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Thought for the Day by Stephen Demetriou (Youth Minister)
For the next few thoughts for the day that I write, we’re going to be camping out in Hosea.
I love the book of Hosea;
Hosea is a book that I think stands alone in the Bible.
It gives us an insight into the outlandish love of God like no other.
It is a book that was made for times our faith feels flat and difficult.
It is the wonderful Love story of a God who will not let His people go, written to warm your heart whenever you feel the cold frost of apathy setting in.
So before we look at it; pray.
Pray now that God would use a prophet’s love life and powerful words to rekindle a burning, vibrant love for Him in you…
Look how this book starts:
1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her
What?! In fact; the ESV puts it even starker:
“Go take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom
Wow. This is has got to be one of the most shocking commands God gives right? Marry a wife of whoredom. God loves marriage and this seems a mockery…
I mean think of the pain that Hosea would have felt trying to love and stick by a woman who was a serial adulteress. A wife whose eyes were constantly looking and body constantly going elsewhere…
So why is God doing this to poor Hosea (we think)?
…for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” Or the ESV again:
, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
Hosea and his wife Gomer are a 4D living, breathing prop to God’s people Israel.
As Gomer time and again (as we’ll see) spurns the consistent loving embrace of a doting husband, she is showing the spiritual adultery of God’s people.
As Hosea faithfully loves a woman who does not love him back, he is showing the faithful love of God.
As Hosea takes Gomer to be his wife he is, in miniature, a tangible example of God and His people.
The depth of God’s Love for His people cannot be measured. Over and over again in Scripture His people are called His bride. So then the book of Hosea frames sin starkly. Like Gomer cheating on Hosea; Sin is cheating on God.
I wonder if we see sin like that?
How does it change our attitude to sin?
And if God still loves and keeps holding on to us, His people, even despite our constant adultery; how much more reason to praise Him.
Thought for the Day by Phil Moon (Vicar)
We often use that don’t we, as a form of ‘goodbye’? But I’ve been struck these last few days that taking care is also utterly Christian.
If, like me, you’ve been reading Ezekiel recently in your quiet times, then you will have read for example, Ez 11:20 “…then they will follow my decrees, and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people and I will be their God.”
Being careful to keep God’s laws is in fact a bit of a theme in Ezekiel – look out for it in the later chapters. But the theme is also there in the New Testament: Ephesians 5:15 “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Italics mine)
And as we come out from the COVID restrictions, I was especially struck by an article by Terry Waite that one of you sent me, in which he said that coming out of trauma is like coming up from the sea bed. Come up slowly, or you’ll be in danger of getting the bends. He might have said, come up carefully. So as a church and as individuals it’s probably a good idea to come out of the trauma of the last 18 months and get back to ‘normal’ slowly, carefully. We know where we’re heading, and I’m posting some more specific things about how we’ll do that within the bulletin. One thing for today – it seems to me that we need to be wise about the pace of recovery, and for some that will be slower than we’d like. For others it’ll be faster. For all of us, though, take care.
Those Red Cards.......
They’re in the backs of the chairs in the church building, and just in case you hadn’t heard, they’re for you to use to reserve a seat near to you, either for a friend coming, or to give yourself a bit of ‘COVID-space’ while in the building.
So if you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable with people sitting too near in these changing times, use the cards in the chair backs to place on the seats around you (as many as you like, within reason!), and that way, others won’t sit too close.
And again, let’s love and respect one another in this. We’ll have different attitudes to the relaxing of the Government guidelines and how we respond to this, so there’s no definitive ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, so let’s love our brothers and sisters, just as we are doing.
I don’t expect we’ll have the red cards for ever. We’ll keep the situation under review, and let you know before we stop using them.
With love to you all,
Thought for the Day by Ben Martin (Curate)
This thought for the day is actually a blog post I read recently which I found encouraging and challenging in equal measure. It’s a 5-minute read rather than 2. But ever so worth it.
My 30-Second Sermon as We Prepared for a Crash Landing
JULY 2, 2021 | KYLE DONN
Last Sunday I thought I was going to die.
“Brace! Brace! Brace!”
The flight attendants prepared us for impact. The pilot of American Airlines Flight 2775—which had just taken off from Charlotte and was heading to Seattle—announced moments earlier that our plane was experiencing engine failure and that we needed to prepare for a crash landing. The attendants ran frantically up and down the cabin, preparing us.
I missed their explanation on exactly how to brace. I wondered if I was doing it right, so I looked around. I saw a grown man crying. I saw a couple holding hands tightly.
I have never felt so out of control or totally exposed. Or—honestly—so scared. Three rows from the back of the plane, in a middle seat, with absolutely no ability to change anything that was about to happen. I played through my mind that in the next few minutes I could be meeting God.
My wife, Brittany, and I took a moment to remind each other the answer to the first question in the catechism we’ve been using as a devotional. We spoke the words back and forth to each other: “I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in both life and death, to God and to Jesus Christ my Savior.”
I asked her, “Did you do anything for God to save you?” Britt said, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Christ did it all.”
People were weeping, chests to their knees.
I turned my attention to the young woman sitting on my right. We’d had a pleasant conversation before takeoff, but now she was sobbing, curled into a brace position.
I leaned toward her and asked: “If we die in the next few minutes, do you know what’s going to happen?”
She said something about growing up Catholic and going to purgatory, or heaven, or something. She was unsure.
I said: “I’m going to share with you why Britt and I have hope right now; I hope that’s OK.” She said it was.
I then started preaching to a larger group in the rows around me, loudly over the sound of the plane. A 30-second sermon:
“I don’t want to scare anyone, but I want you to know why my wife and I have hope right now. We have peace with God!”
A couple of heads turned and looked at me.
“The God who made everything wants to make peace with us, even though we’ve broken his world. He loves you so much that he left heaven to make peace with sinners by dying on a cross. His name is Jesus. Confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is the risen Lord, and you’ll have peace with God!”
No one laughed. No one scoffed.
I don’t know if anyone heard or responded to my 30-second sermon in those frantic moments. But I’m glad God gave me the courage to not stay silent. I’d been meditating on the gospel for years. Now it was coming out, thanks to the prodding of the Holy Spirit.
I pray he will continue to give me, and every Christian, the courage to speak up. The precious souls around us need to hear—or be reminded of—the gospel of ultimate hope. That’s as true in a plane about to attempt an emergency landing as it is in a coffee shop or a cul-de-sac.
We’d been above the clouds for a bit, but the ground was now getting closer. I saw trees. Then closer. More trees.
It felt like forever and a split second all at the same time.
Then, somehow, suddenly a runway underneath us. We glided onto the tarmac. Hollering, clapping, cheering, crying.
Everyone called a loved one. Or two. We stepped off. We got our $12 meal vouchers. We waited at the gate for the replacement plane.
And the wonder of it was that most passengers didn’t seem to care. Did they register what had just happened? Did it not jolt them awake to the precious fragility of life?
Phones and headphones came back out quickly. People finished the Netflix shows they had started on the plane, or Candy Crush, or scrolling social media.
Maybe the return to mediated normalcy was a coping mechanism. But we were stunned. God had grabbed us with a word. Something like: Any moment could be your last. You are not in control. Be ready.
It was the sort of experience that had the potential to wake us up—to draw us into a new urgency and awareness of life’s fragility, and God’s goodness in leaving heaven to initiate a relationship with us. I pray it was that sort of experience for some of the passengers.
My pilot friends have told me we weren’t really in much danger, and I believe them. Pilots are trained to fly on a single engine. I know that . . . now.
But the experience in the moment was like breathing in smelling salts and being rattled awake. For us, those surreal moments held the real possibility of an imminent end to life—like, minutes or seconds away.
Your next walk around your neighborhood could be your last moment on earth. Your condo complex could tumble down on you while you’re sleeping. Your next drive could end in twisted metal. Your life could be over before you drop your kids off at daycare.
For me, the Flight 2775 experience was a wake-up call to speak the gospel more often, and more boldly, to my unbelieving friends and family.
In a world of such violent contingency—where a life can be snuffed out at any moment, in any number of ways—you need to know what comes next. You need to know what will happen after you die. You have an eternal soul. “Do not marvel at this,” Jesus warned, “for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, the righteous to the resurrection of life, and the wicked to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).
Don’t miss your chance. Don’t wait to meet God. Don’t overthink it. Don’t talk yourself out of it, out of pride or pain or apathy. Simply accept the peace terms he’s extended. Do not delay.
I don’t care who you are, what you’ve done, or how anti-God you’ve been. If you accept God’s peace terms—turning from sin and trusting in Christ—you will know for certain where you’ll be after you die. And you can live with peace and hope in a world where death, for any of us, is only ever a sinkhole or failed engine away.
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