Saturday 11 February 2012

Encouragements from God

We had a great meeting with the Home Group Leaders last week. It was one of those prayer times when God seems so near you could almost reach out and touch Him. We pictured ourselves in prayer standing on the hill top outside St Matt's looking out over Walsall with some words from the Moving On course: This is our mountain top (St Matthew's), and this (Walsall) is our Galilee. At the end I asked if anyone had received any words from God and here are three:

·       We were standing at the west end of the church, outside on the path looking over  Walsall.   Jesus was standing at the back of the group, also looking out. Then he somehow turned to us all and started talking to us, like friends .... (or a group of budding disciples?) He also made a sweeping gesture over the town with his arm, as if to say "all this is out there...."

·       "Follow me, keep going forward, this is the path, straight ahead, do not look back. We must honour the past but not get stuck in it." As the Lord said to Joshua, "Be strong and very courageous" 

·       Come follow me! (down into the town among the people where Jesus wants to lead us): men of faith, rise up! Rise up church with broken wings!

We also had a great Prayer Hour this morning. Nine people is the most we've had for ages. God is up to something when He calls His people to pray! Yet another person had an encouraging picture as we prayed about all the problems we are having with our church building and environs. "There was a great glow in church as we were all worshipping. It emanated out through the walls and shone around St Matthew's like a force field."
Ranting on

I don't often go off on a rant, but could not restrain myself with this one...

A court has now given its verdict that is illegal for local Councils to say prayers at their meetings. The action was brought by the National Secular Society after a councillor in Bideford proclaimed that prayer offended him. It wasn't good enough for him to stare out the window or politely excuse himself. Oh no, it discriminates against his sensitive soul. In agreeing with the National Secular Society the judge has taken the view that religion has no public place in British life.  

Readers please note that this sets a legal precedent which can now be used to ban prayer anywhere – schools, hospitals, opening ceremonies, carol singing and Parliament as well as all Councils. I am personally outraged because I led prayers at Walsall Council when I was Mayor's Chaplain to Cllr Gary Clarke in 2010-11, as has been done for hundreds of years. But I also have three very good reasons for saying that this is wrong, wrong, wrong!

1. It is totally unBritish. Live and let live is the national motto, never mind Dieu et mon droit (which as well as being French has God in it, so there's another one that will have to go). There are nasty, intolerant people at work in this case and they are the secularists. To these bigots tolerance has come to mean the suppression of every distinctive opinion in case someone gets offended – but that's actually intolerance! In my book tolerance means respect for those with whom we disagree.

2. It cuts us off from our roots. We are not a secular society. The roots of our way of life all come from our Christian heritage. You don't have to look very far into the history of education, health care and social welfare in this country to find that it's the Church that started it all as an expression of Gospel values. We in Walsall should know that, because of the brilliant example of Sister Dora. She brought health care to the masses in our town because of her passionate Christian faith. Secularism seeks to destroy this heritage.

3. It is out of keeping with the times. Our society is in freefall because its foundation of shared Christian values has been eroded. When we look at marriage, the banks, the greed of rip-off Britain, teen pregnancy, rising rates of self-harm, stress-related disease, drug and alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour it is clear that we are in deep trouble! We desperately need to hang on to our values! Let's not chuck them away to please these intellectual fascists.

Secularism banishes all ideas of absolute right or wrong. There can be no ultimate meaning or purpose to our lives and no accountability to or succour from a higher being. These chilling beliefs corrode the soul and undermine society. They have come in because we have let them. We have done nothing to stand up and be counted. Let's do it now before it is too late. We are already careering down the slippery slope.

I think I'll sit down now and have a nice calming cup of tea…