From the mouths of babes…

Yesterday morning, Oliver and I went to a prayer gathering at a beautiful home in Parktown North and the wonderful people there prayed for me. One of the ladies said:

‘God says He is going to speak to you through the children.’

This was quite amusing, since so far the children here are certainly not shy in saying exactly what they think. I’ve already become used to the interrogation every time I walk into the main room about where I’ve been and where I’m going, what I’m wearing, what my hair looks like… It’s genuinely hilarious. One of the girls also does a pretty realistic and amusing impression of me drinking tea from my travel mug… (I made sure she stuck her little finger out as if drinking from the finest china!)

However, I’ll be listening carefully to hear what God is saying through them over these next few weeks too!

And then today’s miracle moment.

I wanted to get a few toys and activities for me to do with the children when I spend time with them, to make it a special time. This morning after church I went to the Mall to see what I could get and found a few great items. Over lunch I was chatting with my sister online and she told me that my youngest niece Candice, who is 3, has sold some of her toys that she no longer needs and has asked to give the money to me to buy some toys and activities for the children at Hotel Hope because they need it more than her.

Given that every penny (or Rand) that I spend here is totally in faith that God will provide, and the first lot of toys had been bought ‘in faith’, hearing this news from the smallest member of my family was greatly encouraging and after lunch I managed to get some more things too with the amount she’d raised. A few pounds go a long way here at the moment and I’m so excited about Candice wanting to share with the children here. What a little star!

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Above is what I managed to get. The stack and roll cups are completely awesome!

Candice wanted me to make sure the smallest baby got a new ‘sucky guy’ (as she calls it). Thus far he’s not that interested but you never know… (but he is VERY teeny still!) 

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It was kind of like that little boy offering his lunch up to Jesus and it feeding the 5000. Candice’s offering is now making 18 little people happy.

It got me thinking, I wonder how many other people, aged 3, 13, 30 (or even older) have some ‘toys’ they no longer need that could be sold and the money given to a good cause?

So there’s a challenge for this week! See if there’s something you no longer need and could get rid of and maybe consider helping me out with a donation from the sale. (Email me at carolinehorn@yahoo.com if you would like to help!) I’m past worrying about finance, but the reality is I DO still need some for the rest of my stay. God will provide, he’s just proved it again today. I stepped out in faith and before I’d even finished shopping, the finance had come in. What an amazing God we have, he provides through so many different avenues!

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God-incidences

This morning I spent time with Auntie Irene at Resurrection Charity Shop which is just around the corner from the children’s home. I’m going to be running the shop by myself tomorrow so today was my ‘official’ training. It’s a great place, with lots of interesting works of art and furniture as well as clothes and household items. I can think of several people in the UK who would be happy to spend lots of money in such a shop and I spent the morning noticing things I’d have for my house. Sadly, I’m not sure BA would take kindly to me trying to pass a huge giraffe painting off as hand luggage!

Highlight of the day there was managing to sell 11 luggage stands to a lady who had lots of creative ideas for them. This morning we were wondering how on earth we would shift them, given that they looked a bit unfinished, like the cushions are missing from them. However, a local lady noticed them outside whilst on her walk and bought 2, returning later to purchase the rest. She told me she’d been on the lookout for exactly that for a while. Amazing how God works to arrange things, they’d only arrived with us last night from auction!

Another great God-moment was realising that one of my friends, Sophie, who has lived here with her family in Joburg for years but who I haven’t managed to meet up with for a while, lives literally a couple of streets away from where I am. We managed a quick catch up this morning but I’m looking forward to a proper catch up very soon! She announced “You are now officially the person I’ve known the longest in Joburg!” 🙂 We go back to Italy days (in the last century!) so there’s plenty to chat about…

Prayer meeting at lunchtime was great, we were considering about how faithful God is to meet us when we step out in trust with him and it was a joy to pray with the team, whilst the younger children played at our feet or came for a cuddle. Below are the words that were shared and they are really encouraging, especially as many of us here are trusting God for his provision and miracles, and seeing them!

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In other news, I’ve got my first mosquito bites… whilst I was sitting quietly listening to a teenage boy read to me to help him with his English. I guess the ‘peaceful sleep’ spray had worn off… ;-( Thankfully no allergic reaction (sometimes it can be quite annoying!!)

After closing the shop I spent some time in the baby room. There are currently 4 little treasures in there and 2 of them are very small indeed. Just as one of them settled down and stopped crying the other one started and what with the juggling (not literally!) of 2 teenies, at the same time chasing out the older kids who were running amok in and out, I’ve decided to go back on my previous prayer request of wanting twins one day… 😉

The older kids just wanted to play and I’ve had to promise the oldest child, a beautiful and helpful girl, that I will spend a bit of time with her tomorrow evening and not go into the baby room. It’s so hard, they are all so gorgeous!!

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Settling in…

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This greeted me at the luggage carousel at OR Tambo International yesterday, I must have been too busy photographing it to notice that some of those rainbow hands had decided to move my suitcase off the carousel. Half an hour or so later I finally caught up with my case dumped on a trolley at the British Airways Baggage desk. I nearly had a sense of humour failure (especially after only 4 hours sleep – my fault, one movie too many!) but decided to just grab the bag and exit without enquiring as to why it was there…

So here I am installed in my accommodation  at Hotel Hope. I’m in a little place in the back garden behind the children’s home, but the kids still don’t really understand where I disappear to at night. Today, a few of the older ones carried an enormous donation of nappies to put in the second bedroom here for storage and they worked out I must live here, but they still think that I go somewhere else after they’ve gone to bed. I wasn’t there for breakfast this morning (having a recovery lie-in!) therefore I can’t be staying here, that’s their logic!

So far, I reacquainted myself with Pick ‘n’ Pay supermarket and bought a SA SIM card. The rain started when we were in the Mall and it was torrential by the time we came to leave, even the car guards weren’t bothered in helping! Got absolutely drenched running to the car and then we had to negotiate a rapidly flooding car park to get out!

It rained again today. After a long period of drought, everyone is happy to see it. And it’s the kind of rain that makes you want to watch it, torrential with exciting thunder. Parts of the day are sunny too, so all is good.

So far I have spent a fair bit of time with the children here. During the mornings the older kids go to pre-school so there are just the babies and toddlers here, meaning it’s nice and quiet(ish!). In the afternoon the older ones (up to aged 5) are back and chaos reigns!

So far I’ve faced a barrage of questions, some of which are easier to answer than others:

“Why do you have arm muscles?”

“Why do you have that?” pointing to veins in my wrist (this happened at GGA too, veins don’t show up so well on darker skin)

“When are you going home? Who’s picking you up? Where do you sleep?”

“What are you drinking?” – involving at least 5 kids fascinated by my excellent travel mug that has a fancy lid. I’ve already decided it’s easier to drink standing up as there’s less risk of being jumped on. They got far to excited at this “gadget”…

Little by little I’m getting to know the small munchkins here, each one with their own quirks and comedy facial expressions. I’m still a novelty, they won’t be leaping all over me for the whole time (or maybe I bring that out in kids…!) I’ve changed a fair few nappies and fed several children with milk or solids and I’ve had lots of cuddles too. Life is good.

No two days are the same. Tomorrow I’m off to help in the charity shop! 🙂

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New Year – New Season

It’s now January 2016 and I am on the cusp of a fresh adventure. Hurrah!

Just like my last post said, I’m still waiting on God for many answers and breakthroughs, but whilst I’m waiting He’s given me a fresh adventure. Which is nice.

So tomorrow evening I set off to South Africa once more, this time not to the sun-soaked beaches and leafy valleys of KwaZulu Natal, but rather to the sprawling wonder city known as eGoli, the City of Gold, Johannesburg.

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Let’s remember it also looks like this:

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I’ll be spending 6 weeks volunteering at a fantastic organisation called Hotel Hope. [http://hotelhopeministries.org] Mostly I’ll be helping to care for the 18 children they have there at the moment, all under age 5. This is going to be a lot of fun, and also extremely challenging I’m sure, as they all have their own story and reason of being there. So I won’t be putting up their pictures or their stories on here, that’s all private, but I will be sharing my experiences over the next 6 weeks, as and when I can get a moment to upload pictures and my own stories. Check back for more soon!

Although clearly I’m not going to be doing any midwifery, I did have a moment whilst watching ‘Call the Midwife’ on Sunday night of the awesome privilege it is to care for a little person when they are small, vulnerable and cute. I’m looking forward to lots of cuddles (and all the less glamorous jobs!)

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I’m also really excited to do this next bit of the journey of faith with God. I really sensed a very specific call to go to this place for this time and therefore God is going to do something wonderful in and through me there. I’m fully expecting more challenges and transformation over these next few weeks so pray with me for all of that to come to pass according to whatever the Lord has in store for me!

Specifics: 

  1. For safe travel there on an overnight flight from London to Johannesburg.
  2. For settling in and getting to know people at Hotel Hope and for safety throughout my time there.
  3. For peace of mind about finance, I have been living from bill-to-bill for over a year now and this next level of going out of the country and not being able to earn money is ramping things up another gear. I KNOW that somehow God will provide, I just can’t see it in the natural yet… For the moment, the next bill is covered, so I really shouldn’t worry! Praise Him for his amazing provision.

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Waiting…

ImageSomehow it’s been nearly a year since I last updated this blog…

In fact, almost a year since my vicar announced he was moving on, since the Holy Spirit confirmed to me that this meant I was to stay at my church and make sure the season of interregnum was a positive one, a year since I’ve had time to stop and reflect, because the busyness of helping to run a church has left little room for reflection and blogging…

Not strictly true 🙂

I have had moments to breathe and relax, but it has been a busy year with ups and downs, mostly plain sailing but a few little squalls or threats of storms. We’ve had Jesus at the helm throughout, so we’re getting there. 

Now it’s March. Already.

I find myself with an enforced time of sitting and resting, temporarily floored by a pesky cold that is resisting even the finest herbal and pharmaceutical remedies combined (I may move on to alcoholic concoctions next!) and finally have a moment to remember I write a blog…

So mostly at the moment my life is back to a period of waiting.

Again. 

Waiting for our freshly-appointed new vicar and his family to move in, take up the reins and lead our church into the next exciting season.

Waiting for the Lord to show me what is coming up in a new season for me.

Waiting for the man He has for me to show up (or get a clue) and take the initiative…

In the past it has always been clear in which direction the Lord was leading me. Fresh from university he sent me off to la dolce vita in Italy for a couple of years of pizza, passegiatas and international student ministry. Later on He made it very obvious that the serenade of South African safaris and cuddles for little Zulus was my calling. And from there He brought me back to London, to children’s ministry and all the fun that comes with that. 

However this time it’s a bit different.

I don’t have a strong sense of where to go next. I don’t have a peace about staying put (plus a slight problem of no funding currently). This time I feel I’m up against a bigger challenge of faith.

The one of waiting. 

So far this year, doors have been closing all over the place. I considered becoming a proper vicar, doesn’t feel right. I’ve pushed a few teaching doors, that feels like stepping back into a place from which I have moved on long ago. I sense that the Lord wants me to be available and free for an opportunity that hasn’t been revealed yet. It feels like I need more faith to wait for this to come to pass, to wait on His timing. 

It’s frustrating not knowing what is coming next. I want to plan. I want to know. Mostly I just want a long holiday on a sunny beach 🙂 

I sense that God might reveal more to me in April. So there’s not that long to wait but it’s still a few weeks away… 

And yet, every day, I have to keep reminding myself that even though I don’t know what is coming next, my heavenly Father does, and He has good things planned:

Jeremiah 29:11 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

And so, I wait.

In the meantime: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8d80ok40TQ

 

 

 

 

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Developing our Spiritual Senses #5: TOUCH

We are at the end of a series in Family Services called ‘Developing our spiritual senses’. Today we come to “Close enough to touch!”  

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The passage relating to this talk is Matthew 9:18- 26

Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue who was looking for Jesus, and the sick woman both knew they needed Jesus’s touch. 

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Jairus needed it for his daughter who had died, he was desperate for Jesus to help him. Jesus was his last hope for his daughter.

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The woman too had been suffering for 12 years and may have also seen Jesus as her only hope for healing from her health problems. Only he could bring life to these seemingly hopeless situations.

The sick woman was in the crowd, she was most likely an outcast in society because of her health problems. She managed somehow to get through and just touched the hem of Jesus’s robes. She got Jesus’s attention and she was healed by his power. In Luke’s version of the story, Jesus says:

“Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

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 The woman touched Jesus because she could. He was God in human form. I’m not sure we in the 21st Century can ever really comprehend what it must have been like to walk physically with Jesus, fully God and fully man. It’s one of the mysteries of our faith. One day when we get to heaven I’m sure it will be one of the joys for us, to be able to be right there actually with Jesus.

That’s the amazing thing about our God. He became a man so that, amongst other things, we could physically touch him. He made himself vulnerable and Jesus gave up all the wonders and glories of heaven to become a baby, carried for 9 months in the womb of a young woman called Mary and then growing up as a baby then a toddler then a child, a teenager and finally a young man working as a carpenter before he sets off on his mission with his disciples.

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Jesus experienced all the growing up that we have. He would have been cuddled and kissed by his mother and family. He might have fallen over and scraped his knee playing with his friends when he was young. He definitely wouldn’t have enjoyed the wonders of Xbox and keeping in touch with his friends on the latest smartphones but he would certainly have had local friends with whom he might have had fun times playing as he grew up.

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In Jesus, God hugged and kissed people, just as we hug and kiss people.

He felt how we feel. He laughed, he ate and drank, he cried and he slept.

He also felt pain.

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However the pain that he went through is almost definitely much deeper than any we might experience. At Easter-time we remember again the pain that Jesus went through on the cross for us. By dying in our place He dealt with the sin that was separating us from having a relationship with our Father God, and He was opening up a way for us to be friends again with God when we believe that Jesus died for our sake.

But after the pain and suffering of Good Friday, Jesus didn’t stay dead, because he was God. And on Easter Sunday he rose again, the tomb where his body lay is empty, and we celebrate his resurrection.

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You’ll remember the story of his disciples gathered together after Jesus had risen from the dead and appeared to some of them. In particular Thomas, the one who got the nickname ‘doubting Thomas. He’d not been around when Jesus first appeared to the disciples. The Bible doesn’t tell us where he was at that point, imagine if he’d just popped out for some supplies and missed the excitement of Jesus’s appearance to the disciples. I’m sure he was annoyed to have missed it.

We know he was, as in John’s Gospel we read that Thomas doesn’t believe them and sets out a challenge actually to feel Jesus’s wounds before he believes that Jesus is risen. Jesus rises to that challenge! In John 20v26 onwards it says: 

‘A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”’

 Isn’t it incredible that not only did God come to earth as a human to hug and kiss and hang out with people, but after his death and resurrection he came back again to help out doubting friends like Thomas?

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“Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.””

Here Jesus could be talking about us.

What about us today?

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It’s all very well reading these amazing stories about what Jesus did when he was here on earth with his disciples, but over 2000 years later and we don’t have Jesus sitting here in bodily form with us. How can we explore the idea of ‘touch’ when there’s nobody sitting here to physically touch?

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Jesus knew his mission and purpose was to be born as a man, live a sinless life completely in harmony with God and die in our place and open up the way to the Father again. He now reigns in heaven and we believe he will come back again one at the end of time to wrap things up. Before he died, he explained to the disciples that he would send the Holy Spirit to them and he did, just as he said, at Pentecost.

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The Holy Spirit, often represented as a dove because of how he appeared at Jesus’s baptism, now works in every believer to help us understand God’s love for us and his will and to equip us to live and share God’s love with those around us. You can read more about that in John 16 if you would like to.

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So then, just as Jairus and the sick woman came to Jesus and asked for his touch in what looked like hopeless situations, we also can come to Jesus and ask for his touch on what seem like hopeless situations for us today.

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There is hope. In fact, it doesn’t have to be just hopeless situations. We can ask Jesus to help us with just about anything and he loves to do so. The Holy Spirit continues the work that Jesus started, and when we come to God and ask for his help, we can be sure that He hears us and will act in some way or another.

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Sometimes we can really sense the Holy Spirit as if God is touching us. There are many physical manifestations, ways that the Holy Spirit shows us he is here. He works in different people in different ways, sometimes loud and sometimes quiet. When I am worshipping sometimes my arms start to shake a little and I just know that that is the Holy Spirit. It’s not weird, it just happens. Others might not have anything like that but sense God’s presence with a big sense of peace when He’s doing something. Sometimes when we invite the Holy Spirit to do things, we might cry or feel really happy. Again, God works as He wants to. He is God, not us.

All we know is that when we come to our Father God and ask for him to intervene with his touch he WILL act and do something, whether we feel anything physical or not. We can be reassured that he has heard us and will bring about whatever is needed, whether it’s peace, reassurance, healing, resolution to a problem. But whatever He does it will be in accordance to His will and not ours. He loves us and knows what is best for us.

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Although Jesus isn’t here with us physically in this room, when we make ourselves available to him and ask him to use us to serve him, he sometimes uses us to answer other people’s prayers. Perhaps we might feel led to offer a helping hand to someone, to give someone a hug or share some encouraging words with someone else. Maybe God wants to work in and through you today to help someone else. 

Why not take a few minutes now to listen to God and reflect on what he is saying to you today.  

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Let’s recap on what we have learnt over this series on ‘Developing our Spiritual Senses’: 

God is good and he loves us – he invites us into a relationship with him because he has a great plan and purpose for each of us – Taste and see that the Lord is good – it says in Psalms!

When we are in a relationship with him, we longs to share things with us about how much he loves us and others. He has good things to say, are we making time to listen?

He wants to share His perspective with us, to help us to understand a little more what is going on in the world around us and in our hearts. He will give us his eyes to see situations as we ask him to.

As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, we become like the aroma of Christ to those around us, some will be attracted to the fragrance and want to know more about why and how Jesus died for us, others will reject it and turn away. But our job is to carry that aroma around and let God work through us to spread his aroma.

And finally, God became ‘close enough to touch’ when he came as a man in the person of Jesus. Jesus shared God’s expression of love through, amongst other things, touching the untouchables in society. There is nobody whom God is not willing to touch. He loves everyone he has created. That includes you and the person sitting next to you, your family at home and even the person who really irritates you the most. All loved by God.

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As you pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you afresh now, ask God to bring his loving touch once more today, to refresh you. Maybe a specific situation will come to mind that God wants to touch in your life and do some transforming work in it, maybe there’s a person he wants you to bless and encourage today. Just listen and see what he has to share.

A prayer to finish: 

Father God, thank you that in Jesus you had an opportunity to share a hug with some of your friends. Thank you that Jesus shared our physical experiences and thank you that he went further and even died a horribly painful death on our behalf so that we could have a relationship with you again.

Thank you that you sent the Holy Spirit to guide and be our counsellor and help us to understand how much you love us. Holy Spirit we invite you now to come and fill us afresh and to meet each of us in our individual situations where we are today and to speak to us again. Amen.

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Developing our Spiritual Senses #4: SMELL

We are onto the fourth session in a series about ‘Developing our spiritual senses’. We’ve already had ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good’, ‘God has nice things to say’ and, last time, ‘Seeing things from God’s perspective’.

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Today we are looking at the sense of smell and I’ve called this session ‘Being the aroma of Christ.’ In the Bible there’s a story about a time when a woman anointed Jesus with perfume. It can be found in Luke 7:36-50

Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman

“36 When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 37 A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. 38 As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

39 When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

40 Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

The sense of smell is a powerful tool for bringing up emotions and memories. What are you smelling like today? Maybe you are wearing your favourite perfume,  Maybe your clothes smell a little of the delicious food that you’ve prepared to for lunch time, or maybe you didn’t get time for a shower this morning and don’t smell so fresh!

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In the room where Jesus was having a meal in our story, there were lots of men eating together. There would have been some nice smells hanging around from the food, there might have been a few interesting smells of the men who were eating too. It was a hot country they were in after all! But when the woman entered she brought with her a different smell.

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This woman had lived a sinful life, the Bible doesn’t give us more detail. She knew that she was an outcast and that these men didn’t like her. But that didn’t stop her from coming in to see Jesus. He was much more important to her than their stares of disapproval. She brought with her an alabaster jar of perfume which she poured onto Jesus’ feet after washing them with her tears and drying them with her hair.

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Imagine how the Pharisees must have reacted to this. Certainly the smell in the room would have changed with this perfume. To some of them it might have reminded them of this woman and the bad things she’d got up to, some of them probably knew her personally. They were not happy to have her there at all.

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But to Jesus it was a sweet smell. He explained to the Pharisees that she had been forgiven much and therefore she was more extravagant in her gratitude to Jesus. She didn’t care what other people thought of her or about the social conventions of the day, she just wanted to do this act of thanksgiving to Jesus.

Jesus’s little story that he tells to Simon the Pharisee to explain about this woman’s actions is very clear. If you’ve been let off a big debt you’ll be more grateful to the one who let you off. And here Jesus is talking about forgiveness of sins. This woman had done a lot of bad things, but God had forgiven her and she knew that and was so thankful to him. The Pharisees on the other hand often thought themselves already above sin and therefore they couldn’t understand her behaviour.

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How much have we been forgiven? And how thankful are we to God for forgiving us. Certainly the older I get, the more stupid things I’ve done and the more I’m starting to understand just how amazing this forgiveness is that God has for us. We’ve all sinned, done something wrong that hurts ourselves, others or God. God is always there waiting for us to turn to him, confess and put ourselves right before him and to give us his forgiveness afresh.

How do we express our gratitude to the Lord for his forgiveness?

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Would we do something extravagant like this woman did, going against what would be considered ‘normal’ for those around us? Do we let the Holy Spirit guide us and walk on the paths he has for us? Is our aroma one of perfume poured out at Jesus’s feet, or is it more like the Pharisees, looking on in disgust at such a performance?

The Apostle Paul talks about being the aroma of Christ in 2 Corinthians 2.

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‘14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.’

Paul talks here about an aroma, or a smell that all the Corinthians would have understood in the day.  After a great Roman victory, the soldiers came back home to a big parade, their horses draped in garlands of fresh flowers and an additional fragrance, not as familiar to us, – burning incense.  As people lined the roadway, the smell of flowers and incense meant, “Victory!”

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But at the end of the parade enemy soldiers were stumbling along, filthy, sweaty, wrists tied behind their backs, ankles chained to each other, heads bowed. They smelled the flowers and incense, too.  But for them the aroma meant defeat and signalled they would probably soon be killed.

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Jesus, in his death on the cross, brought about a victory for us over sin and death. By believing that He died for us and that through him our sins have been forgiven and we can have a living relationship with our Father God in heaven today and then eternal life when we die, we too live in victory. He sacrificed himself for us and we must make sacrifices for him, to share his love with those around us who don’t yet know of his love for them.

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Other people can smell our aroma, whether it’s good or bad. And they can also smell our spiritual aroma. When we are living with Jesus as Lord in our lives, listening to him, looking for God’s perspective and doing the things he guides us to do, others will see it, and smell it in us. And to them it will either be a fragrant smell that encourages them and brings life, as they want to find out more and know Jesus for themselves, or it will be a horrible odour that will drive them away.

As we live for Christ and seek to share him with others, some people will hear the gospel and all they will hear is death. They look at the cross and all they see is death. They see no life. No hope. No future. No joy. And so they turn away. And if they turn away forever, they die. They are the people who don’t believe, they don’t see Christ as precious. They don’t see his suffering as a treasure. They don’t smell his death for sinners as the sweetest fragrance in the universe. It’s not a satisfying fragrance, it’s simply the smell of death.

But, those who are being saved smell the death of Christ as the aroma of life. They see in his death the substitute that they so desperately need before God. The son of God dying in their place is the fragrance of life. So they don’t turn away. They believe in him, receive him, embrace him and treasure him and they live – forever. Smelling Christ as the aroma of life gives life.

Slide14

Roses don’t need to apologize for their scent even if some people are allergic to it.  We Are the Aroma of Christ with no apologies.  Will some react as though they are allergic to us?  Maybe!  But it’s not our job to worry about the reaction.  The garlands on the horses and the incense that burned in a Roman victory parade just had an aroma, and they couldn’t help it.  We are in the victory parade to heaven, We Are the Aroma of Christ, and we care enough to do whatever it takes to waft that aroma in the direction of everyone we meet.

Slide15

As the Holy Spirit works in us and fills us up with more and more of God’s love, it overflows to touch others. As we listen to God and share his love with those around us, some people might reject it, but some will accept it and want to know more. God calls us to love people as he loves us. In 1 John 4v19 it says (one of my favourite verses):

Slide16

Thinking back to the woman who poured perfume on Jesus’s feet. How do we demonstrate that love that we have for God? What is the Holy Spirit guiding us towards doing this week to share God’s love and Christ’s victory on the cross with someone in our lives?

Slide17

Let’s pray. Father God thank you that when we come to you, you forgive us and forget our sins. Thank you that you love us and want us to share that love with others. Fill us with your Holy Spirit afresh as we wait on you now and give us a sense of how we can be the aroma of Christ to those around us this week. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

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