The first Sunday (and day) of 2012 took me to Newcastle Baptist Church (where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea) where I spoke at their morning and evening services. The drive there was quite spectacular – across hilly countryside on roads which felt like the equivalent of a roller-coaster. There were some great views (at least what I could see of them – I was heading south east, so directly into a fairly low sun).
I’d visited Newcastle Baptist on holiday a number of years ago but this was my first time to preach there. In the morning I preached from Philippians 3 – Paul’s famous “this one thing I do” passage, talking about the importance of remembering where we are headed (and not allowing the past to distract us), remembering who’s around us (look out for people whose walk is worth imitating) and remembering where we belong (citizenship in heaven).
The evening service was a relaxed affair geared towards younger people. Dress code was casual (good job I ditched my tie), music was led by a band, and they’d got their hands on a superb video of a four minute gospel presentation with a difference (I will post it in a separate blog). I spoke on the question of why God loves us; next week someone else will follow on with how God loves us. There was even an opportunity for people to text in questions during the talk – these were written up and handed to me after I spoke. Good questions on the love of God, from the theological (does God love Christians differently from the way he loves non-Christians?) to the personal (does God love me when I don’t love myself?).
There was even time on the way home to stop off at one of the local “chippies” for my wife and daughter to get their supper! Then the road back under a starlit sky.