Knowing God – Interview with Liz Carter

Knowing God – Interview with Liz Carter

1) What is your name and what does it mean?

Elizabeth is derived from Hebrew Elisheva and means ‘pledged to God’ or ‘God is my oath.’

2) Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do?

I’m delighted that my name means ‘pledged to God’. Through the years, I have more and more longed for God to be at the centre of my life. I hope and pray that my writing always lifts God high. Even though my life is one of pain and sickness, I am so grateful for the work of God in me.

3) If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean?

Apparently the root of Elisheva/Elisheba is ‘God is my oath’ and also ‘God is seven’ which translates as God being abundance, as satisfaction, even as our contentment (seven being a representation of abundance). This particularly resonates with me, having written a book called Catching Contentment! So I guess the prophecy for my name would be to do with God being my complete satisfaction, my desire, all I need, my everything. I’m up for that!

4) Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3)

Jehovah Shalom – God is our peace: I love that only in God can we find the peace that is beyond understanding.

Jehovah M’Kaddesh – God who sanctifies, who makes holy: I love that God is holy and worthy of worship, and that God is always making us more holy too when we allow ourselves to be open to God’s work in our lives.

Jehovah Rophe – God who heals: This phrase doesn’t simply imply physical healing, but a wholeness throughout body, mind and spirit.

5) Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so.

So many that it’s difficult to choose! I’d like to go right back to my childhood for this one: I was ten years old and at a Bible camp with my family and church. I was fed up because I felt poorly again. I’d always been the sickly child, always off school with lung infections and tonsilitis, and here I was again, feeling absolutely rotten. I stumbled off to my kids group anyway, having enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to miss it. Besides, others told me, I could just ask someone to pray for healing for me. I was hopeful, so after the meeting I asked my group leader to pray. As he did I didn’t feel physically better, but something else happened. A rush of peace blazed through me, enveloping my entire being. I knew I was in the presence of God, and the peace I felt right then was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Joy came with it, too. In that moment I knew I was utterly loved, but also that God was incredibly powerful and incredibly holy. In that moment, all three of those names I mentioned above seem relevant – God being my peace, God making me holy, God healing me – not in an ‘obvious’ way but doing a deeper work, a work that changed me then and has kept changing me since.

6) Have the names/ attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

I’ve been ill all my life, so I think I have always gravitated towards God as peace, and other attributes such as God being my strength and my comforter. I have come to relate so much more to God as my healer as my understanding of healing has become more nuanced, and my experience of wholeness has come through God’s profound work in my spirit and my mind. My understanding of the ‘now and not yet’ of the kingdom has informed how I see physical healing – it happens sometimes, a glimpse of heaven, but in general we live in the not yet, in the knowledge that we will be fully whole one day.

 Through the years I have more and more related to God as my one desire, as all I need, as the one who makes my soul and my spirit at home and at rest. As my sickness has worsened, I have burrowed deeper into God and found treasures in the darkness.

7) Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

The more ‘battle imagery’ type names of God are a bit more difficult to embrace – God as a warrior, perhaps. God as judge can also be more difficult. However, with both of these, a different perspective can bring freedom. God as warrior, setting us free from the bonds of the enemy, his power stronger than any evil. God as judge, bringing justice to the world, to every situation where injustice has been allowed to take hold, knowing the heart of every human who ever lived and exposing the evil around us, then bringing liberty to captives.

8) Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better?

I want to know all of God better. The more I know of God, the more I want, the deeper I want to go. I would love to know more of God’s holiness and justice – and I suspect that I will be greatly challenged, the further I go.

9) Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

That’s a difficult question, because I feel I relate to all three persons of the Trinity in different ways. When I worship, I am worshipping God as Father, Son and Spirit, as a whole yet as three – the great mystery. God the Father draws me close, making me feel loved, accepted, redeemed, yet also can seem so far apart –  holy. Jesus is very relatable – we know so many of his words intimately, we know how he acted, how he loved, how he humbled himself and sacrificed himself. The person of Jesus shows us the character of God.

I often feel closest with the Holy Spirit, simply because the Spirit has been given to us to assure us of the love of God while we are on this earth. Our sense of comfort, peace and God’s manifest presence are from the Spirit. The gifts we are given are from the Spirit, and the fruits that we develop in our lives in our process of sanctification are the fruits of the Spirit. When I worship, so often the Spirit moves, giving me a sense of God’s beauty and outrageous love.

10) How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us?

I think it can help us to focus in on some parts of God’s character, which can be helpful in different situations. Names of God can help us remember that God is strong, mighty, loving, powerful, compassionate, that he sees us, that he knows us, that he provides for us, that he longs for us to know him. We can remind one another that God is a father to the fatherless, that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, that the Holy Spirit is the Great Comforter. In using names of God we can encourage one another and build one another up in faith, as we are reminded that God has so many facets and that there are names and characteristics of God which can be of help to us in all our seasons of life.

Liz Carter is a writer and blogger from Shropshire who writes about
finding treasure in God in the painful times. Living with long-term lung disease, she has learned a whole lot about what being ‘whole’ in God means, and particularly what learning to be content means. Her first book, Catching Contentment, was published by IVP in 2018, and she’s recently written a six week group study guide to be used alongside the book.

You can get her book, ‘Catching Contentment: How to be Holy Satisfied (IVP, Nov 2018)’ here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Catching-Contentment-How-Holy-Satisfied/dp/1783597402/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=catching+contentment&qid=1582568127&sr=8-1

Knowing God – Interview with Bex Lewis

Knowing God – Interview with Bex Lewis

1) What is your name and what does it mean? 

My name is Bex, short for Rebecca, which apparently means ‘servant of God’ in Hebrew, although a mug I have also says that it means ‘bound’, as in ‘bound to do what is right’, and an online site says it could mean any of: tying firmly; fastening; binding; noosed cord; captivating; snare; beauty that ensnares, grace that enraptures. Online you’ll typically find me @drbexl.

2) Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do? 

I love my shortened version, it has a bit of ‘va va voom’, and the full name makes sense too, although aren’t all Christians ‘servants of God’. The meaning from my mug rings way too many bells, I often feel pressurised by ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ – I want to do what is right, but maybe with less mental stress! I feel like I’m a solid person to have around, rather than a captivating, enrapturing one!

3) If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean? 

My name is from the Bible, so has a biblical meaning! Like Rebekah in the Bible, who left her family to marry Isaac who she had never met, I have had a habit of giving up secure work and moving around the country to do what feels right at the time.

4) Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3) 

Considering a list of attributes of God, the ones that resonate with me most are grace (although it can still be very easy to fall into habits of seeking faith by works!), the great ‘I AM’ – there before, with and after us, and infinite – beyond our capacity to measure and label!

5) Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so.

I have always been brought up with a strong ‘Protestant work ethic’, and therefore ‘faith by works’ is always a habit that I fall back into. On an Oak Hall ski trip many years ago, the focus of the week’s teaching was on ‘grace’, and I felt that it was finally starting to make sense – I then came back from the trip and the Sunday sermon was on …. grace! I need constant reminders of this – that there is ‘nothing I can do to make God love me any more – or less’…

6) Have the names/ attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

I think there are many aspects of God that have different resonances throughout our life experiences. Now living with incurable cancer, and not knowing if I have 3 months, 3 years or 30 years to live, but that living will be combined with managing side effects and lifelong treatment … the fact that God is above and beyond all this, and is alongside in our suffering (even if we can’t always feel it) helps keep me on a more even keel when life feels out of control/unmanageable. I don’t expect that this will necessarily be done through ways that are recognisably supernatural … but friends (Christian and non-Christian) and organisations can help make life survivable! God is above and beyond humanity – but works through it!

7) Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

There are times when I may wish for comforter and healer in a more ‘magical’ and ‘instant’ way, but I remain comforted by the idea that God is above and beyond human understanding, and we can’t reduce Him to our level of understanding. If I ever hear about people talking about ‘God pre-chose you’, I wonder what that means for free will, and for those who were not pre-chosen … that niggles! I am more comfortable with the idea that God is a jealous and just God (mixed with mercy), and that being a Christian doesn’t mean we are wet blankets, or there to be walked all over – we can get justifiably angry, although sometimes we have to trust God to carry out the justice.

8) Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better?

God is described as ‘self-sufficient’ – I have spent many years feeling like I should give of myself to the church in a sacrificial way – and there are times for that … but learning that God doesn’t need my input (though he loves it) is something to learn more of.

9) Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

As someone who lives on the earth, and as Jesus walked the earth in a physical form, this can feel the easiest to relate to. God can feel a bit ‘up above’ and the Holy Spirit can feel a bit, well, ‘ethereal’ – although it’s what been left to help us in our earthly life since Jesus left it (rather like a wi-fi signal helps us to connect to the wider internet … I had to get something digital in there somewhere).

10) How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us?

I don’t find prayers with an over-repetition of ‘Lord’ at every other word very helpful, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve particularly thought about the names that I’ve used (I’ve had no formal theological training, so working through these questions have introduced me to some new ideas as I’ve bobbed around the internet looking things up), and am thinking about what difference it would make now.

Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience.

She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University, with a particular interest in digital culture and the digital environment, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, includes social media and cancer.

Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research.

She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst  (Lion Hudson, 2014), of which a second edition is in preparation for 2020. Alongside academic journal articles, she has authored a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards.

She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.

Knowing God – Interview with Jemma Brown

Knowing God – Interview with Jemma Brown

  1. What is your name and what does it mean? 

    My name is Jemma Brown and it means precious gem which is very fitting as I was a long awaited baby! It took my parents 10 years to conceive me hence I’m my parents precious gem.
  2. Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do? 

    I think the most truthful answer to this is that it depends what mood I’m in.
  3. If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean?

    Something about being stronger than I think or stronger than others perceive. People often make assumptions about me because of my disability, seeing only the things they think I cannot do. There are some things I can’t do but I’m also really good at finding ‘work arounds’ and adapting.
  4. Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3)

    Elohim is definitely one that resonates with me significantly. It’s the meaning that our God is the ‘true God’ who is all powerful that we can put all our trust and hope in and that that same powerful God created everything in the earth, planets, stars and of course us. Our God is a creative God.
    Ironically for someone living with severe visual impairment, another name that resonates with me is El Roi, the God who sees. This is something I hold on to as I have faced so much discrimination and trauma as a direct result of my disabilities. God has seen all the times I have been badly treated and knows every detail of the struggles I have faced – He knows it all. Looking at this one from a different angle God also sees me in my entirety as someone living with multiple severe and enduring mental illnesses (Bipolar, complex PTSD and Borderline Personality disorder). I spend a lot of energy ‘masking’ in an attempt to fit in but I know God has seen all my pain and frustration and knows how much effort recovery has taken. He has seen me at my best and he has also seen me at my most mentally ill yet He never leaves me.
  5. Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so. 

    I think that I believe in a God that is all powerful and a God of truth which is really helpful when navigating the storms of life as I know that He is in charge of my life, not me, and He can be trusted. Most of my chronic illnesses are degenerative and will get worse over time, and my remaining vision will eventually go (I say eventually but no one really knows when) and that is a huge burden to carry. As medicine can’t ‘fix’ me, my future health is in God’s hands.
    When I am mentally unwell I find it very difficult to talk to others honestly about how I am feeling so often hide it. I take comfort in the fact that the God who sees knows all about my mental health and the ‘thorn in my mind’ (inspired by the book ‘A Thorn in My Mind: Mental Illness, Stigma and the Church’ by Cathy Wield) so I am actually never alone with the darkness as God is always there and sees it all.
  6. Have the names/ attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

    Yes – I think that is actually true for everyone, regardless of health or disability. As we walk through life, different names and attributes seem to have greater significance at various points.
  7. Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

    I identify a lot with the names of God and it was hard to pick out just a few to talk about so I don’t really struggle with any right now but I think it’s fairly fluid.
  8. Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better?

    All of it! Isn’t that the main part of our walk as Christians to draw close to God and to have a relationship with Him that evolves and deepens over time? I became a Christian roughly 10 years ago and since then, my desire is to know God more. Galatians 2:20 says ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me’.
  9. Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

    I feel closest to Jesus as He knows all about my suffering, be that physical or psychological pain and trauma. Jesus was also very non-judgmental and went against the grain of the societal norms. Specifically, I’m thinking of when He healed the women with bleeding and made clean the man with leprosy. Both of these miracles were done for people who were cast out by society and considered unclean. Jesus touched them and changed their lives and that was pretty radical! I’m a bit like that. I’m wired to love people and love them deeply, not just my friends and family but the persecuted and cast out. I feel called to show the world a tiny bit of Jesus’ love (in that the love of God is infinite and whatever I do will only be a tiny part of it).
  10. How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us? 

    I think its important because it shows us that our God is HUGE and has so many attributes and looking into them specifically for this interview I thought of more and more ways I could see different attributes or names working together in my life and how actually, they all work together. Our God is awesome, powerful, loving, father, healer, I Am, kind, compassionate, caring, fierce, trustworthy… the anchor in the storm and so much more!

Jemma is a former journalism student who became a Christian at university during one of the darkest points of her life 10 years ago. Since dropping out of university, Jemma has volunteered her time extensively for guide dogs UK helping our with campaigns and media.

Jemma also uses her extensive experience of living with multiple disabilities in a number of advocacy roles including as a guest lecturer to nursing and medical students on topics like spirituality in medicine and PTSD. Jemma is severely visually impaired (blind) and also lives with Ehlers Danlos syndrome and SEMI (bipolar, BPD and CPTSD).

Jemma is a passionate reader of both fiction and non fiction and also loves social media. 

Knowing God – Interview with Emily Owen

Knowing God – Interview with Emily Owen

  1. What is your name and what does it mean?

    My name is Emily which, according to Google, means ‘industrious’ or ‘rival’. My middle name is Louise which, so Google informs me, means ‘famous warrior.’
  2. Do you think your name suits who you are and/ or what you do?

    Perhaps, inasmuch as I do sometimes see my illness/disability almost as an enemy I need to work hard to rival and (hopefully) conquer.
  3. If you were born in biblical times, when names were given as prophesies, what would your name mean?

    My friends jokingly – I think (!) – call me ‘Planning Queen’, so perhaps my name would be to do with liking to know the plan.  More seriously, perhaps ‘writer’ or ‘speaker’.
  4. Which of God’s names or attributes resonate with you the most? (give up to 3)

    That’s hard! I want to say them all! Today, I pick:
    Jehovah Nissi – The Lord my Banner
    Jehovah Shammah – The Lord is Here
    El Roi – The God who Sees
  5. Is there an experience/s connected with these aspects of who God is to you? If so, please share one if you feel comfortable doing so.

    As a teenager, my life underwent a huge change, as I suddenly went from being a fairly high achieving allrounder, to a person experiencing hospitals, operations and disability. In this whirlwind, I felt more and more defined by my symptoms, and less and less defined as me. During that time, during many times since, God did – and does – remind me that He sees me. He sees past all the damage illness has caused, damage I see every time I look in the mirror, and He sees me. That brings me great comfort.
  6. Have the names/attributes of God that you most relate to, changed due to life circumstances such as illness or disability? How so?

    I don’t think they’ve changed as such, all of God’s names are meaningful to me, but I’ve come to appreciate ‘El Roi’ more, as I mention above; to increasingly value being seen by God. To be honest, I probably took being seen by God a bit for granted: it never really occurred to me, until my life turned upside-down, and I didn’t want anyone – including myself – to see me. I didn’t think anyone would want to. And, as I said above, God showed me I was wrong! And I learned – and am learning – to actively live in the immense privilege of being seen by God.
  7. Are there any of God’s names that confuse you or that you struggle with? Which one/s and why?

    I suppose an obvious one for me to pick might be Jehovah Rapha: The Lord Who Heals. Despite specific prayer for physical healing, I’ve not been physically healed. Yet, as I live in this broken body of mine, each day I learn more of the meaning of 2 Corinthians 4:16: ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’. I am outwardly wasting away and, at the same time, I am being inwardly renewed – even healed – day by day.
  8. Which parts of God’s character would you like to know better

    Maybe Adonai: Lord. Hudson Taylor is quoted as saying, “Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all”. To truly have Him as Lord in charge of every part of my life, to know Him as Lord in practice as well as theory, is a challenge and a goal.
  9. Which part of the Trinity do you feel closest with and why do you think that is?

    Probably partly because of my upbringing, in which I was encouraged to know and relate to God, I’d say God. As an adult, whilst I would still say God, I do find I feel closer to Jesus, too.
  10. How do you think that knowing and using God’s names in prayer and conversation might help us?

    I think that they help us pray to more of Him. If I were to only talk to my sister about clothes (perhaps a bad example, I’m definitely not a clothes person!), I would miss out on so much of who she is. She is more than a stylish dresser. What about her job, her humour, her interests and hobbies, etc? If I only knew she likes clothes, how would I know about our shared love of chocolate?! The more we know of God, and Who He is, the richer our relationship with Him will be. And that can’t be a bad thing, can it….

Emily Owen is an author and public speaker. She began writing following a medical diagnosis which turned her life plans upside-down and, among other things, left her deaf. 

After publishing her first devotional books, in the 30 Days series, Emily published her memoir, Still Emily. Her speaking, and more recent writings, combine her personal experiences with biblical teaching and reflections.

Emily is surprised to describe herself as a writer and speaker, but she has no hesitation in calling herself a fan of flowers, candles, purple, stars, and making her nieces and nephews giggle.

1 Year Review and Looking Forward…

1 Year Review and Looking Forward…

I cannot believe that after creating a Twitter account one year ago, YouBelong would be what it is now and heading in the direction it seems to be!

At the time, my Mum was working in a cafe and as I had a hospital appointment later that day, I decided to go into work with her to wait for my appointment. I can’t remember exactly what was going through my head other than that I had just completed my theology degree and was wondering what the purpose of it was as I was too unwell to use it. Then I was reminded of something my course director had told me about – online church. I didn’t really know what that would look like but knew there must be others like me who were too unwell to attend church some weeks, or maybe even every week, and others who could physically attend church but felt isolated by the complex theology and ‘Chistianese’ used in many churches. I can attend church most weeks, with the help of my parents, but have avoided some churches not because I cannot physically access them or because I can’t understand them, but because their theological teaching around pain, suffering and disability is damaging and hurtful. By giving others a safe place to share their thoughts and concerns around balancing life as a Christian with a life as a disabled or chronically ill person, and discover that God isn’t as harsh and judgmental, or formula abiding, as some places make Him out to be.

I quickly knew this project was going to be bigger than I ever intended or imagined when the number of followers grew. This was confirmed to me whilst at Spring Harvest just before Easter when a number of church leaders told me about people they knew of, within their congregation and in the community, that do not attend their churches due to disabilities or chronic illnesses. It wasn’t that they weren’t wanting to change that, but they didn’t know how.

Meeting leaders led to me being invited to a conference where lots of other church leaders gathered to discuss and help one another run their churches in the best way possible. Although a lot of the teaching was for physical churches, it gave me some ideas but more importantly, it grew my network and has helped raise awareness of people with chronic illness and disability in the Church – or not.

Around March, I started a blog (youbelong2019.wordpress.com) as a place to share my thoughts and experiences in greater detail as social media only allows for limited characters. I was shocked and surprised to find out just a few months after starting the blog that I was a finalist in the Premier Digital Awards! As the Premier Digital Conference preceded the awards show, I decided to attend that first and came away with lots of notes and more connections and I hope to work with these people over the coming year. The day flew past and suddenly YouBelong was being announced as winner of the up and coming blog! It still amazes me now and I am so thankful for all of you who guest blogged and who read the posts each week – thank you!

Before long, December was here and with that, advent. I knew I wanted to arrange something for us to do together as a community and after seeing the idea to study the 24 chapters of Luke in 24 days, that the 24 days before Christmas would be perfectly suited to that. I wanted to ensure that people from all platforms (YouBelong is on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram now) were able to participate so I posted every day on every platform. It was a bigger commitment than I initially realised but I was thankful for having done it as I not only learnt more about the stories in Luke’s gospel but also got to interact with more of you and have since heard stories of couples reading the chapter together each day and some people sharing them with others they know to encourage them which I love to hear!

And know we are into 2020, YouBelong is 1 year old and we have LOADS of exciting plans in place to move things forward in new ways this year. One of the biggest things that we hope and plan to do is register as a charity so that we have access to funding to enable the team to grow, to reach isolated people where they are, provide resources and training for churches and start a more official online church for those who cannot attend church, either at all or occasionally. This will also include a connect group which will begin on Facebook and be a closed group of people who study the same passages/ topic together so if you are interested in getting involved, I highly recommend following us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/youbelong2019 now as this will be launching in the next few weeks!

I am excited for what the year ahead has to bring and hope you are too! If you have any ideas of things you would like to see included then please get in touch either via email at info@youbelong.org.uk or on our social media.

Jesus rises from the dead

Jesus rises from the dead

Luke 24:1-12

I’m so happy to say that the last blog post was not the LAST blog post. Luke doesn’t leave Jesus dead and in the grave – He has risen!

The stress, busy-ness and pressure has been gradually building in my household over the last month or two as work tasks have increased, hospital appointments have built up, ongoing jobs from the past year need tying up and we prepare for Christmas and the new year. There have been blood, sweat and tears physically and metaphorically! But those things are coming to end, nothing more can be done, and it’s time to stop and relax and ‘let the good times roll’!

Looking back at the chapter in Luke, Jesus has been in the grave, blood, sweat and tears have been present in an even bigger way than in my household, and now, it is time for Him to come alive again and bring smiles back to the faces of His loved ones. The stress, concern, sadness and disappointment was over. Their friend, son, brother and Saviour was back and all was well again!

I am sure I am not alone in letting the tasks that need to be done, and the stress they bring, overwhelm me. If you can relate, please take this as post as your sign to stop. Jesus is born and He has risen again to be your God and Redeemer. Nothing else matters now. Have fun, share the love of God with those around you and relax.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Jesus is crucified

Jesus is crucified

Luke 23:26-43

There have been a few posts recently that have been a bit sad rather than happy and joyful as you would expect and hope at this time of year. I’m afraid we are about to get stuck into just about the saddest passage in Luke now, just before Christmas – Jesus’ crucifiction. There is a reason we are reading this passage today though, and hopefully you will understand why by the end of the blog post…

It is important for us to remember that although we celebrate Jesus coming down to Earth as a baby at this time of year, He didn’t stay a baby. He grew up to become a teacher, friend, neighbour, prophet, brother, healer, carer and more, and ultimately, He became our rescuer, redeemer, forgiver and Messiah when He died on a cross, taking away our sins.

It isn’t nice to read about Jesus suffering and dying in pain and alone, especially at Christmas, but it is important to remember who Jesus was and what He was sent down to Earth for. He knew His purpose so well, and loved so strongly, that even on the cross, when the pain in His arms and feet was unbearable and His breathing difficult, He focused on the sinner beside Him. This man had done wrong in a big way, and did not deserve anything, instead of using His God given power to free Himself.

The next time you see a nativity scene, acknowledge the baby in the manger, but then look closer. Imagine the baby as a man. God sent to Earth in human form to teach the teachers, heal the sick and broken, change theology, share the good news of God, awaken the dead, calm the seas, feed the hungry, release demons and finally, die on the cross for us. He didn’t have to do it, He didn’t deserve it, but He chose to do it for us, because He loves us.