Count Your Blessings

Some of us used to sing a song:

Count your blessings
Name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done
.

We meet together about once every two weeks to read the Bible together and talk about it. The Bible can seem a bit complicated and it helps to talk together about what it means for us, today. This week we started reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. It said that God has “blessed us with every spiritual blessing”.

But what are these blessings, we wondered?

When we continued to read and talk, we got a bit more detail.

  • He has chosen us because he wants to change our lives around;
  • And he has adopted us as his children – so that we can talk to him like we would to a loving parent, knowing he cares;
  • He’s sorted out all the things that seem to get in the way of our relationship with him – that’s what Jesus did when he died for us to forgive us for all the wrong thing things in our lives;
  • And it’s not just for now – it’s for our whole life and after we die – we’ll still be his children for ever!
  • God will work out our lives in a good way – he’ll be in charge if we let him;
  • So he gives us the Holy of Spirit who lives with us and helps us sort our lives out.

So that’s a lot of blessings!

What an amazing God we have!

If you want to join us this week in finding out more and serving those in the local community, then please feel free to come to any of these meetings:

  • Heroes – a group for children of primary school age, meeting from 4.30-6pm on Tuesdays. There is a weekly subscription of 80p.
  • GB – a group for girls of school age, which meets on a Thursday night.
  • Coffee morning – the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month from 10.30am-12pm.
  • Church service – 10.30am every Sunday morning.
  • Litter pick – a one-off event organised along with Emmanuel Church. Bring your own lunch at 12.30pm on Sunday 13th and then join in in cleaning up the local area.
  • Bible study and fellowship group – alternate Monday nights from 7.15pm (next meeting is the 14th October)

Cafe Church: Operation Agri

As rainstorms sweep across northern England, it is clear that autumn is setting in. And autumn means harvest time – traditionally a time of plenty and to celebrate God’s wonderful provision. After all, we believe that he created the crops which we benefit from.

However, this time of year also means that around the world people will be thinking about how they are going to survive another tough winter, storing their produce to get through the dark months ahead, or budgeting as Christmas and the New Year approach.

Next Sunday morning we will be holding our monthly café church service (first Sunday of the month, at 10.30, followed by a free light lunch) and as well as celebrating God’s creation, we are going to talk about a project called Learning for Life in NepalOperation Agri BMM. Organised by a development charity called Operation Agri, this Christian-led project aims to help people in the mountains south of Kathmandu. In particular, the women in the community are learning about saving and investing their money, and how to farm sustainably and more effectively so that they can support themselves and their families. You can watch their YouTube channel to learn more.

There will be an opportunity for people to donate money to OperatioDurham Foodbank | Helping Local People in Crisisn Agri during the service, as well as to bring non-perishable items which will be used closer to home – by the Durham Food Bank. In particular, the Food Bank are asking for UHT milk, men’s toiletries, instant meals (kettle foods), rice, coffee, custard and sponge puddings. They have plenty of baked beans!

The Bible tells us again and again to share what we have with others:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcome me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. – Matthew 25

Join us next Sunday morning as we strive to do just this for our local community and others around the world.

Heroes: preparing for the Indoor Garden Party

Heroes is our weekly children’s group (find out more about it here) and they have had a very busy two weeks. Old friends and new have come along to play ice breaker games and get to know one another. Whilst thinking about how God has created each of us differently but loves us all the same, the children have been making paper flowers to decorate the church building for Saturday’s Indoor Garden Party.  Everyone is welcome to this free event, which will involve food, craft and games. It starts at 3 pm on Saturday. Hope to see you there!

 

Reflecting on 2 Corinthians

At least once a fortnight, we provide an opportunity for members of the congregation to share with the church during the Sunday service. Sometimes people share about their work with local and global charities, others speak about how God has worked in their lives, and some give an insight into their role in the church and how we can all get involved.

This week our treasurer, Janet, spoke about where our church’s money comes from and how it is spent. She reflected on 2 Corinthians 9:7, which says:

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

We need to plan and pray about how much we all give to the church as it is really being given to God. It’s a privilege to be able to serve God not only with our time and gifts, but also with our money. As a church, DCBC gives away a tenth of our income to help our Baptist family in this country and overseas. A lot of money is also spent on the church building, and Janet explained how making the building welcoming to everyone who uses it is part of the church’s mission. The next opportunity for this is our Indoor Garden Party, which will take place on Saturday 21st September, from 3-5pm. Everyone is welcome for afternoon tea, crafts and games. The event is free, but any donations will be given to Macmillan.

Cafe Church: A God of Second Chances

This morning we choose to read the story of Jonah as part of our café church series (the first Sunday of every month at 10.30am). Or, rather, we decided to act it out and illustrate it with some clever hand-made fish. Stretching the theme to its limits, we had a DCBC classic meal – fish-shaped fish and chips.

The focus of the service was that we have a God of second chances. When God first called Jonah to do something difficult, the first thing Jonah did was run away. But Jonah got a second chance to do the right thing – and he needed a third chance at the end of the story too! The sailors Jonah meets on the boat to Tarshish and the people of Ninevah also get a second chance – and as soon as they find out what God wants them to do, they transform their lives and follow him. So this week we are going to think about what God might want us to do with our lives, and how we can take the second (or third, or fourth, or millionth) chance that he is offering us. 

A splash of colour: redecorating the small hall

This week has been a busy one for some of us at DCBC – we have started redecorating our small hall. The exposed brown bricks have been transformed with a lick of paint (well, actually about 10 litres of it) and we have brightened up the room with some re-upholstered chairs. There’s plenty still to do – but already the space looks a lot more welcoming for the different church groups that use this room during the year. This room is used for our weekly children’s work (Heroes and GB) for church meetings, and can be hired out. It is also used for our Christmas Fun Day and Fair (get the date in your diaries now – Saturday 30th November, 10am-12 noon).

 

Thoughts from the Minister: The Nazareth Manifesto

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,     
because he has anointed me     
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners     
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’

‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

Luke 4:18-19 & 21b

God in Christ did not just come to save souls for heaven; he also came to bring shalom and flourishing here in this life

Nicholas Wolterstorff, “In This world of wonders.” Page 55.

Two sections of the gospels are often called manifestos; “The Sermon on the Mount has been called “The Kingdom Manifesto”. The other section is that which is found in Luke 4:16-21, and it has been called; “The Nazareth Manifesto”.  It is the section in Luke that we will be considering in this piece. I presume the term manifesto is used because the quote, predominantly from Isaiah 61, is used by Jesus to speak of his mission.

Jesus in using this text also draws attention to the nature of his person.  At his baptism Jesus is declared as God’s son, resonating with Psalm 2, and therefore King.  Jesus is the one in whom the Father is well pleased, drawing on the servant of the Lord in Isaiah 42:1. The section from Isaiah 61 while not belonging to the servant songs of Isaiah, (Is. 42:1-4; 49:1-11; 50:4-9; 52:13 – 53:12) can be described as like a servant song. Finally the proclamation of God’s word by the one spoken of in 61:16:21 resonates with the prophet who was to come found in Deuteronomy 18:15 & 18.  Luke uses the titles and the texts that contain them in such a way as to reveal Jesus as the bringer of God’s salvation.  The one who could declare the year of the Lord’s favour because he was God come amongst his people, in the person of the Son.

Jesus had the authority to proclaim the fulfilment of the scripture, the year of the Lord’s favour had begun.  What was Jesus intimating when he sat down and said ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing?’ Jesus was announcing the long awaited deliverance of God’s people from all that made them less than they should be.  Isaiah’s prophetic word concerned the deliverance of Judah from exile in Babylon; however it finds its greater fulfilment in the liberation that Jesus made possible through his life, death and resurrection. Jesus was announcing the full salvation that God had promised was coming into being through his person and work.

One discussion that surrounds the text in Luke 4 concerns whether Jesus was speaking of spiritual realities, or physical realities?  The answer is the salvation God brings about in Jesus is for the whole person. The separation of the spiritual from the physical in the biblical understanding of human persons is not as easy as some think. God is concerned with the whole person.

The language at use in the text is not that of social political revolution, but of the in breaking in of the kingdom of God in liberating and saving power, this is the true renewing of the world. In Jesus the order of the new creation is breaking in. This is the new community under the sovereignty of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, coming into being as a sign and prophetic voice to a world that needs to experience the saving, liberating power of God. This new community is made up of those who accept Jesus and his message and experience the liberty of the children of God.

Those who are called to be part of this new community are also charged with proclaiming the arrival of the year of the Lord’s favour with the coming of Jesus.  We are to proclaim the message and live as those who seek to bring the good gifts of God to all.

Ronnie Wynd 2019