Good Morning! Welcome to this mornings Christian Aid Week service.
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Below the video you will find a message from our minister Rev Christine Fox.
God Bless x
Message – Rev Christine Fox
To prepare for this Sunday’s service I asked if you could find a stone – perhaps a bit rough, maybe not that lovely – and then transform it by covering with images, words or beautiful things that express something of you. We saw some of your undecorated stones when we heard the reading from Acts about the shocking story of the stoning of Stephen. He was a godly man who followed Jesus’ way and was so close to God that the Holy Spirit enabled him to speak so eloquently that the religious leaders couldn’t stand up against him – and they hated it! This is a terrible story! – We can hardly imagine it. But we know it’s a sad fact that all down the ages Christians have been killed and persecuted, as have people of other religions.
When people are challenged or made uncomfortable they can feel angry. At this difficult time we know that many people are feeling down, sadly some are taking it out on their families, and all of us can sometimes let our feelings get the better of us and we find ourselves being hurtful. Even sharp words can be like a stone being thrown at someone.
But what if we had a way to transform a hurtful stone into a message of love? I wonder if Peter was thinking of what happened to Stephen when he wrote about the image of Jesus as a ‘living stone’; and even that we are living stones too. Stones that are being built into something beautiful – a Spiritual house. And Jesus said ‘I am the way’- the way that transforms hurtful stones into the building blocks of a house of love.
This is my stone transformed from something rather hard and dull, not seeming to be much use for anything
But now with a strand of wool wrapped around it, wool that expresses something about me since I dyed it in these colours - I love multi-coloured things, and making things from whatever is to hand; and now having been transformed, it is softer, and I can see it could be useful maybe as a doorstop – to hold open doors, and maybe encourage others to be creative too. This is a picture of what Jesus has done for me.
So when you’ve had a chance to transform a stone yourself – look at it prayerfully, how does it speak to you of the way that the example of Jesus has transformed your life? Do you see now how beautiful you are – each of you a living stone, but together being built by God into a spiritual house? You are God’s special possession – the people of God. Even that knowledge can help us to rise above a focus on our own needs and others’ faults to be more able to focus on others’ needs.
Look at Jesus – despite the difficult time he went through of being misunderstood even by his own friends – see how he sought his Father in prayer, giving him the strength to continue to love and not to succumb to anger.
Today Christian Aid week begins – enabling us to follow the way of Jesus in loving others despite our own difficult situation; enabling us to focus on others’ needs and build up people all across the world. And we can still fundraise even though we can’t do our usual coffee morning – we have a church Quiz to inspire you to donate! You could offer unwanted seedlings and plants at your gate for a donation;share your ideas and together we can make a difference. You may also be able to look at the Christian Aid website where you can find out how to join the online live-streamed Christian Aid service at 1pm today to join thousands of others to ‘declare the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his wonderful light!’
And so I encourage you – be transformed by the strength of Christ in you!Amen