Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Christmas

Isn't Christmas time amazing. Granted it's quite busy for people in my profession but having done the Carol service on Sunday I can now look forward to a week with virtually nothing to prepare. A week where I have some time off work just time to do that stuff I never normally have time for. As a Christian the good thing about this is that specifically this gives us time away from our normal pressures to focus on God coming to earth as a human being and all that means for us!

The problem is that as soon as I get given all of this time I proceed to waste it. In part I get carried away by the socialising, present buying and all that associated with it but generally I just find myself drifting from one thing to another without really thinking about how I'm using my time. So rather that talking to God more, reading my Bible more, serving better during this time I end up doing it worse as a result of some time given me specifically for this reason!

I want to enjoy my Christmas time but the temptation is always to think time off work equals time off God. The problem is that this sort of attitude pretty much scuppers any hope I have of enjoying Christmas time! I hope I use Christmas a bit better this year!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Why buses come in threes

Driving along the road the other day I realised why buses do come in threes and thought I would share this. As it is so obvious I'm not sure if I am here demonstrating my incredible perception or my ignorance at only just realising this.
As a bus pulls into a bus stop just before me I pull out and go round it as do all the other cars. The problem is that when a bus comes up to this it can't get passed and so we now have two buses in convoy. Observing this occur made me realise why buses all come together and that it wasn't just to spite and irritate the person who has been sat in the bus stop for half an hour waiting for any bus!
Anyway I thought I'd share!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Why I should be joyful

On Sunday evening I was looking at Luke 2v22-38 and it struck me that the people who met Jesus as a baby were all full of joy! So Mary was full of joy and the wise men were full of joy and Anna and Simeon were full of joy. There was a whole lot of joy knocking around. However, this joy was not like the joy which we enjoy at Christmas time. You see I have nothing against Christmas and positively enjoy it however, the joy we feel at Christmas is a completely manufactured joy! So we do certain things so that when the 25th December comes we will experience some joy. So we arrange parties, listen to certain music, get with friends and family, give and receive gifts, eat certain food etc all so that we can feel joy. You see basically we decide we want to have a good and exciting day and so put things in place to make it happen. This is very different to the natural joy which comes out of something good happening. This is a very different sort of joy to that enjoyed when we pass an exam or get married or have a kid or win the lottery. You see here something has happened which you cannot help but be joyful about. You don't have to put things in place to make you joyful the event itself is a joyful one!

Now because we can't go back to the actual joy when Jesus was born and experience the genuine joy many people seem to have felt on that day the joy around Christmas can seem a bit fake. However, as a Christian surely I should be as joyful as these people about Jesus coming to earth. So let me end with a few reasons why I should be joyful about Jesus coming to earth.

1. By coming to earth Jesus rescued me. The thought of being rescued from a seemingly impossible situation is a powerful one. I can easily imagine the joy I would feel if someone amazingly rescued me from impending death. By coming to earth Jesus rescued me from sin and the judgement that sin deserves.

2. By coming to earth Jesus brought me out of one kingdom and into another. Without Jesus I am a member of the kingdom of darkness. By that I mean that I cannot stop doing bad things and am living a life opposed to God. By coming to earth Jesus moves me from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. By that I mean that he gives me his Holy Spirit so that I start resisting sin and brings me into a relationship with God.

3. By coming to earth Jesus showed me God. Imagine the joy you'd feel if you actually met God. All that doubting gone, all that speculation over. Imagine actually seeing what God was like and experiencing his power, his perfection, his love! Well Jesus is the revelation of God and so by coming to earth Jesus makes it possible for me to see God.

4. By coming to earth Jesus reveals the thoughts of my heart. When Jesus came to earth he said certain things and did certain things which are so incredible that they enable me to see my heart, to understand it better and to recognise my failings better. As I get to know Jesus I actually get to know Jesus better.

The truth of it is that I either don't believe this or I forget it because I am not nearly as joyful about those things as I should be! I shouldn't need a dead bird, some cheesy songs, a pile of presents and some wild parties to make me feel joy. No I should be constantly experiencing a joy which comes out of the amazing things Jesus has done for me!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Why will people not go to church?

O.k. so that is the question but what is the answer. You will find no shortage of theories about this and I guess there will have been a number of blogs on it in the past and will be many more in the future. However, working for a church and dealing with loads of people on a weekly basis it does often baffle me why it's so hard to get people into church. In a culture where people are up for trying anything how come no matter how many invites I put out at the various groups we do as a church there are still so many people who are unwilling to just come along on a Sunday and have a look? I mean they're happy enough coming to whatever it is they come to (Elmer's Patch, Hot Potatoes, Kids' Cafe etc) and they seem to know the people from the church a little bit, at times they even seem to quite like us. So why not try out church on a Sunday?

I have no answers to this apart from a growing realisation of how weird a church service is for people who are not used to going to them. For a start there's singing and I mean singing with music. If you're not used to going to church there's a good chance you never sing and haven't for many years. You feel like an idiot if you join in the singing and you feel like an idiot if you don't. Then churches tend to talk about things which people never talk about. For example churches talk about love a lot and the average person never talks about love and is a bit uncomfortable with the way the word id thrown around in church. The listening to a guy speak for 30 minutes. When do you ever do that? Apart from university and church I'm not sure I've ever sat and listened to a person speak for that long!

I get some sense of this when I got to other churches and I feel out of place. I don't know the songs, I don't know the format, I don't know the people and I don't connect with the person talking. I just feel uncomfortable. However, I guess my reason for writing this blog is to try to get one thing straight in my head and that is - 'Church is always going to be like this!'. You see if church was just a meeting then we could make church not like this. We could work out the things which make people comfortable and which people connect with we could try to put those things in place until we finally create a meeting which people can attend with complete comfort. The thing is that church is not a meeting but a community and it takes time to become part of a community. Until you become a part of that community yourself you will always be on the outside looking in and feeling slightly uncomfortable.

So my desire should not be for people to simply go to a church meeting but rather to have a look at the community, see if what they declare with their mouths is real and then enter the community. So come to church - not because you'll feel comfortable but because it's by seeing the community that you can examine whether what we say actually has anything to offer!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Hypocrisy

So on Sunday we were talking about hypocrisy and it struck me just what a widespread problem it is. Everyone loves to put on a public face and most of us have become quite expert at doing it. Most of us want to be someone other than who we are and so it is only natural that we project the person we want to be rather than the person that we are!

However, perhaps what struck me even more than the widespread nature of the problem was the destructiveness of it! How can we hope to build real, supportive, honest and lasting relationships for as long as we are pretending to be something that we are not. How can I hope for people to help me get through the various doubts I have if I am always presenting myself as not having any? How can I hope to enjoy loving relationships with other people when despite talking about wanting them I actually have no desire to pursue them. Honesty is a key part of community and so our community's suffer because no-one is actually willing to be honest about who they are. We talk about wanting to follow God, we talk about loving people, we talk about serving God but then our lives call us liars. We need to have lives which measure up to our words if we are ever to build the sort of relationships we not only want but need!

Many of us have taken years creating this public face and getting people to see us a certain way and so are not only loath to destroy it we also don't know how to do anything different. It's one thing to know that we need to be honest and real with people but it's another thing to know how to do it. Some people don't know how to do it and so never build deep relationships other people don't know how to do it and so make everything into a drama in an attempt to connect in some way! I shall endeavour to be as real with people as I can but I think it's going to be a long process and I might need some help along the way!