On a December evening before Christmas, amongst the hustle and bustle of late night shoppers, Rob Earl arranged for a group from Jubilee to go into Middlesbrough town centre and share a Christmas message. Vicky Stuart, one of those that signed up, tells of her experience...
'When I first heard about the outreach in Middlesbrough, handing out candy canes and Carol service invites, I thought that this was a really great idea and was interested to know more. I wanted to help out and begin to show God's love to the people of Middlesbrough but at the same time, I was so nervous as I had never done anything like this before. I was thinking… "what if someone asks me lots of questions...how will I answer them?"
On the evening it was much more enjoyable than I anticipated, although the first few people I had approached to ask if they would like a candy cane refused to take one. However, after a few rejections, people started to come forward and accept them and this was the chance that I took to offer them an invite to the Carol service at the same time. I found that if I could get the people to stop for candy then I could open up the conversation about the Carol Service and then possibly about Jesus too. I was actually really surprised as when I asked most people if they would like to take an invite, they actually accepted the invite also. Only a handful of people turned an invite down. One person said she couldn't make it but could she still have an invite to give to other family members, while others were asking where and when it was on as they were interested.
Although I hadn't done anything like this before, in my opinion, it worked well and I really enjoyed being involved. It was lovely to be part of a team seeking to share God's love at Christmas. My daughter Amber really enjoyed handing out the candy canes as well and wouldn't come back with me when my younger daughter woke up and we needed to go back to Hope House, preferring to stay out with others to hand more invites out!
When Raj announced on Sunday that as far as he counted, there were at least 9 people at the Carol Service from the outreach, I was so thankful to God that He had worked through us. I felt so blessed and hope and pray that God brings these people to Jubilee for more than just the Carol Service and that perhaps they would have read the message attached to the candy cane telling of God's love for them.'
As we come to the end of our sermon series in the book of John, Gavin unpacks the final chapter looking at a miraculous catch of fish for the disciples. Having reverted back to their old life, as Jesus shows in this passage, that is often the place where he meets us. In this talk we look at teaching on mission, church and forgiveness...an action packed way to finish the book of John!
'Resurrection is the victory parade as Jesus the risen Champion comes out of his tomb fully alive to the amazement of earth and to the applause of heaven.' (Andrew Wilson). That's the Easter for you! The miraculous reappearances of Jesus after the cross witnessed by hundreds of people have been refuted for centuries. Yet the bottom line is that no one has been successful in explaining it all away as deception or lies. The reality is 'In its favour as living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence, positive and negative, factual and circumstantial, that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring in a verdict that the resurrection story is true.' (Lord Darling, former Lord Chief Justice of England)
Richard Dawkins echoes in the extreme humanities disregard for God:
‘In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, and other people are going to get lucky; and you won't find any rhyme or reason to it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good. Nothing but blind pitiless indifference. DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is, and we dance to its music.’
Do we really believe this? Is life so meaningless?
In this section of John’s Gospel we hear what the real Jesus claimed about himself, about the world’s plight and why He came. It’s a story of compassion and love and hope. It’s a story of wrath absorbed, justice payed and suffering joy. As we approach Easter let’s meditate on the real Jesus - what he said about himself and how his story shapes and transforms ours like no other faith, worldview or belief does. This Jesus really is unique!
Jesus shares this popular parable as a way of demonstrating some of the different responses to his message. In this talk, Gavin looks at the theme of evangelism and what our motivation behind this should be, before looking into some different ways of sharing the Gospel in our everyday lives. As 2019 approaches the challenge to all of us is to think about how and why we should be sharing our faith with others.