Zeph Daily 16 – The Last Supper

Morning Zephyrs! It’s Julie today – and also Maundy Thursday when we remember this story…

Have a watch…

 

I love the story of the Last Supper. Usually I tell it lots of times in the run-up to Easter, to school groups as part of our Re:wind events. I’ve missed it this year.

A while ago, I came across this quote I liked:
“We need to look hard at the stories we create and wrestle with them. Retell and retell them and work with them like clay. It is in the retelling and returning that stories give us their wisdom.” (Marni Gillard)

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I think it’s an idea that also applies to stories we didn’t create but that we revisit because they mean something to us – though it’s not something we’re always very good at in Christian circles, just letting the story be enough. It’s like we think we already know it so well, we have to wrap it up in lots of other stuff to make sure we don’t get bored.

In retelling it over and over again, I feel like I’ve broken open the story of the Last Supper, worked it like clay, and the more time I spend with it, the more it reveals its wisdom – and the less I understand it! Often, the wisdom comes with a growing sense of mystery, one question leading to another.

 

Last year, I spent a day working with classes in East Morton Primary as part of their Easter Week. We spent time together diving into this story, finding its hidden spaces, asking it questions, wondering about the answers, talking about the different people and perspectives involved, and then rewriting it. It was one of my favourite working days I can remember; it was so good just to spend time with children whose curiosity made them open to working with the text, pulling it apart and putting it back together again.

We thought about the man carrying the water jar – why he was carrying the jar when usually women would do it, why he let them use his house, whether he attended the meal or not. We thought about Peter and Judas – how they both ultimately let Jesus down, how Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to repair things after his resurrection, and whether the same opportunity would have been available to Judas if he’d stuck around. We talked about why Jesus let Judas come to the meal when he knew what he was going to do – would Judas have known where to find Jesus later if he hadn’t been there? We looked at the different gospels and thought about why certain details were in all of them and some only appeared in one.

 

And in every class that I visited, like every time I tell this story, I was brought back to the same thing. What a confusing evening this must have been for Jesus’ disciples. This was a pivotal moment. At that meal, gathered together as friends in celebration of the Passover, things changed. Shadows gathered. Uncertainty loomed. Jesus broke bread, shared wine, told his friends he would die, that they would need to remember him.

In the midst of the Easter story, comes this moment when time hangs. Jesus’ friends know that what is coming next will be dark and difficult and hard. They know it will hurt. But they don’t really understand it; they don’t know exactly what will happen, or how, or how awful and gut-wrenchingly painful and frightening it will be.

 

When our emotions are turbulent; when we feel frightened or confused or anxious about what is to come; when we feel lost and untethered, like everything we know and depend on is slipping away. Remember – Jesus and his friends have been there before us.

Remember too that, when they didn’t know exactly what would happen or the force of grief that would hit them, nor did they know that the fear and uncertainty wouldn’t be where it ends. They couldn’t know that in the quiet filtering dawn three days later, death would be broken and perfect love would cast out fear. Sunday was coming…

 

At that Last Supper, in the midst of the turmoil and gathering dread, Jesus didn’t reject any of them. He looked Peter in the eyes and said, “You will deny me” – and he was welcome at the table anyway. He looked Judas in the eyes and said, “You will betray me” – but he was welcome at the table anyway. Jesus knows that, in times of turmoil, emotions can be overwhelming and hard to handle and people can get things wrong. But he welcomes us to the table anyway…

 

If you’ve got some handy, you might want to grab a piece of bread or a biscuit or something else to eat, and something to drink. Eat, drink, and remember…

 

Now give thanks that Jesus and his friends have been there before us; give thanks that he understands what we feel and where we are; give thanks that all are welcome at the table; and give thanks that, after the darkest night comes a dawn that will change everything.

When we are in a time of waiting, waiting for that dawn, it is easy to feel powerless. But we can choose where to fix our eyes in the waiting; there is power in that…

Watch…

 

Fix your eyes, and have good Thursdays, Zephyrs! Sunday is coming… Amen!

Zeph Daily 15

Morning all!

Image may contain: possible text that says 'Until Further Notice the days of the week are now called, thisday, thatday, otherday, someday, yesterday, today, and nextday.'

So I think it’s Wednesday….known at holiday club as “weary”! Anyone feeling weary out there?


Weary Wednesday. I’ve actually been sleeping really well recently, enjoying getting an extra couple of hours in bed each day. But, despite sleeping well, I have been having some pretty weird dreams!


Here’s a thought….
Image may contain: meme, possible text that says 'IF IT'S NORMAL TO HAVE STRANGE DREAMS THEN WOULD A NORMAL DREAM BE STRANGE?'

Of course, the king of weird dreams in the Bible probably has to be Joseph. And to add to the crazy weirdness of his dreams, he not only remembered his dreams (I wake up and know I’ve had a weird dream but can rarely remember it for more than a few seconds!), but he went and told loads of people about them…..which led to all sorts of trouble for him.


Joseph’s life took a massive downhill turn after telling his brothers about his weird dreams and he ended up far from where he expected to be.


I understand that feeling a bit – the last few weeks, we (Zephaniah Trust) should have been in various schools doing all sorts of things to share God’s story with hundreds of children……and instead we were all stuck in our various homes. Not where we expected to be or should have been at all!


Sometimes, life can throw a real curve ball at us. So what do we do when that happens?


Going back to Joseph, even at his lowest point, when he was far from home, far from his family, feeling utterly alone, locked in prison (that’s a pretty big curve ball!), even then he knew that he wasn’t actually alone. Despite everything, Joseph still trusted that God was with him.


Life is not how any of us expected at the start of this year, I think I can fairly safely say that. But no matter what’s going on, no matter how unexpected our situation may be, not matter how frustrating, no matter how far from our own plans, God is with us. Still. Always.


Emmanuel is for life not just for Christmas!!!


So let’s pray for all those who are really struggling with how life is just now; for those who are feeling truly alone; for those who need to know that God is right here, going nowhere, always with us.


God may not make life all wonderful and amazing and easy but He absolutely does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us.


Thank God that we can trust Him always to be with us always.


I’d post a link to “I’m gonna walk” to finish but I can’t find one (left it too late for a proper search, I’m afraid) but you know how it goes – “and if I walk in the valley of the shadow, I will fear no evil, coz I know You’re with me…..” Amen


Enjoy your day, everyone, whichever one it may be!!!!


 

Zeph Daily 14 – God is Good

Hello and good morning to you. It’s Julia doing Zeph@10 today.

Here is the design of an encouraging hoodie my sister used to have. Fun fact: fish do actually have teeth! I looked it up. Some even lose baby teeth and get new ones through. Anyway, I mainly wanted to look at the words under the fish.

smiling fish

“God is good.” It is a simple phrase, which can almost be taken for granted because we’re told it so early on, so it’s often easy to forget its importance. Fortunately, now and then (often when we remember to look) we get a reminder.

The other day, I was getting annoyed at a friend’s post on Facebook whose views I disagreed with. As I was getting wound up, I remembered Jesus’s words about loving your “enemies” and praying for those who hurt you (Matthew 5.14). In this passage, Jesus talks about not just loving your friends, but loving those we find hard to love- after all God doesn’t discriminate about who he loves, as he “sends rain to those who do right and those who do wrong” (verse 45).

So I prayed for the friend, thinking that while I strongly disagree with his views, I absolutely hope for God’s love and light in his life. As the tension I felt eased a little, I realised again that God’s way of doing life, with its radical and sometimes counter-intuitive responses, had broken through the negativity with goodness. God is good.

The task at the moment is to look around our hurting world and figure out where we can find God’s goodness.

God’s goodness does not stop with God. It is reflected back in anything he is involved in. The Bible tells us that people are made in God’s image- having something of God’s character within us is the foundation of who we are. In this way, we are wired to care for each other, show kindness and connect.

I have found that when you choose to show kindness to someone, that act/thought/intention somehow lifts you up and gives you life as well. When what we choose is aligned with God’s goodness, we resonate with the heart of God- we as people are in tune with God’s love.

There is a lot of sadness and hardship in the world at the moment. They say that when you watch bad things happening on the news, you should look for the helpers- there will always be people trying to make things better. When I’ve watched the news recently, alongside the bad things, there have been so so many reports about the things people have been doing to help each other. SO many helpers! People want to use their gifts and their time to find ways to connect, and to help each other, simply out of the kindness of their hearts. God is good.

However big the hardships are, the helpers don’t give up. The helpers don’t mean that the sadness isn’t there, and it wouldn’t work to pretend it isn’t. But amongst the sadness, goodness is so worthwhile. Here is a quote from Doctor Who, in the episode where they met Vincent Van Gogh, which I think sums it up beautifully:

van gogh

The idea that God thinks goodness is important, that our kindness matters, is a beautiful thing. It also does us good to remember that when we choose to care for others, we don’t have to do it alone- God is with us.

Let’s pray and thank God for his goodness, and all the goodness he gives to us.

Let’s thank God for all the good people are doing to help each other.

Let’s thank God for all the good people are doing to help each other.

Amen! Well done to us on a productive morning. Go make a brew as a reward.

 

Virtual Re:wind/Messy Easter Resources

If you are joining us for our Virtual Re:wind/Messy Easter event on Good Friday at 2pm, these are some of the resources you’re going to need. Why not print them out in advance, so you’re all set and ready to come with us on our virtual Easter adventure.

Easter Wordsearch – Wordsearch

Easter Chatterbox – Chatterbox A4

Easter Activity Book – activity booklet 2020
(If you can, print this out double-sided, flipped on the short edge. That way you’ll be able to fold it in half to make an A5 booklet)

Donkey template – Donkey template (Word) or Donkey template (PDF)

Zeph Daily 13

Morning!

It’s Monday morning, so it must be my turn to do Zeph@10am. It’s very quiet at the moment in my house because it’s officially the Easter school holiday now. No homeschooling today. However, it doesn’t feel much like the start of a normal holiday.

I’m carrying on with my meander through the Psalms of David today, and I’m going to be focusing on Psalm 34. You might want to grab a Bible and have a read through.


For a moment cast your mind back to the BC (Before Coronavirus) era. Think about a time or times when you were struggling or facing difficulties, and think about how God was there for you – how he helped and supported you, how he strengthened you or helped you resolve the situation.

For me, I always think about when my dad had cancer, and how especially close God felt at that time. When the cancer came back, while I was away at university, God made sure that I had amazing friends around me to support me when my family was so far away. My friend Susie literally stood behind me, with her arms around me, while my mum broke the news on the phone, and she was there throughout what was a really tough time. I thank God all the time that my dad recovered and is still with us.


Psalm 34 was written when David was going through a really tough time. He’s escaped Saul, by climbing out the window of his house, and gone to see Samuel. From there, he’s eluded Saul again, and kept running until he ends up seeking sanctuary with King Achish of Gath. However, they are fearful of David because of his reputation, so once again he is in danger, so he pretends (Hamlet-like) to be mad. King Achish says, “Must you bring me a madman? We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”, so he sends him away. One wonders how they ended up with so many ‘interesting’ people in Gath!

Despite this, Psalm 34 isn’t a psalm of despair, but one of praise for what God has done. David doesn’t just reflect on his current situation, or what God is doing now, but what he has done for him in the past.

“I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.”

Despite being in the middle of fear and trouble, he’s able to say “I prayed – and he freed me. I prayed – and he saved me from all my troubles. Look at what the Lord can do for you too!”


Verse 8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him!”

I have a friend, Rosie, who works as an aid worker in South Sudan. She genuinely knows what it means to take ‘refuge’. A couple of years ago civil war re-erupted in South Sudan, and they were confined to their compound, in Juba, until they could try and get to the airport to evacuate. The fighting in the streets was fierce, and bullets were raining into the compound, some coming through the roof. They took refuge in the most secure part of the building – the small bathroom. Imagine spending hours, huddled with 3 or 4 other people on the floor next to a toilet, not knowing when you were going to be able to escape.

‘Refuge’ is a last resort. It’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, it’s the place you go when you have no other option.


But Psalm 34 tells us that the refuge God provides is anything but. The Psalm tells us that it’s free of fear, full of joy, safe, and lacking in no good thing.

With God, we aren’t huddling in a metaphorical toilet. Rather, we are being put up in a hotel that we wouldn’t normally be able to afford, with king-size beds, plumb pillows, unlimited tea and coffee (and those little individually wrapped biscuits), and a breakfast menu that keeps you going until teatime.


Thank God now for being our refuge – with all the blessings it has. Thank him for the times he was there in the past, knowing that he’s still here now.


Thank God for all the people – and things – that we have that are making life much better right now.


Let’s pray that we’ll open our eyes to see all the ‘good things’ that God has got for us right now.


Pray for someone you know who needs to feel the peace and security that refuge in God can bring. Pray that they will be able to ‘taste and see’.


It would be rude not too! Have a listen: https://soundcloud.com/johnfroud/taste-and-see


I hope that your week of refuge is full of joy and peace, and adventures with God, especially as we head towards Easter. Have a good one!

Zeph Daily 12 – Remain in me…

They can't cancel Spring

 I think it’s Friday and I think it’s me, John. Good morning!

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“Accepted wisdom is a contradiction in terms” – J.K. Galbraith.

I like a good paradox—or an oxymoron… the counter-intuitive.

Hope – Keep your eyes on the prize, take the long view, like the sprinter, fix your eyes on a point beyond the finish line… live each moment, celebrate the now—but watch where you put your feet!

Don’t worry – be happy; you’ll have enough; seek out the things of God first and everything else will follow.

Isolated – but in touch with people across the country, if not the world. Hello Phil and Ros if you’re reading this in New Zealand

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Now hear some Nashville session singers working from home:

WATCH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDIJz6zzHNU

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Hear Jesus speak as you read his words:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? … But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6: 25 –27, 33

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William Carey (famous Baptist) said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” What does he want us to want?

Now pray, listening first to the God who already knows what we need. Know that when we’re in line with God’s thinking, Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.” (John  15: 7) Wow!

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On a Sunday, we might have a prayer of dismissal about “going in to the world”. Go virtually into God’s world, worrying not, but seeking His Kingdom. Amen.

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Thanks for joining us for Zeph Daily this week! Enjoy your weekends – see you on Monday…

 

Easter Newsletter & Prayer Diary

Happy Easter to all our supporters – even if this year, we will all be celebrating in unfamiliar ways.

Here is our Easter newsletter, with details of how our work is changing while schools are shut, and reports on our birthday bash, Yvonne’s work in the Spen Valley and much more.

We also have our new Summer Diary, with details of where we expected to be over the next term, but fear we may not be now. Please still pray.

Click here for the Easter Newsletter: Easter 2020 webversion

Click here for our Summer Diary: Easter 2020 Prayer Diary