Many doubts and scattered stones

Sitting in the dirty police cell we discussed what we would say. “Don’t admit anything,” the team leader said. “They can’t prove anything.” Three of us had been making our way north from Guangzhou to Xi’an distributing bible tracts that connected readers with the underground church. We would go out at night dressed in dark clothes and leave them all around rural villages and towns before moving on the next day. If travelling by bus, we would also drop the occasional tract out of the rear window since many people travelled on foot along the roads. This was how we were caught. Continue reading “Many doubts and scattered stones”

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Holy Gossip

Listen here.

Tonight’s passage from the Epistle of James scares the living daylights out of me. Apparently, my tongue is a deadly fire. It stains the whole body. It is a restless evil, full of poison. And as one who speaks to the gathered community, I will be judged with greater strictness for my speech. Even worse, this passage is often used to preach against gossip: that form of talking about people which is so often done by women. I should be quaking in my boots — and believe me, I am! For I am a woman who regularly chats with people about people. And yet, while there is no doubt in my mind that careless and malicious words can be incredibly destructive, I’d like to step back, and take a good look at gossip. Continue reading “Holy Gossip”

State of the Union

This coming Sunday, we will re-form our congregation. After the Apostles Creed, those who are willing will be invited to stand and make a commitment to one another to journey together for the next twelve months. All are welcome: young or old, recent arrival or long-term participant, baptised or unbaptised, strong in faith or full of doubt. For we gather around Jesus Christ’s own table, and he invites everybody: no distinctions, no exceptions, no qualifying requirements. All you need to throw in your lot with us is a willingness to travel with us, and a readiness to give the elements of the commitment a red hot go, as we seek to live into God’s future together.  Continue reading “State of the Union”

Strong in faith, free of doubt? Yeah, right!

Every week in common time, we end communion by singing “Halleluya! We sing your praises”, in which we claim that we are “strong in faith, free of doubt“. “And yet,” someone said to me recently, “I’m not free of doubt!” This came hard on the heels of a conversation I had with someone else, a deeply committed and faithful Christian who attends church most weeks, and who nevertheless has always struggled with any sense of a personal faith.  Continue reading “Strong in faith, free of doubt? Yeah, right!”

Loneliness, Mess and Abundance

Jesus is surrounded by a huge crowd of hungry people: the disciples don’t know how to feed them. But there’s a boy with five loaves and two fish. Jesus has all the people sit down on the grass. He blesses the food, and shares it: and there’s so much that everyone there has more than enough to eat, with leftovers. How does this story speak into one person’s life? Here’s Lucy’s response. Continue reading “Loneliness, Mess and Abundance”

News Flash: King David: An undercover exposé!

Rumours abound that King David has been seen dancing in the raciest fashion. Shocked eyewitness reports describe the royal behind flashing in the sun. It is alleged that the King, heralding the arrival of the Chest of God to his city, danced ecstatically at the head of a carnival procession of musicians and soldiers, girded only in a priestly apron. He had the whole country on his side — with one exception. Continue reading “News Flash: King David: An undercover exposé!”

Group Reflection: Common Purse

On Sunday we reflected as a group on Acts 4:32-35. The conversation was wide-ranging and included stories of people’s attempts to live with a common purse and/or live in community. Of particular note:

*Some people talked about their experience of moving to shared finances in married life. One couple was delighted: joining forces meant they could finally use ATMs, because together they would regularly have over $20 in their account (the minimum needed to use an ATM). Another couple had struggled with how money and power played out, and whether or not the greater earner should have more say over how money was spent. This was a particular struggle for the lesser earner, who perhaps felt they should not insist on how money was spent. Continue reading “Group Reflection: Common Purse”

Jonah: Ministry without reservation

The book of Jonah is a powerful, difficult, and demanding book, more relevant than ever: for it shows a man walking into the epicentre of globalisation and military violence, unarmed, to preach the end of the age. Christians often think they should feel warm, fuzzy, loving thoughts towards the other; but, like Jesus, Jonah shows us that love means placing our very bodies among those we fear, hate, or simply don’t understand. Whether this means the extreme of walking into Mosul, the modern-day Ninevah, and preaching God’s word; or whether it means crossing the barriers of religion, age, class, or cultural, gender, or sexual identity in relationship, this radical enemy-love lies at the heart of the gospel – and it is terrifying.  Continue reading “Jonah: Ministry without reservation”

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