And so it’s the morning after the night before. The referendum is over, the votes have been counted and the result is in. But today is not a day for gloating or shouting. It is not a day for told-you-so’s or if-only’s. it is not a day for blame or recriminations or boasting or mocking. Today is a day for healing. Today is a day when we begin the work of forgiveness. When we choose grace over hurt. A day when we choose love over hate. Because we have a long journey in front of us, and it’s a day when each one of us should choose to commit to that journey. Whether we voted for it or not. Whether it feels like a great result or a terrible result. Because we are part of this country. We are part of this community and so we need to pour ourselves into making it the best it can be. We don’t get to blame others for the decision or opt out of our response. We need to work hard to get the best out of the decision we have made, because we all made it. We all contributed. We all created the environment and the atmosphere that produced the result, either positive or negative. And we still have a choice to make. Every day starting with today. A choice to contribute or take. A choice to hope or fear. A choice to love or hate. A choice to expand or shrink. A choice to include or exclude. A choice to resent or forgive. A choice to move forward in hope or look back in anger.

Lets be people of hope. People of love and courage. And lets give space, whether we won or lost, for forgiveness and healing. Find ways to bless those who disagree with us, and lets face the future together, without anger or recrimination but with patience and kindness, and love and generosity, because these are things that have been in short supply during this campaign, and we are poorer for it.

The Hardest Word? Mark 6:12

“So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God.”

How do I do that? How do I talk about ‘repentance’ in a way that is authentic, loving, meaningful, powerful, truthful?  And – please Father, if it be possible – not cringe-worthy.

Perhaps my struggle with knowing how to speak with others about repentance is that I’m not so familiar with repentance myself. That which remains foreign to me will be hard to explain convincingly to others.

What is this thing?

It’s deadly serious, but life-giving.

It concedes guilt, but not as the final word.

It’s much more than ‘sorry’, but not less.

It compels change; radical, fundamental change; turn-around-and-set-off-in-a-new-direction type change.

It emphatically closes some doorways, but thankfully opens better ones.

It demands brutal honesty, realism, and humility about myself. Repeatedly.  But as I learn to stop pretending that I am what I’m not, I open the way to begin growing into what I will one day fully become.

It is healthy. It is recognising that I have been lurking in the shadows, but choosing to take the first step into the sunlight.  Though the brightness can make me wince, it brings life.

Our society has demonised guilt, seeing it as a wholly negative illusion. As individuals we tend to extremes; either wallowing helplessly with an ill-defined but crippling sense of guilt, or trying to supress and ignore it entirely.  But repentance means facing this painful reality, acknowledging that we are truly culpable; truly…sinful (there; I’ve said the word).  And then meekly turning to our Father, who takes us and our mess and cleans us up, restores us and renews our hope.

And the gateway to hope is repentance.

France trip – Millie Chant

A few weeks ago the Create team had the incredible opportunity to go on a mission trip to France. Over 10 days we travelled around central France visiting churches and communities, playing music and leading worship, prayer walking through towns and meeting so many encouraging and inspiring people all fighting to bring the kingdom of God to France. We got to know Christians who have incredible lifelong visions for starting churches in their area and beyond, who are discipling and growing new Christians and bringing them together in fellowship. We met people who have found what they are most passionate about in life and are using it to show others the glory of God, giving him the fruits of the things they enjoy doing. We met young Christians on fire for God despite having to travel miles to reach their nearest church, and know little to no other Christians their own age. With the YCC France Prayer Team we visited towns with no church and prayed for God to reveal himself to the people living there, and visited towns where the exciting future of the church is only just beginning to take shape.

As a team we were challenged to step up and step out for God, to bring who we are as individuals and serve in ways that we didn’t know we could. Whether that meant pursuing intentional conversation where communication was difficult, getting up on stage to lead people into worship, sharing who we are as a Create to those who haven’t come across a team like us before, or helping to pack up every day. We were all pushed out of our comfort zone and encouraged into doing things we hadn’t done before, and that was so exciting. It was such an awesome experience to share with each other as well, and so great to hear how God had been speaking to and inspiring each of us when we shared with each other. We were able to encourage each other in our achievements and build each other up as we grew closer and stronger as a team throughout the week.

I don’t think there is anyone on the team who could say that it wasn’t a significant period of time. It was a time of growing as individuals and as a team, and we learnt so much about what it means to serve God and serve others. We experienced what God was doing somewhere that wasn’t Yeovil or our home towns, and realised that we took the fact that we can reach so many people in our community for granted. We were inspired to do all we could to help those people achieve what God had put on their hearts for their communities, the same way that God put it on our hearts to reach the people of Yeovil when we first joined Create. We will be continuing to pray for the incredible people we met in France, and we invite you to do the same. If you would like to know more about what we did during our time in France feel free to come and talk to a member of the team, we would be more than happy to chat with you!

Exceptions Mark 6:1-6

“A prophet is honoured everywhere, except…”

“Jesus couldn’t do any miracles among them, except…”

Some exceptions really matter; some not so much.

Receiving scant ‘honour’ among family, friends and the wider community troubled Jesus very little.  He was hurt when close friends abandoned him, but what mattered to him was the opinion of his Father (Jn 8:50).  He did not crave the approval of those around him, and he did not depend on their affirmation for his sense of identity.

It’s not hard to discover whether we are (perhaps unconsciously) becoming dependent on receiving ‘honour’ from others; our reaction when this is not forthcoming – or worse when instead we are ignored, taken-for-granted, passed over, or actively criticized – quickly exposes what is in our hearts.  In my heart.

What really did matter to Jesus was always being able to do the Father’s work; to bless and heal people; even people who didn’t much value him.  Despite the negativity & cynicism around him, Jesus still found a way to heal a few; the exceptions.

Each day, and in each situation, I want to be to looking for these exceptions; those that the Father can bless through me.  Even – perhaps especially – in the hard situations where I am barely noticed, still less ‘honoured’.  Because it’s not about me.  It’s never about me.  It’s about Him, and his mission to bless, to heal, to bring freedom and to give life.