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Open Mic Night

By John Beveridge

There’s something about great music, isn’t there? When I recently heard Gospelsinger Natasha Cobb’s version of ‘Break every chain’ I was simply gob-smacked. I was close to tears, it was that good.

Stick with me on this, check it out on YouTube: ‘Break every chain, break every chain. There’s an army rising….the chains are falling…the chains are falling.”

And it’s not just an amazing sound. Its message can speak to your inner being as Natasha deals with the question of what real personal freedom means in our troubled, fragile eco-world.

So my response to a suggestion to come down for a meal instead of being glued to this song got, well, sort of delayed! No, I had to hear this, to hear someone at the top of her game, singing with this total uncompromising passion.

Well, we heard some more great music at the Star and Dove pub, Totterdown, Bristol on April 4 when musicians, singers, a story-teller – and our home-grown rapper - just got up, went to the front and started jamming.

It was an open mic night run by Kensington Baptist Church, which is sited on the well-known Stapleton Rd in inner-city Easton.(You know, the one the tabloids love to call the most dangerous street in Britain). Well, they gotta sell the papers!

Back to the mic night. People can surprise you: you think you know them, then they step out, despite the nerves, and tell a really funny story. Or they play some great funky music when maybe you couldn’t imagine they had this in them.

It was a bit like that. Sure we knew some of the ‘regular’ musicians, but for me part of the delight was seeing new faces having a go, and succeeding. And with so many people today glued to the latest Smartphone oblivious of others, what a high when people work and play together like this.

It felt just like we were one big family. And this family model, people working together, eating together, is totally in line with the way the early Christians ‘did Church’ after their leader Jesus Christ was murdered on a Roman cross.

These were very dangerous times to be a follower of Christ. First you had the Roman authorities determined to enforce the ‘Pax Romana’ (the ‘peace of Rome’). Basically this meant ‘behave yourself or we’ll kill you’. Then they insistedCaesar was a God, not just head of the vast Roman Empire.

Then there were the high-sect Jewish leaders - the Pharisees, the Sadducees. They were determined to hang onto their historic prestige and power. Jesus didn’t mince his words when he rightly called them “this generation of vipers.”

So how to survive as a Christian in these dangerous times? Why not slip back into the comfortable fold of traditional Judaism? Well, a big issue but certainly the early Church survived by being clear about the truth and working together as aGodly community.

“We need reminding what Easter is all about in our very different 21st century culture”, says Simon Price, Pastor of Kensington Baptist Church. “The Easter message can get completely lost in all the commercial pressure to spend more, consume more.

“No, this is the real Easter message. The Bible says when Christ willingly gave up his life he made it possible for every man and woman to be adopted into the family of his Father, the Living God.

“So Easter time for us is a remembrance of the sadness, the horror of Christ’s death. But later it’s a joyful time as we celebrate the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. So now God offers new life to all who believe and trust in his Son.

Maybe you’re not a Christian, reading this and thinking ‘What on earth is he talking about?  I just don’t get it’. If so, we’d be happy to talk it through with you.

Kensington Baptist Church is near the junction of Stapleton Rd and Seymour Rd,Bristol. Shed-loads of other things are going on across our three congregations – including services are 10.30am and 6pm.

Do you get up on Monday morning and think: ‘Is this all there is to life, just making money, getting by’? If so you’re not alone. Social surveys suggest a high percentage of people feel like this: they just don’t say it out loud.

Here at Kensington  we’re passionate about the truth, getting beyond the everyday routine of life. We know the deep truths of the Bible - the Holy book people have given up their lives for - can lead to real meaning, real joy in our lives.

So if you’re wholly content to join the shopping queue at Ikea, content with Easter bunnies, can’t be bothered to get beyond eating more Easter eggs and chilling out, then maybe this is not for you. But maybe you do want more.  Maybe you sense the ultimate dissatisfaction and futility behind our escalating consumerist culture here in the UK. If so, come and talk to us. Let’s get real this Easter: let’s break every chain.

Jonny Herring

Jonny is serving as Assistant Minister at The Village congregation. He is married to Charlotte and they have a daughter called Amelia. As well as spending time with his family, Jonny enjoys playing squash and dabbling in photography.