Love in a Glove (Ros' Blog)
I was told something rather lovely yesterday morning when I went to pick my daughter up from her residential care home to take her to church. Apparently the home recently had a knock at the door. It was a lady whom they recognised as a neighbour. She said, “I live nearby, and I see your residents going up and down outside, and I've counted and there are six of them so - here - I've knitted six pairs of gloves.”
The six of them were allowed to choose their own gloves from the six pairs and my daughter chose a bright blue pair with a pale green pattern. She wore them very proudly when we went out in the car, and was happy to put them on again at the end of the day. Aren’t people kind? I’m going to help her write a thank you note.
Such a small incident, a little act of kindness but it set me thinking. To look at the news, or social media, you could be forgiven for thinking the world is going to hell in a handcart. And some things are bad, it’s true. The welfare of disabled people is all but disregarded by officialdom, and disability hate crime has risen exponentially in recent years. And yet at the heart of our communities are generous people who notice others, who know they can’t change the world but don’t let that put them off making a difference in whatever way they can.
As Mother Theresa once said, the important thing is not to do great things, but to do small things with great love. For those who live with disability it can be hard to dismiss the harsh realities of life – the battle for disability benefits, the removal of the Independent Living Fund with its devastating consequences for so many, the loss of essentials like Motability cars. And yet this small incident of kindness has reminded me of some words of the apostle Paul.
He, too, lived in a time of hardship. The church faced persecution and even death on every hand. Paul described his own experiences very vividly in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”
And yet even in the middle of all this, he could also write, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Paul had learned, even in the throes of terrible things happening, to seek out and focus on the good. He was filling his mind with things that were uplifting, not with the pains and privations of his daily life. In doing so he found the ability to be a wonderful role model for others, and learned to function from a deep well of peace within. What a great way to live. I know that adopting this mindset doesn’t alter my circumstances but I have seen it radically alter how I cope with them. How could this work for you?
BSL Summer School
'Signs of God' are running a Summer School from the 13th – 19th August at the Innovation Centre, Telford. It's open to people with BSL Level 1 or above and offers 6 days of teaching on BSL, Deaf culture, presentation/interpreting skills, theology, biblical contexts.
The course costs £695 (There's a small bursary fund – closing date 28th Feb 2018 - contact Signs of God to find out more).
For further information, and to book in, visit www.signsofgod.org.uk, or telephone 07985 170845.
A Roofbreaker Guide to Disability Benefits Applications and Appeals
A Roofbreaker Guide to Disability benefits applications and appealsWe feel it would be a great asset to churches if they had someone who could steer disabled people through the minefield that is the benefits claim. So we have put together some helpful information about claiming benefits, and about how the system works, to equip you to help in this area. And because we are not ourselves a financially regulated organisation and so legally cannot give financial advice, we have included information to point you to other organisations who can give you more detailed advice, information and training if this would be useful to you. Please download a copy, and let us know how you end up using it. It's a PDF file - please let us know if you'd prefer a different format.
- A Roofbreaker Guide to Disability benefits applications and appeals (All information correct as of 3rd January 2018)
Easy Access Church in Ewell
You're all invited to 'EACh' (Easy Access Church, a place where all are welcomed, included and encouraged), a new event run with Churches Together in Ewell.
A short church service especially geared for those with disabilities but open to all - followed by refreshments.
The first 'EACh' service will be on Sunday 28th January 2018 at 3PM at All Saints Church Hall, Fulford Road West Ewell, KT19 9QY.
All are welcome – please share this with anyone in the area who might be interested.
The next event will be on Sun 25 March 2018,
Everyone is also invited to a similar service at St Peters Woodmansterne (SM7 3NR) 3pm on Sunday 18/2/18
To find out more, please contact <A HREF="mailto:email@example.com" TITLE="follow this link to email Paula Smith">Paula Smith</A> 0208 337 2957 or 07702421345
God’s New Year Resolution for you (Ros' Blog)
Shortly before Christmas, prompted by an Advent sermon, I started to read my way through Psalms, something I used to do regularly but hadn’t done for a while. By a happy coincidence, I reached Psalm 12 on New Year’s Day, and my first Bible reading of the year read like God’s New Year Resolution:
“‘For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now I will arise,’ says the Lord; ‘I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.’ The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.”
I hope these words fill you with confidence for the future. Maybe you are included in “the sighing of the needy”. Perhaps your body won’t do the things you’d like it to do, or your horizons are limited because it isn’t easy for you to get out. Maybe you’re trapped in a relationship that has become unsafe, and you can’t see any way out. Perhaps you are tormented by guilt over something and long to find peace for your conscience. Or… fill in the blanks… there are many kinds of “needy” that can give rise to sighing.
Perhaps you fit better into that category, “the oppression of the poor”. You don’t have to be party political to acknowledge that austerity policies have hit disabled people harder than any other group in this country. I have seen disabled friends fall apart with fear and anxiety just at the sight of a form from the DWP landing on their doormat. Perhaps you have been one of them. Maybe you have lost your disability benefits or, like 900 people a week, your Motability car. Perhaps you are mustering your courage to appeal against a benefit decision you know to be unjust and unfair. Maybe you just want to work but employers won’t look beyond your condition and give you the chance to prove yourself.
If any of this describes you, then be assured that God has not overlooked what you’re going through. He promises to arise on your behalf and bring you to the place of safety for which you yearn. Many politicians have made promises they either had no intention of keeping or were unable to keep. But look what this Psalm tell us about God’s promises: His words are purer than seven times purified silver. They are no fleeting promises, spoken today and forgotten tomorrow. Three thousand years ago David wrote this beautiful song, to be performed on an eight-stringed instrument, and in its lyrics he declared that God’s words would be preserved “from this generation forever”.
And here we are, three millennia later, still proving God’s faithfulness. David was right, God’s words have been preserved from that generation until now, and they have lost none of their power. He is still keeping His promises. So no matter how you find yourself at the beginning of this New Year, rest in the assurance that God’s New Year resolution is to guide you into a place of safety and He will not let the things that oppress you have the final victory. Happy New Year, and in the words of the Apostle Paul, grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.