1 John 4: Love never brings fear

Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection.

1 John 4:18, The Passion Translation

Rosa Parks

Today is the birthday of Rosa Parks.

On the 1st of December 1955, Rosa Parks’ polite refusal to give up her bus seat sparked a protest movement that changed the United States of America.

Rosa’s journey that Thursday began like many others. She finished work, boarded a bus home, and sat just behind the seating reserved for Caucasian passengers. After a few stops, the bus began to fill up. When the driver saw a white man standing, he told Rosa, and three other African Americans, to give up their seats.

Rosa refused.

The police arrived and told Mrs Parks that if she didn’t move, she would be arrested. Rosa defied cultural, legal and social pressure by responding, ‘You may do that.’

Inspired by Rosa’s arrest, the Montgomery bus boycott began and lasted more than a year. This simple act of non-violent protest attracted national attention and set into motion a change in the law of the land.

Sharing her memories of that famous day to the Academy of Achievement’s 1995 gathering in Virginia, USA, Rosa Parks said, ‘As I look back on those days, it’s just like a dream and the only thing that bothered me was that we waited so long to make this protest, and to let it be known that wherever we go, all of us should be free and equal and should have all opportunities that others should have.’

Rosa was influenced by her mother, a school teacher, who passionately believed in the equal value of all people. She was also close to her grandparents, who were born before slavery was abolished in the US. So when faced with her own decision to comply with what was legal but deeply morally wrong, or to defy authority and stand up (or in this case, stay seated) for what was just and right, the answer seemed inevitable.

Rosa, with the history and passions of generations behind her, chose justice for herself, and for all African Americans.

What is the legacy of my family? Lord, please show me what compassion, respect and justice I can take forward from generations past, as well as what injustices or prejudices I can break away from.

What people groups are oppressed in my nation today? Who does not experience the same freedom, respect or opportunities as others? Lord, I ask You to fight for them. Show me how to pray and act to improve their lives.

The author Parker J. Palmer wrote: ‘You and I may not have Rosa Park’s particular battle to fight… But if the Rosa Parks story is to help us discern our own vocations, we must see her as the ordinary person she is. That will be difficult to do because we have made her into super-woman – and we have done it to protect ourselves. If we can keep Rosa Parks in a museum as an untouchable icon of truth, we will remain untouchable as well: we can put her up on a pedestal and praise her, world without end, never finding ourselves challenged by her life.’

These are challenging words. Many issues of injustice seem too big for me to tackle. What difference can little old me make to human trafficking, the exploitation of factory workers in developing countries, or the fatal effects of climate change in some nations? Some injustices are so overwhelming that I do nothing, because I can’t do everything.

When Rosa Parks made the brave decision to stay seated, I doubt she knew the domino effect it would have. She made the choice in front of her – she made the stand she could. God used that decision to bring the civil rights movement to the attention of her nation.

Lord, I confess that I sometimes allow the enormity of injustice to paralyse me. Today, Holy Spirit, show me the choices that have the power to make a difference – no matter how seemingly small. Guide me as I read, shop, pray, work and more. Show me the battle You want me to fight to see Your kingdom come and Your will be done for all people.

Carla Harding, Lectio 365.

Continue reading “Rosa Parks”

Be Thou My Vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art –
Thou my best thought, by day or by night;
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be Thou My Vision, by Eleanor Hull

Image by UCB.

Explore tomorrow: A New Beginning with Worship

Tomorrow Explore continues our bright series with A New Beginning with Worship. Singing on Sunday morning is a part of worship, what else is worship?  The Bible encourages us to worship all the time.  Colin helps us consider what freedom looks like.  11.15am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.

Geraldine Vermaak: Being rude and being kind

Being rude is easy. It does not take any effort and is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Kindness shows great self-discipline and strong self-esteem. Being kind is not always easy when dealing with rude people. Kindness is a sign of a person who has done a lot of personal work and has come to a great self-understanding and wisdom. Choose to be kind rather than be right and you’ll be right every time because kindness is a sign of strength.

I really can’t stand rude people. If I am not being rude to you, what’s the point of the stink attitude. Some of you lack simple manners.

I’ve never understood why someone would go out of the way to hurt people by being rude. It takes little to be nice, isn’t it?

You are only hurting yourself if you are being rude and unkind; it might not come back to you immediately or in the way you dished it out; but when it boomerangs back at you, it surely comes back in its own different shape and sizes. Treat people the way you want to be treated. This is the only most important lesson in life, primarily to that: Loving God, all the rest is just commentary.

Geraldine Vermaak

1 Corinthians 8: Not really learning

Knowledge puffs you up with pride, but love builds up. If you think you know something, you do not yet know anything as you should.

1 Corinthians 8 vv. 1, 2.

I’ve been enjoying listening to the Gravity Leadership Podcast.  One episode stated:

‘The goal of our discipleship is not moral perfection or cognitive certitude.  The goal of discipleship is divine union.  Neither airtight theological systems nor perfect behavior are the goal of our salvation.  Salvation is being invited to participate in the life of the Trinity, and thus our growth in discipleship involves moving toward more active and intentional participation in that life.’

Do you know people whose goal seems to be know more information to make themselves feel better when speaking to others?  They’re not really learning if the result if they puff themselves up rather than grow in love.

Image from alittleperspective.com.


Psalm 23: The comfort of your love takes away my fear

The Lord is my best friend and my shepherd.
I always have more than enough.
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.
Lord, even when your path takes me through
the valley of deepest darkness,
fear will never conquer me, for you already have!
You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.
Your authority is my strength and my peace.
The comfort of your love takes away my fear.
I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.
You become my delicious feast
even when my enemies dare to fight.
You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit;
you give me all I can drink of you until my heart overflows.
So why would I fear the future?
For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life.
Then afterward, when my life is through,
I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!

Psalm 23, The Passion Translation