Back from the Dead

June 14, 2019

One news headline that grabbed my attention this week was ‘The snail that came back from the dead’. On further investigation, It turned out to be fake news – this wasn’t a tale of mollusc resurrection at all. It was the story of a rare species, the Bermuda land snail, that was thought to have gone extinct 40 years ago, but has now been found still alive and is being rescued from the brink of extinction by a successful breeding programme carried out by Chester Zoo.

The Bermuda land snail is one of a number of ‘Lazarus species’, named after the bible story where Jesus brought his dead friend Lazarus back to life. Later, after his own brutal death by crucifixion, the bible tells us Jesus himself was raised from the dead, this time to eternal life. Is this just a myth, as some say, or is resurrection for real, as millions of Christians believe? And if so, what does that mean for all of us?

Jesus answers those questions with a profound statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even if they die”.1

That could possibly be the boldest claim anyone has ever made. Is it worth looking into? You can bet your life on it.

All the very best

Peter Mill

  1. John 11:25 (NIRV)

Crown of Thorns

April 19, 2019

A crown of thorns.The crown of thorns was saved.

Did you see it on TV, or read about it in the news? Notre Dame’s most venerated relic was rescued from the flames that engulfed the world-famous cathedral earlier this week. Some claim it is the original crown of thorns that Roman soldiers forced onto the head of Jesus Christ before he was crucified.

Of course, no one knows for sure whether it’s authentic or a fake. Whatever its history, the crown of thorns reminds us of the reality of the suffering of Christ and of what he did for us. Jesus, the Son of God, sacrificed himself for all of us, and was raised from the dead that we might live forever with him.

Accept Jesus, your Saviour.

He’s the real thing.

James.henderson@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

Future Plans

July 20, 2018

London RainThis week has been a frustrating time for many of us who live in the British Isles as it has become clear that there is no consensus in the British Parliament about what the UK’s relationship will look like after the 29th of March 2019.

It sometimes seems like the UK government has no plan, and that our future is being carelessly left to the whims of politicians and whatever time will bring.

This same claim is sometimes brought against God. That there is no great plan of which humanity is a part and that what happens to us is solely time and chance.

The Bible tells a different story though. It tells us that God so loved the world, so loved you and me, that even before the universe was created God had chosen to give us his son, Jesus Christ. That God planned from the beginning to make his dwelling among us and that in Jesus Christ we have life and hope, no matter how dreary and dark the world seems.

That God’s love for us is so resolute and unchangeable that nothing can separate us from it, not even the mess we might make of Brexit, or of this planet or even of our lives.

Turn to Jesus, for in him is the hope of the world.

Gavin Henderson

A time of celebration

May 18, 2018

Dove at weddingWhatever your thoughts are on the monarchy, it will be hard to avoid the royal wedding this weekend if you are in the UK.

Not only have some members of the public been invited to attend the event in person, it will also be watched by many on live television and internet streams, not just in the UK, but across the whole globe. The last royal wedding in the UK was watched by almost 3 billion people†. That is almost 3 billion witnesses to the marriage ceremony!

This weekend is also a time of celebration for Christians across the globe. Just as many will come together to witness the union of Harry and Meghan, so too this weekend Christians come together to testify and witness to Jesus Christ. It is a time when they remember how Jesus Christ has given us his Spirit. A Spirit of joy and freedom. A Spirit of love and hope.

As we watch two people make their solemn promises of commitment to each other, let us remember the promise God made to us.

‘Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’‡

Gavin Henderson (gavin.henderson@gracecom.church) 

† www.nytimes.com/2011/04/30/world/europe/30britain.html
‡ Recorded in the Bible by Luke in the book of Acts 2:21.

Message in a Bottle

March 9, 2018

Perhaps you heard this week that the oldest recovered message in a bottle has been found in Western Australia. The message was thrown into the sea in 1886 by a German ship as part of an experiment into ocean and shipping routes. The Illman family who found the bottle have expressed their amazement and wonder at finding the bottle lodged in the sand.

For some, the Bible is just an historical document, the writings of a particular time and a particular place. To others, the Bible is like a message in a bottle, a personal note that survives the vagaries of the tides of time to bring amazement and wonder to those who read it. It tells the story of Jesus Christ and his ‘eternal message’, encouraging us to ‘worship the Maker of Heaven and earth, salt sea and fresh water!’ (Rev 14:6-7 MSG)

Open the Bible and see what has been kept for you within.

Gavin.henderson@gracecom.church 

Build Bridges, Not Walls

October 13, 2017

Eight alternative designs for Donald Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall were unveiled this week, once again raising questions in the Senate about who was going to pay for it.

Of course, building walls to separate one group of people from another is nothing new.

Hadrian’s Wall, the Berlin Wall, the West Bank barrier in Israel and the granddaddy of them all, the Great Wall of China, are all attempts to keep people out (or hold them in).

Many people, both agnostic and religious, believe there is another great wall; one that separates humanity and God.

The reality is that people, not walls, keep us apart from God and each other. So God, in his love and mercy, sent his son Jesus Christ to fix it.

The bible tells us that “Jesus is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one.”*

By dying for all people, Jesus tore down the wall of hatred and bitterness. Through him it is possible for us to mend fences with one another and have direct access to God.

Thanks to Jesus, we can stop putting up walls and start building bridges.

Peter Mill

* Ephesians 2:14, The Voice

Mission to the Son

June 2, 2017

Did you read that NASA is going to launch a solar probe?

This launch to our nearest star is scheduled for just over a year’s time and will be the hottest and fastest space mission yet, travelling the London/Bristol distance every second yet taking seven years for the overall trip.

The one ton craft, named in honour of 89 year old astrophysicist Eugene Parker, will experience solar corona temperatures of 1,377C (2,500F) and at its closest will be only four million miles away from the solar surface

The PSP (Parker Solar Probe) will launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

As Christians, we are also on a journey, but a far more momentous and exciting journey that takes a lifetime, travelling through a seemingly even more hostile environment. This journey is a ‘Mission to the Son’, a mission to Jesus Christ, eventually to be taken by all mankind.

We do not take this journey on our own – we have God’s Spirit as our guidance system and we are also watched over by a ‘Mission Control’: God’s loving awareness of where we are on our journey and how we are getting on.

So whether it’s by day or by night, our voyage is already launched and is on track.

How cool is that?

Tony Goudie

Photo credits: NASA/JHUAPL

Beauty and Barbed Wire

May 26, 2017

The news of Monday’s terrorist bombing in Manchester came screaming onto our mobile phones and television screens to give us a restless night, with the media giving every harsh detail to be read and seen by the world.

What does God think of this?

Of course, we cannot answer everything in these few words, but we can say something.

In the midst of humanity’s ugliness God is Love and Beauty. He always has been and He always will be. We really don’t have the brain cells, music does not have the octave reach, our alphabet does not have enough words to spell out the depths of the loving, empathetic mind of God – and that will always be the way it will be.

In Christ God suffers along with His beloved Creation in all of His power and His strength and concern, and re-assures us that ‘All will be well’ in the far reaches of time and eternity.

God is still absolute Love and Beauty amidst our chaos.

Ultimate beauty still has to wait until the barbed wire of this present evil world has long gone, and is erased for ever.

Meanwhile we must sigh and cry along with God for the families of the victims and for the wounded.

May God’s kingdom come.

Tony Goudie

An end to terror?

March 24, 2017

Terrorism has dominated much of the news this week.

From memories of the “troubles” in Northern Ireland to the continuing ISIS threat, resulting in a ban on laptops as cabin luggage on flights to and from selected countries; from the shaming of online “hate videos” to the shocking Westminster attack, and our hearts go out to the families of the victims and to all affected by it.

How can terrorism be stopped in its tracks? It’s a huge subject, and cannot be covered adequately in a short message. But we can say something. Displays of terror are not limited to extremists who want to force their views on us. Personally, I’ve witnessed ordinary people being terrorised by their spouses, parents, guardians and peer groups. I’ve seen others being intimidated by those who should know better. Perhaps, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all been guilty of terrorising someone else in some way.

To stop terror, we need a movement that will change the hearts of all of us. That’s exactly what Christianity offers; that Christ helps us change from the inside out. That we move from a tendency to hurt one another to caring for one other.

Let’s begin to change on a personal level.

Turn to Jesus and let him help you.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

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