CHRISTMAS COLOURING COMPETITION

Colour in this Christmas scene and enter the colouring competition. Write your name and age on the back with a contact number. To be handed to All Hallows Bow by 3pm on the 8th Dec. The under 5’s and 6-11’s winners will be announced at the Christmas Fayre on the 8th of Dec at All Hallows Bow.

The Prizes for both the under 5’s competition and the under 11’s will be a collect on art and craft materials and drawing books.

To enter the competition the child will need to colour in the sheet found here and not their own drawing or version of the image.

Christmas Colouring Image


MUSTARD SEED KINGDOM


A parable which has inspired most of my last 10 years of leadership turns out to be a parable I’ve never written anything on but have preached upon it numerous time.

Matthew 13:31 Jesus shares a parable saying the kingdom of God is like a person who planted mustard in his field. This small seed grows and becomes one of the largest of plants, which the birds can come and rest in its branches.

Jewish law forbid planting of mustard seeds in a garden. The Mustard plant was seen as a weed. It can be very difficult to eradicate when taken root. It can drowned out other plants with its growth. At its smallest it’s a little bush but can grow to 10feet tall and many feet wide. Its seeds can also stay dormant in the ground for a number of years before they grow which means once its planted it can keep springing up where you don’t want it.

Midrash Kil 1.32 makes clear that wild weeds need to kept out of the garden as it will cause problems contaminating a garden which in order gives glory to God.

If you wanted to plant mustard seeds for farming by Jesus’ time you would need to visit the temple in Jerusalem and apply for a certificate that would allow you to grow Mustard in your field. Doing so gave you the right to contaminate that field and only that field with the wild weed, which produced the Mustard seed for cooking.

Jesus says that there is a field and the seed being planted is that of a weed, once its planted it can’t be eradicated and it will grow and become a home for the birds. Imagine the original hearers of this message. In the past the kingdom of God has been associated with the big strong cedars of Lebanon.

See Isaiah 2:13 “The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.”

They had always thought of God and his kingdom as a strong tree that wouldn’t be blown in the wind, the kind of tree that Eagles would rest in its branches. Jesus likes the kingdom to a weed that is insignificant but will grow quietly until it becomes big enough to house something…

Back to the seed for a moment. Mustard seeds reveal their true power when they are crushed. They are small and can be seen as insignificant, but when crushed they become a powerful ingredient. Its like Jesus is likening the kingdom to a weed whose seeds when crushed release kingdom power.

Finally those birds which the Bible often says are the ‘birds of the air’ in this story. These are the little wild birds, the insignificant birds of the air. They are not the strong birds, fighting birds or the birds you use to represent your nation on a flag.

The Eagle, which is frequently mentioned in the Old Testa¬ment, is a very large and powerful bird of prey and is called the king of birds. Israel associated themselves as Gods Eagle. This is what made The Roman Empires Eagle standard so inflammatory.

Jesus says that this bush will be a place where the small insignificant birds will rest in its branches. Jesus is making a radical statement about whom the bush is for. It’s not for the Eagles or those who can care for themselves but the little birds of the field, which were seen by the farmers as the irritating birds who peck up the seed.

This parable is about how small kingdom acts can become large kingdom acts. It’s also a parable about the kingdom of God not being what you expect. It’s also a parable for those who feel insignificant that God’s bush is growing and its got space for you.


How to pray - honesty

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

Keep it simple, keep it honest.

Never mock God’s care for you by hiding things from Him. My common response to the question: “how are you?” is “yea, ok”, even when I’m not. We often wear masks around people and pretend to be OK when we’re far from it, as we don’t want to open up and reveal how we are really doing. The problem of this in a church and community context is for another blog. In the context of prayer, this attitude of withholding and hiding is not only a problem but utterly pointless.

You cannot hide anything from God. He already knows what you need before you come to him.

When we come to pray, our Father already knows what we need. He knows how we feel, what we’re afraid of and what we’re hopeful about. What has gone well and what has gone badly. What we need and what we need to get rid of. He knows the best things we have done and the worst. Still He invites us to pray and speak with Him. Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, knowing that within a short space of time they would desert Him as He hung on the cross. God calls us to pray, even as sinners. (See plog 1 or Romans 8:1 for more on grace). Therefore do not try to hide sin from Him.

Neither try to hide anger. We know that to be angry or upset with God is “wrong”, but He would rather we admit it than to try and hide it, especially when he sees straight into our hearts (Psalm 33:15, 1 Samuel 16:7). Our prayer lives can become stifled by many things (anger, fear, guilt), but these challenges should not be obstacles, how can they be? God already knows your anger, fear or guilt and DESPITE it, still loves you and still beckons you to come to Him in prayer. They are not an obstacle for Him!

If these things make it hard to find the right words, don’t go looking for them. We need not “babble” on when the all-knowing, all-seeing God is our Father. We can sit in silence and in wanting to “pray”, find ourselves praying more deeply and profoundly and honestly than ever before. But one important teaching of Jesus remains – persevere. Keep praying. He will not hear you because you are able to eloquently express yourself or because you can remember the correct prayers or official liturgy. He will hear you because you are His son and daughter. He teaches us to pray not because we are to inform Him of what we need (He already knows) but because He enjoys hearing our voice.

Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising and art acquainted with all my ways. I can inform Thee of nothing and it is vain to try to hide anything from Thee. In the light of Thy perfect knowledge I would be as open as a little child. Help me to put away all care, for Thou knowest the way that I take and when Thou hast tried me I shall come forth as gold. Amen.
(A. W. Tozer)

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