Hope for planet & people?

There is no doubt about it; we are in a bit of a pickle in terms of our collective stewardship of planet earth.

WrightWith human induced extinctions at a new epoch of record levels, human induced climate change still rising and as for the latest scare micro-plastics polluting the oceans and infecting our human food chains;  it’s truly alarming. So, predictions of doom and gloom abound, Armageddon and the end times is common in news stories, it is all so hopeless, isn’t it? So where do Christians come in.

Surprised by Hope

In Christ, we have Hope in all situations, but I am going to need some help to unpack that succinctly to apply it to the current state above. Tom Wright a Pauline (of St Paul’s Gospels) biblical scholar and retired Bishop of Durham, wrote a meaty tome called Surprised by Hope using his biblical interpretation skills to answer some of these big questions, nonetheless his views are not mainstream so can appear controversial. I’m not going to do a book review, as space doesn’t permit it, but this is my take on it:

EdenWright challenges church members (not the public) on their understanding of huge topics like – Pentecost, crucifixion, ascension, life after death and the second coming. If surveyed, he asserts that  many would have found biblical doctrinal answers but in some areas less so. Take for example ‘life after death’ and ‘ heaven and hell’,  most would agree that after judgement some would proceed to heaven which is up there somewhere (hopefully not also with the expectation of gong to fluffy clouds, harps playing and an elderly man with a long beard).

After Jesus was resurrected he had both a spiritual and a physical side – he ate fish. Wright contends that there is sound biblical thinking for heaven to be a new earth, perhaps even building on our own paltry efforts. As one home group leader Jesussaid in discussing this subject; if God created the garden of Eden as initially a perfect example for humans, it is not beyond belief that this again could be part of the heavenly realm. We do get glimpses of heaven on earth as we plead daily when saying the Lord’s prayer. Wright continues in art, music, social justice, inspiring landscapes and natural encounters.


So why is this important?

As I understand it our mission work is not in vain to see lives transformed  by the love of Christ and to see that this can manifest itself practically through social justice and caring for creation, which due to the eco-system services it provides, is important. As this is God’s fingerprint, that should be motivation enough to look after the planet. However if what we do now will be celebrated and added to, in ways we can only dream of, when heaven and earth meet then it adds another dimension to caring for creation. Wright calls this Life before death service (Christian Aid credited).

Amen

Finally, ’life after, life after death’ another catchy term. Eternity is portrayed by the church as a wonderful worshipful place with bright lights, and so it should be. But Wright says it is not inconceivable it will also include those glimpses of heaven we experience on earth as we wait in anticipation. The best examples of community, fellowship, practical caring for each other and all of creation.

 

David Melville
Creation Care Team

Prayer & Lent

A few weeks ago Dianne and I led a morning on prayer for some teenagers from a local school. We sought to reveal to them the depth of prayer and how it can draw us closer to God & we began by showing them this video:

I was so struck when I first saw this, of how the speaker just pours out his passion for prayer in words. Lines like this:
‘How many times have you cried, whimpered, sighed, whispered, tried to listen, died and risen, how many times, have you approached God honestly….’

‘How many times have you run to your lover for passion, your provider for rations, your Father for lessons, your instructor for lashings…’

I don’t think we can hear these lines and not be challenged.

shutterstock_136339277How many times have I truly prayed like this?

I describe prayer for me like a necessity, as much as air or water or food. Without it each day would be half lived. Without time with Jesus I am anxious, grumpy, selfish and with it, I am peaceful, filled with compassion and hope and centred around him.

Our challenge to the young people we met that morning, was to give all of themselves to God in prayer, not to hide but to be open, completely honest. To seek God in all things, in all situations. For them it is a new journey, one of discovery and learning, but for many of us that journey might be a bit tired, a well trodden, weary path, or an unanswered, confused one.
So I want to encourage you, especially in this season of Lent, to seek God afresh in prayer. Watch the video and allow yourself to question his words, do you pray with passion, or absolute honesty? Have you ever cried out to him in pain or suffering or anger? Have you invited him into the every day detail of your life?

creation1_SMALLOr perhaps, why not try something new in your prayer life? There are old traditional forms of prayer like the ‘Examen’, encouraging us to look at the day just passed, or Lectio Divina that helps us to focus on God’s word. Or you might like to try something different, start a prayer journal, or get creative – have you ever thought of prayer doodling or colouring (adult colouring is very in right now you know!).

 

 

 

Tears_sketch2For me I am focussing on the Psalms at the moment. I always think they are a bit like marmite, you either love them or you hate them, but for me, it’s definitely love. I spent some time at college studying them and reading and praying through one a day for a term, and that was it. The passion of the Psalmist as he cries out, the absolute honesty, his desperation, his anger at God, just shows us that it’s ok to reveal all to the Lord, in fact more than ok, God wants to know every part of our lives. Just as in the video above, it seems almost like a modern day Psalm, as he encourages us to cry out just as the Psalmist did, in all truth, in all honesty and laid bare before our heavenly Father.

So why not, in this season of Lent, seek the Lord more deeply, cry out to him, and allow your prayer life and perhaps your faith to be deepened.

 

Jules Middleton
pickingapplesofgold.com

TRINITY Mission Update – March

We’re excited to have a mission field that’s not limited to Lewes and the surrounding areas but one that extends nationally and internationally through the excellent work of our many mission partners. Here’s the latest news from our mission partners to keep everyone updated on the work we’re supporting.

Fritha & John Washington, Bethel & Simeon are settling in well into Eastbourne.  Great to see them at the 11.15 Worship.  Fritha updated us last time with news of the serious fire at the Transition Home in Vinnitsa,Ukraine.  Josh & Nina, (who took over from them) are currently in UK expecting the new baby’s birth)
Lisa Meadows had a powerful time at a recent Retreat at Jinja.
Rebekka Maughan:  Ongoing good news that Januz is a really good Manager of the Open Hands project in Romania & his wife Iulia has great compassion, coming alongside deprived families.  The local Orthodox priest has been very helpful & keen to support where possible. Januz also manages Ramona & Olga who run the Rainbow House which offers great love & shows parents the value of play with the children.
Please pray for Mim Daughtery, nearly halfway through the 3-month ‘Lecture-phase’ of her first Discipleship Training School at the YWAM Base, Harpenden.  The plan is for the ‘Outreach Phase’, also lasting 3 months, to take place in Albania.
Praise God with Christine Angell  that she was granted her final One-Year visa.  Please pray for Egyptians, many more of whom are now living below the poverty line.
TRINITY Team Rwanda.  Praise God that they are back themselves from what sounds like a very varied & profitable visit to Rwanda.
Jonathan Lamb will have farewelled the TRINITY Team. Please continue to pray for Jonathan, understandably exhausted but delighted with the 3 church-team visits, as he regathers strength & processes the recent 3 teams he has led.  He is due to return to UK on 16 March.  Longer-term, pray how he should respond to God’s prompting about His ongoing Missional plans for him.

TRINITY Mission Committee

Mission Rwanda 2017:  Brothers and sisters in Christ

TRINITY was the third of three visiting church groups that Johnathan our link person in Rwanda has organised over the last few weeks. Some of us have been many times while for others this was the first time.

Pastors wives being trained

We are always hit by the variety of thoughts and feelings produced. We always experience a warm welcome wherever we go and are overwhelmed by the love and generosity of the Rwandan people. The country ranges from the modern clean city of Kigali to the tiny mud huts that are everywhere scattered over the very beautiful land of a thousand hills.

Although economically poor the widows that we visit are spiritually very rich. The one precious object in their house will be a very well-thumbed copy of the bible. They are incredibly generous people, always welcoming us in and we are often sent away with bags of corn or other produce which they insist on giving us. Very often they will take in orphans often of no relation, even though they have not enough food for themselves as they are convinced that God will provide for them.

We are true friends of many of them and they will offer up loud shouts of praise to God when they see us. They love hearing about our families and will send us away with long prayers which we know will continue, when we are
far away.

The ladies teaching the pastors wives

When they get together they just love to sing praising God with song, clapping and dance, using their whole bodies in praise to God. Sunday is the day when they can spend time together as community resting from their hard labour in the fields and spend literally hours together praising God.

The diocese is very much a missionary organisation reaching out into areas where there is no evangelical church very often high up in the mountains. I have just been visited by our dear friend Ephraim who has built a new church very much by the hands of his congregation. He is growing the congregation there. He has just made five church plants just hiring a house for a Rwandan missionary to live in the middle of an isolated village to spread the gospel and establish a church.

Bernadette the first widow we built a house for, warmly greeting usThey have learnt the secret of loving the Lord God, with all their thoughts, words, strength and being.

Compared to us in the west who have so much in the way of material wealth, they have the deep riches of simple Love of Jesus and neighbour. We would do very well to learn from these wonderful people how to live.

 

Ian Hempshall
Rwanda Mission Blog
ianhempshall.blogspot.com