On Sunday, 4th September, we begin a new series looking at various meals people had with Jesus that are recorded in Luke’s gospel. We have chosen this for two reasons:
- Firstly, it will be good to focus on a gospel again and learn more about Jesus and how he interacted with people.
- Secondly, sharing meals and hospitality was such an important part of life in those days and we would like to use this autumn series to perhaps encourage greater hospitality amongst us. Opening our own homes if we feel able, inviting people to share a meal with us and getting to know them better.
Are you a “non-violent extremist”? Definitely – especially if the Government counter-extremism plans are approved!
The Christian Institute are encouraging us to pray for the Government’s policy on ‘extremism’ which is posing a real threat to our freedoms.
At the heart of the problem is the definition of “extremism” – the definition the Government has been using is far too wide. According to a comprehensive report by parliament’s joint-committee for human rights (a cross-party group of MPs and peers from the House of Lords) the government’s proposed ‘Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill’, is superfluous because all laws already exist to target any offences. The committee stressed the need for a clear distinction between violent extremism and religious conservatism. They said: “New legislation which would impact on those expressing conservative religious views poses two problems: either it will focus on Muslims, be seen as discriminatory and drive a wedge between communities, or it would operate indiscriminately and could be used against any groups who espouse conservative religious views.” If you want more background information about the issues involved Christian Concern have produced an eBooklet called (click on this link) “Challenges arising from HM Government’s Counter Extremism Strategy” It’s definitely worth a read!
Theresa May was the architect of the ‘Counter-Extremism Bill’ when she was Home Secretary. We must expect it to go ahead now she is Prime Minister.
Many heroes and heroines of the past were labelled ‘non-violent extremists’, like the ones we are covering in our current Sermon Series, including the real Hero of them all – Jesus Christ, simply because they strongly challenged the political or moral consensus of their day.
The Government wants to introduce a law to silence today’s “non-violent extremists” who show “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British Values”. These values are defined as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”. This is dangerously vague and subjective language
A consultation has been promised on the Government proposed measures to counter-extremism, including the definition of ‘extremism’.
Please pray for wisdom for our governing authorities that these extremism plans would be dropped that the Government would instead adopt a targeted response to violence and disorder and for God to preserve our religious liberty and freedom of speech.
Finally, you may wish to browse through the Christian Institute’s publication (click this link) The Little Book of Non Violent Extremists
This Sunday we’ll be starting a new sermon series for the summer: . ‘Heroes of the faith and what we can learn from them’ These are various people throughout history whose faith has been strong and have things about their life that we can learn from for our own walk with God.
In or out? We’re going to hear a lot of this for the next few months aren’t we! As yet I don’t feel I understand enough to be able to make an informed decision but when June 23rd comes I will have thought and prayed about it carefully and will go with what I think is right for our country.
It is a hugely important decision and whether we elect to stay or leave the EU there will be long lasting implications which will affect not just us but of course people in other countries too.
The decisions we make in our own personal lives usually affect not only us but others too. The implications of wrong decisions (and I have made them!) often have to be lived with for the rest of our lives. We may regret we ever made a particular choice and wish we could go back and ‘unmake’ it – but of course we can’t. We may perhaps feel guilty and find that hard to live with.
I am so glad that the God I know, love and serve is willing to forgive us through Jesus. We have to ask him though and really mean it. We can’t go back, but we can go forward . When we invite him into our lives he’ll help us to make better choices in the future.
As far as God is concerned, is he in or outside of your life? That’s something only you can decide.
Julie Shimizu (Rev)
It often makes us feel good to have a fresh start, move forward in a new direction and have hope that things will be better. The beginning of the New Year is an incentive for resolutions to abound -often however not lasting longer than the end of January! We don’t always see things through and commitment and determination wane easily. Oh well there’s always next year …..
New beginnings are not necessary exciting though. They can be scary, unknown, unwanted, unexpected, unfamiliar, lonely. Life after the death of a spouse or the sudden loss of a job perhaps. Life is full of changes and challenges, joys and sorrows. We have recently celebrated the birth of Emmanuel – God with us and willing to stay with us through those changes and challenges, joys and sorrows. If we invite him to.
A new beginning with God means we can have that fresh start, new direction and the assurance that things will be very much better with him by our side. Plus his commitment to us will never wane.
How about that for a new beginning?
Rev Julie Shimizu
We begin a new series starting from 3rd January for a few months, going back to the beginning of the Bible and looking through the book of Genesis. There is much to learn from this powerful book and we pray we’ll all have receptive hearts to hear what God might have to say to each us through it.