Christ Church Free Church of England

From the Pastor’s heart  ....                                                                           Christmas 2018.

As we near another Christmas and new year, let it not whizz by before we have sent our warm greetings to you all for a very happy Christmas and a blessed New Year. Which means we are praying God will be very much part of those activities and plans so it is possible for him to bless them!"

Our eldest, Steve has a rope access company he is starting up whilst continuing on the rigs in the North Sea. Steve & Em's little girl - our grandchild no 7 - now five months old, is doing very well. Elijah (6) their eldest is now in his first year of big school. Phini, (2) their youngest boy, does two days at nursery school. Em is of course very busy with the three young ones at the moment, especially when Steve is on the rigs in the North Sea for 2 weeks at a time.

Tim & Noemie's two, Charles (5) & Phoebie (3), chat with us often through the miracle of modern whatsapp but plans to see them over the Christmas period unfortunately did not work out. Tim is now travelling a lot as area rep and sales manager for a farming equipment company and has paid lightening visits to Germany, Holland, South Africa and England - which is quite frustrating as having travelled all that way, a tight business schedule does not allow time for him to see friends and family in these places where he has some.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dave is still with us at home working very hard on a pig farm in Whetherby near Leeds. Hence the new "green" car - no not the colour - electric powered! He is a great blessing in the church with his faithfulness and his quiet but solid ministry to the younger people.

Adam & Andrea's two (Debbie's family in South Africa) are also often in touch on whatsapp - Don (6) their youngest, is finishing nursery school this year and Michael (nearly 10) his brother, is doing very well with his swiming.

Colleen & Will (Deb's daughter in Canada) are settling down well in their new country and now have just been granted leave to remain.Cols is working for a dog care centre which she enjoys - the hounds are much better behaved than the junior school children she was caring for in her support teaching here in England.

 

 

 

 

Debs and I have had a lovely break for the month of November looking after these two and house sitting for Deb's brother on the island of Jersey.

 

 

The church's highlights have been our annual bible exhibition, covering the book of Acts this year. On display boards, with characters interspersed, they portray key accounts of the part played by their character in the start of the early church. The other highlight was the now also annual combined church children's outreach. Bible stories are told while chidren with their parents do related crafts.Finishing with a time in the church wrapping up with an account of a great event from the book of Acts to whet their appetites to read it for themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which brings me to the thought I wanted to share this Christams by way of reminder to us all. The well known, great summing up of the character and ways of God towards us is to say that "God is love". (1 John 4 vs 8) This reminds us, amongst many others things, that God knows exactly what to say and do in order to demonstrate to us that in every way, at all times, he is well able to to bring about the very best for us - even than we could possibly do for ourselves. What is your reaction to this statement? Left to ourselves, it will be similar to the reaction I got when I attempted some time ago to assure a lady from our church, dying of cancer and in much pain and distress, that God is concerned for her distress: In her weak state she raised herself up on one elbow as best she could, looked me in the eye and angrily summonsed as much breath as she could to exclaim: "How can he be when he lets me suffer with this terrible headache and tiredness day after day!" Trying hard to be as gentle as I could, I reminded her of the Christmas event being as much a show of God's love for her as for any of us. Probabaly the last thing we might expect God to do to demonstrate his love for us would be for him to become one of us - for God to become a man. Certainly doesn't immediately seem to us to relate to the trials and tribulations we need practical help with right now. Surely he should come in his power and glory - banishing with his powerful word all sickness and other causes of sadness - even death itself and do a whole lot of other really astounding miracles to reveal that love and power in ways I can relate to. Instead what does he do? He lays aside that power and glory, and in so doing - we might well think - the ability to be the all loving God we want him to be.

Yet it is precisesly in this humbling of himself we discover he sets in motion the necessary means to fully and permanently provide for our greatest need. This is only appreciated however, when we are given to see that our greatest need is not our trials and tribulations, as we suppose. These are but symptoms of a far greater need. That need is our separation from God who is the only true and lasting provider of all good things. This too is a symptom of a greater problem. Our moral uncleanness and unreadiness to have God reveal himself to us in all his glory and power is the real issue. God is holy beyond anything we can imagine and if we had to enter his presence as we are, we would be consumed. We dare not encounter him, even for an instant, in our uncleansed state, harbouring the slightest imperfection in character or conduct. Let alone our rebellion against him for his simply insisting on being who he is. As creatures we are not in a position to be able to expect him to lower his standards so as to accomodate us as we are. For him to do so would allow us to spoil his perfect world and deny his very being. (Hebrews 10 vs 31 sums up our plight: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.")

In the Old Testament it proved so repeatedly when comparatively holy men were confronted by the Lord - they were totally undone. (Adam & Eve in Gen 3 vs 8; Moses in Exodus 3 vs 5; and Isaiah in 6 vs 5 - just to name a few.)

We need him to come to take away from us firstly the ban placed on all mankind since Adam's rebellion. Since then all of us have been banished from any personal walk with our Creator, both as a penalty for our rebellion and for our protection. If we were allowed to carry on as we do in his presence, we would have had to have been constantly disciplined every time we defy him. But God spared us that by putting space between us. But wonderfully he then sent his Son, the second person of the Trinity, God in the form of the human babe in the manger, who lived a perfect life of unbroken communion with his Father, and yet agreed to pay the price - the penalty demanded of the rest of mankind for breaking that communion. His cry from the cross years later, coupled with his glorious resurrection and ascension, shouts out to all who will hear - that price has been fully paid. Mankind, in spite of all his rebelion can be reconciled to this thrice holy God and that without the slightest compromise of his perfect law. His Son has fully satisfied all his just demands. He has not changed his standard or his demands one iota.

Christmas presents us with this choice once again this year. We need to ask the Lord to take away from us anything contrary to what he is in all his glory. He needs to come first to deal with the rebellion in us in the way it deserves. He must first satisfy fully what he warned our ancestor Adam would need to be the consequence of our rebellion against his awesomeness. Left to us - if God doesn't intervene, that must mean banishment from his presence and his perfect creation forever. (Genesis 2 vs 17) He must carry that out - to be true to himself and to preserve the perfection of the world he has determined to create. Adam, and all of us who follow his example - which is all of us - have to face that. God coming as a man, living a prefect life of obedience and total submission to God his Father and then laying that life down in death, on our behalf, totally fulfills that demand forever. Potentially for all who will admit their need of it and accept it, this is God's way of showing his love in a way we would never have imagined possible -  let alone essential for us. It is as much for you and your family as for anyone. All it takes is the humility and trust to receive it as a free gift given on your behalf.

May God give us all that realization of our need and the faith we need to reach out for all the benefits of his coming and especially his passion this Christams time.

Our love to you and yours this Christmas time and in the year ahead.

 

Grahame & Debbie and family.