Thought for the Month (December 2006)
Christmas – boring, untrue and irrelevant?
I make no excuse for taking this title directly from the Alpha Course which ran from September to December this year in many Churches across Tunbridge Wells. The Alpha Course is a series of ten studies open to all which shows that, far from being boring, untrue and irrelevant, Christianity is exciting, true and relevant. The historical evidence for the life and death of Jesus is strong. The Christian belief that Jesus is God the Son* is both reasonable and exciting, and the Christian faith is certainly relevant to every aspect of human life.
So what about Christmas? Without the truth of Jesus, God born into this world as a human being, Christmas is no better than any other mind-winter festival and deserves to be treated as such. However, if Jesus really is God the Son, and he really was born into this world as a human being; and if Jesus really did die on a cross to bring us the option of eternal life with God, what then?
Then - get down on your knees and worship God this Christmas!
* Christians believe that God shows himself to us in three ways (the Trinity) – God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son: if you need to know more about the truths about God represented by the Trinity, please contact the Minister.
The perplexing ability to forgive...
We were all horrified by the killing of 5 innocent primary school girls while attending school in a small Amish community in Pennsylvania. The unspeakable tragedy committed by a deeply disturbed man, Charles Roberts, has brought world wide attention and an outpouring of grief.
What has surprised and perplexed the world even more than the killing of innocent children and Roberts' subsequent suicide, is the reaction of the Amish community toward the murderer and his family. It is not exactly how most of the world would react.
The grief stricken Amish community has said they forgive Roberts and have visited Roberts' surviving wife and 3 children to express sympathy and concern. The Amish have set up a financial fund for this family. They invited the family to one of the funerals of one of the girls. Over 50% of those in attendance when Roberts was buried were members of the Amish community.
The editor of a Canadian Mennonite paper said "The great benefit of forgiveness, say believers, is its transformative power to free oneself from all-consuming anger. Desire for revenge and retribution eats away at you; it’s a corrosive thing. Forgiveness doesn't mean the victims are not interested in seeing justice done... they are not preoccupied by questions of punishment. For the Amish, punishment is left in God's hands."
The Amish didn't invent the concept of forgiveness or just adopt a philosophical way of life, but rather it comes from the core of their faith in God. It begins with an Amish person or any one of us accepting God's love, as seen in His son Jesus' words and life; and embracing God's forgiveness, as seen in Jesus' death for our sins.
When we think of our own personal world, most of us can bring to mind the anger and pain we have both experienced personally and inflicted upon others because we can neither give nor receive forgiveness easily. Everything and everyone is affected; relationships, families, work environments, clashing cultures, etc.
Do we have the ability to forgive as the Amish? If our answer is no, possibly we need to go beyond the inspiration of their unfathomable example of love and forgiveness and seek the same source they have.
"Forgive one another as the Lord has forgiven you" Colossians 3:13
This is certainly a text that guided the Amish decision to forgive. It could also guide us.
City In Focus
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