Jasmine

Jasmine, whose name means “heavenly felicity”, grows in many parts of the world.

In China it is the symbol of beauty, while in India it is known as the “moonlight of the grove”. Many Indian brides use it in their wedding bouquet because it symbolises deep affection.

According to one legend, many of the world’s most beautiful flowers died on Good Friday, overwhelmed by the grief of the crucifixion. The jasmine, however, bore its sorrow bravely but it original pink colouring was washed away by its tears. The following day the jasmine’s petals were seen to be very pal and they have remained so ever since.

With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

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But He Deserved It – The Voice of Mark the Thief

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. He was my friend, my colleague if you like, my brother in arms, my partner in crime, but that day changed my life forever.

My name is Mark. I am a former criminal, a foe of the nation, an enemy of the state, once, but now things are different and all because of that one day and that one man – that man Jesus.

It was my friend who hung on that cross next to Him, my friend who took his just punishment, my friend who asked for forgiveness and my friend who was offered paradise with Him. Let me tell you about it.

We made a living from stealing. We took what was not ours, just to get ahead, just because we felt  the world owed us  something. We told everyone that would listen that we knew no better, but we did.

We played the game, and we were caught. He, Barney, my friend, was arrested. I ran. I was only out to save my own skin, I left him high and dry. My friend was tried for the crime we had both committed. He was sentenced to death and I was free.

The day of execution came; I stood, ashamed, in the background and watched. It was not hard to blend in as there were thousands of people lining the streets that day.

Yet they did not seek the demise of my friend, but the end of Him. The one they called the Messiah, the King of the Jews, Jesus of Nazareth.

He too had been tried, in a mock court, and sentenced to an unjust death, and with my friend he was led to the Place of the Skull and crucified there. A third was strung up that day, who mocked the Christ and hurled insults at him.

But my friend had seen in Jesus what many others had missed. He had seen the light of God shining in His face and knew that He was indeed who He claimed to be.

My friend accepted the punishment for his crime and asked this Jesus to help him start again.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” I heard him utter.

He was rewarded. “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus said.

So now I journey on, without my friend and partner in crime, but now I am a changed man. I no longer believe that the world owes me, and I am now looking for ways in which I can give back.

And all because of that one day and that one offer of paradise, not only for my friend but for me and for all.

(Dean Becky Lovatt)

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With many Peaceful Blessings

Geoffrey

 

DOUBTS ABOUT YOUR CHRISTIAN FAITH? TAKE ACTION NOW!

Do you have doubts about the Christian faith?

You know the story: Thomas was the only apostle not present when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the evening of his resurrection. When the rejoicing disciples later told Thomas that Jesus was alive, he flatly refused to believe them. He had seen the crucifixion.

The gospel goes on to relate that a week later Jesus indeed appeared to Thomas, and invited him to put his hand into the holes in his hands and feet. Thomas was utterly overwhelmed. His response was ‘My Lord and My God!’ He saw, he believed.

Then Jesus said something which is relevant to us today. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Jesus KNOWS it can be hard for you, who have never seen him, to believe that he is indeed alive, and Lord of all. Which is, of course, where we are today.

Perhaps you really struggle with doubt. Well, there are two courses of action you can take:-
1. Don’t read the Bible. Begin to forget what Christianity teaches. Don’t go to church.Don’t ask God, or anyone else, for help.
Your ‘doubts’ are perfectly honest questions, but stop looking for answers. Assume that because you have questions, there are no
answers.

2. Look for some answers. Find out what the New Testament actually says about Jesus – by reading it! Do not be confused into thinking that you ‘doubt’ something which you may not even really ‘know.’

Pray – remember that Jesus said that those who believe without seeing are ‘blessed’. So ask God that, if he is there, please would he ‘bless’ you by opening your eyes to spiritual realities. Go to church.

Yes, the Christian faith demands that we take God at his word, with no evidence other than his Word. But though we believe in Jesus without seeing him, we do NOT believe without considering him. Faith is not blind credulity and unthinking naiveté.

We have faith in the historic person of Jesus Christ. Peter writes some real encouragement in his first epistle, “Though you have not seen him,
you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Rev Dr Roger Roberts

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With many peaceful blessings

Geoffrey

Good Friday

After that, Jesus, aware that all had now come to its appointed end, said in the fulfilment of Scripture,’ I thirst’.

A jar stood there full of sour wine; so they soaked a sponge with the wine, fixed it on a javelin, and held it up to his lips. Having received the wine, he said,’ It is accomplished!’

He bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Because it was the eve of Passover, the Jews were anxious that the bodies should not remain on the cross for the coming Sabbath, since that Sabbath was a day of great solemnity so they requested Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers accordingly became to the first of his fellow victims and to the second, and broke their legs; but when they came to Jesus, they found that he was already dead, so they did not break his legs.

But one of the soldiers stabbed his side with a lance, and at once there was a flow of blood and water. This is vouched for by an eye witness, whose evidence is to be trusted.

He knows that he speaks the truth, so that you too may believe; for this happened in fulfilment of the Scripture: ‘ No bone of his shall be broken’. And another text says,’ They shall look on him whom they pierced’.

After that, Pilate was approached by Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, but the secret disciple for fear of the Jews, who asked to be allowed to remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave permission; so Joseph came and took the body away.

He was joined by Nicodemus (the man who had first visited Jesus by night), who brought with him a mixture of myrrh and aloes, more than half a hundredweight.

They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of cloth according to Jewish burial customs.

Now at the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden there was a new tomb, not yet used for burial.

There, because the tomb was near at hand and it was also the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, they laid Jesus.

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Today, we watch our Lord at the receiving end, taken in charge by the authorities and receiving at their hands and at the hands of the mob, insults, mockery and shame.

He is given up to the people’s will at the dictate of Pilate. He is the passive recipient of the men’s malice.

And yet, he is the great Actor in this drama of redemption. He reigns from the tree…….

Even in his death throes, he is sufficiently master of time and circumstance to be able to care for his mother in her loneliness; and sufficiently in control to heed his fellow victim’s cry for help and to assure him of a place with him in Paradise; sufficiently aware to be able to utter the great cry of achievement: “it is accomplished!”

O Jesus, King most wonderful, 
Thou conqueror renowned!

(John 19: 28 June-42)

With many peaceful and joyful blessings

Geoffrey

 

25% of Adults believe that Superman was a Biblical character

25% of adults believe that Superman is a character found in the Bible, a new survey commissioned by the Bible Society, has discovered.

The survey exposed a tremendous lack of religious knowledge and education within the UK.

And a quarter of the people completing this survey also thought that Harry Potter was a story from the Bible.

Almost three in ten people did not know the story of the Birth of Jesus and a similar number of children had never heard stories about Adam and Eve or even about Christ’s crucifixion on the cross.

A further 60% did not know about Jesus feeding the five thousand and more than half had no idea that Noah and his ark was a story from the Bible.

Astoundingly, 54% of parents thought that the well known film, The Hunger Games, was, or might be, a story from the Bible!!

The survey involved some 800 children and 1100 parents.

The Bible Society issued a statement saying ‘The Bible enriches life, and every child should have the opportunity to experience it’.

Obviously, much has changed during the sixty years since I first attended my Methodist Sunday School.

Although my parents were not overly religious they always insisted that every Sunday morning I went to Sunday School.

Even in my 67th year I still find the Bible a wealth of continued fascination – many of the stories in the Bible have enriched my life beyond measure!