Week 11: More Parables of Jesus

Half way

We’re now halfway through our Essential Jesus Challenge!

Our next five readings cover perhaps the greatest theme that emerges from Jesus’ parables:  The Kingdom of God.  They also cover some of the ‘I am…’ statements of Jesus:  … the Good Shepherd, the Vine, and so on.

A Prayer for Mothering Sunday

A Prayer for Mothering Sunday, taken from the Bath and Wells Children and Families Adviser

Loving God, we give You thanks for all who care for us,
who have encouraged us and helped us grow,
who have forgiven us,
and cared for us when we are unwell,
who have supported us when times were hard,
who have challenged us,
who have told us about You.
Thank you, Lord.

Amen

Loving God, we pray for those for whom Mothering Sunday is a time of heartache rather than celebration.
We pray for those who have never known their mother or whose mothers have died, for those who long to be mothers but as yet have not had their own children, for those who struggle with the way their children have chosen to live their lives and for those who have a difficult relationship with their mother.
May they have the comfort of knowing that Your love for them is constant, Your understanding is perfect, Your compassion is never-ending.

Amen

Week 10: The Parables of Jesus

Jesus spoke to a wide variety of people.  Some of His listeners were devoted followers, some were arch enemies, some were confused onlookers, some were hurting souls and some, like us, would only read His words centuries later. But all of them could relate to a good story. This week we are going to explore the parables of Jesus, the world’s greatest storyteller.

Not a church for ourselves, but for people who don’t like church.

Here is something that has made me think:

Redeemer [the name of the writer’s Church in New York] was founded on the principle that “we are not a church for ourselves, but for people who don’t like church.” From the very first days… that commitment has been the foundation beneath all of Redeemer’s priorities. We have never sought to gather those who already believe, or take people away from other churches, but to address the secular, skeptical ‘New Yorker’ who would ordinarily not attend church.

Because of this foundational commitment, God has given Redeemer the rare gift of being able to communicate the gospel plausibly and persuasively to people in the most difficult to reach demographic in the country. But this comes with a price. It means that we must always remind ourselves that we inside the Church are not to put our own likes, dislikes, priorities and personal agendas ahead of the needs of those outside the church. This is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible, as the needs and desires of members (for series and budget and training and attention from leaders) will always be more visible and voluble than the needs of people who aren’t even there and mostly are unable to articulate their spiritual needs.

Wendy Keller.  Taken from the Redeemer Church website, and quoted in a book I have just finished reading, Ready Steady Grow by Ray Evans.
ready steady grow

How can I know God?

We can know God for one reason only:  God has made Himself known.  If God had not chosen to do this, we could not have known Him.  That is, God is not accessible through our senses, our reason, our experience, or any other means apart from His willingness to be accessible. Our knowledge of God is absolutely dependent upon divine revelation;  and not only is He willing to be known, He desires to be known.

From Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron.

The Queen of Sciences

Up until the last couple of centuries, studying God was known as the ‘queen of the sciences.’  The assumption was that since everything comes from God, nothing can be sufficiently studied apart from God. Therefore, you were not considered to be educated in any field of study unless you had also studied theology.

From Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron.

Theology

convinced of and committed to certain basic ideas

The Bible is what it claims to be—the very Word of God, without error, completely true and trustworthy; Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be—fully and eternally God as well as fully human; Jesus Christ really did die historically and physically, really was resurrected historically and physically, and he really is coming back to earth physically and visibly; and finally, faith in Jesus Christ is the only way for us sinners to be accepted by God and enjoy his presence forever.

From Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day by Daryl Aaron.

Theology

Week 9: The sermons of Jesus

This Sunday Roy and Pat introduced the coming week’s Essential Jesus Bible readings on The Sermons of Jesus. I’ve listened to a thousand sermons in my lifetime, but to my shame I don’t remember or apply much of them.  The Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, the Seven Woes, boldly predicting the end of the religious establishment of His day, this week we’re going to listen to the words of the World’s Greatest Preacher!

Sermon 1

Week 8: The Beginning Ministry of Jesus

In the next five readings we’ll be examining a transitional period in Jesus’ life where He goes from being an unknown carpenter from Nazareth to a popular preacher and healer who attracted big crowds.  There is vivid detail captured in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ early ministry.

One key theme that emerges from these early days of Jesus’ ministry is His commitment to finding followers. Throughout the Gospel accounts we see Him giving the simple challenge, ‘Follow me.’

follow-me

Week 7: The birth of Jesus

God had given many clues that he was going to send a Saviour to the world, previews, trailers, types, prophecies;  we’ve been studying them.

The good news was that the time had finally come.  No more previews, it was time for the main event.  God entered the world in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.christmas manger

Explore this week was led by James Meeke, teacher and Chaplin at Exeter Cathedral School.