Engaging with other faiths, WWJD?

This week we pose the question, ‘Engaging with other faiths, WWJD?’ In doing so we will go to the source, the origin of our faith and understanding to identify how Jesus engages with those who are non-disciples, not followers of Jesus. In doing so we will have to deal with one of the misconceptions and abuses of understanding which has evolved over recent years.

This misconception is seen in how Jesus or the ‘Jesus way’ has somehow become a shorthand for unmitigated and unquestioning acceptance and welcome without question, challenge or confrontation. As if our lives can remain just as they are with no expectation placed upon us. John was right when he wrote in the prologue to his Gospel, that when ‘The Word became flesh and blood…’ he was ‘…full of grace and truth.’ After all: ‘Our God is a Lion, the Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles… Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, for the sin of the world, his blood breaks the chains…


Where do we go from here?

We had thought that the news of last Sunday’s orchestrated attacks in Sri Lanka could not be more terrible. However, over the past week the death toll has risen to more than 350, with over 500 injured. The BBC’s Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner explained that responsibility for the attack has now been admitted by ISIS ‘… who celebrated, (and I used that term with disgust) the news of the bombings.’

Where do we go from here; a new low in the history of how some motivated by faith have done their worst to eliminate those of another faith? For the next few weeks we will be looking at what the Bible says about the origins of the ‘Abrahamic faiths’ and listen to what God might say to guide us in our response.

 

 


There are many ways in which the Christian calendar is so helpful to us in our discipleship journeys..

There are many ways in which the Christian calendar is so helpful to us in our discipleship journeys for not only does it remind us of the story of our faith, it also acts as an almanac, plotting the changing times against our lives.
At Christmas we get to hear that the God who created us is not distant but has come near. On Good Friday we get to know that our experience of bereavement and loss, even our own mortality, is something which God too has experienced. And today, O Happy Day, we get to know that we have purpose, meaning and that hope is not elusive. We get to know that the atheist worldview simply will not do. It does not match the facts of the resurrection and it fails to offer any hope. We know that the resurrection seeds have been sown and the day is coming when all creation, all of it, will be transformed, as will our own mortal bodies, into the dawning of the perfect, glorious resurrection world.

Easter will be about a death, but it will also most certainly, be about the Resurrection.

Being a part of a family means compromise around what is watched on TV. So last Sunday evening I found myself watching Channel 4’s ‘Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins for Stand Up to Cancer.’ As you can probably guess, twelve ‘celebrities’ (something of a broad term these days), undergo SAS training to whittle out the weak and exalt the strong.

Interspersed throughout the show were clips telling stories of people whose lives had been affected by cancer, either their own diagnosis or that of someone close to them. I was especially touched by the story of Jamie MacDonald, a young Welsh judo athlete, winner of national titles and then a competitor in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This exceptional young man was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in early 2015. In the interviews he talked of the depression, the battles, the features of a ‘normal’ life which would not be his and how he knew that, ‘this is a bout I cannot win, but I hope I can get a few good throws in before that happens.’ What saddened me most was the sense of hopelessness of his situation; there was next to nothing save ‘a few good throws’ which might come of this. Jamie died in 2017.

O to have opened his eyes to the story of another young man who faced death with similar struggles, yet who also knew that death would not be the end. O for Jamie to have known, ‘And what we believe is that the One who raised up the Master Jesus will just as certainly raise us up with you, alive.’ 2 Cor 4:14 Easter will be about a death, but it will also most certainly, be about the Resurrection.

 

 


What goes up must come down!

The Church Building has been returned to it’s normal state and is ready for Sunday Services again this week.
We return to Mark’s Gospel and look at the potential entrapment of Jesus over the matter of the payments of taxes to Caesar. Taxes that had to be paid by all who were not citizens of Rome. Jesus is asked, “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” It’s a trap. N.T.Wright explains it like this: ‘The Pharisees and Herodians are acting together. They are trying to force Jesus either to support the paying of taxes to Rome, thus alienating the crowds or to denounce the tax, in which case they could tell the governor, Pontius Pilate, that Jesus was guilty of a straightforward capital charge, namely inciting revolt. But they reckoned without Jesus’ brilliant response.’
In our Sunday evening service we will be looking at the issue of ‘Freedom’.


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