Updated: Apr 19, 2020
The weather continues to be mostly glorious, the birdsong louder, clearer and-or-we seem to hear better...yet illness, danger, and death are all around. The paradox of it all is so vivid. It is beautiful and it is decaying. David & Jeanna messaged me these helpful words from Chuck Swindoll:- "We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations." Please do stay safe, go wisely and shine on for the Lord Jesus in these most curious times...
Many of you will have heard that Annie Castle's husband Ron slipped away on Tuesday past, in her own words, "He's at peace now, no more pain and suffering and he's with the Lord". Pray on for Annie and her son Lee, as plans are made for the farewell early next month. Like so many other situations there will be a thanksgiving service when permissions are possible for all concerned.
Here's a constantly revised go-to-location with many practical COVID-19 helps. The Morrison's supermarket link is particularly helpful with phone-line food ordering provision and next day delivery if you are elderly, vulnerable or Covid-19 affected.
Amidst the many logistical changes, the Church of England nationally has put back the APCM timescale and now will take place before end of October. PCC will seek to finalise the date in our May mtg and I will update the church family accordingly.
Our ongoing online resources accompanying this weekly blog piece are as follows: Wednesday Worship with Adam at 6pm on our church Facebook page, Sunday word & worship at 1030 on our church facebook page for all, and daily Encouragements from Ephesians at 12noon by Johnny on his Facebook page, This Sunday we'll continue our 'hospitality at home ' after church via an 1115 Zoom group church conversation; sign-in details are in the church family email sent by Sue. Sunday content, a cuppa, conversation & prayer together on Zoom worked so much better last week in the new normal! Our limited online church family offerings are knowing a huge reach, with engagement and responses from many who would not normally ever come on a Sunday morning! Much kingdom life & encouragement!
If you or others you know are struggling, do be in touch with myself as your vicar, Sue at the church office or Pauline Pearson as our Pastoral Care Team leader. This week has seem immense numbers of doorstep moments, act and prayerful conversations...
As we can't put money into Sunday collection bags, here are the details for one off and regular direct debit giving: the bank details are Swanley St. Paul PCC Acc: 80859710 Sort code 20-25-42. Please email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions and we will gladly assist. Although our church buildings are temporarily closed, God is very much on the move in our communities and we are here to support, encourage and resource many more at this time.
Keep logging your thankfulness in your jars at home each day, and training your heart in the way of gratitude even in these most curious times.
In the continued breadth, depth & reach of ministry with, and for, people in all forms of need, please consider small Asda shopping gift cards are welcomed in units of £5 and £10's if you wish, in envelopes & left for distribution via The Vicarage as we are unable to accept loose foods and Foodbank is currently well stocked , Thank you
Calling all knitters! Knitting small hearts for those in ITU is a simple community action we can play a part in. Our link at DVH says: "Thank you and your Church for all of your support. Welcome to use any pattern, here's some details here, we are just asking that they are small enough to fit in your hand easily." We'll gather them up here at The Vicarage, and Liz Warwick will will liaise directly with DVH and after a 72-hr check and clean, they will be distributed to those in ITU particularly. they can can also be dropped into the hospital, pull up to main entrance and call us on 01322428431 or posted directly to Wellbeing Team, Trust HQ, Level 4, Darenth Valley Hospital, Darenth Wood Road, Dartford, DA2 8DA
General church giving, Asda vouchers or knitted hand-palm hearts may be part of your response, giving & service at this moment. Your participation is welcomed as ever...
Ways we can love our neighbours right now from Mike Frost! A treat for isolation - inspiring input from the brilliant Fleming Rutledge, Carey Niequist on why there is growth abounding, or is it Mike Frost's perspective that this could set the church back quite some? Carey again on why motivation alone wont get us through, Zack Eswine's really insightful call to trust God in this cultural moment, John Lennox brilliantly speaking of God in the pandemic, and a free online resource by John Piper about the Coronavirus & Christ.
Today in our scattered 1030 online offering, Sue will speak on 'On earth as it is in Heaven', from Luke 17:20-21 and Acts1:3, with Adam & the team leading us in sung worship after. The link to this new Kingdom people series resources are here. There's some associated youth resources here.... and some children and family resources here also.
'On earth as it is in Heaven'?! The kingdom of God transforms us individually - We are children of the One True God, citizens of Heaven sent as His people here on earth; we are His diplomats and His messengers and we carry His power and authority within us. As Jesus said, 'The kingdom of God is within you'. The kingdom of God transforms the world - If you just keep your life to yourself, you will never have a part in bringing Christ’s kingdom here on earth. You need to be a worldly Christian in the sense that you do not see yourself as separate from the world, but very much a part of it with a real responsibility to make this world, God’s world. The kingdom of God is Now - Jesus had a message and a ministry, and everything Jesus did supported everything Jesus said. - What He said was “The Kingdom of God is at hand”. - What He did said “The Kingdom of God is at hand”. The kingdom of God is Not Yet - So we have much to look forward to. We have the 'Now', but we look forward to the 'Not Yet'. God has something wonderful in store for us. Stop building your own kingdom - Peter Wagner says, "We can be humble before God, but if this does not play out in humility before other men and women around us, there is no life. When it comes right down to it, the only measurable proof that we have real faith is our behaviour!"
Questions for discussion
Focus scripture:- Luke 17:20-21, with Acts 1-3, Revelation 11:15 and Matthew 12:28
1. Why did Jesus use the term ‘Kingdom of God’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ to talk about His message?
2. If the Jews were expecting a Messiah to come, why do you think they did not understand Jesus’ message?
3. Can you summarise what ‘the Kingdom of God’ is. How can we recognize it?
4. Is the Kingdom of God ‘pie in the sky when you die’ or ‘cake on the plate while you wait’? How do we become members of the Kingdom?
5. In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew ch 5-7 Jesus taught us what was expected of us as citizens of the kingdom. Do we really accept this or do we just make excuses for our failing to live up to high calling of God in Christ Jesus?
6. In what ways were Jesus’ teachings about His kingdom revolutionary?
7. If power, authority, position and money are not important in Christ’s Kingdom, what is?
8. Loisy said it challengingly, “Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and what we got was the Church.” Is this the new society that Jesus had in mind?
9. How can the Church fully represent the Kingdom of God on earth?
10. When we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come‘ in the Lord’s Prayer, what are we actually asking for?
Point to ponder: There can be no Kingdom of God in the world without the Kingdom of God in our hearts!