At a time when the cost of living has risen dramatically lots of people are giving serious thought to how best to manage their resources and budget in order to meet these rising prices.
There are so many situations where wages are not rising at the same pace and so many people are finding it hard to make ends meet. People wonder about investments and advertisers are quick to identify these patterns in our thinking.
Financial service providers offer savings schemes or pensions. Businesses try to persuade people to invest in their products or their business promising great returns. Many people swear by the reliability of bricks and mortar, suggesting that property is the way to go and, if you can buy a house, it’s a great investment for the future.
All of these ideas and schemes may contain a certain element of truth or wisdom, but there’s also a danger in any scheme that promises to make us rich quick. If it sounds too good to be true, the reality is that it probably is!
When we think of investment we might think, not just of financial returns, but also physical investment. We try to feed our bodies good food and take regular exercise to stay fit and healthy. There’s a recognition that the better we look after the body we have, the better the chance that we will stay healthier for longer. Sometimes we train for particular events like a half marathon or a triathlon building up our endurance, trying to strengthen particular muscles, again being careful about the sorts of things we eat or drink in preparation for this physical challenge.
Most of us are familiar with monetary investment and the array of products available to us. We are often reminded as we walk past doctors’ surgeries or pharmacies or hospitals of the importance of investing in our physical wellbeing. I wonder if we pay anything like the same attention to our spiritual life?
Quite recently in the ‘church without walls’ we welcomed a couple of children into the family of the church through Holy Baptism. It’s a rite or ritual in which we invite children or adults to place Jesus at the centre of their lives. We use water, which represents washing or cleansing, to mark the beginning of a new life.
Next week we look forward to Bishop David coming to confirm 3 young people and an adult from our congregation with a couple of young people from a neighbouring parish. On that occasion they will be speaking for themselves and making commitments or promises to follow Jesus in their daily lives and asking God to fill their lives with His Holy Spirit. The job of God’s Holy Spirit is to make us more like Jesus, so it’s a life long journey of gradual transformation from the inside out.
These are beautiful occasions and they offer us a great opportunity to reflect on our spiritual life. Are we investing in it regularly? Are we reading the Bible? Are we praying? Are we getting involved in acts of service pursuing things like a holy lifestyle, love of our neighbours and investing in these things for our spiritual lives?
What sort of return can people see on our investment? They may not necessarily see our bank balance growing much bigger. They may not see our muscles becoming more toned, but what they should see as we immerse our lives in Jesus is something of His character emerge within us. They may see some of the fruits of the Spirit in our lives – things like Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. They may see a quiet, but steely, resilience as we work our way through the challenges we face. They may see a passion for justice and making the world a fairer and more compassionate place. It’s possible that they might see a change in our priorities when it comes to how we spend our time and our money.
When I started to invest in my own spiritual life in my mid and later teens, it set me on a course that I have never regretted. There are times when I recognise it’s a difficult path to choose to walk, but the return deep within my soul is something no money could ever buy. The awareness of God’s presence and His love in the difficult moments and the concern of His people is something precious and lasting and which makes all the difference in the world.
As I commend this investment to you, can I ask you to hold in your prayers those who are facing sad times at present? Can we pray today for the Smyth family circle, as Paul is laid to rest on Wednesday afternoon? Can we remember the family and friends of Brian Hope, who will be laid to rest next Tuesday? Can we remember May and Brian Lavery, as May’s mum was laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon and we are also asked to remember the family and friends of Terry Parvin, formerly of this parish, who died in London recently.
As I think of spiritual investment this week, I’m grateful for the amazing work of our Sunday schools, our youth organisations, toddlers group and the Hedge project. I’m thinking, too, of Oliver, Robyn, Finn and Patricia who will be confirmed and I’m thankful for the work of God in their lives and asking that it would continue.
All are welcome to our Sunday school prizegiving at 11am on Sunday and our Confirmation service on Thursday 30th June at 7.30pm, when we look forward to welcoming Bishop David.
Look forward to speaking again soon.
Much love to everyone,
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