It has been a strange week. We have been waiting upon a rotary washing line to be delivered so we can make good on this Yorkshire breeze which frequents this valley. To purchase one and await delivery is very ‘modern’ I suppose.

Sadly over the past month my debit card has been ‘scammed’, the details taken and used fraudulently, on two separate occasions.

I am not sure whether it was through passing the details over the phone to purchase an insurance policy or via local cash machines – who knows – but the card(s) were used to buy petrol and items online. Fortunately Nationwide stopped those purchases and we await the return of the money.

It has left me feeling a little isolated, wondering just where purchases can be made without concern that the details will be stolen yet again – and why firms today still seek those valuable card details over the phone when a secure website for a national organisation should be available.

It has caused me to reflect upon the purchases that we make, the reasons we buy such items and the ease that purchases can be made today. The contactless system appears so effortless – it is – but I wonder whether because of its simplicity and speed we fail to realise that we have spent once again. Don’t get me wrong, I see the application but at such a time I wonder of the security aspects. We like to buy, the likes of Amazon (alternative providers also exist) certainly encourage us to ponder a while browsing their pages and adding to lists that we create of possible purchases. Then possibly when we are feeling down we can lift our spirits by making a purchase – retail therapy.

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These purchases give life a bit of umpf, a new this or that can excite but we all can reflect on just how long that feeling of wow lasts. We store up those items we have bought over so many years. We have a rule to never use the attic – as if you can’t see it and use it what was the point of it – which hopefully does limit our purchases. Furthermore, one of my Rules of Life from the Methodist Diaconal Order is to be a careful steward of God’s gifts. In that I regard not discarding goods before their time and trying to upcycle them is a way forward. Having recently moved and startled by the size of the removal van used, I was warmed by the story of someone who also recently moved by taxi – one journey. They are a successful data scientist in London but their life is not recorded by what they own. Yes they can move into a furnished flat but they do not carry the weight of so many items: vintage and leaky coffee machines, armchairs that are falling apart and flickering table lamps come to mind. I am reminded of the story in Scripture where Jesus tells a prospective disciple “If you want to give it all you’ve got,” Jesus replied, “go sell your possessions” (Matt 19:21).

But wait what was the rest of that response? “give everything to the poor. All your wealth will then be in heaven. Then come follow me.

Our wealth…how we measure that? £, $ ?

I really value the views of countryside, the gardens that we pass by on walks – I see it as God’s creation in full flow.

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I also value the smell of fresh bread, don’t you? We have the joy of being able to make bread, occasionally rather flatter than expected and it has the delights of containing anything which comes to eye as I look in the cupboards.

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One of my children doesn’t take well to mixed spice and current bread loaf, especially when we serve her cheese sandwiches. Jesus said to his disciples “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35). Can we see wealth as not financial but in the wonders of what we have around us: community and countryside?

As I reflect upon this past week, I am starting to see the connections. The cards repeatedly stopped, the desire of others to make purchases using stolen details, my desire to purchase items that we really need..and life.

Which of those is most important?

Oh that we could travel light, such as in a taxi, and to rest upon the promises of Jesus, that we can be fed without resorting to material goods.

Travel well (and lightly) this week.

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