Monday, August 26, 2013

Reflections and Discussions on Grace Bible Church’s Sixteenth Anniversary

Pastor Kuru started a discussion on what the church is by quoting French Roman Catholic theologian Alfred Loisy's most famous saying: "Jesus came proclaiming the Kingdom, and what arrived was the Church".
[Note: Loisy did think that Jesus intended to form some sort of society or community. It was the aping of civil government that he doubted Jesus intended].

Members reflected on this saying and felt that it wasn’t that the Church had hijacked what Jesus started, but that churches don’t measure up to what Jesus wanted the Church to be.

Kuru interjected with Scriptures to show that Jesus wanted the Church to exist:
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18).
Peter did not think the Lord meant that he was the rock on which the Church would be built:
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5)
To the question “what is the church”, members said that it is
·      the Body of Christ that must give expression to who Christ is and what He came for so that the watching world could know Him, and
·      an assembly of believers.

Kuru picked up on the fact that the church is supposed to be a fellowship of believers, to ask whether everyone was a believer. He pointed out that for those who are good people it is difficult to accept the idea that they need Jesus as their Saviour. They tend to think that the wicked (robbers, murderers and sex offenders) are the types that need to do that.

During his summer vacation Kuru was reading Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God.  Keller refers to a character in Flannery O’Connor’s novel, Wise Blood
having “a deep, black wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.” Keller comments, “This is a profound insight. You can avoid Jesus as Saviour by keeping all the moral laws. If you do that, then you have ‘rights.’ God owes you answered prayers, and a good life, and a ticket to heaven when you die. You don’t need a Saviour who pardons you by free grace, for you are your own Saviour” (Hodder, 2008, pp. 37-38).

Kuru pointed out that most church folks suffer from the same malady of imagining that they don’t need Jesus. Kuru shared his testimony of how having grown up in a very devout Christian family, and having attended church and Sunday School without fail, he still needed to receive Jesus into his life. He referred to John Wesley having to do that even though he was a respectable ordained minister of the Church of England  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/639945/John-Wesley#ref121836, that Martin Luther had to accept justification by faith even though he was an ordained minister of the Roman Catholic Church  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/351950/Martin-Luther


Kuru urged the members of Grace Bible Church to become an assembly of believers so that they could be the Body of Christ expressing all that Christ Jesus wants other people to know about the saving power of Christ.

Monday, January 7, 2013

WHAT WISE MEN DID



January 6 is Epiphany Sunday. The word "epiphany" means manifestation and this Sunday celebrates the manifestation of Christ to the Gentile world, symbolised by the coming of the magi to see the baby Jesus.

The story of the magi (wise men) is a dramatic one. Imagine the stir it must have created to see a caravan of people from other lands coming to see a baby born in Judea. They made a beeline to the palace of the king, assuming that the "king of the Jews" would be born in the palace. When they gave up their own ideas and took God's guidance they found themselves outside a poor home. It must have surprised them to find the baby king in this hovel of a place. Dressed in their grandeur, they got down from their camels and bent low to enter the place where the baby lay. They found the baby wrapped in rags (not fancy baby clothes), and still they offered their rich gifts to the baby as an expression of their worship. Would we have done that? Aren't we in the habit of matching our gifts to the status of the person? Expensive gifts for the rich and cheap ones for the poor. If we had taken  rich gifts to someone poor, we would have decided to hold back. No point in giving something so rich to someone so poor. "It will spoil them." "They won't know what to do with something so rich." And we could think of so many other reasons to not give the rich gifts. But not these men. They went through with what they had set out to do. They came to worship, and they did just that without any reservations and hesitations whatever.

People have always thought that there were three wise men because Scripture says that they offered three gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh. But the Bible doesn't say that there were three men. Around the 6th Century legends began to grow about them. They were even given the names Melchior, from Persia, Balthasar from Arabia, and Gaspar from India. There is really nothing in the biblical text to suggest that they were from three different lands, but it makes for a better story to suggest that each saw the star and set out and met at some point and journeyed together to look for the Christ Child. There may have been just two or there may well have been six or seven of them. Anyway it doesn't matter whether there were two or three or seven.

The text doesn't say that each of the wise men gave separate gifts, that one gave gold, the second gave frankincense and the third myrrh. I rather think that they each gave portions of gold,  frankincense and myrrh or that together they gave a combined gift of gold,  frankincense and myrrh. Usually, the interpretation is that the who offered gold, procliamed Jesus king, the offering of frankincense said that He was God, and the last gift of myrrh indicated that His life would be offered in sacrifice. That, for instance, is the line of interpretation in the Christmas carol "We three kings of orient are"
Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice.
Alleluia, alleluia!
Sounds through the earth and skies.
I think, rather, that the gifts were not about how they viewed Jesus, but how they held Him in regard.

The Wise offered their Wealth
They regarded Jesus so highly that they offered Him their wealth. If you regard someone, sooner or later giving to them enters the relationship. Ultimately any giving is a gift of our life. The Old Testament teaching is that people are to give the whole tithe (10% of total income--that's before tax and other deductions):
"Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty.  “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty (Malachi 3: 7-12).

In the New Testament, Paul taught that we should excel in giving according to the measure of God's blessing and enabling in our lives:
·         Our motivation is that Jesus gave Himself to enrich us (2 Corinthians 8:9)
·         If we make a promise, we must be sure to fulfil it (8:10-11)
·         We are to give according to our means, instead of wishing that we could give more from what we don’t have (8:12)
·         When we give to needs we work to bring about equality (8:13-14)
·         The benefits of giving are according to the measure of our giving (9:6)
·         Give cheerfully, not as though you are forced (9:7)
·         God will bless you in a way that you will be enabled to give generously (9:8-11)
Some people refuse to give God hiding behind the excuse that they give elsewhere. When a woman poured out her savings at Jesus’ feet (a vial of expensive ointment), the disciples deplored the fact that it was not spent on the poor. Jesus said that they would always have the poor to show that generosity, but what had to be done for Jesus needed to be done when it was time to do that (John 12:1-8)

The Wise offered their Worship
They prostrated themselves before the Christ Child.

To offer Christ worship one must first affirm that there are no other gods. No gods (or demons) have any power over you. No god can claim your life. No god can preoccupy you.

Knowing that no one other than the Lord can have power over your life is very liberating. The Apostle John assured his readers
Greater is He that is in you, than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).
 No demonic powers can plague your life or stunt you or cripple you. Instead you will have the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Then they offered frankincense which was used to waft a sweet smell up when worshipping God. The Bible says
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 96:9)
...without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)
If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened (Psalm 66:18)

The heart must be right before God. Jesus said that worship must be in spirit and in truth. The woman of Samaria thought that the external situation was all that mattered. She thought that worship had to do with being in the right place. Jesus said that the place didn’t matter, but the heart did (John 4:20-24).

The Wise offered their Will
The wise men offered myrrh to Jesus. It was used to embalm dead bodies. When is a person dead? When the soul departs from the body. What is the soul? It is the will. It is the “I, me and mine” that preoccupies us all.

Jesus called a man to follow Him. The man expressed his willingness, but said that he would follow Jesus, take care of some personal stuff before following Jesus. He said to Jesus, “...let me first....” (Luke 9:59). A disciple puts Jesus first, and doesn’t say “let me first” to Jesus.

Twice Peter said, “No, Lord” to Jesus. Once, when Jesus talked of a cross in His own life. Obviously Peter understood of there being a cross in Jesus’ life. He just knew that soon Jesus would talk of a cross in the life of His followers and that is what Peter didn’t want. So, he said, “No, Lord” (Matthew 16:21-24). The second time was when Peter had a vision and God said that Peter was to act on it. As a Jew, he found the idea obnoxious and said, “No, Lord” (Acts 10:9-16), but did follow the Lord’s directions later. But the point is, that you can’t say “no” and “Lord” in the same breath. You can’t call Jesus “Lord” and at the same time say no to Him. Jesus said,
Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)

When the wise men worshipped Jesus they had to climb down from their camels and crawl into a poor home with a dirt floor. They didn’t think that they could sit on their high camel because the circumstances of the baby were poor and shabby. Their worship involved them. Paul wrote that we are to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices”
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1)

Our bodies represent all of our beings. Our bodies are the vehicles our souls use to express themselves or act out their convictions. Without our bodies we would not be able to move or communicate.

When we give our bodies, we hold nothing back. The sacrifice is total.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

The wise still offer their wealth, their worship and their will to the Lord Jesus.


Monday, August 6, 2012

GOD PARTICLE’S NOT GOD


On July 4th, news reports around the world screamed “God Particle Found.” A group of scientists at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) had conducted experiments that proved almost certainly the existence of a subatomic particle that called “Higgs Boson” aka “God Particle”.

Scientists have struggled with the question “Why does matter exist?” In 1964, Peter Higgs hypothesised the existence of this particle. He proposed that the universe is bathed in an invisible energy field. Particles gain mass by travelling through this energy field (“Higgs Field”). National Geographic News reported that a scientist said, "It would be very difficult to form atoms...So our orderly world, where matter is made of atoms, and electrons form chemical bonds—we wouldn't have that if we did not have the Higgs field." The report then summarised, “In other words: no galaxies, no stars, no planets, no life on Earth.”

Let’s understand this from a non-scientist’s point of view. Think of particles as cars, travelling through an energy field called “road rage.” Those cars then end up in a traffic jam. Observers on the sidelines then exclaim that they have discovered how traffic jams are created. The observers don’t have an explanation as to how the cars or the road rage came into existence.

And that is the problem with this fantastic theory of how things came to be. It does not explain how the subatomic particles or the energy field exist. The Higgs Boson exists because subatomic particles exist and the energy field exists. The Higgs Boson isn’t the First Cause, i.e. it isn’t God or a particle of God.

What scientists are trying to do is to come up with a “theory or everything.” John Polkinghorne, particle physicist turned Anglican priest writing in his book Quantum Physics and Theology: An Unexpected Kinship (Yale University, 2007) said that it is impossible for scientists to come up with a “theory of everything” and that “if [scientists] want to pursue the search for understanding through and through…they will have to be prepared to go beyond the limits of science itself in the search for the widest and deepest context of intelligibility. I think that this further quest, if openly pursued, will take the enquirer in the direction of religious belief.”

As Paul said, “What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20).

As scientists try to discover the origin of everything, it will be well to listen in on the conversation between God and Job. The man Job was angry with his friends for convicting him of sins they thought he must be guilty of to be subjected to the woes he was experiencing in life. Frustrated by not being able to convince them of his innocence, Job shifted his anger on to God and questioned God’s justice. In the end, God confronts Job. But instead of answering Job’s charges and questions, God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (38:4). In effect, God was saying to Job, “You can’t know what happened, because you weren’t there. You have to take my word for what happened then.” The point God made then, is what we too have to accept.

Recently Khushwant Singh echoed the old question that atheists and agnostics think is a clever one: “If God created all things, then who created him?” (Hindustan Times, July 21, 2012). Long before him, Bertrand Russell said, the argument that there must be a First Cause is one that cannot have any validity. I may say that when I was a young man and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: ‘My father taught me that the question “Who made me?” cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question “Who made god?”’ That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument” (Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays ... (1957).

In their foolishness, people think that it is clever to ask, “Who made God?” It isn’t. The universe and life exist within time, and time is linear. Everything within the framework of time has beginnings and endings. That is why it is valid to ask as to what it is that made the universe begin to exist. Only a power that exists outside the framework of time can be the cause of things within time. There has to be a First Cause, and God is that First Cause of all things.

Genesis 1 gives the best account of what God did at creation:
·        God created everything “out of nothing”
·        God created by command: “Let there be...and it was so...”
·        God made everything good (that things went wrong is another story)
·        God made humans in the image of God, which is why only humans can think abstractly, appreciate abstract qualities.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Carols’ Service & Grace Family Lunch

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The theme of the service was

What Are We Waiting For?

Several people were involved in leading the singing and doing the readings, giving me a holiday:

(Led by Roshini)

For hundreds of years the Jews waited for their Messiah. When Black people were abused for generations, they sang of the Saviour who would come one day to deliver them from their bondage and misery. What are we waiting for? Do we even wait, or are we unaware of how time is running out for us?

Congregational singing

O come, O come Emmanuel
The First Noel
Angels we have heard on high

For many of us, sadly, the spirit of Christmas is "hurry". And yet, eventually, the hour comes when the rushing ends and the race against the calendar mercifully comes to a close. It is only now perhaps that we truly recognize the spirit of Christmas. It is not a matter of days or weeks, but of centuries-nearly twenty of them now since that holy night in Bethlehem. Regarded in this manner, the pre-Christmas rush may do us greater service than we realize. With all its temporal confusion, it may just help us to see that by contrast, Christmas itself is eternal.
—Burton Hills

(Read by Riya)

Scripture Reading (from God’s Word translation)
Ps 27
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation. Who is there to fear? The LORD is my life's fortress. Who is there to be afraid of?...
4 I have asked one thing from the LORD. This I will seek: to remain in the LORD's house all the days of my life in order to gaze at the LORD's beauty and to search for an answer in his temple.
5 He hides me in his shelter when there is trouble. He keeps me hidden in his tent. He sets me high on a rock.
6 Now my head will be raised above my enemies who surround me. I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy in his tent. I will sing and make music to praise the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud. Have pity on me, and answer me.
8 [When you said,] "Seek my face," my heart said to you, "O LORD, I will seek your face."
9 Do not hide your face from me. Do not angrily turn me away. You have been my help. Do not leave me! Do not abandon me, O God, my savior!
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will take care of me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD. Lead me on a level path because I have enemies who spy on me.
12 Do not surrender me to the will of my opponents. False witnesses have risen against me. They breathe out violence.
13I believe that I will see the goodness of the LORD in this world of the living.
14 Wait with hope for the LORD. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the LORD.

Ps 37
3 Trust the LORD, and do good things. Live in the land, and practice being faithful.
4 Be happy with the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Entrust your ways to the LORD. Trust him, and he will act [on your behalf].
6 He will make your righteousness shine like a light, your just cause like the noonday sun.
7 Surrender yourself to the LORD, and wait patiently for him. Do not be preoccupied with [an evildoer] who succeeds in his way when he carries out his schemes.
8 Let go of anger, and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.
9 Evildoers will be cut off [from their inheritance], but those who wait with hope for the LORD will inherit the land…
23A person's steps are directed by the LORD, and the LORD delights in his way.
24 When he falls, he will not be thrown down headfirst because the LORD holds on to his hand.
25 I have been young, and now I am old, but I have never seen a righteous person abandoned or his descendants begging for food.
26 He is always generous and lends freely. His descendants are a blessing.
27 Avoid evil, do good, and live forever.
28 The LORD loves justice, and he will not abandon his godly ones. They will be kept safe forever, but the descendants of wicked people will be cut off.
29 Righteous people will inherit the land and live there permanently…
34 Wait with hope for the LORD, and follow his path, and he will honor you by giving you the land. When wicked people are cut off, you will see it…
39 The victory for righteous people comes from the LORD. He is their fortress in times of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and rescues them. He rescues them from wicked people. He saves them because they have taken refuge in him.

Isa. 40
28 Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The eternal God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn't grow tired or become weary. His understanding is beyond reach.
29 He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak.
30 Even young people grow tired and become weary, and young men will stumble and fall.
31 Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the LORD will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won't become weary. They will walk and won't grow tired.

(Read by Manji Phillips)

Sometimes it seems as though we spend our lives waiting. Daydreaming about an upcoming vacation, worrying over a medical test, preparing for the birth of a grandchild―our days are filled with anticipation and anxiety over what the future holds. As Christians, we too spend our lives waiting. But we are waiting for something much bigger than a trip, bigger even than retirement or a wedding: We are waiting for the return of Jesus in glory. Advent heightens this sense of waiting, because it marks not only our anticipation of Jesus' final coming, but also our remembrance of his arrival into our world more than 2,000 years ago.
—Anonymous

Pastoral Prayer:

Scripture: Luke 2: 1-15 (Read by Rev J T Raja)

One response was given by the innkeeper when Mary and Joseph wanted to find a room where the Child could be born. The innkeeper was not hostile; he was not opposed to them, but his inn was crowded; his hands were full; his mind was preoccupied. This is the answer that millions are giving today. Like a Bethlehem innkeeper, they cannot find room for Christ. All the accommodations in their hearts are already taken up by other crowding interests. Their response is not atheism. It is not defiance. It is preoccupation and the feeling of being able to get on reasonably well without Christianity.
—Billy Graham

Congregational singing (led by Stanley Khan)

Joy to the world There’s a Song in the air

(Read by Martha Khan)

At the heart of the nativity narratives in both Matthew and Luke, is a simple fact: amid the struggle of a people who had longed for 500 years for God to act in the world in new ways, God came to be with them in a way that totally identified himself with us, as human beings. Amid the most unlikely of circumstances, to the most unlikely of people, God became man for the salvation of all people.
—Dennis Bratcher

Scripture: Rev 2:1-7; 3: 14-22 (Read by Prabha Prakash)
Congregational singing: Angels from the realms of glory (led by Martha Khan)

(Read by Martha Khan) How extraordinary to find the common bond of love expressed in a shared poverty. On this basis He could speak to us of shared values, of a vision and a mission we could make our own. From the manger this Child of the virgin Mary could speak to us of our destiny, our dignity, our ability, in His Name, to change not only ourselves but the world. Here we hear of our God-given rights and of our responsibilities as God's adopted children. This Child will come to represent everything that is inspiring in terms of mercy, of compassion, of love, of justice and of peace. Christmas is a time to renew one's spirit in the message and in the challenge of the Christ Child, a time to determine to become more credible witnesses to Him.
—Se├ín Kearney

Congregational singing led by Martha and Roshini

What Child is this? Thou didst leave Thy throne

(Read by Smita Sarwan)

Prepare Your Heart
"In my Father's house are many rooms: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14: 2
People are already making preparations for Christmas. Stores have Christmas items for sale, and people are purchasing Christmas Gifts. [People have decorated their homes, baked their cakes and got their new clothes].

We need to prepare our hearts for Jesus. First of all, we need to give Him a place to live in our hearts. If you have never accepted Jesus as your personal Saviour, I urge you to open your heart to Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and save you.

The greatest gift we can give Jesus on His Birthday is to spend time with Him. We spend countless hours in the kitchen cooking delicious meals. We clean the house thoroughly because our family and friends are coming for Christmas. Yet, sad to say, we don't give Jesus even two hours a day during our preparations for Christmas. Without Jesus, there would be no Christmas!

Have you thought about what you can give Jesus for His Birthday? You can give Him your time, and you can be kinder to your family, loved ones, and friends. You can pick up the phone and call someone who is hurting and alone.

Many people commit suicide during the holidays because they are so lonely, and feel that nobody cares about them. Let's get back to the real purpose of Christmas, spreading the Love of Jesus to a hurting world.
―Joanne Lowe

Congregational singing (led by Roshini)

Love came down
Good Christian folks rejoice

(Read by Shobha Massey) The spirit of Christmas needs to be superseded by the Spirit of Christ. The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world.
―Stuart Briscoe

Congregational singing (led by Roshini)

Hark! the herald angels sing

(Read by Malini Revis)

Keeping Christmas
There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day,
And that is, keeping Christmas.

Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people,
And to remember what other people have done for you;

To ignore what the world owes you,
And to think what you owe the world;

To put your rights in the background, And your duties in the middle distance,
And your chances to do a little more than your duty in the foreground;

To see that men and women are just as real as you are,
And try to look behind their faces to their hearts, Hungry for joy;

To own up to the fact that probably the only good reason for your existence
Is not what you are going to get out of life, But what you are going to give to life;

To close your book of complaints against the management of the universe,
And look around you for a place where you can sow a few seeds of happiness

Are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs and desires of little children;
To remember the weakness and loneliness of people growing old;
To stop asking how much your friends love you,
And ask yourself whether you love them enough;

To bear in mind the things that other people have to bear in their hearts;
To try to understand what those who live in the same home with you really want,
Without waiting for them to tell you;

To trim your lamp so that it will give more light and less smoke,
And to carry it in front so that your shadow will fall behind you;

To make a grave for your ugly thoughts,
And a garden for your kindly feelings with the gate open

Are you willing to do these things, even for a day?
Then you can keep Christmas.

Are you willing to believe
That love is the strongest thing in the world
Stronger than hate, stronger than evil, Stronger than death
And that the blessed life Which began in Bethlehem two thousand years ago
Is the image and brightness of the Eternal Love?
Then you can keep Christmas.

And if you can keep it for a day,
Why not always?
But you can never keep it alone.
—Henry Van Dyke

Congregational singing (led by Roshini)

As with gladness men of old

(Read by Tabitha Lugun)

CHRISTMAS CREED
I believe in Jesus Christ and in the beauty of the gospel begun in Bethlehem.

I believe in the one whose spirit glorified a little town; and whose spirit still brings music to persons all over the world, in towns both large and small.

I believe in the one for whom the crowded inn could find no room, and I confess that my heart still sometimes wants to exclude Christ from my life today.

I believe in the one who the rulers of the earth ignored and the proud could never understand; whose life was among common people, whose welcome came from persons of hungry hearts.

I believe in the one who proclaimed the love of God to be invincible:

I believe in the one whose cradle was a mother's arms, whose modest home in Nazareth had love for its only wealth, who looked at persons and made them see what God's love saw in them, who by love brought sinners back to purity, and lifted human weakness up to meet the strength of God.

I confess my ever-lasting need of God: The need of forgiveness for our selfishness and greed, the need of new life for empty souls, the need of love for hearts grown cold.

I believe in God who gives us the best of himself. I believe in Jesus, the son of the living God, born in Bethlehem this night, for me and for the world.
—Anonymous

Congregational singing: O Little Town of Bethlehem (led by Roshini)

According to custom, we followed the service with our Church Family lunch, and we had a surprise Santa Claus, because I asked Tricia, Riya’s American friend to do the role.

http://picasaweb.google.co.in/kuruvilla.chandy/CarolsServiceChristmasLunch#

Friday, December 18, 2009

Grace Bible Church Sunday School Christmas Play


God sent us Riya to take charge of some special events this year. clip_image002

I first introduced her as the mystery speaker at the church's anniversary service. Next she was responsible for coordinating the seminar on social action. (By the way, we're still working on getting together an action group to follow through on that).

Since our Sunday School Superintendent Indu Eisenberg was over-burdened with her responsibilities at her workplace, I encouraged Riya to direct the kids in preparing their annual presentation of the message of the Incarnation. Riya converted Barbara clip_image002Robinson's story The Best Christmas Pageant into a drama script and trained our kids to present the gospel afresh.

Principal Farida Abraham, a friend from my time at St John's Church, Bangalore, offered the auditorium of the La Martiniere Girls' College for our performance. I didn't want to take it because the stage alone is so big thatour entire church could be seated on it and still have the space for the performers to enact the drama. But when our Bible study group heard about it, they said to go for it.

The Sunday School put up their play on Sunday, December 13, 2009. With all the practice that they had put in, the kids were relaxed enough to take charge of ushering people before they went backstage to get readyclip_image002[11]clip_image002[9]clip_image002[13]

Farida allowed us the use of the hall for practices, and got her 140 girls in boarding to attend. Indu got about 30 kids from the boarding of the City International School to come. And then our members and their guests were enough to give the hall a full house look.

clip_image002[27]clip_image002[29]clip_image002[19]

Roshini led the congregational singing, accompanied by

clip_image002[5]Jürgen Eisenberg on the keyboard, Bunny Phillips on the drum pad, and Anisha Calendar on the guitar.

The play revolved around a family of bratty kids who terrorized everyone. One year when they heard that there would be special treats for taking part in the Christmas play, the lot of them turned up and hijacked the play.

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As the obnoxious brats got involved, it was obvious that they had been transformed by the story of Jesus’ birth. They brought a sense of personal commitment to Jesus as they played their roles.

Our Sunday School kids included songs and choreography.

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At the end, Farida gave away the gifts our Sunday School kids are given for their faithfulness in Sunday School through the year. Afterwards, there was cake and coffee for everyone present for the event.

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Some of the songs and choreography can be seen here

<table style="width:194px;"><tr><td align="center" style="height:194px;background:url(http://picasaweb.google.co.in/s/c/transparent_album_background.gif) no-repeat left"><a href="http://picasaweb.google.co.in/kuruvilla.chandy/13Dec09?authkey=Gv1sRgCJzkzqHhgf7nvAE&feat=embedwebsite"><img src="http://lh4.ggpht.com/_7CXX8-7epKk/SypE75rrWPE/AAAAAAAALSg/ijNQsixmknk/s160-c/13Dec09.jpg" width="160" height="160" style="margin:1px 0 0 4px;"></a></td></tr><tr><td style="text-align:center;font-family:arial,sans-serif;font-size:11px"><a href="http://picasaweb.google.co.in/kuruvilla.chandy/13Dec09?authkey=Gv1sRgCJzkzqHhgf7nvAE&feat=embedwebsite" style="color:#4D4D4D;font-weight:bold;text-decoration:none;">13-Dec-09</a></td></tr></table>

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Laying Foundation for a Chapel

On Sunday, November 16, 2009, the members of the city church went to the village to lay the foundation for a chapel for the village congregation.

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