Summerstown Contact No. 107
A Christ-filled Christmas?
Christmas is traditionally a season of joy, family togetherness and sharing with others. Sadly it is all to often a time of strife and selfishness; stress and strain; loneliness and emptiness. The most anxious part of the year for many of us is the Christmas season.
There is a Christmas Crisis - the Christ is missing from our celebrations. An American TV interviewer was walking the streets of Tokyo one Christmas time. Much as in America and the UK, Christmas shopping is a big commercial success in Japan. The interviewer stopped one young woman on the pavement and asked, "What is the meaning of Christmas?" Laughing, the woman responded, "I don't know. Is that the day that Jesus died?" There was some truth in her answer. We have lost the real reason for the season, and lost our way when it comes to truly knowing the God who made us.
The World Health Organisation says that the most costly and debilitating disease of this new century, above heart disease, cancer and AIDS, will be depression. Humanity is plagued by a lack of purpose and meaning for existence, by the unstoppable downward momentum of our troubled world, and tries to find fulfilment or escape in pleasure; money; fame; man-made religion; 'new age' spirituality, but these things leave us empty and frustrated in the end.
The Bible says our plight is due to our being at odds with God, out of line with His Will. In September 2004 in a massive tent on Clapham Common the Evangelist J. John took a series of meetings called 'Just 10'. His aim? To bring to Londoners attention the universal relevance of God's spiritual and moral law. The Times newspaper declared, "The Ten Commandments are getting their biggest audience since Cecil B. de Mille put Moses on the big screen'. One of God's purposes in giving the Commandments is to show us how we fail Him, how far short we fall of His Will. This prepares us for God's great Gospel, the good news.
That good news has been wonderfully summed up like this: 'The early Christians did not say in despair, "look what the world has come to' but in delight, 'look what has come into the world!'" Today Bible-believing Christians worldwide rejoice in the historical and meaningful event that Christmas celebrates. A thrilled Apostle John tells us who it was who came: "...the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us" John Chapter 1 verse 14. This is the most amazing truth - God lived among us in human form! And His name? Jesus Christ the Lord.
Jesus is often portrayed as a religious devotee who got closer to God than anyone else. Some declare Jesus was an honoured prophet, a spokesman for God, among a long line of prophets. Others say Jesus was the greatest creation of God, the highest angel, who took human form. These portraits fall hugely short of the bible truth: Jesus was God Himself who humbled Himself and became a man.
In Jesus Christ we see both undiminished deity and perfect humanity. He did not become less God when born of the virgin Mary, rather as one Christian teacher said: '...At one and the same time - this is the wonder - as Man He was living a human life, and as Word He was sustaining the life of the universe'.
Jesus' birth was God's declaration to our world, to us, that He has not abandoned His creation. Jesus embarked on a rescue mission from heaven to deliver us from our moral mutiny and spiritual darkness. He dealt with the sin that separates us from God by offering Himself up as a sacrifice for sin on Calvary's cross and suffering its punishment in our place. God the Father then raised Jesus gloriously from the dead to demonstrate the total success of His sacrifice and that death had been overcome. The tremendous news is that anyone who turns back to God and trusts solely in the resurrected and exalted Jesus is completely forgiven; receives the gift of eternal life and can joyfully live for God in obedience to His Will.
Will we find the best gift of all this Christmas - new life in Jesus? 'Christmas cheer' will soon be gone; the tree and decorations will come down; any visiting family and friends will go home, but the peace and joy that Jesus gives remains in the hearts of all who humbly receive Him.
We truly wish you a joyful, peaceful, and Christ-filled Christmas.
Peter Bines and the Church at Summerstown Mission.
I expect that many of you have experienced big life changes, some welcome others unwelcome; some expected others unexpected. My wife Thelma and I had the prospect of an unexpected and welcome change, when several months ago Summerstown Mission approached us about the Pastor's position that was being vacated by Colin Paris due to his retirement. At the time I was a co-leader in a small church in Kensal, London, W10 whilst keeping a full-time job. That prospect turned into reality when the church at Summerstown Mission invited me to become the new Pastor. And here we are! We are thrilled to be involved in the work of the Church and look forward very much to meeting people at the Mission and in the community.
Through the 'Summerstown Contact' my predecessor Colin sought to communicate, in a truthful and relevant way, the unchanging Bible message and keep you updated as to what the Mission was doing. I intend to continue this ministry with God's help. The Mission greatly values all and any contacts that it has in the community and believes that the 'Summerstown Contact' has a continuing key role to play.
If you would like to introduce yourself or want me to visit you please feel free to contact me on the Telephone Number next to my name on the back page. And it would of course be great to see you at the Mission during our Christmas programme.
Pastor Peter Bines