A whisper in the wind

Man jumping over 2013Time flies! Everyone I speak to feels that the years are passing faster than ever. A few months ago 2012 was only just beginning, and now it’s nearly over! Here in the UK this year we’ve celebrated Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games and ‘enjoyed’ the wettest summer for 100 years. In Europe scientists announced the discovery of the elusive Higgs Boson particle, and the Costa Concordia cruise ship found itself at the centre of one of Italy’s worst maritime disasters. In Asia there’s been severe flooding in the Philippines, and Xi Jinping became the new Chinese leader. In the Middle East there have been worries over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the tragic Syrian civil war and a few miles further south nearly 800 Gazan rockets were fired into Israel in 2012 before Israel finally responded in November. Superstorm Sandy brought death and destruction in the Caribbean, before going on to wreak havoc in the north-eastern states of the USA. Over New Mexico Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, made the highest and fastest jump in history from a helium balloon at an altitude of 128,100 feet.

Much has happened in a relatively short time – including many other important events, but that’s not always the case for us all. If we’re not careful time can quickly fly by with little being achieved. How was 2012 for you? Did you manage to accomplish as much as you’d hoped? Unless we take stock of our time it will quickly slip through our fingers. 3,000 years ago King David wrote, “Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is. … My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; certainly, everyone alive is like a whisper in the wind.” (Psalm 39:4-5)

In the light of eternity we are here for a relatively short time – “a whisper in the wind”, so the beginning of a new year is a good time to think about our priorities in life. The time quickly comes when we can look back twenty, thirty, even forty years over our adult life, and realise that we can’t change our past and that our future is shorter than it once was. So 2013 offers us a whole new start to make the most of our time, by reassessing our priorities and making the most of every opportunity. As Moses once prayed, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. … So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a wise heart.” (Psalm 90:4, 12)

I hope that 2013 will be a blessed year for you, a year when you accomplish your goals yet find time to rest, when your priorities are ones that you’ll look back on with gladness, and, whatever your situation, may God be your guide. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Why, oh why?

a Christmas wreath

It’s with hearts tinged with sadness that we draw closer to Christmas. We were all shocked by yesterday’s tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut when, after killing his mother, a lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School and shot 26 people dead, including 20 children. Our sympathies go out very much to the bereaved families. Dannel Malloy, the state governor, said yesterday, “We’ll do whatever we can to overcome this event.” But how can something like this be overcome, how can good come out of something so evil?

Darrell Scott’s 17 year-old daughter Rachel was the first student to be killed at the Columbine High School shootings in 1999. Speaking yesterday to Fox News Darrell said, “We made a choice not to be angry or bitter, but to celebrate Rachel’s life.” In memory of Rachel he set-up a foundation called “Rachel’s Challenge”. It has seen seven school shootings and over 500 suicides prevented through its work. It’s website describes it as “a series of student empowering programs and strategies … to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion. The programs are based on the writings and life of Rachel Scott. … Rachel left a legacy of reaching out to those who were different, who were picked on by others, or who were new at her school. Shortly before her death she wrote, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same. People will never know how far a little kindness can go.””

Rachel’s father Darrell went on to say, “The answers are long term. They’re not just a knee-jerk reaction on gun control or more laws, … but we have got to be a kinder nation. We have got to take time to listen to one another, to love one another, to be role models to these kids.”

As Peter, a follower of Jesus, once wrote: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:8-9)

This is not just true for American society, but for us all. For the sake of our children, our world needs to wake up and look at the society that we have created. For instance, there is a movie currently being promoted in the UK about a serial killer. How can this be entertainment? We need to question what motivates us as a society; but most of all we need to show love, acceptance and encouragement to our young people, that they might grow up as a loving and integrated community, from which no one will feel excluded. Who knows the difference we personally can make this Christmas? As Rachel wrote: No one knows “how far a little kindness can go.”

To read one Sandy Hook mum’s story click here.

What’s it all about?

Bored man in Christmas hat

The stores have been full of Christmas goods for weeks; you’ve probably heard more than enough of ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’; your bank account is probably looking rather forlorn and the children’s excitement will soon be nearing fever-pitch. Enough already! In some countries of course, Christmas comes and goes almost unnoticed, as Christmas presents, or even a proper meal and a roof over one’s head, are only a dream. What’s the point of Christmas?

For others, Christmas is a magical time, the food, the presents and the opportunity to relax and indulge make Christmas the highlight of the year, but is that all there is to Christmas?

Before you give up on Christmas altogether, take a quick look at this video of ‘Christmas in a Nutshell’. In 1 minute 59 seconds it gives us the answer to “Why Christmas?” So when Christmas Day comes and goes, the presents are all unwrapped, the alcohol drunk, and you think what was that all about, you will have learnt the secret, not just of Christmas, but of life itself. Take a look!