We must not think that he [Christ] was overwhelmed by the curse which he endured, but rather that by enduring it, he held down, broke and finally wiped out all its power.
… Hence it is with good reason the Paul triumphantly celebrates the victory which Christ obtained upon the cross, as if the cross, that symbol of ignominy, had been transformed into a triumphal chariot!
— John Calvin, “The Institutes of Christian Religion”
This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE
I hope that you have had a chance to read Genesis 12-20:18 as it will help you to follow more easily on the night we have our Women’s Bible Study Zoom meeting on Monday, 30 November at 7:30pm. Watch this space for details on this site and on Facebook’s Captivated.
This is certainly a big stretch of scripture! The story of Abraham’s life follows the basic order of events as they occurred in his life. The stories begin with him relatively young and under the authority of his father, until his father’s death. The story of Abraham reports events in his life and teaches specific lessons. Moses is commonly accepted as the author of Genesis. And Moses’ original audience are the Israelites (approx 450 years between Abraham and Moses’ births to give you an idea of time). As Moses led the Israelites from Egypt toward the Promised Land, the scriptures had much to teach them as they lived their lives—– just as it has much to teach us as we live our lives today. Sisters, there are years and years to glean from these ancient words.
I encourage you to persevere; to know that we don’t have to understand it all completely in one or two gos, but to reiterate one of the aims of this year’s study— that we will increasingly understand the flow and melodic line of God in His Word, and to grasp the Great I AM, and his plan to rescue us, pointing us to Christ.
There are layers upon layers of foreshadowing through God’s people to Christ. So through this process this year, my prayer is that this will be revealed to us so that will know God better and love Him more.
Even through this uncertainty of these Covid times, I look forward to hearing how our relationships with each other and our Lord God are growing deeper, richer, clearer, and joy-filled as we study the revelation of Him through His word! May His purposes will be fulfilled in and through us and we learn to trust Him more!
Lots of love,
Women’s Ministry Team
This post by Rick Lewis was originally published at Seventy Two
I forget which Henri Nouwen book it was – one of you reading this will know – but he wrote about how God most often works in ways contrary to the preferences of our culture. Nouwen specifically named our culture’s fascination with things big and fast and famous. In contrast, God’s kingdom comes in ways that are small and slow and hidden. The counter-intuitive methodology of the incarnation is a classic example. God decides to step into his creation, so why not make a huge splash? Why would he not bring his kingdom cataclysmically and get the job done? Why not go straight to the centre of the most extensive commonwealth on the planet, defeat the Emperor and take over the Roman Empire?
But no. God tends to approach things differently – starting with the small, the slow, the hidden. And Jesus tells parables about the mustard seed and the leaven in the lump of dough. Of course, that’s just the beginning. In the end, the small thing grows and becomes vast; the kingdom that commenced slowly will be consummated in a flash, like lightning across the sky when Jesus returns; every eye will see him and his fame and glory will be boundless. But where are we now? Are we basking in the joy of a job well done, the harvest in, the fruit of the church’s faithfulness becoming evident for all to see? Or have we slidden back to the beginning, having to start all over?
Even before this pandemic, there was a sense that the church in the West is facing a massive crisis. The big, fast and famous bubble of Christendom has been popped. Our influence and reputation is in tatters and we’re back at the beginning, in need of a way to rebuild credibility so we can get a hearing for the gospel among people who have ‘cancelled’ the church. Is ‘big’ going to work for us now? Before Covid, a few churches were having some success with running big gatherings that pulled in the curious. Most of us didn’t have the resources for that, and some of us who tried ended up with embarrassing and/or frustrating results. But apart from issues of reputational damage and shortage of the sort of resources necessary for a ‘big’ methodology, right now big gatherings are a public health risk and less likely than ever to be a potent way to either present the gospel to those far from God or to bring disciples to maturity in faith.
Big versus small is an important tension for us to think through at the moment. I heard Alan Hirsch say recently that missional leadership is like playing chess and it’s as if the queen has been taken off the board – the queen being our large Sunday gatherings. But he pointed out that that is how chess champions learn the game. They deliberately take their queen off the board in order not to depend on the most powerful piece and to learn how to use all the other pieces more effectively. Later, they replace the queen and then they can really play! I like that illustration because it affirms that the queen is good, but not essential. There are other pieces to play with.
So, in missional leadership currently, what are the other ‘pieces’? I suggest this is a time to emphasise the small, not as a quantifiable outcome but as a methodology by which we put most of our effort into doing little things well. In the past, we have favoured missional initiatives that we expect will impact the largest number of people possible. Now it’s time to experiment with many little adventures in mission, each of which may only impact a handful of people, or only one! I suggest putting less effort into corporate, ‘church gathered’ missional activities and more into individual ‘church scattered’ ones.
For the internal life of the faith community, a ‘small’ approach means, in part, lots of small gatherings: small groups, one-to-one mentoring partnerships, prayer clusters of 3 or 4 people and so on. Many more leaders are required for this approach so delegation and release of others will be essential. You may not be able to fully train people before they are released – they may need to learn on the job, and you may have to clean up some messes. Leaders also need to reacquaint themselves with the skills needed to patiently deal with people one at a time – very different skills to those required for dealing with crowds. Furthermore, the ‘small’ approach requires small communication. Little, bite-sized chunks of input delivered frequently and in various ways rather than the ‘big meal’ of a weekly sermon.
The persecuted church has been dealing with a situation something like this for a long time. They can’t afford to hold big gatherings or make a big splash in any way. They have to keep their head down. Every facet of how they operate as a faith community is small, slow and hidden. But take the Chinese house church movement for example – it doesn’t seem to have hampered their effectiveness for the gospel!
The day may come when once again the church in the West will have a good reputation, significant trust and influence in society and ‘enjoy the favour of all the people’ as in Acts 2. And we can expect that, in time, the restrictions due to this pandemic will be completely lifted and we will have freedom to gather in whatever numbers we please. But for now, we’ve suffered a setback in these respects and we have to adapt and rebuild from where we are. If we start small and remain true to our calling, not over-reaching, my prayer is that we’ll hear the master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”.
As the ministry of Christ shows, to welcome requires us to embrace people as they are, whether strong or weak, educated or ignorant, right or wrong, saint or sinner.
— Gerald Sittser, “Love One Another”
Our Online Advent Calendar, starting 1st December
Looking for something to encourage and build you up as we move into the Advent season? Starting on December 1st, Church on the Green are putting an online advent calendar on our website (https://churchonthegreen.online) including scripture and a short devotional video to bless you each day.
All welcome! For more information, see the trailer on our homepage, or click the video below…
What do I most unshakably believe in? God the Father Almighty. Jesus Christ His only Son. The Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, the life everlasting. Not a long list, but all we need. ‘The necessary supplies issued to us, the standard equipment of the Christian.’ We didn’t ask for any of them. (Imagine having nothing more than we’ve asked for!) They are given.
— Elisabeth Elliot, “Keep A Quiet Heart”
Our friends Stuart and Lynne are about to rejoin the Africa Mercy in Tenerife.
Wendy R and Gill B have arranged to pray for them at 7:30 tonight on Zoom. Please contact Wendy or Gill for the link.
- Church on the Screen, Sunday @ 10am: Details at https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
- Joint service @10am: This week we interrupt our series to hear from a different Daniel – our youth pastor. Worship is by Ian and Anne and intercessions by Rob P. (You can also download a transcript)
Women’s Bible Study
Study notes are already available for the November meeting which will be online only.
Souper Friday – volunteers needed
Full details about this exciting and very relevant ministry can be found here.
Due to the lockdown throughout England, there are no in-person meetings at the moment but that does not mean church is closed (though the building mostly is).
What we call sunset the heavenly people call sunrise, and the Joy of the Lord, and the Morning of God.
— Amy Carmichael, “Gold by Moonlight”
If we want to get on the right track in loving, we must look first to God, not to man: that more often produces hate than love!
— John Calvin, “The Institutes of Christian Religion”
Would you like to join the Christmas baking challenge? Originally this was aimed at the children but of course entries by adults are welcome too.
Below are a number of recipes. However we would like you to add a twist to your bake: HOW CAN YOU KEEP CHRIST AT THE CENTRE OF CHRISTMAS?
To confirm you are joining the bake off send your entry name and email address to Catherine D (email in directory) with subject: CHRIST CENTRED BAKEOFF or use our contact page.
You will be invited to a our first zoom bakeoff show on 22nd December at 4:30 to show off your bake so we can decide the winners based on:
1. Best bake
2. Christ centred elements incorporated
3. Most effort
4. Most fun looking
Here’s a page to inspire you Christmas for kids recipes