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Dickleburgh Pulham Market Pulham St Mary Rushall Starston Thelveton

Each week Christians come together in the name of Jesus Christ

•   to offer praise and thanksgiving for our lives, and for the world in which we live;

•   to hear and receive God's holy word in the Bible;

•   to pray for the needs of the world, especially for the sick, and those in trouble;

•   and to be assured that God loves us, even though we know that we are not perfect.


If we let Him, the power of God's Holy Spirit will enable us to be a force for good in the world.

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CHRISTIANITY

God


Giver of life, Power well used,Peace at the heart of the storm;

Compassion without limit;

Judgement with infinite Mercy, Wisdom beyond measure;

Whole, entire, complete;

I will be what I will be;

I Am


Moses said: They will ask me, "What is his name?" So what can I tell them?

God said: I am who I am. This is what you must say to them, "The one who is called I AM has sent me to you." Exodus 4: 14


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Jesus of Nazareth

Two thousand years ago an itinerant preacher called Jesus lived in the area around the river Jordan and the Sea of Galilee. He taught a powerful vision of the Kingdom of God. This was no esoteric, imaginary kingdom in the sky. He taught about a practical, down-to-earth kingdom, one that we can bring about here in our own world.

He taught that, to bring about this kingdom we had to do two things:

¶ Love God with our whole being

¶ Love and care for our neighbours as we do for ourselves and our own families.

Jesus was crucified by the Romans. The charge they put on his cross was “King of the Jews”.

After his death many of Jesus’s followers claimed that he visited them; that they saw him, as real as flesh and blood; that he spoke to them; that he told them to carry on his work; that, after a while, he was seen no more on earth.

Many people still claim that they see Jesus in spirit, and hear him speak to them in their hearts.

In the early years after Jesus died, four people wrote down a version of his life and teaching. They were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You can read their accounts in the Christian Bible.


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The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is not a thing, that you can touch or see. The Holy Spirit is the pure love at the centre of our being. S/he cannot be proved, or tested, any more than you can prove that your mother or father loves you, or that your husband, wife or child loves you. S/he can only be experienced.

Sit in a quiet place, with your spine as upright as possible and your feet on the floor.

Breathe quietly, and relax your body.

If distractions come notice them in a passive way, and let them go.

Quietly say the name of God.

Ma-ra-na-tha (Come Lord Jesus)

Lord, in the quiet dark I know that I am alive. I hear my breath, and listen …

listen for the sound of your voice… … …

As I listen I become aware, even of the beat of my heart. I listen beyond the beating of my heart …

listen for the sound of your voice… … …

As I listen I become aware of all the small sounds of the building in which I sit. I listen beyond the building …

listen for the sound of your voice… … …

As I listen I become aware of the world outside the building, the sighing of the wind, the distant engine, the bird song. I listen beyond the neighbourhood …

listen for the sound of your voice… … …

Lord, in the quiet dark I become aware of the heart beat of the world. I hear its pain and its joys. I weep for its hurt. The busy-ness of the world fills my mind.

Should I not stop here, Lord, and learn what I must do to heal your world? Must I listen even beyond this?

… … …

I listen, listen beyond words, listen beyond understanding …

listen to heaven's love-song in my soul … … …


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In the Beginning

In the beginning there was only God.

First God created light. He separated light from darkness. The light he called ‘Day’ and the darkness ‘Night’. And God saw that it was good.

Then God created water. He separated the waters above from the waters below. He called the waters above ‘Sky’. And God saw that it was good.

Thirdly God gathered the waters below together in one place so that land appeared. He called the land ‘Earth’ and the water ‘Sea’. He filled it with seeds and fruit and plants and things that grow. And God saw that it was good.

God made the sun to rule over the day, and the moon and stars to rule over the night.

He made the fish to fill the sea, and the birds to fill the air.

On the land God put all kinds of animals, so that they could live there.

Last of all, God made human beings. He made them male and female. He gave them authority over all his creation, to look after it wisely, and to rule it with wisdom and compassion. And God saw that it was very good.

(If you are still arguing over how long all this took, I’m sorry, you have missed the point! Look at the refrain and there you will find meaning.)

God placed the human beings in a garden, which had everything that they needed.

At the centre of the garden was a tree. The first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, could eat anything in the garden, except the fruit of that one tree. The fruit of that tree was the knowledge of good and evil. Against God’s wishes, against his explicit instructions, they ate of the fruit of that tree, and came to know ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’.

(The point about being God is that he could create anything. He chose to create only what was good. The tree represents the point where God’s creation stops. He, of course, knows evil. How can you know what is good unless you also know what is evil?)

Having eaten the fruit, Adam and Eve could now see goodness, but they could also see evil.

What you can imagine you can also create.

They knew that they were ‘naked’. They could not handle this disastrous knowledge, so, in terror, they hid.

Like a child playing with fire, they had to be protected from the harm they could unleash on themselves and all creation, so God took them out of the garden and set a guard on the tree so that they could harm themselves no more.

And God set about creating the antidote to the poisonous fruit that they had eaten.

Jesus is that antidote.


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The Christian Bible

The first part of this anthology consists of many of the Jewish sacred writings. It is usually known to Christians as the Old Testament.

¶ The first five books are the Law. They tell the early stories of the creation of the earth and the formation of the Jewish nation;

¶ The next twelve books form the Histories;

¶ There are five books of Poetry and Wisdom;

¶ The final section of seventeen books is referred to as ‘the Prophets’, and they tell the stories and teachings of some of the greatest Jewish thinkers and preachers in the pre-Christian era.

The second part, which is not present in all Christian bibles, is the Apocrypha. These are rollicking tales of war and heroism which lead up to the times of the Roman conquest.

The third part of the bible consists of the Christian writings. It is usually known to Christians as the New Testament.

¶ The first four books are the Gospels, which tell the story of Jesus from four different viewpoints.

¶ The fifth book is ‘Acts’, which documents the early years of the Christian Church.

¶ Next follows a series of letters written to the early churches by the Apostle Paul and one or two other writers.

¶ The final book is The Revelation of Saint John the Divine, which appears to be a graphic account of the end of the world.

The Bible as a whole is the story of a developing relationship between people and God.


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The Christian Church

For many years before the birth of Jesus, the Jewish nation was under the vicious rule of the Romans. The people were longing for, waiting for, expecting a Saviour, the Messiah, who would restore the Kingdom to Israel. They would, once again, be masters in their own lands. Many of Jesus’s followers saw, in him, this Messiah come to life. After the death of Jesus, the Apostle, Paul, took his story out into many other parts of the Roman world, where Greek was widely spoken. Messiah translates into Greek as Christos, so his followers became known as Christians, because they called Jesus ‘the Christ’.

The main influences on the growth of the early church were that of Paul and John. Between these two men, the itinerant preacher in the backwater of a subject nation became the inspiration of a movement whose values dominated, and still dominate, most of the western world.

Paul was a Roman citizen, but also a circumcised Jew. At first he persecuted the Christians, but, after a mystical meeting with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, he became an apostle and travelled widely in the near east and Asia Minor, teaching about Jesus. Paul was an excellent organiser, and seems to be largely responsible for the organised structure of the early church; a structure which has carried on into much of the church family today. His letters to the various churches that he founded form a large part of the New Testament. His writing is powerful, poetic, and inspirational, though sometimes deeply challenging and controversial.

John gives his name to the fourth gospel. There is no clear consensus on who he was. Some say he was the “beloved disciple” of the gospel; others say that he took that name as a guiding light; still others say that it was some other unknown “John”.

Who? is not as important as what he says. John views Jesus as the Word of God made flesh. Jesus was with God as he created the universe. He came to earth to save mankind from the debilitating and destructive effects of sin. By his death Jesus paid all mankind’s debts, and gave them a new start. John’s writing is deeply spiritual, almost mystical. There may be a large amount of factual information in the gospel of John, but if we read it looking for facts, we miss the whole point. John is not talking about a man in Palestine, but about God come to earth. His perspective is entirely heavenly.

Today the Christian Church consists of a large family of different churches, each of which has its own particular style of worship and doctrinal ‘truths’, all of which look for their inspiration to the itinerant preacher, Jesus. The churches in our benefice are all part of the Church of England, which is one member of the Christian ‘family’. If you would like to know more about their beliefs and worship visit the Church of England website, or visit a church near you, and meet some of the people there. Most churches are very happy to welcome everybody, and many have courses to help people get to know about Christianity.


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God