Celebrating God’s big story

110401-N-HC601-027Due to family circumstances and person illness I have not been writing in recent weeks. I am grateful to those who have taken over our Sunday teaching and brought this exciting series to a wonderful conclusion. Our church website is the place to hear all of our E100 teaching series.

We conclude this series on  Sunday (11th June) in much the same way as we started with an All Age Celebration of God’s big story. Do plan to join us as we celebrate the special meals that tie this great story together.

See you Sunday at 10.30am

Adrian

The church is born

story_bannerGod’s big story has brought us to the cross and to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How good it has been to celebrate the power of the Easter story together. Following a week’s break we pick up the story again as we head into the New Testament.

This weeks readings take us back to the very beginnings of the church, to the day of Pentecost and to the powerful fulfilment of that great promise made to Abraham back in Genesis Ch 12. To the gift of the Holy Spirit who is now ‘poured out’ on all people, from all nations, race and background.

Pentecost was a harvest festival, an opportunity for thankful worshippers to offer to God the first fruits of  their crops. Celebrated 50 days after the Passover, coinciding with the anniversary of the giving of the Law, it also became associated with the covenant made between the Lord and his people at Sinai. The nation that was constituted at Sinai, gathering together in Jerusalem to renew their relationship with God is now, so many years later reborn – literally the first fruits of a new harvest, a new chapter, a new beginning, as God pours out his Spirit on all people to ratify the new covenant that was promised by the prophets of Joel and Jeremiah the Old Testament.

Something momentous has happened that all hinges on the ministry, death, resurrection and exultation of Jesus Christ. All culminating with the wonderful invitation that ‘all’ who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. You cannot but sense the power of this great story.

New communities are formed that are marked by a new kind of ‘togetherness’, faith begins to engage with society, faith gets lived out on the public stage and the church begins to grow as the story of Jesus is told.

Throughout the book of Acts God once again takes centre stage, together with the exalted Christ and the powerful Holy Spirit as God’s story continues to unfold. New creation has begun and what a story we have to share.

My prayer is that the story of the early church will excite us and encourage us as it reminds us once again, that God is on the move. Let’s allow ourselves to get caught up with the scale and the scope of this great story, a story that will eventually result in the worship of God to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8)

The Cross of Christ

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Yesterday morning brought us to the significance of Jesus’ miracles. Word made flesh, who crys with the world crying, as heaven touches earth. Last week  as we made our way through five E100 readings the concernated on the miracles of Jesus.  It was so timely, yesterday,  to spend time thinking and reflecting on the raising of Lazarus and how that miracle story foreshadows Jesus’ own death and resurrection. For a link to the sermon please click HERE

This week we begin to make our way to the cross as we reflect on Jesus’ final week. If you are local to us then why not join us for our Easter Meditations every evening at 8pm for a short guided reflection led by different members of our church family. And then for a Good Friday Communion Service at the end of the week at the same time.

The cross is probably the most recognised and reproduced symbol in the history of the world. For Christians this powerful symbol reminds us of Jesus’ judicial and cruel execution. One single event where Jesus died for the sins of the world, making it possible for people like you and me to know forgiveness, a new start and a relationship with the living God that lasts forever.

The gospels make it very clear that Jesus knew exactly what lay ahead for him. The intense struggles he faced in the Garden of Gethsemane confront us with that in a deep and powerful way. The cross became the only way for sin to be dealt with once and for all – a ‘perfect sacrifice’ was required. Without the cross there could be no salvation.

And so it is this symbol of the cross that takes us to the very heart of God’s plan of salvation – this ‘big story’ that we have been following since the beginning of the year. And as we move into the New Testament after Easter we will come to see just how significant this symbol will become for the early church.

So this week our readings take us to the cross and to the awesome resurrection celebrations of Easter Sunday. So please join us as we celebrate together this coming Sunday at 10.30am

The following week (after Easter) allows us a week to pause and catch up in our E100 readings. So we will start again on Monday 24th with the readings for Day 71.

Adrian

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Congratulations. We have made it to the half way point and what a journey it has been! A story full of twists and turns, highs and lows, failures and faithfulness and yet through it all a story of the living God who keeps his covenant promise!

On Sunday (Link) we got a glimpse of the New Covenant, a covenant that was going to require the sacrifice of God himself. God’s Old Testament story has pointed us to Jesus Christ from its’ very beginning and now we embark on 50 New Testament readings that have Jesus Christ at their very centre.

‘Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, God has been working out his plan of salvation. So far most of that plan has involved the people of Israel, the Jewish nation. But as we complete our Old Testament readings we were left with a sense that something is still missing. God’s people kept turning away from him. They simply could get right with God on his own’.

That’s what makes these words of promise from God through the prophet Isaiah so significant –

‘I the Lord have called you in righteousness, I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles’.  (Isaiah 42:6)

A promise that both fulfils the Old Testament Covenant promise to Abraham and points us forward to the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. If you have fallen by the wayside in your readings, this is quite literally the chance to start again. So why not pick up your study book and start again with us in John Ch 1 as we get to meet the author of God’s story in person. ‘In the beginning was the Word’ …. as we start the story again!

So then let’s get ready to encounter the author of this amazing story in person as we come to the New Testament. ‘The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen his glory’ writes John.So join us this Sunday as we continue the journey together.

Adrian

 

From Poets to Prophets

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Well we are heading to the halfway point in our E100 Challenge. This week we move from the Psalms to the Prophets.In case you missed yesterday’s sermon on the book of Psalms here is the link:  Where God’s words and our words meet

“The prophets are God’s chosen spokesmen. Predicting the future is part of what they do, but their main function is to declare God’s view of how people are living in the midst of compromise and waywardness. Warnings as well as a call to repentance are core to their message”.

Once again we will be confronted with our own sin – but we will also come face to face  with God’s mercy and a love that embraces anyone who truly repents and turns to the living God.Such is the powerful story of God. We journey on together.

Adrian

Psalms – Songs that tell the story

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Well it’s hard to believe that we are heading towards the half-way point in our E100 challenge.

This week the pace slows a little and becomes a little more reflective and if you are like me then you will be ready to slow down a little. For the past eight weeks or so we have hurtled through some of great Old Testament stories as we have seen how God keeps and begins to fulfill his wonderful covenant promise to Abraham.

Reaching the high points of Israel’s history under David and Solomon and then following the dramatic story of the self-destruction as God’s people abandoned his commands, compromised in their worship and at times openly rebelled. We were left with some salutatory lessons at the end of last weekend as we identified the steps that led to the rapid decline of a nation and a people.

If you missed last Sunday’s sermon which took us through those turbulent years of Israel’s history then please click here Highs and Lows of the big story

This Sunday we come to the book of Psalms. Sometimes referred to as Israel’s songbook, we are going to discover how they hold together talk about God and talk to God. The Psalms work not simply by matching our mood (something they do extremely well), but by shaping the way we pray, and shaping us in the process both collectively and individually.

They are songs that reflect just about every occasion of life and span a period in history of over 1000 years. Together they help us in our response to God’s big story, reminding us that the story of salvation is not just in the past but is in fact, the foundation for our ongoing relationship with God in the here and now.

It is in the Psalms that we get the clearest glimpse of how God story helps us to make sense of our own jounrnies of faith. Witten in rough and ready langauge, rarely holding back, coming with a referching honesty of saying things how they are, the Pslams reflect the stuglles and questions of life like no other book in the Bible.  I trust you continue to enjoy the journey. Join us again this Sunday  at 9am and again at 10.30am – Adrian

8ddf4-e100-bannerIt’s been so encouraging to hear how this reading challenge has been impacting people’s lives across the church.

Stories of husbands and wives reading the Bible together for the first time, children talking to parents about what we are learning together, parents and children reading the Bible together. People sharing how God is speaking into their lives about specific situations they are dealing with.

This is what the E100 is all about. Not simply learning more but rather experiencing more of God. I am really excited at what God is doing among us. It’s hard to believe we are approaching the half way mark!

Sunday’s preparation has been challenging as we have had over 500 years of Isreal’s history to cover. It’s a period that has reaches some incredible high points as we shall see but it also contains the disturbing and challenging story of how quickly a nation and a people self-destruct as they move away from God. Make sure you join us this Sunday for the next part of the story

Adrian