Welcome to the third edition of Bethlehem Briefing. Life has changed for all of us. We are adjusting to a new normal, separated from one another, either staying in our homes to prevent infection, or engaged in necessary work to help and support others. The verse on our daily calendar today seems very appropriate: “If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6 v 8. We can thank the Lord if today we have food and clothing, the necessities of life. We remember that many people in our world do not even have these essentials. Let’s try not to become frustrated focussing on what we are missing, let’s be thankful for what we have.
Brief Devotional: The Mind of Christ Jesus
Come with me, please to Philippians 2 v 5 – 11. This is the passage set for Palm Sunday in the Book of Common Prayer used by Anglicans the world over. It is very appropriate for our situation and for the beginning of Passion Week. The Apostle Paul, as usual, is dealing with a very practical problem in the church at Philippi. There was disunity and division. Everyone had a different mind, a different spirit and purpose, a different love (Phil 2 v 2). Sadly this was typified by a dispute between two ladies, Euodia and Syntache (or Odious and So Touchy as one wag of a preacher described them!) What was the remedy for this sad situation? Well we have seen something similar in our society over these last few weeks. Before the outbreak we were divided over Climate Change and Brexit. Serious divisions appeared in family and friendship groups. But now we are united in fighting a common enemy. We have come together because we have one purpose. Time will tell whether the old divisions will open again (it is likely that they will).
What does Paul say to us as believers? How can we be “like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose”? (Philippians 2 v 2). Where do we find our unity? How can we “stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel”? (Phil 1 v 27). It starts with how we think. We must have the mind of Christ Jesus, as the KJV says “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” v 5. What mind is that? A humble mind, a humble attitude matched by actions. Trace the steps downwards for Christ into the valley of humiliation. He was equal with God but he didn’t insist on his position, he stepped down and took on human nature, he stepped down further and became obedient to his Father, he stepped down further and went to the cross of Calvary. His mind was “not my will but yours be done” and “Not for my good but for the good of my people”. It is this sort of attitude that God honours with a lifting up; just as we remember that the Cross on Good Friday was followed by the Resurrection on Easter Day and the Ascension 40 days later. Christ Jesus is now in the highest place that heaven affords. Every knee will bow to him, every tongue will confess him Lord. That same mind needs to be in us: not my will but God’s, not for my benefit but for the benefit of the Lord’s people.
1. If you haven’t yet discovered our YouTube channel, please take a look. You will find it by searching for Bethlehem Evangelical Church Aberavon on YouTube. You can also get it via our website.Every week, in addition to the Church services, you will find Bethlehem Story Time for the children. Three stories already on the channel: Jesus and the Storm, Noah’s Ark and the Lost Sheep. If you don’t have children of your own perhaps you might be able to share this with others, either on a Facebook page, if you have one, or by email. It will be good to get this to as many people as possible.
2. This Friday is Good Friday. As we would usually have a service at 10 a.m. we are planning to broadcast one on our YouTube channel. You can access it as you do the Sunday Services via the website or directly from YouTube. It will start at 10 a.m.
Brief Prayer Requests
1. Pray for the usefulness of the Services broadcast every Sunday. Our desire is that the Church is fed from the word and that we have an opportunity to join together at the same time to consider the same part of Scripture. Though we are separated physically, pray that we will join hearts and minds in the Lord.
2. There are a small number of people who cannot access the internet. Please pray that they will not feel isolated from our fellowship. Thank you to those who phone them, they do appreciate that.
3. Please pray for a couple in our church. Their nephew from Ebbw Vale tragically died in a car accident over the weekend. He leaves a wife and three young children. Please pray for the family.
4. Pray for another family in our church. Their son is in New York, where he lives and works. Please pray for him that the Lord would protect him during these uncertain times.
5.Please continue to pray for our member who is in Nigeria on family business. It was good to know that he joined us on Sunday to watch the services. Pray that the Lord will be with him and bring him home soon, and pray for his family that the Lord will be their refuge and strength.
Finally, for those who are following the daily readings, here are the Psalms each day from Today until Tuesday of next week
April 6th – Psalm 10; 7th – Psalm 11,12; 8th – Psalm 13,14; 9th – Psalm 15,16; 10th – Psalm 17;
April 11th – Psalm 18; 12th – Psalm 19; 13th – Psalm 20,21; 14th – Psalm 22, 15th Psalm 23,24
If we can be of any help to you, please get in touch: Jeremy and Jenny 01639 882564
Warmly yours in the Lord
Your Pastor Jeremy 6th April 2020