Archive for April, 2012

Easter Sunday Service – 8th April 2012

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Easter Sunday is always a joyful time at Tapton and Sunday afternoon’s worship was no exception. The Cross took centre stage and it was adorned with a lovely floral display thanks to Jean and Keith Bradley.  There were three readings: Psalm 118: 1-2, 18-24; Mark16:1-8; and 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. The hymns were as follows: Christ the Lord is Risen Today, The Strife is O’er the Battle Done, This is the Day that the Lord has Made, I know that my Redeemer Lives and Thine be the Glory.

I spoke about the difficulty the modern world has believing in the resurrection, remembering that from the beginning there were those who doubted: not just ‘Doubting’ Thomas but also those in the church at Corinth that Paul admonishes for denying the resurrection.   To most people today the resurrection doesn’t satisfy the requirements of science and of historical research. But God is the creator of heaven and earth, or in other words his creation contains a realm that is conceivable to humans (earth) and one that is inconceivable to us (heaven).  The resurrection happens according to the laws of heaven, a realm that is entirely beyond the reach of humanity, even its most brilliant scientists.

When historians analyse events from the past they compare the event with dozens of other events that are of a similar kind. So, for example, when studying an uprising or revolution they will compare the event with what they know from other revolutions or uprisings.  But the resurrection is an utterly unique historical event, and so is inaccessible to the normal methods of historians. The only available context is the Biblical one, and this has always been a matter of faith, and also of doubt.

While it’s good to have a day when we are supposed to reflect on the resurrection, we must be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of thinking we needn’t think about it for the rest of the year.  The resurrection should run right through the life of a church like the wording in a stick of rock. I find it strange when churches hold Sunday worship without referring to the resurrection at all.  The resurrection runs right through the New Testament as well, and it’s also evident in part of the Old Testament.  Once we grasp the fact that the New Testament was written by people who had either met the risen Jesus, or knew people who had, then it makes a lot more sense.  For example, when we consider the gospels being written by witnesses to the Resurrection, it doesn’t seem so strange that Jesus’ ancestry should be written about the way that it is, or that his birth should be described in such miraculous terms.

Christianity, the faith of each church, and all our futures rest in the belief that Jesus died and was raised from the dead.  This wasn’t just a display of God’s power. The witnesses to the resurrection did not just see a man who was supposed to be dead: they saw the Kingdom of God, they saw a glimpse of heaven. This is why the Resurrection gives us such hope, because it is a revelation of the future, not just ours but all of creation. And while we live with this real hope for the future we find that our present is transformed into one of purpose, energy, love and peace as we look for ways to produce parables of the Kingdom to come in our present day situation. The resurrection shows us the Kingdom of Heaven, and enables us to start living in it right away. Happy Easter everyone!

Frank

Good Friday Service – 6th April 2012

Monday, April 9th, 2012

The morning Good Friday service was taken by Darryl Lomas. Darryl gave his reflections on each of the characters that feature in the trial and crucifixion narrative in Matthew 27 and invited us to consider for ourselves which of them we relate to, and how our actions compare with theirs. The hymns were There is a Green Hill Far Away and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Weather Hits Tapton Mid-Week Activities

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Last Wednesday’s Table Tennis evening, and last Thursday’s Soup & Roll Club were both cancelled due to concerns over bad weather.

Palm Sunday Service – April 1st 2012

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

It was great for me to return to the pulpit to lead worship on Palm Sunday. The readings were Psalm 8, Zecharaiah 9:9-17 and Matthew 21. The hymns were: All glory, laud and honour, Jesus, you are changing me, My song is love unknown, Ride on, ride on in majesty, and Make way, make way.

I talked about the fact that we are not just meant to learn from Jesus and follow his instructions, we are supposed to imitate him: to become like him. This is obviously a very difficult thing to do, but we make it doubly so if we don’t pray for help and if we forget our place in a church and in the Body of Christ. The church and the Body of Christ, which is all of Jesus’ people on earth and in heaven, are in a sense single entities also trying to be more like Jesus, and if we keep them in mind it helps us to participate more fully in becoming like Christ. For example, you may not have any talent for healing, but you can pray for those who do, and you can donate to charities that combat disease by bringing immunization or clean water to parts of the developing world. We all have to try to become more like Christ, by using the gifts we have, developing new talents, and by supporting the actions of others through prayer and financial assistance. We can all do this, and in this way we can try to become like Jesus in all ways.

I also made the following 3 points for Palm Sunday:

1 Just like Jesus in Matthew 21, being obedient to God’s will can sometimes mean acting in public and even provocative ways.

2 We mustn’t put all our hopes and dreams into nations. The crowds going wild for Jesus on Palm Sunday thought he was going to kick out the Romans and free the nation of Israel, but Jesus made it clear that he was about much more than that. A nation is a tiny thing from the perspective of the Kingdom of God.

3 On Palm Sunday Jesus moves towards the centre of human power, what are the chances of the gospel taking centre stage in the UK? People often say that this country is less Christian than it used to be, because shops open on Sunday, and children aren’t made to go to Sunday school, or say prayers in school assemblies. But in many ways the UK is more Christian than it used to be. People with learning disabilities are less isolated than before, people with mental health problems are not stigmatized like they used to be, and it’s no longer acceptable to put signs up outside pubs saying ‘no blacks, no Irish’. In many ways the the UK is more Christian than it used to be. Could it be that the values of the gospel are penetrating the heart of government and society’s institutions and we haven’t even noticed?