Blog May 10th Risen! The Musical on YouTube and “Is God Good- Part Three”?

 

“Oh Lord Here My Voice” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Where Would I Be Without You”? recorded and produced by Ross Gill

Risen! The Musical, featuring the London Touring Cast, filmed at the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth in May 2016 has been broadcast on Revelation TV (UK) Alfa -Omega TV (Romania) and Credo TV (Romania and Eastern Europe). It has also been streamed on Vimeo and now on May 20th (Day of Pentecost) it will be launched on YouTube. In preparation we are posting clips from the show and the first featuring “How Great Are His Signs” is featured today.

Let me now please continue to share the thoughts of Selwyn Hughes on the question “Is God Good”? Below is another extract taken from his devotion in Every Day With Jesus – “A Higher Love.”

We have reflected that Job was a good and godly man yet he apparently lived with an anxiety about what God might allow to happen to him. Something in him suspected that faith in God did not necessarily mean peace and safety. It will help us, I think to live more successfully if we come to terms with the fact that goodness is not necessarily synonymous with safety.

C.S Lewis brings this out most powerfully in “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”. The children ask Mr and Mrs Beaver if Aslan the Lion; the King of Narnia is safe. “Safe ? Who said anything about safe”? says Mr Beaver. Of course he is not safe- but he is good.”

Sometimes the stakes in this life are very high, literally life or death. God, says one writer rarely cries out “Cut” just as a dangerous or painful scene descends on us. We would like to picture goodness as synonymous with safety but that is not the reality. And facing reality is the issue. When tragedy next strikes we hold fast to the truth that there is some bigger purpose going in the heart of our perfect God of love. Though it is beyond our ability to understand, it is nevertheless consistent with His goodness and love. Trust is not easy but trust is the only answer…………..to be continued.

Quote for the week

“Learn to let go. Instead of obsessing about what you can’t change focus on what you can influence.”

The Word For Today

Blog May 3rd “ How Great Are His Signs EP on- line sales and Is God Good- Part Three”?

“This Is Not  Heaven” featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross

First it is my great pleasure to announce that “How Great Are His Signs” the debut EP of the Portsmouth Gospel Choir is now available on- line from https://mustardseedsongs.hearnow.com/
This fabulous Gospel choir were finalists on BBC’s “Pitch Battle” singing with Seal. They also recently performed for the Queen and Royal Family at Westminster Abbey. All proceeds from sales go to building the “Risen Christ Central Chapel” in Southern Nigeria- for more details of this amazing project please visit www.mustardseedsongs.org.uk

And now to continue sharing the thoughts of Selwyn Hughes from his devotion in Every Day With Jesus – “A Higher Love.”

It is futile hiding our doubts about the goodness of God and attempting to deal with them though rationalisation such as believing that problems in life are caused by some sin that they have committed or that God is not able to know everything that goes on all over the universe and that some things happen in His children’s lives that go unnoticed by Him.

Throughout the years I have found grief – laden questions such as: God why did You allow me to be born into a family that gave me no love? Why did You make me like this? Why did You allow so many bad things to happen to me? What will You allow to happen next?

If in the depths of our hearts we secretly believe that God did not protect us from bad things happening to us because He does not love us, then no matter how hard we try, we will fail to respond to His love and live life as God originally designed. Or to put it another way wrong beliefs about God will affect the way we feel about God, for how we think always influences the way we feel. So we have to learn to face doubts and bring them up and out. Living with doubts and fears will prevent us from entering into an intimate and passionate relationship with Jesus.

We are made in such a way that we cannot give ourselves to someone we do not trust. This is a simple, empirical fact. Don’t let yourself be found in the category of those whose Christian lives have been sabotaged on the reefs of inner doubts and distrust………….to be continued.

Quote for the week

“Work as if all depended on you and pray as if all depended on God”

Every Day With Jesus

Blog April 26th Is God Good- Part Two?


Selwyn Hughes Founder and Writer of Every Day With Jesus 1928-2006

Lift Your Hearts To Heavenly Places featuring Lucy Jane Rutherford from the album “Lift Your Hearts To Heavenly Places” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

As I said last week one question that understandably is so often asked is – “If there is a God and He is good – why does He allow so much suffering in the world? There are, in fact no easy answers but in the following weeks I will copy extracts from the “Every Day With Jesus” devotion “A Higher Love” written by Selwyn Hughes of Crusade For World Revival (CWR.) Selwyn’s thoughts will I hope give another view at looking at this most challenging of issues.

We continue exploring the question: If God loves us so much why does He allow so many seemingly bad things to happen to us? What the Christian life all boils down to says a preacher friend , is this – can this love, which God says He has for us be trusted?

A counsellor tells how someone he was counselling spoke about how reckless and unpredictable God seemed to be in allowing tragic things to happen to her. She asked him: “How can I trust a lover who is so wild”?

Walter Bruggeman, and American writer and theologian put it like this: “We live our lives before the wild, dangerous, unfettered and free character of the living God.” Before reading that statement some years ago I confess I had never thought of God in this way. In their book “The Secret Romance; writers Brent Curtis and John Eldridge say that God leaves Abraham with his knife raised and ready to plunge into Isaac’s heart and Isaac waiting for the knife to descend; he leaves Joseph languishing for years in an Egyptian prison; he allows the Israelites to suffer 400 years of bondage under the Egyptians and leaves the same Israelites backed up against the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s chariots thundering down on them. He abandons Jesus to the cross and does not rescue Him at all. You have to admit that God allows some pretty strange, even startling things to happen to His children. There is no doubt about it – the Almighty’s love for us really is wild…………………. to be continued.

Quote for the week

“Faith does not exempt you from life’s storms but it does equip you to go through them”

The Word for Today

Blog April 20th Is God Good?

 

“My Beloved King” featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Uplifted” recorded and produced by Bob Ross

One question that understandably is so often asked is – “If there is a God and He is good – why does He allow so much suffering in the world? I have on numerous occasions attempted in this blog to shine some light on this most challenging of topics- the last time being January 26th 2017. There is, in fact no easy answers – just “jig saw pieces” that when put together may help. I recently read in the daily devotion Every Day With Jesus (EDWJ) what I felt to be another helpful “jig saw piece” and so will, in the next few weeks, copy extracts from “A Higher Love.” Incidentally the words on the front of the cover “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers can’t wash it away.” Song of Songs 8:7 are used in the song “My Beloved King” which Mary sister of Martha and Lazarus sings to Jesus in Risen! The Musical. It is today’s featured song.

In today’s extract Selwyn Hughes the author of EDWJ makes it clear how difficult this subject is:

We move on to try to answer the question: If God loves us so very much, why is it that He allows so many seemingly bad things happen to us? I have found this to be the one question more than any other that troubles the hearts of so many. Time and time again I have sat beside a weeping man or woman in whose life something tragic has happened and heard them say: If God loves me why did He let this happen?

We have all lived through events that cause our hearts to ache- at such times who has not cried out: God why did You allow this to happen? Do You really care for me? These are the many questions on which many a soul has been shipwrecked leaving them grounded on reefs of pain and doubt.

No minister or counsellor finds it easy to answer these questions – one man that I know left the Christian ministry because he could not come up with an adequate answer to the question why does God allow bad things to happen to good people. If only we understood His heart more clearly….. to be continued.

Quote for the week

“Start where you are, take what you have and do what you can.”

The Word for Today

Blog April 12th “Resurrection appearances of Jesus- how many were there?”


Jesus meets Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus – from Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education

“Love is the Way” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard from the album “Love is the Way” recorded and produced by John Hodgkinson and Bob Ross

On Sunday at the 6.30 pm Service at Holy Rood church, a question was asked by Rev. Colin Prestige “How many resurrection appearances were there of Jesus”? There were a number of different answers coming from the congregation – I did a quick add up in my head and came up with eleven. Colin said “Close but there were in fact twelve.”
Afterwards I disagreed that it was twelve and Colin and myself exchanged some emails. Colin sent me a link to a blog by Msgr. Charles Pope • April 9, 2012 that records what he believes to be a likely sequence of events. For my suggested eleven appearances I had placed appearances 5 and 6 together and Pope himself states that they are likely to be synonymous.
Incidentally this sequence of events is very similar to that which I chronicled for Risen! The Musical
The Morning of Day One
Very early in the morning a group of several women, including Mary Magdalene, approach the tomb to complete burial customs on behalf of Jesus (Matt 28:1; Mk 16:1; Jn 20:1).

They behold the tomb opened and are alarmed. Mary Magdalene runs to Peter and John with distressing news of likely grave robbers (Jn 20:2)

The women who remain encounter an angel who declared to them that Jesus had risen and that they should tell this to the brethren (Mk 16:5 Lk 24:4; Mt 28:5).

They are filled with fear at first and depart from the tomb afraid to speak (Mk 16:8)

Recovering their courage they decide to go to the Apostles. (Lk 24:9; Mt 28:8)

Meanwhile Peter and John have gone out to the tomb to investigate Mary’s claim. Mary Magdalene followed them back out to the tomb arriving before they left. Peter and John discover the tomb empty though they encounter no angel. John believes in the resurrection. Peter’s conclusion is not recorded.

The other women have reported what the angels say to the Apostles. Peter and John have not yet returned and these remaining apostles are dismissive of the women’s story at first (Lk 24:9-11).

Mary, lingering at the tomb weeps and is fearful. Peering into the tomb she sees this time two angels who wonder why she weeps. Jesus then approaches her from behind. Not looking directly at Jesus, she supposes him to be the gardener. Then he calls her by name, and Mary, recognizing his voice, turns and sees him. Filled with joy she clings to him. (APPEARANCE 1) (Jn 20:16)
The other women have departed the apostles and are on their way possibly back home. Jesus then appears to them (Mt 28:9) after he had dispatched Mary. He also sends them back to the apostles with the news that he had risen and that he would see them. (APPEARANCE 2)
The Afternoon and evening of day one.

Later that Day, two disciples on their way to Emmaus are pondering what they have heard about rumours of his resurrection. Jesus comes up behind them but they are prevented from recognizing him. First Jesus breaks open the word for them, then sits at table with them and celebrates the Eucharist whereupon their eyes are opened and they recognize him in the breaking of the bread. (APPEARANCE 3) (Lk 24:13-30)

The two disciples returned that evening to Jerusalem and went to the Eleven. At first the eleven disbelieved them just as they had the women (Mk 16:13). Nevertheless they continue to relate what they had experienced. At some point Peter drew apart from the others (perhaps for a walk?) And the Lord appeared to Peter (APPEARANCE 4) (Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5) who informed the other ten who then believed. Thus the disciples from Emmaus (still lingering with the apostles) were now told (perhaps by way of apology) that it was in indeed true that Jesus had risen (Lk 24:34).

Almost at the same moment Jesus appears to the small gathering of apostles and the two disciples from Emmaus. (APPEARANCE 5) Thomas was absent (although the Lucan text describes the appearance as to “the eleven” this is probably just a euphemism for “the apostles” as a group) They are startled but Jesus reassures them and opens the scriptures to them (Lk 24:36ff).

There is some debate as to whether he appeared to them a second time that night. The Johannine account has significantly different data about the appearance on the first Sunday evening from the Lucan account. Is it merely different data about the same account or is it a wholly separate appearance? It is not possible to say. Nevertheless since the data is so different we can call it (APPEARANCE 6) (Jn 20:19ff) though it is likely synonymous with appearance 5.

One week later, Sunday two.

Jesus appears once again (APPEARANCE 7) to the apostles gathered. This time Thomas is with them. He calls Thomas to faith who now confesses Jesus to be Lord and God. (Jn 20:24-29)

Interlude

The apostles received some instructions to return to Galilee (Mt 28:10; Mk 16:7) where they would see Jesus. Thus they spent some of the week journeying 60 miles to the north. This would have taken some time. We can imagine them making the trek north during the intervening days.

Some time later

The time frame of the next appearance is somewhat vague. John merely says “After this.” Likely it is a matter of days or a week at best. The scene is at the Sea of Galilee. Not all the Twelve are present. They have gone fishing, and Jesus summons them from the lakeside. They come to shore and see him (APPEARANCE 8 ) . Peter has a poignant discussion with Jesus in this appearance and is commissioned to tend the flock of Christ (Jn 21).

The Appearance to the 500. Of all the appearances you might think that this one would have been recorded in some detail since it was the most widely experienced appearance. Many accounts, it seems, would have existed and at least one would have made its way into the scriptures. Yet there is no account of it, other than it did in fact happen. Paul records the fact of this appearance: 1 Cor 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (APPEARANCE 9) Where did this take place. What was it like. What was the reaction? We simply do not know. Proof once again that the Bible is not a history book in the conventional sense. Rather it is a highly selective telling of what took place, not a complete account. The Bible makes no pretences to be something it is not. It is quite clear that it is a selective book: (Jn 20:30).

The Appearance to James. Here again we do not have a description of this appearance only a remark by Paul that it did in fact happen: 1 Cor 15:7 Then he appeared to James. (APPEARANCE 10) The time frame is not clear. Only that it happened after the appearance to the five hundred and before the final appearance to the apostles.

The rest of the forty days.

Jesus certainly had other on-going appearances with the disciples. Luke attests to this in Acts when he writes: Acts 1:3 To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.

During this time there is perhaps the one appearance we can attribute to this time period as recorded by Matthew (Mt 28:16ff) and Mark (Mk 16:14ff). It takes place an “a mountaintop in Galilee.” Mark adds that they were reclining at table. For these notes this appearance (time frame uncertain) is referred to as (APPEARANCE 11) It is here that he give the great commission. Although Mark’s text may seem to imply that Jesus was taken up from this mountain, such a conclusion is rash since Mark only indicates that Jesus ascended only “after he had spoken to them” (Mk 16:19).

Evidently Jesus had also summoned them back to Jerusalem at least toward the end of the period of the forty days. There they would be present for the feast of Pentecost. We can imagine frequent appearances with on-going instruction for Luke records that Jesus “stayed with them.” Most of these appearances and discourses are not recorded. Luke writes in Acts: And while staying with them he charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4)

The final appearance and ascension:

After forty days of appearances and instructions we have a final account of the last appearance (APPEARANCE 12) wherein he led them out to a place near Bethany, gave them final instructions to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit was sent. And then he was taken up to heaven in their very sight. (Lk 24:50-53; Acts 1:1-11).

Some also regard another appearance of Jesus to be when He met with Saul (later named Paul) on the road to Damascus some two years later. Acts 9:3-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-16; 1 Cor 15:8

Quote for the week

“Failure is not an event – it is only an option”

The Word for Today

Blog April 5th “Easter in the Orthodox Church”

A promo for “Risen! The Musical”  to be broadcast on Credo TV (Romania) on  Monday, April 9th 11.30 am GMT

Last blog I gave an explanation as to why Easter is not a fixed date as is Christmas. At the end I stated that Eastern Christianity applies the same basic rule but uses the older Julian calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, giving a different range of possible dates.

I have decided today to give a fuller explanation as I have just been reminded that Easter for the Orthodox Church is this coming Sunday, April 8th. Why have I just been reminded of this? Well last Easter Risen! The Musical was broadcast on Revelation TV in the UK and on Alfa- Omega TV in Romania and also Credo TV in Romania. The Credo transmitters are extremely powerful with signals reaching as far as Siberia and the USA. The young man who translated Risen! into Romanian is Alex- Emmaunel – Serban. Alex is fantastic guy who is a video editor for Credo. He speaks English perfectly and not only translated Risen! into Romanian but he also created the sub titles- thank you so very much Alex!!

Alex has just messaged me to say that Risen! The Musical is being broadcast on Credo TV on Monday April 9th at 1.30 pm Romanian time which is 11.30 am GMT.   You can stream it live via http://www.credo.tv/

Anyway Orthodox Easter, also called Pascha and Resurrection Sunday, is the oldest and most important festival in the Eastern Christian tradition, celebrating Jesus Christ’s resurrection, following his crucifixion and death. In most years its date differs from the date of Easter in Western Christianity (catholic and protestant Easter), and is usually one week, but occasionally four or five weeks, later. However, in some years Orthodox Easter coincides with Western Easter and both observances fall on the same date.

In Western Christianity, the date of Easter is based on the Gregorian calendar and can fall between March 22 and April 25. The Eastern Christian tradition bases its calculations of Orthodox Easter on the Julian calendar, which differs from the Gregorian calendar by 13 days. This results in a possible date range of April 4 to May 8. However, both Western and Eastern churches agree that Easter should be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, but always after Passover.

This table compares the dates of Western and Orthodox Easter for the years 2010 to 2030:

Year Western
Easter
Orthodox
Easter
2010 April 4
2011 April 24
2012 April 8 April 15
2013 March 31 May 5
2014 April 20
2015 April 5 April 12
2016 March 27 May 1
2017 April 16
2018 April 1 April 8
2019 April 21 April 28
2020 April 12 April 19
2021 April 4 May 2
2022 April 17 April 24
2023 April 9 April 16
2024 March 31 May 5
2025 April 20
2026 April 5 April 12
2027 March 28 May 2
2028 April 16
2029 April 1 April 8
2030 April 21 April 28

Occasionally initiatives are started to introduce a fixed and unified date of Easter (probably the second or third Sunday in April), however there are currently no concrete plans to do so.

Quote for the week

“Sometimes God calms the storm – other times He lets the storm rage but calms us.”

The Word for Today

 

Blog March 29th Easter – why is it not a fixed date?


The Crucifixion from Risen! The Musical – New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth

“A Crown Today A Cross Tomorrow” featuring Lucy Stimpson-Maynard and Lucy Jane Rutherford from  His Story Live (not released) recorded and produced by Ross Gill

With today being Maundy Thursday and tomorrow Good Friday I thought it a good idea to share why Easter does not occur, like Christmas, on the same date each year. So below is a comprehensive explanation taken from an article in The Economist

Unlike other Christian holidays, Easter can move around a lot from one year to the next, its date sometimes varying by more than a month. It falls between March 22nd and April 25th for the Western church, and between April 4th and May 8th for the Eastern church. Why does Easter move around so much?

According to the Bible, Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples on the night of the Jewish festival of Passover, died the next day (Good Friday) and rose again on the third day (the following Sunday). The beginning of Passover is determined by the first full moon after the vernal equinox, which can occur on any day of the week. To ensure that Easter occurs on a Sunday, the Council of Nicaea therefore ruled in 325AD that Easter would be celebrated on the Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. But there’s a twist: if the full moon falls on a Sunday, then Passover begins on a Sunday, so Easter is then delayed by a week to ensure that it still occurs after Passover. To confuse matters further, the council fixed the date of the vernal equinox at March 21st, the date on which it occurred in 325AD (though it now occurs on March 20th), and introduced a set of tables to define when the full moon occurs that do not quite align with the actual astronomical full moon (which means that, in practice, Easter can actually occur before Passover).

The earliest possible date for Easter occurs when the notional full moon falls on March 21st itself, in a year in which March 21st falls on a Saturday. Easter is then celebrated on Sunday March 22nd, a rare event that last happened in 1818 and will next take place in 2285. The latest possible date for Easter occurs when there is a full moon on March 20th, so that the first full moon after March 21st falls a lunar month or 29 days later, on April 18th. If April 18th falls on a Sunday, then the special Sunday rule applies, and Easter is celebrated the following Sunday, or April 25th. This last happened in 1943, and will next happen in 2038. There is therefore a 35-day window in which Easter can fall, depending on the timing of the full moon relative to March 21st.

Eastern Christianity applies the same basic rule but uses the older Julian calendar, which is currently 13 days behind the Gregorian calendar, giving a different range of possible dates.

HAPPY EASTER FROM ALL AT MUSTARD SEED SONGS AND RISEN! THE MUSICAL

Quote for the week

“We must be content with what we have but not with what we are.”

The Word for Today

 

Blog March 22nd The Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education Tour Ends

The Name That’s On My Lips featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album ” Where Would I Be Without You?” Recorded and produced by Ross Gill

The Easter Tour of Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education started at St Faiths CofE Primary School, Winchester on Monday, February 26th and seventeen schools later finished on Friday, March 16th at Leesland CofE Primary School, Gosport .

I cannot thank enough the amazing cast of Max Panks (Jesus) Caroline Wetherelt (Mary Magdalene) Katie Forge (Joanna) Rebecca Davis (Mary Magdalene for final week) Mikey Wooster ( Peter, Judas, Thomas and Cleopas’ friend) and Andrew Dovaston (John and Cleopas.) Together with a fantastic technical team of Joffy Girling (backing tracks) Adam Kemp (sound and technical ) and Darren Bovis- Coulter (stage set design and construction) we had a fantastically successful pilot tour which we trust will lead to many more tours in the future.

The response of the children was fantastic and also that of the teachers- quotes include “Absolutely fabulous” “Superb” “Wow I don’t know what to say” and Risen! blew my socks off!

The most comprehensive testimony came from Rev’d Kathy Hicken – Priest in charge and pioneer of St Marks Church, Southampton who organised Risen! to come to St Marks Primary School, Southampton.

Thank you so much for the amazing experience that Risen the Musical was at St Mark’s School! They absolutely loved it. The quality of the production was top-class, the music, set, songs, acting, singing, all of it was brilliant. The children loved the minecraft themed staging, the songs and the bits of humour too. The afternoon musical workshop sessions were also utterly brilliant and the kids had such a wonderful time, and learnt so much. The actors were fabulous in the way they dealt with the children and led those sessions, and got everyone involved. In the end they got the teachers and staff to perform as well, which everyone loved.

Now all we need is a sponsor and then we can start organising the Easter 2019 tour! Please get in touch if you know someone who would like to underwrite a four week tour to the tune of a mere £10k?

Quote for the week;

“An opinion is something you hold – a conviction is something that holds you.”

Every Day With Jesus

Blog March 15th Portsmouth Gospel Choir Perform for Her Majesty The Queen.


Portsmouth Gospel Choir perform for Her Majesty The Queen at Westminster Abbey

“The Season of Singing” featuring Lucy Jane Rutherford from the album “The Season of Singing” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

On Saturday March 3rd Mustard Seed Songs produced the Portsmouth Gospel Choir (PGC) in concert at Kings Church, Portsmouth and I hope this will soon be available for you to view on You Tube.

On Monday March 12th PGC performed for the Queen and other members of the Royal Family at the Royal Commonwealth Service in Westminster Abbey.

The choir also performed in front of the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, High Commissioners, Ambassadors and Commonwealth dignitaries and around 800 school children.

The service was broadcast live on BBC One

Band Coordinator, Omolade Taiwo, aged 20, said: “We are really honoured. It’s amazing and surreal.

“It’s all God. We’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve this, we’re just a university gospel choir. Genuinely we sing, we have fun, put videos online and then we get an opportunity like this.”

When the group were told the news, they said there was ‘lots of screaming’ with choir members ‘falling to the floor’.

Last year the group were semi-finalists in BBC One’s Pitch Battle. They described the support from the University and local community as ‘incredible’ and said they ‘couldn’t have asked for anything more’.

As well as the Portsmouth Gospel Choir, there were performances from Ngāti Rānana, the London Māori Choir and Liam Payne.

The Portsmouth Gospel choir performed a stunning rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel and their performance was shared by the Royal Family on Twitter

About The Commonwealth Service 

The Commonwealth Service is the UK’s largest multi-faith celebration and takes place annually on the second Monday in March at Westminster Abbey. The one hour service features a mixture of testimonies, readings, and musical performances. Each year the Service is based around an annual Commonwealth Theme.

The Royal Commonwealth Society organises the Service on behalf of a group of Commonwealth organisations, known as the Council of Commonwealth Societies (CCS).

Commonwealth Day has been celebrated across the Commonwealth, every year since the 1970s. In recent years, there has been a shift away from celebrating a single day towards celebrating Commonwealth Week, with Commonwealth Day at its focus on the first day. The aim is to celebrate the unity, diversity and links of the modern Commonwealth and to foster greater understanding of the Commonwealth’s achievements and role, particularly among young people.

You can watch the performance of the Portsmouth Gospel Choir via this link from 58 mins 25 secs:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09vp5z4/a-service-of-celebration-for-commonwealth-day-2018#

 

Quote for the week;

“Happiness is not getting what you want – it is enjoying what God has given you.”

The Word For Today

Blog March 8th “Precious”

“Precious” featuring Lucy Stimpson- Maynard from the album “Precious” recorded and produced by Ross Gill

We have had a fantastic week with the Risen! The Musical Theatre in Education tour of Primary Schools going from strength to strength. Comments have included “Absolutely fabulous” “Wow I am speechless” and “Superb.”

We also had a wonderful Portsmouth Gospel Choir concert at the Kings Church, Portsmouth but more on both these events next blog as today would have been my mother’s birthday and I would like to share with you how she became a Christian – quite late on in life!

My mum, Audrey Lillian Shearsmith, had attended Chapel as young girl and I knew that she said her prayers without fail every single day. However in 1997 I still was not sure how she would react to me telling her that I had become a Christian.  I therefore showed her a little book from the Alpha course entitled “Who is Jesus?” and we had a short chat before she told me to leave it and that she would read it later.

When she was 102 years old and was living in the wonderful Chesterholm Lodge Care Home mum asked me what a Christian was and how you could became one.  I simply said that to become a Christian you ask God to forgive you for all the things you have done in your life that have displeased Him and to ask Jesus to come into your life. She then smiled her special smile and pointed to her bag and nodded for me to look in it. And there it was -the “Who is Jesus? book that I had given her five years before. I told her that there was a prayer in the book that she could say if you wished to become a Christian. Mum immediately read out the prayer aloud. I was sitting on the bed beside her overjoyed, but at the same time almost not believing what was happening, in fact so much so that I told her that just saying the prayer was not enough she had to really mean it; so she said it again, but this time with even more meaning in her voice!  I noticed, Mandy, one of her carers who worships at my church was outside mum’s room, so I went out to tell her the good news. “Halleluiah” Mandy cried out before telling me that she was not in the least bit surprised because mum had been talking about Christianity for some time. So mum became a Christian at the age of almost 103!

A few days before she died in August 2006 I was with her on my own. She looked at me with so much love, smiled that wonderful smile again and told me that I was precious.

The day after she said “precious” to me I was looking at Psalm 116 and the word “precious jumped out of the page. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” I read in the concordance that “precious” means, not only highly valued, but also carefully looked after – I can’t tell you how reassuring it was to know that in mum’s last days she was being carefully looked after by God. And she was; all those who were with her will testify to how much at peace she was. She was in no pain whatsoever and was as sharp as always. She left this life in a very gentle and serene way – there is no doubt that she was indeed being carefully looked after and watched over by God.

The day after reading Psalm 116 it was a Sunday and I sat at the back of Holy Rood church with no one on the one seat beside me. Beryl, a retired Curate, came in, which was a bit of a surprise because normally on a Sunday morning she worships at an associate church; coming to Holy Rood for the evening services. Although we are good friends I had not sat with Beryl before, but on that Sunday she asked if she could sit on that one free seat by my side. She knew that my mum was very unwell from the church notice sheet and when she asked me I told her that mum was, in fact dying.

At the end of the service Beryl told me that she had prayed for my mum and me and that during the service God had given her a picture. She had seen a beautiful meadow in which stood a rock- a rock that had been very “precious” to her friends and family. The rock was also “precious” to God. Beryl saw the earth around the rock become disturbed and God taking this “precious” rock up to heaven to be with Him.

Mum died the very next day.

Quote for the week:

He loves you as you are but too much to let you stay as you are.

Every Day With Jesus