A View From The Park

 ‘Count your blessings …’
There are times when, for a host of different reasons, you are forced to stop and reflect on life. Following the death of my father I have had cause to reflect on aspects of life, family and church.  The thought that came to mind is expressed in the old chorus ‘Count you blessings, name them one by one. Doing just that proved to be helpful and I have been encouraged again by the ways I am blessed by God through the support of many in these areas.

… in the family. Though things have dramatically changed there have been laughter and tears in remembering the many blessings of the past. These blessings are not just in the past but are reflected in the current relationships in the immediate and extended family. There will now be a period of adjusting and catching up with the new reality which will impact on aspects of my life. The challenge for me now is to live in the light of something I know in my head, God is in every situation, and that means I can know His blessing in the sadness of my current circumstances.    

… at St Oswald’s Church. There is much to thank God for. Naming the blessings one by one gave me the following: there are the readers, intercessors, organist & choir, worship group coordinator, musicians, singers, singers, servers and sides-people/welcomers as well as those who teach our children, and the preachers who teach at the services.  There is a whole army of others who work steadfastly and quietly in the background week by week keeping the grounds tidy, cleaning the church, arranging the flowers, polishing the silver, ensuring there is bread and wine for communion, and coffee & tea at the end of the services. In addition many other gifts are used by members of St Oswald’s in partnership with others in the course of the week. There is the wise word, the listening ear, the prayer ministry which goes on as individuals share their needs with us and who are prayed for when requested by members of the church; and the small but precious acts of service and the warmth of hospitality offered. There are also the many gifts which members of St Oswald’s exercise in the course of their daily life and work. This list could go on.  God has indeed blessed us! Thank you God!  

   Blessed by God
It seems that when I undertake this exercise I quickly think of the individuals who are the cause of the blessings and also the gifts which God has given them.
Some of these gifts from God are exercised in a very public arena, others are perhaps barely noticed, but no less important for that. Some gifts may seem ‘natural’ and unspectacular whilst others are clearly a gift from God. From the earliest days of the life of the church the temptation has been to grade people in some kind of holy pecking order according to the gifts they exercise. Pride and jealousy can seep into the most sacred aspects of life. Such pride and jealousy are seen to be totally misplaced, however, when we consider the purpose of those gifts given for the glory of God and for the building up of his church. To suggest a particular gift is more or less important than another is to disrespect the Giver. All gifts are to be used to His praise and glory.   If an individual uses a gift to put themselves in the limelight, or to serve some other selfish purpose is to misuse that gift.

   Blessed to serve
Our natural abilities and those we may regard as spiritual are all gifts from God and when offered to Him will equip us to serve Him and one another. Through the Leading your Church into Growth [LyCiG] Course and the recent LyCiG Away Day we have been reminded of the challenge before St Oswalds to be a church community that through its worship and life declares God’s offer of knowing Him and living in relationship to Him.
Although this may seem a daunting task and maybe feel its beyond our reach we need to remind ourselves that what God asks of His church, He will equip her to do. God wants to bless us!

Of course you do not have to wait for a personal situation to occur to make you stop and think.
Take time over the summer to count your blessings and the blessings we share at St Oswalds and, by naming them one by one, pray for yourself and the church.  
God has indeed blessed us! Thank you God!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly
 realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Ephesians 1: 3


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