A message from the Rev’d Amanda Collinson

Posted by Admin on 29 April 2019, 2:08 pm

Amanda Collinson


St John the Baptist Church



Tel: 01983 294913

Email: amandacollinson01@gmail.com




I am writing this article the day after the 2019 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race where history was made when James Cracknell, aged 46, became the oldest competitor ever to participate let alone win.  This is an achievement in itself (rowing is argued to be one of the hardest sports!) but considering only 9 years ago he suffered a near fatal accident as he was cycling across America when a fuel tank hit him at 70mph, his achievements are even more impressive.  He suffered a devastating frontal-lobe brain injury, forcing doctors to put him into a medically-induced coma. He had to learn to talk and walk again and has been left with damage to his frontal lobe – the part of the brain that controls things like mood and motivation, leaving him with difficult personality changes and prone to epileptic fits.
However he felt that this accident had defined him over the last nine years, with people continually asking him if he was OK, so he decided to show them that he was by completing some unbelievable sporting challenges – starting only a little over six months after his near-death experience, Cracknell lined up for the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a series of races on foot, on skis or by mountain bike up the freezing trail of the Yukon river in north-west Canada, over distances that range from marathon length to 430 miles.
Quotes from him include “We all go through setbacks in life, and how you respond to it is absolutely key” and “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do.”
At this point of typing, I put down my cup of tea and went and found my trainers!  I really must do some more physical activity…. But the thing is, he talks sense.  In a similar way we explored ‘The Greatest Showman’ in our Lent Groups this year and one of my favourite quotes from the film is when Barnum is toasted as ‘proof that a man’s station is only limited by his imagination’ but actually the whole film is really a collection of characters defying what people thought they could achieve.
The problem with all this?  We have to believe in ourselves.  James Cracknell certainly does as did Barnum. What about you?  Personally, I lack confidence, but then I always have done, despite any successes I have achieved and so I have tried to instil confidence in my boys from when they were young to try and ensure they do not struggle as much as I have.
But I, and all those who believe in God, have an added bonus – we can gain strength and confidence through God, although it doesn’t prevent us from suffering from life’s challenges.  In the Old testament there are encouraging verses such as this one from Isaiah ‘ Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you.’ In the New Testament we have words from Jesus himself to bring us confidence as it says in Matthew’s Gospel ‘Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’
So whoever it is that gives you confidence and a sense of support – God, a proud parent or child, a best buddy, hold onto them and thank them, because with them you can achieve your potential and if you are struggling on your own, I would encourage you to find someone to give you strength and support – whether it is the newsagent who always has a friendly word to say, the smiley person you chat to on the bus, a wonderfully supportive neighbour that is always there for you, it doesn’t matter.  I say this because we were not made to live alone but in relationship with those around us, and that’s not just a spouse, partner, children or siblings but community itself.
We had a great experience of a new community with our ‘Tea@3’ service last month.  A new venture with no identity and yet we got lots of different people together, sharing food and time, forming ‘community’ through conversations and experiences.  It was a great joy and privilege and one we look forward to deepening and expanding the next 5th Sunday of the month which is the last one in June.
And as this new service showed, you do not have to be a certain type of person to feel part of a community – when everyone is welcome, everyone belongs and most importantly where everyone feels able to do what they want to do!  So this month I would encourage you to take that deep breath and do something you have never felt able to do – be it a real sporty challenge or just chatting to someone new: remember what James said “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do” and whatever it is that you achieve, big or small, be proud about it.
I wish you a courageous and confidence-filled month!

Rev’d Amanda


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