I felt yesterday the new year had properly begun at last as it was my first preaching sunday - last week having been cancelled due tot he weather. Stapleton in the morning and Gorse Hill, Swindon in the evening - both good occasions, although Stapleton's heating system was not he blink, so it was not warm! Good things were in ample evidence, however, among both churches, so I went home encouraged.
On my way back down the M4 I passed two gritters working in the same direction - according to my car it was 8 degrees and not forecast below freezing. It did amuse me having listened to so many arguments about the gritting policy as these were the first two I'd seen since before Christmas - just like London buses I guess.
The whole news has been dominated, rightly, by the Haitian earthquake and time was spent yesterday in prayer and encouraging giving at most of our churches I guess.
I was interested by the response to a prayer I quoted both morning and evening - and people asked for a copy afterwards at both services. I was preaching from Exodus 33 and this wasn't a significant part of it all, it's not new, but quote it here as clearly it's touched a chord with some people:
This interesting prayer was given in KANSAS at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:
Heavenly Father, We come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that: We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism. We have exploited the poor and called it the Lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it Welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it Choice. We have shot abortionists and called it Justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it Building Self-esteem. We have abused power and called it Politics. We have coveted our neighbour's possessions and called it Ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it Freedom of Speech. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it Enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the center of your will and to openly ask these things in the name of your Son, the living Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Reverend Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively.