Pastoral & Spiritual Support

26th May 2020
Thought for the Week

One day not too long ago, the employees of a large company in Glasgow returned from their lunch break and were greeted with a sign on the front door. The sign said: “Yesterday, the person who has been hindering your growth in this company died. We invite you to join the funeral in the room that has been prepared in the company gym.”

At first everyone was sad to hear that one of their colleagues had died, but after a while they started getting curious about who this person might be.

As the employees arrived at the company gym to pay their last respects, everyone wondered: “Who is this person who was hindering my progress? Well, at least he’s no longer here!”

One by one the employees got closer to the coffin and when they looked inside it, they suddenly became speechless. They stood over the coffin, shocked and in silence, as if someone had touched the deepest part of their soul.

There was a mirror inside the coffin: everyone who looked inside it could see himself. There was also a sign next to the mirror that said: “There is only one person who is capable to set limits to your growth: it is YOU.

You are the only person who can revolutionize your life. You are the only person who can influence your happiness, your realization and your success. You are the only person who can help yourself.

Your life does not change when your boss changes, when your friends change, when your parents change, when your partner changes, when your company changes. Your life changes when YOU change, when you go beyond your limiting beliefs, when you realize that you are the only one responsible for your life.

“The most important relationship you can have is the one you have with yourself.”

19th May 2020
Thought for the Week

The Scottish village of Lost is to change its name. Lost is the Celtic word for Inn but an Inn’s traditional welcome is not what’s offered to the souvenir hunters who keep stealing its road signs. Seven have gone in the last five years.
“It’s not just the cost of replacing the signs…” said the local councillor, “…deliveries get lost because they’ve got no idea where Lost is, and it’s very confusing.” Without the signs, it appears, people get to Lost without even knowing they’ve found it.
Being lost is confusing and unpleasant, emotionally as well as literally. Most of us have had the experience, in relation to something specific or just generally in life, that we don’t know which way to turn. Sometimes it’s a struggle we keep to ourselves but often the only way out is to seek help from someone who does know where they are. It is not always easy to recognise that we are lost and seek that kind of help. The tendency is to keep going round in circles on the assumption that we will eventually find our own way out of the problem.
When all the signs are that we’ve reached ‘lost’, we would do well to acknowledge it sooner rather than later. Then we can seek the support we need. We may well find the response to our request is more like the welcome and warmth conjured up by the Celtic meaning of ‘Lost’ than the anxiety and isolation with which we associate the word today.
It’s okay to feel “lost” especially in today’s circumstances. However, it’s important to acknowledge these thoughts and feelings and share them with another human being. It may surprise you to discover how many of us are feeling a little lost at the present time.

12th May 2020
Thought for the Week

On the first day of school, our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?” I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.
“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.”
“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.
After class, we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months, we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this ‘time machine’ as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.
Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she revelled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.
At the end of the semester, we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us.
She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry, I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whisky is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”
As we laughed, she cleared her throat and began: “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success…
“You have to laugh and find humour every day. “You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!”
“There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change.”
“Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do.”
She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.
At the year’s end, Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation, Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

6th May 2020
Thought for the Week

A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets to a performance by the great Polish pianist Karl Paderewski.

When the evening arrived, they found their seats near the front of the concert hall and eyed the majestic Steinway piano waiting on the stage. Soon, the mother found a friend to talk to but, unbeknownst to her, the boy quietly slipped away.

At eight o’clock, the lights in the auditorium began to dim, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy up on the piano bench, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” His mother gasped in shock and embarrassment but, before she could retrieve her son, the master himself appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard.

He whispered gently to the boy, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in the bass part. Soon, his right arm reached around the other side and improvised a delightful obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd mesmerised with their blended and beautiful music.

In all our lives, we receive helping hands – some we notice, some we don’t. Equally, we ourselves have countless opportunities to provide helping hands – sometimes we would like our assistance to be noticed, sometimes we don’t.

Little of what we achieve is without learning from others or without support from others, and what we receive we should hand out.

29th April 2020
Thought for the Week

There once was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower. A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants.

The race began. Honestly, no-one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower. You heard statements such as:
“Oh, WAY too difficult!!”
“They will NEVER make it to the top”.
“Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!”

The tiny frogs began collapsing one by one, except for those who in a fresh tempo were climbing higher and higher.

The crowd continued to yell; “It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!”
More tiny frogs got tired and gave up. But ONE continued higher and higher and higher… This one wouldn’t give up!

At the end, everyone else had given up climbing the tower. Except for the one tiny frog, who after a big effort was the only one who reached the top!

THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it? A contestant asked the tiny frog how the one who succeeded had found the strength to reach the goal.

The tiny frog explained with gestures and a smile that he was deaf! He thought the crowd had been encouraging him the entire time!

Words expressed and opinions given can have a big effect on other people’s lives. Struggles in life are inevitable, but destruction is optional. Each life has seasons of illness, financial issues, relationship stress, loss of loved ones and other ongoing events. In the grand scheme of things, a stressful morning doesn’t impact life all that much, but in this longer season of lockdown, the stress and frustration can seem overwhelming.

If you really want to accomplish something, you can always choose to become deaf, especially when the people around you say negative or discouraging things. Trusting in our inner self more can help us achieve the things that others deem impossible.

22nd April 2020
Thought for the Week

A water bearer in India had two large pots; each hung on either end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master’s house. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.” “Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.
For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Each of us has our own unique flaws and difficulties. We’re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, even with our flaws and difficulties, we can still bring deep joy to those around us during the lockdown, sometimes without our knowledge. #StayHomeSaveLives

14th April 2020
Thought for the Week

I awoke early, as I often did, just before sunrise to walk by the ocean’s edge and greet the new day. As I moved through the misty dawn, I focused on a faint, far away motion. I saw a young man, bending and reaching and flailing his arms, dancing on the beach I thought, no doubt in celebration of the day soon to begin.

As I approached, I sadly realized that the youth was not dancing to welcome the day, but rather bending to sift through the debris left by the night’s tide, stopping now and then to pick up a starfish and then standing, to heave it back into the sea. I asked the young man the purpose of his effort. “The tide has washed the starfish onto the beach and they cannot return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun rises, they will die, unless I throw them back to the sea.”

 As the youth explained, I surveyed the vast expanse of beach, stretching in both directions beyond my sight. Starfish littered the shore in numbers beyond calculation.

The hopelessness of the youth’s plan became clear to me and I countered, “But there are more starfish on this beach than you can ever save before the sun is up. Surely you cannot expect to make a difference.”

 The youth paused briefly to consider my words, bent to pick up a starfish and threw it as far as possible. Turning to me he simply said, “I made a difference to that one.”

 I left the boy and went home, deep in thought of what the boy had said. I returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish in to the sea.

No matter how hopeless a situation may seem, all of us have the ability to make a difference. We may not change the world, but every good act will have a positive effect on someone or something not very far from us.

3rd April 2020
How to celebrate Holy Week & Easter during “Stay at Home”

As many of you are aware, The Church isn’t a building; it’s a community of faith, the people of God that exist outwith the walls of the building. While we may prefer to gather together for worship and prayer, the church building doesn’t define us as Christians.

Below are some ideas to help you celebrate Holy Week during this period of “Stay at Home”.

Many churches are offering online experiences and worship opportunities to help people during this time of crisis.

Live Stream Services
Now is the time to get active on Social Media and YouTube. Even if you haven’t been in the habit of using social media in the past, I encourage you to get connected now.

Churches, musicians, teachers, and other organisations are moving to online streaming as a way to serve you. Services, worship music, and inspirational thoughts are being offered online across Facebook and YouTube.

Look for what your church is offering, but this is also a great opportunity to explore what others may be offering. Now, more than ever, we need to explore technology to stay connected and maintain relationships with others – even if it’s through a computer screen.

Holy week begins with Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday – 5th April 2020.

If you are unable to connect with online resources you might want to construct your own personal prayer, reflection and devotion. Here are some ideas that may inspire you.

Palm Sunday: Read and pray through Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11)
Monday: Begin reading the account of Jesus’ final week in John. Today, read and pray through Jesus’ anointing at Bethany, when Mary pours perfume on his head (John 12:1-11)
Tuesday: Read and pray through Jesus’ prediction of his death (John 12:20-36)
Wednesday: Read and pray through Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal (John 13:21-30)
Thursday: Read and pray through the Last Supper (John 13:1-17, 31-35) and Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-45)
Friday: Read and pray through Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion (John 18:28-19:37)
Saturday: Read and pray through the burial of Jesus (Matthew 27:57-66)
Sunday: Read and pray through the resurrection of Jesus (John 20:1-18)

On Good Friday, we will share with you our reflection on the Passion of Christ: Man of the Cross. To watch, download the PowerPoint, open the file, click ‘Slideshow’ and then ‘From Beginning’.

I wish you every blessing and a peaceful Holy Week. Stay home! Stay Safe! Stay well!

George Beuken
Head of Pastoral Care & Education

27th March 2020
Thought for the Week

“Once upon a time a young woman complained to her dad that her life was miserable and that she didn’t know how she was going to make it. She was tired of fighting and struggling all the time. It seemed just as one problem was solved, another one soon followed.

Her dad, a chef, took her to the kitchen. He filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Once the three pots began to boil, he placed potatoes in one pot, eggs in the second pot, and ground coffee beans in the third pot.

He then let them sit and boil, without saying a word to his daughter. The daughter, moaned and impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing.

After twenty minutes he turned off the burners. He took the potatoes out of the pot and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the boiled eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

He then ladled the coffee out and placed it in a cup. Turning to her he asked. ‘Daughter, what do you see?’

‘Potatoes, eggs, and coffee,’ she hastily replied.

‘Look closer,’ he said, ‘and touch the potatoes.’ She did and noted that they were soft. He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. Its rich aroma brought a smile to her face.

‘Dad, what does this mean?’ she asked.

He then explained that the potatoes, the eggs and coffee beans had each faced the same adversity– the boiling water. However, each one reacted differently.

The potato went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but in boiling water, it became soft and weak. The egg was fragile, with the thin outer shell protecting its liquid interior until it was put in the boiling water. Then the inside of the egg became hard. However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were exposed to the boiling water, they changed the water and created something new.

‘Which are you,’ he asked his daughter. ‘When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a potato, an egg, or a coffee bean?’

In these uncertain and difficult times, we may be finding it difficult to understand or come to terms with the changes that have become a reality in our lives. How do we choose to respond to our ‘self-isolation’ or ‘social distancing?’

One thing we need to remember is that, no matter how we react to the many changes we have experienced these last few weeks and more so these last few days, not only does it have an effect on us personally but also on those we love. As we look for ways to cope with our ‘new’ way of living ask yourself, are you a potato, an egg or a coffee bean?