Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easter. Show all posts

Monday, 1 April 2013

EASTER PART III. BE A DOUBTING THOMAS

by Colin Bloom

This is the third and final part of my Easter Trilogy. For Pete's sake, on Easter Sunday we looked at Saint Peter the rock who became the denier who became the rock again. For crying out loud, on Holy Saturday we read about Jesus's supreme act of love on the Cross, and the fact that the Cross is centre-point of all history.

Today I want to briefly look at the man most of us know as Doubting Thomas. I think it is healthy for us all to be a bit like Doubting Thomas. I'm not sure God requires us to be unthinking people with blind faith. He designed us to have a brain, He gave us the power of inquiry, so I suspect that He has no problem with us asking the big questions that we all have or had. Where did we come from? What happens to us when we die? Was Jesus who He said He was? It would be a pretty odd person that never wondered about such things.

So who was this doubty Thomas fellow? In the Gospel of John (Chapter 20:24-29) we read the following:

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”


But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Here Thomas is like so many people, the kind of people who say that unless they can feel the presence of Jesus then they won't believe in his existence. But unlike most people, Thomas put himself in the position where he could have his doubts answered. He at least went and tried it out.

How many people say, things like, "the Bible has nothing to say to me" and yet have never picked it up; or say, "Church isn't for me" but have never gone. 
Perhaps the crime is not the doubt, the crime is not asking the questions or ignoring the answers.

Christians don't have all the answers to everything, we are meant to have faith, and we are meant to put our faith to the test. The challenge to us all is can we be more like Thomas, by putting ourselves in the position of having our doubts answered?

Sunday, 31 March 2013

EASTER PART II. FOR PETE'S SAKE

by Colin Bloom

For crying out loud, was the first part of the Easter trilogy I started yesterday. For Pete's sake, today I want to discuss Saint Peter.

Peter is one of the biblical characters that I find it very easy to identify with. A ready, fire, aim kind of guy. He wasn't the type to hesitate; he usually got his defence in early. If he was a football player, he would have been like Arsenal's greatest central defender Tony Adams, who famously said "you can get past me, or the ball can get past me, but both of you ain't doing it." Peter had a low centre of gravity, and was to use a modern idiom, a man's man.

So it is ironic that of all the "I'll follow you to the death, Jesus" disciples it was to Peter that Jesus said, "I tell you, this very night you will deny knowing me three times before the rooster crows."

This tragic betrayal came true, and Peter's denial left him fleeing his questioners distraught, weeping bitterly.

Peter was the Disciple that Jesus the Church would be built; and yet it was Peter, the tough guy, who ran away when questioned about his faith. Peter had just seen his best friend go through an unjust trial and was about to see him whipped, humiliated and nailed to death on a cross.

His whole world was falling apart, and the man he had given the past three years of his life to was going to die. Peter probably hadn't slept, he was exhausted, emotionally broken and confused. With this in our minds, it is perhaps easier to understand why Peter the Rock became Peter the Denier.

This episode reminds me that notwithstanding my failings, weaknesses and sin; there is always hope, always forgiveness and always a fresh start. The Church should be the representation of Christ on earth, the Church is a safe place, a sanctuary of God's love. A place where anyone and everyone should feel welcome, and encouraged to have a relationship with Jesus just like Peter did.


So for Pete's sake, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, 30 March 2013

THE PRIME MINISTER'S EASTER MESSAGE 2013



The Prime Minister David Cameron has sent his best wishes to Christians in the UK and around the world celebrating Easter.

The Prime Minister said:

“I send my best wishes to all those in the United Kingdom and around the world celebrating Easter this year in what is an incredibly exciting time for the Christian faith worldwide.

“This year’s Holy Week and Easter celebrations follow an extraordinary few days for Christians; not only with the enthronement of Justin Welby as our new Archbishop of Canterbury, but also with the election of Pope Francis in Rome.

“In the Bible, Saint Peter reminds us of the hope that comes from new birth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Christians, it also reminds us of Jesus’s legacy of generosity, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness.

“That legacy lives on in so many Christian charities and churches both at home and abroad. Whether they are meeting the needs of the poor, helping people in trouble, or providing spiritual guidance and support to those in need, faith institutions perform an incredible role to the benefit of our society. As long as I am Prime Minister, they will have the support of this Government.

“With that in mind, I am particularly proud to lead a Government that has kept its promise to invest 0.7 per cent of our gross national income on helping the world’s poorest, and I am grateful that we have been able to partner with both Christian and non-Christian charities to relieve suffering overseas.

“I hope you have a very happy Easter.”

David Cameron

MORE THAN 2500 IN TWO WEEKS


In less than two weeks - this blog has just had its 2,500th visitation. Not sure how that compares with other two week old blogs, but I'm enjoying it whilst it lasts.

Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing some guest writers, which is going to be great. I might also play around with the way the site looks.

In the meantime, please keep the comments coming in, and I will try and keep up the pace...

Happy Easter by the way.

EASTER PART I. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD

by Colin Bloom

The Cross is the centre-point of all history. This year is 2013, 2013 years after what? When King Tutankhamun died in 1323 BC, it was 1323 years before what?

The Cross, is centre point of history because it represents the end of God's old covenant with the world and the beginning of the new. If like me you believe in the Christian faith and you accept the story of Jesus, then you have to agree that His death and resurrection is the most important thing that as ever happened in the history of the universe. More personally, the realisation of the Cross, Jesus's willingness to die and be raised again for me and you, is by far the most important thing that ever happened in our lives. The Cross is not just the most important point in history, it is also the most personal one.

The phrase 'for crying out loud' is often used as an exclamation of frustration. I don't know if the etymology of this phrase goes back to Jesus on the Cross, but the Bible tells us in the Gospel of Matthew 27:46 that Jesus cried out loud, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

It was this substitutionary sacrifice; Jesus taking the punishment for others that is central to the Cross. The Cross is Jesus's gift of himself to us, it is a gift of Grace that just keeps on giving. Nothing in all history is strong enough to defeat the power of the Cross.

So if you aren't sure about any of this but want to know more, go to Church, read a bible or if you want to know more straight away I can do no better than to point you to the Alpha Course or to Christianity Explored

For crying out loud, it's Easter - you should find out more, and if you already know, who have you told?


CHILLI EASTER EGG - JUST A PALATE CLEANSER

by Colin Bloom

According to the BBC website, an Indian restaurant in Surrey has created a "not for bunnies" Easter egg using three of the hottest varieties of chilli pepper.

Using a ghost chilli, a scotch bonnet and a habanera in the egg, it is said to be up to 10 times hotter than a vindaloo or equal to 400 bottles of Tabasco sauce. It is so hot that diners must wear protective gloves before touching it.

Regular readers will know about the Curry Union, an adventure into creating relationships with some of societies most marginal people via the medium of spicy food.

Some of our guests are street drinkers and rough sleepers, and knowing them as I do, this chilli Easter Egg would be treated as a palate cleanser! If anyone would like to buy one of these eggs and donate it to the Curry Union, let me know!

Friday, 29 March 2013

GOOD FRIDAY – THE ONE NATION PARTY AGREEMENT


For many subjects the maxim ‘those that know know, those that don’t know, don’t matter’ is usually true. Regarding John Major’s efforts during the 1990’s to bring peace and normalisation to the people of Northern Ireland it seems that not enough people appreciate the facts.
The Good Friday Agreement has been described by some asTony Blair’s Good Friday Agreement’, and of course he deserves recognition for his efforts; but it wasn’t just his. This article does not deny that the heavy hand of history was on his shoulders, even if it wasn’t a day for sound bites; but we Conservative’s need to be a little sharper elbowed before the revisionist historians start to diminish the impact that we have made.
Today is the 15th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, and it is self evident that peace in Northern Ireland has come a very long way, a lot has been done, but there is still more to do. It remains a process akin to the Christian understanding of sanctification. It is a process of becoming; it is a state of perpetual improvement.
One of the key aims of the Good Friday Agreement was ‘normalisation’ which according to the letter of the agreement,was to reduce the number of military installations there. The spirit of the agreement to ‘normalise’ goes so much further, it surely also means ‘normal’ politics, the same as the rest of the United Kingdom and an end to the dominance of political parties with historical links to the ‘troubles’.
So here is a challenge to the Conservative Party; why don’t wemake sure we field a Conservative Candidate in each of the eighteen Parliamentary Constituencies of Northern Ireland? Let’s not stop there; we should field candidates in every constituency, except the Speaker’s.
No more deals with other Unionist Parties, no winks, no nods, let us confidently declare to the people of Northern Ireland that we, the oldest and most successful political party in the world, respect them enough to at least give them the chance to vote for us. In some we might lose our deposits, but in others we might just find a significant proportion of the public supporting us because they want what we want, normal politics.
We shouldn’t stop there. We should be encouraging the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats to do the same. From North Antrim to Belfast West, let’s give every elector in Northern Ireland the chance to vote for one of the big three. Let’s even extend the challenge to UKIP, see if they really are fully UK.
Let the message go out to those that know and those that don’t know, that the Conservative Party is here for everyone, all matter and we’ll give everyone in the UK the opportunity to vote for usOn Good Friday, is there a better time to bury the sin of the past and begin again with new life?
Remember the Conservatives are the One Nation Party, or are we?
(This article was published on ConservativeHome this morning)

Monday, 25 March 2013

CHURCH FOR PEOPLE THAT DONT DO CHURCH

by Colin Bloom

Last week some friends and I set about delivering many thousands of postcards to the homes in our town, inviting people to a special church service called 'Church for people that don't do Church'. This one-off event happened yesterday at 3pm, and it was the first time we have ever done anything like it.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the start of Easter week; the most important week for followers of Jesus (or Christians as we like to be called).


What do I mean by Church for people that don't do Church? As I've written before, I think despite its failings, the Church is still God's best invention and everyone should be welcome. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, gay or straight, male or female, young or old, you should be welcome in Church because that is the place where you are most likely to meet with and have a relationship with Jesus.

Hang on - scrub that. There is a group that don't need welcoming to Church.

Perfect people are not allowed; people who have never done anything wrong don't need to be found in church. For everyone else, I'll see you on Sunday...