Category Archives: Uncategorized

Sacrifice

There are obvious links here to theories of atonement, and in particular penal substitution.  Whilst I don’t like the theory on its own, when taken with other theories I find that it can add something to the whole idea of atonement.  However, to do this I find it helpful to remember that Jesus was both human and divine, and that in the Trinity God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and as the Athanasian Creed says :

Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost.

So, instead of God requiring Jesus to go to the cross, it is God too who goes to the cross, which makes in more an image of love than an image of vengeance.

So God puts and end to the need for sacrifice by self sacrifice!

#OURHOLYWEEK

Serve

This morning I was at the Cathedral for the blessing of the oils and the renewal of vows.  During the service I was led to reflect on the theme of serving others, however it is done, and it made me question the balance between the amount of time the church spends on serving people versus how much time is spent on worship or evangelism.  If we look at the Gospels, most of Jesus time was spent serving others (which might lead to evangelism) rather than talking to them.  Time for a think!

#OURHOLYWEEK

Betrayal

As we are in Holy Week, the most likely inspiration for the theme of Betrayal is that of Jesus by Judas – Durer picture above.

And yet, was it a betrayal? To be betrayed there has to be a both a loyalty, and a harm.

to not be loyal to your country or a person

There has long been a train of thought that Judas was required, even destined, to hand Jesus over, because without Jesus being handed over there would be no Resurrection.  If we buy this argument then Judas was not betraying Jesus, but helping him.

It all rather depends on your view of predestination; if you believe in free will, then Judas could have not handed Jesus over, whilst God could still have found a way for the events to play out.  However, in these circumstances, the fact that Judas chose to do so then becomes a betrayal, and adds to the pressure on Jesus, as he then knows that one of his disciples has betrayed him.  It could even be that the words

Do quickly what you are going to do

are not, as I always interpreted, a command to go and inform the chief priests, but an instruction to go and do what he was going to decide to do, as the suspense was unbearable (this is almost certainly a minority reading, as John’s Gospel is always showing Jesus as in control – however, I find that contemplating ideas like this can add to the understanding of what happened, even if they are “wrong”).

#OurHolyWeek

Love

Recently the government have proposed no fault divorce.  Some Christians are against this, though for reasons that I don’t quite understand.  (Disclosure, I am divorced and remarried).

Their argument appears to be that doing this will make divorce easier, and therefore more people will get divorced, and this is a bad thing.  There appears to be an assumption that making it difficult to get out of a marriage is a good thing as otherwise people would leave on a whim.

When I was at theological college our lecturer asked us when a couple were married: was it when:

  1. the marriage was consummated?
  2. the certificate was signed?
  3. the priest declared it?
  4. the couple agreed to live together for the rest of their lives?

The answer that he gave was 4 – in a marriage the couple are the ministers of the marriage – everyone else is a witness to it.

In the same vein, I would want to ask: when does a marriage end?

If both of the couple wish to separate then surely it is when they decide that – the rest is legal necessity, and the easier that is made surely the better?

The problem perhaps comes when one spouse wishes to end the marriage and the other doesn’t (eg Owens v Owens).  Yet in this case the couple are divorced in all but name.  What good is obtained by denying the legal separation in this case?

The other argument about couples staying together (or not) centres around children.  There are numerous studies round this eg https://www.verywellfamily.com/should-you-stay-together-for-kids-1270800, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/200911/divorce-doesnt-harm-children-parents-fighting-harms-child (which partially argues against the previous article) and https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/22/children-divorce-resolution-survey-rather-parents-separate.  I think what I take from this is that the impact on the children depends more on the behaviour of the parents than on their legal status.

What do you think?

#OURHOLYWEEK

Reconciliation

I am reading the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book, and today’s chapter is about realising that God is not on your side against others; yes, God is on your side, but God is on the side of those we disagree with too.

With feelings running high over Brexit it is sometimes difficult to remember this, whichever side we are on.  And yet if we were all able to remember it, it might just make resolving the issue easier – as indeed it would in most conflicts.

You always have the poor with you

This morning we read Sunday’s Gospel and were struck by the full quote and context (see below) of the quote that politicians sometimes appear to use to justify not helping the poor (scroll down).  Of course the Bible has far more quotes about looking after the orphan, the alien (asylum seeker) and the widow, but here the quote is even being taken out of context!

You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.

What do we do about old hymns?

I have just been reading in preparation for a discussion group tonight, and one of the chapters challenges us about what to do with old hymns where the sentiments are no longer generally held.

In this specific case it was “All things bright and beautiful” and in particular the now mostly omitted verse:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them high and lowly,
And ordered their estate.

However, there are also long debates about the use of inclusive language in hymns (and the use of alternative lyrics) and even in modern hymns there is concern about some lyrics, for example:

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied

from In Christ Alone.

I even recall a discussion between a chaplain and Carol Service organiser about the “theological soundness” of Little Town of Bethlehem:

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie

Not terribly accurate then or now.

Indeed, so much so that 10 years ago or so alternative lyrics were suggested:

O sad and troubled Bethlehem,
We hear your longing cry
For peace and justice to be born
And cruel oppression die.
How deep your need for that great gift
of love in human form.
Let Christ in you be seen again
and hearts by hope made warm.

While morning stars and evening stars
shine out in your dark sky,
despair now stalks your troubled streets
Where innocents still die.
And Jesus, born of Mary,
Whose love will never cease,
feels even now your pain and fear,
Longs with you for your peace.

Amazingly and lovingly
Jesus the child has come
and, brought to birth through human pain,
makes broken hearts his home.
He comes to comfort all who weep,
to challenge every wrong
and, living with the weak and poor,
Becomes their hope, their song.

Words by Wendy Ross-Barker

The question however was: what should we do about it?  And the suggestion was that just ignoring the problem is insufficient.  We need to look back at the history, and why these things happened, and the theology that drove them to see whether we agree with it.

I do recall one of my theological college principals refusing to sing certain lines in hymns because he didn’t know what they meant – alternatively I also recall hearing of  someone who said they could sing the creeds, but couldn’t say them!

And when you are a vicar, what do you do when people complain about messing about with the words?

Aaargh!

APCM 2019

The APCM is next Sunday (7th April 2019) at 7:30 at St George’s.  All members of the electoral roll welcome.

The Agenda and minutes of last year with the accounts and reports from activities are linked below.  Unfortunately the audited accounts will not be available on the day, and we will have to adjourn the meeting to receive them at a later date, but those presented to the PCC are below for information.

2019 Printable agendas and minutes

Annual Report & Accounts 2018vDraft – APCM (file removed 13/5/19 when final accounts loaded).

REPORT DOCUMENT 2019 v6

Final accounts added 13/5/19: 2018 final accounts

More Tea Vicar?

Justin Welby has suggested that parishes should

host informal café-style meetings over the weekend of 30th March to bring together people of all standpoints and encourage open discussion

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/churches-hold-brexit-tea-and-prayer-drop-ins

I applaud the sentiment, but when I see the problems John Bercow has getting people to react politely to each other I am not sure that I have the skills to keep such a gathering peaceful.

I can’t help feeling that such a public invitation would be attended by the kinds of people (both for and against) who are currently demonstrating outside the Houses of Parliament.

I could conceive of hosting such a discussion for people who already knew and respected each other – but then isn’t the point to reconcile those who don’t?

Am I being too pessimistic, or has Brexit turned us into a less tolerant nation?

What is Failure (Pt 2)

Yesterday I looked at failing in Lenten discipline from one angle, and I purposely chose that one first, as today I am going to look from another angle which gives permission to fail!

Quoting again from Joan Chittister’s commentary on the Rule of Benedict (or here online) she writes:

It is so easy to tell ourselves that we overlooked the needs of others because we were attending to the needs of God. It is so easy to go to church instead of going to a friend whose depression depresses us. It is so easy to want silence rather than the demands of the children. It is so much easier to read a book about religion than it is to listen to a husband talk about his job or a wife talk about her loneliness. It is so much easier to practice the privatised religion of prayers and penances than it is to make fools out of ourselves for the Christian religion of globalism and peace.

Sometimes we need to give the time that we have set aside for God in our way to what God wants us to do with it in his way!  The difficulty is telling which is which – not holding to our Lenten discipline because we fancy doing something practical is not the same as feeling called to do something practical, which prevents us holding to our Lenten discipline.