Jesus at Wanstead Tube

Opposite Wanstead tube on the Green, you’ve probably often seen a beautiful statue with a drinking trough. But as it’s in Latin, maybe you didn’t realise that it teaches us about Jesus!

It means “in her right hand is length of days and in her left hand is glory” and it’s a Bible quote (Proverbs 3 v 16). The words are about God’s wisdom, which helps us live long and live well. But they also point to Jesus, who perfectly expresses God’s wisdom and offers us eternal, glorious life.

Deep down, we all long for the “length of days” that Jesus offers. The Bible says that “God has put eternity into man’s heart”. We feel that we were made for more than 70 years. The universe can only ultimately be fair if there is a future life with rewards and punishments.

Some people say “won’t it be boring to live forever?” No – because Jesus also gives glory and honour to those who trust in him. In the future life, we will have much greater emotional, intellectual and spiritual capacities (see 1 Corinthians 15). We will see God’s glory in infinitely many ways – in the new perfect creation, the perfect people and angels who live there, and most of all in Jesus himself. We will never run out of things to be excited by.

Every human being longs for “length of days” and “glory”. Jesus holds them in his hands and gives them to everyone who trusts in him. Why not come along to church and find out how you can get them too?

Why the Queen has 3 Birthdays

The Queen is 90 years old on April 21st this year. Apparently there is going to be an almighty street party on the Mall, lots of pomp and ceremony and a special lunch with President Obama. Then, in case any one forgets to send her a card, she has an official birthday on the 11th June. It’s apparently so that she can have a party that has a high probability of good weather.

It’s a bit like me being a bit rubbish and not quite getting around to doing my childrens’ birthday parties on the actual day because I can’t quite organise myself properly. Mind you, I’d probably be equally as rubbish if they had two birthdays – or would that be doubly as rubbish?

The speed my question popped up on Google shows it’s a question that’s been asked a lot. I simply typed ‘Why does the Queen…’ and the first option was ‘Have two birthdays?’

Nearly 2000 years ago a chap called Nicodemus asked a very similar question of Jesus. The conversation went something like this. (I’m going to paraphrase wildly here!)

N – You’re amazing Jesus, you must have come from God!
J – You can only see God’s Kingdom if you’ve been born again.
N – Huh!? I’m an old geezer, I can’t fit back inside my mum!
J – Don’t worry! That’s not what I mean. It’s your spirit that gets born again not your body.

At this my poor saggy belly breathes a sigh of relief – there is no way I could accommodate my 14 year old twins in there!

Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment that we deserve – if we accept this fact, this gift, it’s as if we died with him, and as he rose again 3 days later, so did we. We are new creations, unburdened by our old misdemeanours, viewed as clean and perfect by God. A clean start, just like the day we were born the first time, only this time it’s better, we know God. We then grow spiritually too; Paul describes it as being weaned; going from milk to solid food as we learn more and get to know God better.

At Grace Church Wanstead that is our main aim – to get to know God better and to tell others how they too can receive this new start. Please join us on a Sunday or at one of our midweek Bible studies to find out more.

… and if the Queen is a Christian, she has been born again through the Spirit, and that means she has a third birthday – I’m not buying her 3 presents! (You can buy me two though if you wish).

Happy Christmas Everyone!

I thought I’d get that in nice and early, after all, we all know that there will be Christmas stuff in the shops even before they’ve discounted all the unsold choccy eggs. Easter eggs were spotted for sale in the Highams Park Tescos on Dec 30th last year and I’m pretty sure (please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), that you can buy Hot Cross Buns all year round pretty much anywhere in Britain.

I am undecided as to whether this is a good or bad thing.
Here’s why –
We celebrate Jesus’ birth because he died and was resurrected. If he’d just dropped off this mortal coil and was never heard of again, he’d be just another travelling religious nut job.
We celebrate Jesus’ death because he was born a human being. Jesus gave up a cushy life in heaven to live a life of suffering and poverty. God himself, came down to earth to have an intimate relationship with us and died so that we can all experience that relationship.

The 2 events go hand in hand – like love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage…

This fact is so important that a day should not go by when we do not consider his birth, death and resurrection. It should become part of our daily lives, like drinking tea, cleaning our teeth, going to the toilet and eating dinner (not all at the same time). The Jews were told to write God’s words on their doorposts to remind them what he’d done for them; so it’s great to have a reminder of what Jesus has done – on the supermarket shelf and piped on the top of our currant buns.

But then what happens when it loses its impact? When the celebration of Jesus’ amazing sacrifice becomes reduced to a melted brown smear of chocolate on the face of a small child (and subsequently all over the sleeve of their mother’s nice new top…), when people wear it as a nice piece of jewellery because they like the design or just use it to ward off the vampires that hang around on street corners after dark?

The cross was a barbaric method of torture – physical and mental. If you were sentenced to death by crucifixion you were exposed, to all who saw you, as the worst sort of criminal. You hung there and slowly died of asphyxiation as your lungs were crushed by the weight of your own body.

That is what you are eating for your tea; an ancient method of torture and execution as your afternoon snack.

That is how much God loves us; that he himself would take the punishment that we deserve in order to have a relationship with us.
Jesus was no criminal – he’d committed no crime – yet he was sentenced to death.
We deserve that death.

For Easter this year we’ll be serving ‘Hot Electric Chair Buns’ or maybe cakes with an iced gallows on the top, that way they may do the job that they’re supposed to do – be a visual reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We might even pull a cracker or two.

Happy Christmas Everyone.