From the Minister

May 2018 - Trinity - God is One yet Communion

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father - the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father - he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”

John 15:26-27

I first was introduced to the importance of this when I became a Christian. The simple truth that God is one and community. A God who is singular and plural - God is 1 x 1 x 1 = 1

There is one God, yet three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

A little later in my experience this was deepened as I taught on the trinity at Caleb house recognising the loving nature of how the trinity eternally relates, creates, and sustains.

I went to the doctrine of God lectures in my second year at Spurgeons with Dr John Colwell.

I suddenly began to understand the level of significance the trinity has on how we view God.

Some of us grow up with the notion that God the father, at the top, Jesus in the middle and the Holy Spirit is underneath. A hierarchical order that affects the way we view God.

John Colwell introduced us to the equality of the God head. As we studied this picture by Andrei Rublev in the 15th Century.

We were asked to reflect on the equality of the trinity that can be found in it. We were asked to reflect on a loving relationship of three persons, interweaving, and interpenetrating each other. The being of God within God’s own self. The nature of God being a communion of relationship.

The nature of God being a communion of relationship. “Perichoresis,” is the divine communion, of this community of relationship, loving, moving and dancing.

A dance that invites others to join in this community.

God sent his son into human history so that we could know the Father, Spirit to accompany us in the struggles of life. Adventure of discovering this God of community through participating in prayer in community. When we pray to the father, Jesus mediates, and the spirit helps us to pray. Understanding the relational Holy Trinity is crucial to our faith, prayer life, and how we relate to God in worship.

We need to understand that the Lord is one. This is found in Deuteronomy 6: v.s.4 known as the Shema. “Hear Oh Israel that the Lord is one.” The Lord alone is God and everything else is not God. This context leads to the challenge in Deuteronomy 6: v.s.5.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” An undivided Love for God as one.

This creative trinity relates eternally, from the beginning to the end of human history except for one moment in time. The message of the cross is a moment, when this loving relationship is divided for the first and last time in human history. We need to understand the community of God in the deepest, darkest moments of the cross are working together, to bring about the reconciliation with the world. God is divided from God. God is forsaken by God.

We must understand that God is not forsaking another but himself. God is bringing judgement on himself, to atone for our sin. The word atonement means to reconcile.

Christ’s death for us is a reconciliation between God and humanity that takes place within the trinity. It is only God that can provide satisfaction for our sins.

God deals with our sin, by the Fathers love, the Sons willing sacrifice, and the Spirits resurrection. “The victory of Christ creates victory in us…The act of Christ is one of those moments in human history that opens up new possibilities of existence. Once a new possibility has been disclosed, other people can make it their own, repeating and reliving the experience.” If God is a community, we are made in the image of this community. When we are community to together we minister God in his image.

This Easter was amazing as 300 hundred children from the primary school, teachers, and parents reflected on the Easter story as a number of us ministered together. Good Friday was a great reflection as we related as a community together. Easter Sunday an amazing witness, as we celebrated the trinity together as a community. The trinity of God is known through the community of God.

As we look to making Jesus in our local community, gather a team to facilitate this. We need to recognise that the trinity of God is best known through the community of God ministering together.

Blessings, Stuart

April 2018

Words of Jesus

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Matthew 28:6

In the week that I have written this article, we have lost two famous men. Ken Dodd and Stephen Hawkins, two very different people, who lived very different lives. These two men have a similarity, they liked to make people laugh. I watched a tribute to Stephen Hawkins, and was taken by how much he used humour to convey his scientific message.

In the same week I heard the famous song “Happiness,” that became a hit for Ken Dodd. Ken who had amazing comic timing, a quirky fun-loving feel, and who reminds us that laughter is infectious and brings happiness.

Laughing is good for us, often amidst great adversity, it is laughter that brings joy to the sorrows. It is laughter with others that shares experience with empathy.

When the disciples first heard the news Jesus had risen, I wonder was there a laughter that dared to believe that the son of man was alive again.

I wonder if a broad smile filled the faces of the disciples on hearing the good news that Jesus was alive. Did the smile burst into joyful laughter as the resurrection truth sunk in? Laughter that is the visible reaction of joy conveyed on the surface for all to experience. From the resurrection of happiness being shared that Ken made us think about. The resurrection of happiness, in response to the adversity of the eternal nature of God, experiencing Stephen Hawkins black hole and dark matter of Easter Saturday.

I hope that as we move through the worshipful emotions of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday Baptism we will again reflect on the diverse emotional roller coaster of these historic events.

I hope that we will invite, our friends, relatives and people we know, to join in this reflection that they will be reminded how Jesus gave His life that we might live.

Blessings Stuart

March 2018

Words of Jesus

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.

Luke 4:18-19

This morning is the 21st of February I am at the EBA (Eastern Baptist Association) conference and I have sat down to eat a full English breakfast when Alastair Love (HMP High Point Chaplain above with the glasses) sits down next to me. He smiles, begins to talk to me, in a Glaswegian accent. My mind is filled with images, words that I have listened to on radio 4, today programme, and the national and local news as I hear his voice.

Alastair is the father of Lauri Love, who recently has escaped extradition to the United states. Washington wanted him to face trial on charges of cyber hacking, which could mean a sentence of 99 years in Jail. He is alleged to have hacked into US agencies including the federal reserve. Us army, defence department, Nasa and the FBI in 2012 and 2013.

Lauri has Asperger syndrome, depression, eczema and asthma, which his lawyers argue would have been exacerbated if he had been sent to the U.S. These lawyers claiming that he would be at serious risk of suicide. The lawyers argued that as the crime took place in Britain, he needed to be tried in Britain. Two judges ruled that his extradition would be “Oppressive by reason of his physical and mental state.”

Lauri is to be tried in Britain and may face an 18-month prison sentence.

Lauri has described how in escaping extradition, he is relieved and looking forward to his degree and security work. Lauri lives with his parents in Newmarket. Alastair described to us, how his son at the meal table, the night of him receiving this news, thanked God for his meal and the outcome of the trial.

Alastair has described how this is the first stirrings of faith in his son.

As I tuck further, into my eggs and bacon, I listened, to the story of a loving father, desperate still to save his son. I hear the loving Father, who lives with his son’s mental health issues.

I hear the anguish, the strain in his voice, as he talks about the next stage. I hear the gracious nature, of a loving Father, who stands with his son, facing prison, who knows how hard the prison system can be, as he is a prison chaplain. I hear the love in his voice, as he describes how Lauri is being turned from poacher to game keeper.

As I finish my breakfast, I am reminded, that in the sharing of stories, we can see our heavenly Fathers, loving gracious nature at work. As a Father cares for his son in the midst of difficult circumstance. Alastair commends those of us at the table to pray for Lauri, that he might continue to recognise Jesus gracious nature.

Blessings Stuart

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.