“’Tis the season to be jolly careful!” The words of Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the answer to the one of the questions in the Quiz for Christian Aid Week, which some of us from our two churches took part in on Tuesday. Two participants excelled with a score of 38 out of 40, while the rest of us scored more modestly, but it was just for fun and to raise some more funds for Christian Aid. (So far donations have reached £192.50 including GiftAid; here’s the link should you feel moved to increase the current total: e-envelope | Christian Aid Week
Of course Boris’ words were said back in December, a play on words of the Christmas carol, “Deck the halls with boughs of holly”.
Now we’re in May, and it’s the season of BLOSSOM. Everywhere you look, in gardens, and in parks and other public spaces in the city, trees are budding and blossoming. It’s not often that our heart is lifted on the way to a funeral, and yet that’s what I experienced the other day as I drove along Arbroath Road to the Eastern Cemetery. The boundary wall is lined with trees in glorious pink blossom and there are many more within the grounds.
Today is Ascension Day and I’m aware of another sort of budding and blossoming. The spiritual sort.
From now until Pentecost (23rd May) Christians all over the world are in engaging in Thy Kingdom Come: a global movement of prayer - Thy Kingdom Come | Thy Kingdom Come
Via the website, or on the app you can download to your phone, you can access daily readings, videos and audio reflections, including the “Cheeky Pandas” for children. We are encouraged to pray for five people each day – just think of the difference we might enable in their lives by committing to this daily routine.
In his introduction to the Prayer Journal, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, reminds us that we “all need the encouragement of the basic promises of the Christian life to help us live the life God gives us to the full”. He goes on to say that these nine days between Ascension and Pentecost are “a gift to refresh our faith”.
Yesterday’s meeting of Dundee Presbytery was focused on a discussion of mission, which means different things to different people, against the background of decreasing numbers of ministers and members but an abundance of buildings. Understandably there were those who felt there was too much emphasis on managing decline rather than going for/praying for growth.
For blossoming. Could this be the time – especially given that the General Assembly begins on the eve of Pentecost – that we start to grow again? That we see new buds on faith that had been written off as withered, or blossoming in those who were on the periphery of congregational life, or even brand new shoots springing from the Vine that is Christ Jesus?
In today’s video, Archbishop Stephen points to the importance of both names given to our Lord: Emmanuel, God with us, and Jesus, the One who saves.