Journal giveaway winners announced!

🎉🎉Excited to announce the journal giveaway winners!🎉🎉

Thanks so much to everyone who entered, Carol and I enjoyed reading your suggestions of who you would give a journal to.

And the winners are….

Vivien Willatt 
Melanie Burnside 
Joy Skinner
itsabeautifulwordblog

Congratulations to you all!

A journal will be winging it’s way to you very soon, please get in touch with me with your postal address so I can get send them off to you asap!

Advent Scriptures Resource

A few years back for a project I was working on called ‘Share the Hope’ I put together a list of scriptures that told the Christmas story through December. I couldn’t find an existing resource so spent quite a while producing my own. It was only in chatting to a friend last week that I realised this might be useful to others so here it is. Not saying it’s perfect, you might prefer a different order, this just worked for our project, but I’m just posting it here as a resource for others to use if they would like, and I have included links to Bible Gateway too.

Advent / Christmas Scriptures

1 DEC // Matt 1:18

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit

 

2 DEC // Luke 1:26-28  

 

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

 

3 DEC // Luke 1:29-31

 

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus…

 

 

4 DEC // Luke 1:32-35

…He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God…

 

5 DEC // Luke 1:36-38

 

… Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

 

 

6 DEC // Matt 1:19-20

Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit…

 

 

7 DEC // Matt 1:21-24

…she will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

 

8 DEC // Luke 1:39-45

Mary Visits Elizabeth

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

 

9 DEC // Luke 1:46-53

 

Mary’s Song

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
 he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things
 but has sent the rich away empty.

 

10 DEC // Luke 2:1-7

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

 

11 DEC // Isaiah 9:2-3

The people walking in darkness
 have seen a great light;
 on those living in the land of deep darkness  a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation
 and increased their joy;
 they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
 as warriors rejoice
 when dividing the plunder.

 

12 DEC // Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

 

13 DEC // John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

 

14 DEC // Isaiah 11:1- 3a

The Branch From Jesse

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

 

15 DEC // Isaiah 11.3b – 9

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt
 and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb,
 the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear,
 their young will lie down together,
 and the lion will eat straw like the ox.The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy
 on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
 as the waters cover the sea.

 

16 DEC // Luke 2:8-10

 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people

 

17 DEC // Luke 2: 11-14

…Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”

 

18 DEC // Luke 2: 15-16

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.

 

19 DEC // Luke 2: 17-20

 

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

20 DEC // Matt 2:1-2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

 

21 DEC // Matt 2: 3-8

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
 who will shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.

 

22 DEC // Matt 2:9-10

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

 

23 DEC // Matt 2:11 – 12

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

 

24 DEC // John 1:14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

 

 

 

Preach / Eco theme / Genesis 1 / 29th Oct 2017 ‘ And God Saw That is Was good’

Preach / Eco theme / Genesis 1 / 29th Oct 2017

Given at TRINITY Church 9.30 22nd oct and 10 & 11.15 29th Oct, available to listen here

‘Title: And God saw that it was Good…’

 

Reading Genesis 1

and John 1:1-5

 

 

So for today’s sermon we have an eco focus. I’m not preaching on giving, we’ve done the prep for gift day before today and Steve has preached on giving for us. But there is a bit of a link because we want to be people who give our whole lives to God, every area, and one part of that is finances and giving, and yet another part is in looking after the world we live in, we could say a world that God has given us to look after, and recognising our impact on God’s creation and that’s what I am going to focus on today…

 

I want to start today with a story, you might have heard it before but it’s a nice story…

 

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go walking on the beach every morning. One day, he was walking along the shore after a big storm and found the beach was covered with stranded starfish.

Then the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and the man could see that he was bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  So he called out, “Hi There, can I ask what you are doing?”

The boy looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” unless I throw them back into the water they will die.

The old man replied, “But there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. you won’t really make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the sea. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

…o0O0o…

So we’ll come back to that later on but now let’s get into our reading and today we are looking at creation and what that might mean to is in an eco-sense.

And I thought we’d do that by going through it one day at a time.

 

 

Day 1

 

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

 

 

This is the UK at night… (pic)

Did you know, in an average year in the U.S alone outdoor lighting uses some 120 terawatt-hours of energy) so for info 1 terawatt = 1 trillion hours) so, 120 trillion hours of energy on street lighting – That’s one country and street lamps alone.

The amount of power needed to run all that lighting adds up to $3.3 billion per year and the release of 21 million tons of CO2 per year.

 

And unfortunately, up to 50 percent of that light is wasted.

 

And did you know that artificial lights can disrupt nature too.

The migratory cycles of birds can be affected by light pollution too causing them to leave too early or too late in the season..

This all then affects their nesting and their very ability to survive.

 

…o0O0o…

 

God said let there be light, he gave us day and night, but it’s not enough for us and our man made lighting solutions are affecting the very order of the earth.

 

…o0O0o…

 

 

So… Day 2

 

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

  

That expanse, sky, is often polluted by our waste.

Although cars in this country have to pass emissions tests when they have their MOTs, across the world vehicle emissions are still one of the biggest contributors to pollution.

Not only does this harm the environment but can also be really harmful to us too. For example,

  • Breathing polluted air puts you at a higher risk for asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  • toxic chemicals released into the air can settle into plants and water sources. Animals eat the contaminated plants and drink the water. The poison then travels up the food chain – to us.

 

God created that wonderful expanse, that vault of sky, and we are filling it with toxic chemicals…

 

…o0O0o…

Day 3

Focusing on first part of the day… a lot happened on this day!

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

 

And what have we done with that dry ground?

 

Well, I can’t find the very latest stats but in 2012 in this country alone nearly 50 million tonnes of waste went into landfill sites.

To help us imagine how much that is – as a rough guide that’s

5750, 000,000 bags of rubbish – buried in the dry ground that God created.

 

More than that, some of these landfill sites that were used before regulations became much stricter (and we’re only talking pre 1990) are at real risk of leaking toxic chemicals into our water sources, evidence already shows that some of these are compromised… leaking chemicals, toxins and waste into the land around them, the land that God created…

 

what have we done with that dry ground? We have filled it with our trash…

 

…o0O0o…

 

Day 4

 

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

 

 

We talk a lot these days about our carbon footprint don’t we? How much Co2 do we each produce, and other gases that are called ‘greenhouse gases’ because they trap infrared radiation, which effectively holds heat in the atmosphere, which in turn gradually raises the temperature of the planet.

 

So your carbon footprint is the amount of Co2 you produce or you use, related to every aspect of your life. For example using gas or oil to heat your home, electricity that you use if it comes from plants that produce Co2, the food you consume, air miles used to get it here etc etc

 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, humans release 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Because each CO2 molecule might last for up to 200 years, so that carbon overload can have long-term consequences.

 

So that beautiful vault of sky, filled with the lights God made, is gradually being filled with toxic chemcials and not only will that have an impact on us but on generations to come…

 

…o0O0o…

Day 5

 

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

 

 

Today there are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans.

In fact in the pacific ocean an area twice the size of the US has been dubbed the great garbage patch, it is effectively a plastic soup, the ocean there just filled with tiny fragments of plastic.

 

pic – This is Henderson Island in the S Pacific. It is uninhabited and yet its beaches are littered with plastic trash washed up from across the world. Estimated around 3500 pieces arrive each day.

Most of the items found on the beaches are not from the shipping industry or fishing, but are everyday household items coming from our waste.

It’s even more concerning because Henderson Island is also a United Nations World Heritage site and one of the world’s biggest marine reserves, and one of the world’s best remaining examples of a coral atoll, practically untouched by human presence.

Or it was….

 

All that plastic also affects marine life, as they ingest it, or are trapped in it.

 

 

When God said ‘Let the water teem with living creatures’? I don’t think he meant let it also teem with bits of used up old plastic that will kill of the living creatures…

 

…o0O0o…

 

Day 6

 

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

 

The lives of these beautiful creatures that God created are affected in so many ways by our selfishness, our greed or just our ignorance.

Today, about 23% (1,130 species) of mammals and 12% (1,194 species) of birds are considered as threatened and every reason given for that threat is human derived:

unsustainable use of natural resources, climate change and pollution, ongoing growth of human populations, unsustainable consumer lifestyles, increased production of waste and pollutants and urban development,

Here’s one example, you might have heard of. Orangutans are threatened as their natural habit is being destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations.

Palm oil is used in many products from food to cosmetics. It is estimated to be an ingredient in over half of all products in supermarkets.

Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years as a direct result of the palm oil industry.

Over 6,000 orangutans a year die in the process, either in losing their habitat or through direct killing by the industry.

 

Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds…?

Well right now we are doing a pretty good job of messing up the land so that It can no longer produce living creatures, instead they struggle even to survive…

…o0O0o…

still Day 6…

and now to us, where do we fit into all of this? Then and now?

 

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 

So God created mankind in his own image,

    in the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

 

 …o0O0o…

Creation is good. Every day of creation bar 1 (and that’s another sermon), God saw that it was good and on the final day that it was VERY good.

And he gave that creation to man.

And although this not a preach on giving, how appropriate for our gift day – God gave mankind the purpose to oversee the earth,

And lets face it, if we don’t look after the earth then money is going to have very little importance anyway!

And different versions say different things:

NIV says :

so that they may rule over

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

‘Have dominion’ NRSV &KJV

and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over KJV

MSG:     So they can be responsible for

But what does it mean to rule or to have dominion over? What does that all that mean in a Godly sense?
I don’t think it means to lord it over the earth like a dictator, making strict laws, doing whatever we want when we want, and trampling over those in our path with no consideration for anyone or anything else.

I think God made man and then he gave him a gift and a purpose.

Remember humanity was made in God’s likeness, in ‘our image’ it says so then surely humanity’s role is to rule in his likeness?

And what do we know about God? He is a God of love, of compassion, kindness, faithfulness, provision… I could go on…

If you look at leaders in the bible, especially in the OT, the best leaders or rulers were the Godly ones, those who remained focused on God. They were the ones who sought the Lord and took people with them. They helped people to see the right way of living, or to repent when they’d made a mistake. Those who ruled with God at the heart of their leadership…

And Jesus himself gave us a model of leadership that was about servanthood, about submitting to others, about putting others before ourselves, about loving our neighbour, even in difference.

And he was there, right at the start of creation, John 1 as we heard talks of the word of God (a reference to Jesus)

 

 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

 

Without him nothing was made, in him was life and the light of all mankind…

Jesus was there at the very beginning.

So I think when God gave authority to Adam and Eve to rule the earth he did so thinking that they would love his beautiful creation as he did, that they would care for it and all the creatures in it as he did. And it’s the same for us today…

we have responsibility for God’s wonderful creation. And so to some extent it doesn’t matter what you believe about climate change or whether you choose not to eat meat, or whether you accept that ‘light pollution’ is actually a thing, or whether care one jot what your carbon footprint is. And it really doesn’t matter how creation happened, whether you think it was in one giant bang, in 7 days or over 7 millenia, he still made it.

Because at the end of the day chances are if you are in here, you believe in Jesus, you follow him, and want to be more like him (or if not you might be a bit interested in him!)

 

…o0O0o…

So can you imagine Jesus coming back right now and asking for a tour of the earth?

How could we possibly even begin to justify the state of the planet?

Imagine for one second what the beauty of the earth might have been like when God created it, new and flourishing, and bursting with abundant life. Reflecting the glory of God himself, the very essence of who God is, a creator…

And now compare that with the images I’ve shown you. Filled with rubbish, animals dying, the land filled with toxicity.

I don’t care if you believe in climate change or not, we, humanity, are treating this planet, God’s creation with a total lack of care and consideration.

Perhaps ask yourself, where do you see Jesus in the world around you? I wonder 

Would he see it and still say ‘ it is good?’

…o0O0o…

 

Don’t want to depress you…

Remember that starfish story at the beginning, it’s so easy to view things like this that are so vast and beyond our comprehension we think, well what can I do? I’m just one person, what difference can I make? Well just like the boy in the story we can do our small part and it can make a difference where we are. As a church we are working hard towards being more eco-friendly in the way the church is run. As you probably know we were awarded out silver eco award earlier this year and we are working on the next one too. But what can we do as individuals? We all have a responsibility…

…o0O0o…

So to finish up with… I’ve got a few suggestions that you can commit to really easily.

 

  • plastic – use less of it! Try and use less plastic bags – easy to just leave some on the car for when you next go to a shop.

I when I buy fruit and veg – stick it straight in the trolley you don’t need to bag everything up.

Or Give up Plastic water bottles. So it would be tough to give up plastic completely but we can be more aware of how we buy and what we use. Buy a reusable water bottle – preferably not plastic and wash and refill it. If you must buy one – sometimes we need to – reuse that!

 

  • Go Palm Oil Free – take a look at some of the products in your home. Ok replacing them all might be a bit costly but over time chose to buy different brands, even just one or two. Check out ethical consumer.com which has a list of some palm oil free products.
  • Try and reduce your landfill rubbish, Lewes is pretty good at recycling and its going to get even better with the new system being rolled out next year. But what about things you can’t put in there? clothes that are not even good enough for charity? Cut up to use as rags/cleaning cloths for example… think outside the box!
  • Check out orgs friends of the earth, green Christian, ethical consumer and others for more tips = maybe sign up for an email newsletter to keep informed…
  • Join the creation care team at TRINITY!

Try and choose one that you don’t already do and stick to it, simple but a step towards recognising the role each of us have on this planet.

 

Amen…

 

Links I used for research and pictures (not in this post)

 

Green Christian

Ethical Consumer

articles //

http://www.darksky.org/5-appalling-facts-about-light-pollution/

 

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/27022017/global-warming-permafrost-study-melt-canada-siberia

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_methane_emissions

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_plastic_development

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-27442625

 

 

http://metro.co.uk/2012/09/04/infographic-how-many-tonnes-of-waste-goes-to-landfill-in-britain-565321/

 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/27/waste-rubbish-industry-landfill-recycling-dumps-incineration

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/landfill-dumps-across-uk-at-risk-of-leaking-hazardous-chemicals-a6887956.html

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/13/130510-honeybee-bee-science-european-union-pesticides-colony-collapse-epa-science/

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/sunday-review/the-biggest-carbon-sin-air-travel.html

 

https://sciencing.com/co2-bad-planet-4876.html

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/05/henderson-island-pitcairn-trash-plastic-pollution/

 

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/species/problems/

 

https://www.theorangutanproject.org.uk/about-orangutans/palm-oil/

Preach / Remembrance / James 3 / Power of The Word

Remembrance Sunday Sermon / The power of The Word

James 3 – 1-12 

TRINITY 12/11/17 8am/10am/11.15am

 

Did you know that the average person says about 16,000 words a day? I guess that depends on who you are and what you do each day, but taking that as an average, that’s 112,000 words every week, five million words every year.

5 million words in a year.

And that’s just the spoken word, what about those written in emails, tweets, Facebook, texts…

We use words. A lot.

 

 

And I wonder if we could look back over them what we’d think of them?

How many we’d change if we could?

How many we’d be happy to repeat?

How many we might feel really represented who we are?

How many we think are respectful of each other?

How many recognise that we are all children of God?

In fact how many would be truly honouring to a God of love?

 

…o0O0o…

 

James we know wrote these words, in his letter to the scattered church – the 12 tribes scattered among the nations we read at the start. Perhaps to those far from the ‘home church’, from Jerusalem.

Through his words here he poses the challenge of the power of the things we communicate….

…o0O0o…

This week, in thinking about Remembrance Day I’ve been reading some other powerful words. In a book called ‘If You’re Reading this…’ by Sian Price, it features letters home from soldiers over the last 200 years or so, many written in case they didn’t return home.

 

Words like this:

 

I will go and fight with all my heart. Not to win a war, but to come home to my wife and my children. I took an oath to protect my country. Not for the sake of saving the world, but for the hopes that my family wouldn’t have to live in a world filled with hate, fear and sadness …

 

PFC Jesse Givens wrote those words in a letter home. He was deployed to Iraq on Valentines Day 2003 as part of the US 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment. On 1st May, just a few months later Jesse, was killed in a tank incident.

 

…o0O0o…

Jesse was well aware of political input behind the army’s presence in Iraq, and some of his writings express a sense of frustration with that. And yet in his final letter home he wrote not of that but of love:

 

 

My family: I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don’t know where to start. I’ve been getting bad feelings though and well if You are reading this …

I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in You . . . The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. You will never know how complete You have made me. Each and every one of You. You saved me from loneliness and taught me how to think beyond myself. You taught me how to live and to love. You opened my eyes to a world I never even dreamed existed…

 

…o0O0o…

 

 

Words filled with such love like that can be really powerful…

 

…o0O0o…

 

James knows that too as we read in his letter.

It is one of challenging advice, a reminder to stay focused on God and how to do that in practical ways and here his focus is on our words. He of course is focussing on the spoken word but I’m taking it a bit wider to include all the ways we communicate.

It is a challenge to take seriously a Godly and radical lifestyle. And here he’s reminding the reader, then and now, that the words that come out of our mouths have an impact. They are hugely important.

We’ve already seen how words fllled with love can be so powerful. But what about when they are not?

 

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell…

 

The tongue is a world of evil, set on fire by hell….

Phew. That’s strong stuff.

 

But words are so powerful. We’ve seen just last week in the press how the wrong words spoken, or said with the wrong sentiment or spoken to the wrong people can do real lasting damage, can be fanned into flame by the media and cause all sorts of trouble for those who spoke them.

 

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

 

James uses the example of a ships rudder to show us how powerful our words are. He notes that a large ship can be steered by such a tiny rudder, just like the tongue in our bodies, it is so small but can direct, our entire lives.

I don’t like to criticise others but I wanted to use an example this morning and for once it’s not Donald Trump! Recently there has been some debate over whether celebrity Katie Hopkins should be allowed to speak here in Lewes at the Speakers Festival in a few weeks time.

Katie Hopkins is a celebrity, broadcaster, journalist, who made her name on the TV show The Apprentice and since then seems to have grown a career out of, to be honest, not being not very nice.

Now I don’t know her personally, I only know what she portrays of herself in the media.

She’s rude, she shares her often hateful opinions on a range of topics with a seeming disregard for the feelings of others, she has created a persona who makes quite a hefty living out of being nasty and speaking hurtful words.

The tongue might a small part of the body but it is certainly seems to be driving Katie Hopkins entire life for example. And we can see with the response to some of the things she says that our words don’t just control us, they affect the world around us too. That image of fresh and salt water. You know of you had 2 glasses of water, one fresh and one salty and you poured them together, you’d end up with 1 large glass of salty water, The salt overrides and pollutes the fresh water.

Just as the things we say impact the world around us…

If you say something unkind or rude, or angry cross words, it’s a bit like your words being paint. You splatter your emotions over the person you are speaking to and they carry that with them, and the words – the paint – gets onto others and they in turn end up spreading that paint, or those words where they go…

Our words can spread love and life or they can spread darkness and hate… they can start wars or bring peace, they can honour one another or tear people down.

 

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Proverbs 18:21

 

Or the opposite:

Gracious words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

 

Now probably most of us communicate a mixture of those things. It doesn’t take much, to influence what we say. We take offence at a comment someone has made; we hear of a political decision we don’t feel is right, or we are tired, or anxious about something and we find we have less control over what we say and how we say it…

…o0O0o…

But James goes on to say…

 

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Imagine, your mouth, your words… we have used our mouths this morning to praise God, to worship him, thank him, ask him for forgiveness. It is a tool to draw closer to God and yet, if we later speak harsh words, it’s like we defile our praise and our worship – how can the two come from the same place? As James says ‘ this should not be!’

And more than that, so often we do speak those harsh words over others. Over those who, like us, were created in the image of God. God used his word so speak creation into being didn’t he, he spoke humanity into being Gen 1:26…

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness

 

God’s people, he spoke into being with his words, and yet we use our words to treat each other, Gods creation, with disdain, or disrespect.

You remember that old playground rhyme: ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me…’

The thing is its just not true, sometimes words spoken to us or over us can be just as painful as a physical wound, with much more lasting consequences. That rhyme was a defence mechanism, as if to say to oneself as much as to any bully, I will not let you hurt me.

But we have a better defence mechanism…

 

BUT….

 

There’s always a but or a however, isn’t there, in God’s kingdom…

 

…o0O0o…

 

So, here’s another story, this one from the Father of Kingsman Jamie Hancock…

 

Eddie Hancock, self-educated in Middle East politics, was vehemently opposed to the war in Iraq from the beginning. He knew that his son wanted to go, though, and did not feel he could prevent him. He recalled an incident that revealed how diametrically opposed he and his son were politically, when they were play-wrestling. His son’s wallet fell to the floor and as the contents came out, he says:

 

‘amongst the condoms and credit cards was a small picture of the queen.’ His son solemnly explained, ‘this tells me what I am and who I am.’

 

Jamie knew who he was and who he was serving, He was a subject of the sovereign and he was serving her and her kingdom.

Jamie’s letters home to his parents were sometimes filled with his frustration at being at war, but at the same time never drew him away from who he knew he was and what he was doing, who he was serving. He even wanted to be buried if the time came in his dress uniform, and have the national anthem played at his funeral. Because he knew who he was and what he was doing.

 

Sadly that time did come and Jamie was shot and killed on 6th November 2006.

…o0O0o…

Jamie knew who he was and who he was serving,

It’s the same for us, but whilst we might be citizens of the United Kingdom, our earthly home, our true identity is in being in Jesus’ kingdom. In serving him. In living for him.

And Jesus is the ultimate word. In the beginning of John’s gospel. Jesus is introduced as ‘the word’.

 

 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 

 

That word is Jesus. And the Greek for word is ‘Logos’ the same word that actually means a word like a written word or a spoken word which you can see throughout the New testament …

But logos was also a term familiar to both Jews and Greeks at the time. For Jews in like a personification as the instrument of God’s will or revelation. God’s spoken revelation…

So Jesus is the ultimate word, the ultimate revelation of who God is…

…o0O0o…

So when we think about our own words, perhaps we need to fill ourselves more with the divine word, the Son of God, in order to help us to continually speak words of love and life

 

Matt 12:34 says

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

 

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.

 

So what are our hearts full of? That is the question?

…o0O0o…

I want to read you a few more words from another letter. These are from Pvt George Henry Davies. George was a protestant missionary until he felt the call to sign up to the army, seeing it as an opportunity to preach and share the gospel around the world.

He was nicknamed smiler by his fellow soliders and he finished his training in November 1916 before being sent out to Belgium to fight. From the trenches he sent many letters home as well as keeping a diary in which he wrote more than one farewell note to his loved ones including these words to his adopted brother:

 

…‘We will meet in Heaven’. If I die I shall be looking for You, I know I shall see You again… on the Eternal Shore. I want You to be always good, spurn from Your heart all evil and impure thoughts. Keep looking upward and onward to Him who loved You and me. Fill Your heart with love for erring humanity. Two things laddie as true and as useful as of old. ‘Love God with all Your heart, and Your brothers and sisters in the wide wide world as Yourself.’ So will Your life be supremely happy and peaceful.

 

That line stands out to me: fill your heart with love for erring humanity. And when you read some more of the things he wrote you can see how his heart was full with just that, God’s love for his people.

There is enough hate in this world, we do not need to add to it.

Just in the last few weeks I’ve seen vitriolic debates online and in person about bonfire and some of the local practices; about which politicians are in the wrong or right, peoples mistakes publically dissected in the media…

God made us all differently, we are ever going to agree on everything are we?! But how we can disagree in love?

And we’ve already read, James saying that humans cannot control our words.

 

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

 

It almost makes you feel like what is the point? No human being can tame the tongue, but he also says in v2:

Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

And we know there is only one perfect person and that is Jesus Christ, scripture refers to him as flawless, spotless, a lamb without blemish or defect. 

No human being can tame the tongue but God can. Our perfect hope and guide can help us tame what we say.

And of course if we have time, if we have to write a difficult email for example, we can pray first, seek God and not hastily fire it off, but the thing about our mouths is that we are often responding to what is right in front of us, with immediate effect. No time to pray, in fact sometimes no time to think as we just open our mouths and a stream of ungodliness comes out….

So that’s why we need to be focused on Jesus always, filled up with the presence of God. Filling our hearts with love for erring humanity…

Spend time in prayer, read the bible, have good disciplined habits of growing our faith, worship God, practice thanksgiving, do the things that help you to focus on God. Then whatever your heart is full of, will overflow from your mouth…

We need Jesus to fill our hearts so that we can do that…

 

…o0O0o…

PAUSE

This is a day when we remember those who died in service to this country.

Those who joined up willingly, and those who were made to. Those whose lives had really only just begun and those who had lived through war before. I don’t suppose there are many here who remember what it is like to actually live through a war and it is words like those I read this week and shared some of today that help us to understand the emotions, the pain, the anger and the horror and also the pride of serving within it, the calling to serve.

I don’t suppose they ever imagined their words would be immortalized in print for the world to see, impacting the lives of those left behind, those who never knew them.

And we too have an immortal Word in Jesus, we never knew him when he was here on earth, but we can know him now through God’s word, and through prayer and through seeking him in our lives.

And as we seek him and are filled up with the knowledge of him, we too can use our words to be words of love, to bring life, to build up and encourage, to bring respect and to honour those we know and those we don’t.

 

Finish with the words of Pvt George Davies

 

If I live… I will try to make my life more like Christ’s life. If I die I would like You to do this for me. Set Your heart against all greed, selfishness, lust, and dirt my laddie, and remember Jesus Christ IS a stronghold in Whom we can hide. . . .

Good-bye, Your ever loving brother, George Davies.

 

Amen…

 

Journal give away!

As regular readers will know I’m a big journaling fan, so I was excited when the lovely peeps at SPCK sent me 4, yes 4, copies of this lovely new journal to give away! Want to be in it to win one? Then read on…

If you love journalling but are a bit bored of blank pages; or you’ve had a secular journal but need something to help you draw closer to Jesus; or maybe you just want to try something new, then this journal is for you!

When I asked author Carol Petley if she had written books previously she guffawed with laughter; ‘no Jules!’ she said. Then she told me how she had searched for a Christian journal that would challenge her, get her thinking and help her grow closer to Jesus but couldn’t find one. Instead God sent her on a journey to produce one herself, surprising her every step of the way.

Carol first had the idea after buying a secular Q&A journal for her daughter-in-law a few years ago. She liked it so much she bought one for herself too, so they had something to talk about together. But it turned out that the journal was going to be so much more than a talking point as she found that, as the years went on, it really spoke to her about her life as she reflected on each year gone before.

This inspired Carol to think about writing a Christian Q&A journal. As she notes, what better way to end each day than thinking about your relationship with Jesus? And each day the journal helps you to do just that, with a short scripture to read and a question to get you thinking. From life questions like ‘what major task have you accomplished recently’ to the more overt ‘how are you trying to draw near to Jesus?’ there are great prompts for each day and, because the journal covers 5 years, you can go back and reflect on the year(s) gone before too.

God’s journey to production was full of surprises: Carol helps runs an organisation called Waggy Tails that uses dogs to help teenagers with learning disabilities (do look it up, it is completely fab!) and when she first met with SPCK they had assumed that was what she wanted to write about. Carol felt she was there under false pretences! But God had a plan and her idea passed all the approval stages, even with SPCK admitting they had not published anything like this before. And it seems like God’s plan for the journal is already playing out. Carol told me how she took a pre-release copy of the journal along to a group of friends who are not Christians and she saw how it was a great conversation starter, as they were keen to look up special dates like birthdays and ended up having the most evangelistic conversation she’s ever had with them!

So that’s where the give away comes in. We have 4 copies of this beautiful book to give away, so to enter, we’d love to hear who you would choose to give this journal to if you won a copy and why? You can send your answers by commenting below or via the blog Facebook page here.

 

The Q&A bible verse 5 year journal is published by SPCK and released on 16th November, priced £14.99 and is available from Eden and Amazon (at, it has to be said, varying prices!)

 

Give Away T&C

To enter the giveaway you must suggest someone you would like to give a copy of the journal to and why. Entries will only be received via comments to this post or the relevant post on my blog Facebook page.

You may enter as many times as you like.

Entries must be received by 11.59pm, Saturday 18th November 2017, any entries after this point will not be included.

The 4 winners will be decided by Jules and Carol and notified via social media by Wednesday 22nd November. Winners will need to provide a postal address to where the prize can be sent. They will be sent out within 3 days of receiving this information.

Family members of Jules and Carol may not enter this giveaway