I wonder what your answer would be if I asked you what do you miss most from before we went into lockdown? You might say work or school or playing sports, going to watch football games, going to the gym or you might say you miss McDonalds or KFC!
As I write this, we are coming close to the end of a great Alpha course. For those of you who don’t know, Alpha is a worldwide phenomenon where people come to church and are able to ask questions in an open environment about Christianity and Jesus.
For the last few years, a question that has been posed consistently, if in different guises, is whether there is any evidence for Jesus rising from the dead. This is central to beliefs on who Jesus is so it's worthwhile exploring, especially as we approach Easter the season when Christians celebrate Jesus’s death and resurrection.
At the Presence meeting at the start of this year the Lord highlighted to me the following verse from Jeremiah 6:16:
"Stand at the crossroads and look
Ask for the ancient paths,
Ask where the good way is and walk in it,
And you will find rest for your souls."
Stand. Look. Ask. Ask. Walk."
Standing firm is not passive, but a positive action. When things happen around you or to you, the biblical call to ‘Stand Firm’ is given regardless; more than that – in spite of how we feel. We are instructed to hold our ground, persevere, persist in the authority Christ has given to every believer.
I wonder how much thought you put into your Christmas presents? Is it something you spend all year thinking about? Carefully crafting the best purchase so you get the most effective present; something that brings tears of joy to the recipient and earns you the title of ‘Greatest gift-giver ever’? Or do you simply walk into Asda, grab a trolley, fill it with a random selection of Celebrations, Roses and Quality Street, grab some wrapping paper, sellotape and off you go... job done?!
Recently my attention was drawn to the number of protests taking place around the world. In London, climate protesters had brought parts of the capital to a standstill. In Hong King, increasing clashes between protestors and the police with Pro-EU protestors and anti-EU protestors.
I often wonder if the reason Christianity grows in areas of the world where there is greater persecution is because the daily reality for those Christians is one where they know that following Jesus involves living very much on the front line.
There are moments when you recognise that something has changed. Not always easy to identify an exact moment but you recognise that things are different. For example, when a child becomes an adult. When we look at the current political landscape in the UK things have changed. The old left and right preferences have been pushed aside by leave and remain.
Have you ever felt something is too broken to fix? It may be a thing, an item, but equally it may be a relationship, a part of your life which has been damaged and now you see no way back. What do we do with such things – dump them, run away from them, hide them and forget about them?
I don’t know about you but I can sometimes be quite intimidated by really confident people. When I was younger I was incredibly nervous and shy. The idea of meeting new people would send me into a cold sweat and anything requiring up front speaking was my worst nightmare.