Fellowship Number 12, Winter 2006/7
Cross alk The Greatest Gift! Inside this issue: The Greatest Gift!
Uisce bheatha–with no hangover!
I Smile And...
“I am the Lord’s servant…”
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and…me?
The servant king
Operation Christmas Child
Christmas: around the world!
‘Open House’ - Every Monday
Have you heard people say; “I don’t know what to get them – they’ve got everything already”? Each year we face the increasingly difficult task of choosing presents for our family, friends and loved ones. The truth is that after a few weeks a lot of presents aren’t used or valued much. Many will be abandoned in the New Year to the back of a drawer, attic or garage. Some will be relegated to charity shops. About €3.4bn and £15bn will be spent in Ireland and the UK alone this Christmas. But do we really need to spend all this? Especially when so many people around the world cannot afford basic necessities such as food, water or healthcare. Worldwide, over 1 in 8 people don’t have enough food each day to sustain a healthy life.1 Yet there is more than enough food to go around. The World Food Programme's retiring manager, James Morris, said recently; “I am overwhelmed, consumed with the notion of 400 million hungry children, 18,000 dying every day, knowing that we can do something about it.” Morris said the world still lacked sufficient awareness of the scale of the problem and hoped a global movement similar to the civil rights or anti-apartheid movements would form to fight world hunger.2 What can we do to make an impact on a problem this size? Can we do much as individuals? Have you heard the story of the starfish? There were hundreds if not thousands of starfish lying on the beach, washed up by the tide. They were exposed to
the elements and were about to die. A little boy came along and picked some up, throwing them into the sea, one at a time. A passer-by stopped and commented that what he was doing wasn’t going to make much difference. As he threw another starfish into the sea, the little boy replied; “it makes a difference to this one.” Instead of buying unwanted or unnecessary presents, consider supporting the Christmas Shoebox appeal each year (see back page) to send a small gift box to disadvantaged children in other countries. Or, do as a friend of mine did a few years ago – buy your wife a goat for Christmas! This would provide a steady income to a poorer family. There are loads of other gifts costing a few pounds to several thousand pounds, from various agencies– seeds, chicken, cows, hygiene kits, medication, clothes, tents, schools etc. (See page 2 for a list of charity websites). Yet the greatest gift of all time, is one that Christians remember at Christmas, through the arrival of the Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour to the world.3 He came to give his life as a (Continued on page 2)
(Continued from page 1)
“The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Apostle Paul (Romans 6v23)
ransom for ours, that we could be free from the control and consequences of sin. His saving gift was costly, on the cross at Calvary, where he voluntarily sacrificed his life for us.4 But his loving forgiveness and fresh start is freely available for everyone who just asks for it, from a sincere and repentant heart, trusting in God’s mercy in Christ.5 We can’t imagine people in great material need around the world refusing our gifts. Can we afford to refuse the greatest gift, from God?
Internet links to gift donation sites: http://gifts.samaritanspurse.uk.com www.greatgifts.org www.goodgifts.org www.oxfamunwrapped.com www.trocaire.org/globalgift www.worldgifts.cafod.org.uk www.shop.christianaid.org.uk www.greatergood.com www.heifer.org References: 1) Food and Agriculture organization (FAO), Rome 2) Reuters - Tue 31 Oct 2006 3) John 1v29, 3v16-17, 8v12 4) John 10v14-18, Rom. 5v6-11, 6v17-23, 2 Cor. 5v21 5) Rev. 22v17, John 3v16
Uisce bheatha–with no hangover! ‘Uisce bheatha’ means literally ‘water of life’, often called ‘fuisce,’ and as most people know, is Irish for whiskey. Originally from the Latin ‘Aqua vitae’ (alcohol), it is also known as ‘eau de vie’ in France, and ‘akvavit’ in Scandinavia. Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain, just as brandy is from wine. Before distillation was a common practice, some hundreds of years before Jesus was born, one of the writers of the Psalms wrote that God provides, among other things that we need, “wine that gladdens the heart of man.”1 Some Christians find this difficult to accept, because alcohol is a significant factor in so many social problems, from domestic violence to road traffic accidents. Since drunkenness is strongly condemned by
God,2 they conclude that total abstinence is the only biblical approach. Abstinence was a sign of dedication to the Lord, like life-long fasting, as John the Baptist did. But moderation lies between drunkenness and abstinence. But, if moderation cannot be sustained, total abstinence is the only biblical alternative. Yet, Jesus calls us to drink the ‘water of life’ freely! He means the Holy Spirit within, which becomes “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”3 Paul says “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the (Holy) Spirit.”4 Jesus says; “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”5
IWhenSmile And... mountains pile upon themselves
Forming pools of mirth in my soul, I smile and my heart embraces praise.
In rows of augmented grandeur, When valleys and lakes sink at their roots, And “deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls,” I smile and my mind spills a prayer. When laughter tickles my senses, Rippling from the hearts of children, Beckoning to my spirit,
1) Psalms 104v15 2) Galatians 5v19-21, 1 Peter 4v3 3) John 4v14 4) Ephesians 5v18 5) Revelation 22v17
When baby's skin, petal-soft, touches mine, Glistening bubbles from her mouth mirror my face When tiny fingers grip my pinky and Trusting, helpless, innocent eyes meet mine, I smile and my soul dances a lullaby. When the music of friendship harmonizes in my living room, And the melody of family's love blends its notes in my house, When tea and coffee mediate between husband and wife, Parents and children, friends and friends, I smile and my spirit kisses peace. When the sky darkens in sunset splendor, And the land, all cliffs and rugged and sea and reefs, Melts into the blackened waters Until night meets and communes with starflecked night, I think of the Creator of it all, and I smile. © Tamara Shoemaker Used with permission
“I am the Lord’s servant…” “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give
him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.” Luke 1v26-38
Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and …me?
“Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people.” (Jeremiah 7v23)
At Christmas, we usually remember the circumstances that surround the birth of Jesus. There is the unexpected news that Mary will give birth while still a virgin. Followed by the trip to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, and the arrival of the shepherds and wise men with their gifts. We are so used to this familiar story that at times we don’t ponder what could have happened if they had not obeyed God. Think about it; where would we be if Mary had objected to the angel? What if Joseph had not married Mary, or the wise men had stayed at home. (They provided the gifts, which presumably allowed Joseph, Mary and Jesus to survive in Egypt as refugees.) Mary made a conscious decision to follow the Lord’s will, as did Joseph. So too did the shepherds, who went to
worship Jesus, despite their fear. The wise men later arrived in Bethlehem, yet obeyed the warning not to go back to King Herod, saving Jesus’ life. Jesus too, even though he appeared as a helpless baby, had consciously obeyed God the Father: “He gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.”1
Jesus’ purpose in life was to do the Father’s will. We also pray; “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.”2 But do we mean it? We will be following in the footsteps of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and many others, if we trust and obey God, depending on him, no matter where he leads us. 1) Philippians 2v7-8 2) The Lord’s Prayer, Matt. 6v9-13
The servant king From heaven You came, helpless babe, entered our world, Your glory veiled, not to be served but to serve, and give Your life that we might live. Chorus: This is our God, the Servant King, He calls us now to follow Him, to bring our lives as a daily offering of worship to the Servant King.
There in the garden of tears my heavy load He chose to bear; His heart with sorrow was torn, 'Yet not my will but yours,' He said. Come see His hands and His feet, the scars that speak of sacrifice, hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered. So let us learn how to serve and in our lives enthrone Him, each other's needs to prefer, for it is Christ we're serving.
The Servant King by Graham Kendrick, Copyright © 1983 Thankyou Music firstname.lastname@example.org Used with permission
Operation Christmas Child Thanks to everyone who donated Christmas shoebox gifts by around the November 10th deadline for Operation Christmas Child. Especially those who brought in a few dozen each. They have been packed onto containers which are on their way to Eastern Europe and Africa, for distribution in time for Christmas.
Send your prayer requests online (anonymously) at: www.cgcf.net
Many of the children are in orphanages, street-kid shelters, hospitals or in families stuck in the poverty trap. Their Christmas day is just like any other day, and for many their shoebox is the only present they receive. It is a reminder to them personally that there is still love in the world —that someone far away cares enough to send them a gift at Christmas. Last Christmas, almost 7.5million children in almost 100 countries received shoebox gifts. Over 300,000 were sent from the Republic and 1.18million from the UK, to Eastern Europe and Africa. Shoeboxes were also sent from Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Canada and the USA. For more information on Operation Christmas Child, including an online short video, or other aid and development projects by ‘Samaritan’s Purse’ (no connection to The Samaritans), visit: www.samaritanspurse.uk.com or www.samaritanspurse.ie
“Merry Christmas” around the world
Christmas: around the world! Have you ever wondered how people around the world celebrate Christmas? Or how people centuries ago used to? Here are some interesting facts:
Christmas in other countries
• In Sweden, Donald Duck is watched on TV Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Irish) at 3pm each Christmas Eve, since 1960. • In Poland, Christmas Eve (or Wigilia) is Wesolych Swiat Bozego more important than Christmas Day. The Christmas traditions Narodzenia (Polish) same is true in many European countries. • The Romans decorated trees with trinkets • In Japan, KFC is in great demand since Maligayan Pasko! (Philipino) and candles at the Winter Solstice. Colonel Sanders resembles Santa Claus. • Giving gifts and Christmas tress only • Christmas in S. Africa is a summer holiday. Happy Holidays (USA) really became popular in the 1800s. • The whole story of Rudolph first appeared • In Sydney, Australia, thousands go to Feliz Natal (Portuguese) Bondi Beach on Christmas Day. in 1939 in a booklet entitled “Rudolph the • The Welsh enjoy making Taffy (Toffee). Red-Nose Reindeer.” Milad Majid (Arabic) • In old Nordic folklore, a magician rewarded • In Liberia, most homes have an oil palm for a Christmas tree, decorated with bells. Joyeux Noel (French) good children with presents and punished • In Peru, nativity scenes and church services naughty ones. Sung Tan Chuk Ha (Korean) • A lump of coal in the stockings of naughty are very popular, as in many countries. • In Russia, Christmas is on January 7th. children was an Italian tradition. Feliz Navidad (Spanish) • In the Philippines, Noche Buena is the • Holly, Mistletoe and Ivy were ancient Christmas Eve feast after midnight mass. evergreen symbols of fertility, everlasting God Jul (Swedish) life, healing and protection. • In Greenland, the men serve the women. Srecen Bozic (Slovenian) This year, we will be giving out calendars with the
Christmas edition of Crosstalk. Produced in Cork, this year’s theme each month is the uniqueness of Christ. If you would like additional copies of the calendar, contact us (details below).
‘Open House’ - Every Monday We meet on Monday evenings for prayer, Bible study and fellowship with tea, coffee and a bite to eat. Join us as we look into the Bible to see what we can learn from it, and how it is relevant to our lives today. Everyone is welcome - just turn up, or ring for more details. Every Monday 7.30-9.30 pm (except July). We meet at 42A Cloona Park - Just off the Stewartstown Road roundabout.
John and Elaine Duffy Phone: (028) 90600323 42A Cloona Park, Upper Dunmurry Lane, Belfast, BT17 0HH www.cgcf.net email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org