Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Popes, archbishops and blindfold boys
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
Sharing the Peace
Tuesday, 26 June 2012
What have I done?
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Faith on the Golf Course
Friday, 11 May 2012
Where Jesus touched the earth
|Church of All Nations|
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Break down the Walls - a reflection from the Holy Land
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
What a load of old rubbish!
- · Examine your life for signs of sin. If you are brave, ask a trusted friend if there is any aspect of your character where unhelpful words and behaviour is creeping in.
- · Confess to God and seek his renewed forgiveness. Get rid of the rubbish!
- · Ask God to fill you afresh with his Spirit – the Spirit of Jesus.
- · Keep filling your mind with helpful things – ‘whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable’ (Phil 4:8-9). The Bible is the best place to find these things, so keep reading it!
- · Keep fellowship with your church, so that you can encourage others and be encouraged, in our walk with God.
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Celebrating the SonRise
This is a copy of my church magazine article for April 2012
What does Easter mean to you?
Does it mean Easter eggs and bunnies? Does it mean daffodils and tulips? Does it mean a long weekend off work? Does it mean the end of one school term and the beginning of the next?
For me, it has meant all of those things, although these days the long weekend is not one that I take off work! Yet the most important aspect of Easter for me is the SonRise!
In my childhood years, I used to go with my parents and my sister to the early morning Sunrise service that took place at Ness Point, Lowestoft. It’s not a scenic landmark, but it is Britain’s most easterly point. In 1999, Lowestoft Town Council put a lot of effort into advertising the town as the first place in the country on which the new millennium would dawn – until someone pointed out that due to the curvature of the earth, the sun would rise first over Dover! That’s probably still true in March and April. Even so, there was something special about gathering with other Christians on Easter Sunday, and celebrating the SonRise whilst seeing the sunrise!
After the darkness of Jesus’ crucifixion, and the seeming finality of his burial, the gospels tell us that some women went to anoint his body with spices, early on the Sunday morning. It was just after sunrise, and as they journeyed to the tomb, they wondered who would roll away the stone in front of it to allow them to perform this final act of service for Jesus. They had thought that this man might be the Son of God, but now he was dead. They reckoned without the power of God, who made the SonRise! Two angelic figures said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here: he has risen!’
Jesus, the Son, has risen! He is still the Risen Lord! He has conquered death! Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can know life. The SonRise gives me confidence that all of the darkness of my life, and the pain of the world, will one day be overcome. I hope it gives you that confidence, too!
The Lord is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah!
Sunday, 18 March 2012
Accepting God's Call
This is the text of what I shared with my church, as I had the emotional task of telling them that I and my family are moving on.
We are called to accept one another as Christ accepted us. Sometimes, we are called to accept one another’s decisions.
As Christians, I think that we should be constantly asking the Lord if we are walking in his will, and serving in the place that he wants us to be. Last year, I spent much time in prayer and through retreat days, asking God if here at Park Road was where he wanted me to be. To be honest, I really didn’t know what he was saying, but whatever it was, I wanted to be obedient. With that in mind, I decided to talk to some other churches to see what God would say, seeking either a renewed call to be minister at Park Road or a new call to serve elsewhere. One door in particular kept opening wider: through a meeting with a pastoral search team, and a meeting with deacons, and a visit to preach and meet the church, and then, last weekend, an invitation to preach with a view. After a special church members’ meeting last Thursday, that has culminated with a clear and decisive call to be minister and team leader at Newbury Baptist Church. So, in the summer, the Edworthy family will be leaving Peterborough to go to pastures new.
We love this church, and since you are the church, that means we love you. We have shared with you through life’s joys and sorrows and, thankfully, the joys have come out on top. We can think of many reasons not to leave Peterborough: among them, the exciting things that are happening here, our friendships here, our children’s education, Wendy’s job. One thing outweighs all of those things, and will always outweigh them – that is … God’s will. We believe that God is calling us to Newbury and from Newbury, because He is already there! I recognize the implications of our departure from here, but I know that God has his plans for this church and this city.
Discerning God’s will is not always easy, and Wendy and I have agonized through this process of what God has and hasn’t being saying to us. However, a friend reminded me that living in God’s will is the best place to be. I feel completely at peace about accepting the call to Newbury, and believe this to be God’s will. We ask your prayers for us as a family as we plan to move, and your prayers for Newbury Baptist Church as with them we enter into a new sphere of ministry. We shall continue to pray for you, not least as we have four more months of ministry to share, and as the future unfolds.
With love in our Lord Jesus Christ.
18th March 2012
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
On being an art critic!
I can't really tell one end of a paintbrush from another, but I am feeling quite arty at the moment!
Thursday, 23 February 2012
In like a lion, out like a lamb!
This is a copy of my church magazine article for March 2012
Popular wisdom says that ‘March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.’
Of course, that proverb refers to the weather, and I guess it’s true that the month often begins with gales roaring in, and ends much more gently.
It got me thinking about the lion and the lamb. We know that the lion is pretty much at the top of the food chain, and the lamb would be fair game! When the boy David went to King Saul and offered to fight Goliath, he told the king of his qualifications for the job: ‘Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it’ (1 Samuel 17:34-35). It confirms what we know: left to their own devices, lions will kill and eat lambs! It points to a reality in our world: that the powerful tend to take advantage of the vulnerable, the rich becoming richer and the poor, poorer.
Yet the Bible points us to a different vision of how things one day will be! The prophet Isaiah speaks the word of the Lord: ‘Behold I will create new heavens and a new earth’ (Isaiah 65:17). As the chapter unfolds, we find that this re-creation involves fruitful and peaceful lives for all, and that lamb and wolf will lie down together, whilst the lion will eat straw like the ox. What we call the natural order of things will be overturned! One day!
I think that God calls us towards that vision now. He calls us to reduce the disparity and bridge the gap. One organization seeking to do that in Peterborough is ‘Hope into Action’. Their director, Ed Walker, will be sharing with us on 11th March about how they are providing homes for ex-offenders and homeless people. We will find out how we can be a part of that. Another organization is our own Inspirations Studio, seeking to provide opportunities and support for young people in the city of Peterborough. Stuart Mathers would be glad to receive your offer of help with that.
What more of the lion and the lamb? Revelation 5 brings the two together. The risen Christ is both Lion and Lamb. He is fierce and gentle. He overcomes the disparities that exist in the world by his atoning sacrifice. He is God’s chosen instrument of re-creation.
Perhaps lion and lamb, fierce and gentle, is what we should be in serving God in His world? We should be confronting injustice and inequality, but doing it tenderly and with love!
Be fierce and gentle for Christ!
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Spirit Break Out (Part Two)
- Tim Hughes reminded us that we should aim to shape culture rather than be shaped by it. I agree!
- Tim suggested that we are a generation with more ways to communicate than any before us, yet we have less to say. Again, I agree! Perhaps it is a case of the medium not only obscuring the message, but replacing it too? Beware, Christians, the danger of being so shaped by our culture of communication that we obscure the Living Word who has communicated himself to us!
Friday, 3 February 2012
Spirit Break Out!
Last evening, I went to the latest leg of the Spirit Break Out tour. The tour emanates from Worship Central, which has close connections with Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, the home of the Alpha Course. The evening was led by Tim Hughes (writer of such songs as ‘Light of the world’ and ‘The greatest day in history’), assisted by three other solo singers and the usual array of musicians.
It was a good evening, attended by 1000 or so people and yet I felt curiously detached from it. Before you ask: yes, I was there to enjoy worshipping God; yes, there almost certainly is unconfessed sin in my life (isn’t there with all of us?), but none I could call to mind! So I was there without any particular baggage.
In fact, I spent much of the evening comparing the experience with my last visit to see U2 in concert in August 2009! I decided that I was more aware of God’s presence there than at yesterday’s concert. Lyrics such as ‘I was born, I was born to be with you’ (Magnificent), and ‘You heard me in my tune, when I just heard confusion’ (All because of you) spoke to me more than those of Tim Hughes et al. I was more caught up in worship (or emotion?) with 50000 other U2 fans than with the 1000 worshippers. At the U2 concert, perhaps 5% of the crowd had a Christian faith. Last might, one assumes it would have been at least 95%.
So why did the U2 concert allow me to worship more freely? In no particular order:
- AtU2, I knew the songs – pretty much word for word! Last night, I knew perhaps half of the songs. My own church is not exactly on the cusp of the latest worship songs, but we do use some newer ones! However, I think churches often over-estimate the ability of a congregation to learn new songs. I usually work on the rule of no more than one per service, if that.
- U2 did not have to pretend that it was a rock concert! They, and we, knew that it was. ‘Spirit Break Out’ tried to take on the attributes of a rock concert, with light show, dry ice and seven lampstands (I wondered if there was going to be any significance in that?). For me, there was a sense of hype being generated so that the Spirit would come!
- U2’s lyrics are more nuanced and thought-provoking e.g. ‘Yahweh, Yahweh, always pain before a child is born’. Today’s writers of Christian songs tend to fall into religious cliché, and even to reclaim clichéd lyrics of the past. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that – we are comforted by the familiar, and our beliefs are reinforced – but there is often no sense of anything new in today’s worship songs.
- The U2 concert was more evangelistic, though I doubt it set out to be so! Like ‘Spirit Break Out’, it was there for the fans. Unlike ‘Spirit Break Out’, many of those fans were ‘unconverted’ to Christ. They came with many questions about life, where Christians tend to come with many answers. Yes, I believe that Christ is the answer! Yet I believe that we must all be allowed space to ask our questions and express our doubts about life, the universe and everything! Maybe a U2 concert is a more effective place for that?
I can’t deny that most at last night’s concert were engaging with God in worship. I’m just thinking that worship is so much more than we sometimes make it.
Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Keep on running!
This is a copy of my February church magazine article
Last month I spoke about our motto for 2012, and I want to return to it again this month:
‘I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:14).
As I said last month, the apostle Paul is picturing an athlete in a race, always looking ahead to the finish line and straining every muscle and sinew to reach it. There is one problem that I find with this verse, which is that it can be read in a very individualistic way. ‘”I” press on to win the prize……’, as if only one person can win and it is each for themselves.
I don’t think that Paul intends it that way. He is encouraging the church at Philippi with his own example. Then he says to them, ‘Join with others in following my example, brothers and sisters …’ (v17). Perhaps he had in mind the Ancient Olympic Games of his day, which he would have known about and may well have encountered as he went on his missionary journeys. Like our modern Olympics, the crowds would gather to cheer on the athletes and inspire them to greater endeavour. I suspect that Paul would say to us, ‘Don’t just be a part of the crowd, watching others, but join in!’
Perhaps the race that best fits the description of our church motto is today’s marathon. I thought that the marathon was an ancient race revived for the modern Olympics. It turns out that it wasn’t, although it does have its origin in ancient Greek history. A Greek messenger named Pheidippides, was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce that the Persians had been defeated. Legend says that he ran the entire distance (roughly 26 miles) without stopping and burst into the assembly exclaiming ‘We have won’ before collapsing and dying! The end of our lives may not be so dramatic, but we can know that we have won the prize before we die. It can be so because God in Christ has already won the victory over sin and death. When we believe in him we achieve the promise of the prize. I believe, however, that the Lord does not wish us merely to coast towards the finish line, but to press on through thick and thin, serving others and serving him.
Let’s encourage one another in this as we run the race together as God’s people!
Keep on running!
Monday, 16 January 2012
As the shepherd does not want to see his sheep wandering off to another fold, no pastor wants to lose members of his congregation to another church. There are exceptions but let’s not go there …..
How do pastor and church react, then, when wanderers come into their congregation? Of course, we will want to give a welcome and to make them feel at home. We may start lining them up for this or that job, five minutes after they have sat in our pews for the first time! We will invite them to come again. All of these things are good, excepting perhaps that we ought to wait longer than five minutes before putting them on the coffee rota or in charge of the youth work! But do we ask where they have come from and why? Or are we too scared that it might frighten them off?
I accept that it is right, sometimes, or that it is the least worst option, for individuals to move to another church in the locality. In both of the churches I have pastored, we have been blessed by newcomers transferring from other local congregations. We welcome them, and after a few weeks’ attendance I will visit them. Yet I always ask them if there is any unfinished business in the church they are leaving. I will also try and speak to the pastor there.
Recently, we had a couple visit our church who I recognized from a previous visit about six years ago. I even remembered the name of one of them, which I thought was pretty impressive! At that time, they had been thinking about leaving their church. They said that I said something to them then that they didn’t like at the time: ‘Is there any unfinished business?’ But they went away, returned to their church, and although they left it subsequently, they dealt with the unfinished business. And after six years, they came to see me and say ‘thank you’!
It reminds me that in our eagerness to welcome the newcomer, we should not neglect to challenge on their reasons for leaving their current spiritual home. Unresolved issues do no-one any favours. It seems to me, that if they are not dealt with, history has a habit of repeating itself in the next church. If they are dealt with, and the individuals still move on, I think there is every opportunity for both a happy ending and a new beginning in the knowledge that we all serve in the One Church of Christ.