My week started with a three and a half hour session at St. Peter’s school on how Christianity and the Christian ethos was lived and communicated to the children there; excellent but exhausting. I had some excellent conversations there, especially with a teacher called Jemima who heads up the “Eco-Champions” club at school.
Jemima was very keen to work together with St. Peter’s church to develop stronger links and cooperation on environmental projects in Budleigh Salterton and beyond, which is very interesting and encouraging.
Last Sunday – Epiphany
I was in the villages on Sunday and at Otterton we dedicated a bench in memory of Geoff Browring, the bell tower captain donated by his wife Philippa and daughter Joanne. In the service itself we gave thanks for the new sound system and a fantastic book put together by Jane Bennett detailing the lives of all the people from Otterton who died in the great war; a copy will be permanently in church. My sermon majored on what the gifts brought bt the Magi actually means to us as Christians. To read what I said just click here; https://revmartinjacques.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-truth-will-set-you-free.html
Next Sunday is the Baptism of Christ
This story is the main Epiphany story in the Orthodox church and is very direct using these words attributed to God “You are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased”.
Both Karen and I are at St. Peter’s in the morning and the service time is changed to 11am. This is because at this service we say an official farewell to James McAdam and the service will lead into a celebratory meal in the Peter Hall.
Isaiah 43: 1-7. This prophesy talks about gathering the people “from far away to the end of the earth”, emphasising the universal significance and application of God’s will. It also mentions fire. Significant because John the Baptist says Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit and “fire”. Fire is associated with refining and purging but as Isaiah says ” you shall not be burned or consumed”
Acts 8:14-17. You cannot come to any coherent systematic doctrine of Baptism from reading the N.T. texts. Here people are baptised in the name of Jesus but had not received the Holy Spirit until hands were laid on them.
Sometimes it happens the other way around.
Luke 3:15, 21-22. In Luke’s version of the story there appears to be a time lag between Jesus’ baptism and the Holy Spirit descending on him in bodily form, whereas in Mark and Matthew’s version it is almost concurrent. Also, Luke retains Mark’s wording which infers an inner conviction for Jesus alone (“You” are my son) while Matthew says (“This” is my son) a more public pronouncement for the ears of the crowd.
Epiphany lessons and carols
This special service at St. Peter’s at 6pm on Sunday (13th) evening draws together both main Epiphany stories – the visit of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ in a dramatic liturgical form and I’m sure will be enjoyed and appreciated by all who attend.
“Open the Book”
This one of the most dramatic and effective pieces of outreach that the R.M.C. engages with. Through it, members of our and other churches dress up and present a Bible story in dramatic form at all three church primary schools in our patch. James McAdam was instrumental in getting this project off the ground. The team starts 2019 with their first foray into the schools on January 17th and I know the team would appreciate our prayers!
The lighter side!
News from abroad
In a rare bit of good news coming out of the Middle East, In Egypt, the largest Christian Cathedral in the country holding 8,000 people opened in the new administrative capital East of Cairo. In their Christmas midnight mass (6th January in the Coptic church), the mass was attended by the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in a heartwarming piece of symbolism.
Christians make up 10% of the Egyptian population and relations with the Muslim majority have been strained. This event comes after a recent bomb attack on another church by extremists.
Thought for today
If you are going to build anything, including a church, you must build on firm foundations. The wise man built his house upon the rock. I have been re-reading Rick Warren’s seminal book called “the Purpose driven church” where he outlines five purposes that our churches should be involved in to become healthy, balanced churches. Theses five purposes are not plucked out of the air but are divinely ordained and taken from two pieces of scripture from Matthew’s gospel and will guide our understanding of who we are, why we exist and how we are doing;
The great commandment: Matthew 22:37-40
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The great commission: Matthew 28:19-20
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We express our love of God through worship
We express our love of neighbour through ministry
We go and make disciples through evangelism
We baptize them, which implies fellowship because you are baptised into a community
and teach them everything I have commanded which is Discipleship – leading people to maturity in the faith.
To become a balanced healthy church we need to check what we are doing against those five categories. They define our business – so how’s business?
Prayer for today. I wrote this prayer just meditating on what I’d just written.
Bless the work and witness of the Raleigh Mission Community
in all its variety.
Inspire us in everything we do and may we do everything to your glory
and not our own glory.
We pray for our growth both physical and spiritual,
and lead us all to the fullness of life that you want for each one of us.
Love and peace,