Breaking Bread

Our third holy habit is breaking bread which I began to talk about last Sunday.

I am struck by the idea that when I bought the bread for communion last Sunday at Tescos, I would not have bought bread that had already been broken. Only a whole loaf can be sold but it can’t be shared until it is broken.

It reminds us that Jesus had to be broken – killed – for us to share in the salvation he offers.

The breaking of bread for the early church had this element – it was a solemn celebration and reminder that Jesus suffered death on a cross for us, he was broken for us. It also drew them closer to each other in the communion of believers. The bread was broken to be shared and all believers were welcome, whatever their background. They were all equal to receive. Broken people receiving the broken bread which symbolises the broken body of Jesus.

The disciples broke bread together regularly and it was this simple meal that had very little of our traditions and rituals. Now, I’m not saying these are wrong, some are very helpful, but they can’t become more central than the meal itself revealing Jesus himself.

Whether we come forward, have a small shot glass, have one loaf or wafers and all the other stuff isn’t important. It’s our hearts as we come to give thanks, remembering and see Jesus revealed.

It’s an open invitation to encounter the revealed Jesus so please don’t wait until the third Sunday of each month. Break bread and share in the meal with other followers whenever you can.

Jesus gave his instructions at the Lord’s Supper and I believe they involve this idea that whenever you are eating with other followers of Jesus you break bread to remind ourselves that the revealed Jesus is amongst us and that we give thanks for his death. We are reminded we need his grace.

So, at its heart communion reveals Christ and it is an invitation to encounter God through His son Jesus who is revealed to us. Wow – what an invitation! It’s the greatest invite ever offered. We don’t deserve it but we should willingly receive it with our hearts surrendered to God.

Communion? Lord’s Supper? Mass? Eucharist?

When I was growing up in church on the third Sunday of each month the service would finish and then at that moment 20 or so people would get up and leave. The remainder sat still for the time it took them to walk out and then once they had all gone the service would restart with communion.

It was strange. I never knew why certain people stayed and others left. I never knew what qualified you for staying and what meant that you left. What I did know was that communion was an add on for those who wanted once a month and you drank it from what looked like small shots glasses taken from a special tray with just the right hole size to hold the glasses. I knew that our chairs had the same hole ready for the cup to be placed in after you had drunk the wine (or whatever was in that cup). However, I didn’t know much more because it seemed to be about a club which I wasn’t sure how you got invited into!!

Then I visited my Uncle’s Anglican church and it was a completely different experience. The whole service seemed to be based around the communion. We received a thin wafer and drunk very strong red wine from a huge goblet while on your knees at a rail around the altar. So why are these two experiences so different and yet both are called communion. And then, why do neither of them look anything like what Jesus did at the Last Supper with his friends on the night he was arrested?

Sometimes, we get so used to things that we stop asking questions about them. The third holy habit is breaking bread and this month we will be considering what does that mean for us today. It was such an important part of the early church’s life together? Do we reflect that in our practice?

So if you want to learn more, then do join us this Sunday at any of our gatherings. We will be focusing on what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about the Lord’s Supper and how that can help us understand in greater depth the significance of this precious meal given so that we can remember and celebrate while encountering Jesus who invites us to know Him as our saviour who died and rose again.

Holy Roar

On Sunday last I was talking about Jesus’ birth, message, death and resurrection as all being political. However, we need to remember that his message was not linked to one political party because His Kingdom is not of this world. As his followers, we are first part of the Kingdom of God before we are part of this nation. However, that doesn’t mean that he does not care for the world and all that happens within it including politics.

God does care about the politics of our nation, he doesn’t care about the NHS, Schools, Policing, Crime, Business, Economic, Housing, Poverty. When we say the Lord’s Prayer, we pray ‘your kingdom come, you will be done on as earth as it is in heaven.’

In other words, we are seeking to get more of heaven onto earth. Just as we are not called just to sit back and wait until we get into heaven but rather live a life where we get more of heaven into us now. It is the same with our world. We are not waiting for all this to disappear as we get lifted up to heaven. When we pray that prayer, we are saying God helps us to get more of heaven onto earth. What does that look like? I think it is more justice, peace, health, wellbeing for everyone – because that is what God’s Kingdom looks like.

This Sunday we are going to Raise a Hallelujah. We are going to be lifting our praise and adoration to the only one who is truly worthy and bring our prayers for individuals in the church, for the community, and this nation.

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, forever and ever!’” Revelation 5:13 (NIV)

Revelation paints a beautiful picture of what heaven will be like when it talks about thousands upon thousands of angels gathered around the throne of God singing, “Holy, holy, holy.” Can you imagine the sound? Can you imagine how loud it must be? It must sound something like a roar…a holy roar, dedicated to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

The Bible tells us that one day every tribe, every tongue and every nation will bow down before the Lord. Picture that. Every country, every language, every ethnicity around the world represented in a colourful, vibrant chorus worshipping the name that is above every other name. And the best part? We have an open invitation to join this choir.

Friends, God wants you to be a part of that choir—not just in heaven, but here on earth. While we will one day worship the Lord in one accord for eternity, we have the opportunity right now to praise Him with our fellow brothers and sisters. And I think this picture of what heaven will actually look like should inspire us to intentionally make our worship here on earth more diverse.

Music is a unifying force, and worship music, in particular, unites us around the One who has created all people in His image. Music levels the playing field and reveals that we are far more alike than we are different. Heaven happens right here and now on this planet every time we stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow man and praise our Father.

God is inviting you to be a part of His choir. Will you be a part of the holy roar this Sunday?

A holy roar

Reaching for Heaven

Our praise poured out

With reckless abandon

Our worship God

Is wholly Yours

Please enjoy the new song from Chris Tomlin called Holy Roar

Little Bit of Politics!!!

Another quiet week in politics and I am left wondering why did I choose to speak on Politics and Faith this Sunday. It just doesn’t seem to be relevant at this time for us!!! Right!!! How far from the truth can that statement be? When I planned this Sunday’s Real Talk I thought it would be good in the week we exit the E.U. for us to wrestle with the issue of God and Politics. Little did I know we would be where we are today with only just over a week to go and everything up in the air. Who knows what will happen on 29 March at 11pm? Who knows what will happen between now and then? Who knows what will happen today? Politics at the moment is a little like the start tot he 1970’s show ‘Captain Scarlett’, where they told viewers that anything could happen in the next 30 minutes.

So whether you are engaged or bored by the whole Brexit process, I can assure you that this Sunday I will offer a biblical insight to the issue of politics and faith. It will not be party political but an engaging talk on how we might be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ in politics and government.

As Desmond Tutu famously said, ‘When people tell me that the Bible has nothing to do with politics, I ask them: ‘Which Bible are you talking about?’

The Bible is full of politics – if you love your neighbour – as we are called to by Jesus, then it means caring for all aspects of their lives. You can’t divorce the personal from the social, economic, cultural and political environment in which we live.

There is an elderly lady who lives down our road. The life she lives is repeated all over the U.K. Think for a moment of an elderly person you know. Do you care that her bins are collected? or her local hospital has the drugs she needs? That her bedroom is heated? And so on. If so, if you care about people, you care about politics.

So please join us this Sunday for our Real Talk entitled Politics and Faith. Please remember we are called as a church to disagree well at all times. As Justin Welby says, ‘Politics would be extremely dull if we all agreed on everything. There is joy in diversity, and we should not be afraid to disagree with one another, but in a way that models the reconciling love of Jesus.

Good disagreement is a gift that the church can offer those around us and our politics at this time could certainly do with a healthy dose of that.

Real Talk will happen this Sunday at 9:30, 11:15 and 16:15 and we will welcome Paul Joyce (local councillor) who will be sharing his passion for this area and politics. Let us make sure we give him a great welcome and honour him for his service.

See you on Sunday and don’t forget to invite people – everyone is welcome.

In the meantime why not use these prayers to ask for God’s wisdom to be known at this vital time for us as a nation. Click here for the link to those.

Guests Not Welcomed Here?

While on a recent trip to Sussex we as a family had the opportunity to visit the church I grew up in. I was excited to take the children with me but not sure if it would be as I remember it? It was now 29 years since I left the church to move to Northampton.

As we approached the building memories came flooding back. The hours I had spent in this church. The times I had climbed up into the balcony without using the stairs. My favourite seat was even there where if you angled your head right you could see half of the football pitch outside (always good for some of the longer sermons)

As we walked in, we were greeted and given a bulletin. However, sadly that was it. We found our own seats and the service began without anyone saying hello. The welcome didn’t get much better as the service began. No-one introduced themselves, there was no welcome to guests or even what the name of the church was called. They did talk about the children’s groups but just announced the names of the groups that were meeting but no reference to the age groups so we were none the wiser as to whether the groups running were for our three children.

Sadly, there was no expectation that there was anyone in the church as a visitor. Their default position was everyone here is a regular and they already know everything so we don’t need to give any information that a guest might need.

After the service, I reflected on what a brilliant team we have here at Broadmead each Sunday. That the welcome guests receive is a good one and those who host the gatherings don’t assume we have no guests. Our children’s and youth leaders are always looking out for new children and giving parents all the information they need to help them engage with what is happening.

I also recognise that it takes a whole church to truly be welcoming not just the welcome team and I have seen that in action more and more lately. Thanks.

Being at my old church made me so thankful to all who serve us to make Broadmead as welcoming as possible. This is back up by feedback received from guests recently who comment about how welcoming a church we are.

But let us not get too smug and comfortable. We need to continue to be welcoming and look for areas to improve. Also, the next challenge is how invitational are we as a church?

On Sunday 24 March we have our next Real Talk (Invitational Gathering) when on the eve of Brexit (maybe) we will be considering do Politics and Faith mix? This will include an interview with our local councillor, Paul Joyce. The gathering will be accessible to people of faith or none and I encourage you to invite people along to engage with this subject.

Let us be a welcoming church but also an invitational church. You never know who might just be waiting for an invitation.

If you want to learn more about welcoming visitors to church you can click here to read an excellent blog

 

Lent is a difficult time for Rick Astley!!

Our Holy Habit this month is fellowship and the Greek word for fellowship is Koinonia, which is much more than just polite chit-chat at the end of a service each Sunday. It is getting involved, it’s deeply practical and relational. It requires our involvement.

Actually, I have noticed how easy it is to complain about the state of our society – the institutions, injustices, poverty and the mess our country is in. It is far harder to stop complaining and actually do something positive about it.

Following Jesus means being the church and the church doesn’t just meet, it acts.

Lent begins today. Have you ever thought how hard lent is for Rick Astley – because he is never gonna give it up!!!! Ha, Ha!!!!

But seriously, lent is about giving something up but it can also be about taking something up as well.

So this year how about being part of 40 Acts of Generosity and as a church express the love of Jesus within your community – expressing Koinonia. Let us spread generosity during this lent. Let us not be a community that just meets together but let us act for a better community in Jesus name.

To find out more please click here.

Join us this Sunday to hear more about Koinonia.

He’s Got It

As many of you will know we were involved in a car traffic accident last Friday. As we travelled for a family weekend in Sussex we were rear-ended by a driver in a Transit Van, who failed to see that the traffic in front of him had stopped. Our car was a write-off but thankfully none of us were seriously hurt. The police were brilliant even driving us and our luggage the ten miles to our hotel. The insurance company were also excellent and we had a temporary car by the next morning.

We were also overwhelmed by the messages and calls of love and support from so many of our church family.

Two people said to us that night that they had been led to pray for us that morning for a safe journey. Now, one person was a bit frustrated that God didn’t answer their prayer but I assured them that He had done so. It could have been so much worse and we felt so covered by God’s grace and protection in the whole experience.

Yesterday, in staff prayers, we were reminded that God says, ‘I’ve Got This!’ It was based on Isaiah 43.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour

To read the whole passage please click here.

It reminds me that whatever life throws at you – God says – ‘I’ve Got This’. We now have to find a new car and yesterday our house sold and we need to find a new home (the one we wanted is no longer on the market). However, we have a God who hears our prayers and who cares and loves each of us so much. I really do believe, He’s got it!!

David knew that terrible things happen – in Psalm 31 he writes that there is ‘terror on every side’. Awful things happen that make no sense to us. But, we know, like David, that world history and our personal history are not, ultimately, operating on chance. David, again, says, ‘my times are in your hands’. (V15) Our lives can’t be derailed permanently and so one lesson I am taking onboard at the moment is to learn again to say to God: ‘My times are in your hands because you’ve got it’

On a personal note – thank you to all who have expressed concern and support for us as a family, we feel extremely blessed and loved by you all.