Woodland worship

October 14, 2020

The conversation had taken an unusual twist. There I was, after a church meeting, listening to a lady who was speaking with passion about holding worship services in nearby woodland.  She felt that there was no better place for honouring God than in the heart of his creation. Based on her genuine enthusiasm, it appeared that this spiritual activity had brought good things into her life. I must admit that, despite her energetic testimony, I did remain skeptical about the idea. The UK climate isn’t always reliable for a worship event in woodland – I most certainly would be a fair-weather attendee.

Yet, I do enjoy a day out in the countryside. I always feel invigorated afterwards, with the worries and stresses of life seemingly put into proper perspective. I wonder if that is why this particular lady preferred her worship to be outdoors; perhaps being close up with nature brought this same balance of mind.

I’m a follower of Jesus; however, I’ve noticed that I spend a lot of my ‘spiritual time’ indoors. Bit odd really, when it looks like Jesus spent a lot of time outdoors, teaching both on mountains and on lakesides. He clearly noticed the world around him, using the flora and fauna he encountered as illustrations. At the prompting of a book I was reading, I did once set off on a hike with the express ambition of thanking God for the beauty of all created things. It left a big impact on me. It really did feel that I had connected with God within his very own cathedral of nature.

However, I discovered there was more to learn. One day I was inspired by a couple who I watched picking up plastic washed in at a nearby beach. Having a spare carrier bag with me, I also started to pick up the rubbish on my walk. That day, this couple prompted me to stop just passing through the cathedral of nature. Instead, I was taught to actually appreciate what’s going on around me.  Picking up the odd bit of plastic is only a small thing, but it has to be said that the countryside always looks better afterwards.

Which was the greater act of worship? My hike of giving thanks or my ramble of picking up rubbish? I suspect that it isn’t about just choosing one of these activities; true worship involves an active life of doing both types of walk. I can’t ever see myself ever joining a church that runs services in woodland, but that hasn’t stopped me worshipping in the cathedral of nature. Every piece of rubbish picked up is worship in action; what better way is there to say thank you for creation?

Ian Woodley info@because.uk.com

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Virtual Church

March 23, 2020

What are your thoughts about going to church? Maybe you went as a child but got bored or disillusioned with this faith stuff. Maybe you believe in a higher-being but wouldn’t darken the door of a church. Whatever your relationship with the spiritual, maybe like me, this pandemic has made you think about the deeper, more existential things of life.

And now we’re all going to have more time on our hands and at home, is this a chance for us to explore those thoughts and questions about life and faith again? If so, there’s a church out there that isn’t closing its doors.

I have a virtual reality headset. If you have one you will know the fun you can have from the comfort of your own living room. Exploring virtual worlds has never been easier. Worlds and events that are untouched by the coronavirus! Yes, doors to these virtual events remain open even in the middle of a pandemic.

Now I will be spending more time indoors, I’m reminded of a suggestion my friend gave me (a friend who I meet in virtual reality around a campfire!). Recently, he suggested I check out a virtual church he found on a VR platform called Altspace. This church even got a review from the BBC yesterday. So now I’m social-distancing, I’ve decided to check it out.

Maybe it won’t be for me or for you. But I can see the advantage of this way of meeting, especially if you are suspicious of churches or unsure about where you stand with faith, in general, or Christianity, specifically. When you step into this world, you are an avatar which takes away any social awkwardness. Then you are free to listen to the message, talk to those attending the same event, and then log-out anytime you want – you’re in control.

You can find guidelines of how to visit this ‘church’ here. If you don’t own a headset, then you can still join in – guidelines to see Altspace events on your PC can be found here.

If you check it out and have questions about faith and God and you want to speak to someone, then we’d be happy to hear from you at the below email address.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

Photo by Frank Vessia on Unsplash

Come on in

September 20, 2019

Last weekend, a friend of mine told me he helps out at his local Men’s Shed.

If you’ve never heard of this organisation, as I hadn’t until last week, the Men’s Shed movement is huge. It started in Australia in the 1990s as a way for men to get together to “connect, converse and create” reducing social isolation and improving men’s physical and mental health. Today there are thousands of sheds and tens of thousands of ‘shedders’ worldwide.

It made me think about a similar movement that has been around for a lot longer: the Christian church. Like sheds, churches come in all shapes and sizes and are places where people come together to be uplifted and supported. Unlike sheds, churches are for men, women and children and promote not just mental and physical, but also spiritual health. Today there are churches on every corner in just about every country in the world and over two billion people inside them.

If you’ve never been to church or haven’t been for a while, come along. Whoever you are, you’ll be very welcome.

Peter Mill info@because.uk.com

Peter is editor-in-chief at Because

Pending Deadline

August 23, 2019

First it was cold calls and now a flood of media adverts telling us the deadline on 29 August to claim because of the PPI scandal. The various leading institutions have set aside billions over the years to cover the compensation for their mis-selling.  It is a sad story of greed by sellers and misinformation given to customers who were not aware they were paying for something they neither asked for nor needed.

Is Christianity just another scandal? Is there any need for church beyond hatch, match and dispatch?

In a world run by money, it is easy to see the church as just another institution trying to make a profit, yet if you speak to Christians the reason we want people to know about Jesus Christ isn’t financial, but personal. Jesus has changed our lives for the better and given us hope in a world that often seems hopeless.

Unlike with PPI there is no pending deadline for you to call on your local church and experience the benefits it may bring.

David Gibbs info@because.uk.com

 

Because Magazine May/June 2019

May 1, 2019

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Because Magazine May/June 2019

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Living longer

June 15, 2018


If you go to church, statistics show that you’re likely to live longer. That’s according to some recently-published results of surveys the compared the longevity of Christians compared to non-Christians.

You might think that this could be a reason for Christians to feel smug, but actually it isn’t. Paul, an early Christian writer suggested that if we had hope for this life only, then what’s the point of anything? Life is not about trying to live longer. What we need is hope for life after life, an eternal life that God made possible through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Of course, it’s understandable that we want to live longer, and going to church is good.

But, if you want more than that, turn to Jesus and receive eternal life.

james.henderson@gracecom.org.uk

All the lonely people

January 26, 2018

On the day the government appointed a minister to tackle loneliness Chris Hinds, managing director at Saatchi PR consultancy, cheekily tweeted ‘Can’t work out why the government have only appointed one minister for loneliness.’ It was an amusing tweet, but loneliness is no joke for the estimated 9 million adults in the UK who are lonely. Prime Minister Theresa May, acting on a recommendation from the Jo Cox commission, said that ‘isolation is a sad reality of modern life for too many people.’ Recent studies have shown that loneliness affects people as diverse as the elderly, new mothers, young disabled adults and refugees. The UK has never been so populous and yet people have never felt so lonely. King David’s words in Psalm 68:5-6 (NIV) have never been more pertinent: ‘A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…’

The Christian church is God’s family, and is in a unique position to offer a healthy community that can help alleviate loneliness; it is, therefore, incumbent on all Christians to be welcoming and inclusive. Loving relationships are the antidote to loneliness; the more Christians are warm, friendly, and hospitable, offering a safe haven from the world, the more loneliness will be eased. The Beatles song ‘Eleanor Rigby’ implores us to ‘look at all the lonely people,’ and asks ‘where do they all belong?’ The answer is they belong in God’s family. Can we, the church, look for the lonely people and welcome them in? It’s becoming increasingly critical that we do.

Barry Robinson