The Queen's Christmas Message

_57567395_philip_queen.jpg A highlight of my 2011 Christmas was watching the Queen's Christmas message.

The Queen wrote the speech herself - one of the rare occasions where she does not turn to the government for advice.

She is still Australian's head of state.

Before I highlight the actual speech, let's see how the press in Australia and Britain reported it.

The Queen has used her annual Christmas Day broadcast to speak of courage and hope in adversity.

The BBC

In her traditional televised Christmas message, the Queen said she had been "inspired by the courage and hope" the royal family had witnessed in Britain and the Commonwealth in 2011.

The Telegraph

Queen Elizabeth II has highlighted the importance of family in her Christmas Day message.

The ABC

The Queen has celebrated the importance of the family in her Christmas Day message, describing the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as her own personal reminder of the value of loved ones.

The Daily Mail

No mention at all of what the speech was building to. The last third of the message focused entirely on the gospel. Perhaps the press excluded this fact in the interest of social inclusion?

Here's what she actually said . . .

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: 'Fear not', they urged, 'we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

'For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.'

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves - from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person - neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God's love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there's a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin

And enter in.

Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

The Queen is a better communicator of the gospel than most of the clerics interviewed over Christmas.

The Queen understands the importance, and the heart of the message of Christmas.

Long may she rule over us. God has saved our Queen.

This Christmas, spare a thought, and a prayer, for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.

_article_images_articledir_15033_7516508_1_fullsize.jpg We are accustomed to thinking of Christianity as a European religion. Yet until the Islamic conquests of north Africa, the Middle East, Iraq and Iran, Christianity was at least as strong in these regions.

There are Christian communities in Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria that go back two thousand years. Just as there have been Jewish communities throughout north Africa, the Middle East and Persia (Iran) for thousands of years.

These communities are under gave threat, according to the reports on the aftermath of the Iraq war and the "Arab Spring."

The killing has begun, and could get worse. In Iraq, about two thirds of its 1.4 million Christians have now fled — being firebombed by the jihadis. Last year, gunmen entered a Baghdad church and killed 58 parishioners. To go to church in Iraq, which Christians have been doing for two millennia, now means risking your life. Baghdad’s Jewish community has now been almost eliminated — by some estimates, half a dozen remain.

Tunisia’s Arab Spring has also let the jihadis loose: a Polish priest was executed recently, and they’re turning on its ancient Jewish community too. This has spread to Egypt, where Coptic Christians have lived in peace with Muslims for generations — until now, with 25 dead in October. Syria’s 1.5 Christians have suffered from the Assad regime as much as anyone, but they now pray for its survival, fearing it will be replaced by Islamic fundamentalists who will start persecution in earnest.

The Arab Spring has unleashed the demon. Power has gone not to the most popular, but the best-organised. This means the hardline Salafis, who follow the same mutant strain of Sunni Islam as al-Qaeda.

This is a war within Islam. The majority of Muslims are appalled at these Christian pogroms. After the Egyptian Copts were attacked last year, Muslim elders sat in the pews when they celebrated their (January) Christmas, acting as human shields. Egyptians changed their Facebook picture to a new logo — the crescent and the cross — to show unity. But the Facebook crowd have lost power to the Holy book crowd: the hardline Islamists are filling the void. The Muslim Brotherhood is well on its way to a new constitution which looks terrifyingly similar to that of Iran.

The Christmas story from the kids at St Paul's Auckland

Some background: Mike Norris heads up the team at St Paul's Auckland. I first met Mike in London when he was on staff with St Mary's, a church with a church planting vision.

In 2004 Mike and Beck Norris led a team from St Mary's London to St Paul's Auckland with the plan to plant a new congregation bring renewal to the whole church.

Looks like things have gone well. I notice Dino Houtas, another good mate from St Mary's is now on the team.

I haven't heard if they're planting churches yet . . . New Zealand need many more Anglican churches like St Paul's.

via The Primitive Methodist Movement blog

030-CPM Planning: 1. Endvision

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The first in a series on interviews on church planting movements with Nathan who is based in South Asia.

He has experienced what he is talking about.

In this interview he unpacks "Endvision" — the ability to see the future from God's point of view and to work towards it.

The next interview will cover how you Enter an unreached field.

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