Easter People at Cambray
Easter 2015, and once again we meet together to remember the pivotal events in the life of Jesus that first Easter weekend. Along with Christians around the world, we will commemorate and celebrate the anniversary of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The events that first Easter are rooted in history and the Bible, and they form the essential foundations of the Christian faith and hope, which Paul summarises as the heart of the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15.3-8:
‘Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…’
Thousands of first century lives were totally transformed by the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. With the gift of God the Holy Spirit filling these early Christians, the evidence of the empty tomb propelled many to share their own personal experience of God’s love displayed in the death of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that Jesus was truly raised from the dead.
With boldness, these early Christians ‘gossiped the Gospel’. They had Jesus on their minds and in their hearts, proclaiming that Jesus had mediated between God and humanity, enabling them (and us) to be reconciled to God through the Cross of Christ.
Their personal experience of God’s lavish love, peace and hope created great joy, and produced signs and wonders that the Kingdom of God was not mere words, but really was the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus. What amazing cause for celebration for us also this Easter!
The spontaneous expansion of Christianity during the 1st century AD and thereafter, has really gripped my thinking and praying. Because we face identical challenges today, of a pervading culture and continent that doesn’t know the Gospel about Jesus Christ, and seems to care little about the Christian faith. Surely, our 21st century missional challenge here in Europe is this: How can the West be converted?
A few recent signs are encouraging.
- More and more Christians meeting to pray together, seeking Jesus, opening up to God’s Spirit, and keen to read and study God’s Word the Bible.
- Christians becoming more earnest and desperate about spiritual needs and human brokenness; with a concern to do what God wants, whatever the cost or implications.
- The stories being told of pioneering and church planting works, across Europe – like those accounts we recently heard from Pastor Cosmin Marc and Romanian church growth.
However, the harvest is vast and the workers seem so few. So this Easter, my prayer is that Cambray will discover more of the Risen power and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ; aware of sharing in his sufferings, and yet increasingly set free to become like those early Christians who had been with Jesus; those who were so filled by God’s love and presence, that it didn’t matter they were unschooled and very ordinary. With God on their case, these were the folk who were changing the world upside down in their generation; so much so, that onlookers observed their generous behaviour and how they loved one another.
With all this in mind, may I highlight a few things. Please do join us if you possibly can for our Cambray Away Day on April 18th. Intentionally, there will be a mix of learning together in the morning with Ian Stackhouse. Then over lunch and in the afternoon, a chance for all ages to relax, get to know one another better, and have lots of fun. Church at its best!
Some of the themes arising from our Away Day, will be picked up and developed over the summer months, with one Sunday evening service a month being given to further explore ‘Church Life’: what God is calling us to do and be, and considering some of the changes that are necessary if we are to become more effective in reaching our culture. Look out for ‘Church Life’ Sunday evenings.
Finally, the heart of the Christian Gospel is Jesus, and why He came and what He did. There are new opportunities to find out more with a ‘Christianity Explored’ course on Saturday mornings, and a ‘Discipleship Explored’ course starting on Friday mornings for those wanting to grow knowing Christ more and what He calls us to be as his followers. Plus lots of small groups exist for you to join and belong.
Come Holy Spirit, and enable us to be joyful, hopeful and bold Easter People also!
Wishing you all a very Happy Easter.