On Friday 3rd April we are hosting an Open Morning for anyone who wants to discover the meaning of Easter.
There will be crafts, activities, hot cross buns and a bit of chocolate!
We’d love you to join us! Drop in any time between 10am and 12pm
There’s a verse in John 15 where Jesus says “Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (verse 13)
The Message translation puts it like this:
“This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.”
Jesus’ act of submission to the cross is the greatest act of generosity the world has even seen. He literally laid down His life for us, his friends. Jesus gave everything He had to make things right again between us and the Father. An amazing, selfless act of giving.
And He commands us to give in the same ways!
If you look through the Bible you can find lots of passages which urge us to be generous in giving our money, our time and our effort. It’s not hard to find a verse which teaches us the different ways we are to love others. But like so many things in the Bible, it’s not understanding what God says which is difficult but the doing it that’s really hard!!
Giving something of ourselves to someone else, laying down our lives, is a sacrifice and a discipline. We don’t usually find ourselves giving by accident! Sometimes we find it easy to do something generous for someone else, for me it’s easier if it’s someone I’m good friends with or if it actually won’t take that much effort. But we’re to practice laying down our lives even when we don’t find it easy and it’s not convenient. Giving of our money, time and effort is an investment into the kind of culture we want in our communities, church and in the world. Jesus also teaches us that we reap what we sow. If we as leaders are not prepared to take on the discipline of generosity towards others then we won’t grow a culture of it within our MSCs either. We also won’t experience the richest of blessings that God has in store for us as we give.
Personally God has taught Ben and I so much about trusting Him with money – but it started with a risk we took to be generous. We couldn’t have learnt how to be secure in trusting Him with money if we hadn’t taken a risk first. And the risk was really to believe that what He says about Himself is true – He is a good Father and can be completely trusted to take care of us.
There are other risks he could be asking us to take as we think about where we need to be generous in terms of money, time and effort. What kind of risk is He asking you to take as you learn to love and lay down your life for others at the moment?
I start my day with breakfast, it sets the tone for the day. A healthy breakfast often leads to a healthy day. This Lent I’m also trying to start the day with some spiritual breakfast; I take some time to be silent and focus on breathing.
The Hebrew and Greek words for ‘breath’ also means ‘spirit’. I breathe in the spirit and out what I need to let go of, such as what I’m worried about, what is holding me back or sin. I have found that this focuses me on God. Breathing is something we do all the time, however focusing on this life giving process by taking it all in and giving it all back, reminds us of the surrendering nature of being a living sacrifice to God.
Take the time to breathe, breathe into your belly not just your shoulders. I have found that it is often in the- what feels like nothingness- that God reveals himself beyond my expectations. I spoke on Sunday about the need to spend time with the Father, and how silence can be a good way to do this, don’t turn it into a complex thing, just be with Him and Breathe.
Pause…breath in…breath out…do this 10 times.
Draw close to the giver of life, focus on the Spirit being with you and in you today.
Throughout the day at those moments of tension, rushing, uncertainty, anger, frustration, as you grab a bite for lunch, have a spiritual snack, go back to the source of life.
Breathe with Him.
In the run up to Easter we are posting some reflections on Spiritual Disciplines – actually I prefer to think of them as ‘good habits for disciples.’
Have a Great Week
During lent we are going to be looking at different Spiritual disciplines which make us better able to love God and others. This week we are looking at ‘forgiving others’.
The obvious place to go would be that of the Lord’s Prayer, where we pray: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
God wants to show us his forgiveness, because sin needs to be broken down. Any barrier that gets in the way of God having a relationship with us needs to be destroyed. Scripture speaks of sin being a debt that needs paying. News Flash people, the debt has been paid. We know this for ourselves, we are made whiter than the snow, our debt is paid, we can be confident in the cross of Christ and the fact that the battle is won. We can be confident, as Mark said on Sunday, that our names are written in the book of life.
Although this is a fact, a fact that cannot be disputed, we cannot forget the second half to this section of the Lord’s Prayer. We are called to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Forgiveness is a process which we need God’s help with.
We are in a covenant relationship with the Father, and as such we have a Kingdom responsibility to be his representatives here on earth. This means bringing healing, restoration, deliverance and forgiveness where ever we go.
“The Christian life is a recurring process of reconciliation with God and neighbour” (James White)
Having felt the love of God and Known his forgiveness we are in a prime-position to help restore the lives of others by showing them the kindness which we have received from our Father. Jesus’ life illustrated forgiveness, and as Disciples of Christ we are imitators, so we too should be illustrating forgiveness. There is no doubt that we need God’s help in this, and the Spirit can help us grow into the role of forgiver, as well as forgiven.
“It’s all too easy to take bitter and anger to the grave. Instead, we should take it to Jesus.” (J John)
Jesus really is the answer. He is not only our redeemer, but the redeemer of family, friends, colleagues, and even our enemies. For us to live a ‘full life’ we need to be letting go of the baggage that drags us down, and letting God take this burden for us.
Community helps us live a forgiven, and a forgiving, life
There are times when although we know the truth, that we are forgiven, we sometimes need reminding of this fact. Having people around us who know us, and have permission to speak into our lives can be of great comfort, even if at times challenging. Hearing the words – “you are forgiven” can be transformational. These are words that can heal the soul.
“Wouldn’t it make a difference if you could go up to Jesus, tell him your sin, pour out you heart to him, feel him reach out and touch you in response, and hear him saying to you with a human voice full of love and compassion, “your sins are forgiven. Go in Peace”?
We are representatives of Jesus, and have been given authority to do the things he did during his earthly ministry. So get alongside your community, and your people of peace, and speak the words Jesus wants them to hear. But also, why not model this too, make yourself vulnerable, and offer them the chance to hear your confession and remind you of the forgiveness which is waiting for you.
Confession is not a dirty word. It is a prerequisite to forgiveness. It is a discipleship tool where we can come together examine our lives in the light of what we read in scripture and respond to what we hear God saying.
Remember though a promise to be a forgiving people as well as a forgiven people is not a prediction but a commitment to keep trying, and bring the Kingdom closer to all we come into contact with.
Have a Great Week
From Sunday 29th March to Sunday 5th April we will be drawing together to worship and pray at the Kairos Resource Base.
We will be reflecting on the week before Jesus’ death and resurection. We will be using the stories of those days to prompt worship and prayer for ourselves, for our church, for Harrogate and for the world.
There will be 24 hour prayer from 9am Tuesday 31st March – 9pm Thursday 2nd April. The Kairos Room will be set up as a prayer room with different resources to help all ages pray and enter into the Easter story.
You can sign up to pray for an hour or more here: 24-7prayer.com/signup/9cb70f
Throughout the week there will also be gathered times of prayer and worship including:
The Up: Sunday 29th March from 7pm.
Morning Prayers: Monday to Thursday at 9am.
Holy Week Meditations: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 2—3pm.
Evening worship: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8-9pm.
Simply Easter Gathering: Friday 3rd April, 10 – 12pm.
Hour at the Cross: Good Friday, 2-3pm.
Easter Sunday Celebration: Sunday 5th April, 10am.
Join us as we journey through Holy Week together.