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Visitors to our Church

On this page you can read and download some sermons and talks that have been delivered by visitors to our Church:


Mathew 5.21 to 5.37

Reflection on Healing by Nick O'Neil (Fishermen's Mission) Sunday 12 February 2017

Good Morning,

I would just like to start by saying that it is both an honour and a privilege to be here with you today. It is always a blessing to be invited to share experiences, good and bad, to share ideas and to also speak about the Fishermen’s Mission.

So I am going to reflect on “healing” within the Gospel message today, and then try to combine examples of healing within my work of the Fishermen’s Mission!!! Maybe I bit off a bit more than I can chew…then again…if you have seen the shape of my body and saw me eating a bacon sandwich earlier…(I probably haven’t bitten off more than I can chew!!)

It is very interesting in the Gospel reading we have heard today from Matthew that we have no parables and no stories of miracles, just good old fashioned teaching: do this! And Jesus uses very traditional themes of murder, adultery and prayer in this Gospel.

So, we are looking at healing and I would like to start with the definition of healing which is “the process of making or becoming sound and healthy again”

So if healing means making or becoming sound and healthy again, this presupposes that we ourselves or somebody else have not been “healthy or are not healthy” for one reason or another.

The obvious place to start with healing is probably with physical healings or healings of illness or disease etc. and we all may have experienced, witnessed or heard of such healings. Indeed, I have witnessed healings myself and been part of praying for people and seen such healings.

But I would like to dig a little deeper and look at other areas of my life and your lives that are just as important when talking about healing and then come back to physical healing a little later when I share a story. The healing that Jesus was talking to us about today while giving His sermon on the Mount was very radical for that particular time in history. His teachings on acts of murder and adultery were not strictly on murder and adultery….no…he actually intensified and radicalised common and familiar teachings so that they became extended into every area of each persons everyday life.

This new way of teaching was a window for each listener to go through, to be able to start an internal examination as well as thinking about our external behaviours: anger, slander, gossip, arrogance, ignorance, false generosity, lust, divorce, alienation, lies, greed, jealousy and religious speech…unfortunately I could carry on with a long list and I have been very guilty of most, if not all of these sins.

But Jesus was teaching us to connect the dots…from murder to anger, from adultery to lust. It is one thing to outwardly act in the right way and a completely different thing to train our heart to turn in the right direction, to always be true and always to love. It is obviously much easier to keep the commandment against murder than it is to never have anger in your heart.

It is very easy for us to give ourselves a big round of applause or to pat ourselves on the back for not committing murder but we may well be destroying the life of a co-worker or neighbour with our with words – we can even call this “stabbing someone in the back”.

In the same way that we may congratulate ourselves or hold our head up high that we did not commit adultery, but at the same time we are creating primary relationships with our work, or a sports team or with the internet rather than with our spouses, children or others close to us.

 And then we start to consider all those things we may have done that offended somebody, and that they may still be holding a grudge or some resentment against us. And to then start thinking about the fact that we must reconcile with anyone who has something against us before we can give our gifts to God…stops us dead in our tracks.

Jesus shifts our attention from particular behaviours we must avoid to particular interior emotions and feelings we need to change and to develop and to cultivate.

And as hard as it may seem and as hard as it actually is, being able to face our bad habits, our mistakes in life, the wrong doings….. means it is possible to heal. If seeing the person face to face is not possible then a phone call, an email or maybe a letter. If we have wronged somebody who is no longer with us we can ask for God’s forgiveness by sincerely saying sorry. But this is the key, to be able to say sorry for something we have done wrong. A simple word that really isn’t quite as simple to say can transform lives, can bring true healing. No matter what we have done, God forgives us and loves us unconditionally and we must do the same. We have to ask for forgiveness and we must forgive.

Healing is a powerful word. It is a powerful and wonderful action. It maybe that you could be the key to somebody else’s healing by offering them your forgiveness as well as maybe having to ask for forgiveness.

As a Superintendent with the Fishermen’s Mission, I have had the great privilege and joy of serving fishermen and their families up and down the south central and south east coast of England. From Sheerness in Kent around to Swanage in Dorset. And during my time which is around 20/21 months, I have met many, many wonderful people. All Mission port staff based in and around ports, harbours and quays are active practicing Christians. We have a role to play in supporting and helping these hard working men and women but also have a role in being a representative of Jesus. We are to be lights in the darkness. We can be that tender loving care of Christ, the mercy and forgiveness of Christ and the hope and comfort of Christ.

I would like to share just a couple of stories around healing that I have experienced in my relatively short time with the Mission.

I spoke very briefly about physical healing. I have a young couple that live fairly local to me, Pete the fisherman and his wife Chantelle who are in their mid 30’s with a young daughter Pete  ChantelAlishia who is 9. Chantelle suffers from cluster headaches and frequently is almost incapacitated for period of time when she has an attack. She needs medication, injections and oxygen tanks when dealing with these attacks. Her daughter often has to be her carer as Pete is normally away from home when the attacks tend to happen (early morning or late at night). I visited Pete and Chantelle one day with the Mission pastor. We had spoken before the meeting about these attacks and how I thought praying for her might be worth a shot. Towards the end of the visit we casually asked if we could pray and she was very open to anything by that point. So we sat either side of her and placed out hands on her shoulder and said a very brief prayer. The following day I received a call from Chantelle stating that the cluster headaches and all but disappeared and that she was feeling much better. Praise God for his healing touch!

Last year was a horrendous year for the fishing industry for many reasons but the worst reason was the loss of life. Many, many fishermen were lost at sea with a number of bodies still not recovered, quite tragic circumstances.

One of the boats fishing out of Plymouth and the boat sank whilst fishing at night with the loss of 3 lives. All 3 men were young (in their 20’s). The skipper was 23 and recently married. His father was a retired fisherman and the owner of the boat. Obviously he was totally devastated that he had lost his son but more so that the body of his son had not been recovered. He really struggled to cope with the fact that he couldn’t have his son’s body to lay him to rest. Around 5 months later, another fishing boat was out and pulled up the trawl to find a strange object that they later picked out and cleaned and saw that it was a piece of bone. It was checked and DNA tested and was identified as the cheekbone of the young skipper. The father was absolutely stunned that this had been recovered and went a long way to helping heal some of those wounds and hurts he had.

We deal quite often on a day to day basis many different people, situations and circumstances. I am currently working with a mum and dad who recently lost their son. He was a full time fisherman and very sadly took his own life and at the moment for no obvious reason. But we have no idea what reality in his head he was living.

Although nothing will ever bring him back to them I hope that through my work and within my role as the Mission man, I can bring some love, care, hope, comfort, support, tenderness, a listening ear and prayer to the family. That this will go some way to helping with the healing process of making or becoming sound and healthy again.

I also work with a young couple who were expecting twins. Very sadly they lost both babies Twinswhen they were still born due to various complications of the pregnancy. Of course this was a very traumatic and sad times for the family made worse by the fact that they were unable to lay a headstone due to their financial circumstances. The Fishermen’s Mission were able to get the money that enabled them to buy a headstone and have it engraved which obviously has now started to help towards some of the healing process. I am also happy to say that they are expecting the birth of a new baby boy in 3 weeks time!!

I hope that this has been of some interest and I pray that it has offered some help and maybe hope to at least one person today!!! And if nothing else, that you have picked up at least one point that you can maybe take away and meditate on and pray about and maybe expand on.

 

I would just like to say thank you again for having me here and giving me the chance share with you all and being part of your family today.

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Sermon by Professor Richard Vincent during the service of Eucharist with the Ministry of Healing 7 August 2016

A prayer: Our Father, may we become more aware of your glory, your power, your faithfulness, and your tender compassion toward us.  In Jesus name, Amen.

We will start by looking at the two passages from scripture set for today.

The Epistle (Hebrews 11. 1-3, 8 -16) took us to the story in Genesis of one of the greatest men of faith, Abraham.

He was called by God to take his entire family to a rich and distant land that, one day, his son and the generations that followed would inherit and enjoy hugely. His son? He had no son - and both he and his wife were way past child-bearing.  But, illogical though it may have seemed, he left his comfortable city, life not knowing where he was going, not knowing what the journey would entail, and not knowing how it would all end.

His journey wasn't easy. At different times he faced discomfort, lack of resources, battles, family quarrels, and extraordinarily testing times; and it all took a really long time. But he kept going because, as our reading noted, 'he considered God faithful', fully able to keep his promises.  And God did indeed provide safety, and a new rich land - and a son, even though there was no earthly way this could be possible.

In our Gospel (Luke 12.32- 40), Jesus told a parable about a group also likely to have a long wait - servants expecting their master eventually to return. Maybe they were desperate for sleep, eyes propped open and getting sore from the burning oil-lamps.  But they stuck at it because they believed - they knew - he would come; they trusted him completely.

Both Abraham and the waiting servants believed that what their master had promised would happen as he said. And although their experiences were decidedly uncomfortable, it did - and in a more exciting way than ever they had imagined. 

Today is a service of the Laying on of Hands for healing. So how do these stories fit in? Perhaps Abraham's journey reflects some common experiences of our being significantly unwell.  Like Abraham, we may not know where we are heading, what will really happen next, and how it will all end. We may well be faced with leaving comfort behind, and find ourselves in unknown & strange places (like the NHS!). We may have battles with pain, fatigue, limitation, or perhaps frightening symptoms that we can't even describe.  Our personal reserves may drain away though we try to put on a brave face even when we feel anything but brave. We may meet extraordinarily testing challenges, and the whole thing may take time, an endlessly long time, to get anywhere.

Of course, such a journey could be through mental and spiritual as well as physical illness. Mental illness, with or without a physical complaint, is both horrible and common. Such is the frequency of mental distress in the UK that the Samaritans receive around 7200 calls a day of which a fifth -20% - are about committing suicide.  There is a lot of hidden mental suffering in this land.

So how does faith help?  Faith and its influence on illness & recovery have been studied extensively. A scientific view is well recorded in Koenig's enormous book of 1,600 scientific studies.1  The bottom-line result is that an active faith in God brings benefit in 81%.  But let's look into this at a more personal level under three headings beginning with P.   

Person

Sometimes we regard Christian faith as the statement of our creed, the truths we believe, facts to which our minds give assent. But faith in both of today's readings - and throughout the bible - is better thought of as describing a personal relationship.  It is trust in a person:

  • that they are what they claim to be - they deal in truth
  • that they are constantly both faithful and able to deliver what they have promised
  • that they are on our side
  • that it is entirely safe to entrust ourselves to them, especially when we feel vulnerable, afraid or mystified at what's happening.

 This summarises Abraham's faith in God, his almighty and compassionate heavenly Father. What a model of faith for us!  To entrust ourselves entirely to the One who made us, who knows all things, and who loves us with a warmth and generosity that, in truth, is out of this world.

Promises

God's promises to Abraham were just a few of many promises He made to people throughout the Bible. Over 200 made by Jesus are recorded in New Testament.2  We will look at a few examples - to do with fear. I have chosen fear because it seems such a widespread experience across the world. And it is commonly a part - perhaps the major part - of the suffering that accompanies illness.  Fear of pain, maybe, or dementia, or the side-effects of treatment; perhaps the loss of income or mobility or independence; or fear of losing the you you have always known, and shown to others. And then there is the fear of death, a fear that can grip us whether we are ill or not.

The theme of fear pops up in both of today's readings: In Abraham's story, recorded in Genesis, God says3, 'Don't be afraid Abram. I am you shield - your very great reward.' Luke 12 verse 32 began with Jesus' words, 'Do not be afraid!'  Here are two other promises of Jesus: In John 14 verse 27 he says: 'Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid'. And two chapters further on, in John 16 verse 33, 'I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.' 

It seems, then, that this solid peace is available, not when all our troubles are over (if ever that could that happen!), but while we are still in the thick of them.  The apostle Paul refers to this peace as passing all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds.4 It permeates both our emotions and our intellect.  Do we really believe this? If we can grasp and trust God's promises, even with the tiniest amount of faith, we can gain this peace. But how?

One way is through a heart-felt conversation with Him about ourselves and our predicament. Our words need not be wrapped in prayer-like language; as He already knows us better than we know ourselves, words may even be unnecessary. Our approach is simply, earnestly to seek His help in the expectation that he will hear us. The troubles we face may or may not go away, and our journey may still be hard; but He will be with us, and in the deepest sense, we can be at peace. We will be safe. And the end of our journey - as in our two stories - will be magnificently, unimaginably good. Death will be a gateway into a new land, where we will find new heavenly and permanent treasure. That is His promise.

May I mention here that during the past two years I have travelled though patch of personal illness where the prospect of death, for a while, became abruptly much closer and the journey to health remarkably long. In that time - and still now - I have found these promises of healing and peace of immense value on almost a daily basis.

Presence

As his followers, Jesus has promised5 to be with us always, for real, wherever our journey takes us - ill or well.  Psalm 23 verse 4 is just one reminder:  'Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; your rod and you staff, they comfort me.' Such Palestinian valleys were long, dark and barren with no immediate way out; there was no choice but keep going to the end. But the Psalmist gained strength, comfort, and confidence by the rod & staff that represent God's authority, guidance and constant care.

Then again, we do not always find it easy to sense God's presence.  Praying & reading the bible can help; but maybe we find that difficult just now.  Sometimes being on our own in stillness and silence, leaving space to hear God, can help; but perhaps our physical or emotional pain is screaming too loudly to make this work. The ministry of the Eucharist may be powerful to draw us back to discovering His presence; but, for the moment, we might not find it so. Yet none of these negatives, unwelcome though they are, make God go away or withdraw his deep love from us. No way!

If we are looking for God's presence yet cannot feel Him, it can be really worthwhile to ask a few members of our Christian family to share in our journey - by listening well without judging, and by praying on our behalf. Maybe they can bring comfort by just being there; illness is often a lonely affair. Giving some straightforward practical assistance may show the beauty of sensitive caring and help restore hope. And relief is certainly palpable if friends can take some of the weight of our suffering and give it to God to carry for us.

Finally, the Laying on of Hands - a ministry of touch and prayer commended in scripture: My wife, Meriel, and I have found from recent experience that this can reconnect us with the peace of God in a new way.  It is a real source of blessing.

So, three Ps:

  • Our faith is in a Person - the person of God - Holy, yet immediate, powerful, faithful and loving
  • Promises: the many promises He has made for our good; promises to be grasped
  • Presence: God travelling closely with us in our journey, no matter what it brings

Here are two final points for reflection:

The first: Jesus is truly the Great Physician.  Out of no motive other than love, He has identified personally with us in every way: in severe physical, mental and spiritual suffering, and in dying, rising again, and ascending to heaven. He has travelled before us on our full journey. He knows the way.

The second: Let us note the security we have that the apostle Paul declares:6 'Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.'

May the Lord be with you on your current journey be it unusually easy, extremely demanding, or just ordinary.

Amen

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References

1. Koenig HG, King DE, Carson V B. Handbook of Religion and health (2nd ed.) Oxford University Press, 2012.  ISBN 978-0-19-533595-8

2. http://cvi2.org/paul-timothy/pages/jesus/docs/200_promises_of_jesus.html

3. Genesis 15v1b

4. Philippians 4v7

5. Matthew 28v20b

6. Romans 8v39

Note: 'b' added to a biblical reference indicates the second half of the verse.


Sermon by the Rev'd Andrew Woodward, Rural Dean of Brighton, Feast of St Thomas (Trinity 6) Sunday 2 July 2016

 

Some words from our Epistle – “So, whenever you have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all...  

Clearly, it’s not my privilege or my duty to preach politics from the pulpit, but the result of the Referendum which came as quite a shock to me and has as we each know, revealed a huge divide in our nation

We are where we are and the outcome has been the result of a democratic process, albeit a campaign that has been fought, particularly in the last few weeks with a certain degree of personal attack and some unscrupulous tactics, heavily fuelled by the tabloid press.

Whatever side we backed, the slogans made by certain politicians that suggested that the money wasted on Europe – some £350m a week could be spent on the health service and the promise to end mass immigration, connected with the hearts and minds of those disaffected and remote from decision making. It was an opportunity to protest their grief.

The first slogan has been admitted as a lie and most immigration is from outside of Europe. But such sound bites ignited real passion in people’s lives particularly who felt they had little control. “Taking back control” particularly for those in the North and the working class seemed an answer and a remedy to feeling forgotten and disempowered.

We live in a country that is now shown to be completely divided and we must begin to build bridges and conversation across that divide rather than stay locked with our heads down in our respective corners.

Last weeks Epistle warned the Galatians not to be bite and to devour one another or to be consumed by one another but rather to exhibit the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control..

Behind the works of the flesh lies the desire to possess, to be right, to have status and power. I’m right, you’re wrong.

As Disciples of Christ we are called to a radical way of living and this may sometimes mean facing rejection and not relying on those things that give us our own creature comforts. It is a question of where our passion lies, sowing to the spirit rather than sowing to the flesh  – is our passion proclaiming life and release to those who we meet are imprisoned or is it about just looking after ourselves? Go and proclaim the Kingdom of God, says Jesus.

Jesus has equally strong words for those whose service, whose calling, takes second place to attending to their own affairs. Living close to God is not an occasional visit to a holy place or an occasional prayer when we can manage it.

Rather we are taught that God’s call is for us to become complete and whole, rather than segmented in all that we do. We are called to fit together all the pieces of our lives and not hide some or leave them out of the mix we call our true self.

And we are called to love the people we find hard to like. We are called to love and show respect as we would wish to be loved and respected. And we are called to rebuild ourselves, not in the way we would wish others to see us, but as the person God would wish us to become.

Christ teaches us to have the courage to bring all our values into line with what we inwardly know to be right. And when we fail, God promises to forgive, scarred as we are, but set us back on our feet again. This call can take us into unsafe places and the church needs to inhabit those places and build real community and not shy away from the challenge.

Our readings today speak of mission. The disciples were sent out as lambs amongst wolves. They went out without even the basic equipment for travelling. They were walking advertisements for the truth that they were proclaiming, the presence of the kingdom.

Today, as we see the huge amount of healing that is needed in our nation, we may feel utterly powerless and also afraid for the future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

The psalmist speaks of God being his strong rock, a fortress to save me. “For you are my rock and my stronghold, guide me and lead me for your names sake.

Our opportunities may be as limited to make change as they were for the little Israelite slave-girl who served Naamen’s wife. How much does a slave girl count in the affairs of the nations? But she knew what she had to do and could not keep silent. Her integrity and genuineness shone through.

Our nation needs such walking advertisements of faith and love particularly as the economic consequences of this decision are about to bite.

As a Church nationally and locally, we need to take a lead in this journey of healing, ensuring that we maintain a Christian presence in our communities, working with ecumenical partners and those of other faiths and none to replenish areas that may have been abandoned, for the good of all.

So as St Paul urges us – Let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

In this time following the EU referendum, where there is much disagreement across the nation and indeed in Europe and beyond, I pray the fruit of the spirit may be in evidence through the prophetic outworking of the Holy Spirit. And that we may be open, willing and ready to be a channel for Gods healing love to bring harmony, truth and understanding.

 

Eternal God, light of the nations, in Christ you make all things new:
Guide our nation in the coming days that
Through the inspiration of your spirit,
understanding may put an end to discord and all bitterness.
Give us grace to rebuild bonds of trust
That together we may work for the dignity and flourishing of all
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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 Sermon by Reverend Mathew Philip, Associate Minister, Ascension Church, Westdene 19 April 2015 

Luke 24: 36 – 48
Opening Prayer
Do you always believe what your friends tell you? How do you get your friends to believe something you know to be true when it seems unbelievable? What would you need to know to believe something that seems strange? What would you say if someone told you that Jesus is alive?
During this Easter season we continue to look at the accounts of those who saw actually Jesus after his resurrection. In the gospel passage preceding today’s reading we would have read how Jesus met the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The disciples and the women and others would have been were very excited, talking, arguing.
How could Jesus possibly come back to life again a couple of days after they saw him dying on the cross? They were full of doubts. There would have been a mixture of raw excitement, of hope and of cynicism. They would be saying that Jesus could not possibly have come through all that torture and the death back to life. That first evening, they were hiding from the Jewish authorities whom they feared, meeting in secret.
Then Jesus appeared to them in the room where they were hiding, praying, still mourning, discussing the news that he had risen. He says, “Peace be with you.”
What a shock!
This is just the normal greeting that is commonly used in the Middle East - Shalom Aleikhem. But Jesus is also calming their fears. They may have felt guilty, as all of them abandoned him when he was arrested. Although some like Peter may have followed closely, there was nothing they could do. And Peter himself would have been deeply guilty about having denied Jesus. They were desperately lonely in the world and frightened of the world. They were startled at the sight of Jesus. Therefore,
38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?
Jesus knew them well as he knows us well. At this point, they were too far in their own sorrows and confusion, their lost hopes, to make any sense of the news that Jesus had risen from the dead. Their reaction was natural and they needed reassuring. He invites them to look at the marks in his hands and his feet. They still could not believe him. Their common sense would tell them that it was impossible. Here was Jesus standing in front of them, talking to them. They want to believe. They would hope it was true but was it a mirage, a vision. They were grieving after all.
As the two disciples on the road to Emmaus had said to Jesus before they knew who he was,
21 “… we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
It would therefore take time to believe again. So Jesus as always, takes the initiative. He ate some food and their relief, their joy, their realisation that death could not hold him must have been enormous.
At that moment, they were changed from people who had lost all hope to people who knew that this was the start of a new relationship with God. God was no longer remote but here in their experience with Jesus, they recognised God. And all the promises of the Old Testament were now shown to be fulfilled as Jesus opens the scriptures up to them.
46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
They were changed forever that evening.  The celebration of Easter started for them that evening. And Jesus says that the very place where they feared for their lives would be where the good news would be preached first. There will be repentance for the forgiveness of sins in Jerusalem. The Jews will not be abandoned.
So where does that put us? We were not around during the time of Jesus. We have not seen Jesus in physical body. How can we believe that Jesus is alive?
Jesus told his disciples that he would send another Counsellor, the Holy Spirit after he left them. The Holy Spirit is our witness to everything Jesus did. We come to know Jesus Christ as our personal saviour because the Holy Spirit has revealed this to us.
It is the Holy Spirit who released the disciples from their fear and they became the agents of Jesus Christ as the gospel spread. The Holy Spirit enabled them so that at Pentecost 3000 people came to faith in Jerusalem, through their bold speaking.
As we read from Acts (3: 12 – 19), Peter himself tells the crowd,
15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
The disciples and others proclaimed the gospel as they had first hand experience of walking with Jesus.  Jesus took the initiative to show how the scriptures predicted everything that had happened to him. Their testimony was then written down and passed on through the generations. 
Jesus told them,
48 You are witnesses of these things.
People have met Jesus in the written word because of his Holy Spirit since then. Since that first Easter, through the centuries, faithful people have been inspired by the Holy Spirit to continue bringing good news to their generation. The Holy Spirit led many of our grandparents’ generation and our parents’ generation to live lives in faith. And he leads many in our generation to live lives in faith.
This is the confidence that the first generation of believers had. Their faith was based on seeing and knowing. For our time, the Holy Spirit helps us to see and know. In the Eucharist that we will celebrate shortly, we have a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice. As we break the bread, we are reminded that Jesus Christ did indeed die for us on the cross. And as we drink the wine, his blood, we share in the promise of eternal life with Jesus.
Eternal life which was with the Father, appeared to the disciples. This evidence should give us confidence this Easter season that our faith is based on truth.
As the first disciples rejoiced, we can also rejoice in the knowledge that with Jesus’ rising from the dead, we do not need to fear death at the end of our lives because there is life after death for those who believe in him.
Jesus is alive today and through the Holy Spirit, we can understand more of how we are called to live each day. Every day should therefore be full of hope. Every day should be a day when we look forward to meeting Jesus. This may be through a word of encouragement we receive or through one we give.
Of course life is not easy. It wasn’t easy during the time when Jesus taught his first disciples. We struggle with all kinds of pressures, with health issues, with worries about those we love, with financial worries and about facing death. These are the marks of human living through which we learn the character of God. Elijah described God’s presence as a “still, small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). God speaks in those moments when we are prepared to listen. Although we don’t like difficult times, they are often the times when we experience God at work. As the disciples were at their least confident, doubting, with little hope, Jesus came and encouraged them. He left them the Holy Spirit to continually encourage them and to empower them. They spoke with the confidence that came from the Holy Spirit. We should live today as Christians in the confidence that comes from the Holy Spirit.
We can have confidence therefore that as God empowers us with the Spirit of Jesus, he will give us confidence and the words to act. We just have to be willing.
Let us pray.
 

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