Words_0017-01.png
Search

A lot of us have probably tried to give things up for Lent. I remember once when, at ten years old, I took a bite into a delicious slice of chocolate cake before suddenly remembering that I had given chocolate up for Lent. I quickly spat it into a napkin and felt intensely guilty for the rest of the day.

It’s not until I got a bit older that I realised that this is in fact not what Lent is about. It’s not a test of our endurance, or a competition to see who can withstand temptation the longest. It’s actually a beautiful period of time where, in whatever way we find most helpful, we can open our hearts up to the Lord’s presence and let the knowledge of his immense mercy wash over us.

So, what actually is the purpose of Lent? In the third century, the Church formalised Lent as a time of fasting for forty days, just as Jesus did in the wilderness. This would begin the day after Shrove Tuesday when perishables like eggs and milk were used up (often as pancakes!), and would end on Easter Sunday. This time would be spent in self-reflection, observance and prayer.

In the same way, Christians today might choose to give up certain luxuries or activities, like social media, coffee, or chocolate (my personal kryptonite). Others might choose to add something to their daily routines, such as additional time for prayer or reading scripture. Whatever way one might choose to observe this time, the purpose is the same: to refocus our hearts and minds on God, our Heavenly Father who gave His one and only son to rescue his beloved people from their own destructive paths. It’s not a time to begrudgingly give up things we love in order to prove ourselves, but instead to submit our hearts to God, listening to his word, and growing in understanding of his will.


Below are some Lent devotional resources recommended by members of Streatham Central Church:


Forty Women by Ros Clarke and Rebecca McLaughlin


https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/christmas/forty-women

Easter wouldn't have happened without these forty women. Come and meet the hidden voices in the Bible's story in this daily Lent devotional for 2022.







40 Days of Grace by Paul David Tripp


https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/40-days-of-grace

Through 40 daily meditations, Paul David Tripp explores the role grace plays in the everyday life of a Christian.







The Lent Project - Biola University Centre for Christianity Culture and the Arts


https://ccca.biola.edu/lent/2022/

A 53-day aesthetically guided meditation on Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.







Gospel in Life – Lent Devotional


https://gospelinlife.com/lent-devotional/



Want to focus your heart on Jesus but not sure where to start? Here’s a great song that reflects on the cross and what it means for us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ymkl0t0FOcw


‘Child of weakness watch and pray,

Find in me thine all in all’


With love,

Aisha


I remember the first time I heard about Jesus and the days after leading up to me saying yes to Him and opening the door of my heart to Jesus and letting Jesus in (Revelation 3:20). That changed my life forever! I went from death to life, and I believe there are many today here in Streatham waiting to make that same decision!


We all have a story like mine. Maybe you were raised in a loving Christian home, and you had heard about Jesus your whole life and decided to follow Jesus early in life. Or maybe you didn’t grow up in a particularly Christian household and yet in both cases you and I have come to say yes to Jesus.

And why? Well because someone did some evangelism.


Whether it was your parents or your grandma or some random guy on the street or in your classroom, they all did evangelism.

They told you about Jesus and about the gospel and that it is the power to save you (1 Corinthians 1:18).


Now if you like me (and even if you’re not) and you need easy practical advice and scripture to lead me to doing a little more evangelism, then this is where we start.

1. First, we pray, pray, and pray!

And why,

- Because ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ [Matt 9:37-38]


We pray because the harvest is plentiful, and we pray because prayer works!

Prayer is the engine room of evangelism. If we want to see the gospel of Christ proclaimed to every generation across Streatham and the UK, the first thing we must do, as a matter of first importance, is to pray!

So, we can all pray.


2. Then we are to Go!

- “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’[Matt 28:19-20]


After praying we are meant to go! This doesn’t not mean just the missionary is to go to far away land, but it is a command for me and you to go to our neighbours and our friends our colleagues and the people walking down our streets.

To tell them this good news.


3. And why? Because…

- “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” [Rom 10:13-14]


You see, how will they believe and accept the one they have not yet heard of and how will they hear if no one goes?

We need to go out and share the good news with people!

I believe many reading this will have my same convictions. My heart cries and yearns to see more people saved and I want to be part of that, but how can I?


Well, start by praying and then take the opportunity to GO when it presents itself.


Be brave and obedient for the Lord Jesus Christ, He is with you always.


Yours In Christ


Connor



“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)


Are things beginning to feel Christmassy to you yet?

I for one have certainly enjoyed tucking into the first few days of my advent calendar over the past week (a Freddo and a Malteser reindeer so far, in case you’re wondering). My team at work had our Christmas party during the last week of November(!), and Christmas carols have been the backdrop in our flat for weeks on end, so it’s definitely beginning to feel like the Christmas season is upon us in our household.

The Christmas feeling started particularly early in my family this year, as in early October my brother announced that he had been given a role in ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Old Vic theatre, running from early November to early January. Which, by all accounts, is a pretty good Christmas job for a student! Things got off to an interesting start on the opening night, when the Christmas turkey (which was due to descend from the ceiling onto stage) failed to appear. Cue significant confusion and hilarity for the rest of the scene, with references such as “doesn’t the turkey look tasty” negotiated whilst pointing towards a turkey sized gap on the table. I’ll be going to see it later this week, hoping that the turkey will make an appearance this time, and that my brother doesn’t break a leg before then…

Whether or not you celebrate Christmas, and have traditions that include a trip to see “A Christmas Carol” at the theatre, or attending an evening candle lit carol service, it’s likely that you are going to be exposed to numerous Christmas carols over the coming weeks, on the TV, radio, playing in shops, or pretty much anywhere with a pair of speakers! Lots of these carols are familiar to many of us, Christmas music hardly ever changes(!), but perhaps (as the saying goes) “familiarity breeds contempt”, or at the very least some of the meaning held within the lyrics can wash over us as we hum away to the well-known tunes.

So, I’m briefly exploring one of the best known Christmas Carols: Once in Royal David’s City. The traditional curtain raiser to a carol service, usually with the first verse sung as a solo by a brave volunteer (that was my brother when we were growing up, not me, you will be relieved to hear).

It’s quite a chunky one to kick off with, I’ll admit, but I suspect that’s with good reason. It seems that that Cecil Frances Alexander, who penned this back in 1848, had a fair amount that she wanted to note about this baby. However, I want to briefly pull out two broad themes:


1. This baby is pretty ordinary


The picture of the birthplace is not what we are used to, we clearly have hospital facilities and equipment that simply didn’t exist 2000 years ago, and yet even then this would have been considered an extremely unpleasant place to give birth. Being born in a “cattle shed”, amongst the by-products and smells that go with it, with the “oxen standing by”. The baby’s first bed, a “manger”, the cattle feeding trough. This was not a distinguished entrance into the world, it was quite the opposite, almost an inhumane way to enter the world.

However, this baby was as human as you or me, he was “little, weak and helpless” and like all young children there were many “tears” and many “smiles”. “Day by day” he grew in maturity, from a child, to a teenager, to an adult, and in so doing he experienced time of great joy, as well as times of great sadness, he “feeleth for of sadness” and he “shareth in our gladness”. He was, in many respects, a very normal human being. Starting as a helpless baby, and growing up experiencing the range of human emotions.

This baby is like us, but at the same time, there is lots about him that isn’t like us…

2. This baby is pretty extraordinary


Maybe this is not the case for you (if so, please share), but nobody has thought it necessary to write a song about my birth! And that is down to the unique claim about who this baby is, “he came down to earth from heaven, who is God and Lord of all”. This baby is unique, because in this baby God has come down from heaven, to earth. The all-powerful creator of everything, becomes a weak, helpless, dependent baby, born in a barn.

People noticed this as he grew up, throughout his childhood “he would honour and obey” those around him. I’m sure any parents among us can attest to how extraordinary that is…!

This child “so dear and gentle, is our Lord in heaven above”. Why so many songs written about this baby, because this is no ordinary baby, and that’s what this carol is wanting to highlight to us.


This carol focuses mainly on “Christmas Past” but following the theme of the theatrical performance I thought I’d highlight Cecil Frances Alexander’s mention of “Christmas Present” and “Christmas Future” here too.

“He leads his children on”, although this baby was born over 2000 years ago, this carol claims that Jesus is still at work today, and that is why Christians celebrate Christmas year on year (Christmas Present), knowing that one day “we shall see him, but in heaven” (Christmas Future). The birth of this baby was not about God coming to earth to set us a good example of how to live, this was God’s rescue plan to save the world: “lived on earth our Saviour holy” - Pete Downing



Once in Royal David’s city

Stood a lowly cattle shed,

Where a mother laid her Baby

In a manger for His bed:

Mary was that mother mild,

Jesus Christ her little Child.


He came down to earth from heaven,

Who is God and Lord of all,

And His shelter was a stable,

And His cradle was a stall;

With the poor, and mean, and lowly,

Lived on earth our Saviour holy.

And through all His wondrous childhood

He would honour and obey,

Love and watch the lowly maiden,

In whose gentle arms He lay:

Christian children all must be

Mild, obedient, good as He.

For he is our childhood’s pattern;

Day by day, like us He grew;

He was little, weak and helpless,

Tears and smiles like us He knew;

And He feeleth for our sadness,

And He shareth in our gladness.


And our eyes at last shall see Him,

Through His own redeeming love;

For that Child so dear and gentle

Is our Lord in heaven above,

And He leads His children on

To the place where He is gone.


Not in that poor lowly stable,

With the oxen standing by,

We shall see Him; but in heaven,

Set at God’s right hand on high;

Where like stars His children crowned

All in white shall wait around