Drain away your problems

Do you ever feel there is a build-up of problems in your life and you would really benefit from a fresh start without just ignoring your reality?

Sadly, I cannot offer you a magic way to solve your problems – although I do believe in a God who can do anything.

More often though, God does not work by removing our problems but moulding us as we face them! I have however, found ways that help me find strength to face the problems and realities that come my way.

Our garden is in a part of Burpham that has a very high water table; that is the water in the ground is close to the surface. The result of this is that parts of the garden are always boggy, even in the summer, and when it rains a lot parts of the garden become pools of water! It is the same with our problems – if they keep building up our lives get boggy, or even flooded, and then it is difficult to have hope or to see a way forward. 

The way we dealt with this problem in our garden was to put in what are called land drains. These are pipes which have holes in the sides and are laid just below the lawn surface, allowing water to soak into the pipes and then to be carried away from the lawn to a stormwater drain. These underground land drains are constantly at work draining the water away, so the garden now only gets boggy when it rains very heavily, and even then it does not last long.

Create a regular way to release the anxious thoughts and worries of everyday life so there is no build-up when a ‘storm’ comes!

So, I am suggesting this is a good approach in the rest of our lives too.  Creating a regular way to release the anxious thoughts and worries of everyday life so there is no build-up when a ‘storm’ comes! How can we do this? Well, people have different ways including meditation, exercise and reading but they all involve setting real time aside daily. For me as a Christian, I spend time daily in prayer. The real advantage of prayer is that I am speaking to someone (God) who loves me so much He is longing to listen and carry my worries for me.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanks-giving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

With every blessing
Revs James Levasier
james@burphamchurch.org.uk

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

 

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Courage to rebuild!

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions, are you looking forward to putting 2020 behind you and getting on with life as ‘normal’? Perhaps this year it’s going to be a little more challenging than usual.

The New Year is often an opportunity to start fresh and never have we needed that more than after the year of 2020!

What a difficult year, in so many ways, it has been for so many of us! There lies the problem, that most of us are tired and in need of a good rest. Our aim for 2021 might be simply to be able to keep going in our relationships, keep going mentally or keep going financially.

If we can find that elusive thing, ‘courage’, there is an opportunity ahead of us to build something better in 2021 than what we had before.

I don’t know how you feel about heights, but for those who feel a little cautious, imagine a narrow bridge across a deep valley. You need to cross to the other side, but the bridge is long, it’s a very long way down and you do not feel safe! Somehow you need to find the courage to cross over.

If we can find that elusive thing, ‘courage’, there is an opportunity ahead of us to build something better in 2021 than what we had before. One dictionary definition of courage is: strength in the face of pain or grief. So, the first place we discover courage is in acknowledging our own pain and grief for whatever 2020 brought. We need to be willing to face our troubles and realities, however unfair they might seem.

Very few of us can do that on our own, we need help from those who love us or those professionals who understand how to get people through problems. But asking for help can be difficult! Perhaps that’s the thing we most need courage for in 2021.

As a Christian, I live with the knowledge that God promises to be with me at all times, which brings me extraordinary courage to face whatever life brings. Here is one of God’s promises I am holding onto for 2021:

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

With every blessing
Revs James Levasier
james@burphamchurch.org.uk

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

 

What is it that you feel you need right now?

In a world that seems to be becoming more uncertain and more polarised by the minute, it is hard to know where life is going and what lies ahead.

I can’t ever remember a time when the future of the whole world seemed so up in the air. It feels like we are only one small step away from complete global chaos. Perhaps that sounds over dramatic, but as COVID restrictions continue to build once again here in the UK it is the experience of many people who simply don’t know what to do and where to turn.

You might be the kind of person who is brilliant at rolling with the punches – you might have taken 2020 in your stride, or you might be someone who is metaphorically hiding under the duvet and will only emerge when everything seems “normal” again, whatever that might be.

Our church community has been hugely impacted just like everyone else. We’d love to meet again freely. We’d like to shake hands and hug! We’d like to sit next to people. We’d like to sing in a big group – well most of us would anyway!! Our current situation is strange and uncomfortable. It’s tempting just to complain about all the things we can’t do and how annoying and difficult it is to manage with the restrictions.

And yet… And yet, there are many things that we can do. We can meet online, we can meet in person in groups of up to six. About 35 people can meet in our building for worship. And that means that there are so many things we can do. I don’t know about you, but it’s taken me a while to stop thinking about all the things I CAN’T do, and start focusing on the new things I CAN do!

We’d love to meet again freely. We’d like to shake hands and hug! We’d like to sit next to people. We’d like to sing in a big group – well most of us would anyway!!

When we were building the new extension on our building in 2013, it was a safety requirement that we had to put some markings on the glass of our foyer windows and doors. The architects suggested some designs or symbols. We chose to write…

love hope peace joy faith

…around our building. Those words convey something that God offers to us at all times and in all situations, even in the chaos and insanity of 2020. Maybe they feel like impossible things for you right now, but it is my firm belief that we can discover these things for ourselves today whatever difficulties and wrestles we face.

As we move towards the Christmas period perhaps you will feel the pull of what Jesus offers as recalled in the Christmas Carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’.

Please do contact us directly if you would like us to help you discover these things for yourself in these difficult times. We’d love to connect whether in person or online!

With every blessing
Revs James & Jo Levasier
james@burphamchurch.org.uk
jo@burphamchurch.org.uk

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

 

Keep going and finish well

In a video about Special Forces it said their selectors didn’t choose the muscle-bound, super-fit or great leaders but those who could keep going when it was really difficult!

As rules about lockdown are changing all the time, the novelty of a different lifestyle has gone and reality of the financial or practical difficulties start to really bite, our real challenge still lies ahead: the challenge to keep going with hope.

I have shared before that I choose to run marathons to challenge myself. I have run two in the last month: one along the North Devon coastline and the other in circuits around a school field in Guildford! The second should have not been so hard, but when I got to around 22 miles I started to really struggle. However, I have learnt to take my eyes off the current struggle and focus on finishing the race. This way I have ‘hope to finish’ rather than losing hope in my current difficulties.

I guess we all need to find way to cope and keep going: it may look different for each one of us and may not come naturally to us. We need to decide before we get to our challenges to keep going whatever happens! What do you do or to whom do you go, to keep going and finish well in times of challenge?

As a Christian I know that God is always with me and loves me, so I look to Him. I know I will become stronger when I go through a difficult time with God and come out the other side. There are some verses in the Bible which use running as an analogy to encourage us to keep going and not lose heart because God has been there Himself already!

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition…, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12:1-2

Rev James Levasier

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

 

Permission to feel helpless!

One of the positive things I have noticed come out of this difficult time is people being more willing to own up to feeling helpless and asking for help.

It felt to me that our society demanded that we are strong in every area of our lives, your job, your hobbies, your friends, your finances, your health, your diet and your families.

Because none of us are strong in every area, and certainly not all the time, we feel the need to put on a mask and cover up our weaknesses. Social media is the platform this is often seen in. One person was sharing how they took two hours to put on makeup for a single photo to post, only to take it all off once the photo was taken! Another person told me recently how their beliefs about the world would not be accepted so they lived on their own and never talked about these beliefs and struggles.

Because none of us are strong in every area, and certainly not all the time, we feel the need to put on a mask and cover up our weaknesses.

Many of us are feeling helpless in our lives for different reasons but fear of rejection, not being accepted or even punished means we never tell our truth or ask for help. Our world being turned upside down by this pandemic has changed this a little. Needing help has become a little more acceptable. The mask has been removed a little. There is one mother I know who often posts her real, daily parenting struggles and it is so refreshing to us all.

As a Christian, I love that Jesus meets and accepts us in our mess and the reality of our lives. I used to think you had to look good for God, but the opposite is true – God is saddened when I pretend. Even better, when I own up that I am lost, God offers to be my shepherd and lead me to a better place.

“When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:36

Rev James Levasier

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

Just keep going

In 1939 at the start of WW2 nearly 2.5 million posters saying “Keep Calm and Carry On” were printed by the British Government. On my mother’s side, she and her family were captured and interned in a concentration camp, so ‘keeping calm’ was a difficult option and ‘carrying on’ their old life not an option! A better expression for them became, ‘Just keep going’.

In has been interesting listening to people who were so ready to take on the challenge of lockdown. Someone who worked at the hospital said there was lots of energy for the challenge ahead. Parents had creative ideas for engaging their children over the Easter holidays and then the Summer term. Those who were now working from home were so busy adapting to a new working environment that there was no time to reflect on their usual conditions. Some who had lost jobs or are in new financial position were using their energy to improve their situation.

The reality of the difficulties is now beginning to take its toll on us all. Some hospital workers are now getting very tired. Children are struggling to stay engaged still at home. One person who works from home was saying how energy-sapping one Zoom meeting after another, after another was to his day. The financial reality for others is beginning to bite as savings run out. While our home has not caught the virus, some of our friends and family have now.

This virus situation is like the part of a marathon where you have run 20 miles but the finish is not yet in sight!

I have shared with you before that I love running marathons and this virus situation is like the part of a marathon where you have run 20 miles but the finish is not yet in sight! Some call it The Wall! My greatest lesson here is to simply focus on the end that will come and say to myself “just keep going” and celebrate each mile. This does not change the situation but just helps shift the focus from the current struggle to the end destination.

There is a bit in the Bible which says a similar thing in a better way!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

Rev James Levasier

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

May & June 2020 at Burpham Church

All activities mentioned are happening during lockdown. (Please note that we are not confirming any post lockdown activities at this stage.) Whilst our church buildings are closed, the church is very definitely still alive and kicking in new formats.

All online events can be accessed though the church website www.burphamchurch.org.uk

Sundays 10.00am: Contemporary Church Service

10.00am We are streaming a 45 minute service each week, with input from those in the community, updates on our care programmes, music, readings, and a short message from God’s word. Suitable for everyone.

Thursdays 11.00am: Traditional Church Service

11.00am A more traditional style church service for those who enjoy the familiar words and forms.

Wednesdays & Sundays: Youthwork

Our regular youth work programme continues online on Wednesdays and Sundays. Please contact our youth worker Nicky Geraghty, nicky@burphamchurch.org.uk, to get involved.

Fridays 11.00am: Caterpillar Café

11.00am Our Toddler Group is streaming a 15 minute event once a week with songs, a Bible story and a craft activity to join in with.

Saturday May 16th & June 20th: Messy Church

Our regular monthly Messy Church programme will continue with a shorter online event at 4:30pm.

A Serenity Ladies event is being planned for this term; its shape depending on lockdown arrangements.

For more details please look on the church website www.burphamchurch.org.uk

May & June 2020 at Burpham Preschool

The Preschool is open for key-worker children and has been asked by Early Years to cover for other local key-worker children as needed. Our staff are also working hard to provide home activities to support parents of preschoolers in this lockdown period. ‘Virtual visits’ will soon be available if you are looking for somewhere to send your 2-4 year old in September.

Please do contact the church office for more information 01483 825533

Compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Dalai Lama

I’m not sure if you watched the South African ‘Love Island’ or have even ever heard of it, but you may have caught the very tragic news of the Love Island host, Caroline Flacks’ suicide. Perhaps some people who passed judgement on her changed their tune after her death.

A different perspective can open our eyes to a different truth with the same circumstances. Others however, had real compassion from the beginning, no matter what she may have done or not done.

If you have every been through difficult times or even done something very wrong and needed the compassion of others, you will understand the importance of giving compassion. The trouble is, that if we have not received compassion, we may not understand the importance of giving it. Those who extend compassion are blessed just as those who receive it.

“In a world where we are invited to judge everyone we must hold onto the antidote, ‘compassion’.”

So next time we hear about someone in the press, at work, home or somewhere else, whom we are tempted to judge, let me invite us to stop and think twice. Maybe what this person needs instead is some compassion, and who knows, one day we might need it. Would you rather be known as someone who is always judging others or someone who is compassionate? I know which one I would rather work towards and which I prefer for myself.

You perhaps, do not share my faith, but there is a great quote from the Bible which I think is great advice for those with or without a faith:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:37-38

Rev James Levasier

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Church office: 01483 825533
www.burphamchurch.org.uk

March & April 2020 at Burpham Church

Saturday 14 March 2020: Messy Church

4.30-6.00pm at the Church of the Holy Spirit. Come and join us for messy craft activities, fun worship and sandwich tea focused around following Jesus! Suitable for families with under 11s.

Sunday 22nd March 2020: Mothering Sunday

With flowers for ladies at all our morning services join us at 8.00am St Luke’s Church, 9.15am or 10.45am (family worship) at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday 5th April 2020: Palm Sunday

Join us at 8.00am St Luke’s Church, 9.15am or 10.45am (family worship) at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday 12th April 2020: Easter Sunday

Join us at 8.00am St Luke’s Church, 9.15am or 10.45am (family worship) at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

For more details on Easter events do go to www.burphamchurch.org.uk