Is there anybody out there?

December 28, 2018

You may have heard the expression, ‘First world problem’, a term that describes those annoying, yet trivial complications of modern life. For example, when the Wi-Fi in your five star holiday hotel doesn’t stretch past reception. Or when you lose your remote control and have to walk ‘all the way’ to the TV to turn it off.

Such a phenomenon occurred on Christmas Day this week. Thousands of people connecting up their new smart speakers were inconvenienced when the Amazon Alexa voice assistant service crashed due to a surge in demand.

Customers complained in their droves about not being able to play their festive playlists on command. Others were flabbergasted when Alexa refused to turn on their livingroom light!

In the end the outage was resolved before any serious damage was done (heaven forbid anyone would have to tell their own cracker jokes!) and Christmas wasn’t cancelled after all.

Thankfullly, the real Christmas story isn’t about a gadget, but a person.

Jesus, after whom the season is named, came to earth not to fix our trivial problems but to mend a hurting and broken world with a once and for all solution that will last for eternity.

If you’ve lost faith in your digital assistant, why not try talking to Jesus? Ask him anything. He is always listening and he never disappoints.

A chance to help

March 2, 2018

These winter conditions give us a chance to help, and to witness to Christ without realizing it.

The other day I was travelling along a road when I saw an elderly man walking along it. It was freezing cold, and I stopped to offer him a lift. He was quite taken aback that I should do so. But it was so cold, surely that was the least I could do. When I dropped him off, he said what a Christian thing it was to do, and that he might consider going back to church. I hadn’t mentioned Christianity or my faith. Maybe God was working with him and I did not know it, and somehow Jesus used me to reach out to him.

With these snowy, icy days come opportunities.

Help someone. You never know where it might lead!

Keep warm!

Sinead Henderson

’tis the season… to include

December 15, 2017

The season of goodwill is more than it seems.

It’s more than just sending greetings cards, giving gifts (no more socks, please!), office parties, eating and drinking in turbo drive, and generally having fun, especially with people whose company we enjoy. Of course, why shouldn’t we enjoy ourselves in the northern midwinter cold and gloom?

Jesus Christ – and Christmas is arguably about him and his amazing birth story – had something to say about how exclusive celebrations can be. For Jesus, all of life was a celebration, and it was for everyone. Even when it came to saying hello to passers-by on the streets, he said don’t limit it to family and friends and people you know. Greet those you don’t know. If there’s someone who doesn’t like you, be kind to them. That is, be inclusive.

With Jesus, inclusive words become inclusive deeds. Why wish someone well and not help them if you can? I know we can’t help everyone, but we can some. If you see someone slipping on the ice, offer to help. If it’s within your power to do good to someone – and it is often within our power – then do it. Put good thoughts into good actions.

The angels proclaimed good news for all people. All people, whether believers or not. Inclusive. If Christmas is anything, it is surely a festival of inclusion.

This season, and indeed in all seasons, let’s include others, not just in words but also in deeds.





Helping Hands

August 8, 2014

The world needs a helping hand.

Did you notice in the news the story about how a commuter was helped by hundreds of hands?  It happened in Perth, Australia. A passenger’s leg got stuck in the gap between the platform and a stationary train. Fellow travellers lent helping hands by pushing the train carriage so that it tilted just enough to allow the passenger’s leg to be freed.

It’s great to read of people power being used for good, especially against the backdrop of mounting world tension. There are too many stories of people power being used aggressively to achieve political ends. Power is seen as a way to get what you want, or what your group wants.

In Eugene Peterson’s Message rendition of the Bible he discusses how Christ put aside the privileges of divine power in order to help us. It’s a lesson for us, he explains. “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (Philippians 1:4 NIV UK).

It’s one of the essential teachings of Christianity. That we join Jesus, forget ourselves and with him help others.

All those people in that train station coming together to help one person: it’s interesting, isn’t it?

Forget yourself, and lend a helping hand.

Be a Good Samaritan

June 20, 2014

The Good Samaritan was in the news this week.

It concerned reports of distraction tactics being used by thieves on European roads.  Criminals distract drivers in order to make them stop, and then they rob them along with any passengers. Initially motorists may think that they are being helped by some sort of “Good Samaritan”, but in fact the opposite is the case.

This happened to my wife and me when we worked in South Africa. As we drove along a lonely road, some young men appeared from behind a tree and pointed to our nearside front tyre. Was something wrong? Did we have a flat? Five minutes later a woman, who was standing by a bus stop, tried to wave us down, again pointing to the tyre. We had heard of this ploy before, but what if there was a real problem with the car? Were they trying to help us?

The original story of the Good Samaritan is in the Christian Bible. It’s about helping one another without hidden agendas. A Jew is robbed, beaten up and left for dead. None of those who could and should help him come to his aid, and then a Samaritan comes along.

Culturally the Samaritans and Jews were hostile to each other. The Samaritan, however, helps his traditional enemy, even at risk to himself. In helping the Jew, this Good Samaritan had nothing to gain but everything to lose.

Don’t let the idea of the Good Samaritan turn into tricks used by thieves.

Every one of us should be a real Good Samaritan.

Help somebody.