Jesus Doesn’t See a Label he Sees Potential – This was the message of Helen Clarke, guest speaker at the Prayer Breakfast organised by Derry and Raphoe Diocese on 24th March 2018. Helen had travelled from her home in Lurgan on a bright sunny morning to join with eighty six members for a delicious, hearty breakfast, cooked and served in the church hall of St Augustine’s Parish Church by Rev’d Malcolm Ferry and the men of the parish. What a treat for the ladies to sit down, relax and be served!

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Following the breakfast 9 year old Emily Fielding, grand-daughter of one of the members, entertained the ladies with two traditional Highland dances, the second a Highland Sword dance.

Retiring to the adjoining church, Helen Clarke addressed the ladies telling them how much she loved springtime and how it brought back wonderful memories of time spent with her grandmother. As well as springtime she also loved the season of Lent, as it was an opportunity to take stock, to have time to sit and thank God for creation.

Taking her message from John Chapter 4 and the story of Jesus, a Jew, asking a Samaritan woman who was labelled as an outcast, a failure and a woman of no distinction for a drink, Helen explained the significance of this. Jesus chose to be at that well, because he knew the past history of the woman. He also knew that she was made for so much more and that she had a deeper need; that of a soul thirst. To make her point Helen asked members to write down on the label distributed to them on entering the church, how people viewed them and how they viewed themselves.

Helen explained that in asking for a drink Jesus had treated the woman with dignity, challenging her lifestyle in an appropriate way and giving her a sense of her own worth. He earned her spiritual trust with living water and she was awakened and had a dawning of truth, enabling her to ditch her label. The wonderful thing she told members, was that no matter what our history or story, Jesus welcomes each one of us to have a relationship with him.

Challenging members to stop, think and listen to God as Mary Sumner did, we should follow in her footsteps. She listened and responded to God’s call.

In closing Helen reminded members how to listen to the voice of God. Only if we are still and in a calm place, prioritising our relationship and time with him. Withdrawing from busyness, Lent is such a good time to do this. Helen invited members to turn over their labels and write on the other side, ‘I am a dearly loved child’ She finished her talk with a favourite Hymn, ‘It is well with my Soul’

Jacqui Armstrong who was responsible for organising the Prayer Breakfast, thanked Helen for her inspirational talk and wonderful message of hope.