dubious dates

datesNo, not that sort of dates.

And not romantic dates… or rather, yes, romantic dates but not that sort of date either.

Let me explain. The curmudgeonly part of me occasionally got a bit cynical about some of the anniversaries that are celebrated nowadays. There seems to have been a slide towards esoteric and trivial reasons to celebrate something. It used to be things that we would celebrate things like 100 years since someone’s birth or death; or 200 years since the founding of an organisation; or 50 years since a significant event.

But then it seemed to slither down that slippery slope towards the banal and we started celebrating every 25 years: 25, 50, 75, 175 and so on. And now we seem to be invited to celebrate any anniversary with a ‘0’ at the end – 10, 20, 90, and so on. Is it just me that thought that this is a bit much? Is it just me that cynically wondered whether it was more about marketing than celebrating?

But I have changed my mind about these dubious dates. You see I think we should take every possible opportunity to celebrate. In fact we shouldn’t even wait for a special anniversary, we should celebrate whenever we can and whatever we can.

Celebrate the fact that you woke up this morning (even if you felt under the weather).

Celebrate the person who last made you laugh or smile.

Celebrate the food that you most enjoy eating.

Celebrate what you appreciate about other people.

And so on.

And in celebrating we can also express gratitude – to the people around us who bless us, encourage us, serve us, love us and stand with us; to those who have gone before us in life who have helped to bring light and joy into the world; and, dare I suggest, to God who made us, loves us and wants to be involved positively in all aspects of our life in the same way that a good parent wants to encourage, bless, support and love their children, who has made himself known in Jesus and who is with us by his Spirit.

I have often written about having asking God’s Spirit to help me grow an attitude of gratitude but now I am also asking God’s Spirit to cultivate and integrate a desire to celebrate.

And that leads me to the romantic aspect of the dubious dates (and possibly where my wife will roll her eyes when she reads this). I am not going to get all mushy and soppy here but I have worked out that today is the 10,000th day since Sally and I got married! And that’s something to celebrate. I should point out that I have not been keeping a running score since the day we got married – I got the internet’s help in doing the calculation a couple of months ago.  I am not telling you to brag or boast, but in order to invite you to find something to celebrate: in the Bible we (in churches at least) are encouraged to rejoice with those who rejoice as well as weeping with those who weep.

So why not join me and seek God’s help to cultivate and integrate a desire to celebrate, and do so with an attitude of gratitude (and possibly a surfeit of rhymes!)?

Be blessed, be a blessing.

notice the astro-naughts*

20140901_132530I have just looked at my computer keyboard and noticed that there is an area on the space bar which has worn much more than the rest of it, and indeed is much more worn than any of the other keys. Hopefully you can see what I mean from the photo here. There is a shiny patch in the middle of the space bar, which contrasts with the matt finish on the rest of the space bar.

That observation led me to two thoughts:

Thought the first – I must hit the space bar in more or less the same place each time in order to wear out that section. If that is so, the space bar could be a lot shorter and not cause me any problems. Keyboard designers take note.

Thought the second – I must use ‘space’ more than any other key.

If the latter thought is true (and when I type every word is bracketed by spaces, so I can see how it could be true) then perhaps I ought to pay more attention to these spaces: withoutthemitwouldnotbesoeasytoworkoutindividualwordsandreadsentences. They are not just there for show, to decorate the text. They help to define what I write. And yet so often I overlook and ignore them.

This has reminded me that many people are like spaces. They are easily overlooked but are vitally important. They are the people we only notice when they are absent. In our church on Sundays we tend to forget those who run groups for our children and young people, those who welcome others, those who operate the sound and video desks, the musicians, those who serve our refreshments, those who set up for communion services, even the cleaner – until they are not there and we have to improvise or do things ourselves.

And the same is true in all aspects of life. There are astro-naughts* everywhere: who are the spacemen and spacewomen you have taken for granted already today? Who are the people to whom you did not give a second thought, who counted for naught?

Or maybe you’ve been a spaceman or spacewoman today? Do you feel like you are unnoticed, unappreciated, taken for granted?

I would like to suggest that we stop for a moment and think about those astronaughts* in our life. And let’s resolve to do a few things – let’s notice them, let’s thank God for them and pray a blessing on them, and let’s thank them personally too.

Be blessed, be a blessing

*Yes, I do know that the correct spelling is ‘astronaut’ – it’s another new word from the weird world of my brane.

And finally a joke that tickled me a lot when I first heard it (a long time ago).

What do you do if you see a spaceman?

You park in it, man.

the unwinner is…

red carpetSo the Academy has made its awards. Oscars have been given to the winners. The nominees who were not chosen have put on their best ‘I’m so pleased for the winner, it was an honour just to be nominated’ smiles. The speeches have been speeched, the thank-yous have been thanked, the tears have been shed. The after-parties have been attended, the interviews are over. Now the red carpet is being rolled up again and the hysteria is dying down.

This whole business of awards interests me. It is good to commend excellence. It is good to encourage. It is good to inspire people to do better. But where was the award for best cup of tea? Where was the award for most thoughtful word of encouragement? Where are the awards for the hundreds of names that scroll past our eyes at the end of a film (when we wait in case there’s an extra bit right at the end)? I would love to see an award for ‘Best Best Boy’!

I know you could say that the awards that are given include recognition for those who have worked behind the scenes but that’s a bit like posting a blanket ‘thank you’ on Facebook for all your Christmas presents rather than writing individual thank you cards or making personal phone calls.

So this bloggage is a reminder to me to make sure that I thank people. I don’t get it right all the time, and I am sorry for that. But as well as thanking the obvious people, I want to encourage us to thank the people who often go unnoticed, the people who may feel unappreciated, those who will never win an award: the unwinners.

And what’s the award? It’s a Wedogofase, which stands for ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. To all of the unwinners who have worked hard without thanks and without recognition I present you with a Wedogofase from God. I will try to present it to you personally.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

new year’s honours

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I have decided to trump the Queen and issue my own New Year’s Honours List, but issue them a day before hers are published.

Rather than identify particular people and risk missing some out or embarrassing others I have decided to offer honours in generic groups in the hope that you will be able to identify yourselves. Here are the awards which are all offered with my heartfelt gratitude:

MBE (Mates Being Encouraging) to friends who have sent me text messages and emails out of the blue that made me smile, feel warm and fuzzy or just loved.

CBE (Christians Blessing Endlessly) to the prayer activists in our church.

OBE (Occasional Blog Entrants) to anyone who has contributed to my bloggages either by commenting, or by being the subject of a bloggage.

Order of the Bath to those I helped to baptise this year.

Knighthoods to those who have ‘sirved’ diligently and inconspicuously.

Order of the Thistle to those with whom I have been prickly (and yet have graciously accepted my apology).

Order of the Garter to people who have upheld me in their prayers.

Life Peers – all of you who are my companions and peers in this journey of life – thank you and bless you!

Be blessed, be a blessing