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Viewpoint from Rev Jemma Sander-Heys 01/09/2017 

JEMMA SANDER-HEYSRev Jemma Sander-Heys
Team Vicar, Great Yarmouth Team Ministry

as published in the Yarmouth Mercury


“Don’t pray for me... I might burst into flames!”  So said a young woman I know from round town, as I asked how she and her partner were doing... She meant it to be a bit cheeky and amusing and I promised to pray specifically for their situation instead if that was okay, and her partner nodded. But it left me thinking about how harshly many people judge themselves

dove leftJesus Christ was infamous in the communities where he taught and worked, for being ‘friends with sinners’ and ‘having dinner with people of bad character’... if it is true that a man is judged by the company he keeps – then Jesus was a drop out, a good-for-nothing and a reprobate. The snobby chaps higher up the social ladder, and especially some of the religious authorities, thought Jesus was as troublesome as he was clever. Jesus himself said, “I don’t come to call the righteous, I come to call the sinners to repent!”

Jesus didn’t go and hang out where people were already doing and feeling fine, he went where they were struggling, and feeling bad about themselves and life, and he showed them that God doesn’t turn his back when we feel guilty or bad, but that he gets as close as we’ll let him in our misery and anger, and tries to get us to notice. The last word of that quotation is important too ‘repent’... it means simply ‘turn again’... Dove rightFor an alcoholic it might mean ‘get back on the wagon’, for an impatient person, ‘take another deep breath and start over’, for someone judging themselves harshly it may mean, ‘don’t beat yourself up! God is right here, waiting for you to ask for his forgiveness and help’... He’s dying to help you in fact take a look at the cross of Jesus and see that’s already done... there’s nothing worse you could do – and he’s still longing to forgive you if only you’ll turn his way

So next time you’re imagining how badly God might think of you, next time you’re joking ‘Don’t bother praying for me – I’ll burst into flames!’... just remember, you are exactly the kind of person Jesus would be happy to hang out with – though he’d never stop trying to get you to see yourself, and other people, through his more forgiving and loving eyes

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