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This week's message

Short of time? Here we provide a bite-sized summary of the Minister's or the Local Preacher's Christian message, which may include a 'call to action' for you to think and pray about...

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19th March - Jesus IS Life

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Rev Alf Waite spoke today about who Jesus was and what He means.

 

Notwithstanding His human birth which we read about every Christmas, Alf said that Jesus pre-existed before Creation itself. This is explained in John Ch 1: "In the beginning the Word (that's Jesus) was with God..." so Christians need to hold both His humanity and His divinity in tension with each other.

 

Jesus' human side had to learn obedience. We see this after the 12 year old Jesus got lost in Jerusalem and Luke Ch 2 vs 51 tells us that when His parents found Him He became obedient to them. Later, His obedience to God leads eventually to the Cross.

 

Everyone has their own experience of Jesus. Gandhi read the Bible and loved Christ, but not the way Christian western countries lived because they exploited people and didn't seem to follow Jesus' core teaching to "Love your neighbour as yourself."

 

But most people still appreciate Jesus as a key influencer. The Church may be rejected but we don't often see Jesus and His values and teachings rejected. In 1 Corinthians Ch 15, St Paul who is writing just 20 years after the Cross, explains his faith saying that if Jesus' promises were not 'true' then of all people Christians are to be pitied the most.

 

Simply put, in looking at Jesus' life as a whole, believe that His resurrection after the Cross is the only thing that makes sense. Christians can't prove that belief in Jesus, His death and resurrection, leads to our enduring hope of Eternal Life with God as He taught, but that said, we know that lies fall apart quickly and that 2,000 years of faith would not have happened without His words being true.

 

So let's prepare for Easter, ready to listen for Jesus' words in our hearts - and then serve Him in the world as He requires.

Enjoy this service here in full:

12th March - Rock Scissors Paper

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Rev Dawn Brown referenced this popular game today when she taught about the strong base we have in our lives if we follow and accept the rock that is Jesus.

 

We read the story told in John Ch 4 of the meeting between Jesus and a Samaritan woman at a well. Samaritans were seen as unclean by the Jews but Jesus asks her for a drink of water, a request that surprises her.

 

That simple request opens up a discussion in which Jesus affirms His position as the long awaited Messiah and from her testimony of what was said many of her townsfolk make their commitment to Jesus.

 

There are many references to rocks in the Bible. In Exodus 17 Moses strikes a rock and God causes water to gush out for the Israelites in the desert. Jesus talks to the woman at the well about the 'living water' only He can give. That message remains true for us today.

 

The woman's life was transformed and she went away to tell people she had been avoiding about it. That's our job as well. If we let Him, accept the presence and guidance of Jesus and God will feed all our lives with something greater than food and drink.

 

Follow Jesus. Everything and anything is possible if you ask God for a drink! Even in the bad times we all go through, ask God for His help and He will be your Good Shepherd through the darkness.

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5th March - Being Born Again

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Just as the March daffodils herald the spring and summer to come, Christians anticipate Jesus' act of sacrifice and rebirth at Easter and today Local Preacher Joan Murray spoke about trusting God and being spiritually reborn by following and believing in Jesus.

In Genesis Ch 12 God asks Abraham, already 75 years old, to go on a second long journey. God had promised to make him the father of a great nation, but nothing had happened yet. We wonder how easy it was for Abraham to obey but he did so without really understanding why. That's a great lesson for us today!

Moving on to John Ch 3 vs 1 - 17 we see Jesus explaining to Nicodemus, a member of the Government, the need to open our hearts to God's spirit which will guide us the way God wants us to go.

 

Nicodemus admits to Jesus being ‘a teacher’, recognising that Jesus’ miracles came from the power of God. He seems to understand that it was Jesus who could answer his soul-searching questions.

 

Jesus tells him that to enter the kingdom of God he must be born again because only God can give spiritual life. At the same time as God’s spirit enters us, we are given a new, fresh human spirit and we become children of God.

 

Humans can only be transformed if that person responds to what the Bible, and in particular Jesus, says about God and the salvation He offers. 

 

It means starting over. It might seem impossible but don't worry about making the same mistakes again because Jesus heals all our sins, steering true believers on their journey towards everlasting life.

 

God paid dearly, through the sacrifice of Jesus, to save every believer. All we have to do is put our lives in God’s hands as Jesus did by responding 'Yes Lord' just as Abraham did.

 

So like Nicodemus, keep searching for a greater knowledge of what Jesus teaches. Eternal life awaits!

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26th February - Less than the Best

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Rev Derek Aldridge brought us some interesting theology on the subject of Temptation this morning when he looked at the temptations of Jesus (Matt Ch 4 vs 1 -11).

 

The Devil puts three temptations to Jesus as to how He should conduct His mission on Earth. The first is that He can feed the world if He uses His powers to turn stones into bread. At first sight this appears extremely attractive - who would not want to do that - but temptations often come gift-wrapped! Yes, Jesus could feed the world, but wouldn't it be better if everyone were to choose to follow God? That way, both physical and spiritual hunger would be solved! Solving physical hunger alone would be to give us 'less than the best'.

 

In Acts Ch 3 vs 1-10 the apostles Peter and John meet a crippled man begging for money. They had no money, but they had something better - they cured him! Giving only money would have been 'less than the best'.

 

Next, the Devil tempts Jesus by offering Him a partnership "worship me and you will rule supreme" - code for ruling the world by force. Jesus rejects this because God wants people's hearts to be changed, meaning that they follow Him from choice. Anything not meeting that standard is definitely 'less than the best'.

 

Finally, the Devil offers Jesus a showman's approach. Jump from the top of the Temple and people will love it! But following God is not a fan based gimmick, it's not an entertainment, it's a call to everyone to change your life. A bit of fun is great but it's definitely 'less than the best'.

 

The Gospel message of Jesus is not about being good - that's just a constituent part. The Gospel is about being faithful to God and with that, good things follow, so please don't settle for 'less than the best'!

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19th February - Jesus IS hope

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This morning Rev Dawn Brown spoke about the moment when St Peter had his personal confirmation of who Jesus really was. It's recorded in Ch 1 of his second letter to the early Church (2 Peter 1: 12-21) and recalls the time Jesus took him, with James and John, up a mountain to pray and the disciples had a vision of seeing Jesus with Moses and Elijah.

 

St Paul had a similar experience on the Damascus road, as have many other Christians down the ages in one way or another, including Methodism's founder John Wesley.

 

We may not all have a mountain-top experience but when we accept and understand who Jesus is and how He forgives all our wrongdoings, it is transformational in our lives, because with it comes hope for the future and the realisation that all the bad stuff going on around us is not what it's all about.

 

Jesus is saying to us that we must put away the questions and just look at what can come about if we live out our faith and His philosophy of love towards ourselves, family, community and the world. That is His gift of Grace.

 

And it's our duty as disciples to share Jesus' story with other people. Peter repeated his experience of Jesus on the mountain and we need to share our own personal stories when the opportunity arises. Back then, there was fighting and poverty and society seemed to have no hope. Sound familiar? As the saying goes, it was ever thus...

 

So back then Jesus was saying to trust Him. We must do the same - and tell that to the folks we know and meet.

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12th February - Sing the Song

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Rev Alf Waite referenced Moses' song in Deuteronomy Chs 31 and 32 when he spoke this morning. The song was written at the end of Moses' life as the Jewish nation were about to enter into their Promised Land but it has an enduring relevance for all generations and places.

 

We remembered that just as God had a plan for the Jews and all His creation back then, through the coming of Jesus and His sacrifice to cancel out our sins on the Cross, He has a plan for us in our time too, something which should assure us in difficult and uncertain times.

 

The song begins in praise of God before moving on to discuss how God had planned the destiny of the Jews as He does for us today, our Promised Land being eternal life with God thanks to Jesus' intervention.

 

Unfortunately, just as it was with the Jews, at times we want to do things our way and step out beyond the will of God. We have that choice. And it's not always easy to see God. In the light of terrible natural disasters we ask where God is - and the answer is, He's alongside us in all the suffering. The Jews were overrun by foreign powers but God remained available to them and Moses' song covers all this.

 

Future generations including ours were in Jesus' mind when He died so because Jesus paid the price for our wrongdoing we don't get the punishment our sins deserve. Instead we get God's free grace of forgiveness.

 

Moses' song affirms that God is in control and that's a song worth singing.

Enjoy this service here in full:

5th February - All you need is...

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All you need is... Jesus said Rev Alf Waite this morning as he spoke about the core of our Faith.

Asking us what we expected to hear from a preacher, he concluded that at times we simply need to be told that the Holy Spirit in Jesus was sacrificed for us so that we could be freed from our wrong-doing and be reconciled with God.

 

Reading 1 Corinthians Ch 2 we see St Paul writing about his fear in speaking to the people of Corinth. In St Paul's time, Corinth was a wealthy city where many of the great and good lived, including the leading thinkers of the day. Eloquence and expert analysis would have been expected so even St Paul appears to have been concerned about how he would be seen when he spoke.

 

It's human nature that we all want to be considered 'wise' and learned when all we need is to hear of God's love for us expressed in the death of Jesus on the Cross, something the rulers of the day simply hadn't understood. Put simply, they missed the point, for if they had, they would never have crucified Him.

 

The Devil comes between us and God all the time, his purpose being to obscure God's Truth. We need God's Holy Spirit to move within us for the Truth to dawn.

 

The Bible is the living Word of God and we need to read and follow it, accepting the simple message that Jesus died for you and me, in atonement for all our sins.

 

Because now, as throughout all the ages, it's Jesus that the world needs, so our mission - your mission, should you choose to accept it - is to share the Truth that Jesus Christ crucified is the answer to all our ills.

Enjoy this service here in full:

29th January - Switch On!

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We are all special in the eye of God and because we each have different talents He enables us to do different things to do for Him. And so Maureen Simpson asked us this morning if we were switched on and ready to begin working for Jesus however difficult life appears to be.

 

We learn from the Bible that Jesus went to the fishing town of Capernaum a number of times but quite early on in His ministry He recruited several of His disciples from there. Jesus brought light to that community despite it's being under Roman occupation.  Similarly, He brings His light to us now, whatever our circumstances and problems.

 

The people of Capernaum, as we are now, were called to repent. Yes, that means to regret missteps or wrongdoing, but the primary meaning of the verb 'to repent' is to change your mind, because being sorry about something isn't enough when a change in behaviour is what is really required. Genuine repentance offers a chance of something better.

 

When we say sorry, do we change? We are empowered and enabled by God and are called to follow Him. Where would we be if the disciples hadn't got out of the comfort zone of their lives as fishermen and followed the Light that was Jesus?

 

Repent He said, change your mind

Follow the torch I lead

Follow me and you will find

All the strength you need.

 

Leave behind the darkness

The worry, grief and pain

The aimlessness, fear, distress

Get a life again

 

This New Year, will we rise to the challenge and follow Jesus' light? How well-lit is our pathway? How switched on are we?

Enjoy this service here in full:

22nd January - You're Family

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Looking at Matthew Ch 1 vs 1-6, Rev Stephen Lindridge told us that right at the start of his Gospel, even before the Nativity story is told, St Matthew is setting out God's character, His love and His intention for all of us through His son Jesus.

 

Although primarily writing for a first century Jewish male audience, Matthew begins by relating Jesus' family history and surprisingly includes four women, none of whom were Jewish, at a time when women were rarely mentioned. Back then, genealogies were written to emphasise the message the writer wished to relate and what we can take from this is that God' saving Grace through Jesus is equally available to everyone regardless of any discriminatory factor.

 

But the four women have greater significances. Tamar was an abandoned widow who tricked her former husband's father into fathering a child by her. Rahab was a prostitute; Ruth was a foreigner who demonstrated commitment and dedication to God, whilst Bathsheba's first husband had been murdered by the great King David. All represented uncomfortable parts of the Israelite nation's past yet were people who were restored to the national family.

 

This demonstrates that no matter how uncomfortable our past, no matter what we have done that we regret, God is calling us to offer our whole selves saying that He loves and welcomes us, 'warts and all' because God yearns to restore us to His family.

 

Rahab and Ruth put their lives on the line for a faith they didn't yet properly know which shows that God goes before us and it is through faith alone that we are saved.

 

So the message of Matthew's genealogy is that God can overcome anything and everything and that in God's family no one is excluded. With Him there is wholeness and forgiveness through belief and trust. That's a 'Good News' message worth sharing!

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15th January -Be A Hero

At the start of this New Year, Rev Alf Waite asked us to consider what God is saying and what He is doing for us and that we all need to look, listen and then act on the voice of God.

 

God is capable of shaking both Heaven and Earth and some might say that our world has certainly been shaken in recent years.

 

In Hebrews Ch 12 vs 18-29 we see words of encouragement to a church that is under pressure. 'Don't give up' the writer is saying but take note of the example provided by the heroes of Faith that have gone before because their witness shows that notwithstanding any tribulations, stand firm and you will get to Heaven and achieve the life Eternal with God you are seeking.

 

To keep going and to eventually succeed we need to keep our eyes on Jesus whatever the problems before us because Jesus obeyed God and did what was asked of Him. Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross enables us to be forgiven and therefore to come to the mountain of Grace, where God dwells. That is what the Hebrews passage is talking about because nothing can separate us from the Love of God and that His saving promise to us cannot be shaken.

 

Jesus looks down with compassion. He knows that you are not perfect, just as the people of God who went before you were not perfect, but He does want you to look and listen for the word of God and to obey and do His work.

 

In so doing you will be a witness to His great love because you are who you are and where you are for a reason. You may be called to go somewhere else in the Lord's service but until then, share His love with those around you, your friends, family, colleagues and community. Then in due time you will become an example for God to others - and a hero of their faith.

Enjoy this service here in full:

8th January -God Needs You

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Speaking about the well-known story of the visit of the Magi (the Three Kings) to the infant Jesus, Judy Tasker's message this morning was the affirmation that God cares and loves everyone and that His message is a call to us all.

 

The Magi's story is told in Matthew Ch 2 vs 1-12 and they are a metaphor for us too. Whilst they'd followed the Star for many miles, they still got lost. Maybe their expectations got in the way because they clearly expected to find the King who is Jesus at King Herod's Palace when in fact He was to be found in the lowliest of circumstances. We can only wonder how they felt when they realised they'd gone wrong and when they finally found Him!

 

When the Magi encountered Jesus their perspectives changed and they had to adjust. We are told that they had a vision to go home another way and not return to the Palace to tell Herod where Jesus could be found. Whether they all had the vision or it came to just one of them we're not told but they were open to God's voice - and obeyed.

 

How about us? God still speaks as He has throughout the ages. Are we ready and open to listen to His voice? How do we love and care for God's creation? We do it by helping the helpless and seeking justice. What needs did the Magi see in the infant face of Jesus?

 

When we saw the baby Jesus last Christmas what did we see? How were we changed? Were we inspired to do something different? The Magi were none-Jews, as most of us are, but their story proves that God calls every human being. If you are unsure of that, read St Paul's message to the Ephesian church (Eph Ch 3 vs 1 to 12) which is in modern day Turkey, but like Kitchener over a century ago, God needs You!

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