As the old TV or Radio saying goes “we interrupt our normal transmission to bring you this important announcement”. I want to leave the series I have been blogging on (the Minor Old Testament Prophets) to draw your attention to one particular item.
That item, is this week’s Congregational meeting. It’s a biggie.
At that meeting we will focus on the Mission Plan (the spiritual life of the church) and then a proposed building plan (the physical life of the church).
These two things will have a significant impact on our present and future life as a church. With this in mind I strongly encourage you to be in attendance and hear with your own ears what is being proposed. It’s to be held this Sunday, the 22nd May, at 12.15 pm.
I am really excited as to what the possibilities are and what God is dong among us! See you there!
As we continue our Minor Prophets series we could almost print the entire book of Obadiah here!
When the city of Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians (587BCE) the neighbouring nation of Edom joined in the pillaging and murder. They were actually blood relations with the Israelites (descendants of Esau). Obadiah rebukes the Edomite’s for their appalling behaviour and pronounces God’s judgement upon them. But for Israel there is a wonderful promise that God is still involved in their life and what’s more God will restore their fortunes. They are not out of God’s loving heart.
We too, all experience loss and hardships in our lives and it can hurt deeply. Again and again the bible reminds us of God’s unfailing love for us. This book is a good reminder for all of us that we have a great and merciful God who loves us and desires our best. It's great news!
We continue with our series on the Minor Prophets and what they were saying to their communities.
This week we are up to the prophet Joel. Essentially Joel calls the people of Judah and Jerusalem to lament and return to the Lord. It is a time of great national catastrophe symbolised by a locust plague and embodied by the Day of the Lord. Yet this ‘day’ also holds hope for those who trust in God. God’s covenant faithfulness is seen by his dwelling with his people and his Spirit on all people.
We often see great calamities around us and we wonder where God is in all of this. We too, long for a final judgement where all things will be made right. But it’s only because of Jesus and his gift of our right standing that we are in relationship with God. We are the blessed ones to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit as God's actual presence with us.
Joel is well worth a read.
Hosea the prophet lived and spoke around the 750 BCE mark. It was a tough time in Israel’s history and dark clouds were on the horizon. Hosea’s ministry was to show, with example of his own life, how Israel had walked away from God and how much God wanted them back – indeed how faithful God was to the unfaithful.
Using his own marriage Hosea embodied the broken heart of God for his wayward people. The book reflects the boundless and changeless love that God has for this nation. It also highlights how far Israel had degenerated by chasing after false gods.
While there is much more in the book, it reminds us that God is faithful, that God longs for a relationship with us and that God is broken hearted when we turn from him. It also says that our actions have repercussions on others, including God.
I encourage you to read the book of Hosea!
I’m not sure if you have ever looked at much of the Minor Prophets. They are found at the back end of the Old Testament. These are the 12 last books of the Old Testament.
They are called ‘minor’ only because of the length of their writings not because of the importance of their message. In terms of themes, it appears the twelve books can be split into two: the first group posing the problem and the second group proposing resolutions. They come out of a unique period in Israel’s history and speak to a particular problem.
Over the next few weeks I want to take a brief look at each book and see what they say to us now. Hopefully it will spur you on to read these books and to see for yourself their contemporary relevance. It is my undying belief that Gods word still speaks – even today.
Next week (Friday the 15th at XS and Sunday the 17th at both morning services) we will be celebrating with quite a few people who will be baptised! These people want to publicly affirm they’ve decided to follow Jesus.
It is a great joy for us as a church to witness this. To see people following Jesus and to see new believers put themselves in a public place where the claim his Lordship over all things. Come prepared to celebrate! Come prepared to give glory to God!
Come prepared to be reminded too of your own baptism. For when we see the baptism of others we are meant to remember our choice to follow Jesus and to proclaim him Lord over everything. This is why we make baptism public events, all of us need to be encouraged in our walk of faith.
Jesus is alive and working right now!
I want to use this communication to thank all those who worked so hard at our many events over Easter. If I roll my mind back over the weekend, I am honoured to know just how many people served and helped and put their shoulder to the wheel.
Easter camp requires a massive amount of effort and I am deeply grateful for those who were up there and who served our youth. Thank you so much.
Over the weekend, at our four services we had a large number of volunteers as well. From welcomers, to musicians, to children’s ministry and all parts that contributed to the whole. Thank you so much.
It certainly takes a big team, and everyone’s part is valued and needed.
If that was you and you were a part of the Easter weekend - thank you so much.
All of us are deeply grateful.
The cross is the abiding symbol of our faith. In fact, it’s an empty cross. Simultaneously we remember that Jesus died and he rose again.
This weekend we get to remember both of those in stark clarity. Here we are at the central celebration of our faith!
This weekend is a good time to invite friends, family and people we know to worship – to hear for themselves the price Jesus paid for us and the extravagant love of God.
We have two services on Friday; 8.30 am and 10 am and also two on Sunday 9 am and 10.45 am. (There is no Sunday night service this Easter weekend).
I encourage you to remember our XS camp this weekend in your prayers as they gather for the 4 days.
Also thank you to the many who prayed for Immy Blenksop, the surgery went well! We now need to trust her to Jesus for the next stages.
With my prayers for a safe and Holy Easter.
Over and over again in the scriptures we see people praying. It is an undeniable focus of the people of God. In fact, Jesus often hid himself away so that he could pray.
When you think about prayer, it is a remarkable thing. God – the creator of the universe and of this wonderful world – is waiting for us to speak to him. In fact, he is wanting us to speak to him! I still cannot get my head around that.
With this in mind, we are setting aside 24 hours this Saturday (and into the early hours of Sunday) to pray. To be connected with God; Father, Son and Spirit. You are invited to be a part of this 24 hours of prayer. Come when you can and stay as long as you can. View the prayer schedule here.
PS. Please remember in your prayers the XS Camp over Easter. Lets ask Jesus to open hearts and reveal himself to our young people.
Next week is Palm Sunday (20th March). Traditionally churches would decorate the worship space with palms and in many places the kids would bring these down the aisles during the worship service. In doing this we remember Jesus entrance into Jerusalem and how the crowds worshiped him. It stands in contrast to just 5 days later where we see the fickleness of humanity.
I wondered something though.
I wondered, if instead of us having the kids bring palms forward during worship, if we did something different.
That something different is this; how about we all bring a blanket, a coat or a sleeping bag to worship on Palm Sunday. The intention would be to give them away. So if we brought these essential items we could make sure it went to one of the homeless missions in our area.
That way, by doing this action, we would still be responding to Jesus (like the crowds of Jerusalem) but also taking care of the poor and suffering.
How about joining me with this next week?
Are you game?