This post by Alex Drew was originally published at Seventy Two
2 Corinthians 4:1-12
Present Weakness and Resurrection Life
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Apologies that this is a little last minute… I have just been made aware of this live question and answer session hosted by our WEC mobilisation department. There will be a panel of four people – one is the new director of WEC UK who spent many years in Thailand, and there is also couple we know who worked in Senegal at BCS and then in Tanzania.
The call is on Zoom, click the ‘contact us’ link to be provided a password to join. Steve and Gill
The ‘new normal’ continues with prayer and fellowship – contact your LIFE group leaders for when and how that is happening. Or use the contact form if you’re not part of one but would like to join in.
Evening prayer @8pm
Maybe it is easier to concentrate in the evening, after the children are in bed? If you’d like to join a small group, via Zoom, for a couple of Bible readings and to share and receive prayer reach out to Joey, Natalie or use the contact form.
The Committee wish to acknowledge the Lord’s goodness and to thank all those who have generously contributed to the Fund over the last few weeks. A total of £9,228 has been received in gifts, and a further £1,789 is expected from gift aid, which has enabled the Committee to consider a number of the Church family who are experiencing financial stress at this difficult time and to make Grants totalling £2,700. Sadly, we do expect further cases of financial hardship as the blow to the economy caused by the measures to contain the Corona Virus lead to pressures on some who are self employed as well as those who may suffer job losses. We continue to rely on the Lord’s goodness in caring for our Church family and this is one way in which those who are able can reach out to other brothers and sisters in a very practical way. If you are able and wish to join in this demonstration of our love for each other, please speak to Roger who will guide you on how to make contributions. Also, if you are aware of a brother or sister who is experiencing financial hardship, please let one of the Committee know so that we can consider a grant to them. Rob P
After 19 years at CBC, the last five with Church on the Green, Jeremy and Louise du Toit have decided it is time to seek a new direction with the Lord. This has not been an easy decision but with both Zach and Courteney now starting careers and the challenges to their taxi business during the Covid crisis, this feels like the time for a new start. Louise has also tendered her resignation as Church Administrator and PA to Eddie and Rob. Her last day will be Monday 29th June. I am sure that I speak for all staff, trustees and members that we have really appreciated both Jeremy and Louise’s contribution to the church and we wish them the very best in where God leads them next and hope to catch up with them in the future. Courteney will remain a member and attender of the 11:15 service and Zach will attend CBC when he visits Corsham from Wales.
With the current uncertainties, CBC will not seek to replace Louise immediately but we hope to bring a plan to the church in due course. Tim
Many activities happen even while we cannot meet together in person. If you or someone you know is feeling left out, please get in touch via the contact form or call the office.
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons: “Letter from ‘lockdown'” is Eddie’s devotional video. And as a bonus, on Fridays Nigel Coles publishes “Hope in uncertain times”. Everything is available on the CBC site here, with additional notifications via Facebook and Twitter.
Tuesday evenings at 7pm: Zoom Meetings for junior church children (school years 6,7,8). Please contact either Wendy R or John P (in the directory).
Each Wednesday and Sunday at 7pm, Lunn Green will be hosting a live prayer event. This is a great way to feel connected to the wider family at a time when many of us are isolated and under pressure. Please use this link to connect to the event.
Wednesday 7.15 – 8.45pm Rooted – An opportunity for the young people (year 8+) to catch up and dig into the Bible together.
Friday afternoons Deeper – This study group runs fortnightly virtually, and is made up of older youth/young leaders (by invitation).
Friday 6.30-7.45pm Connect – This group launched last week virtually, and is for (year 7’s). It is an opportunity for the young people to enjoy some fun social interaction, as well as focus in on God through prayer and Scripture.
Sunday evenings 7.15 – 8.45pm Impact – A youth club that runs weekly and virtually, where the young people can come together online, hang out, have fun, & deepen friendships.
Local Community News
Whilst we appreciate these are not Corsham Baptist Church matters or activities, given the nature of current circumstances and the different situations in which people in the congregations find themselves, we thought these might be of help to some folk…
Allington Farm shop are doing deliveries if anyone is needing that. They seem to have plenty of slots available.
AgeUk are doing regular phone calls to the elderly for a chat and to check up on people (‘assurance’ phone calls is what they call them!) on 0808 196 2424 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & you can phone up to refer people to them.
There is also a new ‘Daily Hope’ free phone number created by our ‘Faith In Later Life’ project/Archbishop of Canterbury and others, for people to choose from hymns, prayers, talks etc whatever denomination or of no faith on 0800 804 8044
Corsham town council & other volunteers in Corsham to the extent of Wadswick Green location are willing to help with food shopping & deliveries, medication deliveries etc:
Corsham Link (transport for medical appointments but will also delivery prescriptions etc) – 07884 887105
And there are others willing to volunteer to help people according to your location etc on the Wiltshire Council support directory – http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/downloads/22069 (No longer available as of Dec 20)
Wiltshire Council has provision for helping those who need deliveries or any other issues with isolation at the moment – email@example.com 0300 003 4576
They’ve also set up a list of resources for people during lockdown (keeping active as well as for those who are disabled, mental health, creative ideas & activities, etc) – scroll down each section to get past the stuff for children! http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/leisure-active-communities
The Richmond Fellowship (there’s a branch that meets at a church in Chippenham) has set up phone calls etc for people who want someone to talk to on Telephone: 01380 724833 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Strength in weakness is an overarching theme in 2 Corinthians. We see it when Paul talks about his thorn in the flesh, the subject of last week’s reflection. We see it when he speaks of how the treasure of the gospel is carried in people who are like brittle jars of clay. It’s everywhere in the letter. This is a great encouragement, as it’s a theme for these Corona virus times. If you are feeling weak today then you’re in good company: the apostle Paul stands with you. God used him and God can use you in his service.
Given that strength in weakness is so important in 2 Corinthians, 11.16-33 seems to strike a jarring note. Paul even talks about ‘self-confident boasting’ (v 17). Is he contradicting himself? What is going on here? We need to dig a little deeper. When we do we realise the strength in weakness theme is being played out once again, this time with an additional twist.
Paul’s opponents were boasting about their background, their culture and their polished rhetoric. The apostle could easily have done the same. He may not have been trained in the latest, most fashionable ways of public speaking, but he could certainly use words powerfully as these verses show. Yet when he does boast he focuses on his weaknesses, setting out with passion and precision various ways he suffered as an apostle (vs 23-29). His words are deeply moving. Truly, Paul has shown himself to be a servant of Christ (v 23). His example encourages us to get out of our comfort zones and take risks as we seek to follow Jesus today.
Verses 32-33 can appear puzzling at first. Paul’s successful escape from Damascus doesn’t seem to fit with his boasting about weakness. Understanding the Roman background helps us. When an army laid siege to a city, the first soldier to go over the wall and enter the city (assuming they survived) claimed the Corona Muralis, or ‘wall crown’. This was perhaps the greatest military honour a Roman soldier could attain. Astonishingly, Paul takes this image of military heroism and reverses it. He was not the first in but effectively the first out, fleeing over the wall to escape arrest. For people of the day this would have smacked of one thing: weakness. But Paul was unashamed to boast in this ‘foolish’ upside down fashion.
Sadly, in both church and wider society we tend to boast about our strengths (as we see them). In churches this sometimes reveals itself in a ‘celebrity culture’ and in showy, self-promoting ministries. But we serve Jesus whose own crown was made of thorns. We are called to follow him. Paul shows us the way.
…to Norman who will be 75 on 4th June. A few of us in lockdown are beginning to look like the wild man of Borneo, but as you can see, Norman is going for a proper hippy look!
Congratulations also to Queenie who is staying well and thriving in Claremont Nursing Home, and reached an impressive 91 years old on May 19th.
Please keep sending news, pictures, prayer requests and ideas in to us: we’d love to share them with everyone!
MORE LOCKDOWN LONGINGS
Here are some more of the things we’re most looking forward to when the lockdown finally ends …..
Having a haircut and seeing the grandchildren (Joan C)
Seeing grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (that’s showing off!) and doing my own shopping (Sheila N)
Going to Weymouth and seeing the sea (Wendy W)
Big hug from the grandchildren (Carol B)
Seeing people in the flesh, and seeing the bluebell wood at Sandy Lane (Janet M)
Hugs with our family and meeting up with church family again (Zelda)**
“The first thing I’ll do is give thanks to God for having the freedom to go out”. (Margaret H)
** Zelda also impressively went on to a theological reflection, commenting: “This reminds us how much we all naturally desire freedom – and how Jesus sets us free from the “lockdown” of sin”.
PENTECOST (May 31st) IS NOT JUST FOR PENTECOSTALS
We sometimes remind people around the end of the year that “Christ is not just for Christmas!”. But Pentecost is this coming Sunday, and a similar principle applies. The New Testament is full of the work of the Holy Spirit, drawing us into life-changing relationship with God the Father through Jesus, changing and empowering God’s people, giving both gifts and fruit.
So this Sunday, why not read again in Acts 2 the story of God’s gift to his church of His Holy Spirit? Remind yourself that we don’t either focus on the Bible or on the Holy Spirit: we seek the Holy Spirit’s touch on our lives, just because we take God’s word totally seriously. And maybe let’s each pray for a fresh touch of the Spirit of Christ on our lives (Luke 11 verse 13). David
GOD’S SKINHEAD ANGEL!
I recently had occasion to phone someone whose husband pastors a small church. I asked how it was going and whether they still used the baptistry in the wild flower garden behind the chapel. “We’ve now been given a summer house so people can watch baptisms under cover”, he replied.
He and his wife had been wanting to build a summer house, but knew their little congregation of about 12 couldn’t afford it. One morning he went to the local wood yard and told the shop assistant, “I want a summer house, and I’d like you to give it to me!”
The assistant called his manager, who turned out to be a huge-necked, shaven-headed young man in big boots. “Come outside with me”, he said, and led him to a pile of wood and glass on the ground. The pastor was somewhat nervous, having been in the Crown Prosecution Service. So when the young man said, “I think I know you”, the pastor wondered if he’d seen him in court with the CPS and was about to engage in a bout of fisticuffs! But the young man continued, “Our family used to come to your Sunday School, and now we go to the local christian fellowship”. After consulting with his boss, the manager said, “We’ve been thinking about this: the owner doesn’t want it; we can’t sell it, so we’re going to give it to you and we’ll come and put it up for you!”
How good is the God we adore! Nora.
Finally, some people are taking “lockdown” rather literally! Here’s Sue banished to a cage in our back garden (don’t ask why!). Mona “Layabout” Lisa, meanwhile, is making the most of the peace and quiet in her own Louvre Lockdown!