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.
Helen's photo of the former Church Centre and Scout Hut: you can't see the cracks in the walls from this distance
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.
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.
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.'
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.
The broken-down walls of Jerusalem
The Create zone: decorating gingerbread men
The Move zone: finding words to describe a restored community