The Parish of Sandal Magna

Suffering Church


After eight long years on death row, the Christian Asia Bibi has been exonerated from the false accusation of Blasphemy, but she is still not free. The government has caved in to pressure from extremists to deny her the right to leave the country which is her only safe option. She is more in danger now and is still in prison. This is typical of the lives of many Christians in an increasingly hostile world, whether it be in Communist China, Hindu majority India or in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia where you are not allowed to own a Bible or meet in a home for prayer.
For a year we gave refuge to the beautiful Samuels family who fled persecution in Pakistan, and heard their stories of the pressure that Christians are under. Thankfully they are safe and thriving in London, but we need to keep praying for the many who live in fear in such difficult situations. Our service on Sunday 18th November, concludes our series on the Beatitudes with the words:

"You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds."
It is strange that being poor, meek, pure in heart or peace-making should provoke persecution but it does, in places where people fear difference. As Linda said in her sermon on Blessed are the peacemakers, peace-making involves not taking sides but exposing yourself to the potential anger of both sides. You can listen to this on

http://www.sandalmagna.com/dbfiles//4thnov2018541390511181632881007.mp3

Despite persecution, the Church world-wide is still growing strongly, especially in those areas of persecution and poverty. This is part of the paradox of faith that Jesus was pointing to, that persecution can be a blessing. Equally we need to be concerned that in places of comparative safety and comfort in the West, the Church is struggling to communicate the positive life-enhancing but also challenging and committing message of Jesus Christ.

That is the responsibility of every Christian wherever we are placed, to live the Beatitudes, to hear the words of Jesus and to put them into practice in our serving of others. The Sermon on the Mount begins with the Beatitudes, & ends with the picture of the house built on rock.
"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock."

Rupert




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