Archive for December, 2014

2014 in review

Posted: December 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 30 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

We’ve just been practicing for our Christmas Eve Celebration at church and the words of a new Christmas hymn are ringing in my ear.

Keith and Kristyn Getty have penned these words that I am pleased to share with you this Christmas, praying that this will be a blessed Christmas for you, and knowing that even in a world of dangers Jesus came to give us life:

Jesus, joy of the highest heaven,
Born as a little baby under a wondrous star.
Like us, crying He takes His first breath
Held by His mother, helpless,
close to her beating heart.
Jesus, laid in a lowly manger
Facing a world of dangers,
Come to turn me, a stranger
Into a child of God.

Jesus, king of the highest heaven,
Learning to take his first steps
That he might give us life,
Like us, knowing our smiles and sorrows
He showed the way to follow,
A way that is true and right
Jesus take away every darkness
Steady my simple footsteps
That I might in your goodness
Live as a child of God.

What do you want for Christmas?

Posted: December 14, 2014 in Christmas
Tags: , ,

christmas-presentsWhat do you want for Christmas? Have you written to Santa, or made a list? Or have you just given hints around the house about what you want?

Receiving presents is the bit about Christmas that we all like. Don’t you just love opening the presents on Christmas Day and discovering that someone has given you something that you really want? And even the socks and undies are OK because you know that someone has thought about you.

But I think you’ll agree that giving presents is what really gives you a buzz. When I was a kid I used to spend a lot of time disguising and wrapping presents in such a way that the person receiving it wouldn’t have any idea what they were getting. Bits of cardboard, oversized boxes and other disguises would change the size and shape and weight of the present so they’d never guess what was inside.

I know that in spending time with the gift like that I found myself thinking about the person who was receiving it, and the surprise they would have when they got through all the wrapping paper and other bits of disguise.

Jesus said, it’s more blessed to give than to receive, and he’s right you know. Receiving presents is great, but there’s real joy in giving. The process itself is important … thinking about the person you intend to give a present to … making a decision about what they would really like and what would give them joy … wrapping the present … thinking about how and when you are going to give it to them.

In all of these things you are thinking about that person, instead of yourself. You see our natural inclination is to think about ourselves. Thinking about other people ahead of ourselves actually takes a little bit of work. It requires an act of the will, and that’s most effective when it’s motivated by love.

The story of Christmas is a story of love and giving. It’s about God looking on this world that he has made and being overwhelmed with sadness at the way in which people had messed up the earth, damaged relationships and generally turned away from him.

And rather than waiting for people to turn back to him, God was proactive – he took the first step – he exercised his love through giving. In the greatest act of giving you could imagine, God became a human being. He came as a little baby, born in a humble middle-eastern village.

And as he grew up, Jesus taught us how to live. He taught us what it means to live in a right relationship with God. And he gave his life for us. The story of Easter is tightly linked with the story of Christmas, because it’s about Jesus giving his life for all of humanity. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him may not be separated from God but everlasting life.

I’d encourage you to spend a little bit more time this year on the presents you’re giving away. Think about the person you’re giving it to and what’s special about them. Think about what you can do that will be a contribution to their life.

But most of all think about the greatest gift of all, the gift of life that God has offered to you in Jesus. And don’t knock it back as though it’s not important. You wouldn’t do that on Christmas morning when you pull the presents out from under the tree. Receive that gift – the gift of Jesus – in the spirit in which it was given – as God’s gracious act of love for you.

You can hear this message live on Sonshine fm radio 98.5

Another great fair is over – for the sixth year, Maida Vale Baptist Church has run Christmas at the Fair in Range View Park, High Wycombe, and it was a beauty.

Many thousands of people (couldn’t count them) turned up for three hours of fun, participation, food, rides, information, and a reminder that Christmas is a part of our cultural heritage here in Western Australia.

We had an amazing group of boys, both Maori and Noongar, who presented a series of Maori dances as part of their ongoing learning about the importance of family, respect, setting goals and achieving them, cultural identity and reverence for their creator.

A new choir in Perth, the Perth Chin Baptist Church choir presented some brilliant music from their native of Myanmar, and the ever-popular Kalamunda Pipe Band brought some cultural heritage from the northern hemisphere.

Maida Vale Baptist Church likes to think of Christmas at the Fair as our gift to the community – it’s not a fund-raiser or a PR exercise, but an opportunity for us to give something back to the community and encourage people to participate in a range of activities and get to know their neighbours in the process.

I would like to thank the scores of volunteers who helped out in so many ways during the year and during the event to make this another successful event, and to those who came along and enjoyed the evening I thank you as well.

Take a look at the video and enjoy it again.