Inspirations for Side by Side

Pauline Kennedy

21.1.2020 | Congregational Life, Presbyterian Women, Discipleship

Pauline Kennedy introduces the New 2020/21 edition of InspirationsSide By Side– a resource for women’s ministry. 

We are not supposed to walk alone in our Christian life. We are one body made up of many parts and there are numerous examples in the Bible of men and women of God walking side by side each other as they walked their path of faith.

In Exodus 4, we read that when Moses felt inadequate for the task of speaking to Pharaoh, God sent him Aaron. Later, in Exodus 17, Moses sends his servant, Joshua, to fight the Amalekites while he stands with his hands held high overlooking the battle. When his arms became weary, Moses relied on Aaron and Hur to keep his arms raised until Joshua defeated the Amalekites. Working side by side in God’s name can make all the difference. 

Many of you will have been introduced to the concept of side by side relationships if you attended one of the four PCI events held in autumn 2019. In February, the new 2020/21 edition of Inspirations will be made available for those involved in leading women’s ministry whether through PW groups or other forms of women’s ministry in congregations.  This resource is packed full of ideas to help you plan for women in various settings within your congregation. Contained within this issue there are devotions, programmes and lots of practical ideas and resources to encourage you to further explore side by side relationships in the coming year. 

The 2020/21 Inspirations opens with a series of devotions exploring the biblical call to side by side relationships and what that can look like in our lives today. We want to encourage women of all ages to live side by side in Jesus’ name.  It is our prayer that Inspirationswill be a useful tool to help you, as you encourage others to walk side by side as disciples of Christ, building one another up as you serve, love and follow him.

Read on to sample one of the devotions…





Brave enough to bear?

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

The drift of culture seems to be towards individualism and self-absorption; looking out for number one. The church of Jesus Christ is called to stand in contrast to this. We should want to be a community of people who love God and love each other. Following Paul’s command to, ‘Bear one another’s burdens…’, is one way we can show our love for God and each other. 

This ‘one another’ command follows a section of teaching about life in the Spirit. Paul is saying that, instead of becoming ‘…conceited, provoking one another, envying one another…’ Galatians 5:26 (ESV) a life lived by the Spirit will lead to a community of humility, love and mutual support in which we bear one another’s burdens.

Imagine someone carrying a heavy physical load. They are stumbling under the pressure. You need to get very close to help. As you draw alongside to help, you see their relief as the stress and pressure begins to drain from their face and you feel the strain on your own body as you bear part of the weight for them. This is a picture of what it’s like to bear one another’s burdens.

We are fallen people, living in a fallen world. Consequently, we all have burdens to bear from time to time. What might these burdens be? Well, in the previous verse, Galatians 6:1, Paul has written about how we are to restore a brother or sister caught in sin. So it follows that various burdens can be directly related to battling sin and dealing with feelings of shame and guilt when we fail. But there are many other burdens we are to help people bear. For example: the burden of illness as we watch over a loved one; the burden of suffering from mental health issues; the burden of navigating broken relationships.

In all this burden-bearing, let us keep our eyes fixed on the one who bore our greatest burden: our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12:2

Jesus bore the horrific burden of the cross for the joy of redeeming us. As we seek to bear one another’s burdens, we must keep in mind that Jesus is our perfect example and our continual source of strength and wisdom. Gently, graciously, we point one another to Christ and his gospel as our source of strength, hope, forgiveness and satisfaction in all of life.

Are we brave enough to ‘bear one another’s burdens’? Are we willing to take the time, make the sacrifices, feel the pain? It takes effort to build relationships where we can bear another person’s burdens.

And, are we brave enough to bare our hearts? So often the burdens we carry are not visible to the human eye. We can walk about carrying burdens no-one knows anything about. So how can anyone help us? Are we willing to open up to a wise, godly friend to ask for help and support? Bravery is required as we take off our masks, bare our souls and reach out for help. But this is God’s plan for his people. We don’t grow very well alone – we need one another.

Copies of Inspirations cost £8/9 euro each. Contact pw@presbyterianireland.orgfor more information. The resource will be available to order online after the PW Forum on 15 February.

Pauline Kennedy is PCI's Women's Ministry and PW Development Officer. 

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