Mission to Earth

January 11, 2019

Satellite picture of Earth and MoonDid you see the pictures from the Yutu 2 “Jade Rabbit” lunar rover this week?

If you are a fan of space exploration (and who isn’t?), these pictures are not to be missed as the Chinese rover is the first chance we have had to see what the far side of the moon looks like at ground level*. While previously we have had pictures taken by satellite of the far side of the moon, this is the first time we are able to see it up close, and experience what it is like to travel along its stark landscape.

Space has often been associated with the divine and mankind has often tried to see God, but can we ever truly know what God is like? Is God too far away? Is our image too blurry?

The good news of Jesus Christ is that God came to us so that we no longer have to guess what God is like. Through Jesus we can see God up close and encounter him personally.

Don’t miss out on God’s mission to Earth.

Gavin.henderson@gracecom.church

* The moon is tidally locked to the Earth, which means that only one side is ever visible from the Earth’s surface.

Take a look

January 4, 2019

winter landscape panorama with sunset and the forestIt is conventionally thought that the month of January is named after Janus, the Roman god of gates, beginnings and transitions. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. In the UK as we look back to 2018 we probably recall the entanglements of the Brexit negotiations and as we look ahead to 2019 we may wonder how it’s all going to be resolved.

As a Christian when I look back in time my focus is on the cross of Jesus Christ where my salvation was secured and when I look into the future I live in the light of his anticipated return to earth. But my looking doesn’t stop there: I look up to see that God provides the power and strength for me to live in a dangerous world; I look in to see that God lives in me and has promised never to leave me; And I look around at my fellow Christians reminding me that we travel together on this journey as part of a Christian community. In 2019 I hope to deepen my vision in all of these aspects of my Christian walk.

If you are a Christian and are concerned about what the next year holds for you why not try and do the same. If you are not a Christian and you are apprehensive and anxious about the future, 2019 might just be a good time to take a look at this thing called Christianity. It is well worth a look.

Barry Robinson (Barry.robinson@gracecom.church)

Is there anybody out there?

December 28, 2018

You may have heard the expression, ‘First world problem’, a term that describes those annoying, yet trivial complications of modern life. For example, when the Wi-Fi in your five star holiday hotel doesn’t stretch past reception. Or when you lose your remote control and have to walk ‘all the way’ to the TV to turn it off.

Such a phenomenon occurred on Christmas Day this week. Thousands of people connecting up their new smart speakers were inconvenienced when the Amazon Alexa voice assistant service crashed due to a surge in demand.

Customers complained in their droves about not being able to play their festive playlists on command. Others were flabbergasted when Alexa refused to turn on their livingroom light!

In the end the outage was resolved before any serious damage was done (heaven forbid anyone would have to tell their own cracker jokes!) and Christmas wasn’t cancelled after all.

Thankfullly, the real Christmas story isn’t about a gadget, but a person.

Jesus, after whom the season is named, came to earth not to fix our trivial problems but to mend a hurting and broken world with a once and for all solution that will last for eternity.

If you’ve lost faith in your digital assistant, why not try talking to Jesus? Ask him anything. He is always listening and he never disappoints.

Peter.mill@gracecom.church

It’s all about the timings

December 21, 2018

Christmas is all about timing. Festive music in the supermarkets from late November seems too early; rushing around on the 24th of December for the present you forgot seems too late. Will those Christmas cards sent to Australia arrive in time? If you are travelling to be at home for Christmas, will you get there on time? Then there’s the Christmas dinner. Will the turkey be ready before the Queen’s message? Have the brussel sprouts been left on too long? How many hours does it take for a Christmas pudding to simmer? Time after time Christmas brings us timing issues.

Interestingly, the Bible tells us ‘when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman’ (Galatians 4:4 The Message). Ultimately, for the Christian, Christmas isn’t about the presents, the cards or the dinner; it’s about the time when God came to be with us (Matthew 1:23) in order to save us from our sins (v.21).

If you feel that Christmas is just a hectic round of trying to get everything done on time, why not take some time to explore the Christian claims about Jesus? It will be time well spent, and you might just find that it is his coming into the world that makes this the most wonderful time of the year.

I hope you have a good time this Christmas.

Barry.robinson@gracecom.church

Avoid the tolls!

December 14, 2018

New Severn bridge

At last! Some good news! Work has begun to remove the toll booths on the Severn Bridge, which is a major motorway link between England and Wales. Some of the frustration of years of tolls is express in the poem Ode on the Severn Bridge by Harri Webb:

Two lands at last connected

Across the waters wide,

And all the tolls collected

On the English side.

In Ancient Greek mythology, the river Styx separated life and the afterlife and a toll was paid to the ferryman to cross. Is there a toll required to enter into the afterlife? Is heaven only available to those who are carrying exact change?

The good news of Jesus Christ, is that he came to abolish the cost of sin, to remove the tolls for us, so that all who turn to him can have everlasting life.

Avoid the tolls and turn to Jesus Christ.

Gavin.henderson@gracecom.church

Flip the pancake!

December 7, 2018

I’m writing this from a coffee shop where I’ve ordered toast and marmalade. I came here at 7.45am, and am looking forward to the crispy, toasted bread. The problem is that often they serve it toasted just on one side, meaning, in my view, that it’s only half-done, and so I ask for it to be toasted on both sides. Am I being too fussy?

It reminds me of a description from the Christian Bible. It refers to an indecisive nation as a half-turned cake. Imagine making a flatbread or a pancake and not turning it over so that it cooks thoroughly. The result would not be good because it’s neither one thing nor the other. Just unfinished. Does this describe the UK right now? Not just the UK, but so many countries are in turmoil, and don’t know where to turn or on which side their bread is buttered!

On a personal basis I realize sometimes I’m like a half-turned cake. So many things incomplete, stopped halfway, betwixt and between, stuck in the middle. Maybe, what I’ve got to do is get help so that I can finish and let myself become like a cake that’s baked, fully risen, and that tastes good, so to speak.

That’s what Jesus offers us…to help complete who we are, to become the best we can be.

If each of us lets Jesus help, hopefully the knock-on effect would be that our nations would cease to be like half-turned cakes stuck on the griddle of life.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Make the most of your time

November 30, 2018

As the UK politicians debate Brexit noisily yet again, they do so within earshot of an unusually quiet Big Ben, clad in 315 feet of scaffolding.

Time has literally taken its ‘toll’, and the great clock is now silenced to all save the constructors’ ears, except for the recent Armistice and to ring in the coming New Year.

Some scientists tell us that time is an illusion and we only think that we see the past flowing through the present and on into the future…

I certainly realise I can do nothing now about the past except to learn from its lessons, and that I can certainly do nothing about the future except to plan for it (that’s for sure!). The Christian apologist CS Lewis once wrote ‘We only meet each hour or moment as it comes’[1], and in the Bible we are told to “redeem” the time, meaning make the most of it.

I hope that’s what the UK government will do…make the most of the time so that, somehow, we can move on in some way.

As for us, as we face the coming New Year with all the uncertainties it might bring, let’s make the most of every moment God gives to us!

Timely regards,

Tony

[1] CS Lewis ‘A Grief Observed’ 1961 p13.

 

If they matter to you, let them know

November 29, 2018

As I’m sitting at my computer a news report has come in telling of the murder of John Allen Chau by an endangered tribe in India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands. Fishermen who took him to North Sentinel Island say tribespeople shot him with arrows and left his body on the beach. Chau, a self-proclaimed adventurer, was engaged on missionary work and in a statement his family said, “He was a beloved son, brother, uncle and best friend to us. To others he was a Christian missionary…He loved God, life and helping those in need, and he had nothing but love for the Sentinelese people.” Then incredibly they added, “We forgive those reportedly responsible for his death.”

This experience made me think about the fragility of life and that I shouldn’t wait until after someone has died to say how much I loved in a eulogy. There is family around me that I need to tell how much I love them, and friends I need to tell how much I value their friendship before it’s too late.

As a Christian it has impressed me that God told his Son how much he loved him and how pleased he was with him (Matthew 3:17). I need to take a leaf out of God’s book, how about you?

Have a good week,

Barry Robinson

Because Magazine December 2018

November 29, 2018

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Because Magazine December 2018

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Because Magazine December 2018

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Mass Integrity

November 16, 2018

There’s been a lot of talk lately about integrity, but this week I learned an unexpected lesson from an unusual source: the Kilogram.

Unlike most of us as we grow older, the Kilogram is losing weight. Since 1889, the International Prototype Kilogram, made out of platinum and iridium and kept in an underground vault in Paris, has been the standard by which all Kilograms are judged. Yet now, for reasons nobody quite understands, the so called Perfect Kilogram has been weighed, measured and found wanting. In fact, scientists are meeting this week to discuss its replacement.

The old Kilogram has changed. It can no longer be trusted. In a very real sense — it has lost its integrity.

Integrity is the principle that resonates most highly amongst our young people today, probably because there is so little of it about. Real integrity, as Oprah Winfrey puts it, is doing the right thing1. It’s the car that doesn’t break down. A politician who keeps her word. A partner who remains faithful.

One of the most famous statements about the founder of the Christian faith, Jesus Christ, is that he is the same yesterday, today and for ever. Whoever wrote that did not mean Jesus never changes his hairstyle, but that he is always true to himself.

Given that he called himself the Son of God, his integrity carries much weight.

All the very best

Peter Mill

1 https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/oprah_winfrey_386951

Photo: National Institute of Standards and Technology Digital Collections, Gaithersburg, MD 20899.

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