Clap your hands, all you peoples.

We are at the end of our 5th week, in the UK, of our Coronavirus lockdown and the Government has announced a further three weeks of restrictions to try and manage the devastation caused by the virus Convid-19. Life has changed radically, especially for the Church, as new ways of being Church in isolation is emerging. One might perhaps assume, mistakenly, that the Church, the body of Jesus Christ, will not survive; yet it is re-imaging itself in all sorts of virtual forms; because God as Father, Jesus Christ his son and Holy Spirit, living amongst Christian people and in the world, matters to us and to our lives in lockdown. God is our saviour and is the one we come to love and to serve.

I have been struck this week by the hand clapping for key workers, who are keeping us going on the front line. Every Thursday at 8pm and at different times around the world, we come out of our houses and applaud the hospital and medical staff and teams, care workers, emergency services and those vital to our lives. During these times we get to see our neighbours in the flesh. Yes they do exist, they are not just in a virtual world and we can wave to one another, chat across the fence and across the street and exchange a smile and a joke as we share in our appreciation of those on the front line. The clapping is a sign of something far bigger, a mass demonstration of appreciation for something good and hopeful that will save us in the end.

Many people of course will be living in anxious times as the future is uncertain. Businesses and work may have unsure and different futures, pensions and savings may be impacted by the economic uncertainty and those who are ill are fighting the battle. Others of course will be seeing a different way of life and living in the now with the beauty that is surrounding them.

Whatever our situation though, we need someone, in the flesh and not virtual, who we can turn to and depend upon and know their love and concern for us. Two people went for their exercise on a 7 mile walk, in the heat of the day, keeping themselves to themselves, making sure they were social distancing and talking to one another about their anxieties in the current situation. They felt threatened, they felt very sad, they felt that all was lost and they needed to seek a new life somehow. Then a 3rd person joins them, in the flesh, and asks them why they are so sad. He almost seemed to be part of the family walking with the couple. Here is what happened.

‘Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This scripture from Luke 24:13-35 is one of the recorded events of Jesus Christ, God on earth, the son of God our Father, appearing as a new creation, a new person in the flesh, as well as virtual. His crucifixion on a cross cleared the way for evil and sin and death to be defeated and then, with his resurrection to a new life, all who believed in him would know new life in Jesus Christ. We live in the resurrected age and presence of Jesus Christ; he is alive, and he brings the promise of salvation and hope in him. The two on the road to Emmaus saw a sign of his presence as he broke bread in front of them. If you connect with most virtual services in the current climate, you too will see that reminder of the resurrected presence of Christ amongst us, through his Holy Spirit, in broken bread and wine outpoured.

You see, if we let him and believe in him, and sometimes even when we don’t, Jesus Christ will come alongside us in our anxiety and sadness and walk with us, leaving us with joy and ‘our hearts burning within us’. You see we encounter the Holy in the sadness and the crisis and we want to lift up his name and give him praise.

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
I lift up His name with the sound of sing
Lift up His name with all the earth
Lift up your voice and give Him glory
For He is worthy to be praised

It is often at different and hard times, or times of suffering, that the follower and believer of Jesus Christ, will have new and deep revelations of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. It is the mercy and grace of God that comes to us and brings us joy even though we might in wordly terms suffer. It is the Christian’s ability to rise above the circumstances in front of us, to see God at work in our lives and the lives of others, that shows ‘He is Alive’. It is our calling to reveal God’s mercy and grace to others in how we react during these times as a witness to the world around us. We pray that we do not become obstacles to God’s mercy and grace, but are his light to the world.

The two on the road to Emmaus ran back to Jerusalem, the place of their anxieties, worries and sadness, to proclaim that Jesus is alive and they had seen him and they knew his joy and the world changed and it will change again!

Perhaps our prayer could be:

Thank you Lord that in all circumstances we can turn to you and know that you are alive. Help us to recommit ourselves to you, so that our hearts burn with your love and your presence. Come and bless those amongst us who are suffering that they may know a deeper revelation of how much you love them and wish to save and heal. Come into our own lives and help us to be witnesses to your mercy and your grace, and to see you working in this world to bring us all closer to you, reconciled and living life in all its fullness and purpose as you intended, not as we intend. Help us to know your will and to fight this virus.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

As we gather together on a Thursday evening, or whatever time it is in our part of the world, to clap for our medical and care services, maybe we could also clap for the living God who is present with us and active with us in this crisis.

Psalm 47 has these words.

Clap your hands, all you peoples;
shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome,
a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
sing praises with a psalm

God is king over the nations;
God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
he is highly exalted.

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Something new is bursting out.

In the midst of the Coronavirus lockdown, this is our 4th week, life is of course very different. COVID-19 continues to spread, like an invisible dark cloud, and an increasing number of people are becoming ill and some tragically lose their lives. The battle is fought on the front line by many brave and courageous key people, and life for most of us has become very different. Sitting in my garden being able to enjoy the amazing weather and blue skies, I couldn’t help notice the absence of traffic noise, the beauty and quietness of creation and the myriad of birds singing.

Scientists are reporting that emissions are reducing (China reported a 25% reduction in their shutdown), we are noticing cleaner air, clearer water, increased wildlife and predictions that our reduced activity will show an increase in wildflowers, insects and bees. Is nature healing and restoring itself?

Our life, for those not on the front line, has taken a different pattern, it’s pace has slowed down, the virus is calling us to examine what is important in our lives, family and friends, our community and neighbours, loved ones who need caring for, health (at the time of writing Captain Tom Moore has raised £21 million for the NHS), food, vital services that are provided to us, and those in need. We are perhaps becoming more compassionate and grateful for what we have and for each other.

Sky News has recently reported on a survey conducted by the Royal Society of Arts, with the Food Foundation, that only 9% of people surveyed would wish to see a return to life as it was before the virus outbreak. 42% are valuing their food and other essentials more, 51% are noticing cleaner air and 27% more wildlife. 40% are noticing the stronger sense of community and 39% are more in contact with friends and family. More than half are looking to make changes in their lifestyles.

We are living in the resurrected presence of Jesus Christ, an event we have only just celebrated on Easter Sunday. It is this event that brings a new life, a new start, a new creation and a new way of living with God. Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth (2Corinthians 5:16-21).

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The faithful Christian belongs to Christ, in him we are reconciled to God and are part of his emerging kingdom on earth. Hear the words of ‘In Christ Alone’ written by Stuart Townend with Keith & Kristyn Getty and sung by Lou Fellingham in the YouTube video below.

Those who confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and give their lives to him and belong to him, may well sense the movement of God’s Holy Spirit upon us, as the world becomes renewed, reconciled and healed and lives are changed, bringing new perspectives on what is good and right. Jesus told his disciples about the Holy Spirit of God in John 16:7-15.

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

There is something new that is happening in the world and a new way of life is emerging. Early Christians were called ‘the followers of the Way’ and filled by the Holy Spirit they met together, worshipped Christ together, broke bread together, prayed together, looked after those in need by selling their own possessions and witnessed many signs of awe and wonder amongst them. (Acts 2:43-47). This was a new way of life in the aggressive and oppressed society they had emerged from. A virtual ‘Spring Harvest’ felt led to concentrate on these passages this year.

The Church, the gathering of faithful Christian people, has not been closed down in this pandemic. Its buildings, where Christians have met, are closed down, but the Church, the ‘Body of Christ’ is not closed down. Something new is emerging. This use of technology and social media to connect one another through the internet in these times of lockdown has brought forward a new way of worshipping and meeting, a new way of praying together, a new way of being encouraged together. More people are joining these virtual Churches than perhaps actually visited the buildings when they were open. The Church is continuing and finding new ways to serve its community and the increasing numbers of those in need. There is a Church emerging anew, alongside the old, and thriving and it actually doesn’t fit into the old way of Church. It is different.

Jesus told the people that something new was bursting out in Mark 2:21-22. He described it as the old, not being able to contain the new, the new was bursting out.

New wine bursts old wine skins

“No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

We live in the Resurrected age of Jesus Christ when a new life and a new creation emerges from the sadness of the crucifixion. We live in the age of the Holy Spirit of God, coming amongst us and within us and something new is emerging from the tragedy of the pandemic as the Holy Spirit of God heals, changes, transforms and renews and new life in Christ comes bursting out of the old. We look forward to this new time.

The words of ‘Holy Spirit’ by Phatfish in the YouTube video below, could be our prayer. The words to pray are underneath the video.

‘Holy Spirit’ by Phatfish

Holy Spirit, from before the dawn of time
You have always been the Father’s breath divine
Brooding on the waters
Bringing forth new life
Teaching, guiding, shining out Your light
Making known the mysteries of Christ
And we long to feel you here
Holy Spirit, please draw near

Come, holy fire, burn so free
Your presence purifying me
You glorify the risen One
Sweet Holy Spirit, flow through me;
This glimpse of power, this guarantee
A foretaste of the age to come

Holy Spirit, you’re our counsellor and friend;
Helper, uniter, you’re the One whom Jesus sent
Make me more like Jesus;
Spirit, have free reign
Abba Father, your voice within us cries:
We’re loved and precious in our Father’s eyes
As we give ourselves to you
Holy Spirit, fill this room

Fill me up each day
Fill me up each hour
Fill me with Your love
Fill me with Your power


Help us Lord to be cleansed, healed, transformed and renewed through your Holy Spirit, in these times of anxiety and crisis, and to know where you are moving and calling us to serve, so that your name is known and glorified, in and through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

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Life in Lockdown

Photo by Burst on

It was only a month ago that the UK was urged to concentrate on hand washing for at least 20 seconds to avoid or remove Coronavirus contamination. I think it was at that point that soap started to be in short supply and antibacterial hand gel disappeared from the supermarket shelves! Now we are washing our hands so often that they have gone dry and there is a run on hand creams and moisturisers!

It is only 3 weeks ago that the UK was taken into lockdown with isolation at home, only essential travel allowed for food, medical supplies, exercise and work, if work can’t be carried out from home; self isolation for those over 70 and those with health conditions and with virus symptoms.

Delivery slots for food are practically non existent, some essentials like flour are difficult to obtain, many are impacted financially and with job cuts and many are seeking Government financial help. NHS staff; care workers; teachers and the numerous key workers, many in lower tiers of pay; are all battling this pandemic on our behalf. Our lives have changed substantially and we are saddened every day by the stories of the increasing numbers who have contracted this virus, those who have become seriously ill and those who have died, but gladdened with the stories of those who are recovering, our Prime Minister amongst them.

Communities of course have come together, volunteers to help are heart warming and welcome, as we seek to support one another and our key workers in this pandemic deserve our sincere thanks and praise.

How is life for you in lockdown?

Photo by Oleg Magni on

In amongst the crisis that surrounds us and encroaches upon us, Spring has surfaced. The days are warm, the sky is so blue (is that because we are not travelling in cars, buses, trains, ships and planes?), the birds are singing and it is so quiet. Across the road from me a family have come to visit grandparents, talking to them from the road and bringing them food. We are working out ways of connecting, supporting and talking to one another and technology is playing a huge part for us. I have learnt about Zoom and more about Skype and have read books and scripture, cooked adventurously, prayed, worked in the garden and enjoyed the privilege of walking outside for relaxation and exercise.

There is a contrast between the crisis and the battle zone and the life experienced by many. Here in Holy week, we go from Maundy Thursday to Easter day, from distress to joy, from brokenness to healing, from imprisonment to salvation. There is contrast to our lives rooted in the salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour.

Jesus’ friends gather around the passover table, reclining together as they take part in the ritual meal remembering and celebrating the release by God, through Moses, of their ancestors from the imprisonment of slavery to salvation as a free nation. Here is how that moment is described in Exodus 12:1-13.

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”.

This lamb ‘without blemish’, innocent and without fault, is sacrificed for the lives of the ‘congregation of Israel’, so that they may go free and the plague will pass over them. Jesus, God’s son, here in our world, sits at the meal with his friends to remember and celebrate this ‘passover sacrifice to the Lord’ where the people of Israel were saved from the imprisonment of slavery by God and he takes the unleavened bread at the meal and says these words to them recorded in the Gospel of Matthew 26:26-28

While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Jesus replaces the lamb ‘without blemish’, innocent and without fault as the one and only sacrifice for you and for me in order that the imprisonment of sins and wrongs of the world can be forgiven and we can be saved from them.

Maybe at this time in isolation we could read those words of Jesus from Matthew and reflect on the hymn ‘Behold’ the Lamb’ by Keith & Kristyn Getty as we receive Christ, bring him our sins and receive forgiveness to be freed and change.

We are living in a lockdown where many people are making sacrifices for us and we may be making sacrifices for others. Sacrifices are made through the desire to make things better, to not see suffering, to release others from bondage perhaps and to show love and care towards others. We are hearing stories now of medical staff who have lost their lives through Coronavirus whilst trying to care for patients.

Jesus walked to his crucifixion in order that the world may know a better way of living and be released from those things that are not right. He walked out of pure love and compassion, so that the world could be released from the burden of wrongs and of evil and know God’s forgiveness and peace and a new way of living with God our Father, through Jesus Christ his son, in the power of his Holy Spirit. His sacrifice means that we can be right with God to do the right things in our world. We are saved to him. This is what Mark wrote in 15:25-39

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.’

‘The Death of Jesus When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “Listen, he is calling for Elijah.” And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” ‘

The crucifixion of Jesus brings home to us the deep deep love of our Father in heaven, as we show resolve in this crisis we can know that love and be strengthened by it. This is the song written by Stuart Townend and sung by WorshipMob.

I was once told by a Chaplain in a hospital that in all the suffering she encountered, she also encountered the deep deep love of our Father and I have also found this. There is always a Resurrection moment after a time of change and suffering. We also will experience and look forwad to this resurrection moment. By coming to Christ and professing belief and faith in him as God’s Son, we come to belong to Christ, it is he who cleanses us in front of God, our Father and in Christ we can know resurrection in this life and the next.

There will be an end to the pandemic at some time, but perhaps our lives will be different, perhaps they will be deeper in Christ. John writes in chapter 20.

Jn 20:1 The Resurrection of Jesus

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.’

‘But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ “Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.’

What joy that resurrection moment is!

‘See what a morning’ by Keith and Kristyn Getty from Coventry Cathedral.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

May you know joy and peace this Easter.

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The Rescuer.

Matthew 21:1-11 Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.” This took place to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Look, your king is coming to you,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Palm Sunday, which at the time of writing is drawing close, is a time when Christians celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the Royal city, the city of David when crowds flocked to welcome Jesus as a King, the one who will rescue them in a crisis, the crisis of invasion and oppression. The crowds flocked to welcome Jesus and cheered him on, throwing branches and cloaks in front of his humble donkey, because they have hope that he is the one that will save them from a life of restrictions, from a life of suffering, from a life of occupation. Our own close history of WWI and WWII tells us of the horror of occupation and the freedoms that are lost. The people rushed to Jesus because he would rescue them and save them from this horror.

Graham Kendrick’s Palm Sunday hymn is often sung.

Make Way, Make Way.

We are today in a different type of crisis in a free society. Most of the world is experiencing the horrors of the Coronavirus Covid-19. We have all been touched by its impact as the personal stories of those who have suffered and lived and those who have suffered and died and those who have cared for them, come to our attention. We cannot come together in a crowd to bring ourselves to the living Lord Jesus in our Churches and homes, or come together in support, we are distanced from one another, in order that this virus will not be transmitted and its impact is minimised and the battle won. But we can of course come together in prayer.

Many people in times of crisis, just like the crowds on Palm Sunday, will turn to Jesus Christ, this time in prayer. Those words sometimes become quite familiar “God if you exist…..then hear my prayer”. But the Christian will pray in the powerful ‘name of Jesus Christ’ because we know that God exists and that Jesus, his son, came to live with us, to die in shame on a cross outside Jerusalem, as payment for our sins, and to come to life again, so that we all may know him and know God and nothing gets in the way of knowing his love. Jesus’ triumphant journey into Jerusalem, the Holy City, wasn’t one of being crowned as King, but something much deeper, to bring people back into a living relationship with God, our Father, through knowing and believing in Jesus his son, and asking to be filled with his Holy Spirit. Our wrongs, evil in the world, the impact and effects of viruses, even death, cannot get in the way of knowing God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit and partnering with him in prayer to bring healing upon a broken world, a brokenness we are all experiencing at this time.

Lou Fellingham’s worship song ‘Christ in me’ tells us of the King who has come and rescued and saved us and is alive to hear our prayers.

Psalm 40 has these words.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods. You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required. Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.

Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever. For evils have encompassed me without number; my iniquities have overtaken me, until I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails me.

Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me; O LORD, make haste to help me. Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life; let those be turned back and brought to dishonour who desire my hurt. Let those be appalled because of their shame who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!” As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.

Perhaps our prayers could be:

Lord Jesus Christ, our King, rescuer, redeemer and saviour, we thank you that you know us and that we are able to receive your love. We seek your holy presence at this time of world crisis.

We bring to you the wrongs in our life and turn from them and turn back to you, forgive us, cleanse us and heal us. Help us to live differently, in humility, loving you, our neighbours and our world. May we know you afresh in our lives.

We bring to you our anxieties and concerns and worries at this time. Let your peace and assurance descend upon us.

We bring to you our thanks for all those who are at the front line of fighting the Covid-19 Coronavirus, may they know your blessings, protection and healing. Bring them the resources they need and may they know your presence with them. May we know your mercy and this virus be eradicated.

We bring to you all who are suffering at this time, may they know strength, courage and your everlasting grace.

We praise you and give you thanks for those good things in our life, may we live in a sustainable way.

We bring these prayers in the powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

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Finding hope in times of crisis and need.

The Prime Minister encouraging us to ‘Stay at Home’

At the time of writing the UK is in a lockdown, We are encouraged, if not instructed, by our Government to stay at home to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. This is a virus we cannot see and is spreading like an invasion on the world through human beings, through people who are in contact with one another. Staying at home minimises the spread whilst solutions are found. The virus has a mild effect on some people, others record it as a devastating drowning effect on their lungs and others lose the gift of their lives. We individually have no control and collectively are encouraged to support one another.

So where do we look for hope?

My prayers are with the Government, the NHS, the pharmacists, the scientists, the staff in care homes, the staff in the supermarkets, the grocers, the farmers, the emergency services, the refuse collectors, the post office and delivery agents, the volunteers and many others who seek to help each one us come through this crisis. My prayers are that these people will be blessed in the work they do and have the resources and the health, strength and resilience to carry out their work for us and that we will defeat this virus. I look first to Jesus Christ as Christians have in every crisis in our history since his death, resurrection and ascension, because it is the living Jesus Christ who comes to us in a broken world and who we partner with in our prayers and actions. The one who defeats death and defeats evil and bring us hope and healing, made available to us through the faith we have in Jesus Christ as the living son of God, our Father.

NHS Helpline

Paul in his letter to the Church in Rome says:

“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation”

We are blessed to be able to join in conversation with God, through prayer and to partner with him to bring about a better world. Prayer is something that is part of our makeup.

There have been many calls to prayer from the Church in the last few weeks, our praise and worship in times of crisis and need is also a prayer. Matt Redman’s ‘Bless the Lord O my Soul’ is a worship song that encourages us to partner with Christ in praise, even in times of crisis.

We have the privilege as people of God with a firm belief in God’s son, Jesus Christ to enter into conversation with a living God who wants to work with us to heal a broken world. Our prayers are ones of thanksgiving, of hope and for others.

“Loving Father, gracious Son, Holy Spirit, we give you thanks today that we may know you and that your love for us is beyond our understanding. You see the brokenness of our world, you feel the pain of suffering and of heartbreak and you see the separation of your people from you and from each other. Help us to turn to you in faith and in hope and return your love in praise and in prayer. We pray for all those who are suffering from the virus, that they may know your healing. We pray for all those who are fighting to eradicate this infection and to protect us and feed us and maintain our lives, that they will know your presence and blessing with them in every hour. We call out to you to bring your healing to this crisis. We bring these prayers to you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Saviour. Amen”

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:19-35) call us to persevere in our faith and prayers.

“Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

We have known crises before in our world. After 9/11, Matt Redman wrote this worship song ‘Blessed be your name’ encouraging us to call on our Lord in prayer and praise in times of abundance and of darkness.

Our hope is in the light of Christ in times of darkness and crisis, as well as in plenty.

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Peace in turmoil and challenge?


At the time of writing we are in the midst of a Coronavirus outbreak with guidelines and instructions to regularly wash our hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds (plenty of time to say the Lord’s prayer), to cough into a tissue or the crook of our arm, to avoid touching our face with unwashed hands, work or stay at home and avoid social venues like pubs and restaurants, if we have an increased temperature and/or a new dry persistent cough we need to self isolate for 7 days, or 14 days if we live with others, then if the symptoms get worse to ring the NHS 111 line. The elderly and those with health conditions are most at risk of serious illness.

These are new and strange times for all of us. Flights are grounded, travel is cancelled, schools are closing and some food supplies are difficult to obtain. We haven’t yet managed to buy hand sanitisers, tissues, paracetamol or yeast for bread making! Even the Church has suspended all services. These times can introduce anxiety, acts of kindness and generosity from others and panic buying for those who are worried about having no supplies. How are you feeling then and how are you coping?

One of the benefits of perhaps spending more time at home is that you can take time to appreciate your home and its environment. Sitting in our back room and looking out into our garden I was surprised and overwhelmed to see a female Kestrel or perhaps it was a female Merlin, perched on our fence. It was a magnificent sight. If I had been out at work or in my study, I would never have seen this bird so close.

Female Merlin

I am reminded of the wonder of God’s creation and the way it amazes us and refreshes us and brings us a new perspective. Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25-33 shine out at us.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith. Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Jesus’ journey in life isn’t one that in human terms is always happy and joyful. He faces many painful situations and his journey to execution on the cross is one of suffering and humiliation, yet he tells us ‘Do not worry’. There is a sense of happiness and joy in his words. He encourages us to live in the present (not the past or the future) and to see the blessings and gifts from God around us, to seek the kingdom of God not as a secondary task, but as a primary task, a priority.

The writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 4:14-16) put’s it this way.

‘Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’

We have very little control over what is happening in our world, our country, our town or village at this time. Yet we can make the decision to seek God’s kingdom through prayer, enabled for us by Jesus Christ. The person of God who lives with us, who knows us, delights in us and loves us and only asks that we return that love. We do not deserve heavenly grace, yet we can be blessed by it and see God’s kingdom around us every day and gives thanks to God for it. It is his grace that will hold us in the moment of joy and of suffering and it his grace that gifts us with sharing in a happiness and peace beyond all understanding

You might like to pray the disciples’ prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.

Lord, you are the author of creation and the Lord of every person. Help us to put you first and know your will and your strength at this time. May we know peace in turmoil and challenge. Amen.

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Good News

1966I have some childhood memories that will stay with me. Now I know that my childhood was a long time ago but one of the memories I have is of watching on a television England beat Germany in the 1966 World Cup at Wembley. I watched this match with my grandfather who I rarely saw and we cheered England onto a win against Germany. I remember Germany scoring first and Geoff Hurst equalising at half time from a Bobby Moore free kick. Thirteen minutes before the end of the match Martin Peters scored and then with 15 seconds to go Germany equalised. We went into extra time without any nails as they had all been bitten off to see Geoff Hurst scored a disputed 3rd goal that bounced off the cross bar and down into the goal line and then with 1 minute to go as Germany tried to equalise Bobby Moore passed the ball to Geoff Hurst and he scored again and England won 4-2 and we cheered and cheered and cheered and we exchanged stories of the match with our friends and even today we tell stories about the match. Bearing in mind England’s record since this day with Germany, it wouldn’t surprise me if many don’t believe it actually happened!

Apollo-11-on-the-moonMy second memory as a boy is of staying up late to watch the television coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing in 1969. The whole Apollo space mission was clouded in risk and uncertainty and it was a race to the moon with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. At 2pm in the morning I was woken up to see the moon landing and Neil Armstrong come out with his famous phrase ‘one small step for man one giant leap for mankind’ and again we talked about this for days and weeks and I still talk about it today. Funnily enough some people don’t believe that the moon landing actually happened.

The Resurrection of Jesus from death to a new life became an eyewitness account told excitedly from person to person and generation to generation. It is a unique happening in our history, God is doing something new which is remarkable and unbelievable and is excitedly told by many people. Paul in his letter to the Church in Corinth (1Corinthians 15:1-11) tells them Jesus appeared to Peter and the disciples and over 500 people including Paul himself, which he records in his letters as his experience on the road to Damascus. Jesus disciples would start to recall Jesus teaching to them that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. They would be excitedly telling others about this Good News.


The first eye witness to this remarkable event was Mary Magdalene. Mary becomes the first eye witness to Jesus resurrection, the new living body he has and to the exciting reality that God has shown how much he loves the world and it’s people to defeat death itself. This is something very new, it is unique. Mary was the first person in all her grief to talk to Jesus and to be filled with a new joy and a new hope. There is not much written about Mary Magdalene in the Gospels. She should not be confused with the sinful woman in Luke’s Gospel who anointed Jesus feet with ointment or Mary the sister of Lazarus who pours perfume over Jesus feet. Neither of these women are Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene was healed by Jesus of seven demons and then she followed him as a disciple and as a group of women who supported Jesus financially in his ministry. She was amongst the women who witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus and who also witnessed his body being placed into the tomb.

Mary comes to the tomb in grief and in tears on Sunday morning, something called resurrection is farthest from her mind, this is not something anyone thought could happen, the Jewish people would talk about a resurrection at the end of time. Resurrection was not a hot topic for them. When Mary saw the empty tomb she thought someone had stolen Jesus body and she ran to tell the disciples that this had happened.
Peter and John found the empty tomb but what they found inside the tomb were ‘the linen wrappings lying there’ and the cloth that had been on Jesus head separate from the linen wrappings.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead he came out of the tomb wrapped up, as is Jewish tradition, in white linen shrouds that clothed him. His hands and feet were bound with strips of cloth and his face wrapped in a cloth. The wrappings had to be removed from him.

What Peter and John saw at the tomb of Jesus were the white linen wrapping and head covering still in place as though a body had passed through them. It was then that they started to believe what Jesus had told them.

Linen wrappings

Mary, though is wracked with grief and pain and tears, it is as though all our hurts and pains become centred on Mary’s grief and Jesus appears to her and asks her why she is weeping, not to diminish her grief but to understand from her the reason. Those words ‘Mary’ we can imagine being said in a familiar and compassionate manner that she suddenly understands that Jesus is there with her, mending and healing and giving hope.

Mary becomes THE APOSTLE, the apostle to the apostles the messenger to the messengers to bring the Good News that ‘through Jesus Christ, God brings HIS peace upon humanity and that he has defeated death and that everyone who believes in him and follows him receives forgiveness of sins through his name’. The new relationship with God has begun, his grace is poured upon those who follow his son Jesus and Mary is the person to communicate this message.

If you were to make this story up, you wouldn’t tell it in this way, it would need to be credible that the first messenger would be a well-known man, not a little known woman. Jesus though brings righteousness to an unjust world.

In a poll taken in 2017 it was revealed that one in four Christians do not believe in Jesus resurrection and amongst those who regularly go to Church, only 57% believe completely in the resurrection. However 46% of the general public believe in some form of life after death.

It would seem then that some of us leave Jesus in the tomb, crucified and dead. There is a sacrifice for sin on the cross but no defeat of death and no hope and heavenly presence. God has in effect sacrificed his son and left him in the grave. The resurrection accounts excitedly told by the eye witnesses are not believed by all and the Good News becomes OK news, or even NO HOPE news. If God can’t resurrect his own son, then he has no chance of resurrecting us and our lives are led in the perspective of this life only and not the perspective of everlasting life. Jesus staying in the tomb has a limiting effect on our own lives and the way we live.

A man called Charles Colson served as the Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 – 1973. He was jailed for 7 months for obstructing justice in the Watergate scandal just after he became a Christian. I imagine it was tough for him. He writes:
“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men (including Paul) testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Everyone was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

We remember our good experiences and we tell them excitedly to others and so did Mary and Peter and John and Paul and all those who witnessed the resurrected Jesus, who God has made Lord of all and has appointed as judge of the living and the dead. May you be excited about the Good News of Jesus Christ this Easter, that he is alive and may you know his peace and his hope and may you tell others of your faith.


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Wholeness & Healing


Billy Graham said “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will have just changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God”.

Well Billy Graham, one of the world’s greatest evangelists who has brought many many many people to a living faith in Jesus Christ and has preached to more people than anyone else in history, changed his address on Wednesday, to live more fully in God’s presence and start a new life with him that continues that faith journey and promise of everlasting life in Christ.

In his last mission in 2005 Billy Graham proclaimed:

“I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,”

One of his most memorable quotes for me was very simple. “You can’t change your past, but Christ can change your past”. You see in Christ the sins of the past that we bring to him are forgiven and the penalty paid by him on the cross, so that we are clothed in Christ, we are hidden in Christ. Christ is in us and we are in him. We live new lives in him. It is an amazing love story of God for people. As Justin Welby said when he was talking about the revelations of who his Father had turned out to be, “I know that I find who I am in Jesus Christ, not in genetics, and my identity in him never changes”.


Billy Graham changed his address at the age of 99 to be more fully in God’s presence and at the age of 99, Abram (Genesis 17.1-7,15,16) sat in God’s presence as God came to him and told him “I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my promises between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting promise, to be God to you and to your offspring after you”. God changed Abram’s name to Abraham meaning the ‘Father of a multitude’ and he changed Abraham’s wife’s name to Sarah saying ‘I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.’ In return Abraham was asked to be blameless and to be faithful in every way to the Lord God. It is an incredible story of new life that is blessed by God and age has no limits when it comes to serving our Lord

The point that Paul makes in his letter to the Romans (Romans 4.13-25) is that God’s promises to Abraham are not just for the Jewish people who are righteous or right with God, but for all nations and for all people who are made right with God through the sacrifice on the cross of God’s son Jesus Christ. There are echoes of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac, a gift from God, as a test of his faithfulness to God’s commands. Abraham is saved from carrying out this command, but God gives his only son in sacrifice for us so that his promises to bring all people and all nations to him are met. All can know God’s love for them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our past sins and faults so that through faith we can know him as our Lord and our Saviour and become right with God through faith in his resurrection. A living faith and presence of Christ in our lives.


Imagine then how hard it was for Jesus to turn towards Jerusalem where he would go to meet this horrific and painful death on a cross (Mark 8.31-38). This wasn’t a change of address for Jesus, this was actual death, a separation from God his Father, an experience of hell, a blackness and a darkness that is intolerable until his Father rescues him and raises him to new life so that all that follow Christ in their hearts will not know that death but will know this change of address like Billy Graham.

Imagine how hard it was for Jesus to hear those words from Peter, which Matthew’s Gospel tells us, ‘God forbid it Lord! This must never happen to you’. No wonder Jesus turns to him and says ‘Get behind me Satan, for you are setting your mind not on divine things, but on human things’. Without this journey of Jesus to the cross we would not know God’s love for each one of us, we would be separated from it. Death would be death not a change of address.

But we are a lot like Peter aren’t we? We do set our mind on human things and not on divine things. We get lost in the melee of life. Thank goodness we can get to Church and have an hour and a bit focusing on the divine!

Hectic life

In the melee of life, there is a living to make, a home to keep, a garden to look after, children to be cared for, exams to be passed, food to cook, traffic to deal with, illnesses to be coped with, health to be taken care of, ageing to come to terms with, families to deal with, arguments to settle, trauma around the world and life to be led. Aren’t these human things? Well yes, until we see Christ in them and ask him to be part of them.

Paul’s words to the Church in Corinth tells us about the divine in the human. “Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers--all things have been created through him and for him.  He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.”

In Jesus there is reconciliation, there is wholeness and healing for all Creation. Sometimes in our journey of faith in Christ, we need reminding that through our faith in Christ, God is present in our human circumstances. I have often appreciated the prayers of others for me when life’s circumstances become difficult, or I have decisions and choices to make, or I am ill, or concerned about a family member, in my anxiety I can lose the connection with God and I need someone to pray for me in Jesus name, on my behalf.

Sometimes all it needs is someone with a gift to pray for healing, to listen and to care and to show compassion and to bring prayers on my behalf to God in Jesus Name. Sometimes it might be that there is a prophetic word to give to me, that God actually wants to encourage me or to say something to me and I need someone to facilitate this for me in Jesus name.


Prayers for Wholeness and Healing are about the divine in the human, they are about our relationship with God, they are about our spiritual and physical needs, they are about our need for peace in the midst of anxieties, they are about us seeing the divine in the human.

I am delighted to announce today that we are launching a prayer team who will be present in our 10am Communion services to listen to us and to pray for us in Jesus name. This prayer does not take away any prayer that you would like from the Clergy.

Paul tells us that “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” It is into our human lives that the divine grace is given to us, even in suffering and sometimes we need help and to be prayed for.

Our prayer team have themselves been examining in front of God their calling to pray for others in a confidential, unconditional, non-judgemental and compassionate way and they have undertaken a course on Wholeness and Healing Prayer and also a course on Safeguarding from the Diocese. 

Billy Graham’s words are worth repeating. “I have one message: that Jesus Christ came, he died on a cross, he rose again, and he asked us to repent of our sins and receive him by faith as Lord and Saviour, and if we do, we have forgiveness of all of our sins,” Amen

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New Wine, new life!

Big Conversation

Well Bishop Martyn’s 3 day mission to Broom Leys and Coalville is over! It was an exciting time and thank you to everyone who took part and helped and who came to the events. The 3 day mission was called, of course, Bishop Martyn’s Big Conversations because we were opening up conversations to talk about life and faith, about God and our world, about heaven and hell. Having these conversations is important because we no longer live in Christendom when it was expected that all would come to Church in a Christian nation, today many will make a decision about their worldview and their life style and the options they will choose in life. So it was really good I thought that the Bishop was a likeable and approachable Christian person with energy and the ability to answer many questions quickly and sharply with integrity and honesty.

There were many highlights during the 3 days, but some that stuck out for me were the amazing number of young families that came to our family fun get-together on Saturday. There were over a 100 people who came and we were overflowing! The prayer breakfast at Wetherspoons was interesting in that the breakfast was really good and good value and the conversation amongst those who were there was vibrant and caused a bit of a buzz in the restaurant and the Bishop was able to talk to a few people about their lives, some of which were quite moving as people talked about their loneliness. Then of course the time in Castle Rock with groups of 20-30 youngsters asking questions, which Neil, our Curate, had put so much hard work into preparing, was I think really good and wonderful of Castle Rock to open up the school in such a way to all 600 students to talk about faith and life.

I thought it would be good to share you with you some of the young people’s questions and you can think how you would answer them.
• Is God real? If so where is the evidence?
• Is hell real or not?
• Who decides whether you go into heaven or hell?
• Is the Creation of the World True?
• Why is there pain if God created the world?
• Why does God let us hate people when we should love them?

They are all really good questions and I wonder how you would answer them? – Perhaps you would say go and talk to the Vicar?

In all the questions we ask though there is a perspective on life behind it, there is a worldview behind them. To answer some questions actually means changing a person’s view on life and the world, that they may have grown up with or educated with.

Creation & Evolution

For instance, is the creation of the world true? Well you only have to look around to see that it is – it is a created place, so yes it is true. But the question comes more from the debate that schools and society have entered into on the creation of the whole world in six days as stated in Genesis versus the evolution of the world over millions of years. The premise of the questions is from a worldview that is flawed. The Bible talks about God creating a world for human beings because he delights in us and wants us to know his love and how special we are to him and how valued each individual is to him. It explains the evil that gets in the way of knowing God’s love and separating us from him. Six days can also be translated from the original Hebrew as six ages. Evolution on the other hand is a scientific theory to try and explain what is happening in our world and where we have come from and how we are developing. In both of these God is very much present and not absent at all.

It’s like the debate on science and religion which is put forward as though they are different. Science is out to disprove that God exists whereas religion is out to prove he does exists. The premise of the debate is wrong, the worldview it comes from is incorrect. If you have a view that God doesn’t exist then you will set out to use science to prove that case, if you have a view that God does exist then you will see so much in science that shows God at work, not least to see that our world is special and uniquely positioned from the Sun for life to exist. There are many scientists who carry out their work from a Christian viewpoint.

You would have heard the story of the scientist who came to God and said, “We’ve figured out how to make a man without you.”
God said, “OK, let me see you do it.”
So the scientist bent down to the ground and scooped up a handful of dirt. But God stopped him and said, “Oh, no you don’t. You get your own dirt!”

Our view then determines how we answer questions about God. Why is there pain and suffering if God created the World? Immediately we are assuming that if God is in something then there shouldn’t be any pain or suffering, yet actually there is much pain and suffering on Jesus journey to the cross, there is much grief in Jesus when he sees the world suffer and it is actually at these times that he comes very close.


100 years ago, when medical science wasn’t so much advanced, people lived in the knowledge that they would die. Death was part of life. But we have built our culture today to expect suffering to be fixed and pain to be solved and death to be put off as long as possible, so much so that when tragedy occurs we have to question if God exists because if he did then tragedy wouldn’t exist, but that isn’t scriptural at all. Our worldview has changed.

In actual fact death is part of life and God through Jesus Christ is very much part of this, in fact so much so that he brings us to new life in Christ, our identity is in Christ and eternal life is in Christ. Our God is a God of the living not the dead. Out of pain and sadness comes treasures in Christ, the dying process is a deeply deeply spiritual experience where Christ is with us taking us onto to a new life with him. Often we can’t have this without pain.

I remember being with a parishioner and her husband during her terminal illness, we had some immensely spiritual moments with Christ. I have sat with another m,emeberr of our congregation in her pain and known an immensely close healing presence of the Holy Spirit. I was compelled by God’s Holy Spirit to see a man in his illness. Central to Christ’s mission is not merely deliverance from sin but the provision of a state of wholeness and blessedness in which a person realizes the purpose of God for them. Jesus ministry was to those who were in need so that they could know this renewed wholeness in their lives, not just physical, but spiritual and emotional and in relationship with God.

forgivenessWhy does God let us hate people when we should love them? There is a premise and worldview behind that question, assuming that God will take control of everything for us and that we have nothing to be blamed for. Well Jesus teaches us how to forgive because we have been forgiven and how to love even those we hate. He doesn’t allow us to hate he shows US how to overcome the sin of hate in our lives.

Our questions then are dependent on our worldview.

Jesus talks to this in our passages this evening. (Mark 2:18-22 & Acts 2:1-13). No one will take a piece of cloth that hasn’t been washed and shrunk and uses it to mend an old cloak because once it is washed it will shrink and tear the cloak. No one will put new wine that is potent and lively, into already stretched old wineskins, because it will break the wine skins. The new that Jesus is bringing to us doesn’t’ fit with the old viewpoints and worldviews, it is something totally different and you can’t understand what Jesus is doing if you stick to the old views. On the day of Pentecost God did something new. He filled those who would believe in his son Jesus Christ with God’s Holy Spirit and gifted them for God’s work and purposes in this life. They became excited and they challenged the old views on the world as Jesus challenges the world today. You will never know God’s Holy Spirit if you never know Jesus Christ as God’s son and that means that you have to make a conscious decision in faith to believe, the decision is ours to make, not God’s to make on our behalf. Jesus challenges the worldviews that we might have inherited and been taught and in answering questions about life and faith, we too challenge those old worldviews.

At our Churches Together Prayer Morning yesterday we heard many stories of the new wine in our communities, the people praying at Christ Church, the Youth Worker here at St David’s, the 80 young people that Heartland Youth for Christ come into contact with, the new Pastor at GCC and the new Vicar at Christ Church and all were enthusiastic about the new confidence that the Bishop’s Mission has brought to us and the realisation of the strong relationships and regard that the Church, especially this Church, is held in our community and the hunger to know something new and different.

The Spirit is moving and doing something new let us follow and be faithful and tell our story, but let us beware of being drawn into the old worldviews and old viewpoints that many questions are asked out of. The new wine will not fit into old wineskins it will burst them. Amen

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