How do you handle change? Does it freak you out or energise you? When meetings get postponed, or events cancelled at short notice how do you respond? How flexible are you? If we are following Jesus we should expect him to make changes to our plans because we are not in control and we don’t know what the future holds. How we handle the challenges of life, especially how we manage change, will reveal our character; for what life does to us depends on what life finds in us. In the verses before us tonight, Paul shows us how to handle change and the misunderstandings that change sometimes brings. Paul had been criticized because he had changed his plans and apparently did not kept his promise. When Christians misunderstand each other, the wounds can go very deep. There were also those who opposed his apostolic authority in the church. One—possibly a leader—needed discipline, and this gave Paul great sorrow.
Paul confesses in chapter 1 that the trials they faced in Asia were so severe, he even despaired of life. What kept Paul from giving up? How can we keep going? By realising what John Maxwell once said, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”
1. Maintain a Clear Conscience (2 Cor. 1:12-24)
The conscience is that inner faculty that approves when we do right, but accuses when we do wrong. Conscience is the window that lets in the light; but if the window gets dirty because we disobey, and we don’t keep it clean by confession, then the light becomes dimmer and dimmer.
Paul says “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” (Acts 24:16).
Imagine a church that is a welcoming and safe place where everyone feels loved, accepted and cared for. Imagine a church where doubters, seekers and believers feel accepted. Imagine a church of every age, race and colour, becoming one in Christ. Imagine a church of fully devoted, spiritual, Christ followers, passionate for an ever-deeper relationship with God. Imagine a church where the praise, worship and teaching are truly pleasing to God. Imagine uplifting services where the Bible teaching builds up the church family and equips members to live for Christ. Imagine a church impacting the lives of children, youth and students from all areas of the local community to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Imagine a church where everyone is fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit, exercising their God-given gifts in joyful and fulfilling service.
Imagine a church family informed, inspired and eager to meet the needs of local, national and international mission. Imagine a church in which members are regularly being called into ministry, locally, nationally and internationally. Imagine being part of such a church. Imagine helping to build, to create such a church. Imagine. Our 2020 Vision is built on three words that sum up our purpose – Win – Build – Send. Evangelism, Discipleship and Mission. In our Bible reading from Mark 1, at the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus said, “Come, follow me … and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17).
Here the order is Build – Send – Win. That is because this is a cyclical mission strategy and so it doesn’t matter where we begin. And similarly where you are on your spiritual journey, there is a message here for you. As you listened to me read our 2020 Vision, which sentences stood out for you? You probably heard different things to those next to you. You may have felt different emotions as well.
Harvey Thomas on the Brighton Bomb and Reconciliation from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
Harvey Thomas was the former Director of Communications for the Conservative Party. In this presentation given at Christ Church, he talks about forgiveness and reconciliation. Harvey is Chairman and Lobbyist for the Fellowship of European Broadcasters (FEB)
Today is without doubt, the largest, the longest, the most joyful, colourful and costly celebrations in the whole world. Literally billions of people, have set aside their normal routines to take a midweek holiday, decorate their homes, send greeting cards, buy special gifts to give, attend church services and parties, sing Christmas carols and travel long distances to be with family. And in an hour or two, depending on their time zone, people will be sitting down for one of the largest, most colourful and tasty meals of the year. And most of us will eat too much and need a short nap afterwards. Isn’t it incredible that the simple birth of Jesus in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago has caused such ripples?
The anniversary of his birthday each year leads to record retail sales and traffic jams as far away as New York, Tokyo and Sydney. So special is Jesus birthday that your own birthday is dated from his! Every single time we check the calendar, or refer to a date, or write one in our diary, we are using Jesus birthday as our reference point.
And what does celebrating Jesus birthday signify? That God loves you. God is with you. And God is for you.
Dont be Afraid of Christmas from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
The Purpose of Christmas from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
Trains were humming, loudspeakers blaring, porters rushing about shouting at one another, and altogether there was so much noise that Mr Brown, who saw him first, had to tell his wife several times before she understood. ‘A bear? On Paddington station?’ Mrs Brown looked at her husband in amazement. ‘Don’t be silly, Henry. There can’t be!” “Seeing that something was expected of it the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. ‘Good afternoon,’ it said, in a small clear voice … The bear puffed out its chest. ‘I’m a very rare sort of bear,’ he replied importantly. ‘There aren’t many of us left where I come from.’ ‘And where is that?’ asked Mrs Brown. The bear looked round carefully before replying. ‘Darkest Peru. I’m not really supposed to be here at all. I’m a stowaway.'”
Michael Bond’s marmalade sandwich-loving Peruvian bear first appeared in 1958’s A Bear Called Paddington. Now the star of his very own film, Paddington, is a charming and funny adventure about a very polite and friendly orphan bear who yearns for adoption and new home in London.
At the Carol Services, we realised that we are all a little like Paddington, orphaned, lost, vulnerable, in need of adoption. But tonight, because the children should all be fast asleep by now, I want us to consider “Paddington Bear for Grownups”. Michael Bond, Paddington’s creator, says the inspiration came from seeing Jewish evacuee children pass through Reading railway station from London during the Kindertransport of the late 1930s. “They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on, and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions. So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.”
Trains were humming, loudspeakers blaring, porters rushing about shouting at one another, and altogether there was so much noise that Mr Brown, who saw him first, had to tell his wife several times before she understood. ‘A bear? On Paddington station?’
Mrs Brown looked at her husband in amazement. ‘Don’t be silly, Henry. There can’t be!” “Seeing that something was expected of it the bear stood up and politely raised its hat, revealing two black ears. ‘Good afternoon,’ it said, in a small clear voice … The bear puffed out its chest. ‘I’m a very rare sort of bear,’ he replied importantly. ‘There aren’t many of us left where I come from.’ ‘And where is that?’ asked Mrs Brown. The bear looked round carefully before replying. ‘Darkest Peru. I’m not really supposed to be here at all. I’m a stowaway.'” Michael Bond’s marmalade sandwich-loving Peruvian bear first sauntered onto the page in 1958’s A Bear Called Paddington.
Named after the London station at which he was found, Paddington has been delighting generations of children the world over, ever since. Now for the first time he is appearing in the cinema too. Paddington, is a charming and funny little adventure about a very polite and friendly bear who yearns for a new home in London. Harry Potter producer David Heyman says: “Paddington Bear is a universally loved character, treasured for his optimism, his sense of fair play and his perfect manners, and of course for his unintentional talent for comic chaos.”
The Gospel according to Paddington Bear from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
“High Noon” released in 1952, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, is one of my favourite films. Gary Cooper was the sheriff of a small western town. Earlier a gang of four outlaw brothers had terrorized the town. The sheriff had brought them to justice and sent them to prison.
In prison they vowed that when they got out they would kill the sheriff. The movie focuses on one particular day. The sheriff has just married Grace Kelly. She happens to be a devout Quaker utterly opposed to all violence. The sheriff resigns from law enforcement and the couple are to leave town on their honeymoon. He is going to start a new life as a rancher. Suddenly word comes that the outlaw brothers have been released from prison and are due to arrive that very day on the noon train. Everybody urges the couple to get out of town quickly. They ride away, but the sheriff is troubled. Finally, he turns the wagon around and heads back to town, much to the consternation of his bride.
He cannot stand to run away from his old enemies. He pins the badge back on his shirt. Quickly he tries to round up a posse. It’s a Sunday morning. Lots of people are in church. The sheriff interrupts the service, explains the emergency, and asks the men of the congregation to help him form a posse. Several people stand up and respond. One of them says, “We’d like to help you, Sheriff, but we’re not trained gunmen. That’s what we hire sheriffs for.” Then another says, “You know, Sheriff, we Christians don’t believe in violence.” Still another says, “Sheriff, you’re a brave man but it would probably have been wiser if you had not come back to town.”
The Sheriff turns and walks out in disgust. In the background you hear Tex Ritter singing the theme song-“I do not know what fate awaits me; I only know I must be brave, and I must face the man who hates me, or lie a coward, a craven coward, or lie a coward in my grave.”
The “Pillars of Hercules,” which flank the entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar between Africa and Europe were from Roman times associated with the Latin phrase ne plus ultra, meaning “No More Beyond.” Certainly no one dared question the prevailing belief that there was nothing beyond the horizon. That was until 1492 when Christopher Columbus boldly sailed westward and discovered the New World. On his return, Spain celebrated with a new national logo. Coins were struck with two words: plus ultra meaning “More Beyond”. We are here tonight for this special remembrance service because ‘out of sight’ does not mean ‘out of mind’. But is there more beyond? More than simply the act of remembering the past? The Christian hope is that there is a new world beyond our horizon. Our Psalm this evening teaches us to look beyond our limited horizon, beyond what we can see, feel or touch. Psalm 103 inspires us to feel the heart beat of God’s love and realise there is indeed yet ‘more beyond’ our horizon to discover. More of God’s character to understand. More of his purposes to discover.
More of his love to experience. More of his commission to fulfil. More of his justice to proclaim. More of his love to share. More of his glory to praise. Psalm 103 inspired Henry Francis Lyte to write one of the most opopular hymns in the English language “Praise my soul the King of heaven”. No wonder. We have here in Psalm 103 the authentic utterance of a redeemed child of God, who piles up words to express his gratitude to the God of grace. There are three sections to the Psalm.
God’s personal blessings (Psalm 103:1-5).
God’s Covenant Mercy (Psalm 103:8-18).
God’s Universal Dominion (Psalm 103:19-22).
Let us consider them in turn and discern whether there is indeed “more beyond” Continue reading
Scientists have proven that birthdays are good for you, the more you have, the longer you live. Norman Wisdom once said, “As you get older, three things happen: The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two.” Inside every older person is a younger person, wondering what on earth happened. In a couple of weeks we will celebrate the 176th birthday of Christ Church. Today we remember the birthday of the Church under three headings: the context, the message and the experience of Pentecost. Please turn with me to Acts 2.
- The Context of Pentecost
To make sense of Pentecost we must see it within its biblical and historical context. The most obvious is:
1.1 The Confusion of Languages at the Tower of Babel
There is clearly an obvious parallel with the Tower of Babel. In Genesis when people tried to make a name for themselves and build a tower reaching to heaven, God cursed them by confusing their languages and scattering them across the earth (Genesis 11:1-9). On the Day of Pentecost people “from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) came together in Jerusalem and were able to hear the same good news of “the wonderful works of God” in their own languages (Acts 2:11). At the cross of Jesus, the curse of the Tower of Babel had been removed. The good news of Jesus is for all peoples. He is building a church of all nations. The Tower of Babel. Continue reading
“When Britain first, at Heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never, shall be slaves.
The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must, in their turns, to tyrants fall;
While thou shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.
Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never, shall be slaves.
Sung with gusto at the Last Night of the Proms, “Rule Britannia” was a poem composed by James Thomson and set to music by Thomas Arne in 1740 to commemorate the accession of George II. 
The Clash of Two Kingdoms (Acts 1:1-14) from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.