Bethlehem Buzz – An Alternativity
The world church service for the Northampton District was held at Park Avenue Methodist Church on Sunday 14th July. It was attended by people of many different nationalities. Food was provided by each of the different nationalities before the service.
The service had singing from the Ghanaians and Tongans and everyone joined in with a variety of hymns and songs.
About 30cm high, need to find a place in the garden.
OneSound play at Park Avenue
OneSound is a UK wide independent, ecumenical ensemble for young musicians and singers aged between 16-26.
The theme of their 2017/18 season was; "OneSound, OneStory, OneSong". Through this OneSound traced its history from its beginnings as MAYC Orchestra & Singer, through to the present day.
In recent months, OneSound have performed at:
Connecting Disciples at Cliff College; 3Generate; Christchurch Methodist Church, Leicester; Kingswood School Theatre & Nexus Methodist Church, Bath; Castleford Civic Centre and Victoria Methodist Church, Bristol.
The theme for their 2018/19 season is "The Future Marches In", as OneSound shares the direction God is leading them into, in the next stage of their journey.
All Glory - Matt Redman, Kierra Sheard
Ancient Words - Michael W Smith
Cornerstone - Hillsong Worship
Abide with Me - Matt Maher
Come Thou Fount (I Will Sing) - Chris Tomlin
I Just need U - Toby Mac
Speak to the Silence - Will Reagan, United Pursuit
Who You Say I Am - Matt Redman, Tasha Cobbs Leonard
He Reigns - Kirk Franklin
In Christ Alone - Passion, Kristian Stanfill
My Lighthouse - Rend Collective
Come To The Table - Sidewalk Prophets
Rescuer (Good News) - Rend Collective
All My Hope - Crowder
Blinded By Your Grace, Pt2 - Stormzy, MNEK
This Is Amazing Grace - Phil Whickham
You Are Good - Lincoln Brewster
At the Easter service we were each given a sunflower seed. Ours are planted, come back in a few weeks to see the progress.
Romeo led the Easter Sunday service sporting an Easter Bonnet. The service centred on the resurrection and the hope that it brings to all of us, that we shall emulate Jesus’ example – that our church will increasingly become a place of welcome and embrace for all people, irrespective of gender, colour, ethnicity, sexuality or accent – that we will show a different way to a world, now so divided across so many different lines.
One of the great privileges of the faith is that we get to participate with Jesus in what God is doing in the world. This is far more than just praying a personal prayer to receive God’s life or ‘doing evangelism’ to ‘get people saved’. It’s watching to see what God is already doing, where God’s life is already breaking out, and then responding to this by co-creating, co-caring and co-welcoming people. This is how we, and those whom God touches through us, really connect with and experience God’s life.
The big challenge this month (as we celebrate the Risen Christ), then, is to discover where in your world resurrection is beginning – or continuing – to break out. But, then we also need to respond to these signs of resurrection. We need to ask how God wants us to participate, to notice, to communicate and to spread the life of God.
So often we feel that we have to make things happen, and that the initiative begins with us. The resurrection helps us to recognise that the initiative is always God’s. God’s life is always breaking out whether we see it or not. Our task is not to make anything happen, but to respond – to get on board with – what God is already doing.
This is a liberating and empowering thought, but also a challenging one.
We can choose to do our own thing, or nothing, but if we really want to encounter God and be involved in Gospel work, we’d better recognise and respond to God’s thing!
The Gospel of Luke doesn’t tell us why Cleopas and his unnamed friend were travelling to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), but once they had encountered the Risen Christ, they quickly changed their plans and rushed back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples.
It was clear that the experience of the resurrection changed everything for them, and they could not go about their lives as before.
Two responses stand out in this resurrection encounter.
The first is the change in priorities. Whatever business had been important enough to take these two people to Emmaus quickly became less important in the light of Jesus’ appearance. When faced with the resurrection priorities change. When we become resurrection people, our lives cannot help but be rooted in the life and mission of God.
The second response that these two disciples made was to rush back and share their experience with the others. God’s life always draws us to connect with others and to share the life we have experienced. This may mean telling those around us about what we have experienced, or it may mean silently serving and loving them so that they experience God’s life for themselves through us.
How does Jesus’ resurrection change your priorities this month? And how can you share your experience of God’s life with others?
The first believers understood the importance of community. They gathered in order to share their experiences of God’s life with each other, but also to create a community in which others could see God’s life at work. This is why it is so important for us to gather with other Christ-followers in churches and small groups. We cannot effectively share God’s life alone. This month, dear friends, try to make some time to connect with other believers, even if it’s only by email or a phone call.
Centuries of hope in God’s promise have come to fulfilment when the Messiah was born!
Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth (Gospel) begins by placing the event during the reign of Caesar Augustus. Luke very deliberately points out that it is during the rule of Augustus, the “saviour, god and peace-maker”, that Jesus the Christ, the long-awaited Saviour and Messiah, the Son of God and Prince of Peace, enters human history.
Typical of Luke’s Gospel, it is the shepherds of Bethlehem — among the poorest and most disregarded of Jewish society who become the first messengers of the Gospel. From the Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel, we have a romantic image of shepherds as gentle, peaceful figures. But that manger scene image is a far cry from the reality: The shepherds of Biblical times were tough, earthy characters who fearlessly used their clubs to defend their flocks from wolves and other wild animals. They had even less patience for the pompous scribes and Pharisees who treated them as second and third-class citizens, barring these ill-bred rustics from the synagogue and courts.
And yet it was to shepherds that God first revealed the birth of the Messiah. The shepherds’ vision on the Bethlehem hillside proclaims to all people of every place and generation that Christ comes for the sake of all of humankind.
It was while they were busy doing the ordinary work of their lives – that the angels appeared to them.
She is rather small! Petite, soft-spoken and sophisticated. But in my mind, she towers above everyone else. Her name is Chrissie Olivier.
We were going through a very tough time as a family during the last three years of my senior school education and it affected me deeply. I found catharsis in creative writing. I envisioned a better life and the words kept flowing onto every paper I set my hands to.
I also felt increasingly isolated from my peers.
The only place I felt safe and able to express myself without fear of being rejected was in her class.
She touched me on my shoulder and looked me in my eyes and then she said: “You are so gifted. You must not stop writing. Your English is so good!” She was my English teacher in the late 1980’s.
This woman – so small in stature – lifted this heavily depressed soul from the dungeons of self-pity and isolation. She gave me permission to be me … and she believed in me! I will always be grateful to her.
You see – she did not do anything extraordinary! She simply did the ordinary well. In that moment this ordinary teacher was used by God to do an extraordinary thing. She did nothing more than live her life with faithfulness and love, but God used the small seeds of her daily routine to change a life forever.
In that moment, I came to believe that no matter where you live and no matter what circumstance you find yourself in, God can reach into your life and give your life purpose and meaning.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus – friend of the lowly and the marginalized, the one who identifies with the poor, the one who used the side-lined shepherds to be his mouthpiece, and the one who equips the voiceless to herald Good News for all – it is my prayer that we shall be a Chrissie Olivier to those around us. My prayer is that we shall do the best we can in our ordinary day-to-day lives and work to build others up and propel them into a life of peace, hope, joy and love.
Wishing you a blessed Christmas