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The week in focus for week beginning Sunday 11 December 2022

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Up-to-the-minute jumping-off points for sermons, linking the reading to the latest news and global issues

Hold On Pain Ends

Faced with doubts, we can still find hope and encouragement (Matthew 11.2-11)

Context

With a cold snap arriving, many of us are worried about keeping warm and paying our energy bills. Churches are among community groups organising warm banks, a practical ‘good news to the poor’.

Friends of the Earth and other organisations concerned about climate change have criticised the government’s plans for a new coal mine; casting yet more doubt on the UK’s commitment to save our planet from environmental disaster.

Some people’s doubts about the suitability of our leaders are fuelled as Matt Hancock resigns as MP, after his controversial TV appearance; and more workers demonstrate their discontent by announcing strike action.

The Methodist Church brings a message of inclusion ‘There is Room’ in their Advent 3 video, and reminds us that the goodness of the created world is central to our wellbeing and salvation. And the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Legacy Project is placing 150+ benches around the country, with messages of hope from victims and survivors.

 

Ideas for sermons or interactive talks

The phrase Hold On: Pain Ends has been used to express HOPE when our doubts cause us to lose confidence in our future. There are so many challenges facing us at the moment, with climate change, austerity, conflict, it is easy to be overcome by uncertainty and despair.  What can we find to hold on to, when our doubts and fears threaten to overwhelm us?  Can we believe, as Julian of Norwich said, that “all shall be well”? A message of inclusion – There is room for all – helps us to face our doubts together, drawing strength from each other when life leaves us feeling wobbly.

The IICSA benches with their messages of hope, aim to inspire honest conversations about how we can tackle child abuse together, believing that openness is essential to achieving change. As a church community, where are we able to have honest conversations about the doubts in our lives? These may be doubts in our own abilities and worth; doubts on our faith; doubts in the future of our community or our world. Can our church be the place where we bring our doubts to God without shame, and help each other to find hope and belonging? - Knowing our doubts are shared, and finding ways through together.

 

Questions for discussion

  • What helps you to hold on in these times of uncertainty and austerity?
  • Where do you find signs of hope that ‘all shall be well’?
  • Who encourages you, through honest and supportive conversation, when you are filled with doubt?

Jane Chevous is an activist, writer, sailor, and leader of Survivors Voices. She researches and writes about abuse, theology, mental health and the sea.

 

Check-in

Connecting faith with everyday, real-life issues for young people

The eyes of the world are watching, you’ve been super focused and worked hard to reach this point, the pressure doesn’t feel like it should be there, but it is…. You wobble. A bad pass, a missed opportunity, a goal let in.

We’re talking about the FIFA World Cup of course, and how many of the ‘big teams’ have had shock wobble moments this year. Which ‘big team’ wobbles did you find the most surprising? Does it make the teams any less great now they have been eliminated from the Cup? 

All eyes had been on John too. He was confident in his knowledge and belief in Jesus being the Messiah, but yet even he had a moment of doubt.

It’s quite refreshing really, isn’t it? Even great prophets can have wobble moments.

  • Have you ever felt moments of doubt?
  • Is it the pressure that others put on us, or the pressure we put on ourselves that can make us wobble? Perhaps both.

This week take comfort in the knowledge that we all have wobble moments, moments of doubts in our faith and in ourselves. If you are suffering from doubts and worries at the moment why not make a journal about it, write down all of your questions and pray about them to Jesus? And take comfort in knowing that it is completely human and normal to be feeling these things and asking such questions.

Natasia Bullock is Director of Christian theatre company The B Tales

 

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