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November 2012

November 19, 2012

Dear Friends

 

Life is exciting at the Beacon at the moment. We are having some interesting theological debates. In the Book Club our thinking is being stimulated through Philip Yancey’s wonderful book ‘What Good Is God?’ This book is based on actual talks given by Philip Yancey in places such as Virginia Tech after the campus massacre, Mumbai after the terrorist attacks on tourist sites and in Green Lake talking to professional sex workers. The challenge, as ever, is not simply to discern the presence and the words of God in such places but to do the same with situations in which we find ourselves.

 

In our evangelism meeting we spent some time debating what evangelism is and what exactly we are sharing. It could be argued that evangelism is the natural way of life and supreme function of the church. Jesus obviously thought so. Whilst we all agree on the need to share the love of God in word and action there is less agreement about what happens next. Do we simply introduce people to the love of God and hope that their lifestyle changes or do we teach discipleship, i.e. the lifestyle that God calls us all to. Jesus obviously thought the latter? If our lifestyle does not match the teaching of God we find in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, then we are hypocrites and our words or deeds of love are less effective than they should be.

 

In the introduction to our theme on the Old Testament Terry challenged our thinking about the Old Testament and how we interpret the Israelites relationship with God. We can not impose our way of thinking on people who lived several thousand years ago, their world view was totally different. They had a close relationship with God and interpreted everything that happened as an action of God. In a way they saw God as the source of everything – good or bad. Influenced by the New Testament we see things differently and recognise that we live in the midst of a spiritual battle with everything good coming from God and everything bad coming from our humanity or the Devil, depending on our point of view.

 

In the evening our conversations started from the same point and then moved on to persecution. One reading of the Bible is that between the Garden of Eden and the City of Gold the natural state for Christians to live in is under persecution. If we are not being persecuted for our faith then maybe we have become too comfortable and not allowed our faith to make our lifestyle a challenge to the world. Certainly the church seems to grow faster in times of persecution than it does in times of ease. Maybe the decline of traditional Christian churches in the west is because we have, in effect, merged with society. We are not sufficiently different to be a threat. We have a radical gospel to share, one that declares all people equal before God and worthy of our love and care. There is no room for xenophobia, homophobia, racial or gender discrimination in real Christianity. Equally there is no room for sexual promiscuity, theft, jealousy, greed, lust or idolatry in real Christianity. We do not have to accept the world’s standards – we live by God’s standards. We are the body of Christ.

Ian

 

CHURCH CHRISTMAS CARD

It has been agreed that we should, again this year, give the opportunity for members and friends to send Christmas Greetings to each other by signing one large Christmas Card in the Church rather than sending individual cards to each other and to donate, what would have been the cost, to a designated charity.

This year it has been decided to support again ACORNS CHILDREN’S HOSPICE and their special poster/card will be available at the rear of the Church from the beginning of December for signing and friends are invited to place gifts in the box provided or in the ‘Jars of Grace’ for the month.

The total gifts will then be forwarded to the Acorns Children’s Hospice towards their vital and very special work.

Thank you.

 

 

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