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)

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

Jesus remembers lest we forget

November 9, 2018

Lest we forget, Jesus remembers.

This the Christian message.

Jesus, who remembers unknown soldiers everywhere and knows their names and their life stories, sacrificed himself for them and for all of us. Irrespective of our background, race or faith, Jesus died and rose for us; for every soldier slain in some foreign field, no matter which side he or she was on; for all civilians caught up in known or unknown conflicts; for everyone, whether we live in war or in peace.

Let’s be thankful and remember this weekend.

Above all, let’s not forget that Jesus remembers.

Therein is our hope.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

 

You are included!

November 2, 2018

No matter where or when you were born, you’re included. That’s the Christian message. No matter your race, culture, skin colour, language or background, you’re included in what Jesus has done for all of us.

In this age of exclusion when politicians argue over who has the right to belong or work or live within national or regional boundaries, Jesus says something to us that transcends all barriers.

“Come to me”, he says, “everyone who is weary, and I’ll give you rest”. We’re all weary on some level. He’s talking about peace of mind now and about a future salvation that’s found only in him — his rest, his rescuing us out of a sick and dying world.

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

Come to Jesus. Find rest.

You’re included in him.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Will it end?

September 28, 2018

November of this year is the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War — the war some hoped would be “the war to end all wars”. It would have been great had it been so, but it was too idealistic a dream.

Since H G Wells coined the phrase, there have been well over 120 conflicts which we could call wars, including the Second “World” War. Only this week news has come out about the civil war in the Sudan, which has been ongoing since 2013. It’s estimated that approximately 400,000 have been killed so far, and chances are the number is higher.

I wonder that we think when we hear of news like this. It’s far away, and it doesn’t really affect us. Do we shake our head in disbelief, and then don’t give it a second thought? What about the victims involved? Will they be missed? Have they become just statistics that will soon be forgotten by most of us? Is the essence of who these people were lost forever?

How can we respond to such questions? Christianity proclaims that the only hope for the dead is Jesus Christ. In other words, there is hope for everyone who has died and will die, be it in warfare or not. Jesus himself was crucified for us, and he rose from the dead three days later so that all of us might live again. No one is forgotten by him.

That’s the Christian message. And it is his life that will end all wars.

Turn to Jesus and live.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

Hope beyond the grave

September 21, 2018

The news of celebrity deaths has hit the headlines over the past month or so. At the same time people close to you may have passed away, and this has left you with feelings of sadness and loss. On a personal note, someone whom I held in high regard died this week.

Is there hope that somehow our loved ones will live again?

Depending on your perspective, there are different points of view in this. Some say no, there cannot possibly be life after life. Others say perhaps but we just don’t know. Some religions offer more definitive ideas.

As for Christians like me, we proclaim the certainty of God’s love for all of us who live and who have ever lived. God demonstrated this love by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, who died and rose again for us, and, because of that, there is a resurrection to come. Jesus, in referring to himself, said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25, the NIV Bible).

In Jesus there is hope for the dead.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

No vengeance?

September 7, 2018

Vengeance seems to be on the mind of international leaders this week.

But should it really be payback time? The UK and its allies against Russia for the alleged deployment of nerve gas on UK soil? Russia against the UK for making what its leaders view as unfounded allegations? And, the more we look into the news, the more examples we come across.

Some have thought that God has vengeance on his mind, and that he plans to bring the world to an end in a fit of wrath. Typically, that’s what many of the Judgment Day pundits claim. That a disillusioned God will satisfy his anger by destroying the earth and sinners like you and me. As society appears to go from bad to worse, the more religious zealots preach that view.

But, is this true? Actually, the Bible proposes something different. It’s not that God is intent on revenge, but that he offers outgoing love to a resistant humanity. God prefers to return evil with good. Vengeance is subsumed in grace. Jesus returns in power as the Prince of Peace, and not like some charging, vengeful warrior king.

How will all this play out? I don’t know.

What I do know is that God is the God of amazing grace, not of spiteful vengeance, and, because of that, there is hope for all of us.

Accept his grace.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

Next Page »