At the heart of the Christmas story is a mother and her child. So simple, but on reflection full of meaning.Read More
Our annual Fellowship Day was a focused around a series of presentations from Emma and Tim Palmer on the theme of ‘Building the Body’. Spiritual lessons around ‘the body’ are common. It’s a well-known and oft-used theme from the New Testament, with plenty of verses exhorting greater unity and appreciation of all the parts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12). This study, however, took a different approach.Read More
We celebrated harvest festival on Sunday, remembering God’s amazing creation, and together giving thanks for everything: the harvest, our food, shelter, family, friends, salvation, and more!Read More
The words in the Lord’s Prayer about forgiveness are far-reaching: ‘…and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.’ (Luke 11:4, NET version).
Do we? How far are we willing to go in forgiving others when we are wronged? Whilst God’s forgiveness is freely given, it isn’t entirely unconditional: we need to believe in him and try to forgive those who have wronged us (even if we don’t succeed!).Read More
Hey! John! Write a letter for Me? To that lot in Sardis. Tell them I’ve been keeping an eye on them, I know what they’re up to. It’s all show. They look just like a bunch of committed and enthusiastic Christians but they’re actually nothing of the sort. Dead. Nearly all of them. Just a few who are really Mine. Tell them to repent and turn to Me before I come back unexpectedly and blot them out of the book of life.Read More
You think I’m going to talk about butterflies, don’t you? Not this time. It’s time to bring to light one of the lesser-known, but just as amazing, examples of this biological phenomenon. It’s one I’ve only recently become aware of thanks to a child in my son’s pre-school bringing me a black and orange creature resembling a tiny alligator. He told me it would turn into a ladybird and, I have to say, I was sceptical. I wasn’t familiar with the creature he showed me and I’d never heard of ladybirds coming out of cocoons. But I investigated and it turns out…he was right!Read More
“Doctor, Doctor I feel like a pair of curtains!”*
But enough silly jokes, I want to talk about dolphins in the Bible. You know, the ones in Exodus 26.
In my youth we were taught lots of Bible detail about the Tabernacle, but I never really bought into all those curtains and coverings and sockets to fasten them together. Nowadays I take more notice of “all scripture is given us for instruction.” (2Tim:3.16). And the great big cover over the whole Tabernacle is made of leather. Dolphin skins. Or porpoises. Or badger skins. Or manatee (a type of extinct sea cow).Read More
As we come towards the end of Easter Sunday, it’s a good time to reflect on the three days that changed the world. This blog discusses three things that were changed by Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection: our relationship with God, our relationship with one another, and…nothing at all!Read More
We had a talk last Sunday giving us some good reasons to go to church: to encourage one another, to grow both individually and collectively, to worship, and to spread the good news.Read More
Our Christmas carol service this year had an advent calendar theme, with a different song, reading, or other element of the service hidden under each window. The children had great fun opening the windows by remote control!Read More
We were reminded during a recent service about a rather enigmatic verse in Luke’s Gospel: “Remember Lot’s wife.” The lesson behind this verse goes right back to Genesis, when Lot, his wife, and their family were running away from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as they were being destroyed. Lot’s wife looks back and is caught up in the destruction. But the real lesson of Lot’s wife is not where she set her eyes, but where she set her heart.Read More
Well, since you are reading this blog, you have embraced (to a degree at least) the digital world in which we live! The digital world presents both opportunities and threats to Christians. In my view, the opportunity to reach new audiences, enhance ‘in-reach’ within churches and church communities, access information to help us understand God’s word, educate our children more effectively, and make the most of global connectivity far outweighs the threats.Read More
It’s that time of year to celebrate the harvest. A good harvest is vital, even for those of us who no longer live in farming communities. The Israelites were told to celebrate the harvest, to share it with those less fortunate than themselves, and to give a portion back to God. We can learn lessons from these instructions, because we are planted by God to be fruitful Christians, to celebrate the growth that we see in ourselves and others, to share our literal and spiritual harvest, and to give ourselves to God.Read More
Microbiology is a remarkable science: a whole microcosm of activity that is fundamental to life on our planet. But it is also a new science, only having been established for a couple of hundred years. So, any information on microbes in the Bible is by inference only. This post covers a few areas where microbes feature loud and clear: in the origin of disease, in the plagues on Egypt, and in understanding the public health value of the Law of Moses.Read More
Why a loving God would allow his creation to suffer is one of the most challenging questions to answer. Sometimes God is directly to blame for suffering (e.g. natural disasters), whereas other times human sin creates the suffering – or make natural disasters a whole lot worse. Either way, God has created a world where suffering is permitted. This means that we can exercise free will and choose whether to follow God. God also uses suffering as a ‘tool’ to promote personal growth.Read More
Jesus’ parables of the man planning to build a tower and the king planning to go to war in Luke 14 (v25-33) highlight the cost of discipleship, and advise careful planning before deciding to follow Jesus. At our service on Sunday, we weighed up the costs and benefits of discipleship, concluding (as you may expect!) that the benefits outweigh the costs many times over!Read More
I recently enjoyed a series of talks by James Riley on a 'Boundaryless God'. Jesus challenged the boundaries set by the religious system of his day (e.g. Who is my neighbour? How many times must I forgive?). But where does this leave us in living out our Christianity? Are boundaries useful at all in terms of our fellowship, worship, and services? There is certainly some guidance in the Bible to suggest that boundaries can be useful in some of these areas - but where we choose to set them may be more a product of our cultural context than absolute 'right' or 'wrong'.Read More
“It’s not a Church of England thing, it’s not an Anglican thing, it’s a Christian thing.”
In the 10 days leading up to Pentecost Sunday on 4th June the Archbishop of Canterbury is encouraging Christians of all denominations to take part in a global prayer movement 'Thy Kingdom Come'. People are encouraged to pray in whatever way they choose, wherever they are, as individuals, as a family or as a church.
Pentecost Sunday commemorates the day of the Jewish feast of Pentecost just 40 days after Jesus' resurrection when, having seen him ascend to heaven, the disciples were gathered together in a room and the Holy Spirit descended on them, like flames (Acts 2); miraculously, they found themselves able to speak in any language which made them understandable to the multi-ethnic crowd of visitors in Jerusalem at the time. This was when they first began to preach the gospel, the good news of the risen Lord Jesus - and Pentecost Sunday today is thought of as the birth-day of the Church. It was the start of the Church's mission to "go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation" (as Jesus instructed them in Mark 16:15). "He who believes and is baptised will be saved", Jesus said.
Under the banner of 'Thy Kingdom Come' we are encouraged to pray for the evangelisation of the world, for all people to know Jesus. “Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that we, those who follow him, might ‘be one that the world might believe’. We are invited to make a lasting difference in our nations and in our world, by responding to his call to find a deep unity of purpose in prayer," Archbishop Justin Welby has said.
To know Jesus, to experience him as King and as Lord now, transforms our life, has the potential to transform the world and gives us an amazing hope for the future. To be part of his Kingdom is something we can begin to experience now, but it will not be fully known until he returns to this world to set up God's Kingdom on the earth. This is the consistent message of the Bible: God will one day dwell with man here on the earth. And Jesus will bring this Kingdom when he reappears, at his second coming.
At that firstPentecost, the disciples had just seen Jesus ascend into heaven, and they had heard angels say this to them: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." Jesus will one day return in person and we will see him and know him, just as the disciples did! Their longing for that day is still there right at the end of the New Testament, when Jesus says to the apostle John "Surely, I am coming soon", and John replies "Even so, come Lord Jesus!"
Amen. May thy Kingdom come soon, in its fullest sense!
Beautifully done by the African Children’s Choir!
We had a home group recently discussing the essence of church. The term ’church’ is often used to apply to a building in modern times, but this is not the Biblical sense. The word for church in the Bible (‘ecclesia’) is probably best translated as congregation, or group of believers (although it can be translated ‘mob’, which is an interesting idea). This post tries to summaries the essence of church: what it is, and who it is for.Read More