Saturday, 25 February 2017

Looky here - my boss wrote this

My vicar in the parish where I work has written a fantastic letter to the Archbishops and I am rather chuffed about it so I thought I would let you (2 readers of this blog ;) know about it. Here's how it begins:
Dear Archbishops Justin and John,
I hope you will forgive my boldness in writing to you like this. But as you have written publicly calling for 'a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church' after last week's General Synod I wanted to write and ask the question which many are now asking: what exactly is that? 
You see, the thing is, I've always thought the gospel was radically inclusive already. I've always believed that 'the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives' – as the famous hymn puts it. And when I look back on churches of which I have been a part, I recall them including paedophiles, an associate of the Kray twins, pornography addicts, adulterers – and others, including myself, whose middle class respectability masked sins which might have been less obvious but were equally heart-breaking to God. We, together, were vile offenders (in the eyes of God's law if not of the world) who chose to repent and believe. And gloriously, all of us were welcomed and included! When you add in the mind-blowing mix of age, ethnicity and background as well, that seems pretty inclusive already.
To read the rest, looky here

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The problem with secular arguments for sexual ethics

...is that they spring from the same root as arguments for same-sex "marriage": human autonomy. Able secular proponents of "traditional marriage" argue for "the common good" and human flourishing" saying that only marriage gives us happy, well-balanced children; strong family bonds; and useful citizens. The problem is that many advocates of homosexuality (for example) see a society that discriminates against same-sex "marriage" as not a common good and, even were they to grant that traditional marriage fosters more well-adjusted families, they would still insist that a sexually discriminatory society must be abolished. For them, the right of homosexuals to marry is part of the common good. For these homosexuals and their heterosexual allies, what constitutes "good" is not held in "common" with "traditional" marriage advocates. It is not, therefore, "the common good" or "human flourishing" to which Christians must ultimately appeal, but to the word of God.
That gist of that last sentence is something we Christians need to remember and reiterate when addressing all the hot button issues in our culture today e.g, abortion, divorce, child rearing etc. That said, lets not miss the perceptiveness of the above comments as we consider how to respond - in righteousness - to the biggest issue of our times. You can read more here.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

What the mosquito teaches us

If you think you are too small to make a difference then you haven't spent a night with a mosquito - African proverb

Monday, 13 February 2017

The best Valentines gift

I’m sure you’re aware of it but just in case you’re not, it's Valentine’s this week! Judging by what’s on display in the shops, tis the season to splash out on chocolates, red roses and pricey jewellery. How ironic that a day named after a Christian martyr (St Valentine) is now associated with over-priced flowers and restaurants offering expensive ‘romantic’ candle-lit dinners. Not that I am against any of this extravagance but what is often missed is the ordinary and ongoing nature of true love. The famous Bible passage that is often read at weddings captures this well: “love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” Such love is borne out not by experiencing warm or fuzzy feelings but in the serving of others day in, day out – in good times and in bad. True love is about putting others first and a life lived for the benefit of others. As Jesus puts it “in everything (not just at Valentines) do to others what you would have them do to you.” Love continually puts other people first.
In practical terms this means that in all our relationships (but especially for husbands and wives) we should desist the temptation to “fix the other person first”. Many a time in a marriage, the husband knows what ‘issues’ his wife needs to sort out are and, if we were to ask her, she would probably be able to list where he is failing. In short, couples often forget to put the other first. They forget to love their neighbour as themselves. It is shocking to see how men and women who are pleasant and warm in dealing with others can then be rude, thoughtless, tacky, bitter, demanding or angry – as though marital closeness eradicated all responsibility to love your [closest] neighbour as yourself. When challenged on this, we defend ourselves by blaming the other: “She started it”; “He won’t listen.” But to blame the other is to violate the love we are to have for our neighbour.

Many couples will spend some money on their beloved over the coming week. That may be good and proper. However, to indulge your loved one in mid-February when for the rest of the year you rarely (if ever) put them first would be a travesty. The solution is to remember Christ – to remember His love and the great price He paid for your sin, to seek His forgiveness where you have failed to love (and who hasn’t?) and then in dependence on His Holy Spirit, to resolve daily to walk the way of loving your neighbour as you love yourself. Happy Valentine!
Parish magazine article for the week beginning 12th February 2017 AD

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Two income families should not be the norm!

Image result for playing in the streets
Because children should be able to play freely outdoors and for hours on end, there should be neighbourhoods for them to play in. Because there should be neighbourhoods, there should be in those locales the natural though informal monitors of the neighbourhood; elderly people on their porches, many mothers, and men and women at work in family businesses nearby. Because there should be such neighbourhoods filled with people, our social policies should favour them and support them, and our cultural expectations likewise. Therefore we should not subordinate the family to work; double-income family should not be the norm; we should reconsider all things that tend to remove father and mother far from the place where they live.

 Antony Esolen, Out of the Ashes

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

How to make heaven happy!

With February fast approaching, we are currently in crunch time for New Year’s Resolutions. According to research, the number of people keeping their resolutions is shrinking week by week. By the end of the first week in January it is estimated that about 25% have already given up. By the start of February nearly 40% will given up and come the middle of the year more than half will have abandoned their goals. Apparently, only 8 percent of those who make resolutions are successful in achieving the goal they had set for themselves. With such a small success rate perhaps it is little wonder that many of us don’t even bother making a resolution at all. Truth be told, we are pretty bad at keeping our promises (let alone our resolutions) and that’s largely because we are weak and feeble creatures. Who of us can promise that 2017 will not have any personal failure and disappointment in it?

The Prophet Isaiah rightly describes humanity like this: “We all like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.” We are all like sheep – easily distracted, hugely vulnerable and needing someone who will care and provide for us in our weakness.

Fortunately, we have such a person. Someone who not only cares for us but who understands and welcomes us despite our weakness. Here is a story that Jesus told to make just that point:
Related image"The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Jesus. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." (Luke 15:1-7). 
That final line is the crucial one. There is joy in heaven when sinners repent. God is pleased when we acknowledge our failings, our shortcomings, our sin and turn to Him in repentance. Rather than merely feeling bad over failed resolutions or another broken promise or for losing one’s temper (or whatever other sin), why not make heaven happy? Be the person who acknowledges their sin, who repents quickly and who brings God delight by trusting Him for the forgiveness that He has promised to all who trust Jesus.
Parish newsletter article for the 4th week in Epiphany (with thanks to SJ)

Monday, 30 January 2017

This is why "Social Services" is doomed!

When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and moral code that glorifies it.

 Frédéric Bastiat

...Let the reader understand!