Every four years, our screens are graced with the Winter Olympics, bringing to our attention some unusual sports, like curling, which involves a hall of ice, big stones and some energetic brushing. It’s fascinating to watch, but most of us haven’t a clue what’s going on or why the players do what they do.
So, we rely on a commentator to explain to us quite what’s going on. They can tell us what the players are trying to do, and why. Their commentary turns a bamboozling series of events into something really meaningful.
We are now half way through our spring Sunday series, ‘God’s Big Picture’. We’ve had four weeks already, looking at how God’s kingdom was originally patterned, then perished, leading to new promises, which were partially fulfilled in ancient Israel.
These Bible stories go a long way to explaining what we experience in life today, especially our struggles and failings.
From now on, things will only get better. In the coming weeks, the story of the Bible moves on to Jesus, the promised Holy Spirit and eternal life!
The first Christians formed the habit of meeting together each Sunday, because that was the day of the Resurrection! They had seen Friday and Saturday come and go with Jesus in the grave, but then came Sunday morning. Not only was the grave empty, but reports started to come in of people encountering the risen Lord Jesus, who said, “our hearts burning within us while he talked with us.”
I’m currently reading Fill These Hearts by Christopher West. It’s all about the place of longing and desire in the Christian’s life, as the subtitle gives away: ‘God, Sex and the Universal Longing.’
In it, I’ve just come across this quote from Augustine, which has touched me and may perhaps touch you too…
I was recently bought a book by a friend about ethics, entitled ‘Improvisation’ by Samuel Wells (SPCK, 2004). Prior to that, I’d been reading a book about the motivating power of stories, especially the stories of heroes. So, I was struck between the eyes by this sentence on page 37: “The church is not a country fit for heroes to live in, but a commonwealth of saints.”
Indeed, it’s no good motivating others, if we motivate them to do the wrong things!
I’ve had some quiet time today and found time to have a look online at some Christian music.
Deep down, I long for something that connects together love for God and love for people. Most Christian musicians seem to delight more in one than the other. Some help us to get lost in ‘wonder, love and praise,’ but only at the expense of forgetting about our real lives for a while. Others sing about the needs of the world and what we will do, but allow encounter with the living God to fade into the background.
I was speaking to my friend Graham Hipwell this morning when he said, ‘Ah, a whisper of mortality.’ He was talking about me.
I went to hospital yesterday to have some skin blemishes examined, after my GP thought one of them was perhaps a bit suspicious. The letter telling me about the appointment said it might take 1-2 hours, but in the end it took all morning. The consultant agreed that the mole was indeed a bit suspicious, so they took me into a little operating theatre and cut out a chunk from the small of my back.
It’s been good to start the ‘Breathe’ bible reading plan for the Spring this week (link at the bottom of this page), knowing that lots of us are doing it together across the city. John’s gospel is wonderful, and I’m really looking forward to Sunday, when we will be looking together at chapter 3.
I’ve also been reading something else – about modern dilemmas – that I found stimulating and thought to be worth passing on…
We’re now properly into the autumn and there is so much great stuff going on. We have people welcoming freshers to the city at Freshers Fair today. Tomorrow, we will host a pastors’ breakfast with world-famous apologist Ravi Zacharias. On Sunday, apart from our morning meeting, we are hosting the Open Doors roadshow highlighting the evil of faith-based persecution. Next week, I get to meet with some people to start to make space for a community of writers to form.