Sunday 13th February 2011

Welcome everyone!  On Thursday evening, as I sat down to write this letter I heard the State of the Nation 21 Gun Salute.  I felt the buildings around my office slightly shudder.  I heard the  military band and imagined the military accompaniment.

Why is it that we use machines of death to celebrate the state of a nation?  These instruments of destruction point to a nation’s shame not glory.  Have our imaginations become so stunted that we are unable to express our nationhood with signs and symbols of life and unity?  Symbols that remind us that we are part of a larger world, that we are called to care for, instead of threaten.

There is one country in the world that we can learn from in this regard.  On December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer, of Costa Rica, abolished the military of Costa Rica after victory in the civil war in that year.  In a ceremony in the Cuartel Bellavista, Figueres broke a wall with a mallet, symbolizing the end of Costa Rica’s military spirit. In 1949, the abolition of the military was introduced in Article 12 of the Costa Rican Constitution.

The budget previously dedicated to the military now is dedicated to security, education and culture; the country maintains Police Guard forces. The museum Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, was placed in the Cuartel Bellavista as a symbol of commitment to culture. In 1986, President Oscar Arias Sánchez declared December 1 as the Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day) with Law #8115.

Thank you God for inspiring and faithful examples.  Lord help us as a nation, to follow.  Alan

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Just a Thought No. 5

Blessed are the Poor

An indisputable fact of life is our experiences dictate our perceptions. And while most wish for wealth, health and prosperity, is there a risk that we’re missing the world the poor, ill and suffering are seeing?

Blessed are the poor is absurd at surface level, but is it really absurd when we burrow deeper? – Motheo

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Sunday 6th February 2011

Welcome everyone!

Last week I wrote about having recently met a few people whose lives were scarred with suffering yet there was no hint of bitterness or blame.  They took responsibility to live their life fully and freely.  They were not victims—they were survivors.

Their courageous example is in stark contrast to the many moments when we play the victim even in the absence of real suffering.   The attraction of this victim mentality is that it releases us from full responsibility for our living.  It helps to convince us (or is the result of having convinced us) that we don’t have a choice, which in turn convinces us that we don’t have to do anything because there is “nothing” we can do.  When we play the victim we are never wrong—everyone else is—everyone else is to blame.  In fact, victims are    passionate about finding out the faults of others and exposing them—it helps turn the spotlight away from our own inadequacies.

Another characteristic of this victim mentality is the great ease with which we take offence.  I read the other day the following quote from a certain radio personality, “Remember you TAKE offence, nobody gives it to you”.   To take offence is therefore more a reflection of our inner insecurity than any particular trait of the other.

Lord heal us from being a victim!  Alan

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The Hebrew Liberation Out of Egypt

If you have not seen Just a Thought No. 3 yet, it’s well worth watching before you watch this one for some additional – albeit unnecessary – context.

Watching the Egyptian revolution unfold has been captivating. And I use the word ‘captivating’ as responsibly as one can with such heavy matters.

How is it in a time where people thought most sophisticated governments were too secure to be threatened can an entire nation rise up this unexpectedly and at this rapid rate?

Unrelated, but equally captivating, is where this domino piece falls into what looks like 2011’s 1989.

To make an even older connection, what (if anything) do Egyptian people of today have in common with the Hebrews who were freed from this very land some 3000? I’d venture the connection, and Alan’s interpretation, may surprise you. -Motheo

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Repent

Repent is a very uncomfortable word. More so than the word, it is a very uncomfortable act. Why uncomfortable? Well, in the context it is often used in, especially biblical terms, it seems to presuppose that we want to change, where often we may not. It also has an undercurrent of ‘having to change’ even if we don’t want to.

Would it surprise you to learn that repentance is a far more hopeful term than it is an uncomfortable one?

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Sunday 30th January 2011

I was reminded this week again about how painfully difficult life is for some people.  That through no fault of their own they have suffered at the hands of others – be it sexual abuse when they were a child, or beatings by a father who would otherwise never speak to them, or the death of an intimate     partner, for the third time – “Whoever I love dies!”  At times, suffering seems to stalk some disproportionately more than others and it makes one want to yell at God and say, “Are you blind, or do you simply not care?”

This depth of pain is such that one does not “get over” it—ever!  One may be able to live with it in less debilitating ways and by time, work and grace may even live with it in life-giving ways—but it is always there living with us.

There is something very humbling about being in the presence of one who has suffered so much.  Perhaps because their lives have been taken beyond the trivial forever, never to return.  They literally do life at deeper depths.

What further moved me was that none of these people sounded like a victim.  Their language was free of bitterness and blame.  They had such a sense of ownership and responsibility to live life fully and freely.  Their life—though scarred—was still their life and they were determined to live it.

Thank you Lord for inspiring people!

Grace, Alan

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The Salvation Equation

Aha! We’re already on episode 2 of our ‘Not a Sermon… Just a Thought’ video series. This one speaks to the ‘Salvation Equation’, perhaps one of the strongest themes in all religions, not just Christianity. What does it take to be ‘saved’? People agonise over this question all day, individually, in church, and in community.

Grace + Faith = Salvation

We’ve come to believe grace and faith are the key components in the salvation equation. Would it perturb you to learn that the predominant teachings of faith are not what Jesus taught. Or, to take an even stronger position, they’re not even what Jesus expects? That’s what we tackle in this episode. I hope you find it engaging, and we would love to hear your thoughts on it.

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Not a Sermon… Just a thought

We’re very excited to bring you the very first of hopefully many videos in our new video series, entitled ‘Not a Sermon… Just a thought’. We’ll be doing one a week at least – every Tuesday – and on some weeks, we will release a second video on Thursdays. This first week is a ‘special week’ in that we have a double header, but don’t hold us to over achieving just yet. Remember, we’re taking a slow walk here, friends.

Help!

This first video will serve as an introduction so you have a good sense of where we’re trying to go, and how we’d love to see you getting involved. We encourage commenting, and any feedback given will hugely appreciated. Furthermore if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered, please feel free to share in the comments section to. This is a communal project, and we hope you, the community, gets involved. Enjoy

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Sunday 23rd January 2011

Welcome everyone,

On the homepage you will notice that our annual Covenant Service takes place on the 30th January.  In order for us to prepare for this we are all invited to join together on Wednesday 26th (7pm – 9pm).  This will be our first Wednesday Church gathering and we will be reflecting on the Covenant prayer.

I believe the psalmist speaks for all of us when s/he prays, “As a deer longs for flowing streams so my life longs for you O God” [Psalm 42:1].  I also believe that the psalmist is speaking literally rather than metaphorically.  Simply put, we thirst for God as we thirst for water.

Human beings can only go without water for about three days and even one day without water is tough!  The same applies to our relationship with God—reminding us to drink daily from the multitude of means of grace given to us, not least the gifts of silence and prayer and reading of the Scriptures.

Equally it would be a health risk for us to think that we can last much past three days without connecting as Church.  Church simply understood is Christ-centered Community.

For this reason I want to invite you to attend Wednesday Church.

The evenings will generally include a mixture of  worship / teaching / discussion / coffee….from 7pm-9pm.

Prayer Practice will be from 6:30pm7pm every Wednesday

Grace, Alan

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Sunday 16th January 2011

Welcome everyone

I am not sure what decisions you have made about your life for this New Year, but one resolution that we should all have is to follow Jesus more faithfully – to trust in what he trusted in – to love what he loved – to be occupied with what  occupied him – to resist what he resisted, etc.  In order for us to follow Jesus and have faith in what Jesus had faith in, we need to be constantly growing in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus – learning about the way he lived and the way he calls us to live.

I have just planted a small garden and one thing I have been reminded of again is that plants are either growing or dying.  There is no in-between for plants.  It is growth or death!  I think we humans are not too different to plants – we too are either growing or dying.  So the question we need to ask ourselves is what are we doing to grow?  Where is our water and nutrient supply and are we getting enough sunlight?

To this end I want to invite you to seriously consider signing up for Connections (a 12- week course starting Sunday 30th January at 19:00).  If you have done it before—there is no harm in doing it again—because it WILL be different, not least because there will be a different group of people doing it.  This will also give you an opportunity to meet new people at CMM.   Or if you have done Connections then it may be time to try the DISCIPLE course (also starting end of January).

What I know about my own journey with Jesus is that when I am meeting weekly with other serious seekers of the way, the truth and the life – I grow and when I don’t I die a little.  It is as simple as that!  I want to encourage you to carve out some time this year for GROWTH…to journey with others in following Jesus.

Just do it!  Alan

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