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Many places have reported how troublesome 2016 was and there may be an air of pessimism about 2017. But with God there is no dark too dark, no mountain too high, no storm too severe. I pray we may all stand with Jesus at the front of that boat and witness his calming of the storms in our lives and in the life of our nation and world.
For those of us who have not been following the US buildup to the Presidential election, we may be wondering, “Who is Donald Trump?” We might wonder why he matters. He is a self-made billionaire who is self-funding his campaign. A businessman who was to have built a golf course in Scotland, which has now been rejected because of some of the inflammatory things he has been saying – about Muslims, amongst other things.
Increasingly it does look as if the Republican Party might nominate Mr. Trump to be their Presidential candidate. If this happens he will be running against the Democrat candidate, Hilary Clinton, seeking to become the next president of America! This is particularly worrying as the Republicans currently have majorities in both the US Senate and House of Representatives, meaning that the Democrat party has a lot of work to do!
Our faith in Jesus, isn’t the faith of cheesy smiles, fake handshakes and superficiality, but one of hard won battles, overcoming the odds and getting back up dusting yourself off and heading on, and ultimately resurrection.
It’s become apparent in recent years that people engage with church in different ways and new forms of church have been around in different guises for many years.
The people of God have sought to engage with the community in relevant ways they have discovered that new ways and forms of being church are needed, as traditional forms have continued to decline or as people have a new vision of what church might look like.
We might ask ourselves, ‘What is a Fresh Expression?’ In some sences defining Fresh Expressions is akin to catching jelly! In that it comes in many forms! Fresh Expressions isn’t an entity in its own right but is simply two words that denote the type of Church that seeks to be defined by them. I think that’s a good thing.
Plenty of Christians and people of faith throughout the aeons have known torture, dismemberment, and all kinds and manner of violence verbal and physical.
In our day, our time, where perhaps we should expect to be more enlightened. We find that this behaviour continues, and those that could act justly, do not, and become bystanders to the horror hate inflicts upon humanity. Shouting in their own words like the Pharisees did to Jesus crucify, crucify, crucify. Or worse still stand in silence watching it unfold, like some scene from a horror movie.
Then Pilate had Jesus taken and whipped.The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and dressed him in a purple robe.Over and over they went up to him and said, “Greetings, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. Pilate came out of the palace again and said to the Jewish leaders, “Look! I’m bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no grounds for a charge against him.”When Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here’s the man.” When the chief priests and their deputies saw him, they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify!”- John 19:1-6
Café Culture in the U.K. is huge. The choice of cafés in my home town is massive – not just the mainstays of Costa, Starbucks and Café Nero but also more local, individual cafés that make coffee that is equally as good. Although when I did order a macchiato in a place other than Starbucks I discovered that Starbucks defines a macchiato very differently! It was a bit of a shock, so be warned! What if your local café gave birth to church? What would that be like? Would you go? Indeed, would the coffee taste any better?
Church In Coffee Shops, Can It Work?
When I walk into a café it’s not just great coffee that I look for but the ambiance, the feel of the establishment and (of course) the pastries! When all of this is done well, it tells me that this is a good place to sit, relax and unwind – and perhaps even think about faith issues.
When I go to church as a disciple the welcome, the worship and the preaching are the most important to me. I want to be inspired, experience God’s presence and be equipped for my week ahead. But also I want to know that I am genuinely loved genuine ‘by God and by the congregation’.
So can Café Church and ‘Decaf’ church (regular church) be a marriage made in heaven?
In The Movie Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, our hero seeks the cup that Jesus drank out of at his last meal. The cup, as the legend goes, bestows eternal life on the one who drinks out of it. However the cup is hidden amongst many beautiful cups. Indi chooses the wooden drab looking one, and of course he is right.
We are reminded this week, of what that cup symbolises, for us and for Jesus. Two very different things, one salvation and eternal life, for the other sacrifice for all that separates humanity from knowing God, which we call sin.
A friend worded it so much more eloquently than I could, in a sermon I listened to many years ago, at Cliff Bible College.
'Jesus took the cup which has all the suffering pain and anguish of the world poured into it and he drank from it, becoming a sacrifice, and offering us freedom.'
May the horror and majesty of this simple history defining act, cause you to stop and consider what life might be like if Jesus hadn’t gone the extra mile for us.
For those of you that want to see the video please click away and enjoy this classic clip.
Messy Church is just for children, right? So as churches we focus our crafts, food, worship at these cherished mini adults with varying degrees of success and perhaps that’s fine?
A bit of background first. Over recent years as churches and denominations there has been an increasing focus and emphasis on what makes us church, both structurally and as believers. Especially in terms of what we believe spiritually and theologically about God and as we come to terms with an increasingly diverse spiritual and religiously pluralistic context. On the most part we realise we have to refocus ourselves, and our ecclesiastical emphasis, on Jesus.
From this continuing period of reflection on who and what God wants us to be, religious movements have sprung up that have become church in their own right, just as the Methodist church did 300 years ago. Messy Church, its what is known for the uninitiated as a fresh expression of church. These and similar expressions of church, have flourished in recent years and found their identity having emerged across a 8 stage process, see below.