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Thought for the Month  - November

Remembering, reflecting and re-telling our stories

November is here! Outside, things are changing – evenings are darker now the clocks have gone back, leaves are rapidly changing colour and falling, and our lawn at the manse is covered with windfall apples, with shiny green and red skins, still edible if gathered quickly. Nothing stays the same, but we know that the year’s cycle will turn, and new life will come again.

November is a month for remembering – Remembrance Sunday has an added significance this year with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. November is a special time for Tony and me to remember our fathers – Tony’s dad’s birthday was the 10th and my dad died on the 5th five years ago. I remember the evening of the day he died, driving to a house group about 8 miles away, and seeing the sky filled with fireworks. It felt surreal, and yet somehow fitting, as I believed that my dad was being welcomed into Heaven. It was devastating to lose him, but somehow I knew that God was in it, that God was with me, and that my dad was with God.

November can also be a month for reflection – a time to reflect on the past and give thanks for the people we love, those still with us and those who have gone ahead of us, and also to thank God for the many blessings we’ve received through the years. I find myself looking through photo albums, remembering holidays and family gatherings, special times with friends, and maybe some sad or difficult times too. In all of this, it is really good if we have a chance to share memories and stories with others. We can often find things in common with others, important and profound things, especially in the community of believers. We know that God has been there with us throughout our lives, sharing in our experiences, walking beside us and somehow ahead of us too. He is a constant presence, a faithful friend and a very present help in times of trouble, as the psalmist says (Psalm 46:1).

Each of us has our own stories to tell and it can be a great encouragement in our Christian faith to hear other people’s testimonies! Testimony simply means telling the story of a ‘God-moment’ in your life. The word ‘testimony’ may conjure up a picture of a ‘road to Damascus’ life-changing encounter with the living Christ, (Acts 9) or a ‘road to Emmaus’ realisation that Christ has been walking beside us (Luke 24:13) … but some testimonies can be subtle and non-dramatic, and yet still be life-changing. I’ve always loved hearing people’s stories and enjoyed being a pastoral visitor years before I felt called to diaconal ministry. It is still my privilege to hear lots of people’s stories as I visit them at Mickle Hill, or in their homes elsewhere in the circuit or in hospital. People share their God-encounters - maybe it came as a sense of deep peace, or of unexpected and overwhelming joy, or something that happened which clearly wasn’t a co-incidence but was a God-incidence.

We have just experienced one of these in our own family. Some of you know that a dear relative of mine, Win, recently died aged 96 in an MHA care home in Wolverhampton. As she lay dying, I wasn’t able to go to her, but my brother & his wife who live in Devon ‘just happened’ to be driving through the Midlands that day, on their way to visit their daughter in Manchester. They spent time with Win, reading the Bible and praying with her. I was so grateful that Win had some family with her, and it blessed my brother Mark and his wife Carolyn too. As Mark said, it was a “God appointment”. Wow – thank you God!

So as you travel through November, reflect on the God-encounters you have had, and thank him for them. If you struggle to remember any, open up your heart and ask God to make his presence known to you. I would love to compile a book of testimonies from across the circuit, so if you want to share yours, please get in touch with me (email: tandfidb@gmail.com)

May God bless us as we remember, reflect and re-tell our stories, and in the words of one of my favourite hymns: We’ll praise Him for all that is past, and trust Him for all that’s to come.’ (Hymns and Psalms 277 by Joseph Hart)

Peace and love, Deacon Fiona

"Past Thoughts"

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