This past year, the movement of refugees has often been in the news, whether because of the many lives of migrants lost on boats sinking in the Mediterranean, the debates in Europe about numbers of refugees, or the fears following the terrible Paris attacks.
The Christmas story is full of the movement of people, sometimes greeted with rejection, sometimes with compassion, sometimes with suspicion and fear. In the background wicked forces are at work, such as King Herod killing many children in Bethlehem as he seeks to destroy Jesus. And so Mary, Joseph, and Jesus flee as refugees to Egypt.
But the greatest movement of the Christmas Story is that of God himself, who left heaven to come into our world as a baby, in the person of Jesus Christ. Referring to Jesus’ birth, the angel said to Joseph,”they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us” (Matt 1:23). So God comes into our world, into our darkness – to bring us His light, to give us hope, peace and joy, all of which are found in him.
But this Christmas each of us has to decide how to respond as God, in Christ, moves towards us. Will we treat him with indifference, have no room for him in our busy lives? Will we respond like Herod, fearful that He poses a threat to our way of life. Or will we welcome Him, even worship Him as the Wise Men and the Shepherds did.
It is fitting that at Christmas we make time not only to buy and give gifts, and to celebrate and have Christmas parties, but to also make time to welcome and worship Christ. You can do that quietly on your own at any point, but our Candlelight Carol services (at 6:30pm on 13th and 20th December), Kids’ Carol service (12th December at 3:30pm), and our Christmas morning Service (10:30am Christmas day) are great times to do that with others. You are welcome to join us at any or all of these times.
Christ says that when we welcome others – neighbours, refugees, or those in need, it is as if we are welcoming Him. So at this Christmas time, particularly look out for your neighbours, for those who may be isolated or new to the area, and for those in need. As a church, one of the ways we do that is by joining with many other churches in the city to put on a night shelter for the homeless in Brighton through the winter months. If you would like to join us in welcoming and serving the homeless, Holland Road Baptist Church’s part will be on Sunday nights from the end of January to March. Note: applications to take part are now closed.
If you are reading this while waiting for one of our carol services to start, thanks for coming to celebrate with us. Wherever you are reading this, I pray that you may know God’s blessing, peace and presence this Christmas, and as we start a new Year.
This is the third in a series of three discipleship video blogs looking at freedom. It is my prayer that these will help you as you follow Jesus and experience the glorious freedom he brings, and as you help others to do this too.
This is the second in a series of three discipleship video blogs looking at freedom. It is my prayer that these will help you as you follow Jesus and experience the glorious freedom he brings, and as you help others to do this too.
This is the first in a series of three discipleship video blogs looking at freedom. It is my prayer that these will help you as you follow Jesus and experience the glorious freedom he brings, and as you help others to do this too.
We’ll post links to the other videos in this series here around every two weeks.
Future series include looking at the areas of relationships and prayer.
Easter is a very special time in the church calendar. It is a time when we especially remember the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are such huge and wonderful actual events in history, that not only do we mark them year after year at Easter, but referring to them during Sunday church services as well. In fact in some churches, each Sunday they say as part of their service “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again”.
Christ coming again, and how that links to His death and resurrection, is something we have been thinking about in our Sunday morning services over recent weeks as we have been looking at the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, and we will be continuing to look at it after Easter.
In the first chapter of Revelation we read that Christ said, “Do not be afraid, I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death” (Rev 1:17,18) All through Revelation we see that Jesus’ death and resurrection means that there is one who has conquered death, who holds the keys, who has the authority and power to help this broken world, to bring hope.Whatever challenges you are facing this Easter, Jesus can bring hope into that situation.
Christ’s death and Resurrection need to be held together. His death shows the depth of his Love, and compassion – He didn’t die in some tragedy or by accident, he died in our place, for our sin, to take the punishment we deserve, to pay our debt.But His resurrection shows that that debt has been paid and accepted, that He is who He said He was, the saviour of the world, God come to earth.He has the power to conquer death and bring life, freedom, and new beginnings, when it seems those things are impossible.
So this Easter I hope you discover more of how Jesus’ death and resurrection is good news for you and your friends and family.There are all kinds of things that I believe would help you in that journey of discovery, wherever you are in your journey of faith, I’d welcome you to try any or all of the following :
Reading through one of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (such as Luke’s Gospel or John’s gospel).
The Easter Sunday morning service,with adult baptisms and people telling stories of how Jesus changed their lives.
The Passion Play on the seafront on Easter Sunday afternoon.
Our Sunday morning services after Easter, continuing to look at “Revelation” and what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means for our future.
In this coming term we are particularly thinking about how we can help bring hope to people in our city and world, in the light of all that Christ has done at Easter. So from May 10th -17th we are having a special World Week, seeking to give £50,000 to help the poorest of the poor, the persecuted church, places where there is no church, and partners we have serving people around the world. But we are also seeking to serve those in need in our city, through both our communities, and through initiatives like CAP (Christians Against Poverty). We will follow this in July with HOPE, a focused week of serving.
Do come and join us in bring hope to others, and in exploring more of the hope that Easter brings to each of our lives.
There is a lot of pain in the Christmas story, and yet overwhelmingly, it is story of great joy and celebration. There is the pain of poverty, the pain of a relationship under strain, the pain of political oppression, pain of childbirth, pain of being misunderstood, and pain of rejection. Most of us will be coming into this Christmas time aware of pain in our own lives or the life of someone we know.
The Christmas story is one of joy and celebration, even in the pain we face. For it is the story of God coming to our world in pain, a story of hope and salvation, a story of good news for the whole world, a story of good news for you and I.
The angel said to the shepherds (Luke 2:10,11) “Don’t be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy for all people, today in the city of David a Saviour has been born, he is Christ the Lord”.
The angel said to Joseph (Matthew 1:20,21) “Don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, for what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit, She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins”.
No wonder that Christmas is associated with songs – the songs of the angels, the song of Mary, and the carols we sing. One of my favourite carols is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. In the first verse it says “Joyful all you nations rise, join the triumph of the skies, with angelic hosts proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem”.
I hope that our Candlelight Carol Services (at 6:30pm on 14th and 21st of Dec) and Kids’ Carol Service (at 3:30pm on 13th of Dec), as well as other church community gatherings, will help to demonstrate and communicate something of this wonderful Christmas message that is worth singing about. And if you are reading this while waiting for one of our carol services to start, thanks for coming to celebrate and sing with us.
May you know God’s blessing on you and those close to you this Christmas. If you are in Brighton you’d be welcome to our family service at 10:30am on Christmas morning . Hope you have a happy New Year too. Do join us in January as we seek to bring hope and light to our city. One of the ways we are doing that in the new year is by helping provide a night shelter for the homeless. If you would like to help with this you can sign up online.
My prayer this Christmas is that whatever pain or challenges you or those you know are facing at this time of year, reflecting on the Christmas story would help you know that there is hope and good news. A Saviour has come, someone to help us, Jesus Christ.
On Sunday 9th November 2014 we held our annual ‘We love our church, we love our city’ Gift Day.
Through the generous giving of the people who make up Holland Road we raised £43,635 to support five key areas:
Christians Against Poverty – working to help people get out of debt, providing financial advice as well as teaching top-quality money-management skills.
The ongoing work of our church – reaching out to those in our city.
Alternatives – supporting and showing God’s love to those facing unplanned pregnancy or pregnancy loss.
The Basics Bank – supporting people who are in genuine financial crisis that isn’t a result of their choice of lifestyle; offering practical support with food and basic kitchen and bedding needs.
Open Doors – over £13,500 went to support persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria.
Once again it’s been a joy, as we give, to remember all that we’ve been given and all that our giving is able to do. Thanks to all those who’ve been part of the Gift Day and we praise God for all that will be done through it.