Articles

Matt Bird

Commuting into work felt different. People across the train carriage were soberly reading the news about the attack in Westminster on their smart phones. I can imagine they, like me, were messaging their loved ones a little more than normal. Then across the public address system the train guard made the usual announcement, “If you see anything suspicious please report it.” You could have heard a pin drop. People stopped what they were doing, raised their heads and looked around the carriage, being careful not to look anyone in the eye.

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Imagine you were given a single wish and that with it you could ask for anything you wanted in all the world. What would you ask for? Love and peace? Family and community? Health and long life? A new home or home extension? Wealth and riches? For most people the only challenge would been choosing simply one wish!

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There is a story of an elderly couple who – in their 70s – believed God was asking them to undertake a huge adventure at great personal risk. They would be leaving the comfort, stability and security of their home and the country where they had grown up and stepping out into great uncertainty, with nothing more than faith to keep them going.

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Best gift

“Ding dong merrily on high, the Christmas bells are ringing,” sing the carol singers. The tree is up and your are enjoying a daily chocolate treat from the advent calendar. The shops are loaded with Christmas goodies but you are still stuck about what to buy that person in your family who has everything. Then you are practicing producing a genuine smile for when you receive that gift from your ‘auntie’ that you know is going to move on immediately to the charity shop.

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Matt Bird

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent and the Church begins its countdown to Christmas. If the children in your life are anything like the children in mine then they have already started counting the “sleeps” until Christmas. The excitement and the anticipation has been palpable for weeks.

Christmas is all about love and relationships. It’s about being in contact with friends and loved ones we may not have spoken to all year; it’s about eating and drinking with family and it’s about buying presents to say, “you matter to me” or “I love you”. However, as we focus on rekindling relationships with those who are special to us, it’s worth remembering that the first Christmas was actually all about relationships between strangers.

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God's will

There is a story of a young married couple who were fortunate to have a patron who provided them with a new home and beautiful garden. They spent hours in the garden talking with each other and occasionally their patron would visit and they would walk and talk together. Their patron gave them complete freedom to enjoy their new home. He explained they could enjoy the fruit from any bush or tree in the garden but gave one stipulation: there was one tree whose fruit they should not eat because it would be bad for them.

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Relationships

Where did it all begin? I was invited to speak at a business conference on the subject of ‘networking’. I don’t know what you think when you hear that word but my insides cringe and crawl. I thanked the conference organiser for their kind invitation, and said that I couldn’t accept because I hate networking. I went on to explain that I find networking contrived and manipulative, but what I did believe in was building authentic, long term and high trust relationships. The conference organiser immediately asked me if I would speak on that subject.

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Matt Bird

The outcome of the EU Referendum, whether you voted leave or remain, means that we are all feeling more uncertain, vulnerable and insecure than we did ten days ago.

Economic, political and cultural changes have been set in motion. They are unstoppable and are going to affect us all. Like me, you have probably begun to wonder how the value of the pound is going to impact your savings, investments, pension and the interest rates on your mortgage. As we look a little farther into the future, we can expect travel around Europe to become harder, with the potential introduction of visas. Then there is the downgrading of the UK’s credit rating, which is going to increase the cost of our national debt. These issues will directly or indirectly impact everyone.

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Wealth

We first met for afternoon tea in the Members’ Room of my central London club. He had spent his working life visiting Christian community charities and writing them cheques from his family’s foundation. He was in the habit of giving the charity a sealed envelope with the cheque in when he arrived, so that there was no sense that he was there to assess their work, simply to appreciate it.

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Matt Bird

Louise was one of my best friends. Lovely, loving, and loyal. She was a beautiful person inside and out. I knew she was unwell but I never realised how unwell until one day, I received a message to say she had died. She was about to turn 40 years old with the best of life ahead of her, and yet she had been snatched away by the Big C. At the funeral I wept uncontrollably, and even now whenever I think about her a deep pain emerges within me and my eyes fill with tears.

We have all known someone whose life has been stolen from them, and us, by death. (more…)

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