Pastor’s Pen 30th December 2018

Shalom. I hope the freshness of a New Year and opportunities for beginning again reflect in the choices and habits you adopt in this year starting now.
Wow, 2018 is nearly gone… I expect that some of you will be thinking about New Year resolutions, probably around not eating so much and more exercise, I know I do. May I challenge you with some I’m thinking of  trying out.
To feast more – on God’s word, to exercise more  – faith  in stepping out into opportunities and believing for greater things in God’s kingdom. 
We all say we believe in things to do with God; but unless they affect how we behave and live then that belief is questionable. To be Jewish and believe meant that it fundamentally changed the way they lived; a belief was embraced at every level of life… mental, spiritual and physical.
I pray that this year you have opportunity to better live in harmony with God, yourself and others. It is my hope that our faith enriches and releases us to greater joy and passion and spills over into desires to serve and give from a well of joy and contentment. Will things still have hard times, will we know suffering, will there be times we’ll feel like throwing in the towel – Most likely Yes – but at those times may we know the support and encouragement of our Father and also those around us.
I trust those moments are few and far between and that you will sense the providence of God’s blessing in each moment.
May 2019 be a year to rejoice.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 23rd December 2018

Shalom. Let the joy of Christmas fill you with awe.
Well it’s a few days to Christmas; I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas. The trick I find is to keep reminding myself that it’s really about Jesus. For that’s the catch for Christmas sometimes isn’t it;  that we can move Jesus from central position? Yes, he’s still important, but it’s not primarily about him anymore. But when he was born, this world forever changed. I am reminded of the song “When a Child is Born” 
A ray of hope flickers in the sky  
A tiny star lights up way up high  
All across the land dawns a brand new morn’,  
This comes to pass when a child is born.  
 
A silent wish sails the seven seas 
The winds of change whisper in the trees  
And the walls of doubt crumble tossed and torn,  
This comes to pass when a child is born.  
 
A rosy dawn settles all around 
You got to feel you’re on solid ground  
For a spell or two no one seems forlorn  
This come to pass when a child is born.  
 
It’s all a dream, an illusion now. 
It must come true some time soon somehow  
All across the land dawns a brand new morn  
This comes to pass when a child is born. 
 There is the promise of potential in a newborn child. I can remember holding each of my boys for the first time, and remembering feeling a deeper insight into how God must feel about us.  “For God so loved the world, he gave his only son…” You can finish it off, but if you can’t, see me. 
Ever wondered why we have some of those traditions at Christmas? 

The true meaning of the Candy Cane
Look at the Candy Cane 
What do you see? 
Stripes that are red 
Like the blood shed for me 
White is for my Savior 

Who’s sinless and pure! 
“J” is for Jesus My Lord, that’s for sure! 
Turn it around 
And a staff you will see 
Jesus my shepherd 
Was born for Me!  
Many years ago, a candy maker wanted to make a candy at Christmas time that would serve as a witness to his Christian faith. He wanted to incorporate several symbols for the birth, ministry and death of Jesus. He began with a stick of pure white hard candy; white to symbolize the Virgin Birth and the sinless nature of Jesus; hard to symbolize the solid rock, the foundation of the Church; firmness to represent the promise of God. 
The candymaker made the candy in the form of a “J” to represent the name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Savior. He thought it could also represent the staff of the Good Shepherd, with which he reached down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray.  
Thinking that the candy was somewhat plain, the candymaker stained it with red stripes. He used three small stripes to show the stripes of the scourging Jesus received, by which we are healed. The large red stripe was for the blood shed by Christ on the cross so that we could have the promise of eternal life. Unfortunately, the candy became known as a candy cane – a meaningless decoration seen at Christmas time. But the true meaning is still there for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.  
If you’re traveling to spend Christmas with family and or friends somewhere, have a safe trip and I’ll look forward to seeing you next year. If not, see ya next week!

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 16th December 2018

Shalom. May you feel the breadth of Gods’ love as the realisation of Christmas and all it heralds sink deeper into your awareness and flow to your actions. 
 
Well, not too far to Christmas. What will your true love give to you? Maybe not 10 Lords a leaping, today I’d suffice with one – his name being Jesus – his leaping for joy as he celebrates the life found in those who follow him.
Christmas reminds me afresh that Jesus will meet us wherever we are. Look where he came to! The creator of the universe, the king of Creation, the Prince of Heaven, the purveyor of Grace and Mercy, came to earth… 
Did he come to a flash palace, or a comfortable room; was he born in luxury having his every whim satisfied, wanting for nothing and awash in nice and to us, necessary items?  
No! 
Did he come with powerful, important people pleased to see him (excepting the wise Magi – not really)? Was he courted by world leaders? Was he lavished with the attention of the press and lauded as a celebrity? 
No! 
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth… 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.  John 1 
 
Jesus came to a stable, laid in a manger, visited by shepherds. He was born into a messy place. That’s why he can cope with our messes. He was persecuted as a child and became a political refugee, fleeing his land of birth. He came back to finish what God called him to. 
To set us free, to give us grace and truth and to help us to see, know and have deep, authentic relationship with God the Father. 
 
He came… because his love compelled him to. May that same love compel you to be his hands and feet.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike

Pastor’s Pen 9th December 2018

Shalom. Allow the festive season to remind you of the hope we have and the one who came.

Christmas is a time for love. It is when God the Father sent his Son in flesh to help sort us out of the mess we so often find ourselves in.
There were many ways Jesus could have come…
There were many places he could have arrived at…
But he fulfilled prophecy and was born in Bethlehem,  which at the time wasn’t much of a place… apparently very small. This was why they ran out of accommodation. Because the census caused hundreds if not thousands to descend on this little place that couldn’t cope. You would’ve thought God could have sorted better accommodation out for his Son.
No, Jesus was literally born into a mess. Imagine the sights, smells and sounds of the place? Cattle are lowing, sheep are bleating, donkeys braying. It would have been warmish at least. Smelly definitely.
This was where Jesus was born. Helps explain why he was so level headed I suppose, after all it was a stable environment!
May the run up to Christmas be fun and full not busy and stressed.

Bless ya
Pastor Mike