The Epistles were letters written to a person or a group of people in an area. Some of these letter are lengthy, but there are some that are so short that there length they are only counted in verses.
Despite their size these letters still have something to say to each one of us.
A leaflet for this series is available here.
The picture that we’ve used for the Focus on the Cross series comes from a recent visit to Lindisfarne. It’s a simple wooden cross that’s been erected on a small island just off the main island. This has been a place of Christian worship for centuries, and there right at the centre of it was an empty cross. Without the cross and the subsequent resurrection our faith is just like many other belief systems, with the cross our faith stands alone as one where we follow a living saviour.
1 Corinthians defines the importance of the cross more eloquently than I could ever manage:
For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
Sunday was his birthday and Amanda (Reuben’s mum) wrote this:
Today is Reuben’s 2nd birthday! He has had a lovely day seeing family and friends and is enjoying playing with his new toys. He is a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine – I don’t know any boys who aren’t! And this cake was amazing! Big thank you to Auntie Anya (Eats for Treats!)
And now I am finding it difficult to know what and how to write here, I am not great with words, I’m not eloquent and can’t express things easily to say how I feel to summarise the past 2 years. 2 years ago as I sat by the incubator in hospital looking at wires and machines I thought once we were able to bring Reuben home he would be ok and everything would be ‘normal’ etc.
Since then it has been always looking to the next appointment, sometimes up to 5 in the same week, doctors, nurses, paediatricians, neurology, urology, physio, occupational therapy, portage, health visitors, midwives, hospitals clinics and appointments have ruled and dictated our diaries and our phone bills.
In a way I feel sad that we have somehow been robbed of the baby stage, we haven’t been able to do a lot of the things that babies like to do, swimming, different toddler groups etc but we know that one day it will all be worth it to see him walk straight upright and maybe even to use a knife and fork.
We could be asking why, we could be questioning why Reuben isn’t like his brother and sister but that’s where faith comes in. Before he was born God knew how he was going to be and chose us to be his parents. I never thought I would be able to cope with a child with so many different needs which change all the time but God gives us the strength and faith to entrust him to His plan. Of course we have prayed for instant complete healing at every opportunity but just because he is taking time it doesn’t mean our prayers aren’t being answered. People ask how we cope – especially when Reuben is up every hour in the night and needs care or pain relief etc, and it’s not our own strength we rely on, we simply could not do this by ourselves. We know that it is by prayer and faith in God that we can love each day whatever we are doing.
After a short delay we’ve published the sermon series information for January and February 2012. Printed leaflets should be available this Sunday, the online leaflet is available here.
Live at Peace with one another
The word peace appears over 360 times in scripture – once for every day. God is also described as the ‘God of Peace’. The Hebrew word most often translated ‘Peace’ is ‘Shalom’ which means ‘wellbeing’ and ‘completeness’. Scripture tells believers to live at peace with those around us, bringing the wellbeing, peace and reconciliation God has brought to our own hearts. This can be easier said than done. We consider some tough challenges faced by Joseph, which uncannily mirror present day issues.
Seen as one of the most difficult New Testament books, Hebrews doesn’t clearly identify its author or audience. Written as a response to the needs of a struggling people, sermon like in style, it gives warnings, challenges, examples and reminders of the faithfulness of God and calls the reader to endure in following the Son even when faced with persecution. It also deals with the question which constantly faces us: How can we approach God?
Today is Maundy Thursday and tomorrow is Good Friday, then on Sunday it’s Easter Sunday. Easter is a great time to celebrate all that Jesus has done for us and there are a number of opportunities for you to do that in the coming days:
Choice 5: Making Changes – The Transformation Choice
Choice 6: Repairing Relationships – The Relationship Choice
Choice 7: Maintaining Momentum – The Growth Choice
Choice 8: Recycling Pain – The Sharing Choice
Andrew Gardner kicked off the series looking at what it takes for us to admit our need. We can spend much of our life denying our needs, it’s only when we hit a crisis point or we are confronted by our needs that we are forced to recognise that they exist. We like to tell ourselves that we are doing alright, but God, our loving Father, wants more than that for us, He wants to take us beyond “alright” into His abundance. He has more than enough for us. Those of us who have been Christians for a while can be the worst at this because we feel the need for everything to appear to be fine.
One of the things that you won’t pick up from the podcast is the visual nature of Andrew’s opening illustration. If you listen in you’ll find him talking about moving things from a briefcase to a rucksack to help his back. While he is talking about moving physical things, the things that he showed as he moved were some of the needs that he recognises in his own life. It’s a great illustration of what God wants to do for us, He doesn’t want to strip us of our identity, but He does want to change those things that have defined us. We’ll talk some more about that in the coming weeks.
This series is based on a book of the same name – Life’s Healing Choices – by John Baker. A number of people are also working through the book as we work through the sermon series. While each one of these messages has value in it’s own right the set of choices also work together to lead us along a journey of discovery, so please take the time and effort to listen to all eight. The podcasts for these series are here.
We’d also love to hear from you and how God is impacting you – you can leave a comment against this blog, but if you’d like a more personal conversation then please contact us at the church office.
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