Spring is coming! Isn’t it lovely to see the sunshine? I realise that there is a risk in writing this, as by the time it goes to print there may be a monsoon or even a snow storm. You never know with the British weather.
But as I write the sun is shining and all is well with the world. (Well, as long as I don’t turn on the news or look at social media – is Brexit happening? Is the PM still the PM? No, no, I am not going there….)
Paul writes in the book of Philippians (chapter 4, verses 8-9):
‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.’
Or, as the Message version puts it:
‘Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.’
In times when there is turmoil and unrest (I am not mentioning the ‘B word’) it is good to remember that spring always comes and that when it is difficult we need to think about things that are ‘true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious’.
So often we focus on the negative, but actually there are good things all around us, whether the daffodils growing in the garden or kind words from a stranger, which remind us to focus on the good and the true. Like the tweet that went viral in November: ‘Just heard about a guy who died in my village + left 3 houses to the council, with the stipulation that they're for young families to rent for a fixed period of 3 yrs with rent of £300 pcm (in an area where rent is £1000+). Because we all need to talk more about the good humans.’ The replies varied from ‘give the man a sainthood’ to ‘that’s just not true’ (it was).
Even closer to home, we all have stories of people behaving just wonderfully. There was a time when I dropped my purse coming out of my then local Sainsbury’s. It had some money and also all my bank cards. With a sinking heart I realised when I got home that I no longer had it. With no expectation at all I rang the store to discover some kind soul had picked it up and handed it in to the customer service!
A friend of mine who is also a priest told me her story: ‘Running hideously late for a funeral yesterday. M1 & M25 at their worst. Then no spaces in car park – but someone saw me hovering in my collar, and moved her car into the short stay part so I could park for long enough to do the service and the wake... I then (in a state of panic) messed up trying to pay for parking by phone, no cash with me at all (I'd checked that I could use cards at the car park, but the machine was broken)… and a total stranger paid my fee.’
Another friend mentioned to me ‘nothing huge but the kindness of a stranger who buys my daughter a magazine and some sweets whilst she’s in hospital having surgery.’
What is your story of a stranger helping you out? Or have you been the kind stranger to someone else? In times when there is so much negative news, it’s good to remember that small acts of kindness change people’s day or even their lives.
So as we wonder about our iced up world let’s fix our eyes on the good things we see, and try and be a blessing to all those around us that we might be part of God’s ‘excellent harmonies’.