angry

There’s some good advice: “Don’t drive angry.” Putting yourself in charge of a ton or so of metal that can reach speeds of 70 mph (or more if you break speed limits) while your emotions are in a high state of agitation and adrenaline is coursing through your veins is not wise.

But I want to suggest that there are some other things that you can do while you are angry.

Breaking up cardboard boxes (can be cathartic)

Going for a walk (uses up the adrenaline in a healthy way)

Singing (so long as nobody else is around, it may not be the most tuneful)

Praying.

Yes, praying. God is pleased to receive and respond to any prayers, even the angry ones. We can be completely honest with him (no point in doing otherwise really as he already knows all about us) and let him know why we are angry. It is something that I have done this week in the face of what happened to George Floyd and the responses to the peaceful protests that have followed his death at the hands (or knee) of a police officer.

This week I have been asked to contribute a prayer to Premier Radio’s Prayers of Hope programme and I decided to pray angry (albeit that the tone of the recording is more measured). This is my prayer.

I only had about 90 seconds for the prayer, so it’s shorter than I would like. Feel free to add your own ‘amen*’ (*I agree) if you find it helpful:

Heavenly Father – we bow the knee before you in worship and humility because you are God Almighty. And we bow the knee in prayerful solidarity with all who experience oppression and prejudice.

You create all people as equal, and you love all of us on this planet with an unfailing and limitless love so it must break your heart, as it breaks ours, when people are mistreated, abused, attacked and killed because of the colour of their skin or ethnicity.

We lament for George Floyd. His death is a terrible act. Yet it also represents the oppression of so many and our cry of lament merges with the shouts of people across the world against this evil.

Like Martin Luther King we have a dream that a world without racism is possible and we lament that 57 years later that dream has still not come true.

Holy Spirit shine your light of truth and love into the lives of those who hold racist views…

into governments and institutions…

into the public consciousness…

into your churches…

Shine your light of truth and love into our hearts…

…that we may recognise and root out prejudice and become a part of making that dream a reality. We pray that you will help us to see the positive steps we can take to combat racism and to affirm the dignity and humanity of every single person on this planet.

Amen?

Be blessed, be a blessing

replacement service

Image result for rail replacement busesHow frustrating do you find it if you have bought a train ticket and then find out that some or all of the journey is on a ‘rail replacement service’ – also known as a bus? Some operators have tried to introduce some levity to the situation by changing the electronic sign on the front of the bus from ‘Rail Replacement Service’ to ‘Choo choo I’m a train’.

The first time I saw a picture of that it made me smile. Perhaps it even calms down some of the more disgruntled passengers. But the levity does not change the reality of the situation: part or all of a paid-for rail journey has been replaced by a bus. Can you imagine how people would react if they turned up at an airport and found that a bus was waiting at the departure gate rather than their holiday flight to Spain?!

 

A while ago I found myself feeling stressed on a rail journey when part of it was replaced by buses. The railway station was crowded to overflowing with people who needed to get to their destination and the staff at the station were politely doing their best to direct them to different buses that were going to different places. A person in front of me verbally abused one of these staff members about how unacceptable it was. The railway employee looked shocked and somehow managed to utter an apology on behalf of the railway. As I passed the employee I tried to redress the balance by telling them how impressed I was with how well they were coping with the situation and how grateful I was that they were there to show us which buses to catch. The railway worker said thank you and I got on the bus. I heard others behind me trying to encourage her too.

On the onward journey I wondered whether the railway employee would remember the positive comments as much as she would the verbal assault. Human nature is such that we often remember critical comments more than we do positive ones. We can focus on negative things that are happening and forget to think about good things. Paul begins so many of his letters with thanks and praise to God for the people to whom he is writing. Even the heavy-duty correctional letters to the Corinthian churches start with thanks before he gets on to the business of trying to sort out the mess they have got themselves into. But how often do we skate past the ‘thanks’ sections almost as part of the prologue and get into the meat of the letters? Paul often writes how he always gives thanks for these people when he remembers them. He has an attitude of gratitude. And that must have included the difficult people!

In my first church I was asked to speak at the women’s group ‘Pleasant Monday Afternoon’ at their anniversary. The theme I was given was the line from the hymn “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” I wasn’t sure about it (it wasn’t a Bible verse and I was fresh out of Bible College and needed to show everyone that I could speak from the Bible). But I remember that as I pondered the theme I realised that it was an important one because of the human tendency to forget the blessings as we concentrate on the woes. Without wishing to diminish the significance or impact of some of the negative things we experience I would like to invite you to participate in an exercise: The next time you have time to spend with the Lord, why not count your blessings and name them one by one. Write them on a piece of paper. And use both sides if you need to. Offer thanks to the Lord in response to all that he has done for you. Keep that tucked in your Bible as a reminder.

Perhaps that way we can create a welcome gloom replacement service!

I leave you with two verses from the start of Psalm 9 that I think convey the same message:

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

light content

I am feeling levitatious (in need of levity) and my funny bone is feeling ticklish. So today I offer you a joke. I have told it before, but it’s a good one, especially if you can put yourself into the story…

A young girl was writing an essay for school and asked her father for help, “Dad, what is the difference between annoyance, anger and exasperation?”

The father picked up the telephone and dialled a number at random. A man who answered the phone and the father said, “Hello, is Melvin there?”

The man answered, “There is no one living here named Melvin. You’ve got the wrong number.”

The father said to his daughter, “That man was not happy with my call. I annoyed him. Now watch…”

The father hit the redial button. “Hello, is Melvin there?”

“Now look here!” came the heated reply. “You just called this number, and I told you that there is no Melvin here!” The receiver was slammed down hard.

The father turned to his daughter and said, “You see, that was anger. Now I’ll show you what exasperation is.”

He redialled the number, and a violent voice roared, “WHAT?”

The father calmly said, “Hello, this is Melvin. Have there been any calls for me?”

Be blessed, be a blessing and try not to exasperate anyone 🙂