After the heaviness of last month’s letter, I thought I should give you all a month off for good behaviour. So, in the interest of respite, this month’s offering comes from Rebecca...
November looms large before us, all thirty days of it - the month which sees us remembering those personal to us who have died (on All Souls Day), those seeking to overthrow the government (Bonfire Night) and those who died in wars (on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday). Add to these events of remembering the shortening of daylight hours and the colder weather (which never fails to make the news for one reason and another), and the constant media bombardment of gloom, whether it be about the climate emergency, high profile figures with distorted ideas of leadership or the ongoing political wrangling in the UK, and it’s hard to see anything good making headlines. It’s hard to feel any positivity about the world we live in.
And yet there is so much good going on around us. Every single day there are people helping others and doing wonderful things in all corners of the world but, for the most part, they’re not widely acknowledged. This was the thinking behind Emily Coxhead’s ‘Happy Newspaper’, a newspaper which launched in December 2015 and is published quarterly in an attempt ‘to bring a refreshing twist on what we typically know as news, reporting on positive changes and truly inspiring people’. Emily’s mission to spread happy news promotes not just stories from around the globe but also everyday heroes close to home showing us all, however jaded by more famous publications, that we actually don’t have to look very far to find good news. Perhaps we should all have a go at seeing the world more like Emily?
Each week in Sunday Club, we begin with ‘news’. Yes, there’s the occasional trip to the dentist or negative match result, but mostly the news reported is good. ‘News’ is reported with enthusiasm and excitement and is equally received with enthusiasm but also with an acceptance that this news - this good news - is completely normal. According to the children, this is how life is and should be. We could do worse than to learn from them.
In our church, we have our share of bad and challenging news - finances, compromised structures and illnesses (to name a few) all conspire to crowd our thinking. But there is good news too. This is not an exhaustive list but think of Christian Care, a charity choosing our church as its shelter and for which many of our members give of their time and energy; think of Frogs, welcoming young families each week for friendship and play (and biscuits!); think of the children singing songs and giving out handmade gifts at a care home; think of the Singing for Dementia initiative and the joy and connections that brings; think of our street pastors and the difference they make in sometimes challenging circumstances; think of those working for peace in the Middle East through Embrace; think of the craft-making to raise money for Alzheimer’s research; think of working members of our congregation whose job it is to care for others (paramedic, housing officer, teacher, nurse to name a few); think of harvest donations, carol singing, filled shoeboxes, conversations over coffee, lunch and supper clubs, lifts to and from church, a hand held in friendship, a tissue offered at a difficult moment, the phone call to someone largely housebound, the smile in the street, finding an extra special chocolate biscuit at the bottom of the plate….
Between us, we have many, many good news stories. And however big the bad news feels, our good news stories don’t have to be big because together they all add up to something significant, something wonderful, some contentment. When asked about acts of mercy, Mother Theresa once said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”. In our attempts to not ‘drown’ in the bad news, whilst we rightly ‘remember in November’, let’s all pledge to retrain our eyes to see all the good that’s going on and sign up to be part of it. And may we all feel held in the palm of God’s hand.
With every blessing
Rebecca (and Paul)