Light in the darkness

June 4, 2020

‘I can’t breathe’ was not said by a Covid-19 patient urgently needing a ventilator but were the final words of George Floyd, a black man who died last week at the hands of a white policeman, sparking violent protests in the USA and demonstrations in the UK. There is no place for racism and the injustice it brings in its wake within our society.

Christian minister and civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King once said, ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ It’s a statement that reminded me of Christianity’s founder Jesus Christ who suffered excruciating pain and injustice when he was crucified on a Roman cross. The mechanism of death in crucifixion is asphyxiation, and as Jesus hung there struggling for breath, he uttered words of forgiveness for the humanity who was killing him.1 The ‘Light of the World’2 was driving out darkness, love was driving out hate. He included all human beings in that forgiveness because all lives matter to him.

If you have suffered the injustice of racism (or any other ism) why not check out the love, light, and inclusion Jesus Christ brings, and see just how much you matter to him.

Barry Robinson info@because.uk.com

1The Bible, Luke chapter 23 verse 34
2The Bible, John chapter 8 verse 12

Freedom plan

May 29, 2020

FREEDOM!!!

It’s beginning. Many of us can go out more often, see a few others, buy a little more, enjoy the fresh air and breathe a sigh of relief. But, responsibly so, of course. Without hurting people or breaking laws. With freedom always come responsibilities.

Oddly enough, this weekend many western Christians celebrate the Spirit of freedom. It’s a special festival called Pentecost and it’s about how God’s Spirit frees us from our past to live new and different lives.

Paul, a Christian writer, put it this way, “We have freedom now… the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things”.1

As lockdown unfolds, that could be our freedom plan.

What do you think?

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

1The Bible (Easy-to-Read Version) Galatians 5:1,22-23

Streets filled with love

May 11, 2020

“Our streets are not empty; they are filled with love”.

I’ve never thought of the Queen having a mic-drop moment but, if she did, this could have been one. As I listened to her VE Day message this was the stand-out sentence. She had captured the essence of what so many of us have witnessed over the past weeks.

I’ve seen this new-found love splashed on house windows with their ‘thank you’ messages for key workers and iconic rainbows drawn by children. I’ve heard the Thursday 8pm clap for the NHS echo around my local park as I’ve walked and then watched neighbours stand and chat as I’ve never seen them do before. We have lost many things during lockdown, but we have gained love. And we don’t have to lose it when this is all over.

I must admit, though, I’ve not always known my neighbour’s names. I get by with one of those half-polite grunts with a token smile and wave to boot. But I now have a chance to change this because I’m moving to a new house at the end of the month. So when I sat down with my soon-to-be housemate, after divvying up our new house cleaning duties, I asked him, ‘What relationship do we want with neighbours?’

A new house means a fresh start and we get to decide what kind of neighbours we want to be. I’ve decided to ditch the grunts and half-smiles for something that looks a little more like what the Queen was talking about. Something that looks a bit more like love.

Ok, no need to reach for the bucket – sentiment platitudes are not my thing, either. So what do I mean by a little more love? What does that look like?

I’ve thought about this word recently. I dropped the ‘What is love?’ question on one of my many WhatsApp group chats as a result of lockdown induced boredom. It had been inspired by a YouTube binge where I came across the well-watched SoulPancake channel with a video asking the same questions to people aged 5 to 100 years old. Their answers were as endearing as they were individual.

So what is love?

I have never found a better definition from the one I once read at a wedding. It goes like this: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Not bad, ay?! You may recognise it, but it doesn’t come from any wedding. No, not even from the silver-penned Shakespeare. So where? We must go back some 2000 years, to the writings of the Bible to find its origin. And I’ve found the Bible has a lot more to say about this 4-letter word, too.

As I gear up to move house, I will try – and no doubt do it badly – to fill the street with this kind of love. I might be cracking that ancient book to remind myself what it looks like. Let’s keep this kind of love on the streets.

Richard Fowler info@because.uk.com

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

Keep Connected

May 1, 2020

Since being in lockdown we’ve had to do things differently. Events like One world: Together at home and The Big Night In brought music and comedy direct from the artists’ homes into ours. Keeping in touch with family and friends has meant many of us having crash courses on Skype and Zoom. For faith groups, holding meetings and maintaining contact has also presented a challenge.

Yet with these challenges comes an opportunity to be connected in all sorts of different ways. Last week I attended church services in Luton, Market Harborough and Llanelli and was in touch with friends and family in Northern Ireland, Hampshire and across London via Zoom and all without leaving home. None of which would have happened in this way without this lockdown.

As one member of a recently set up WhatsApp group commented, ‘it’s a pity we didn’t have this earlier; it keeps everyone connected.’ It often takes a crisis to bring forward new ways of doing things and technology has provided an opportunity for us to follow Jesus’ command to love one another (John 13:34-35) in a fresh way.

The challenge will be to keep connected once this crisis is over – I guess that will be down to you and me.

Barry Robinson info@because.uk.com

PS – You can keep connected with us via:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GCIUKandIreland

The Because website www.because.uk.com

Daily Biblical devotionals www.daybyday.org.uk

Live-streamed sermons and Bible studies www.gracecom.church

Faith, hope and love

April 22, 2020

“The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love”. I didn’t write that, I read it in the copy of the Bible I keep by my bedside. And these three little words – faith, hope and love – have been on my mind today.

The first one came to me when I woke up this morning, too early to put the light on. As my wife slumbered next to me, I pulled up the news on my mobile and a headline caught my eye: “Coronavirus: Hope as Italy records first fall in active virus cases”. You’ve probably seen the story by now, but in a nutshell, the number of people in Italy infected by the virus has fallen for the first time since the outbreak over there started. The Italian authorities said that even though the reduction was small, only 20 fewer than the previous day, they were viewing it as a positive development. A slender hope, but hope nevertheless.

Elsewhere in Europe, there are other hopeful signs. In Germany, shops are reopening, and some school pupils are back in class. Poland started easing some restrictions from Sunday. And in Denmark there is a rush for haircuts as the lockdown in that country eases. Meanwhile, back in the UK, plans a for a ‘traffic light system’ to help Britain’s transition back to normal from as early as 11 May were widely leaked yesterday. Even though we have been in lockdown in many parts of Europe for a month or more, we are hopeful that things will come back to normal eventually.

Hope is wonderful thing and it is all around us right now, like Spring. I read a simple but profound definition of hope in a dictionary today, where it was described as, “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”.And that rings true to me when thinking about this crisis; I feel that sooner or later it will pass.

Time to move on to that second word, faith. The two words have similar meanings, for example that same dictionary defines faith as “confidence or trust in a person or thing”.1 My Bible takes it further saying, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for”.If you like, faith is an upgrade on hope. It is hope with oomph. Not just a feeling, but confidence or belief. Something we somehow know for certain.

One thing I know for certain is this: during the COVID-19 disaster, love abounds. It seems as though everywhere you look, you see examples of it. Sincere expressions of goodwill from one human being to another, from the front-line nurses putting their lives in harm’s way to save grievously sick patients, to the Perthshire village that converted an old telephone box into a help yourself larder for the needy. And the hundreds of tiny acts of kindness in between, too many to document but visible everywhere every day.

This is love in action. And when the pandemic is over, even if the traffic thunders along the roads again as before and the amount of air pollution returns to pre-Coronavirus levels – which I truly hope does not happen – I have faith in one thing: the love will remain.

I deliberately cut the opening quotation short, now’s the time to reveal the whole thing:

“The three most important things to have are faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of them is love”.3

Peter Mill info@because.uk.com

Peter is editor-in-chief at Because

1Dictionary.com
2The Bible – Hebrews 11:11 (NIRV)
3The Bible – 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIRV)

Love banishes fear

February 21, 2020

Fear can make us do terrible things.

I was filled with sadness this week when I read about how a bus containing evacuees from coronavirus-hit China was attacked in Ukraine. This was not a rational response, but as this crisis escalates the rational arguments are rapidly giving ground to emotional ones.

For many of us, our great fear is death itself. The end of life. Interestingly one of the hallmarks of the Christian faith for the last two thousand years has been its followers’ willingness to die for their faith. To give their lives for others no matter the cost.

At the root of this is the Christian belief that death is not the end. Through Jesus Christ, Christians believe that even in the darkest of circumstances there is always hope. Because of God’s love for us, there is life after death.

Love, not death, has the final word.
Gavin Henderson info@because.uk.com

Gavin is an editor at Because

 

Love your enemies

January 31, 2020

It seems unbelievable that anyone would seek to destroy a whole group of people, and yet genocide happens often. Recent examples include the slaughter of the Darfuri in Western Sudan, the “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, and the Holocaust of World War 2.  World leaders have been reflecting on such events over the past few weeks.

Is there any way forward?

I remember something that Jesus Christ said. He was challenging some of the traditions of his time. One was about how to treat people whom we regard as enemies. His own nation had committed genocide in the past and thought it was justifiable. Jesus disagreed. Let me paraphrase what he said. “You’ve heard”, he stated, “that you should love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and do good to those who hate you”.

His words were as radical and fresh then as they are today.

Perhaps, if we want change, it must begin with us. If there is someone or some people we don’t like, someone we resent, someone we even hate, recognise it, and seek God’s help.

Love your enemies.

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

The transfer window

December 27, 2019

In the world of European competitive football January 2020 is called the transfer window. It will be a period of feverish activity, speculation and surprises with clubs spending millions of pounds to strengthen their squads.

Yet the greatest transfer in history, which many have just celebrated, was the coming of Jesus from heaven to earth. He came not just to bring joy to one football club and its supporters, but rather he came to save the whole of world. His mission was to bring freedom, restore hope and give new life.

As we enter a new year and reflect on what lays in store for us, remember that Jesus in on your side.

David Gibbs info@because.uk.com

 

 

In for the long haul

November 15, 2019

I would have loved to be have been on the 19-hour, long-haul flight from London to Sydney that took place this week. It was a Qantas flight, the first of its type, and passengers were fitted with various monitors to track how their bodies fared.

Long-haul is an interesting phrase. It implies a sense of commitment, a spirit of endurance, a desire to stay on board to the end of something. Of course, the passengers had little option but to stay on board!

You could say that, when we have children, we’re in for the long haul. In other words, we’re with them through thick and thin come what may. The same idea also applies in marriage and in friendships.

Christians believe that Jesus is in for the long haul. His unfailing, unflinching love for us endures. He doesn’t give up on his love for us, come what may.

What about you in your caring love for others?

Are you in it for the long-haul?

James Henderson info@because.uk.com

Because Magazine September /October 2019

October 1, 2019

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Because Magazine September/ October 2019

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