Free from condemnation

Today I was listening to the ‘Art of Celebration’ by Rend Collective and though I have listened to it on many occasions, a particular line jumped out at me which hasn’t before and it says this:
‘This is the art of celebration, knowing we’re free from condemnation’

And I wondered: what does it look like to actually live, knowing we’re free from condemnation? How would it change my life and the lives of others if we could do this?

I don’t know about you, but I often wrestle with condemnation, particularly from myself. I have searched the Scriptures and regularly speak them out in the hope that one day my heart would truly believe them. Romans 8 speaks of there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, or as the Passion Translation says:
“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”

So for those of us who accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour and are therefore joined with Him, there is no condemnation because through Him, the Spirit who gives life, has set us free (Romans 8:2).

So this we know to be truth, but how do we truly overcome the never ending commentary of condemnation and live in freedom of it? I believe the answer lies later in the Scriptures. Paul writes:
“My old identity has been co-crucified with Christ and no longer lives. And now the essence of this new life is no longer mine, for the Anointed One lives his life through me—we live in union as one! My new life is empowered by the faith of the Son of God who loves me so much that he gave himself for me, dispensing his life into mine! So that is why I don’t view God’s grace as something peripheral. For if keeping the law could release God’s righteousness to us, then Christ would have died for nothing.” Galatians 2:20-21 TPT

Christ came and died for me because he knew I could not keep the law and remain out of sin. If I could, He would have had no need to die! But instead, when we accept Him as our Saviour, His Spirit is entwined with our spirits. We become one with Him and His pure and spotless life becomes ours.

I am a mother to 3-month-old and 3-year-old girls and currently neither of them want to sleep. I and my husband are exhausted and my children are too. On top of that, they are not able to communicate their needs and so today, when my eldest daughter wanted her sunglasses and couldn’t have them because they are currently packed up in a box ready to move house, a full meltdown ensued. At the same time, my youngest started crying from the noise and being over tired and the dog started to howl….and all before 9 o clock in the morning! Now I would love to say that I handled this with the patience of a saint…but I confess to joining my children on the crying front and getting very frustrated with my eldest. But as I held her in my arms, desperately trying to calm her and love her through her sobs of saying sorry, I realised that this is how Christ is with us. In that moment, I had the choice of forgiving her and us all moving on, or holding on to my frustrations at her and the fact that I did not parent her in the best way that I would like. 

So how do we live without condemnation? Well, each one of us must continuously die to ourself and instead, replace it with Christ, who is pure and holy and without blemish. We must move our mindset from saving up all our sins and bringing our ‘guilty’ list to Jesus once a week on a Sunday and instead, continually live a lifestyle that is directed by the Spirit, allowing Christ to grow and be established within us. By offering our sins to Jesus and asking for forgiveness, we no longer keep them inside us but allow Him to occupy that space. His purity replaces our guilt and shame.

So in time, as we decrease and Christ increases, we will know the freedom that He brings in the forgiveness of all our sins if we bring them to Him. We must choose to not carry our sins, for Christ took them to the cross on our behalf, and if we no longer carry them, we do not need to continue asking for forgiveness for them: the condemning narrative must cease!

We must also choose to believe all of Scripture and trust that Christ came so that we would have life in abundance. When condemnation whispers or shouts in our ears-we can confidently reply that Christ has dealt with it, it is forgiven and it is gone! What my human mind and heart wants to cling to and be chained down by, Christ Jesus has come and broken it all off, setting me free to live as He lives, without condemnation, sin and death. He has proclaimed freedom for the captives and released me from the darkness. He has taken the ashes I am placing on myself through condemnation, and replaced it for a crown of beauty! Instead of my despair at my own guilt and sin, He has given me a garment of praise and I can be so thankful because He has done all this for me. What an incredible exchange!

‘When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made an end of all my sin’.
(from ‘Before the throne of God above’ by Charitie Lees Bancroft, 1841-1923)

Cover photo by Melissa Askew on unsplash.com

Moving into a new era

The next few days mark the end of my (Helen’s) time working for a wonderful ministry – Christian Music Ministries (CMM). I have been working for CMM either as an intern, part-time or full-time since 2005, and have been a volunteer associate for even longer. This ministry, and all the friends I have made as part of it, is incredibly important to me and has changed my life. I am so thankful to my immediate colleagues Roger and Annie for all they have taught me about ministering with music and walking with Jesus, and to all the administrative staff I have worked alongside, particularly Nicky and Tim for their camaraderie and heart for the gospel. I am also so thankful to the various touring teams and supporting volunteers for the fun we have had working on the front line, depending on Jesus as we shared His story and His love together. And I am especially thankful to our wonderful support group, EBRG, whose commitment, vulnerability and willingness to risk getting things wrong have led to huge growth for me, particularly in things of the Spirit.

Moving on after such a long time is incredibly painful, especially from such a small ministry where we have grown to depend upon one another so deeply. However, while my passion for music in worship and using music as a tool to bring healing remains, it is no longer the primary thrust of who God has created me to be. Over the last few years I have noticed, in my heart, a slow move away from teaching on worship towards healing, deliverance and freedom in Christ, and this has only been brought into sharper focus in recent months. I absolutely believe God has not finished with CMM, and will be praying for that wonderful ministry and will no doubt stay in touch as a friend and occasional volunteer.

So now, what is this new era going to look like?

Firstly, it is going to be in relationship. My childhood friend and co-worker at CMM Amy, an emerging prophet, is bravely going to be walking this path with me. Psalm 119:130 says, ‘The unfolding of your words gives light.’ We want to bring light to those in darkness through Biblical teaching and prophecy, binding up the broken hearted, proclaiming freedom for captives and release from darkness for the prisoners (Isaiah 61:1). Derek Prince writes this about prophecy:

The gift of prophecy is the supernaturally imparted ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and speak God’s mind or counsel. Prophecy ministers not only to the assembled group of believers, but also to individuals. Its three main purposes are:
To edify = to build up, strengthen, to make more effective.
To exhort = to stimulate, to encourage, to admonish.
To comfort = to cheer up.
Thus, prophecy overcomes two of Satan’s most common attacks: condemnation and discouragement.

Both Amy and I have various gifts from God, but neither of us are the complete package, so we need each other (and Him) to minister effectively. We hope that we will also be joined in time by others as God leads them to us.

Secondly, we aim ultimately to be able to speak and minister to groups in person. At the moment this is difficult with the pandemic, maternity leave and childcare, but we believe this will be most effective. So we may well be in touch with our friends to see who is willing to take a risk and invite us as we develop teaching and learn how to deliver it! For the time being keep your eyes on our blog (why not subscribe?) as we try to bring insight from all we are learning.

For now, as Amy continues in her time of maternity leave, we will concentrate on organising the behind-the-scenes official and legal parts of Reflected Light. We will also spend time reading, researching and praying, as well as looking for opportunities for training.

If you want to stay in touch with all we are doing, you can follow us on Facebook or subscribe to this blog by email (scroll right to the bottom of the page). In time we will develop a proper mailing list and supporters’ network. We felt it was important I finished my time at CMM well and gave it my full attention before stepping in to the new era.

Photo by Tom Athawes on Unsplash

A personal prescription

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast from the team at Wild at Heart. They were talking about the upcoming summer. We all tend to use the summer to go on holiday, go adventuring and invite people round for barbeques. That is great, but this year they urged us all to remember that this isn’t any ordinary summer – we have all been through a season of worldwide trauma, that hasn’t completely gone away. The world is opening up again to some extent, and it is tempting to think that going back to how things were before is going to help us heal. But it won’t.

Imagine going to see a therapist and telling them everything you have been through. The isolation, the fear around simply going to the shops. Not being able to see precious family and friends. The lack of closure around the deaths of loved ones. The grief over the postponement or cancellation of much-anticipated events. The frustration when things that used to be simple, like trying to get a doctors’ appointment, have now become fraught with difficulty. The pain of not being able to gather as the body of Christ and worship together.

Now imagine if that therapist was the best one possible – they know your heart and your soul better than you know it yourself. They know exactly what brings you life, but they also know the limitations of your work and family situation. What prescription would they write for the summer ahead?

Well, we do have such a therapist – the Holy Spirit living in our hearts.

This afternoon I sat down and prayed. I asked the Spirit to speak to me about what I need on my personal prescription. I think I need to sit down and do this a few more times yet, but so far, none of the answers have been big, crazy things. They are all the tiniest lifestyle tweaks that open me up, give me breathing space, and calm for my heart and mind. They are not difficult. They still involve me cooking the dinner, doing the washing, looking after my 4-year-old. Some of them I will have to organise in, like finding time for a long walk. Others I need to lay down or moderate, such as non-intentional time scrolling through various media.

They are all simple, yet the warfare over our recovery and healing is intense. The enemy would like nothing more than for us to live half-lives, dazed and fearful. So we need to pray with spunk and determination:

I choose healing for my heart and my soul. In the name of Jesus, I lift off and banish the trauma of the past year. I choose not to partner with fear, frustration and despair, and instead I choose to draw on the life of the Spirit within me. I choose not to comfort eat or comfort scroll, and instead I partner with the love, joy and peace of God. Lord, show me things that are excellent, praiseworthy, noble and good; fill me with your beauty. I refuse to seek out the quick fix or to over-compensate for all I have missed and instead choose to delight in the simple, little things that refresh my soul. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Photo by Jan Padilla on Unsplash

Aligning with Christ

Ephesians 4:11-13

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

In the last year or so I have discovered an entire breed of people I didn’t know existed before: prophets. I first stumbled upon them when searching for teaching on a specific demon, because, well, who else is teaching on that other than a bunch of warrior prophets?

I mean, I knew about prophets because most of the Old Testament was written by them, and Paul lists both the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 12. I am also quite familiar with prophecy – I have heard loads of teaching about how prophecy is about speaking out what God is saying for the building up and edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:1-5), and how it isn’t really about foretelling the future. I’ve used the gift of prophecy quite a lot myself. And I haven’t heard any teaching that says there is no such thing as a prophet today, but the church circles I have moved in seem to just turn a blind eye to the possibility. I just assumed a prophet was someone who uses the gift of prophecy a lot.

But then when I search deeper, that understanding is challenged. In Acts 11:26-30, a prophet from the Jerusalem church named Agabus travels to Antioch. There, he stands up in the middle of the believers and prophesies that a severe famine will spread over the entire Roman world. He also has a very tough personal prophecy for Paul in Acts 21:11. These are not ‘nice’ prophecies for building up and edifying the church, and they result in serious action.

John the Baptist was acknowledged as a prophet by Jesus – admittedly he was ministering before the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, but his prophecies were also not enjoyable to listen to.

Jesus himself is our prophet, priest and king – he regularly prophesied, including prophetic weeping over Jerusalem in Matthew 23 and Luke 13. One particular occasion he speaks to Peter in John 21:18, telling him something very difficult about his death.

If the gift of prophecy is solely for comforting and ‘nice’ words – for the edification of the church, who then has the job of pulling the church up when it goes off the tracks? Who will notice when we are not aligned with Christ, and say the strong and difficult word to bring us back? Who will warn us of the plans of the enemy so we can prepare and be on guard? Who will warn us of coming famines and times of change?

That is the office of the prophet – different to the available-to-all gift of prophecy. God releases his Word particularly strongly to those called to this office, and their job is to spend time in deep prayer, learning to steward his gift.

Time and again this year my attitudes and understanding have been challenged by people who have taken on this mantle. And I have to say – it hurts. It is so hard to hear a word that confronts you with your own failings and ungodly mindsets. It is horrible being kicked out of your comfort zone.

Prophets are not easy to be friends with, but it is so, so worth it.

Seek prophets out at your peril. And ignore them at your peril – they will show you where you are not aligning with Christ, reveal the darkness in your heart, and give you the application of the Word to help you move forward in Him. They will also show you the true beauty of the heavenly realm, and point you to Jesus in all his glory and splendour.

And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town and in his own home.” Matthew 13:57

“Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward.” Matthew 10:41

Global Prophetic Alliance: https://www.propheticscots.com/

British Isles Council of Prophets: https://www.prophets.org.uk/

Breaking the bondage of shame

In the last blog post I talked about how shame lingers. Even the most lightweight of mistakes can leave my cheeks burning red and my insides curling up and trying to hide. Even though I know I am forgiven.

One of the people who blew it spectacularly and then had to come face to face with the one he had wronged was Peter. Jesus rose from the dead, and no doubt Peter was utterly delighted to see his great friend and teacher again. And yet… when I imagine him face to face with Jesus eating breakfast on the beach, I can feel my own pangs of shame that resonate with his.

You know how smells evoke memories incredibly strongly? For me, the scent of a particular kind of wood fire immediately transports me to Kampala in the early morning. For Peter, I wonder if the aroma of the charcoal fire on the beach reminded him of the smell of the charcoal fire in that courtyard outside the High Priest’s house – the stench of his betrayal, fresh in his mind as he looks at his risen Lord.

How must Peter feel at seeing Jesus again? Ashamed. We all know logically that we are forgiven by Jesus, but the shame lingers and keeps us bound. It stops us lifting up our heads. It makes us feel unworthy in so many ways.

None of the disciples will have felt completely able to look Jesus in the eye – they all slept in the garden and they all abandoned him. I like to imagine Jesus looking each one in the eye as he gives them breakfast. That loving look that obliterates the darkness and pain.

But Peter was a little more tender, so Jesus handles him differently. When I was reading the passage, initially it sounded like he was talking to Peter over breakfast in front of the other disciples. But later on it talks about Peter looking back and seeing John walking behind them. That means they had gone for a walk – this chat was discrete and completely private. Jesus was honouring and loving Peter by keeping the difficult conversation entirely between themselves.

When our wounded hearts need tending to, Jesus is honouring and discrete. If we are willing to let him, he will call things out in us gently and tenderly – in our own private times with him or with a close friend.

The thing that makes shame so hard to shift is that it usually has demonic roots and initially takes the form of a bondage. Bondages come about when we believe the lies of the enemy – you’ll never be good enough – you’re too dirty – you’ll always be abandoned and useless. When we agree with things like this they hold us captive and we struggle to push through them to be fully alive and walking in all God has for us.

The way to get rid of bondages is to break them. We speak truth in place of the lies and choose not to agree with them any more. Jesus, with patient questioning, enabled Peter to declare the truth. “Do you love me?”

“Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” Peter spoke out the opposite of his denial.

And then Jesus went even further: “Feed my sheep.”

Jesus’ words could so easily have been condemnation, but instead they were total acceptance. Not only am I not ashamed of you, I want to use you in my Kingdom.

The bondage of shame has been broken – to such an extent that Peter allowed it to become public knowledge that he had denied Jesus. And how many of us have drawn comfort from his foibles? God takes our weaknesses and shame, and he redeems them, heals us, and even uses them to advance his Kingdom.

It is simply impossible to stray too far from his love. He seeks us, kicks down our walls and lifts our heads again.

I am enough

I had to preach on Sunday about the cross. And as I was praying about the talk, I felt Jesus say three simple words about himself: “I am enough.”

His cross is enough. His passion is enough.

We all get things wrong and make mistakes, and because of the cross of Jesus we can know we are forgiven and our guilt is taken away. But why do we rarely actually feel forgiven? 

A number of years ago a friend from church came to our house to set up our internet connection. As a teen who had had experience of emails and websites at school (and thinking I knew better than everyone), I became quite frustrated at the way he was explaining things to my parents. So when he’d gone, I wrote an email to my sister who was at uni, telling her how annoying it had been. But then something went wrong with the computer and a couple of days later he was back. He checked the emails were working and to my horror, there was a short reply from my sister, and my whole email pinged up on the screen for both my mum and the man to read.

Now in terms of guilt and sin, this is a pretty minor incident. But whenever I think of this man, my insides curl up and I feel utterly ashamed. There are several reasons for my shame, I think. Firstly, he was a kind and gentle soul, and incredibly generous to our family. He didn’t need to see my criticism. Secondly, my mum was right there, reading over his shoulder and I felt ashamed for my family. Finally, my email to my sister was private and the things that are done in secret squirm away from the light.

But why does shame linger so much? I’ve asked for forgiveness from God, I know I am forgiven, and it was so long ago, it should be long forgotten. Shame is insidious and hard to shift.

And shame doesn’t just cling to issues of guilt and forgiveness: a child is abandoned, a woman is raped, people are emotionally abused and bullied. The victims have done nothing wrong but still they feel shame – shame at the violation, shame at the loss of purity, shame at feeling like they can never be enough.

We all suffer from shame in different ways. We carry shame in different parts of our bodies that have maybe suffered disgrace or been criticised by others. We carry shame in our minds for having intrusive thoughts and unhealthy addictions. We carry shame in our hearts where we have felt rejection or hold onto regrets. We carry shame over different periods of our past.

But I want to put to you that the cross doesn’t just take away our guilt – it can take away our shame too. The cross is enough – for absolutely everyone and everything. No exceptions. As Jesus whispered to me earlier, ‘I am enough.’ My cross is enough.

Jeremiah 31:33-34
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbour,
    or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.”

This wonderful prophecy about the new covenant in Jesus concludes, ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and I will remember their sins no more.’ You are forgiven, and even more than that, your sin is forgotten. God looks at you, and instead of seeing someone in filthy stained rags, he sees Jesus. Your guilt is taken away and your shame need not linger.

In John 12:31-32 passage Jesus says, ‘Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ Shame is one of the minions of the prince of this world – and as followers of Jesus we have authority to drive it out. So when we find ourselves bowed in shame, unable to accept that the cross has power for us, we tell shame to go away because Jesus has done it – Satan, death, shame, and all the powers of darkness have been swallowed up in his victory, and Jesus is drawing all people to himself. All people. Even those bound up in shame. He is enough. His cross has power, even for you. Even for me.

One of the greatest joys of being a Christian is being able to release forgiveness. Seeing someone accept the forgiveness of God and apply it to their lives is incredible. To watch the release of peace that brings healing, hope and joy is a complete privilege.

So don’t put it off. Let’s pray together.

Holy Spirit, is there something I keep asking forgiveness for but never quite feel free?

I choose not to partner with shame any more. I declare that Jesus’ death and resurrection means I am forgiven and my sin, or those done to me, are completely removed by his blood.

In the name of Jesus, I bind and I banish shame over this part of myself. I receive forgiveness and peace into my heart and mind.

Learning to love myself

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

We all have different struggles with ‘as yourself’. We have hang-ups, regrets, insecurities, disfigurements (real or imagined); and even those who come across as supremely self-confident often hide their pain behind a thin veneer of bolshiness or domineering tactics. Whatever our personal struggles, it’s all very well being told to ‘love yourself’, but how do you actually do this in a practical way?

I am blessed to be fairly peaceful in my heart, but there has always been a body-image issue stopping me from being completely happy in myself. As I have sought God for moving forward in 2021 over the last few weeks, He has led me on a journey of learning to love my body. This is not an easy thing to admit. Since moving from childhood to adolescence (or probably before then) I have been uncomfortable in my skin. I dislike my height, my weight, where I curve. I struggle to buy clothes that fit properly, and over the years this has meant I have gravitated towards clothes that hide and cover. Almost my entire wardrobe is navy blue. And then I feel bad that once again I am pairing one shade of navy blue with another shade of navy blue. The one time I got to a place where I was reasonably happy with my weight, I walked into the shop thinking, “I’m feeling good about myself for once – let’s buy something that fits me well,” only to discover that the world seemed to have gone all in for a fashion of baggy, shapeless tops.

And so I knew that God wanted this to change – I have been actively hating something that is a gift to me from Him and is at its very core, good.  the other day I spent a good long time writing in my journal – I went through every part of my body that I dislike. I wrote about how I feel about it, and time and again God brought memories to the surface: the school photographer who called me a ‘chubby bunny’; the pointed look a school friend gave me when my body started to change; the comment someone had made about the ‘powerful thighs’ I was developing through cycling.

One of the joys of journaling is that I have to be deliberate. It slows down my thought processes. This means that when I bring my bottled-up-pain into the open through pen and ink it is powerful. When I write down ‘I choose to forgive the photographer for calling my 7-year-old self a chubby bunny’ then I have to really mean it: the power of declaring it in writing (and out loud) breaks the strongholds of the enemy in my life. When I write down ‘I choose not to reject my legs as ugly any more, and to accept them as part of my body,’ something shifts in the physical, emotional and spiritual realms and I become more whole as a person.

I also find that because my thoughts are slowed down by writing, space is created for God to speak. As I write about how I feel about the length and shape of my legs, He whispers: “You feel they are too big; I see strength. I am calling you to stand firm in Me.”  Time and again He blows me away with the words He speaks, and I feel healing flow as I become reconciled to my body.

This is my struggle at the moment – and quite a feminine one (although not exclusively so). For others it might be dealing with past and current trauma, fears for the future, or guilt and shame. There are at least as many different struggles as there are people. There will also be different ways to receive healing – talking it through with a friend, going for a prayerful walk, shouting and throwing stones into the sea, going for a long run like Forrest Gump. Some things will also need the help of professionals, but I urge you not to forget that our God is a healer and to turn to Him alongside whatever help you get.

My journey to be reconciled to my body is going to be long, I expect, but one I desperately want to take so that I can become more whole and my heart can be more at peace. When my heart is calm, those who are in turmoil can find peace in me and rest for their souls as I find it in Christ. That, truly, will be loving my neighbour as myself.

The breaking of the wave

2020 has been a tough year for so many reasons. Tonight we leave it and move into 2021.

As I was praying this morning, I felt like 2020 was a bit like the dying part of a wave where all the water is dragged back and sucked up before the new wave breaks. It has been a painful stripping back, and many of us feel like we have been dragged across the rocks.

But the new wave is coming, and anyone who has swum in an even slightly rough sea knows that the crashing of a wave can cause pain and disorientation. But it can also transform the coast it crashes against and wash away unhealthy debris.

In 2020 I have found that whenever I tried to push through in my own strength, I became stressed and weary. Instead I had to keep taking time over and over again to draw close to Jesus and receive from him the life that I needed to get through. I want to express my deep love and thanks to my wonderful husband James who entertained the three year old who is constantly asking questions or wanting a story, and my amazing friend Amy who always spotted when I needed to take the time to be refreshed.

But now I urge all of you – don’t put all your hopes in the change of the calendar year, because it really isn’t solid ground. Instead, put your hope in Jesus who is the fountain of all life, and the source of joy and peace when all around you seems to come crashing down. He is the light of the world, and the darkness cannot stand against him. And we look forward to not a new calendar year, but the day when he will come again in glory to make all things new.

Face to Face with the King

We join the crowd lining a glorious avenue of trees. The day feels fresh and new, and the world is young again – colours dazzle, and all of the senses we never knew had dimmed are renewed with vigour and life. Anticipation and excitement hang on the air as the crowd look down the road with expectation.

A figure approaches along the road. He is glorious. He is young and yet full of the wisdom of ages. He is a mighty warrior, and yet gentle and humble. His form is perfect and yet he bears terrible scars. I could gaze upon him forever.

And I have plenty of time to do so, because he stops before each person. And each person is treated differently, because he knows. He knows the sorrows and the joys, the triumphs and the losses.

Some, he wraps up in an enormous bear hug – embracing them in the way they remember from their childhood, or in the way they wish they could remember from their childhood.

For some he looks deeply into tear-filled eyes, and gently wipes away the pain and grief of years.

Others instinctively shy away, crouching down low so as not to be noticed. For them, he kneels, places his hand upon their cheek and carefully lifts their head. ‘Even that.’ He whispers, ‘Even that can be forgiven.’

And for me? We dance. Not a slow dance or an awkward school disco shuffle, but something more like the ‘swing your partners’ at a Ceilidh. It is exuberant and joyful, laughter bubbling up to erase the cares and worries brought about by living too much from my own resources and not his.

We celebrate together – celebrate his remarkable coronation and his irresistible power, goodness and holiness that overthrew Satan and all the works of darkness that kept the world in bondage.

And as I watch him greet each person in turn, I realise that my King, my wonderful Lord, is finally completing my life’s work, and the work of his church down the centuries. He is proclaiming good news for the poor, binding up the broken-hearted, proclaiming freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the oppressed. He is comforting those who mourn and providing for those who grieve.

This, to me is Christ the King. I partner with him in his mission to the world, and none of it is wasted as I put my hope in his future glory and the putting right of all things.