The March 31, 1997, edition of Newsweek ran a cover story on prayer. A couple of responses from readers to the story (found in the April 21, 1997, issue) illustrate just how “presuppositions” shape the way that people understand God’s participation, or lack thereof, in the affairs of life. [Read more…]
Have you ever heard a group of musicians play or choristers sing when one person is either out of tune or out of time with the others?
It sounds horrendous. But sometimes we are not in tune with everyone around us. That is what happened to the disciple, Thomas.
All the disciples, in the locked room, saw the risen Jesus, but there was one who did not. He was not there for some reason, which meant that there was always going to be the one who would be different from the others. When they later would go out in groups to tell the story of Jesus, Thomas’ story would never blend in with theirs. So, Jesus came again, especially to see him – and so enable him to be in harmony with the others, when they went out to tell everyone the difference made to the world through Jesus rising from the grave.
A difference just as great as when all musicians play in harmony with each other. We have a story to tell everyone, a story that Jesus is risen, he is alive and is with us today. That is a story we can all tell and we will all be in tune with one another. [Read more…]
You are very welcome to attend one, some or all of the Holy Week Services taking place in the Church over Easter.
There are services as follows:
- Maundy Thursday – St James – 02 April 2015 at 7.30pm
- Good Friday – St James – 03 April 2015 at 7.30pm
- Community Easter Sunday “Sunrise” Service – Lossiemouth East Beach – 05 April 2015 at 6.15am (this is a combined service, with several other Lossie Churches)
- Easter Sunday Morning Service – St James – 05 April 2015 at 11.00am
At the 11am service, Graham’s sermon will be entitled: “The Journey On”, which is the 9th and final week of the “Fruitfulness on the Frontline” series (Scriptures:- 2 Kings 6: 1 – 23, Matthew 28: 11 – 15).
The hymns will be: Opening: Thine Be The Glory; Children: Jesus Christ is alive today and Thank you Jesus (MP 633); Time of Praise: Led like a lamb; Christ is risen, hallelujah; Offering: Christ the Lord is risen today; Closing: Jesus Christ is risen today.
We hope to see you at some point.
Image: Sunrise at Lossiemouth East Beach on 30 March 2015, taken from the bus.
“Messenger of the Gospel” is the sermon title for Week 8 of “Fruitfulness on the Frontline” – from Rev. Graham Crawford –
Donkeys, horses and camels
Many years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Zechariah predicted that the king would ride into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
It seems like a strange prediction.
Our feelings about donkeys are that they are stubborn, shabby looking creatures.
Yet in ancient Israel they had a far higher place.
The horse was an instrument of war, the camel was showy and flash, the bling limo of its day. The donkey, however, was admittedly only for the middle classes.
Poor folk could not afford them, but it was your family sedan, if you like.
In today’s terms you might see the horse as a tank, a camel as a stretch limousine and the donkey as a Volkswagen Passat!
In his prophecy, Zechariah predicted the king would ride into Jerusalem “in peace” – therefore, not on a horse – and remembering his place, in that he only ruled under God’s authority, not in an ostentatious manner, on a camel, but in humility, on a donkey.
Zechariah’s message was aimed at the people, to keep a look out for this king, and it was aimed at the king, to remember his place.
Jesus fulfills Zechariah’s prophecy
On this Sunday, Jesus fulfilled the prophecy.
He rode into town on a donkey and the people went before him, singing his praises and looking for salvation.
They were messengers of the Gospel, shouting “God save us” or, in the Hebrew, “Hoshanna”, just as we are to be messengers of the Gospel today as we seek to be fruitful on our frontlines.
How to be effective messengers – 1 Peter 3: 15-16
As we consider how we might effectively be messengers today it is helpful, I believe to look at 1 Peter 3 verses 15 – 16.
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
This passage comes in the middle of a section where Peter is talking about the daily lives of those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
In this part, he is particularly concerned with how we relate to those who are, at best, ambivalent to the Gospel and, at worst, opposed to it.
Intrigue people by your way of living
He begins by telling us that we should not stand on our rights. We should bless and not curse.
We find that hard today.
For generations, the church has had a privileged role in society, which has gone, and some find that hard to deal with, and have either become strident or have retreated within themselves, claiming that faith is a private matter anyway.
Peter says that we should not be stridently defending Christendom but, instead, be living in such a way that will intrigue people to ask why we are different. We should then be ready to give them a succinct answer and not keep it private.
No, we should not be boisterous or obnoxious in our sharing of the faith, but we should always be ready to give an answer, gently and respectfully, when asked about our faith, our lifestyle and our Christian perspective.
We need to be ready to answer when people ask about the hope we have.
The implication is, of course, in this that we live in such a way as to intrigue people.
Why are they different? Why are they so joyful, forgiving, generous, gentle and hopeful?
One of my concerns these days is that we are not very good at promoting that sort of inquisitive attitude.
Society seems not to be prepared to ask those sorts of questions.
Thus, you have fundraising events at the church for a charity, sometimes not even a Christian charity.
You persuade people to come.
The hall is filled with young families, grannies and granddads and no-one is asking the question: “Why are they doing this?”
Why are we prepared to give up our time, our energy and our enthusiasm for such a project?
Not only that, but how many of us, if we were asked, would say that our love for God through Jesus and our love for our neighbour compelled us to do the event?
That is why I think we need to get little table centrepieces made up that ask the question, answer the question and then invite those that read it to join us in church the next day, so that they might get the same love, hope, enthusiasm and desire that they see in us.
Does this then mean that everything will be plain sailing as we live this humble life of hope, joy and love? Well of course not!
People will always accuse us of hypocrisy, they will always want to point the finger and look for inconsistency.
None of us are perfect and we will all struggle at some point.
However, we are to deal with the accusations gently and try to do better so that, eventually, those who try to slander us may feel ashamed of their slander as we continue to polish our behaviour and thus shine before God and humanity.
Sensitivity allied to a willingness to speak out where appropriate
On this Palm Sunday, as we remember the humility of Jesus Christ as he rode into town on a donkey, I think we have to recognise that the reason that others on our frontlines have their guard up against hearing the Gospel is because of some of the strident, aggressive evangelism policies of the past that are far from the humble, graceful ways suggested by Peter.
We need to be sensitive to that while having the confidence in the Gospel to be able to speak out if given the opportunity.
Interestingly, a girl from Aberdeen (Emeli Sande) has written a song about having the confidence to speak out. She isn’t a Christian and her song is not about speaking out for Christianity, but the message within the song is I think very applicable to us.
We found a version where the words are shown on the screen and so I want us to listen to the song and read the words.
Consider how these words express our need to be humbly confident in the message that we bring:-
You’ve got the words to change a nation
But you’re biting your tongue
You’ve spent a life time stuck in silence
Afraid you’ll say something wrong
If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song?
You’ve got a heart as loud as lions
So why let your voice be tamed?
Maybe we’re a little different
There’s no need to be ashamed
You’ve got the light to fight the shadows
So stop hiding it away.
We do have a song, we do have a light to fight the shadows. We have to sing, we have to shout, we have to scream till the words dry out.
Remember the words of Paul about Jesus.
How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him?
And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?
And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
You are the messenger from God for your frontline. You may be the only messenger from God for your frontline.
How can the people on your frontline hear about God and therefore believe in God and call on him to save them, hoshanna, unless you tell them?
Do you love them enough to tell them? Do you hate them enough not to tell them?
We have to sing, we have to shout, we have to scream until the words dry out for everyone needs to read all about it, all about God’s love for them.
How to be a Mouthpiece for Truth and Justice is the sermon theme for week 7 of Fruitfulness on the Frontline with Rev. Graham Crawford –
In today’s lesson on how to be fruitful on the frontline we come to a story which we all know so well.
Many of us have sat in the pew and had fingers pointed at us by ministers acting the part of the prophet, Nathan, as they pronounced: “You are the Man.”
Indeed, every commentary I looked at considered this from the standpoint of preaching on the wages of sin.
However, today I want to look at the passage from 2nd Samuel in a very different way.
Instead of me acting the part of Nathan and pointing the finger at you, I am asking how we all can be Nathans, pointing the finger at injustice in the world around us. [Read more…]