Christ Church Free Church of England

Pastor's Pen...

Have you ever been in a situation where you felt decidedly uncomfortable?  Well these can be but mildly embarrasing incidents in our social lives that we soon shrug off and mostly just grin and bare with no real scars to show for the ordeal. But there is a much more challenging demand made upon followers of Jesus.

In a world that I find is increasingly exerting pressure on the church to be all inclusive and tolerant I find the scripture calls for separation and intolerance in two radical aspects. Both are implied by the writer of Hebrews  - The epistle addressed to  Jews being tempted to revert back to the security & familiarity of their  Judaism by those who were finding the cost of leaving it behind too great. Cf 13:9 He exhorts them in the light of this to (13:13)

.....go forth to Him, (Jesus) outside the camp, bearing His reproach.

This suggests the challenging need to :

1) Break out of the camp of those who for whatever reason regard themselves as somehow not included when God pronounces his zero tolerance for sin policy with mankind. (Gen 2:17)

 2) Break out of the multi-faith camp that sees  Jesus as just one of many paths that lead as effectively to the same place.

The writer is depicting this element of separation from those who imagine sin can be tolerated by God by reminding them of the elaborate and very solemn Old Testament Tabernacle & later Temple ritual. Once a year, on the Day of atonement, the priests were required by God to offer a bull and two goats for their own and the nation’s sin. This sacrifice was different though from all the other sacrifices required morning and evening throughout the year. The remains were not allowed to be consumed, as was the case with most of the other sacrifices offered by the priests. Partaking of the sacraficial animal symbolised acceptance and reconciliation  - but this whole burnt offering sacrifice brought home the separating, banishing power of sin – it would have to be taken “outside the camp” or city of Jerusalem and totally burned. (Leviticus 16:27)

Thus once  a year the priests symbolised and thereby acknowledged themselves & on behalf of the whole nation of the people of God, this zero tolerance aspect of God’s nature.  To further drive home this point Levitical law declared all sorts of obviously bad or even just unpleasant things to be making people fit for banishment “outside the camp” – at least for a while, if not permanently: Carrying any contagious diseases (Lev 13:46) Needing to attend to toilet matters. (Deut 23:12f) Anyone who was associated with the death of another (Num 31:19) etc etc .

The author is calling his fellow Jewish believers to  go “outside the camp” to Jesus  in this sense.

Secondly and this may not seem to relate directly to us as Gentiles, but going to Jesus may demand we go outside of a similar religious camp to that of the Hebrews. If they  had to move on from their Judaism – from its types and symbols  that truly pointed to the reality which is Christ - to be sure, we would need to move on from all sorts of rituals and beliefs, religious & secular, that we may have put alongside or even substituting for Jesus.

It is undoubtedly harder to leave this second “camp” than the first. Highly religious people foresake their camp marked by self righteousness far more reluctantly than sinners whose camp is characterised by the more obvious sins we more readily see the need to foresake.

Have we all gone “outside the camp” in these two ways?  A good indicator is our nearest and dearest knowing this about us, even if they find it strange or ackward that we so describe ourselves.

I hope you have! If not that you soon will. Give me a call if I can help.

Yours in Him,                                                                                  

Grahame. 

 

Some photo’s of our Bible exhibition this year on the “Life & Times of Christ”.

 

 

John the Baptist plays the children in..

Mary (Mother of Jesus) started us off... 

 

Mary Magdalene (First to the tomb of Jesus)

overcome on resurrection morning by the empty tomb

 

Prayer needs:

(Do let me know if you would like us to pray as a body for a need – it can be completely anonymous.)

  • Kev & Irene Fairchild – either selling their home or adapting their present home for Kev’s needs.
  • Mrs Pellow & Mrs Taylor – care to be put in place to provide for their needs without losing their independence.
  •  John & Amanda Midgely – for their health problems to be dealt with so they can get back into fellowship.
  • Deb’s British passport application criteria to be met.
  •  The FCE Evangelical Connexion to know God’s direction and sense of calling alongside other evangelical churches.
  • Our own succession planning.
  • Advent season and all the special services to draw in lots of visitors and impact them.

 

Advent calendar:

Sun 3rd Dec - All Age Toy Service.   Please supply good second hand or new toys clearly marked: eg: “Girl/Boy” “Ages 3-5” To be taken to the Crypt.

Sun 17th Dec – 7 Lessons & Carols by Candlelight Service.

Saturdays in Dec – to be confirmed – singing carols in the Cross Gates Centre

Mon 10:30am Christmas day – All Age worship and shortened communion for those who want to stay.

 

There will be an Offerings box at all special services over Advent for TEAR Fund.