Monday, 15 February 2016

A Pause In Lent (1)

(Better late than never!)

This last Sunday, I took the teenage Sunday School group (Our youthworker Abi was away).
We looked at Barnabas - the encourager.

To help the youngsters to encourage each other, we did acrostics of each others' names.
Here's the one that one of our teenagers, Grace, did for me:

G - God loves you
A - Always trust in God
R - Remember to stay positive
Y - You are awesome!

To start of this year's Pause In Lent, I've done an acrostic for Lent:

L - Looking forward to Easter
E - Ever faithful
N - Nobody greater
T - Totally sacrificial

My plan is to expand on these over the next few weeks.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Pause In Advent (4)

One of my favourite Christmas films is Scrooged, the 1988 re-telling of A Christmas Carol starring Bill Murray.

Murray plays Frank Cross, network television executive who is determined that his station will be the most popular during the festive season.  Putting his work before everything else, he refuses his brother's invitation to spend Christmas with him, and forces his assistant to work with him on a live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, preventing her spending time with her family.

As the hours count down to the live broadcast, Cross is visited by the ghost of his former mentor, warning him to change his ways.  He is then visited by the familiar 3 ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and, as with Scrooge in the classic story, finds himself changed by the experience.

As the live broadcast is in full swing, Cross goes onto the studio floor, and gives a heartfelt monologue:

"I'm not crazy. It's Christmas Eve! It's, it's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we, we, we smile a little easier, we, w-w-we, we, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be! It's a miracle, it's really, a sort of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you're gonna burn for it. I know what I'm talking about. You have to do something. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved. There are people that are having, having trouble making their miracle happen. There are people that don't have enough to eat, and there are people that are cold. You can go out and say 'hello' to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say, 'here.' You can make 'em a sandwich, and say 'Oh, by the way, here!' I get it now! And if you, if you give, then you, then it can happen. Then the miracle can happen to you. It's not just the poor and the hungry, it's, it's everybody that's gotta have this miracle! And it can happen tonight for all of you! If you believe in this pure thing, you'll, the miracle will happen and then you'll want it to happen again tomorrow! You won't be one of these people who says, 'Christmas is once a year and it's a fraud.' It's not! It can happen every day! You've just got to want that feeling! And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it. You'll want it every day of your life, and it can happen to you! I believe in it now. I believe it's gonna happen to me now. I'm ready for it! And it's great. It's a good feeling. It's, it's really better than I've felt in a long time. I'm, I'm, I'm ready. Have a Merry Christmas, everybody."

We can all make the miracle happen, not just during Advent, but all year round.

Let's think of ways to make miracles happen all year, until we meet for next year's Pause In Advent!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

A Pause In Advent (3)

Advent is, of course, the time of year when we look forward to Christmas.  For many children (and, I suspect, many adults too), it's a time of counting down to the moment when they celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour open their presents.

It's right and proper that we look forward to the celebration of Christmas, but it's also important to take time to enjoy the season of Advent for it's own sake.

There's so much to enjoy - carol services (we went to one at Leicester Cathedral this week), singing the familiar carols and hearing the familiar readings, nativity plays - seeing the children act out the Christmas story (funny how the innkeeper doesn't even get a line in the Bible, but is one of the main roles in nativity plays!!).

The secular idea of Christmas has much to enjoy - Christmas parties, spending time with our loved ones, hearing the familiar songs on the radio (It's not Christmas until Noddy Holder says so!!).

Whilst we look forward to Christmas, let's not forget to enjoy the season of Advent.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

A Pause In Advent (2)

Isaiah 9:6New International Version (NIV)

6 For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Many names are given to Jesus, but the name "Prince of Peace" has been on my mind recently.

The recent attacks in Paris, and further afield by so-called Islamic State, more shootings in America, and just this last week, the government's decision to commence bombing IS strongholds in Syria convince me that we need the Prince of Peace in the world.

None of us know how events are going to pan out in the weeks and months ahead, there may be violence in the UK, the so-called Islamic State are almost certainly going to react to the increased bombing with increased violence of their own.

Let us pray for peace, let us pray that the Prince of Peace will reach into the hearts of people all round the world, and let us pray for an end to violence in the new year.

O when will we welcome the Prince of Peace?

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A Pause In Advent (1)

The word advent - in addition to being the time in which we look forward to celebrating Christ's birth - also means "beginning or arrival of something anticipated".

Strangely, Advent can also be a time of endings.

As we move into Advent, and into the month of December, we come closer the end of the year.
The birth of Christ was the end of the wait for the long-promised messiah.
The magi's arrival to see Jesus was the end of their journey.

Some things begin in Advent, others end.  It's all part of our journeys - let's give thanks for both beginnings and endings during this season, as we anticipate the birth of our Lord and Saviour.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Bethlehem Rhapsody

Saw this on a friend's facebook page - too good not to share!!

(If you need to ask the'll never know!!)

Is this the real birth?
Is it nativity?
Caught in a census, in the town of his ancestry.

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see,
He's just a poor boy, foretold by prophecy,
Because the wise men come, wise men go,
Angels high, shepherds low.

This is how God's love shows
It's a wondrous story to me, to me.

Mary, just got the word,
The angel did appear, but he told her not to fear.
Mary, now it's just begun,
Your son is gonna wash our sins away.

Mary, ooooooh,
The God who reigns on high,
Has sent His son through you to die for all.

I see a little silhouette of a sheep,
Shepherds watch, shepherds watch,
Over their flocks at night time.
Angels shine like lightening,
Very very frightening me.

Glory to God! Peace on Earth!
Glory to God! Peace on Earth!
Unto you is born this day, the only way!

I'm just a shepherd, nobody loves me.
He's just a shepherd from a poor family.
Angels said "go to the stable to see".

Wise men come, wise men go, will Herod let him live?
King Herod! No, he will not let him live.
Better go!
King Herod! No, he will not let him live.
Better go!
King Herod! No, he will not let him live.
Better go!
Will not let him live - better go!
Will not let him live - better go!
Better go, go, go, go!

Mary, Joseph, Mary Joseph,
Mary Joseph better go!
To Egypt now, got to save your son who came for me,
For me, for meeeeeeeee!

So you think that it's just a tale of days gone by?
But this child who was born went to Calvary to die.
Oh, Jesus, it's the story of Jesus.
Wash our sins out, wash our sins right out of here.

It's a wondrous story,
Anyone can see,
Let's give God the glory,
It's a wondrous story to me.

This is how God's love shone.