I wonder if I could take you away from leafy Ealing for a moment - around 2,000 miles away to be exact, to Cyprus.
There's been some optimism in the news recently about Cyprus.
This Mediterranean island that's visited by many every year has been divided since 1974. The northern one-third of the land is inhabited by Turkish Cypriots and the rest of the country is inhabited by Greek Cypriots. This situation arose when Greece backed a coup to overthrow the island's leadership. Turkey responded by invading the island and occupying the northern third.
Over the years, several attempts have been made to achieve reconciliation, but none have succeeded.
But it was reported recently that the leaders of both Greek and Turkish Cyprus are making a go of it again, and there is optimism that a solution can be found within the year.
As you can imagine, there are a number of issues to be agreed upon and these issues are being worked through.
I was very impressed when I heard that between May 2015 and January 2016, the presidents of both sides had 20 rounds of talks!
Nobody has 20 rounds of talks if they are not committed to finding a solution.
This isn't the first separation Cyprus has seen
The Bible captures a story of another big separation that happened many centuries ago involving Cyprus.
Paul and Barnabas were great men who went together on a journey starting churches in a number of places - including Cyprus. They took a young man with them called John Mark, who was a relative of Barnabas.
Partway through the journey Mark dropped out, and the two men had to finish the mission without him.
After some time, they were considering another trip through Cyprus and other places, to visit the churches they had set up. Barnabas wanted to give Mark a second chance and bring him along, but Paul was totally against it.
He couldn't trust Mark after he'd left the team on the last journey.
The disagreement couldn't be resolved, and Paul and Barnabas eventually went their separate ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul recruited a man called Silas, and went on a journey through Syria.
Maybe this story resonates with you.
Can you recall a time in your life when you had a ‘Cyprus’ moment…a time of painful separation?
How did you manage it?
We live in a world where it's sometimes easier to walk away than find a way through conflict.
Not to dismiss how sensible walking away from conflict can sometimes be, how about when it's wiser to find a way through?
How about when everything suggests that staying and fighting is the better long-term solution, but the temptation to pull away is very strong?
Have you ever been in a situation like that? Have you ever walked away from a job or friendship or relationship where in hindsight, perhaps you should have stayed and resolved your differences with the other side instead of walking away?
And if you're given that same opportunity again, where will you find the strength to get through the rough patch?
Reconciling Turkish and Greek Cypriots is clearly a very difficult process to navigate - discussions on reunification are still ongoing after 20 rounds of talks. We will have to watch that space to see what the outcome will be.
But one man who has been through a very tough ‘Cyprus’ moment was Jesus.
After a night of unjustified arrest, interrogation, false accusations, severe physical chastisement and verbal abuse, he was sentenced to death, crucified on a cross, naked and in agony.
To add insult to injury, not only were the religious leaders and Roman soldiers taunting him as he hung apparently helpless on the cross, but one of the thieves who was crucified with him did the same.
In spite of all these provocations, Jesus stuck it out and stayed on the cross until the job was finished.
When I look closer into Jesus’ ordeal, I find that Jesus found strength to go through His ‘Cyprus’ moment by God’s strength.
The night before he was arrested, Jesus spent time praying, and was strengthened by God for the challenge he was about to face.
Are you facing a challenging period?
Do you feel that the right thing to do is to fight through rather than pull away? You will do well to do what Jesus did in a similar situation…you will do well to pray.
And you don't have to pray alone
We love to pray at Redeemer.
Every Sunday we meet at 9:45am to pray before coffee at 10am.
Every Sunday our prayer team dedicate time to pray with anyone who wants it.
Three times a year we gather for a full evening devoted to prayer for the church and the Borough of Ealing.