humbled and blessed

Stew with some of the cards, letters and creativity
Stew with some of the cards, letters and creativity

Yesterday I was given a large plastic bag. It contained lots and lots of cards and pictures and letters that children from a local school had made to say ‘thank you’ to Stew the Rabbit (and me) for supporting the school during my time at the church, especially the Assemblies.

I was blessed and encouraged by the time that they had spent making the cards, drawing the pictures and writing the letters. I was blessed and encouraged by the kind ‘we’ll miss you’ messages – some were even for me rather than Stew!

But most of all I was humbled and blessed by those who had thanked me for telling them about Jesus. That’s the main reason I went and it was so wonderful that they had recognised this and appreciated it.

The church will continue to support and bless that school, but those children who wrote and drew and created had no idea how much they have blessed me. Stew will be writing a thank you note back!

It reminded me of how important it is to say ‘thank you’ and how much something we might perceive as a simple act can multiply in impact in the life of the person on the receiving end.

Be blessed, be a blessing

specific searches

I have been looking for a new member of the family. It’s nothing as noble or significant as adoption or fostering, I have been looking for another puppet. After Stew the Rabbit’s close encounter of the inky kind the deacons at the church I have just left kindly gave me a gift with instructions to find a new puppet friend.

So I have looked online and have found someone. He’s on his way now, and I may well introduce you when he arrives. But while I was looking online I decided to see if there was any possibility of getting a new ‘Stew’ puppet. I searched in every possible way I could for the puppet, using the manufacturer’s name and code, the name they sold him under and even a description and there was nothing. Just the gentle hiss of static electricity as the internet looked blankly back at me. So I am now going to see if I can give Stew the Rabbit a bit of a clean up as he’s a bit grubby after about 19 years of use. But he’s not going in the washing machine, even if I tell him there’s carrots in there!

frustratedAfter I had given up looking for an exact replacement bunny I wondered what would happen if I put the words ‘stew the rabbit’ into my search engine. It was not pleasant. Rabbit stew recipes everywhere! Then I wondered what would happen if I put ‘”Stew the Rabbit”‘ (in quotation marks) into the search engine and lo and behold mention of him on this blog was the one of the first things that came up! And if I did an image search with the same subject a picture of him was on the first page! Stew the Rabbit is not famous but “Stew the Rabbit” is!

It’s amazing the difference that those quotation marks made. To the computer they made the difference between searching for occurrences of the words stew and rabbit (it ignores the ‘the’) in any order, leading it to find all sorts of ways to cook a rabbit (I hope Stew never googles his name!); and searching for Stew the Rabbit exactly as it is written, leading the computer to find the little white bunny.

I wonder whether in our praying we ought to be as precise? I don’t mean putting ‘air quotes’ around our prayers. What I mean is that sometimes we can be a bit general – God bless all those who are persecuted for their faith, feed all the hungry people in the world, stop the spread of Ebola. I am sure God hears and honours those prayers but they are so general that we may never see the answer to those prayers. However, if we are more specific the easier it will be for us to see the results. That does mean that we need to do a bit of research, finding out about people and their needs, but I believe that if we do we will be encouraged by how we see God at work. And our praying may be more meaningful to us because we will be praying about people not just issues. (Do pray for the big stuff too!).

Don’t think that you will always get what you pray for – God’s not a spiritual slot machine where if you put in enough prayers you get what you want – but you will see evidence of God’s will being done and his kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

severing the ties

20141021_112126 (2)Earlier this week Stew the Rabbit and I took some assemblies in a local primary school. It was our last visit.

Stew had decided that he wanted to perform a magic trick and had come across a trick where it looks like you have cut someone’s tie in half and then restore it. So he invited the Head of the Upper School to come and help.

Between the two of us he wielded a large pair of scissors and proceeded to cut the tie in half… the children thought it was hilarious that the teacher’s tie had been cut in half.

They thought it was even funnier when Stew confessed that he had not read all of the instructions. He had only read as far as ‘cut the tie’. So we were left with a severed tie.

To give Stew his credit he did apologise and I forgave him (which was the theme I was trying to get across). But I also made the point that if you are trying to do something for the first time it is worth reading all of the instructions.

Yes, I know that blokes have an innate sense of how everything works and that we don’t need instructions, but Stew’s experience suggests otherwise.

It puzzles me how many people have only read a little or nothing of the Bible yet claim to know all about it and all about God. Severed ties anyone?

Be blessed, be a blessing

blessed by a bunny

>what do I do?This morning I was taking two Primary School assemblies with my trusty side-kick. We were asked to talk about compassion so Stew the Rabbit (left) and I told a version of the Good Samaritan where Stew responded graciously and compassionately when he came across Bonnie the Bunny (who had bullied him by calling him names, pushing him in puddles and taking his carrots (brilliantly loud gasp of horror from the children at the taking of carrots – they know how much Stew loves carrots!)) after she had fallen off her bike and hurt herself. Her friends had left her and her sister couldn’t cope with the sight of blood so it was left to Stew the Rabbit to save the day.

I was tempted to twist the story further than Jesus did by having Stew ignore her too, or even stand there laughing. I might have done that if it was a church setting, but as I reckoned most of the children would not know the story I kept it conventionally unconventional and Stew wrapped a handkerchief around her leg, helped her up and pushed her bike home while she hopped beside him.

At the start I asked the children to think whether what Stew did was good. At the end I asked them, and was surprised that in the Assembly for the older children some of them said, “No!” It seems that they felt that Stew should not have been kind, gracious, compassionate and forgiving but should have taken his revenge.

Now the story really came alive!

At the start of the second Assembly the teacher leading it introduced how they were finishing their current theme that week. I imagined she would say ‘compassion’ but it turned out that the theme was ‘courage’!

So I quickly adapted the story and emphasised that Stew was frightened of Bonnie the Bunny (and presumably her sidekick Clyde) and how it had taken real courage for him to stop and help her.

And then it struck me. The story of the Good Samaritan is about loving your neighbour, but it is also about courage. It is about having the courage to do what you know is right in the face of danger (the thieves could have been hiding, it could have been a trap); it is about having the courage to overcome prejudice and fear with love and compassion; it is about having the courage to set aside your priorities and risk being out of pocket or having to change your schedule to help those in need.

So Stew the Rabbit taught me a lot today as well.

May God give us all the courage to do what he wants even if we are afraid of the consequences. May God give us all the courage to see our own prejudices and fears and act despite them rather than because of them. May God give us all the courage to prioritise the needs of others rather than ourselves.

Be blessed, be a blessing.