As Christians we are called to love others genuinely, sincerely. This always involves a certain level of risk. Consider the following from C.S. Lewis, and show some love today:
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one...Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell."
As we look forward to worshiping together this Good Friday, here are some thoughts about the Cross from Philip Yancey. We will be celebrating the Lord's Table together as part of our service.
"The image Jesus left with the world, the cross, the most common image in the Christian religion, is proof that God cares about our suffering and pain. He died of it. Today the image is coated with gold and worn around the necks of beautiful girls, a symbol of how far we can stray from the reality of history. But it stands, unique among all religions of the world. Many of them have gods. But only one has a God who cared enough to become a man and to die."
In this season of the cross, here are some words of deep truth from Evelyn Underhill:
"To look at the Crucifix and then to look at our own hearts; to test by the cross the quality of our love – if we do that honestly and unflinchingly we don’t need any other self-examination. The lash, the crown of thorns, the mockery, the stripping, the nails – It is no use to talk in a large vague way about the love of God; here is its point of insertion in the world."
Happy new year to all!
As we enter into 2018 let's seek to walk closer to Jesus day by day. I was encouraged in this direction through a devotional today from Charles Spurgeon:
"If you are a child of God, you will seek your Father's face and live in your Father's love. Pray that this year you may be holy, humble, zealous, and patient. Pray for a closer communion with Christ. Enter into his banqueting-house of love more often. Pray that you may be an example and a blessing to others and that you may live more to the glory of your Master."
In honour of last week's home going of Billy Graham, here's a quote from him to spark you day:
"Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ's love in your life today?"
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Today we focus afresh on what it means to follow Christ in his steps to Calvary. The love and grace that are bound up in the Cross are the gifts of God meeting my greatest need. That love also then becomes my greatest pursuit.
Lord, lest I forget, lead me to Calvary.
I am so grateful for the family of God. In a culture that idolizes individualism, we are called to be a body, a connected entity made one by Jesus Christ.
In Revelation, the message of the vision of Christ was not written for individuals, but as a word to the church, as the messages to the seven churches (ch. 2-3) demonstrate.
Jesus meets us and grows us in this family, with all its frailties and shortcomings, because that is where His Spirit resides and that is where he can best paint a stunning portrait of his grace.
Jesus turns death into resurrection. We take up our cross to find new life. Today I came across the following quote from Henri Nouwen that ties in nicely with what we've learned from James 1.
"Jesus calls us to recognize that gladness and sadness are never separate, that joy and sorrow really belong together, and that mourning and dancing are part of the same movement. That is why Jesus calls us to be grateful for every moment that we have lived, and to claim our unique journey as God’s way to mold our hearts to greater conformity with God’s own. The cross is the main symbol of our faith, and it invites us to find hope where we see pain, and to reaffirm the resurrection where we see death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every moment of our life can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads us to new life." - Henri Nouwen
The wonder of Christmas includes the unexpected aspects of the story of Jesus' birth; that the celestial birth announcement would come to low cast shepherds and not to the priestly establishment; that foreigners, magi, would track his arrival and catch Jerusalem by surprise; that Joseph and Mary and the child would be forced to flee to Egypt in haste. The wonder of wonders remains that God shows his love to us in giving this Indescribable Gift, Christ our Saviour!
As we enter the season of Advent and Christmas, the season of joy, we praise God for his indescribable gift!
I hope these words from Mother Teresa are an encouragement to you:
"The password of the early Christians was joy, so let us still serve the Lord with joy. Joy is love, joy is prayer, joy is strength. God loves a person who gives joyfully, and if you give joyfully you always give more. A joyful heart is the result of a heart burning with love. Works of love are always works of joy. We don’t need to look for happiness: if we have love for others we’ll be given it. It is the gift of God."
Pastor Ward Parkinson