Monday, 26 November 2012

Complimentary Nuts

And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.

Provoking each other to love… eh?

Encouraging each other? Sounds good to me!

St Paul loved and worked with Barnabas the Son of Encouragement… cos even St Paul could see a vital thing in Barnabas and his ministry. – Encouragement!

Barnabas was a man who encouraged others.  And the church of Jesus Christ is intended to be a community that encourages one another that provokes one another to love and good works.

A guy goes into a bar. He’s sitting on the stool, enjoying his drink when he hears a voice say, “You look great!” 

He looks around there’s nobody near him. He hears the voice again, “No really, you look terrific.” 

The guy looks around again. Nobody. He hears a voice again, “Is that a new shirt or something? Because you look absolutely brilliant tonight!” 

He then realizes that the voice is coming from a bowl of nuts on the bar. 

The guy calls over the barman, “Hey Jimmy! What is it with the nuts?”

“Oh,” the barman answers, “They’re complimentary.”  

I know it’s a bad joke, but it can be really good for us to be around someone who is complimentary! Someone who encourages us and gives us praise? What does a wee bit of encouragement do for you? Doesn’t it make you more likely to smile and go on to encourage somebody else?

You know I always say that I preach to myself first… and I do…  and I admit that at times recently I have been far from encouraging, and that is wrong. One of the tasks of ministry is to encourage others, to provoke others to love.

Very often, in my own ministry, little words of encouragement have been enough to keep me going through the dark times .. sometimes just a wee comment from someone .. or sometimes a wee note or card or letter from someone has given me the encouragement I’ve needed to carry on going.

There was a time not too long ago that I was ready to walk away from here and from ministry, and a wee notelet from Anne Tomlinson, totally out of the blue, was enough to pick me up and keep going. She’s totally unaware of the effect that had on me. Maybe I will tell her one day.

I’ve often said from here how important it is to encourage each other as a congregation. A kind word goes a long way, and we need to be building each other up rather than tearing each other down. We need to be praising and counting the positives rather than trying to find fault with negatives.

There’s a lot to be positive about in St Aug’s. We have some wonderful people and do some wonderful stuff together, but often we need to hear a bit of praise from others. Often we need a kind word to keep us going.

Those of you who have been on a Cursillo weekend should know the power of a wee card or note to someone… so why don’t we do it with each other more often? Even a wee phone call to someone who is going through a hard time is enough! A phone ministry can be really effective. Sometimes we are really good at this stuff in St Aug’s, other times not so good, depending on who it is!

It’s all too easy to be negative about others, too easy to run another person down. But, as my granny used to say, “If you don’t have something nice to say to someone, or about someone, then keep your tongue to yourself”!

As a parish family, we need to remind each other of that fact from time to time. We need to build each other up, rather than tear each other down. It’s dead easy to be negative or sarcastic about someone else but let’s not go there.

We encourage each other, and we have words of praise for each other and words of kindness and encouragement. And that’s the way to do it!
And we need to be encouraging others out there in our daily lives … we, too, should be sons and daughters of encouragement in the world. There are a lot of people out there in need of a kind word. Because of unemployment or poverty, there are thousands beyond our doors suffering from dreadfully low self-esteem, and we have a ministry to them too!

Kindness is contagious and you never know what kind of effect an individual word or act of kindness will have on others. 

You never know where a simple act of kindness may lead. 

That is why the writer of Hebrews tells us to provoke or to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. . . encouraging one another . . .” 

A great Jewish rabbi named Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote, “When I was younger, I used to admire intelligent people. Now that I am older, I admire kind people.” Why do you think he said that? It is because he knows that kindness is contagious and kind people are truly building a better world. 

Of course, Jesus set the example of love and kindness for us. “We love because he first loved us,” says I John. 

The Kingdom of God is built brick by brick, and our little acts of love, our simple words of encouragement are little bricks of that Kingdom.

That is why we are to provoke one another to love and good works. So that someday the whole world will know Jesus and his love – and God’s Kingdom will be ushered in.

As I look around St Augustine's, I often think of you as something akin to a bowl of nuts..... but lets make sure that we are complimentary ones.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A lesson for all of us Kenny, thankyou.