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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #22

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #22

Mark 4:26-34 Mustard seeds, birds, and all that.

In the passage from Mark this week we have the famous story of the mustard seed - preceded by a slightly less famous story about sowing seeds. The mustard seed story is famous because its colourful: Jesus basically says ‘the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, it starts off tiny but then it grows massive and birds come and nest in it.’ On a number of levels, the birds bit is a nice touch, I think.

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #20

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #20

Mark 2:23-3:6 Keep the Sabbath special?

I’m not very old (depends who you ask, I guess), but I’m old enough to remember vigorous campaigns to ‘keep Sunday special’ and other initiatives that tried to stem the tide of ‘creeping secularism’. I suppose that perhaps there are similar initiatives today, but they don’t seem to make a ripple - that boat has well and truly sailed.

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #18

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #18

John 3:1-17 - Trinity Sunday

There’s an embarrassment of riches for anyone due to preach on this Trinity Sunday,

The readings offered from the Hebrew Scriptures are Isaiah 6:1-8 and Psalm 29 - each proposing dramatic visions of the divine, then Romans 8:12-17 speaks of the Spirit of God, while the gospel passage is ‘sonship’ focussed, telling the story of Jesus’ meeting with the pharisee Nicodemus and the subsequent confusion over being ‘born again.’

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #15

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #15

John 15: 9-17 All you need is love

The gospel lectionary reading this week follows directly on from that of last week, now the writer has Jesus continue with his ‘vine’ symbolism, but move from an emphasis on ‘remain’ or ‘abide’ to an emphasis on ‘love’. Here the virtue of love is presented as the primary ethic in the Jesus movement, the thing on which everything else depends and relies.

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #14

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #14

John 15:1-8 I heard it on the grapevine

One theory about the four gospels is that they represent different (early) Christian communities. John’s gospel, then, would have been written for a particular Christian group, probably around about 70 years, ish, after Jesus’ death. The way it is written and the stories it contains, are, according to this way of thinking, designed to speak directly to the people of the ‘John community’.

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Thoughts on The Godhead and the Trinity: Arriving at A Statement of Faith

Thoughts on The Godhead and the Trinity: Arriving at A Statement of Faith

How can God be the creator of a universe which is on a scale beyond our comprehension and also be the loving Father of a humankind which occupies a most minute speck in that universe? Scientifically, this might be expressed less dramatically as how can there be sentient human existence in an apparently material or physical universe?

The question arises because at least since Newton’s seventeenth-century time, science has increasingly claimed to be able to provide all the answers to all the questions about life, even though the history of science is a perpetual laying down of old certainties in favour of new developments in knowledge. At about the same time as Newton, the French philosopher Descartes was proposing that life was dualistic; there was the obvious physical world and the less obvious but equally real mental or spiritual world, and the two worlds were quite separate (dualism).

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The Invisible Pews

The Invisible Pews

Church policy, for millennia, has been to ignore any sign that church members do not believe what is taught in the historic creeds. Heretical views, officially, do not exist!

Recently, I had the privilege to read a book by the Revd Leslie Newton – Revive us Again -which outlines his view of how the Methodist Church can promote a revival of Christianity in the multicultural, individualistic, and often atheistic, western world of the twenty-first century.

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #9

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #9

Mark 11: 1-11 – Palm Sunday

People who, frankly, know a lot more about the New Testament than I do sometimes take issue with my view that the mission of Jesus was a profoundly political one. Their well researched views notwithstanding though, it’s astonishingly hard for me to see Jesus role as apolitical – particularly when you look at events such as those detailed in version of the “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem as detailed by “Mark.”

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #8

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #8

John 12:20-33

In an article I published on my Substack last week, I wrote about the ‘crisis of decline’ facing the contemporary church in Western Europe and North America, and the persistent theme of death and new/re birth in the Bible. I pointed out the way that the ‘grain of wheat’ image used in this week’s gospel passage speaks of the cyclical process of life, rather than the linear ‘beginning and end’ idea we tend to adopt.

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Progressive reflections on the lectionary #6

Progressive reflections on the lectionary #6

John 2: 13-22

This week we hear an account from ‘John’ of Jesus in the temple. This story is told by all four evangelists, but there is one key difference between the the synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and John’s version: In John 2: 16 Jesus says that the traders are making the temple ‘a marketplace’. In the synoptics the phrase is often given as a ‘den of thieves’. One is a legitimate economic hub, the other is illegitimate.

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Freeing The Faith

Freeing The Faith

I regret I never had the privilege of meeting Revd Hugh Dawes but he inadvertently had a profound impact on my Christian journey.

It was over thirty years ago when I was exploring the possibility of offering for the ordained ministry in the Methodist Church. Wesley College, in Bristol, (now closed) was holding a residential weekend for people such as myself, so I went along. It was while I was there that someone suggested that I read ‘Freeing the Faith’, by Revd Hugh Dawes, which back then was hot off the press.

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