Thursday, 5 April 2012

Not celebrating a 'living legacy'

Dear Mr Cameron, 
"This is the time when, as Christians, we remember the life, sacrifice and living legacy of Christ."
No, it is not. We celebrate as our only hope in life and death, the perfect life, atoning sacrifice, bodily resurrection and current intercession of Jesus Christ before the throne of our Father God. 

Please do not patronise us with talk of shared values. Pretending to share values does not even restore society, or reconcile families, never mind restore us to a reconciled relationship with the God of the universe. Jesus Christ did not die and rise again to share a vague feeling of peace to inspire us. While we are powerless to do peace, he came to be our peace, to make peace, and to preach that peace with the Father [Eph 2]. There is no eternal hope in a 'living legacy'. There is sure and certain hope for a broken, rebellious and dead world, in a Man who defeated death and rose as the first-fruits of a new creation, and will return to judge the living and the dead.  

The chronologically-challenged 'Cranmer' draws out an interesting comparison with Barack Obama's Easter speech here. Glen Scrivener treats us to something better:

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Who's church for?

Many people I know have some idea that church isn't for them - or at least, that church-going folk would think that church isn't for them. And in a document of the 16th century, I came across a helpful summary of who the Lord's Supper (and therefore church) is really for - and who would be best staying away! Which are you? 
Who are to come to the Lord's table [in church]?
Those who are displeased with themselves because of their sins, but who nevertheless trust that their sins are pardoned and that their continuing weakness is covered by the suffering and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and to lead a better life. Hypocrites and those who are unrepentant, however, eat and drink judgement on themselves. [Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 81]
So, sinners welcome; hypocrites keep away. Will you come? 

As Christ said, 'Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Power, cool and decline

A Brit in America reflects on what the church can learn from The Iron Lady - resisting the temptation to stir in the polarised American political scene, Trueman highlights the portrayal of the loss of glory in old age.

I was slightly surprised to hear from African brothers and sisters at Cape Town 2010, that they often felt ignored in the church while still 'young', pre-Forty-and-married, say. In the UK, probably some churches have that dynamic. But we are more in danger of despising age than despising youth. 

'Ageing brings whispers of mortality, of weakness, of limitations; and such whispers bring an ever-increasing sympathy with others. Only the one who has felt the slow creep of weakness can truly sympathise with the weak. ... The church does not need leaders who feel strong; she needs leaders who know weakness.'

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Not like Santa's grotto

A God like Santa? Church like Santa's grotto, then - full of hardworking slaves who keep themselves to themselves and dish out the rewards or punishments? Au contraire:

To follow a God who came down to a village, and into a womb, to draw our stinking selves to himself... leads to practices such as Eddie Arthur describes in the Guardian. Nice one, Eddie!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

God, deliver us from Santa!

He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake.
He knows when you've been bad or good...
Santa Claus is coming to town!

I don't know who made up this moralistic scary threat, and I don't care. But it worries me that so many assume that this is a Christian Christmas message. "If you don’t like God, I think I know why… You probably think He’s St Nick in the Sky."

Glen Scrivener has written a witty ditty on the subject, definitely worth a read even in this busy time:
They say there’s a big man who lives far away,
Supposedly jolly but it’s hard to say.
I’ve never seen him, and neither have you.
But the children believe, ... [
continue reading.]
Thanks, Glen! 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Oprah, Christianity, Quakers, the M People

Spot the odd one out: Oprah, Christianity, The Religious Society of Friends, the M People.
'Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within you. ... Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the god within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment ad enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognised an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.' - G.K.Chesteron, Orthodoxy
In contrast, the name by which every Christian must be called is 'The LORD is our righteousness.' (Jeremiah 23.6)

[Quoted in The Good News We Almost Forgot, DeYoung]

Sunday, 2 October 2011

He sends out his word

and melts them. [Ps.147]

I've been ruminating on the start of Jeremiah. God has determined the rise of the nations to the north of Israel, that they should lay siege to Jerusalem, and tear the nation to pieces. How does he accomplish this? Clearly he's sovereign over armies. The Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whom he wishes. He could inspire a foreign metalworker to forge a stronger alloy for superior weaponry. He could stir up the ambition of a commander, to lead his troops to take the fortress of Jerusalem. He could give the leaders of Israel over to their stupidity, that they reveal their weakness to their old slave-masters, Egypt, hoping for an alliance. He could leave the common man so given to their pride that they don't defend the country adequately. He may have done all these things. But what he told us he was doing was this: He gave a young man a message to preach, and watched over his word to bring it about. 
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,
“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
God chooses to act, he sends forth his word, in the form of a servant, and accomplishes it. Amen!