September 18, 2022

Responding to the gospel

Bobbie Frere | 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 

We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

The message of the gospel should change lives, and in the case of the church at Thessalonica, it had - so much so that everyone could see it. That should be our aim too, says Bobbie: not just to believe in what Jesus has done for us but to live it out and pass it on.

The recording begins with the reading from Simon Jones.

An edited video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

September 11, 2022

Fix your eyes on Jesus

Ben Green | Hebrews 12:1-3 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Ben was speaking with the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II very much on our minds, and indeed the whole service was a response to her life and her commitment to follow the true King, Jesus. It is good to have the example and encouragement of others, says Ben, but above all we look to Jesus as the one who has gone before us and defeated death.

The recording begins with the reading from Bobbie Frere (sorry the audio quality is lower than we usually manage at this point).

An edited video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

September 4, 2022

In Thessalonica

Ben Green | Acts 17:1-15 

When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. ‘This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,’ he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.

It all starts off so well, as some of Paul's hearers believe his message. Yet, within days, there is a riot and Paul has to leave the city, as happened in many other places too. As Ben explains, the gospel remains divisive and offensive - yet it is the only way to find true life.

This is the first in a new series Walking Worthily in which we will look at how the gospel shapes the Christian life, as explained in Paul's letters to the Thessalonians.

The recording begins with the reading from Matt Fox.

An edited video recording of the Sunday service can be viewed on YouTube.

August 28, 2022

Confidence

Bobbie Frere | Nehemiah 9:38 | Nehemiah 10:28-39 

‘The rest of the people - priests, Levites, gatekeepers, musicians, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighbouring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand - all these now join their fellow Israelites the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord.’

It had taken the people a long time to get to the point where they could make this full and open commitment. Having recently returned from exile, they promised to observe the Law which marked them out as the people of God. As Bobbie explains, an essential step was to truly appreciate the goodness and faithfulness of God. Yet: human failure is never far away. Bobbie encourages us to remember what God has done for us but also to trust in his power rather than our own as we seek to follow him.

The recording begins with the reading from Sarah Trinder.

August 21, 2022

You are living stones

Bishop Walter Toro | 1 Peter 2:4-12 

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Walter is the Anglican Bishop of Bolivia, and recently attended the Lambeth Conference before spending time in Birmingham strengthening links with the churches here. Walter reminds us of the unique place each of us has in the church, yet all of us are called to present Christ to the world through our lives. Walter speaks in Spanish, with English translation by David Dixie.

The recording begins with the reading from Chris Powell.

August 14, 2022

Reading the Bible

Peter Frere | Nehemiah 8 

On the first day of the seventh month Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly, which was made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law... Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, ‘This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.’ For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

The Temple and the walls of Jerusalem have at last been rebuilt, but there is still essential work to be done. The people of Israel, returned from exile, rediscover their purpose in being and their place in God's plan - and it has a profound effect on them. Peter explains why and how we should read the Bible and let its Good News change us.

The recording begins with the reading from James Williams.

August 7, 2022

Living in godliness

Janet Chalmers | Nehemiah 5 

Now the men and their wives raised a great outcry against their fellow Jews. Some were saying, ‘We and our sons and daughters are numerous; in order for us to eat and stay alive, we must get grain.’ Others were saying, ‘We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.’ ... When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry. I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, ‘You are charging your own people interest!’ So I called together a large meeting to deal with them and said: ‘As far as possible, we have bought back our fellow Jews who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your own people, only for them to be sold back to us!’ They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

While the poor suffer misery, the rich get ever richer. In these ancient times Nehemiah faces a very modern problem. How should he respond?

Rachel Fasham was supposed to be preaching this week, but COVID-19 forced a change in our plans and, instead, we hear from service leader Janet Chalmers in the recording with a brief introduction to what Rachel intended to say.

During the service the congregation were invited to discuss these questions:

  • What was Nehemiah’s response to the situation and how is this an example of living in godliness?
  • Nehemiah was a person of influence. Who do we know who has influence?
  • How can we get them to use their influence?
  • What should our response as individuals and as a church be to the current cost of living crisis?
  • What will you pledge to do?

The PCC of Christ Church has already agreed to commit resources to help with the economic crisis during the winter months, possibly by acting as a warmth and food hub, but planning is only just beginning.

Some of the congregational responses involved supporting these efforts, and also supporting B30 Foodbank and Christians Against Poverty who are very much in the front line.

Personally we can look out for those in need and display kindness, and spend our money with independent, socially responsible businesses rather than non-tax paying giants. We can engage with politicians to promote fairness in the economic system. We can pray for the government, for those in need, for good harvests and a fair distribution.

These were some of the pledges that were made, but many will also wish to imitate Nehemiah in another respect: he carefully considered his response.

The recording includes the reading from Dave Lucking.

July 31, 2022

Overcoming opposition

Ben Green | Nehemiah 4 

When Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.

Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem are doing God's work, and making good progress. Then, opposition appears, and the difficulties mount up. What's going on? Ben explains what our attitude should be to opposition and how we should respond. There's a big clue in the words “But we prayed...”

The recording begins with the reading from Susan Mole.

July 24, 2022

A God-given purpose

Allan Bartlam | Nehemiah 1.1 - 3.2 (abridged) 

God's people had been in exile for many years, Jerusalem destroyed, the city gates burned by fire. God called Nehemiah - the butler of the emperor of Persia - to lead his people in rebuilding the walls. Nehemiah's example can help us learn to be faithful to God wherever he has called us.

The recording begins with the reading from John Mason.

July 17, 2022

Remember me

Dan Parnell | 1 Corinthians 11.23-28 

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

From the earliest days of the church, the celebration of Holy Communion has formed a central part of worship. But why, and what does it mean? Speaking in our All-In service, Dan gives a brief explanation.

The recording begins with the reading from Janet Chalmers.

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