I was in a pensive mood this week. Staying in a hotel near to the famous Trafalgar Square in London, I visited an Anglican church, situated in the heart of the Square, with connections to my own church in Jamaica, St. Martin-in-the-Field. Carol Service!
The church was packed, almost standing room only, the choir outstanding, the reading of the lessons inspiring, and the whole experience very fulfilling.
t’s a place, Trafalgar Square, where lots of people visit and take pictures. A square, where I visited years ago, and joined in emotionally with those bearing placards, ” Free Mandela”.
A square with a Christmas tree donated, with deep gratitude, I was informed, by the people in Finland, for the role British soldiers played in protecting them from Hitler during WW11.
And all around London, Christmas, as they say on the streets in Jamaica, ” was happening “. Or ‘ a kip’. The trouble is that, for many people as I found out during my conversations with diverse folks, it was a celebration of Christmas, without Christ. ” I celebrate Christmas and have Christmas dinner with family, but not the religious part of it”, was a common response to my questions.
For although the lighting is spectacular and everywhere on the streets
of London, this city, and indeed, the entire country is secular.
A city where teachers are not allowed to speak as Christians personally, but are limited to ” this is what Christians believe”. Where at least one person with whom I spoke, a Jamaican, no longer going to church, was not aware that Jesus and God were one and the same. And was not familiar with the Holy Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God! And where, like Jamaica, although we don’t hear about it much, young people are committing murder daily. Killing each other by stabbings. Not M 16’s!
And so I was inspired to write. About basic Christianity! On:
Christianity 101 #earlymorningrevelations in a historic city.
” Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts”. Zechariah
One cannot therefore try to be a Christian. For true Christianity, not the hype, is about The Holy Spirit, Who is God Himself, living and manifesting Himself in the lives of believers: sinners who believe that Christ died for our sins, and was raised by the mighty Power of God, so that we too, in Him, may repent, and die to the old self, and become new in Christ. Which is ” eternal life”, right here on earth ! And thus be empowered to be Christlike, taking care of the widows, the orphans and the strangers, and spreading abroad in word and deed, the Good News of Salvation.
Why? ” For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, so that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”. John 3:16 – the real story behind Christmas that no grinch can steal
1. Creation – God made all things good; in fact very good. Including mankind!
2. The Fall – when because of disobedience, through one man, Adam, sin entered the world and ” opened the gates and let in the pirates ” of all kinds of evil, and sickness, and disasters. Including rape murder, infidelity, corruption in high and low places, disobedience to parents and unbelief in God. Among other evils!
3. Redemption – The Atonement for sin wrought by the Blood of Jesus on the Cross of Calvary. A free and unmerited gift from a God of mercy. All done. ” It is finished”! Our response ought to be, repentance and the acceptance of this free gift where mankind has been reconciled ( returned to the original relationship with God before The Fall) with God. And with each other!
4. Judgement – ” for it is appointed for all men to die, and then the judgment”. A time when Jesus ( Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again…the foundation of the Christian faith) shall come again in glory. But not as Saviour this time, but as Judge.
That’s why as Christians we humble ourselves, be patient with those who don’t know Christ, and even those who persecute us, forgive those who trespass against us, in the same way we have been forgiven by God, and daily deny self, seeking first the kingdom of God, promoting justice, providing for the needs of the poor and lonely, the homeless and the disadvantaged, protecting the human rights of others, and trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of God in all circumstances.
Why? All because of Calvary, where Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, demonstrated His love and mercy and faithfulness to His Creation.
This is what Christmas is all about and not the bling on the streets of London
And to my church! Back home. About not being afraid. For if we are not careful, children of God, redeemed people bought by the blood of Jesus, people of the ressurection filled with Spirit of the Risen and Ascended and soon coming Christ, can get caught up in the secular narrative. That there is no hope for Jamaica. That we are a failed state! That it is only a State of Emergency can stop our people from killing each other. That all politicians and police are corrupt. And bring Petrojam, now, and the Shell waiver, then, as evidence. Along with a whole litany of misdemeanors! That the church is only concerned about the LGBT, in London I was informed that other letters have been added, community. That God is asleep or does not care, or is powerless to stop the brutal killing of our young girls, pregnant women, female partners and so many young men.
A fear which ignores or is not familiar with the power of the resurrected Christ. The foundation on which ” all things are made new” throughout the entire world. Not just Jamaica! And which reality, inspired St. Paul to declare, ” I can do all things though Christ who strengthens me”. Philippians 4:13.
LETTER TO MY CHURCH
#Earlymorningdevotions and #Latenightdevotions
A message from a city, London, from where once, “Britannia” ruled. And the sun never set on the British Empire!
From where colonialism with its evil tentacles of slavery spread. But, lest we forget, from where Spitfires and Hurricanes flew in battle against the evil of Hitler and the spread of the Third Reitch. All alone until Pearl Habour happened and gave birth to the Allied Forces as America joined the war. Thus ending the diabolic plans of one of the most evil empires of all time.
Most importantly however, ” you meant it for evil, but I meant it for good”, from where, the Salvation story came to us in the Caribbean. After Columbus, and then Penn and Venables invaded Jamaica and ” God save the Queen ” ruled, until Eternal Father bless our land, in 1962.
Message : Do not fret ( do not be afraid or worry ) for it only leads to evil. The Psalmist.
The reason for the sad tale of Lot and his two daughters; a metaphor for much of the reason why so much has gone wrong in human history. They attempted to ‘ play God” for they were afraid, they worried, were guilty of fretting, that no man would be available for them ” in all the world “. This after the destruction of Sodom and Gomarrah, and ironically, after God had saved them with mighty power.
THE SHAMEFUL ORIGIN OF MOAB AND AMMON
Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.” That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older …..
Genesis 19:30-38 NIV
It’s a passage of Scripture which has provoked much comment and great controversy, especially on social media. And no doubt there are many other lessons to be learnt from this experience.
But when you link it with the story which immediately follows it, in Chap 20, as I was led to read, the point raised by the Psalmist, ” do not fret, for it leads only to evil, is once again validated.
ABRAHAM AND SARAH AND ABIMELEK
Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.”
Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
Genesis 20:1-11 NIV
The challenge, as I read these passages of Scripture, in the context of my visit to this historic city, and what is taking place at home, I believe, is for us as church, to remember that God is a good God. And a God of, and in control of history. Regardless of our present or past circumstances.
An assurance given on the final revelation.
THE WORD OF GOD
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.
” Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:18-27 NIV
For, ultimately, the reason why we can live without fear, and not allow evil to rule our minds, is because we serve, and believe in, a Savior who was raised from the dead. With might Power! And which Power, The Holy Spirit, lives in every believer, by faith and by grace.
And anytime we forget the power of the resurrected Christ living us, evil can attack us, and cause us to fret and worry. And do stuff which dishonors the Living God.
The story of Lot’s, and sadly, lots of, daughters, and sons! Including far too many of us in Jamaica who don’t live victorious lives in and through Christ Jesus the Crucified One.
And, thank God, only a small part of Abraham’s story. The man of faith!
So we thank God for mercy, as He ‘ restores our souls’ , in Christ Jesus, the Living Word, day by day, as we learn, and believe in the words of the songwriter:
When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way.
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.