Since January Soulfire (our 11-18s Youth Group) has embarked on a journey of "NT60" - reading the New Testament in 60 days. For the youth, the aim has been to touch base with every book of the New Testament at least once, with four readings a week. To help them on their journey, we've been reading the New Testament together on Sunday, providing videos in the week and reading together on some of our Friday sessions.
This Autumn, our church is looking at what we believe, and using the Nicene Creed as a basis for exploring this (this creed is an ancient declaration of the Christian faith dating back to AD325 and the early church communities). Last month, Dan Slatter asked us if we might create a short film recording of the creed. You may have already seen this film at church and recognise some of the voices on it!
We decided to record many different voices because we wanted to build a diverse picture of what it means to be part of church family – the young and old together, from many backgrounds and upbringings, all united in their love and adoration of Christ. So, on this recording you will hear Scottish, Irish, English and even Afro-French accents! In the western world we value highly our individualism with “I” and “my” being some of our most frequently used words. Christ knew that it was “we” - the church - that would become a beautiful family of relationships - his bride and treasure on earth. He knew that if we continued to view the world and understand ourselves with an “I” outlook, that we would fall to confusion or comparison. “We believe” is then a transforming creed, “we” are whole within the body, we are valued within the body and “we” are sheltered within the body.
We hope that the imagery we have woven into this film will help others who are on a journey of faith to distil, contemplate and rest in these ancient statements. We are “one” in belief, connected to our brothers and sisters of faith through many generations in Christ. “We” can play our part – not with fear, comparison or insecurity, but with confidence. “We” belong – accepted, loved, forgiven and free. “We” can rest when we are tired, question when we doubt, and be carried when we can no longer stand because we share in the love and the legacy of others who have gone before us.
Neil & Julie Haydock
Here are the words to this glorious declaration of Christian faith:
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Robert Armstrong has started up a blog called “Easy Money” to help and encourage people to manage their money better, and he already has quite a few followers in Revs. Here’s a link to it:
He says his blog is about “making it easier to manage money on a day-to-day basis by organising our finances so that we only have to think really hard about money (which we don’t like doing) very occasionally.”
Robert is also the point of contact for Christians Against Poverty (CAP) within Revelation Family Church and recently trained as a CAP Money Coach. CAP helped more than 8,000 families in the UK with financial problems last year.
Robert believes that how we manage our money is central to our walk with God, and when Jesus said “I have come to set the captives free”, this includes being free from debt and financial worries.
NT60 - RICH LUSH
As we head towards the final couple of weeks in the New Testament, it felt like the perfect time to reflect on this season. I don’t know about you, but for me there has been some real challenge in what I’ve read. Not only in terms of the scriptures, but practically fitting it in as well. Life is busy, as I’m sure we’re all aware and reading four chapters some days feels like more effort then perhaps we’re willing to put in.
Still, it has been a great joy to engage with the scriptures. For me it has felt like someone has put me on a physical workout plan or set diet for a season - and I feel the benefits of that in my daily walk. I’ve found that parts of scriptures have come alive in a way that I’d never really felt before. The book of Acts no longer felt like a record of events, but a story where I felt Paul’s pain as he said goodbye to the leaders of the Ephesian church for the last time, knowing that prison awaited him next. Where I could read about the churches he visited and read the letters he wrote to those same churches, whether he wrote in excitement to them or in desperation.
Reading through the letters, it was good to be reminded that the culture Paul was speaking to was not completely removed from our own as so often is claimed. Instead these were churches, much like our own, were working through day to day life, with ordinary people wanting to live a Godly extraordinary life, whilst dealing with fear and worry, questions around death and life, issues of how to connect with the culture and how to be a light to it. The world they lived in was filled with sexual promiscuity, drunkenness, con-men, judgment and a government that petrified many of them by the actions they took. This could easily be any English city.
For me all of this reminds me again and again that this book that we hold is still as relevant today as it has ever been - it still carries a great weight and is still a model of God’s authority in our life. When I don’t know the answer to an issue, the answer is probably in the Bible. And if it isn’t, then the way to work it out has probably already been modelled in the Bible!
Too often our culture wants to claim that this book is worthless, but it should be precious to us - as it holds truth in a world that wants to claim there is no truth.
In closing, I don’t know whether we’ve realised how revolutionary this time has been, to be a modern church intentionally reading their Bible heavily over a set season - there are plenty of churches out there whose congregations don’t read the word - whose pastors, as I read today, have said we need to stop “valuing” it in the same way; but I would argue that the Bible is no less relevant today then it was 2,000 years ago, and when we feast on His word through the eyes of the Holy Spirit and put it into action, both practically, thoughtfully and prayerfully, we will see His Glory.
Linda Roberts shares some of her thoughts on NT60 readings from Matthew...
"In Matthew chapters 1 and 2 I noticed that God spoke to Joseph three times in his dreams, giving him vital information, instructions or warnings. I don’t think God’s ever spoken to me in a dream (if he has I’ve missed it) but dreams are still such a common way for Jesus to make Himself known to Muslims.
I’ve read recently of Muslim refugees in England becoming Christians after Jesus appeared to them in a dream, and even of former members of ISIS seeing Jesus in dreams and visions. One former ISIS fighter who had killed many Christians said that he had begun having dreams of a man in white who came to him and said, 'You are killing my people.' The ISIS fighter said that just before he killed one Christian, the man said, 'I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible.' The Christian was killed and this ISIS fighter actually took the Bible and began to read it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he is now asking to become a follower of Christ and be discipled! (source: YWAM)
Reading through the New Testament with Revs I’ve been reminded that however God choses to speak to us, through dreams or reading the Bible or an infinite number of other ways, He’s always communicating."
How does God communicate with you and what has he been saying recently?
In what ways might you be able to nurture a deepening of relationship with him?