promise that I place alot of hope in. It’s the promise that injustice will end. I believe in God’s promises.

Not that I think we have no responsibility and should wait for God to fix everything. He’s put us here for a reason, one of them being that we are to bring bits of His Kingdom here on earth. I believe that we have to help those who suffer. Sure we can’t fix everything but we can make a difference, even if it’s just to one person. We can make a difference between loneliness and love. A difference between health and sickness. A difference between slavery and freedom. A difference between hunger and food. A difference in illiteracy and education. A difference between justice and injustice.

So this year Christmas is different (I’m really trying to not sound cheesy but it’s harder than you think). This year I’m wondering about differences.

I hope that you have a Christmas filled with differences. Differences of Hope, Joy and Love.

 

Original post here: http://rachelgoestonz.blogspot.co.uk/2010/12/seasons-greetings.html

That’s it. No more school. No more spending most of my day surrounded by 30 kids, no more pretending to know something about science/Victorians/what an adjective is/what a verb is/what 7x8 is, no more suffering through 30 kids playing the Ukulele for an hour every week, no more yelling at kids to line up and stop crying over Yu Gi Oh cards or Moshi Monsters, no more killing time in assembly by imagining what life is like as a tree, no more despairing over why they've forgotten to use capital letters and full stops, no more having to call parents to tell them that their child just threw up (or worse - don't ask) all over the classroom, no more school.  No more school holidays either. Sad times – I will miss my life of organised chaos.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with lots of goodbyes - some easy, some hard, some accompanied with lots of of cake, some accompanied with lots of alcohol, some tear-filled and some just painfully awkward.

When you leave a job/church/place with a view to not return people will generally mention something about you that they like/have appreciated/won’t forget. You know “Thank you for always helping with...” or maybe “You’re not actually that quiet are you?” Sometimes it's something really nice. Other times you don't know which side of the compliment-insult line it sits on.

Apparently a killer death stare and my earring collection are my most noteworthy characteristics. Talk about a lasting legacy. Or maybe my well dressed evil genius alter-ego is harder to hide than I thought.

What I have realised is that how you act and treat people now is what they will remember- we're all known for something right?

If you want people to remember you as generous and compassionate then you have to actually be generous and compassionate.

If you want people to remember you as understanding and encouraging then you actually have to be understanding and encouraging.

If you want people to remember you as sarcastic and bitter then all you have to do is be sarcastic and bitter.

If you want people to remember you as angry and hostile then all you have to do is be angry and hostile.

It’s not rocket science people. Be kind.

Comfort us, O Lord,
When we cannot face our own disappointment,
When our dreams seem so far away,
Because we tried to do it all,
When we are tired and scared
Because we forgot our hope is in You.
 
Comfort us, O Lord,
When with trying to live more justly
We have replaced one set of rules for another;
Having become paralysed with information,
We have ceased to do anything at all
And in our efforts to inform others
We have allowed our anger to drown out our Hope.
 
Comfort us, O Lord,
When we dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas,
While we wait for Your mastery to calm the storms;
Where we have lost sight of land,
And are yet to to see your stars.
 
We ask you to illuminate
The horizons of our hopes;
As we stumble forwards
In Strength, Courage, Hope and Love
 
This we ask in the name of our captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.
 
Based on Disturb us, O Lord by Francis Drake. 

I just LOVE this Tolkien quote:

“We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it; our whole nature at it’s best and least corrupted, it’s gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’... As far as we can go back the nobler part of the human mind is filled with the thoughts of sibb (peace, kinship), peace and goodwill. And with the thought of it’s loss.”

I have so much drama surrounding being exiled to the suburbs. I’ve been reading the Old Testament books dealing with the Exile of the people of Israel and Judah – there was a lot of drama there too.  But this weekend I realised that Adam and Eve were the first exiles. They were exiled from the Garden of Eden.

So the Lord God banished Adam and his wife from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After banishing them from the garden, the Lord stationed mighty angelic beings to the east of Eden. And a flaming sword flashed back and forth guarding the way to the tree of life.                                                                                                                                              Genesis 3 v 23-24

After Adam and Eve ate fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil their relationship with God was broken. Their relationship with each other was fractured. And their relationship with the garden was corrupted. The consequence was that they were exiled.

God exiled Adam and Eve from the place where they were in a perfect relationship with God, a perfect relationship with each other and a perfect relationship with the garden. God exiled them from the place where they had known peace and unity with God, peace and unity with each other and peace and unity with the garden. The peace and sweet living of former days was gone and there was nothing they could do to bring it back.

Instead they had to work the earth for food. They had to navigate the parameters of their new relationship. God no longer walked with them in the garden – their relationship with him was broken beyond their ability to repair it; they were separated.

Unlike me who ends up in East London nearly every week, Adam and Eve could no longer return to the place they had called home. Banished. Exiled. Never to return.

The Old Testament chronicles life for God’s people from that moment of exile. It points toward the one who could and would bring us back to the peace and unity of the garden. It points to the one who would establish a kingdom of justice and righteousness, removing evil from the world. It points to the one who would bring us back from exile into a relationship with God. It points to Jesus.

And so it follows that the New Testament is how God enables us to return from exile and how we can live our lives neither exiled from our relationship with God, but not quite home yet. Not quite returned to the peace and unity of the garden.

I think this is what Tolkien meant – no matter how perfect a particular moment in time we always know that it will end. So we long for the time in the garden when all was well. We are soaked with a sense of exile.

I know in Advent we’re supposed to be looking forward to celebrating the arrival of Christ on earth. But my heart always skips from being thankful for the birth of Christ as a man on earth, to being even more thankful that his death and resurrection can bring us back from exile – if we would choose it.

Choose life y'all.

Yesterday was the first day of Advent (although I'm already three four five days into my advent calendar - quit judging, I was hungry yeh).

I wanted to write something poetic about the start of the Season of Goodwill celebrating Christ becoming a Man and all that jazz. I wanted to describe the poignant symbolism and candlemonium (yes it is a real word) of the Christingle service at church. Something about how I love the unity of standing in a circle holding candles stuck in oranges, slowly passing on the flame. Something about how Jesus being the Light of the World by which the darkness is conquered makes so much more sense when the flickering flame of the candle helps you to see your brothers and sisters on the far side of the room. I wanted to segway into a Narnia reference and then end it all with a sweet scripture from one of the prophets about the coming of the King establishing peace and justice.

But I don’t have the words - maybe once I've put in my 10,000 hours I will. Instead, you know what They say - when in doubt, C. S. Lewis quote it out...

On the incarnation

The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman’s body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.

From Mere Christianity 

Happy Advent y'all.

Christingle service at St Peter's Bethnal Green

People often ask me how I'm doing now that I'm exiled in Zone 6.

I tell them "it’s ok, I’m ok." And I am.

But I am also scared.

I am scared that before I know it I will slip into a living coma of a comfortable & complacent suburban life.

I am scared that I’ll begin to confuse the lines between want and need.

I am scared that I won't even notice when I begin to think that neighbours parking outside the wrong house is a crime punishable by getting lost in IKEA for an eternity.

I am scared that I’ll have a 9-5 office job that I don’t really like but am too afraid to leave – because without that I wouldn't know who I was?

I am scared that living in anything but a house with a garden will become unimaginable.

I am scared that I'll start reading the Daily Mail.

I am scared that as I get lulled into a false sense of security my dreams will start to shrink, as will my reliance on the God I love and try to serve.

I am scared that Waitrose will become the norm not a luxury.

I am scared of a life of  No Adventure

I am scared I will get Stuck.

I am scared that one day Jesus will put me in a group with my fellow goats – Matthew 25 y’all, I don’t actually think I’ll turn into a goat, bah!

I am scared that I’ll become a goat and not even care.

I am scared that one day I will realise how comfortable I have become and be too afraid to change it.

I am scared that I will no longer believe that Jesus is enough.

I am scared that I will trivialise the concerns and worries of my fellow suburbanites.

I am scared that I will blame the suburbs for my own laziness.

I am scared that I don't really understand the meaning of perfect love casting out fear (1 John 4 v18).

I am scared that I over dramatise everything.

BUT I do know that God is with me always, even until the end of the age (not infact a LOTR quote but Matthew 28 v 20). So really what is there to be scared of?

What about you, are you scared of anything?