A Place to Meet God
The God we worship at St Francis’ and St Hilda’s
We live at a time when there is much scepticism about God and about religion in general. Hasn’t science disproved the idea of a supernatural being who created the earth? Aren’t people of faith simply seeking for a crutch to give their lives meaning and to make themselves feel virtuous? And doesn’t religion inevitably lead to intolerance, prejudice, and conflict?
You won’t be surprised to discover that I don’t hold these views to be true, but neither do I dismiss them as unimportant or completely false. There is much that is wrong about all religions and there is much that is wrong about the Church – by which I mean those billions of people in the world who profess to follow Jesus. Anything made up of humans is bound to be imperfect!
But whilst the Church often gets things wrong, God never does. We Christians do believe in a God who created the world in all its beauty; not literally in six days as the Bible at first seems to suggest, but in a way that is largely in accordance with what science has discovered about the birth of our universe.
We believe in a God who created humanity. Men and women, equal but different, yet both made in His image (that is possessing some of His nature to love, create, grieve, and so on). God created a perfect world but gave his creatures free will which helps to explain almost all of the suffering in the world today. It’s not God who causes wars, poverty, famine or drought, but our selfishness and our mismanagement of creation. All humans either consciously or sub-consciously rebel against God. But he hasn’t abandoned us.
Christians believe that God himself entered the world in human form as a baby called Jesus. He was somehow completely human and yet completely God (for this reason he variously called the Son of God, and the Son of Man in the Bible). He experienced every temptation we face and yet refused to surrender to them. He faced poverty, hunger, loneliness, grief, sorrow, rejection, fear, persecution, betrayal, intense suffering, and death.
And it was by his death that we humans can be saved. When Jesus was crucified, he died a criminal’s death even though he himself had done nothing wrong. He had told his disciples many times that this would happen so that his life would be a “ransom for many” (Mark 10.45). In other words, Jesus died to save us. Because he paid the penalty for our wrongdoings in dying on the cross, those who put their trust in him can be forgiven their ‘sins’ and enter eternal life, just as Jesus himself did three days after his crucifixion, when he was resurrected, raised from the dead.
That one long-weekend two thousand years ago changed everything and has inspired billions of people to put their faith in Jesus ever since. Those who have done this have called themselves Christians or the Church. There are many different branches of the Church but all true Christians share the belief that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3.16).
Christianity is unlike other faiths. Most religions require its members to earn their salvation through obeying rules and acts of charity; as if we can ourselves put right the wrong we’ve done (individually and collectively). But the Bible teaches that we are saved not by our good deeds and obedience but through God’s grace alone (that is the undeserved forgiveness we receive through Jesus’ death on the cross). We are not bound by rules or rituals, but free to live a life responding to love God has poured out for us, guided by his Holy Spirit which lives within every believer.
We meet at St Hilda’s and St Francis’ church to worship the God who created the world, gave us free will, and rescued us from our misuse of that free will; a God who loves us so much he gave up he suffered and died to save us. This good-news (or gospel) message is for the whole world. Not one of us can be saved without Jesus; and Jesus desires that each one of us be saved. If you don’t yet know Jesus and would like to; or if you’d just like to talk more about faith, life, and death, then give me a call on 01484 427 838, or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to speak with you.
Revd. Ian Jamison, Vicar, St Hilda’s Church, Cowcliffe & St Francis Church Fixby
St Hilda’s Sunday service is at 5pm apart from the first Sunday in the month when it at 10.30am – please join us, you will be very welcome.
On the second Tuesday in every month at 7.30pm, a quiet, reflective service “Time for God” is held for about 30 minutes at St Hilda’s Church
St Francis holds its Sunday service at 9.00am when all are welcome
Ian says Morning Prayers at 9.15am (term time only) on Mondays at St Hilda’s Church & Wednesdays at St Francis Church and all are welcome to join him
If you wish to arrange a special service such as a baptism; wedding; marriage blessing or funeral please contact our Vicar Ian Jamieson
E mail: email@example.com Tel: 01484 427838)