I love this video from Acts 29 the church planting network which expounds their raison d’être, but equally applies to any church
I was slightly thrown when my 8 year old asked me yesterday what I was giving up for Lent. I hadn’t realised it had hit his consciousness, but there we are! For me it’s no more chocolate. But more significantly in the spiritual realm is what I intend to take up for lent. I am going to be praying for the church in Iran. Over that last couple of years I have discovered more about this beautiful country and it’s growing church. A church desperately in need of our prayers and our material support. Elam is a wonderful ministry supporting the Iranian church – led by Iranian Christians and their prayer diary is going to be the basis of my intercessions for the next 40 days.
I commend them and the church in Iran to you.
The tree has gone and the lights put away for another year, Christmas recedes into memory as work starts up again. It is tempting to put away the questions that that the nativity story asks of us, and we ask of it. Chief of these is ‘who is Jesus?’ the child in the manger.
A short video here of U2’s Bono’s answer:
Starting Next week at St Giles we are hosting an Alpha course, a chance to look into these questions more deeply in a group format. We have a real mix of people coming, if you have thought about doing something similar why don’t you join us?
New Year, New Start,
It’s been a while…
A prayer for the evening from Common Worship’s service for Evening Prayer for Advent:
Blessed are you, Sovereign God
creator of light and darkness,
to you be glory and praise for ever.
As evening falls, you renew your promise
to reveal among us the light of your presence.
May your word be a lantern to our feet
and a light upon our path
that we may behold your coming among us.
Strengthen us in our stumbling weakness
and free our tongues to sing your praise.
As the horrors of the situation in Gaza and the fate of flight MH17 dominate the news agenda so the fate of Christians in Iraq and Syria begins to slide off the agenda. But under the rule of ISIS in Mosul the few remaining Christians suffer appalling treatment. Stripped of everything they are forced to flee their homes on foot as Mosques loud speakers threaten their death if they remain. One of the organisations I support – Release International tells their story:
According to reports, IS militants stopped some fleeing families at checkpoints and confiscated their belongings, including money, jewellery and mobile phones.
The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M Warda, told Release: ‘Christians have lost their trust in the land and in the future. Since 2003 [the allied invasion of Iraq], two-thirds of the Christians have left the country. June was the first month in 1600 years in which Mosul did not celebrate any mass. The attack on Christians has been immense. In the future I imagine Iraq becoming a country where you have many Christian sites, just for tourism – due to the families that are leaving.’
Other church leaders painted an equally gloomy picture.
Gradually, a picture of life under the IS militants who have seized much of Iraq is emerging. Ahead of their invasion, they distributed videos of public beheadings, mass executions and public crucifixions of enemies they had executed.
Such was the firestorm of fear that this Sunni terror group whipped up, that the largely Shia Iraq army deserted in droves, leaving their weapons and the territory to the militants. IS has now declared a Caliphate in Iraq and Syria and has become an umbrella group for various armed factions willing to pledge allegiance to the self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
‘The terror is palpable,’ says Release Chief Executive Paul Robinson, ‘and that fear is driving Christians from their homes. If IS behave true to their form in Syria, then the Christians who remain in Iraq under their control can expect to live a life of subjugation under their brutally-enforced variation of Islamic law, and to have to pay for the privilege.’
The coming of Islamic State is just the latest tightening of the screw on Christians. Persecution has been relentless since the downfall of the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Christians have been killed, car-bombed and gunned down in their churches.
Moving video report from the BBC regarding the crisis facing Christians in Iraq facing the advance of ISIS – here.
We showed this testimony at our Sunday Morning Service this week.I find it deeply morning as Mark tells his story of finding Christ through a friend – Dave Jeal – chaplain of Bristol Rovers, and one time ‘rival football hooligan’