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Posts by Andy Redfern
As someone who is perpetually exhausted, my bed is one of my favourite places. Surprisingly, that is not the rest I am talking of today.
Let’s consider some of the best known words in the Bible
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23:1-3)
“Really? As if? When would I have time for that? Five children and husband to keep house for, lots of friends to support and spend time with, writing projects on the go, church activities to fit in….when have I got time to lie down in green pastures and be led beside quiet waters? You’ve got to be joking. Anyway, keeping busy is what matters in life, doing good things for God, using my time and resources wisely and effectively. How guilty would I feel if I took time to sit down, to be quiet? And what would everyone else think of me? I’d soon be labelled as the lazy one around here.”
What can you hear? Bitterness and resentment? Fear and paranoia? Duty and responsibility?
But when I read the words of Psalm 23, I actually want to cry. When I sing “Rest, my soul, in Christ alone”, a yearning wells up inside me – to rest, to let out a big sigh, to relax in the presence of God. When I hear Jesus say “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), I desire to do just that.
I’ve just been to my weekly Pilates class, which is my opportunity to focus for one hour a week on getting my body back into alignment after a week of misuse, overuse and bad posture. One session a week is not enough of course, but it does just enough to leave me physically restored and refreshed and to remind me of the importance of looking after my body.
So wouldn’t it be good to set aside an hour a week to sit in the garden contemplating the breeze in the trees or to go for a walk by the stream in the nearby woods (WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY)? This could be my opportunity to focus for an hour a week on getting my soul back into alignment with my Creator after a week of emotional struggles and spiritual exhaustion. One session a week would not be enough, of course, but maybe it would do just enough to leave me spiritually restored and refreshed and to remind me of the importance of looking after my soul.
So make me lie down in green pastures.
Please lead me beside quiet waters.
Restore my soul.
And then my yearning will be satisfied.
Tears will no longer sting my eyes.
Then the Lord will be my shepherd and I shall not be in want.
With five children with the most varied abilities and emotional needs imaginable, the sibling rivalry displayed in our home knows no bounds.
Especially on a Monday morning.
Imagine our joy when our nine year old son who developed a fear of ghosts at Christmas and has not slept alone since, slept through the night alone last night in his own bed.
Imagine how proud he was to announce to the family that Mum and Dad had had their first night together in their own bed in four months.
Imagine his excitement when the incentive of buying a new puffle (think Club Penguin) finally became a reality
And then imagine the rage of his younger sister –
“It’s not fair. I sleep in my own bed every night and you never buy me a puffle. I go to bed nicely. I let you shut the door. I even sometimes let you turn the light off. You never give me anything for all that. Why should he get a puffle and not me? It’s so not fair.”
She’s spoiling the moment. She’s ruining the celebration. I start to get angry.
And then I remember the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Her reaction is just like the older brother –
“It’s not fair. I do everything you ask of me and you never throw a party like this for me. I work hard. I behave appropriately. I don’t waste your money. You never give me anything at all. Why should he get a party and not me? It’s so not fair.”
So I try the loving parent line –
“ Come here to me. You know that I love you. You know how much I appreciate you going to bed nicely. This is something that your brother finds really hard and today, we are celebrating his achievement with him. There are other things that you find really hard and when you achieve them, I will celebrate with you too. So today, be happy for him if you can.”
And actually, I’m not just saying the right words. I really, really mean it. I do love her and look forward to celebrating with her too. And that’s how God is with us. When I’m jealous of the person giving the talk at the front of church or wish it was me who had been healed by God, I need to remember this story too.
And when the two older ones get in from secondary school later, this parable will be replayed. I received a postcard from the school this morning praising my daughter for her outstanding work in PE recently which is great as she struggles to apply herself to her work in any subject. But when I celebrate this achievement with her, I know that my son will go mad –
“What are you praising her for? I work hard in every lesson. I get good results all the time. And what do you give me?”
The Bible brought to life by me and my dysfunctional family.
I love it.
Body Matters is a series of eight sessions on the body of Christ for children aged 5 to 11, followed by an all-age celebration.
|Download the first session for free|
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This series was written for use in the Sunday School of my local Anglican church in Lobley Hill, Gateshead. There were three leaders, each playing a different role, and about twenty children each week. Some of the material was delivered to the whole group and for some of the time, the children were divided into smaller groups for age-appropriate activities. The objective was to teach the children the Bible truths found in Paul’s letters about the body of Christ by pretending to be a sports team with a team coach, a team physiotherapist and a team sports psychologist.
This material could easily be adapted for any size group, geared towards a particular age within the range and delivered by any number of leaders. You will need to tailor the material to the group that you have, but there is plenty of variety and choices of activities to pick and choose from.
This material is best delivered within the context of a Sports Clinic. The hall should be decorated with anatomy- and sports- related posters and objects. There are three different sports professionals named in the material and they should be dressed in a medical uniform (white coat or blue tunic) or sports and fitness gear. They should treat the children as part of a team.
If these are to be served at some stage throughout the session, it would be great if they could be healthy drinks and snacks – water or fruit juice and fruit / raisins / cereal bars.
At our church at the end of the eight sessions, we held an all-age service for all the Church family. The children could bring their parents along and there was a presentation, all-age worship and an insight for the adults into what the children had been doing and learning about. The order of service is available as an idea for use by you in your church.
|Buy all 8 weeks for just £10. Pay via PayPal and we will email you the final version in Word and PDF formats.|
Welcome back to the relaunched Fools4Christ. Over the next few weeks we are going to be working hard on launching a wide variety of free and paid materials. So whatever your work in the church you will find useful resources to help you. The first raft of materials will be aimed at working with young people in groups.