North Springfield Baptist Church NEWSLETTER 30 – 28/10/2020
Dear Sisters and Brothers
We have put up a new banner on Pump Lane. Please pray that it will be an effective witness to our neighbours.
NEW NEWS AND IMPORTANT NEWS
THURSDAY – ZOOM ROOM AT 7.30 PM will be open next week for 5th November. Pop in for a chat.
“MORE OF THE DIFFERENCE JESUS MAKES” or “JESUS DID THIS” – our new book of testimonies. PLEASE send your stories of the ways Jesus has blessed you to Peter by email or Messenger VERY SOON.
A testimony might talk about how you became a Christian, or it might talk about the difference Jesus makes to your everyday life. It could focus on an experience of answered prayer, or of guidance, or of healing, or of any ways God has blessed you and helped you. Testimonies should generally be between 400 and 700 words long, but any length will be great. Please send yours IN THE NEXT WEEK.
NEW CONTACT LIST – please reply to the separate message as we want to produce an updated contact list of names, phone numbers and email addresses to help church members and friends to stay in touch.
NOW FOR THINGS YOU HAVE SEEN BEFORE
Please remember that Essex is now in TIER 2 of the Government’s Coronavirus prevention measures – HIGH ALERT. Households are NOT ALLOWED to meet indoors.
After prayerful consideration again the Deacons have decided that we will NOT make plans to start Sunday worship services or other church activities in the church at this time. We will consider the possibilities again next month but the earliest anything is likely to start is now DECEMBER.
Until further notice nobody should enter the church premises for any purposes other than essential maintenance, cleaning, etc. We need to keep a record of who has entered the premises when, so if you do so please inform Peter. Please use the wipes and sanitiser provided just inside the front door.
The message every week of our Sunday evening Zoom Church is usually being recorded and the video posted online for everybody to watch at any time in North Springfield Baptist Church Facebook Group.
CHANGE OF TREASURER
Rebekah has passed the reins of Treasurer on to Peter. Jennifer continues to act as our bookkeeper but any queries about the finances of the church should now go to Peter. We will still be looking for a new Treasurer to continue this work in the long term. Thank you to Rebekah!
People have been asking about making payments to the church’s bank account by Bank Transfer.
Bank Transfer to: North Springfield Baptist Church Sort Code: 40-52-40 Account Number: 00029369
Please keep praying for everybody, and supporting each other through letters and phone calls, Facebook and Zoom video chats. Peter is no longer allowed to visit inside your home but can meet with you in your garden, in the park or in a café. Under the “rule of six” up to six people from different households may still meet outdoors. Peter is always very happy to chat on the Church Family mobile (ask for the number by Messenger or email) or to have a “Zoom Visit” if you prefer.
DAILY HOPE PHONE LINE Line – especially if you can’t access the internet you might enjoy a new way of worshipping provided by the Church of England. Daily hope offers music, prayers, and reflections as well as complete worship services available 24 hours a day. Phone 0800 804 8044.
OUR WEEKLY PROGRAMME LOOKS LIKE THIS NOW.
10.30 am Morning Worshipping Together at Home – using Zoom Video Chat
This time together will be recorded, edited and then posted in the North Springfield Baptist Church Facebook Group later on Sunday so you can also join in when you want to from there. Do let me know if there is a particular hymn or song you would like to sing.
11.30 am After-church Virtual Coffee – your own choice of drink and cake/biscuits with unlimited refills from your own kettle. An opportunity just to catch up and chat using Zoom. On the SECOND and FOURTH Sunday of every month we will follow our chat with a time of prayer together.
6.30 pm Zoom Church – a VERY different kind of church. The message every week is now being recorded and the video posted online for everybody to watch at any time in the North Springfield Baptist Church Facebook Group.
TUESDAY – 8.00 pm Draw Near To God Prayer Meeting using Zoom.
THURSDAY – ZOOM ROOM will be open from 7.30 pm. Feel free to drop in for a chat
How to use Zoom – please ask for the Link and Password by email or Messenger.
If you have not joined us for a while, make sure you have upgraded your Zoom App to version 5. This will happen automatically if you have not. Please make sure in the Settings for your device that you have allowed Zoom permission to use your camera and your microphone. As you enter the room, when Zoom asks if you want to use Video and Audio then say yes to both questions. Also check that your volume is turned up and not on mute.
You will get a better experience of Zoom during presentations by following two simple steps.
- Make sure that you are watching in Speaker View and not Gallery view.
- If you are using a laptop, watch in “Side-by-Side” mode. When you are watching somebody else’s screen being shared, next to their name at the top is a drop-down “View Options” menu. On that select “Side-by-Side Mode.” This will place the image of the speaker to the right of the screen being shared rather than on top of it. You can then click on the boundary between the shared screen and the image of the speaker and enlarge the speaker’s picture (if you should want to do that).
Full instructions on doing this, and on how to change your settings to make it happen automatically, can be found in Zoom Help NSBC on Facebook
As well as the public North Springfield Baptist Church Facebook Group there is also a private and hidden NSBC Family Chat Facebook Group where we can share openly and encourage each other. Do ask Peter or Rebekah to add you to this group.
NSBC Website also has regular updates at www.northspringfieldbaptistchurch.org
If you are not able to access the internet below are some suggestions for worshipping together at home as well as the sermon for this Sunday morning. These will be sent by email and by post every week.
I would very much like to stay in touch with everybody in the church by text, social media or just chatting on the phone. We can also set up a video chat. If you want to talk about things you are learning, or to pray together, or just fancy a chat, please don’t be shy. The best times to phone me for a chat will be 10-12 and 2-5 and 7.30-9.30 any day except on Friday or Saturday (I will let you know if these days off change) unless some kind of group chat for the church is arranged at that time. Do please just phone on the Church Family Mobile number. I will reply to email, texts and messages through Facebook or WhatsApp as soon as I can.
Love and Prayers,
Peter Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Worshipping Together at Home for Sunday 1st November 2020
I suggest we do the following either alone or in our families wherever we are, whenever is most convenient to you, in any order you like.
- Set aside some time for prayer and reflection. Start that time by praying the Lord’s Prayer.
- You might like to sing a song or hymn or two. The words for a relevant hymn are printed after the sermon.
- Read the Bible Reading and the Message for today.
- Pray the Day By Day Prayer and the Prayer of Saint Francis.
- Pray for each other in the church, for your family and neighbours and for the world at this time.
- Pray a blessing in the words of The Grace
- Phone a friend in the church and pray with them.
The message below will be shared in our Zoom morning gathering so you may wish to wait to read it until after Sunday morning.
Message for Sunday 1st November
Perfect like your Heavenly Father Matthew 5:38-48
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the expectations for righteous living by God’s children to a whole new level. One immensely challenging saying sums up all of Jesus’s teaching.
Matthew 5 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The standard for righteous living which Jesus commands from his followers is nothing less than God’s perfect righteousness and holiness and justice. You must be perfect, just like your heavenly Father. But what will that kind of righteous living look like in practice? Jesus doesn’t give us a set of rules to obey. That was how the Old Testament Law of Moses worked. Instead Jesus gives a number of examples and principles and leaves us as his disciples to work out for ourselves how we should apply them to our own lives. In the short passage we just read from Matthew chapter 5, Jesus talks about a number of everyday situations.
38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is a quote from three places in the Law of Moses. It is concerned with justice in the law courts and making the punishment fit the crime.
Exodus 21 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
Leviticus 24 17 “ ‘If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death. …. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured.
Instead of insisting on the punishments which the Jewish Law lays down, Jesus replaces justice with forgiveness. Christians should not be insisting on their rights or demanding that their opponents face punishment. Christians should never be trying to “get their own back.”
39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.
Jesus calls his followers to let go of our own rights and allow ourselves to be insulted and exploited. We should make clear that at the same time Christians can still fight for justice and for the rights of other people. There is no contradiction here. We should obey the command not to resist the evil person when they are oppressing us personally – Jesus did not resist those who took him and nailed him to the cross. But at the same time we can and should take a stand in resisting evil in support of others who are being oppressed.
If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
This statement is often misunderstood. Some Christians have interpreted this saying as a call to non-violence in all circumstances. But I am convinced that misses the point of what Jesus was saying. If a right-handed person strikes another on the right cheek, that has to be a backhanded slap, as the 2011 New International Version makes clear. The setting is not a fight but an insult. That slap is not a blow of violence. It is an attack on dignity, not on the body. Jesus is saying that if we are insulted, perhaps particularly for following him but not only then, Christians should not turn to the law to bring them proportionate retribution. Christians should not be concerned with defending their honour. Instead they should show an uncalculating generosity. The followers of Jesus, like their heavenly Father, should be entirely unselfish. We must turn the other cheek, whatever people may say about us.
Christians should even be prepared to let other people take advantage of them.
40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
Christians should always be concerned for the other person’s needs, even at the expense of our own rights, or convenience, or possessions.
42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
The person asking might be a neighbour in need. In Jesus’s time it was as likely to be a beggar. Through the centuries Christians have recognized that these commands are not only extreme and impractical, but also unworkable. Give to everyone who asks you. If anybody did try to live like this, unscrupulous people would immediately take advantage of them. This is perhaps the most radical and demanding of the sayings in the Sermon on the Mount. “Give to the one who asks you.” Luke’s version of the saying is even more challenging. Luke 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
Perhaps this is another example of hyperbole, the kind of language we saw last week which makes a point by taking things to extremes. But I think this is actually a saying about faith. If we are really seeking first the kingdom of God and its standard of righteous living, we won’t be chasing after money and possessions. Instead we will be ready and willing to give what we have to anybody who asks. We will be trusting in God to provide for our future. If we are really laying up treasures in heaven and not looking for our security in treasures on earth, we won’t need to demand back what others might take from us. Once again the Kingdom of God calls us to turn away from selfishness and practise uncalculating generosity, to give and not to count the cost. The Sermon on the Mount just sets out these basic principles – it is up to us to work out how they should apply in our own lives.
What comes next is one of the best-known sayings of Jesus. Even people who are not his followers know that Jesus said this. “Love your enemies.”
Matthew 5 43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
Christians are called not to hate but to love. To love even our enemies. The first and most obvious application of this command is that we should never think of anybody as our enemy. However badly they may treat us we should never consider anybody to be an enemy. Instead Jesus says we should love them and we should pray for them. We should always be making every effort towards reconciliation. Hear these words of Jesus from earlier in Matthew 5 which we skipped over last week.
23 ‘Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
Christians should always be working to build bridges. Note that Jesus does not say, “if you have something against your brother or sister”. In that case it would of course be our duty to forgive the person, even if they do not apologise or even recognize they have wronged us. To forgive, even as Jesus did from the cross, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing. But in the Sermon on the mount Jesus is envisaging the situation the other way round. “If …. you remember that your brother or sister has something against you.” If your conscience convicts you that you have offended or hurt another person in some way, in that case then it is your duty to apologise for whatever you have done wrong or said wrong. Christians should always be working for reconciliation. Love your enemies.
Of course, the sad reality of life is that however much we try to live at peace with everybody and love them and do good to them and pray for them, sometimes other people do choose to treat us as their enemies. This can happen between neighbours, or in the workplace, or within families, and even sadly sometimes within the church. Even if we have done nothing wrong, people can consider us to be their enemies. Sometimes as Jesus says this can even lead to opposition and persecution for Christians. The command is still the same. Love your enemies. Love – not hate, even if these people are hating you.
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
We must love our enemies, because that is what God does. That is one example of what it means to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. We must love with God’s kind of love, the sacrificial love which Jesus himself showed when he gave his life on the cross for the sins of the world. God’s love which 1 Corinthians 13 talks about, which is patient and kind. God’s love which is not self-seeking, and is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. God’s kind of love which always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God’s love which never fails and never gives up.
We see God’s kind of love in Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan, putting the other person’s needs at the same level as your needs. If they are hungry sharing your food with them. If they are sick helping them in all the practical ways you can. If they need to travel, help them make that journey. If they are in debt and you can help them with money, you help them. If they face a problem you help them sort out their problem – however long that takes, however much it may cost you in time and energy and heartache and money. Because THAT is Good Samaritan love. THAT is loving your neighbour as you love yourself. That is God’s kind of love.
Christians should show that kind of love to everybody – not just to our friends but also to strangers and even to those who treat us as their enemies. Because that is the kind of love God shows.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
So we must love even our enemies with God’s kind of love. That is one example of what it means to 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Three weeks ago I quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Humanly speaking, it is possible to understand the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways. But Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience – not interpreting or applying it, but doing and obeying it. That is the only way to hear his words. He does not mean for us to discuss it as an ideal. He really means for us to get on with it.”
We each need to work out for ourselves in practice what God wants us to do to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile and give to the person who asks us. We need to take whatever steps are required to be reconciled to other people. We need to work at loving our enemies, because that is what our heavenly Father does and we want to be like him. He really means for us to get on with it. In the words of a certain advert, “Just do it!”
There is a story of a certain professor of psychology which illustrates how difficult it can be to love other people. Whenever he saw his neighbor scolding his child for some wrongdoing, the professor would say, “You should love your child, not punish him.” One hot summer afternoon the professor was doing some repair work on the concrete driveway leading to his garage. Tired out after several hours of work, he laid down his trowel and started towards the house. Just then out of the corner of his eye he saw that mischievous boy deliberately making footprints in the wet cement. The professor lost his temper and started shouting when his neighbor leaned out from a window. “Watch out, Professor! Don’t you remember? You must ‘love’ the child!” The professor yelled back, “I do love him in the abstract, just not in the concrete!”
God’s kind of love is not about feelings but actions. Get on with it. Just do it!
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
A NEW COMMANDMENT I give unto you,
That you love one another As I have loved you, That you love one another As I have loved you.
By this shall all men know That you are My disciples, If you have love one for another. (repeat)
LOVE DIVINE, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down!
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling,
All Thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation,
Enter every trembling heart.
Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit,
Let us find Thy promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.
Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy grace receive;
Suddenly return, and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.
Finish then Thy new creation,
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee!
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place;
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love and praise.