Forget What Is Behind

It would be impossible to miss the fact that the World Cup is reaching its climax - the many England and other flags flying from cars and houses have revealed that something significant is underway, and we seldom see Ashley Road as quiet as it was during the fateful semi-final. 

As we reflect on this sporting disappointment or many more personal ones, most of us are tempted to live life regretting the past and in the realms of 'if only …', but it's both pointless and depressing to get trapped in the past.  We can't change the past, but only the present and the future.  St Paul wrote, "Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on" (see Philippians 3 to discover more).  There's a lesson here as football teams approach the next tournament, and an even deeper lesson for us all in life - Paul was writing about the call to follow Jesus.

 Whether you follow Him or not, I wish you all the best.

Getting More Than We Bargained For...

My earliest service of the year happened recently with the 6am service on the beach on Easter day.  As the S-U-N rose over the horizon, we celebrated that the S-O-N has already risen from the grave.  All along the beach, groups from different churches were doing the same thing – Easter was a special morning.

A few days after Jesus’ resurrection, he himself was on the beach of the Sea of Galilee early in the morning while seven of his disciples had returned to what they knew before they were devastated by his death – fishing.  Jesus was on the shore with a fire already burning to cook bread and fish.  (See John chapter 21 if you’d like to read more).  The risen Jesus wasn’t some sort of ghostly apparition – he ate food and was tangible, showing that his resurrection was real and physical, not just something psychological.

There’s something else we can learn from this chapter.  Even though the disciples were experienced fishermen they had had an unproductive night: they had fished all night and caught nothing.  But Jesus had something better in store for them (I expect at least some of them thought ‘What does he know?’ when an apparent stranger on the shore shouted fishing advice).  When they fished the way he suggested they landed a huge catch of 153 large fish.  With Jesus, we always get more than we bargained for.


Tomorrow is the 99th anniversary of Armistice Day at the end of the First World War.  It is humbling to think of the many thousands who signed up but never returned, decimating so many communities and traumatizing countless lives.  The poppy from the fields of Flanders has become a powerful symbol for our remembrance of those who gave their lives for the good things we enjoy but so often take for granted today.

Sometimes people ask how can events of long ago and far away be relevant today.  There are two parts of the answer to this question.  The first is that remembrance is not just about history, it is also about now – our armed forces are serving in harm’s way today, and many are the former service personnel and their families still living with the effects of previous conflicts.

The second part of the answer is that events of long ago can be very relevant today, because they can change the world.  So much of the freedom and prosperity that we enjoy can be traced to the sacrifices of others in the events of history.

Many of the nation’s war memorials are in churches (visitors often come to St John’s to see the Parkstone memorial), and Christians play a key part in remembrance ceremonies, but again it’s natural to ask why.  The answer is that Christian faith is about remembrance – remembrance of the rock solid historical reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – and giving thanks for the new life that he gives to his followers.

So there’s a close link of logic between remembrance of those who died for the good of our society, and faith in Jesus.  As he said “Greater love has no-one than this – that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 17.13)