The Six Core Values of CBC: 1. Distinctively Christian – Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Acts 11:19-30, 13:1-3

“men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 11:20-21)

We begin a New Year with a new sermon series, leading up to the start of Lent with the six core values of CBC that underpin the mission and ministry of this church. These are all taken from the example for church in Acts chapters 11 and 13. Last week we focused our attention on the first core value, Distinctively Christian. And we identify the church in Antioch to be so in four ways. First, they spoke about the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:20). John Stott suggests, ‘disciples were called Christians first in Antioch because the word ‘Christ’ was constantly on their lips.’ Second, they remained true to the Lord Jesus (Acts 11:23). This fulfilled the instruction of Jesus in John 15:4 to remain in Him. Thirdly, they held a love for others (Acts 11:29-30). Compelled by the love of God first, which gives capacity to love others as Jesus instructed (Mark 12:30-31). And fourthly, they worshipped the Lord. Gathering to hear God’s word taught in Acts 11:26, praying and fasting in Acts 13:2-3. This Distinctively Christian lifestyle was clearly no bad thing for they bore much fruit. Let’s excel in this value and pray for God’s wonderful grace to be known among us here.

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Good News: Mary’s Song – Rev Andrew Fitzgerald – Luke 1:39-56

“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 1:41)

During Advent and Christmas we’re exploring the Good News of Christ’s birth in the opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel. It seemed like a good idea with so little good news reported during 2018. But as we turn our eyes to the birth of Jesus this month and remind ourselves again about what Christmas is really all about, we realise there is so much reason to give thanks and rejoice. We’ve read in this opening chapter of Luke about Mary’s visit to Judea and this extraordinary reaction from John in the womb. What was this reaction about? Was it the tone of Mary’s voice? Was it purely science, the natural order of pregnancy? Or did Elizabeth have indigestion? I don’t think so. Rather, John leaped in response to the presence of Jesus and Luke presents us with three matters of Good News in this account: 1. Jesus is the giver of joy (41,44); 2. Jesus is the giver of the Holy Spirit (41); and 3. Jesus is the fulfilment of Old Testament promise (46-55). May we know this Good News to be true and in our own lives this Advent and Christmas.