Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The event of the year

Forget Royal Weddings, the event of the year as far as I am concerned has already happened and lots of people I know were celebrating it, out on the streets in their communities across the world.

It was Easter of course, which is not an anniversary, commemorating a past event but a celebration of the power of the cross and the living presence of a resurrected Jesus!

We arrived at our daughter's house on Sunday evening bursting with news of all that had gone on in Pill for Easter, only to find that Katie, her husband and in-laws were equally excited about the wonderful things the Lord had done at Regent Hall, where they all soldier. We found ourselves in friendly, but joyful competition to tell the best story.

We shared how our hall had been open all week, with people from our community coming in to experience out Easter Labyrinth, they shared how wonderful it had been to share Good Friday with a new convert, who had very recently come to faith, whilst living at the nearby Lifehouse. (SA Social Service Centre)

We told how Alan had placed a cross in the centre of our village and read the events of Good Friday from the gospels whilst one of our bandsmen sensitively played Man of Sorrows. They spoke of the march down Oxford Street, the huge crowds gathered at Picadilly Circus as the Easter story was told through drama and the amazing conversations about Jesus with members of the public.

We explained how the name of every person who gathered for our Good Friday meeting was read out, declared guilty and then offered pardon through the cross. They were full of the way the Holy Spirit had touched them as they joined in with and witnessed the response to the Bible message at the corps.

We were excited about the chaos in our hall on Saturday morning as we kept running out of Easter eggs as more and more families came for our Coffee morning Easter egg hunt and how thrilled we were that some of them went in and followed the Easter Labyrinth set up in the hall.

We laughed about the fact that our Sunrise service started way after the sun rose but that nevertheless it was a special time. Our daughter Katie, who is Singing Company leader rejoiced at how enthusiastically her children sang and "knocked the socks" off the congregation!

We praised God for our band playing Easter hymns around the cross and for the people who paused to listen. They couldn't wait to tell us how the songsters had sungthe Hallelujah Chorus at the open air in Oxford Street, passed out copies of music to the general public and invited them to join in. And huge numbers did and if I did gamble I would bet that was an Easter experience that they will never forget.

Pill Corps is in a village, Regent Hall in the heart of the capital, yet the joy of Easter touch both communities and I believe, changed lives.

You can see photos of Easter week at Pill on our Corps blog

Hallelujah! He is Risen!

God bless

Friday, 15 April 2011

Against the wind

One of the books Alan and I have dipped into this week has been "Against the wind" by K.P Yohannan.

A couple of paragraghs and sentences stood out for me.

"A Christian man from Tripura, who had planted seven churches in three months was asked the secret of his success. He replied, "I pray as much as I work, I work as much as I pray."

"Most anyone can discipline themselves to perform all the right actions. What matters is where these actions flow from."

"In a job you give something to get something; in a ministry you return something that has already been given to you."

God bless


Tuesday, 12 April 2011

All over the place

I feel at the moment that my mind is just buzzing with so many things. This is good if somewhat chaotic and I don't know how to translate all that is in my head into a blog so what follows in the next few days will probably be somewhat all over the place.
Ivory Coast
I was relieved to hear this morning on the news that Gbagbo has been arrested and there has been a call from the president for people to lay down their arms. Sadly this has come too late for my friend Solomon and his wife whose church has been scattered by the violence and its valuable work for the poor and for those involved in prostition ended for the moment at least. Knowing in part what it is like to see a work you have planted and poured your life into come to an unwanted end my heart aches for them. However I believe God has greater things in store.

We had a good day of worship on Sunday. In the morning it was good to listen to people's heart as they shared their concerns for a needy world and to sense the passion among us as we sang, "For the world, for the world Jesus died, Jesus died All the world to save to battle we will go And we ever will our colours boldy show With a trumpet voice we'll let the millions know There's salvation for the world." This was followed in the afternoon with Messy Church, which although we don't get large numbers attracted another new family. In the midst of all the craft and mess there was opportunity to simply tell the gospel story.

This morning, on the radio there was an item about Action for Happiness, a new membership organisation dedicated to spreading happiness. It says it prioritises healthy relationships and meaningful activities as a means to happier lives. It is based on the "new science of happiness and the belief that our mood can be altered." Much of their message is based around the idea that we are happier if we try to make others happier.

As a movement the Salvation Army knows that when people stop living just for themselves and do something for someone else it makes them feel better. Years of using volunteers to help with Christmas Day meals has proved that for me. How many of them have said they had had the best Christmas ever simply because they had served someone else rather than indulged their own appetites. So I am all for promoting the idea that priotising meaningful activity will enhance people's lives. We could all benefit from a society that was less self absorbed, less cynical and more helpful. However there is a big part of me that knows that human effort alone will never be enough to make people truly happy. True happiness is related to to inner security. If we don't feel safe we will never be truly happy. Whilst it is possible to cultivate an enviroment where we all feel safer because we are being nicer to one another the human race has a problem with selfishness which will always derail our best efforts. Happiness is totally related to trust and human beings will let us down. Of course some people will also say that they are happy and God doesn't come into the picture at all so why do Christians have to spoil everything by being so pessimistic about the human race. It is because optimism does not deal with the ego and the problem we have with the breakdown of our relation with God. Our fundamental need is to find our way back home to a trusting relationship with our heavenly Father so that we know that our life has eternal purpose and security. Severed from a connection with God there will always be a sense of grief in our hearts that cannot be filled by anything other than him.

Ignorance is not bliss. As the old adage goes a child playing with their toys in the sunshine in the middle of a traintrack may be perfectly happy and comfortable but they are also in great danger. The child may cry when you remove him from his "happy place" but you have saved him from death. Christians cannot therefore just promote happiness as a goal in itself. A person maybe happy but heading in a direction that leads to eternal separation from God which will result not in happiness but hell.

God bless

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Ivory Coast

Please continue to pray for the Ivory Coast. It has a special place in my affections since my visit there in 2008.

My friend Pastor Solomon continues to lead the All Nations Church in a poor area of Abidjan. The church is engaged in reaching out to very vulnerable people and provides training and employment opportunities to encourage many women out of prostitution. Many have been saved and are living transformed lives as a result. Please pray for their protection and the means to continue their mission.

God bless