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

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

Hope for the seas

July 27, 2018

I was horrified this week to read that only about 13% of the world’s oceans remain abundantly full of life.

In other words, we have been careless, not only with the land and the forests, but also with the precious waters that surround us. Where there once was beautiful and amazing diversity, now areas of our seas and oceans are becoming lifeless. Why? Because of human activity.

Sometimes religions centre somewhat selfishly on the fate of humanity and give scant regard to the salvation of the planet. Christianity has something to say about it. It likens nature to someone who is groaning under the neglect and abuse that it’s been subjected to by people like us. Creation, the Bible tells us, cries out for the salvation which Jesus alone will bring.

So, there’s hope for the planet after all. Which is just as well because we’re doing a pretty hopeless job in looking after it.

We can do our bit and help now. Also, we can turn to Jesus now and accept his salvation.

Turn to Jesus.

james.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.

More to be written

March 16, 2018

It’s been a notable week for news and it’s not over yet, what with the prospect of a meeting between the leaders of the USA and North Korea, the mounting tension between the UK and Russia, and, in the past few days, the passing away of the much loved and respected physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.

Newspapers often prepare celebrity obituaries well in advance of someone’s death so that they can provide in-depth coverage of the deceased’s life. Such was the case with Stephen Hawking. Most papers had 2 to 3 pages of text with good photos to accompany. That so much was written about him is in itself a tribute to someone whose research into how the universe works and whose personal battle against crippling disease inspired us all.

But is death the end of the story of someone’s life? Is there still more? Of course, it’s an age-old question that no amount of scientific enquiry can answer. It needs someone to come back from the dead and tell us all. This is what the Bible records that Jesus did and is the foundation of Christian faith. Jesus rose from the dead to tell us that there is more to the story of our lives than we realise. Death is like a pause more than a full stop. There’s a hope beyond death.

Whatever the story of your life is, there’s more to be written.

Let Jesus finish your story.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

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 

The Beginning of Time

February 2, 2018

I was making up for lost time this week by watching catch-up TV and I came across an interview with an horologist.

He was talking about the history of timepieces, starting with the first crude and inaccurate mechanical clocks. Then, around 1650, the invention of the pendulum revolutionised the time keeping business, enabling the production of precision clocks and watches. Today’s timepieces are incredibly accurate; the current best being the 3D quantum gas atomic clock which will not lose or gain a single second over 15 billion years.

Nowadays it’s hard to imagine a time before we had devices that can measure time. Even harder to imagine a time before time itself was a thing.

Scientists conjecture that time probably came into being at the event they call the Big Bang. The early Christian philosopher Augustine said time was a part of God’s creation, so time didn’t happen until we did. Interestingly, science and Christianity broadly agree that time didn’t exist until matter existed.

So if God created time alongside everything else, the next question is why? Since God existed before time began, the only logical answer is, he made time for us to live in.

A staggering thought, but also an immensely encouraging one. Isn’t it nice to know that the creator of the unverse has all the time in the world for you?

Peter Mill

Next Page »