May 15, 2022

Raising doubts

Ben Green | John 20:19-31 

Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’

Thomas was hurting. He had missed out on the experience, shared by the other disciples, of having met the risen Jesus, and he remained trapped in the grief of the crucifixion. How can we avoid being trapped by our doubts? A few days later Jesus freed Thomas from his pain, and as Ben says in his talk, he can do the same for us.

The recording begins with Bobbie reading some Bible verses where people asked questions of God. The Bible reading isn't included in the recording due to a technical problem which affected the sound quality.

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

May 8, 2022

Resurrection bodies

Graham Romp | Luke 24:36-49 | 1 Corinthians 15:12-23 

Jesus himself stood among [the disciples] and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised... And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost... But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

At the first Easter, Jesus showed himself not as a disembodied spirit but in bodily form - a true resurrection. Graham Romp explains why this matters and what it means for us as we live our lives today. Jesus is risen, and we share in the promise of eternal life with him.

The recording begins with the readings from Susan Mole.

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

Ben Green | Luke 24:13-35 

‘Jesus of Nazareth... was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body.’

It's natural, if difficult, to refer to someone who has just died in the past tense. For these two disciples, walking to Emmaus, hope had died too. The stranger who walked with them transformed their way of thinking and opened their eyes to see what was really true: that Jesus, and hope, were alive forever.

Ben was speaking in a short service on the morning of the Birmingham Half-Marathon which we then went out in the street to support. The recording begins with the reading from Bobbie Frere.

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

April 24, 2022

Renewing joy

Susan Haynes | John 20:1-18 

Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ ‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don't know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realise that it was Jesus.

We can only imagine the range of extreme emotions Mary went through in those few minutes, but we know where it ended up: joy. It took longer for some, but all the disciples were transformed by the knowledge that Jesus was with them forever. Susan points the way for us to experience a joy that changes us from deep within.

The recording begins with the reading from Matt Fox. Susan's talk is followed by a short meditation from Janet Chalmers.

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

April 17, 2022

Easter Celebration

Bishop David Urquhart | John 7.37-39 

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

We welcome Bishop David to lead our Easter celebration which also included baptism and confirmation. The Resurrection is central to the Christian story, but it also completely disrupted the expectations of those who were around at the time - and it still has the power to transform our lives today.

The recording begins with the reading from Sarah Crooks.

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

Susan Haynes | Matthew 21:1-17 | Matthew 26:36-45 

The disciples... brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘“My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it “a den of robbers.”’

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled... He fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’

Susan tells the story of Palm Sunday and some of the events that followed from a rather unusual source. The content is based on "An Easter Donkey's Diary" written by Tony Bower of York Schools and Youth Trust.

The readings are given by Alison Cooper, John Lanchbury and Michael Dewsbury.

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

April 3, 2022

A dependent life

Peter Frere | Mark 10:13-16 | 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 

Jesus... said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’

The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ ... But God has put the body together, giving greater honour to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it.

Peter ends our series "Rooted disciples" by discussing how we can put the teaching of Jesus and Paul into practice. What does it mean to be dependent, on God and on each other, in a culture which values strength and independence?

The recording begins with the readings from Trevor Whitehouse.

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

March 27, 2022

A balanced life

Allan Bartlam | 1 Peter 2.1-5 | 1 Peter 2.9-17 

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

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.

In a few sentences Peter stresses our need to grow in our personal faith, but also to play a full part in the shared life and status of God's people. Allan explores some areas in which we have to maintain a balance between what might seem to be conflicting priorities. The recording begins with the readings from Bobbie Frere.

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

March 20, 2022

A simple life

Bobbie Frere | Acts 4.32-37Matthew 19.23-26 

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there was no needy person among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.’

In those very early days of the church, the power to preach the gospel and work miracles went hand in hand with generosity. Today, we tend to cling on to our possessions and our time. Bobbie challenges us to live out community values and to work out a genuine response to world poverty. She reminds us that these are difficult questions with no ready-made answers.

The document "An evangelical commitment to simple lifestyle" that Bobbie refers to can be downloaded from http://www.internationalbulletin.org/issues/1980-04/1980-04-177-lifestyle.pdf.

The recording begins with the readings from Rachel Fasham and ends with a short prayer from service leader Martin Garrod.

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

March 13, 2022

A green life

Susan Haynes | Genesis 2.8-15 | Romans 8.18-23 

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil... The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

It's always been God's purpose for us to take care of the created world, and as we know only too well, we've made a mess of it. In this service we discussed why this matters and some of the ways by which we can put things right. In the recording we hear from service leader John Lanchbury, preacher Susan Haynes, reader Chris Powell, Bobbie Frere speaking on behalf of the Eco group, and members of the congregation.

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

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