Stanton Lees anniversary and Bible School is one of those engagements that go on our calendar first — I think this was our 45th year! So, on the last Saturday of August, we drove again along the narrow lane, up the one-in-seven Derbyshire hill, to the chapel balanced precariously on the hillside. So did many others.
The present format is two preaching meetings each on Saturday and Monday, three services on Sunday, plus a historical lecture on Monday morning.
Geoff Thomas was the main preacher this year, preaching four sermons from Hosea, with ministry from Hebrews on Sunday. Brian Gadsby brought a powerful gospel message on the healing of the deaf man with a speech impediment (Mark 7). Pastor David Fielding, of Castlefields church, Derby gave a heart-warming biography of J. C. Ryle, first Bishop of Liverpool.
Mr Thomas’s series on Hosea exalted the love of God in pursuing wayward, backsliding Israel, as she gave her affection to other gods. Hosea was a living parable. He had to feel the pain of being rejected by his own unfaithful wife, and suffer ignominy as he went to find her and bring her home in love.
We are not Hosea the hero, but Gomer the unfaithful. God risked contempt by loving sinners and sending his own Son to be the atoning sacrifice. Christians are called to witness to a world of people who are neither better nor worse than we were. The problem is a broken relationship with God.
We need to rediscover the marvel of how the holy God could care about us. It is a love that defies understanding and is a ‘moral outrage’. Instead, the world is outraged at God’s wrath and judgment, but takes his love for granted.
God came looking for us, and the cross is the place ‘where heaven’s love and heaven’s justice meet’. God’s love is breathtaking, sovereign, enduring and self-sacrificing.