We've been spending some time as a community reading and learning from the psalms of ascent (Psalms 120-134) a section within the Old Testament book of psalms.
People think these were probably sung by pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem to the temple for one of the three big Jewish festivals each year. They touch on many issues that parallel our travels through life to our ultimate home with God forever.
Here's one we are thinking about this week on the theme of humility.
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.
1 Lord, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord--
now and always.
We've been encouraging one another by reading through Psalm 119 together - a LONG psalm all showing enthusiasm for God's word/commands/laws etc... basically the writer tells God in many different ways just how much he wants God to shape his life - how that is his delight. Come and shape my life Lord, that is my delight!
It might be long, but it was meant for memorisation originally as it is written following the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Each verse of a paragraph follows the same letter, each paragraph moving on to the next letter. And it can be learnt in English too. William Wilberforce (he of abolishing slavery fame) memorised it and walked the 20 minutes home from Parliament, through Hyde Park, reciting it. In 1819 he wrote in his journal: "Walked from Hyde Park Corner repeating the 119th psalm in great comfort."
Here's a bit of it:
33 Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.
Today we celebrate the birth of the most amazing man who ever lived. The man who is more than just a mere man. The man who changed the world. The man who changes lives. The man who taught like noone else ever taught. The man who did things noone else ever did. The man who loved. The man who served. The man who forgave. The man who healed. The man who challenged. The man who spoke truth. The man who was truth. The man who is truth. The man who suffered. The man who died. The man who rose again. The man who defeated death. The man who showed us what God is like. The man who was God-in-flesh. The man who gives life. The man who lives in us today.
The man who we follow. Jesus Christ.
Happy Christmas everyone!
Here's a three minute catch up on 1 Corinthians 14 and 15 from the last couple of weeks.
Mike led us in this song - a new version of the old hymn from Psalm 23. LIsten again.
Never failing ruler of my heart
Everlasting lover of my soul
On mountain high
Or in the valley low
The king of love my shepherd is
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice in injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
(1 Corinthians 13 v4-7 NLT)
Give me increase and progress in grace
so that there may be
more decision in my character
more vigour in my purposes
more elevation in my life
more fervour in my devotion
more constancy in my zeal
(from Valley of Vision)
This is a strange chapter in the bible. But basically the issues are the same as in other weeks...
Love for others? Or my right to do what I want? Which is more important? Which is more like Jesus?
In chapter 11 there are two issues. A man and woman issue. And a rich and poor issue. In both situations people were thinking of themselves rather than others and it was causing huge problems.
We should be big-hearted not small-minded! Loving others and wanting to see them know and grow in Jesus often means giving up rights, preferences and what we find comfortable. And that requires effort!
There are traps that kill off big-hearted faith!
Last time we watched the whole film, below. These coming weeks we re-watch a small clip to focus on. Here's todays:
Here's the video from Sunday. Over the summer weeks we will use a short clip from this film and learn about that aspect of the parable in more depth.
We're starting a new series for the summer weeks - the Prodigal God, with Tim Keller's guide on the famous parable of Jesus from Luke chapter 15. We meet most Sundays over the summer at 4pm at St Chads.
Urban Life - followers of Jesus living life and bringing life in an urban setting!
The blog gives a snapshot of our life together as we post things we are learning about; things we believe; songs we love; readings and prayers to strengthen and help us; and general information about what is happening in our community.
So here are updates, reviews, reminders and support for those who are part of our community, and a chance to 'look in' for those who are interested and wondering what we are all about.