Coming Soon…

Our last Bible study of the year will be on Thursday 19th December at 7:30 p.m., when we’ll be looking at Philip’s evangelism in Acts 8. Our services on Sunday will be at the usual times of 10.30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

We are very excited about our carol service on Sunday 22nd December at 6 p.m. Entitled ‘Christmas: God’s Great Rescue Plan’, we’ll be involving the children in a rescue and looking at how Jesus came to earth to be our Rescuer as well as singing carols old and new. There will be mince pies and other festive refreshments served after the service, so please do come along and invite friends and family as well!

We’ll be holding a short Christmas Day service on Wednesday 25th December at 10.30 a.m. and look forward to celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Take some time out from the busyness of family celebrations to focus on the reason for the season!

There will be no midweek meeting on Boxing Day, but our services on Sunday 29th December will be at the usual times of 10.30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Don’t forget our New Year’s Day party on Wednesday 1st January 2020 at 4 p.m. Come along for food, fellowship, quizzes, games and fun! If you can help with the food for the party, see Julie.

Looking ahead to the New Year, here are a couple of additional dates for the diary:

  • Team Building Day on Saturday 18th January, 4-6 p.m.

  • ‘Churches Together’ Prayer meeting on Tuesday 21st January, 10.30 a.m. at GPCC

 

God Knows Us

God is described as omniscient, a long word meaning that He knows everything. Ps 139 reminds us that this knowledge extends to us; God knows our thoughts before they become words and our intentions before they become actions. This knowledge can be both reassuring and terrifying, but ultimately we can be grateful for such intimate knowledge.

Often in our work situations, particularly if we work for a large corporation, we can feel unknown and unvalued. In the film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, the main character (Clark Griswold) is constantly upset by the fact that his boss does not even know his name (he calls him ‘Mark’ and ‘Greaseball’, for example). Many of us feel like that, as though all our efforts and work go unnoticed. God, on the other hand, has summoned us by name (Is 43:1) and knows every hair on our heads. (Matt 10:30) We are not just a number or another nameless problem to Him; we are His sheep and He is the shepherd who goes looking for the one lost sheep.

One day, Paul says, we shall know even as we are fully known (1 Cor 13:12), but for now, we can be thankful that God knows us and still loves us!

Not Just A Baby

Dave spoke tonight from Luke 2:15-20. Babies tend to be highly popular, often making adults do strange things such as speaking in silly voices and pulling silly faces,  and it’s undoubtedly the baby at the centre of the Christmas story who grabs our attention. However, we need to grow up in our knowledge of Christ and acknowledge that He is more than just a baby. Eph 4:15 urges us to grow up into Christ and we have to move from wonder to worship.

As a man, Christ accepted worship (from the cleansed leper in Matthew 8, from the ruler of a synagogue in Matthew 9, from a blind man in John 9 and from one who had been demon-possessed in Mark 5), quite unlike other men (Paul was at pains to tell people not to bow down to him because he was only a man.) The reason Jesus did this was because He was not just a man; He was also fully God.

We need to grow up so we can understand more of how God works. He is beyond our control and we need to learn to surrender to Him and do what He requires. There was no room for Jesus at the inn in Bethlehem, and so often people want the cuteness of the baby Jesus without the cross of Christ. It’s easy for us to accept the tinsel of Christmas, but not the truth or to love the wonder of the season without the worship of the Saviour. If we are to grow up, we need to move beyond decoration to dedication and understand that love was the motivation behind Jesus coming to earth.

At a children’s Nativity, each child had to hold up a letter spelling out the word ‘CHRISTMAS LOVE.’ One child held the M upside down, however, with the result that the message given was ‘CHRIST WAS LOVE.’ That is the true motivation behind Christmas and we need to understand that out of the chaos, the God of love has come to be with us, not just at Christmas, but for eternity.

Where Is Church?

This morning, Roger asked the question, ‘Where is church?’ So often, we associate the word with a building, with the place where we worship, and we often talk about churches as great architectural monuments to God’s glory. God does not view church in this light, however. He sees that ‘church’ is where HIs people gather in His name (see Matt 18:20). Jesus firmly debunked the idea that church is tied to a building when He talked about rebuilding the temple in three days, referring to His own body rather than to the building itself. (John 2:19)

The church is being built by God Himself (see Matt 16:16-18) and nothing can destroy this work of God (see also Eph 1:22-23). We need to fulfil God’s commands, showing love for one another as the chief means of testimony (see John 13:34-35). Wherever we meet with other believers in God’s name, there is church.

God Values The Ordinary

Christmas is full of the spectacular: angels in the sky praising God, wise men travelling from the East, miracles abounding. But Christmas is also full of the ordinary and the mundane: Joseph and Mary facing the logistical nightmare of a journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the hassles of not being able to find a place to rest, the birth of a baby in less-than-perfect surroundings, the ordinary shepherds being summoned to worship.

Christianity is an odd combination of the stupendous and the mundane, of the spiritual and the physical. At times, we favour one over the other (most of us prefer the spiritual, because we like the spectacular!) We enjoy the trappings and trimmings of Christmas because they are pretty and unusual, but we have to acknowledge the humdrum as well (traipsing through shops to buy presents, working out shopping lists to feed an extended family over Christmas and so on.) We need both; both form part of our lives.

Christmas is essentially reassuring, because it reminds us that God values the ordinary. There was no beaming down of a fully formed God-man to earth; instead, the miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit coming upon a virgin sat alongside the normal gestational period and the messiness of labour. There was pomp and ceremony with the hosts of angels startling ordinary people, but there was also the smell and mess of the stable birth. There was the miraculous appearance of a star to men in a country far away, but there was also the near-disaster of assumptions leading to a visit to a palace. God has never despised the ordinary and values us in our everyday lives, however boring or unspectacular these seem to us.

 

God Makes Whole

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Our society generally does not favour such repair; we live in a disposable society, where when something breaks, it gets thrown away.  It can actually be cheaper, for example, to buy a new printer than to buy a cartridge for it when the ink runs out. This attitude can even be carried over into the workplace, with many employees feeling that they are discarded whenever it is convenient for the company.

God does not view us as disposable, however. He is the Potter who re-forms and re-works the clay into something beautiful (see Jer 18). I like the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, however, because it does not attempt to disguise the breakage; it uses something precious to repair and strengthen. Jesus still bore the scars of the crucifixion in His resurrected body (in Michael Card’s words, He is ‘known by the scars’). We belong to a God who makes whole (He assembles the broken, shattered pieces of our lives into something beautiful, as Aaron Shust puts it.) We are His living examples of kintsugi.