All year round

August 2, 2019

Did you see in the news this week that Christmas has come early, 149 days early, as Selfridges in London opened its Christmas shop claiming to be the first in the world to have a Christmas section? I thought it was bad enough having all the Christmas paraphernalia in the shops at the end October never mind the end of July! Soon, it seems, Christmas will be in our stores all year round, and the pop group Wizard, who belt out their song every year, will get their wish for Christmas to be every day.

This got me thinking about the reason Christians celebrate Christmas. It’s not for the parties, the presents, or engaging in some kind of pagan winter solstice ritual. It’s to celebrate and rejoice in the coming of Jesus into this world in order to show us the love of God and demonstrate that love to us. That’s a message that is relevant all year round and not just at Christmas.

Sadly many people, if they go to church at all, only go at Christmas time to hear some carols and enjoy a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine. But why not be revolutionary and take a leaf out Selfridges’ book and go to church months before Christmas to hear the message of Jesus? In fact if you went to church all year round you might just see that Jesus isn’t just for Christmas.

Barry Robinson

barry.robinson@gracecom.church

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/christmas/selfridges-christmas-shop-2019-open-day-world-record-department-store-london-a9025151.html

 

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)

Liberation

May 31, 2019

Next week marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. It was a combined Allied operation that led eventually to the liberation of Europe from enemy occupation. It seems so distant to us now, but its success helped create the modern world.
Although much has changed since 1944, in one way you could say that we are under a new kind of occupation. It’s partially self-inflicted because we’re our own worst enemy. In the west it looks like we’re trapped in political stalemate, and there are mounting tensions in other parts of the globe. Not the least concern is our natural environment and what we’ve done to destroy it. One biblical writer, Paul, explained that all creation was subject to a destruction of our making, and that it yearned to be set free.
We need a new D-Day. Something or someone has to liberate not just us but the whole of nature.
That’s where Jesus Christ comes in.
He’s the ultimate liberator, and he’ll bring the freedom of his peace to this waiting earth.
james.henderson@gracecom.church

Decisions, decisions

May 24, 2019

The Euro elections were not meant to happen in the UK. As a result some are frustrated, others angry, many bored and hoards are disillusioned. Fingers are pointing in every direction looking for someone to blame or to take control. Yet as one political pundit stated recently; “We are where we are!”
As we can see and have probably experienced, life is full of unexpected consequences and surprises that often we don’t see coming. Consequences arising from the choices we make as individuals, as groups or as a nation. As I read my Bible, it too is full of surprises, with unpredictable outcomes like Jesus showing mercy to those who had made poor or wrong choices.
We also need to show a little mercy, patience and understanding to others who make decisions, especially when we may not agree. Also, perhaps extend a little kindness to ourselves in our decision-making because it is not always easy.
We never know what the end of a matter may be. Therefore, let’s pull together to support each other as we collectively face the consequences of our decisions.
Best Regards,
David

david.gibbs@gracecom.church

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

On things above

March 22, 2019

It wasn’t until 1969 that human beings had ever seen a picture of the earth from space. Once our astronauts captured the image, and we saw the sparkling jewel we call home against the blackness of night, the wars, problems, and struggles on earth were able to be reframed from a heavenly perspective.

Sometimes we can have our eyes so fixed on the personal problems and challenges in our day-to-day existence that we begin to get discouraged and lose hope. But Jesus tells us not to let our hearts be troubled by the cares of this life. Because he has reconciled all things to the Father in his body, we can “set our minds on things above,” and get a true picture of our lives and situations from a heavenly vantage point.

Let’s embrace the beauty God has bestowed on us, and share the heavenly point of view with others.

Jeff Broadnax

Pastor of Grace Communion Columbus, Ohio.

Jesus the Feminist

March 8, 2019

Today is International Women’s Day and it is rather depressing to be reminded, once again, that we still do not have gender equality in the world today. Not even in Britain.

As a man living in the 21st Century it is easier to be a supporter of women’s rights than 150 years ago, when women in this country weren’t even allowed to vote. So I was encouraged to read my ancestor, John Stuart Mill, being called out in the Guardian newspaper this morning as a strong supporter of women’s rights in his time.

As a Christian, I am sometimes criticised for being a part of a movement that has been responsible for the oppression of women, yet a close examination of the facts fails to support any such claims. When I look at the life of our founder, Jesus Christ, I see a proud feminist. A man who always treated women equally and boldy broke the customs of his day to involve them in his ministry.

I am thankful that “in Christ, there is no difference between Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female”1. Let’s celebrate everything that International Women’s Day has achieved over the last 110 years and is still achieving all over the world today.

All the very best

peter.mill@gracecom.church

 

1 Galatians 3:28 (NCV)

An unconditional offer

February 15, 2019

Should universities give students unconditional offers of acceptance?

Recently this practice has come under increased scrutiny after it was revealed that the number of unconditional offers issued by universities was increasing and that the students who received the offers often miss their predicted grades. Would students be better off, more resilient, if they had to earn their place?

As a Christian I believe that we have all been given an unconditional offer in Jesus Christ. We haven’t earned this place, yet if we accept it, it will change our life forever and open up opportunities beyond our wildest imaginations.

The offer reflects God’s confidence in who we will become with his help, rather than what we have achieved.

Maybe it is time to consider his unconditional offer of grace?

Warm regards,

gavin.henderson@gracecom.church

The value of an apology

February 1, 2019

You may have been shocked as I was to see the pictures of Prince Philip’s recent car crash. As he pulled out of a driveway his Land Rover collided with a Kia and flipped over. The 97-year-old prince was fortunate to get out alive, whilst Ms Fairweather, a passenger in the Kia, suffered a broken wrist.

Following complaints that she had received no direct communication from Prince Philip after the accident, a letter of apology was issued earlier this week which seemed to alter her attitude. She said ‘I thought it was a really nice touch that he signed it off as Philip and not a formal title. I was pleasantly surprised because of the personalised nature.’ [i]

Giving an apology can have a powerful effect on people who might otherwise be antagonistic. I’ve seen how they can defuse issues and reconcile people; whereas if they go unsaid attitudes can harden and deepen making it much more difficult to achieve a resolution. Perhaps that’s why the biblical book of Matthew encourages me to stop any religious activity in order to first be reconciled to someone I have a problem with[ii]

I could write more about apologising, but I think I need to stop and make some apologies; how about you?

Have a good week,
barry.robinson@gracecom.church

 

[i] https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/47019867
[ii] The Bible, Matthew chapter 5, verses 23-24

Let’s change now

January 25, 2019

Perhaps it’s not too late. We may all have played a part in wrecking the natural world, but let’s do something about it.

This week Sir David Attenborough addressed the 49th summit of the World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland, and his major concern is that we act now to protect the Earth. Things are getting worse, not better, and it is high time that national leaders and their citizens make meaningful changes. “The Garden of Eden is no more” (*) , he explained, and we’re in a new age, the age of humans.

The reference to the Garden of Eden is taken from the beginning of the Christian Bible. It refers to the pristine state of the world, uncontaminated by humanity’s unrestrained greed and selfish ambition. The Bible presents our natural environment as God’s creative gift to us, and calls for us to care for it, to nurture it, and to maintain its God-given diversity and beauty.

“We need a plan” Attenborough said.

It’s never too late to change, is one of the underlying messages of Jesus Christ. It’s not only a spiritual message, but it also applies to lifestyle changes that celebrate the gift of our precious planet.

Let’s make some changes.

james.henderson@gracecom.church

*https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/david-attenborough-transcript-from-crystal-award-speech

 

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