Category Archives: Bible

October: the season to be generous

Tough times, and 2020 certainly falls into this category, can bring out the best as well as the worst in people, and this year we have seen acts of huge kindness and generosity with communities coming together to support each other with acts of service.

The theme of generosity has inspired an initiative by the Diocese of Guildford called Transforming Generosity which can help us gain a deeper understanding of God’s abundant generosity, to reflect on generous giving as part of our discipleship and worship, and to respond by continuing to build generous churches.

We will be focusing on this theme in our church services through the lens of the Gospel of Luke, but there is more that we can do as individuals. Every day this month there is a short daily audio reflection, each one looking at different passages in the Gospel of  Luke and written by different contributors from across the diocese.

The reflections are available at www.cofeguildford.org.uk/generosity and will continue to be available beyond the end of the month. You can also sign up to receive a daily email link to the podcast reflections.

Parish magazine is online

The October issue of our parish magazine is now online with lots inside. Download it by clicking on the green button here:

Among this month’s contents are:

Do your bit for the environment
The Fridge and Cupboard – food for all
The Church and Covid
Generosity
The APCM
John and Sue Innes
Prayer
Behind the verses – the background to one of Paul’s letters
The Church Cat
Registers

And much more…

If you have an article or news item for the magazine, let us know. The next deadline is Sunday, October 4. Contact Stella Wiseman, the editor, on 07842761919 or editor@badshotleaandhale.org

Publishing online means we reach far more people than just in print. This means advertisers can reach more people too. If you would like to advertise, contact Stella on 07842761919 or editor@badshotleaandhale.org

If you would like a printed copy of the magazine, again, contact Stella using the details above.

Enjoy!

A new and joyful way to read the Bible

Have you ever wanted to read more of the Bible but feel a little daunted? Do you want some fresh insights? Would you like Bible-reading to be…. wait for it…. fun and full of joy?

All of this is possible with the Bible Book Club which meets on Zoom every Wednesday at 7.30pm. Each week we read a book of the Bible – or shortened highlights if we don’t have time for the whole, long book, then talk about it, using questions posed by the Bible Society. The questions give us a vague structure but we often go off on interesting tangents – though I still can’t remember how we ended up talking about husky dog sledding.

We discuss a lot, we learn a lot and we laugh a lot. In fact, Wednesday evenings are now a highlight of my week and I have a pretty busy and interesting life.

Next Wednesday (5th), we will be talking about Proverbs. If you want to know more about the course, click here.

Please join us. Contact me (Stella) for details of the Zoom meeting.

Look up to the sky for Ascension Day

Next Thursday (May 21), we will be celebrating Ascension Day online with a special service for all ages which will be available on this website from 7.30pm.

Ascension Day is a Christian festival which takes place 40 days after Easter Sunday, and which celebrates the story of Jesus ascending to heaven as told in the Bible in the book of Acts, Chapter 1.

The service will incorporate many of the elements which will be familiar to followers of the parish – hymns on fiddle, double bass and keyboard, photos of members of the church looking up to the sky (they may even be wearing tea towels on their heads in time-honoured fashion), prayers, a story about the impact of Jesus on the life of his disciples and a talk about the impact he still has. There will be contributions from people from all across the parish.

We do still need a bit of help though. Can you pop a tea towel or scarf on your own head and transport yourself back 2,000 years to the time just after Jesus died and rose again? Imagine you are one of the disciples and you are with Jesus when he ascends to heaven. Look up to the sky and take a selfie.

Maxine Everitt, who is organising the service along with Kris Lawrence, explains a bit more: “We would like you to imagine what it would have been like to watch Jesus ascend into heaven; the tea towel or scarf is to help you get into character.

“What would you be thinking? Can you capture that in an expression? Individuals, couples and families including youngsters would be great too –  Please!”

Once you have taken your selfie, send it to Alan, then join us here on Thursday, May 21, from 7.30pm or on Facebook.

 

Thought for the Day

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  Mark 8:35

 When I preach I usually preach on the Gospel set for the day, but today I feel called to preach on this passage.

This week has seen a remarkable transformation in our country, and in other countries around the world.  At the start of the week most things were happening pretty much as normal.  Then things changed rapidly.

On Monday Lesley and I felt ill, and have self diagnosed with Covid-19 (with current advice no one else is going to do so) and are now self isolating.

On Friday two of the boys came home from uni, so we will be self isolating for 14 days from then (unless the advice changes again).

By Friday most things were shut down.

And yet…

  • We read about young people partying because they have no reason to be scared of it (not strictly true – but perceptions matter) .
  • The Blitz Spirit is invoked, as though standing up to the virus is similar to standing up to bombing.
  • People with second homes away from the cities are going to stay there, where the risk of infection is perhaps lower, but perhaps the risk of overloading the NHS should the virus spread in those areas (the risk being higher now that lots of people from many different places are moving in).

What do all these have in common?  It is people looking at the situation from only one perspective.

My take on today’s reading is that Jesus is telling us that acting on our own selfish wants is not the way to live a fulfilling life.

It will depend on your definition of “the Gospel”, but I believe that the Good News that Jesus is calling us to is “Life in all its fulness“, and that this is achieved by working towards the Kingdom of God, which is working towards making this world the way that God wants it to be.

As a country and a world we have been becoming more and more insular: believing that we control our own destiny.  Death is something which is seen as unnatural for people under 70 (or perhaps older) and has become something we don’t talk about (perhaps we should – note the date of the article – factual information may be out of date).  Yet only a century ago the Spanish Flu killed between 17-50 million people; the two world wars killed about 20 million and 75 million respectively.  Before the creation of the NHS 6% of children were expected to die before they were 1.

For most of history we have known that life was precarious, and that we rely on each other.  We have also known that employment could be precarious, until the rise of the unions, and as their influence wanes we are discovering it again.

And yet this myth persists that we are in charge of our own destiny.  This myth leads us away from the Kingdom of God, where we care for each other.

John Donne wrote: No man is an island, and during this pandemic we seem to be rediscovering this, and rediscovering the Kingdom of God (to be clear, I am not saying that God sent the virus so that this would happen, but when things do happen God can find some good in them, however  bad they may be, as well as comforting those who are suffering).  Let us pray that that sense of the Kingdom of God lasts beyond the current pandemic.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Advent 2

Matthew 3:1-12

This Sunday we remember the Prophets, and the thing about John the Baptist is that there hasn’t been a prophet in Israel for 400 years.  The passage is full of symbolism, a lot of which we won’t naturally understand

John dresses in the same way as Elijah (2 Kings 1:8)  – and the old prophets (Malachi 4:5) say that Elijah will come before the Messiah.

He (mis)quotes Isaiah: A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

In pre Roman times most roads were not made up – the only roads that were made up were for the King to use – so the passage is equating the Lord with the King – the Messiah.

At the heart of the passage is a call to repentance, and a call to trusting in God’s grace.  Jewish faith believed in repentance as the way (back) to God.  There were nine norms of repentance:

  1. Wash
  2. Make yourself clean
  3. remove evil doings from God’s sight
  4. Cease to do evil
  5. Do good
  6. Seek justice
  7. Rescue the oppressed
  8. Defend the orphan
  9. Plead for the widow

The latter three of these being a constant refrain – to care for the alien, the orphan and the widow – perhaps something to contemplate in the forthcoming election!

The condemnation of the Pharisees and Sadducees comes because they believe that keeping the law is what is required, and that being children of Abraham guarantees that they will be right with God – not repentance.  In Aramaic the words for children and stones are similar, and so John is using word play to attack them.

Finally we come to the axe at the foot of the tree and the winnowing fork.  Those of us who lean towards a loving God struggle with these images – but they only apply to those who do not repent, and repentance can happen at any time.  However, I would want to argue that the sooner we repent the better – life is better lived in the light of repentance than it is otherwise and life lived without repentance is already a form of hell!

Where are you on the journey of repentance?