Summary: A sermon that encourages folk to be positive about what God can do by sending ripples of love into the world. Begins with a story that I only realised lacked it’s ending updated 6/04

Look at the ripples.

What will grab your heart.

Last week we thought a little about the year ahead and some things we could do in order to front up to that year with some resolve and Spiritual direction that would help us not whittle away the year in trivialities and defeat.

This week I want to continue in the forward looking attitude and to encourage you and myself to consider what is out christian purpose for this New Year.

The passage I want to use as a kinda base scripture is Galations chapter 5 verse 1. a passage that we referred to last week.

GAL 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

This passage is a measuring tape for us that we can line up against our lives and work out just what it is we are operating out of. This is important because your life and mine will impact on the lives of others, the world around us and heaven itself one way or another.

Question is what are we going to see in the rear view mirror when we leave 2002 behind.

Let me read for you a story:-

My modern car, automatic and a little lacking in size laboured up the last hill that led into Woolten. As it grunted over the last windy rise Woolten became visible. It lay as it always had nestled into an unlikely ridge that snaked it’s way across the otherwise smooth valley whose arteries gave Woolten life and meaning. I paused at the lookout as I always did fascinated by the memories this panorama always evoked in me. There was the orange roof of the Mill a new smokestack glistening in the summer sun - there was the sequia tree that marked our street and over there was Coal pit pond landscaped now and turned into a park.

Whenever I saw coalpit pond I couldn’t help but think of Hugh Woodhouse - Hugh was middleaged when I was a child and my parents had warned me about him.

He wasn’t bright - but he wasn’t silly either. sort of simply sensible but many of the unkind people had called him mad.

Hugh Woodhouse. I could see him now on an afternoon standing on the edge of coalpit pond with it’s, then ugly reflections of discarded furniture and cars and rubble that made up the town rubbish dump in those days. Those ugly reflections would be there for a moment., then gone, as Hugh would throw a rock into the middle of the pond. Hugh would stand there and say " Look at the ripples" gradually the ugly reflections would reappear and then Joe would throw another rock and would say "Look at the ripples - look at the ripples" and a contended smile would spread across his face like I had never seen in anyone else - then or since.

Hugh did three things that we knew of - he went to church - always - never missed - in fact it was after a sermon by Reverend Glass that Hugh had started throwing stones in Coalpit pond -

It was a sermon on God’s love and ever since Hugh had gone to coal pit pond - everyone laughed at him and some even jeered as he rode his ancient black Raleigh bike down Dury lane that led to Coal pit road . Some children even threw rocks at Joe and shouted look at the ripples and then ran away.

The other thing that Hugh did was he bought groceries - he didn’t have much money because he worked as a sweeper at the mill and didn’t earn much.

After his Mother died he lived alone and had to fend for himself Some of the groceries he bought, he used himself, but not much, most he wrapped in brown paper parcels wrapped up with selotape or string - He would slip little bits of weetbix packet into these parcels on which he had written in big block letters little bible verses or sayings like "God loves you" - or "Jesus loves the little children" - instead of signing these cards he always wrote in small letters "look at the ripples". On the days he did this Hugh would put the parcels on the carrier of his bike at twilight - after the pubs were closed - They closed earlier in those days, and he would set off. He seemed to instinctively know where to go - he would place one at the door of a struggling widow - another at the door of a large family and yet another at the door of a family recently bankrupted because of bad times - over the years that is all Hugh did just those three things threw stones in the pond - went to church and delivered his parcels.

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