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Life, Death and Resurrection of the Church

The life of the church is a strange thing at times, we can get so caught up in trying to keep the show going that we forget that there can be more than that to be done. At the Methodist Conference in 2017, there was a challenge for all the local churches across Methodism to come up with a “Growth Plan” or an “End of Life Plan” (on page 40 of the link).

It is the latter of these I’m thinking about. For some this has cast an image of closing tomorrow – or even today. But end of life is not about this moment but about what is to come. Some suggest that this can help free up resources, but also can help new life come. For we are Resurrection people, and that can be expected. However along with this for me I see that it lets us die well.

To not be afraid, to not let our heart be troubled, but to know the peace that we can receive. That we can plan how things will go, and not have the threat of things just ending, but rather allow peace to be present, and to support those who have long been faithful in a place.

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Posted by on June 16, 2018 in Ministry

 

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Intentionally doing church, intentionally being Christian

Thinking about how we do and be church, how we be Christians. One main issue of this is the intentionality of what we do, the practice of doing things and intending to do then. Setting out to do things with a purpose and an intention to do, and knowing why it is been done.

I would say this is as true in personal life as it is in the communal life of the church and of individual congregations.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Vocab

 

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Christian values in the UK today…

Every so often there is a call in some of the press about the UK being a Christian nation, and that we should have Christian values. But then again there is also the saying to be careful for what you wish because you might just get it.

So at the end of a week when there is what I can only see as a created controversy over the inclusion or not of “Easter” in the name of some events. We have on the one hand those who say that it is all bad because some lumps of chocolate (wrapped in foil with pirates, robots and princesses on) that are hunted for don’t have the name Easter associated with them. As Mark Steel puts it “Theresa May is right: if we let someone drop ‘Easter’ off an egg hunt, we may as well hand Britain to the jihadis

But of course this is in the same week that the Churches raised the issues of child poverty and the effects changes in the benefits system on this. Of course this is not new, as the the item from the Joint Public Issues Team highlights, there have been a number of reports and items raised on this. Going back to 2015 there was the Enough campaign. And even further back the church has been raising such issues. What also surfaced for me this week was a piece in the Guardian where (the then) Victoria Coren defended the Bishops of the Church of England for standing up for children in the befits system – and this was back in 2012.

 

So what are Christian values, to me the latter set of standing up for the poor, the oppressed, being a voice for the voiceless. As it is put in the letter of James

26 If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

and then there is continual call in Deuteronomy about how we care for the widow, orphan and stranger, with just two examples below.

1018 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing.

2417 You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge.

So for me once we have sorted out what can be seen as core Christian values; as come from Jesus him self, and of course he then goes on to explain who a neighbour is

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26 He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ 27 He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.’ 28 And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ (Luke 10:25-28)

And for who is my neighbour – Luke 10:25-37

 

Then we can try for the minor things like chocolate eggs…

 
 

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What do we sing

There is a long-held view that Methodism sings its faith, that the hymns sung Sunday by Sunday help to form what we know and think about God. This can be seen in the debate about hymn books and so forth, and the content. However there are far more hymns than those in a book, and new ones coming out after the book has been published.

However the Untied Methodist Church – in the US – has looked over the top hundred hymns and songs from CCLI and scored them to see how well the conform to Methodist doctrine and practice, the scores can be seen here.

Now as some one who leads worship, I have to say that such guidance is of help. However I do wonder if the tool being developed can also be applied to current, and historic material, and what that would show up. When looking at the criteria being used:

So I have to ask how many of our traditional hymns would meet these criteria, or is it only some verses. Hence when looking over time at some hymns we see that some verse are no longer sung.

I have to say that I like that some one is looking over the new material, but do we have to also do likewise with some of the older material?

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2016 in Ministry, Worship

 

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The Priesthood of All Believers

Something to think about on a Monday morning

Theology Everywhere

by Catrin Harland

Last week, Roger Walton suggested that the very Methodist idea of social holiness, while perhaps originally concerned with the internal life of Methodist community, typically also finds meaningful expression within the sphere of social justice.

Another phrase with strong resonance for Methodists is ‘the Priesthood of all believers’. Being a ‘priesthood’ is rightly seen as emphasising a sense of community, but without losing that dimension, I want to suggest that this idea has often been too inward-focused, concerned to too great a degree with internal relationships, including between lay and ordained. Understood in the context of its biblical roots, I would suggest, it is a concept which has more missional potential, and should turn us outwards.

Luther, in speaking of the church as a priesthood[1], drew on 1 Peter 2:5 and 9. These, in turn, seem to derive in part from Exodus 19:6, where Israel’s…

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Posted by on July 11, 2016 in Ministry, Spiritual Vocab

 

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The political but not partisan

With all that’s going on at the moment, it is difficult to not just let my own views take over what I say in the pulpit. At times yes I need to give my own views and opinions… however these view need to be rooted in scripture and faith, and when preaching, when I

interpret those sacred stories of our community, so that they speak a word to people today [Ordinations service of the Singapore Methodist Church]

It is my place to let me get in the way of the message, but at times it can be hard. This thinking has been kicked off by others having similar issues, in this case David over at Beloved Spear, and how he is dealing with things in the US.

So now we wait and see, but keep in mind the teaching of Christ and ways of God.

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Ministry

 

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The experience of all

When thinking about the world, and beyond that the whole of Creation. The term “fear” is often used in the Bible, a term of Fear of the Lord and so forth. Now having heard about this in a sermon last night, that true meaning of fear, the awe inspired one of this being well beyond what I can comprehend, then this morning I read this from Beloved Spear on “God-Fearin’ and Cosmic Horror” things then not made more sense, but put into words what I was thinking.

 

So let us take in the awesome nature of all, and stand in fear and wonder before it.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Ministry