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From The Pastor

David Treneer

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.

Happy Christmas.

God bless.

David.

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David Treneer

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 Good Friday Service – a quieter more reflective service.
  •  The Easter Extravaganza (particularly good for families with small children).
  •  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.

Wishing you every blessing in Christ.

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David Treneer

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.

Enjoy your Christmas celebrations.

God Bless,

David

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David Treneer

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.

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David Treneer

Hi everyone,

We have so much to praise the Lord for from these past months; including the World Mission Gift Day, the Wales and Hope 2014 missions and another CAP client coming to faith. God is good! It has also been encouraging to see more people around on Sundays and to hear some great stories from our communities.

As I look back over these past months I particularly want to praise God for the five people we baptised on recent Sunday mornings. It was also exciting to baptise one lady at the Friendship Centre and another lady in the sea!

The Wales mission was a great team effort, with people from Holland Road, the USA and Wales working together and seeing many lives transformed. Thanks to those who were part of each team. During Hope 2014 it was wonderful to see 215 people from Holland Road and other parts of the city give up time to serve in different ways. We completed 16 practical projects and praise God that each day people turned to the Lord.

“…a very significant and liberating time for her”

The Gospel Concert at the end was such wonderful celebration as well as life transforming time for many (see photo above). One leader from another church told me of a lady they brought to the concert who gave her life to Christ, and danced at the end of the evening for the first time in 20 years! He commented, “…that it seemed to be a very significant and liberating time for her”.

All over the world lives are being touched like that through our regular giving and through the amazing World Mission Gift Day – which came to £48,147, vastly exceeding our target of £43,000! This enabled us to give more to the Dalits in India and a specific gift to Rita Leage, after the loss of her husband; both of them had been missionaries from the church for many years. We were also able to set up a specific fund called The ‘Dave Leage Bursary Fund’ to help support those exploring being missionaries in North Africa. This is part of the world which was close to Dave’s heart and through him, an area which God has placed on our hearts as a church. Places where there is no church is one of our specific mission priorities and within North Africa there are many, many places with no church.

God’s word is true.

It has been a privilege as a church to give much, both in terms of time and treasure, to reach the city and the nations over these months. I know when we are generous it brings much joy to the Lord and to others. God’s word is true, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35), and we thank him for His faithfulness and His blessing to us too over these months.

As the summer holidays begin, I pray that those going away will get a great break and may we all seek to grow closer to the Lord throughout August. The Lord reminded me today of his wonderful invitation in John 6:35 where Jesus says,

“I am the bread of life, he who comes to me will never be hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Yours together in Christ,

David.

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David Treneer

Easter is a very special time in the Christian calendar.

The death and resurrection of Jesus are at the heart of the Christian faith. Baptism is a powerful picture of being identified with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s therefore very exciting and very appropriate to have a bunch of people who have asked to be baptised on Easter Sunday at our morning service.

It reminds me of my own baptism, when I read from Philippians 3:7-10 in the Bible. I recognised that even the great things I had going for me, all I had done or experienced (I was studying Engineering at Cambridge University at the time); all these things were rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus. Why? Because through His death and resurrection I am given a “righteousness” that I could never obtain by myself. Not through good works nor through success in work, studies or relationships.

Good Friday is “good” because Christ died for me and you. He took our unrighteousness and gave us His perfect righteousness, and Easter is a reminder that He didn’t stay dead but rose again. And so we join with Christians down through history, proclaiming the good news that “He is alive”. There is hope, there is forgiveness, there is a Saviour with power to help us.

Those getting baptised this Easter have discovered that, and I pray that whether through this magazine or by coming along to one of our services over Easter, to the Holiday Club or to the Passion Play, that you too will discover more of this wonderful news.

Thanks to all those who over this past term have served this city, whether through the Night Shelter, CAP Debt Advice Centre, or through the many communities which reach out to various different parts of the city and to different generations and nationalities. Jesus was right that it really is in giving and serving that we are blessed.

Beyond Easter, do please join us on Sundays, as we explore through the month of May the theme of resurrection and eternal life, and throughout the week do connect with any of our communities, as together we grow in getting to know God and each other.

Hope you have a wonderful Easter.

May the unfailing love of God rest upon you (Psalm 33:22)

David

 

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David Treneer

Courageous Love

By David Treneer

Happy New Year.

Praise God for an amazing time over Christmas, and huge thanks to all those who helped to make the last couple of months such special times, through which many have encountered something of the wonderful good news of Jesus Christ.

It was great to see how God was at work on the first Sunday of the year, 5th January, as we begun the year together, both in a Baptism service on Sunday morning and in a wonderful prayer night on Sunday evening. The verse we were thinking about on Sunday morning was 1 Corinthians 16:13,14, which is our verse for the year. I am convinced that the faith we have in Christ, who died for our sin and rose again conquering death, should show itself in courageous love. You can read the Sunday morning message here.

I ended the talk with a story from church history, which you can read on Mike Breen’s blog

Doing small things with great love can make a big difference. As we come into this new year I am praying that we will particularly learn as communities how to do small things with great love, bringing the wonderful good news of Jesus Christ to those around us, through both our words and our deeds.

One way we are doing that together centrally is through the night shelter, beginning here at Holland Road at the end of January. Please pray for the 7 other churches in the city who are currently serving the homeless in our city for this first half of the winter, and remember the 6 other churches who on different nights of the week will be joining with us for the second half of the winter at the end of January. Praise God for a great initiative serving our city, involving 14 churches across Brighton and Hove.

Thanks to all those who gave through the gift day in November and at the Candlelight service towards the night shelter and other work.  So great was the response that not only were we able to exceed our target of £40,000 but we were able to give some additional gifts, including to a great work at St Peter’s called “Safehaven”, helping men and women from the street community.  We also were able to give a gift towards the work of Off the Fence – providing for those who are on the streets and haven’t been able to find shelter. Praise God it looks like we will also be able to give small gifts to a few churches doing great outreach work in needy parts of our city. Jesus said “Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

So it is with expectancy that we come into this new year, knowing that we have a good, generous and gracious God – our faith is in Him and what He has done for us, not what we do for Him. That is why we can live with Courageous Love.

Yours together in Christ

David

PS – I’m already looking forward to our next prayer night at 6:30pm on Sunday 2nd of Feb. Do please specially put those prayer nights on the first Sunday of each month in your diary, for “The Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to Him” (Deut 4:7).

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David Treneer

Recently, at a Christmas party I found myself describing to someone one of the things I love about Christmas: the reminder in the Christmas story that God moves towards us, to be near us, to be with us. They responded with two questions: “what is God like?” and “how can we know what He is like?” Our conversation got interrupted, and I don’t remember what I said. But I will remember their questions. Great questions.

We are so small and the universe so big that the only way for us to know what God is like would be if He chose to reveal something about Himself to us. There are a number of different ways in which God reveals Himself, like through the beauty of what He has made (something I often think of when I see people walking along the seafront enjoying the vast expanse of the sea or beauty of the sunset.)

The staggering thing about the Christmas story is the claim that the main way God has chosen to reveal Himself is in a person. The person of Jesus Christ. The babe of Bethlehem.

What is God like, and how do we know what He is like? The apostle John answers both questions by encapsulating the Christmas story (what theologians call the ‘Incarnation’) like this: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only (Jesus Christ), who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” ( John 1:18).

So it is through Jesus Christ that we most clearly see what God is like. And what do we see? Amazingly, we see that the Great Almighty God is willing to humble Himself and be born a baby – to become a man – in a broken world. It reveals His compassion and love as He draws near us, to be Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’, from Matthew 1:23). One who is accessible to all, rich and poor (the wise men and the shepherds), young and old. One who comes not to condemn but to save.

“Today in the city of David, a Saviour has been born to you”, said the angels to the shepherds. God is a God who saves, who brings hope where there is despair, peace where there is anxiety, and light where there is darkness.

I hope that our Candlelight Carol services (at 6:30pm on 15th and 22nd of Dec) and Kids’ Carol Service (at 3:30pm on 21st of Dec) as well as other church community gatherings will help to demonstrate and communicate something of this wonderful Christmas message.

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 this in the new year is by helping provide a night shelter for the homeless (see article for details). If you would like to help with this do contact the church office.

My prayer this Christmas is that whatever you are facing at this time of year, reflecting on the Christmas story will help you identify more clearly what God is like, and see that He wants you to be able to know Him more and be with Him. That is why He came. He came to us so that we could come to Him.

Enjoy your Christmas celebrations.

God Bless,

David.

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David Treneer

On Sunday 10th November 2013 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 £40,861* 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.
  • The Night Shelter – a joint venture between 14 churches across the city offering overnight accommodation for rough sleepers over the winter months.

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.

*This article has been amended to reflect the updated total since its original publishing. 

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David Treneer

1 Corinthians 1:4 says, “We always thank God for you”. And having been away I’m always thankful for the people of Holland Road as we come back. I am praying that as we come into a new Autumn term, we will continue to grow as people who follow Jesus, reach out and who are an extended family that does everything in love.  People who are free to live not for themselves, but for God and for others.

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These things are not isolated objectives but intricately linked and need to be held together. The best way we have found for doing this is through communities.

Laura and I are seeking to lead such a community in our area called the Robin Hood Community. It’s a community where we expect and anticipate that new people will often be there. We try to together deepen our upward connection with Christ, our inward connection with one another, and our outward connection with those who don’t yet know Christ. (I use a simple UP/IN/OUT triangle to help me remember this). All three parts are important for real living in communities and all three need to be held together.  In 1 Corinthians 1:4-10 each of these aspects can be found.

Triangle

Part of what helps us hold them together is engaging with the scriptures in a way that is accessible to those seeking to know more about the Christian faith.  So as part of our community we have a Bible study every few weeks – that we try to make accessible to all who want to come.

I believe the Word of God helps us both connect with Christ and grow closer together, as well as being one of the main means God uses to help those who don’t know Christ come to know Him.

Recognising that all the different communities reach out in different ways, we are looking this Autumn to bring a sense of togetherness in our diversity by all studying the book of 1 Corinthians.  This will tie in to a sermon series beginning on September 22nd (also on the book of 1 Corinthians) called “Real Living”.

Strengthening Sundays & communities

The studies will be flexible for use in the diversity of communities that there are. They will also be helpful for people who don’t come to the morning service on Sunday, but will compliment it well for those that do.   This could even be an opportunity to strengthen the connections between communities and Sundays: both by things learnt on Sundays being passed and shared to others in communities, and in a natural opportunity to talk to people in communities about what is happening on Sundays.

I do pray that God will use this Autumn to help us grow in our following of Jesus, our reaching out and our being an extended family that does everything in love, particularly in our communities.  I pray that we would grow in our sense of togetherness with one another and with Christ in mission.

Yours together in Christ,

David.

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