February 23, 2020

Haggai

Helen Franklin

After their years of exile the people of Israel are back in their own land, and things are going... not terribly well, actually. Have they forgotten something - or someone - important? In a series of four prophecies Haggai points them back to God and the need to rebuild the Temple to bring glory to him. Helen, now working in North Wales, was a member of Christ Church in the years before and during the replacement of our old, rather decrepit, hall with our current building and draws some parallels with that other building project in Haggai's time.

Before Helen spoke we watched this video which outlines Haggai's message.

former_church_centre_bw.jpg

Helen's photo of the former Church Centre and Scout Hut: you can't see the cracks in the walls from this distance

February 16, 2020

Habakkuk

Bobbie Frere | Habakkuk 1:1-4, Habakkuk 3 

How should we respond when we see evil and injustice all around us? Or when, as Bobbie alludes to at the start of her talk, families that we love are devastated by grief? Habakkuk the prophet cries out to God, and then is appalled when he discovers that things are actually going to get worse - yet he knows that God's justice and mercy will triumph in the end. 

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, 'Violence!'
    but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy...
Though the fig-tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold
    and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

February 9, 2020

Lessons for life: Amos

Graham Romp | Amos 7:1-9, Amos 9:11-15 

On the face of it, things are looking great for Israel: the economy doing well, military success, new temples being built - and best of all, they know they are God's chosen people. Then Amos arrives from a rival nation to speak some hard truths about injustice, exploitation and corruption... and to tell his unwilling audience that judgement is coming. If you think your job is tough, if you're feeling complacent, if you think God isn't interested in the real world, listen to what Graham has to say about Amos and how he went about his task.

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, 'What do you see, Amos?' 'A plumb-line,' I replied. Then the Lord said, 'Look, I am setting a plumb-line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.
    The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
    and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
    with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.'

'In that day
    I will restore David's fallen shelter -
    I will repair its broken walls
    and restore its ruins -
    and will rebuild it as it used to be...
    I will plant Israel in their own land,
    never again to be uprooted
    from the land I have given them,'
    says the Lord your God.

February 2, 2020

Hearing God: Mary and Martha

Chris Turner | Luke 10:38-42 

"I'm very fond of Martha," says Chris: and we're pleased about that, because there were several self-confessed Marthas listening to him speaking in the evening service. There are surely many more out there, which is why this recording has been put online. Is Martha afraid that she won't be loved if she doesn't put in the work? Is she able to truly stop and listen? We have a God who speaks in both wonders and silence: will we recognise and hear his voice?

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'

'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed - or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'

February 2, 2020

Nehemiah

Rachel Fasham

Once again we focus on someone whose story is told in an entire book of the Bible: Nehemiah, who led the people of Jerusalem in the task of rebuilding the walls of the city after their return from exile. In our All-In service we got the story in just 6 minutes in this fast moving video. As Rachel explains, Nehemiah rebuilt not just the walls but a community with God at the centre. What might that look like today, especially in Christ Church? We went on to respond to that question in a variety of ways as we spread out around the building to create, move, discuss, sing, think and write.

A broken down pile of wooden bricks lying around a model of the Temple

The broken-down walls of Jerusalem

Decorate gingerbread men with instruction: make one for yourself, another as a gift for someone else

The Create zone: decorating gingerbread men

Writing words on a picture of Christ Church and some people

The Move zone: finding words to describe a restored community

January 26, 2020

Esther

Allan Bartlam

Esther is one of those Bible characters who gets a whole book to herself, and rather than highlighting a single chapter or incident this BibleProject video tells the whole story as an animation. The book is unusual in that it never mentions God at all, yet, as Allan points out, God is clearly at work even through imperfect people. Esther finds herself in the right place at the right time, the only person who can save her people from destruction but having to risk her own life to achieve it. What's our unique role?

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

January 19, 2020

Daniel

Chris Turner | Daniel 6:1-23 

While many of the characters we've looked at in the Lessons for Life series had major flaws, Daniel is exceptional in that even his enemies could find no fault in him. Chris explains how Daniel remained true to God even after being taken into exile as a captive. It's a challenge to us all as we seek to live out our faith in a largely unbelieving world. (Sorry that the audio quality of the recording falls a bit short of the standard we like to achieve but the message is still perfectly clear.)

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

Daniel so distinguished himself among the chief ministers and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the chief ministers and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, 'We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.'

January 12, 2020

Elijah

Chris Chalmers | 1 Kings 18:1-39, Mark 8:27-30 

The word "legend" is overused these days but Elijah really was a key figure in God's story, inspiring hope even in Jesus' time. Chris tells the story of Elijah's confrontation with one of Israel's worst kings and encourages us to find out where we fit in to God's story today.

Discussion questions can be downloaded here.

At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: 'Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.' Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

 

Bobbie Frere | Matthew 2:1-12 

In a dramatised account we meet not just the Magi but some of the other people involved in their story. How did each of them react to the news that a new King of the Jews had been born? First Peter, then Bobbie, encourages us to seek and worship the newborn King.

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'

December 25, 2019

Jesus, the light of the world

Bobbie Frere | John 1.1-14 

At Christmas we especially celebrate Jesus coming into the world, but where can he be found today? As we live in a society that largely excludes Jesus from his own birth celebration, Bobbie challenges us to find, follow and reflect the true light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

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