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This still makes me smile and lifts my spirits …

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What if the story was unfolding today?   Would we follow the Tweets as the Magi followed the star?

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I know Christmas is some weeks away, but we are about to enter the season of Advent – the time of waiting and preparation for the second coming of Christ.   But I thought now was as good a time as any to remind ourselves of what it is we celebrate in 29 days time – the First Coming of Christ.

“He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.   And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”   

(Philippians 2:7-8)

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I’m sitting preparing the sermon for this coming Sunday; the last of our Summer Series – Wired that Way.   The theme for this week is “Wired to Know” and I’ve been looking at various passages which highlight how down though the ages and in various ways God has spoken to make his existence known … in creation, through the prophets, through Christ, through Scripture.  

As I’ve been reading, the words of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal kept coming back to me “There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator.” Or in the words of the contemporary Christian singer, Plumb, (Tiffany Lee):

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us

And the restless soul is searching

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us

And it’s a void only God can fill.”

I am often amazed at how many feel little or no inclination to follow a particular religion, and yet they are nonetheless conscious of what might be called ‘the God-shaped hole’.  Many seek to nurture the spiritual side of themselves, and yet rather than enter a church they would gladly pay for a course to hear a speaker talk of feel good factors they can embrace in order to have fulfilled lives.   I’ve read articles on ego, meme pools and the selfish gene and frankly none of these make my heart leap or give me a sense of peace and fulfilment.  

The “God-shaped hole” is the innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something “other.”  Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God’s placing of “eternity in man’s heart.”  And I suppose that given that God is eternal, for in him there is no beginning and no end, then it is only God that can fulfil our desire for eternity; which is found in a relationship with him.

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Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and for me there is a growing sense that most folk skip straight from this Sunday of celebration, to the joy of Easter Morning. The numbers that participate or enter the stories of Holy Week itself seem to be getting less. So perhaps we should be doing both – celebrating the entry to Jerusalem and reflecting on the events of the Passion too.   That’s what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years; yes, we do still have services during Holy Week that tell the story and give us time to reflect, but tomorrow we will begin our service with our children entering the sanctuary waving palm fronds, and we will leave having moved through the last week of Jesus’ life, to stand at the foot of the Cross.

Below is one of the songs we will be singing … The Power of the Cross: Written by Keith Getty, sung by Stuart Townend

  

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We all, no doubt, felt shock and sympathy when we saw the graphic pictures from Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake last week. Many responded the only ways they knew how, by praying and by donating to those agencies that we knew would respond quickly to the tragedy. A week or so later and the pictures are still coming into our homes, but the item is moving further down the news list. However, the horror that we have seen registered on the faces of survivors does not go away in a week or so. It is vital that we continue to pray for the Haitian people and those who have gone to help and support them, not only for what they face today, but what they will face in the future. It is also important that we continue to help practically; and if that means for many of us that we give or organise a fundraising event to support the aid agencies because we ourselves cannot go and help, then that is what we should do. Oh yes, and we should mourn with them too! These are real people; the news has shown us their faces and told their stories. This is not some disaster movie where everyone goes home at the end of the day’s filming.

The pictures and report below are from Christian Aid’s country manager in Haiti – look and listen and remember the people of Haiti in their ‘after-shock’.

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“You know you can’t keep letting it get you down
And you can’t keep dragging that weight around …

Let it go, This too shall pass
Let it go, This too shall pass”

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