From the pastor’s pen: He gave it all
“God thus loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
Not by chance, this is by far the best-known verse in the Bible, expressing in few simple words the heart of God for lost humanity and the extent of his intervention to save us all from ourselves and the darkness of our hearts.
Incidentally, it is also at the centre of the message of Christmas as God gave his only begotten Son not only to be born, live among us and to teach us the way back to our God through him, but to effectively swap place with us – dying the death that our sin deserved that we might be forgiven and transformed to live eternally with him. Unfortunately though, Christmas has been both romanticised and belittled to the point that it’s become nothing more than a children’s story about a cute baby in a cosy manger surrounded by angels and farm animals (to most people at least). But the truth is a mixture of perfect love and tragedy – it’s both glorious and grim.
The truth is that God gave up the one thing he could not live without. He willingly sent his Son, creator of heaven and earth and almighty king, to take on mortality, shrink to the size of a baby, be born in a very unsanitized place, in a world that did not have time or room for him, to live a life of rejection specifically for the purpose of dying a death he never deserved, for people who deserved it even less.
It is this thought of God giving us his all, not out of compulsion or obligation, but out of love for broken humanity, that is often in stark contrast with most of what goes on around this season. Despite its message of sheer love and generosity, many will go through this season in a very selfish and materialistic way. Most of our time, energy and efforts will go towards presents, dinners, parties, decorations and “bling”, completely distracted from the greatest act of love and generosity God has ever performed for us. David Pawson (esteemed and prolific author as well as an attested prophetic voice of the 20th century), during a time of prayer and intimacy with God years ago, asked Him a bold question - “What makes you sick, Lord?” The answer he got back was “Christmas”. To be quite honest with you, I am not surprised.
My prayer is that as we approach this season, we will not run the Christmas “rat-race” of this world, but rather make the most of this opportunity to share the sheer love and generosity of our God, intentionally projecting and reflecting the good news of Jesus with those around us, reminding a self-centred and distracted world of the real reason for the season. For Christmas means absolutely nothing apart from a proclamation of “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom 8:32)
We have been working very hard to bring Churches and Church leaders together to organise a town-wide Carols night at Blackburn Cathedral with author and speaker Rev. Canon J. John on Friday 13th at 7pm. The aim is to celebrate Christmas together as one big Church and to share the good news of Jesus with our family, friends, colleagues and anybody who has not heard it yet! Tickets are sold at £5 for 2 (one for you and one for your guest). Tickets are going fast so, if you haven’t bought any yet, I’d encourage you to invite your friends and buy the tickets as soon as possible! You can do it:
On ChurchSuite (just click on the “Christmas Unwrapped” event highlighted on your homepage and follow the instructions)
On Eventbrite (just look for “Christmas Unwrapped” on the search bar and follow the instructions)
By giving the money to Emmanuel who will purchase it for you.
At the event we will also announce further opportunities for our guests to explore the Christian faith as we have set up a number of Alpha courses across the borough.
Special prayer for the event –a special prayer morning for this event and those attending is taking place on Tuesday 10th from 8am to 10am (come and go as you need) at the Salvation Army Citadel (BB1 5BE, right in front of Morrison’s carpark – free 2h stay). The prayer meeting is open to every Christian available.
Other Christmas events
Throughout December, we will be hosting a number of Christmas events for all ages:
Children Christmas Party – Another opportunity for our children to get together for a night of fun as well as education on the reason for the season. Parents, please encourage your children to invite their little friends along! On Saturday 7th of December from 12noon to 2pm at our Central Campus. Admission is only £1 per child. Please book on ChurchSuite or directly with Caroline.
Nativity Sunday – Come along on Sunday 15th at 10.30am at our Central Campus as our children re-enact the nativity story with a modern twist! Laughter is guaranteed – as well as a gospel message around the nativity from our pastor. This is another easy invitation for people to come and listen to the good news of Jesus!
Carols night – a night of Carols singing on Sunday 22nd at 4pm at our Shadsworth Campus enriched by festive refreshments and a gospel message from our pastor. If you live in the area, invite as many locals along! Christmas is one of the easiest times to get people to Church.
Christmas day service – this year too we will celebrate Christmas on Christmas day at 10.30am at our Central Campus for a shorter, 1 hour long service. It’s a great opportunity to wish a merry Christmas to one another before we break up for the holidays.
Christmas meal – this year’s Christmas meal will be on Friday 20th at 7pm at “A Mano Restaurant” (One Cathedral Square, Blackburn BB1 1FB – right behind Blackburn Cathedral). Please pay your balance ASAP, either by cash to Valentina or on ChurchSuite (you can find the event page directly on your home screen).
The members of the Dorcas Project have been busy for a number of weeks knitting all sorts of warm wear for the homeless and the less fortunate. On Sunday the 1st they will bring all those items to Church for us to pray a blessing over those who will wear them, before getting delivered to various agencies.
Their next gathering will be on Thursday 5th of December (time and place tbc). If you would like to have more information about the Dorcas Project and how to join, please see Val.
Dates for diary:
Nifty Fifties – Friday 6th at 11am (Central Campus)
Shadsworth outreach – Saturday 7th (for more info on time and meeting place, see Trevor)
Simon and Valentina’s holidays – from the 27th of December to the 8th of January
Caroline and Tony’s holidays – from the 27th of December to the 5th of January
Emmanuel’s holidays – From the 30th of December to the 12th of January