Monthly Archives: November 2005

Ake Green acquitted

Yesteday Swedish Pentecostal pastor (not ‘priest’, please, BBC!) Ake Green was acquitted of hate crimes against homosexuals. I am partly relieved, partly disturbed.
 
Relieved, because I hold to the conviction that Christian ethics require fidelity in marriage and chastity outside.
 
Disturbed, due to this extract from the BBC report:
In the sermon, Mr Green told a congregation on the small south-eastern island of Oland that homosexuals were “a deep cancer tumour on all of society” and that gays were more likely than other people to rape children and animals.

 
A website run by his supporters contains evidence that individual homosexuals are more likely to be paedophiles than individual heterosexuals. This is because although there are three times as many incidents of heterosexual child abuse than homosexual, the relative proportions of heterosexual and homosexual people makes the homosexuals more likely to offend.
 
Even if this is so, it makes me wonder about labelling homosexuals this way. All child abuse is wrong.
 
I remember a student on placement with me who told me he had given a midweek church group ‘the biblical view’ on homosexuality. I knew what he meant. But he had missed out God’s love for all people. Had he really given the biblical view?
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Pope May Suspend Limbo

According to a Reuters report the Catholic Church may replace the doctrine of limbo – the place where unbaptised deceased babies go, suspended between heaven and hell. Not before time, in the view of this Protestant/free church/non-Catholic/whatever I am. The idea that God cannot be gracious without a sacrament is pretty offensive.
 
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Give Us This Day Our Daily Chicken

From this month’s Grove Books email:
 
The phone rang in the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was Kentucky Fried Chicken.

‘Archbishop, we will give you £100,000 to the Church if you change the Lord’s Prayer to say “Give us today our daily chicken.”‘

‘I’m sorry, I can’t do that,’ replied the ABC. ‘It would mean undoing hundred– thousands–of years of Christian tradition.’

The next week KFC phoned back again.

‘We will give you £500,000 to change the Lord’s prayer.’

‘I’m sorry, these are Christ’s own words–I cannot change them’

The next week KFC phoned again.

‘We will give you £10 million.’

‘I’m sorry, the words are in the Bible–I cannot change them.’

Finally, KFC phoned a last time.

‘We will give you £100 million to change the line.’

The ABC thought hard. The money could help a lot of people; it could make the gospel known to the whole country; it really could do a power of good. ‘All right’, he replied, ‘I will propose the change to the Archbishops’ Council and Synod.’

After much thought and prayer, despite the fact that the words were the Lord’s own, that it meant changing thousands of year of Christian tradition, that the words are in the Bible, the Council agreed to present the change to General Synod–after all, the money could do a lot of good.

So at the next Synod, the ABC stands up.

‘I’ve got some good news, and some bad news.

The good news is that we are being given £100 million.

The bad news–I think we’ve lost the Hovis account.’

 
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Fresh Expressions Of Church: Tom Stuckey’s Presidential Address

At last, the full text of Tom Stuckey’s Presidential Address to the Methodist Conference is online here.
 
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Fresh Expressions Of Church: Tom Stuckey’s Presidential Address

At last, the full text of Tom Stuckey’s Presidential Address to the Methodist Conference is online here.
 
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Buy Nothing Day

Tomorrow is International Buy Nothing Day - an annual event to expose the wickedness of consumerism. Wouldn’t you know that two of the three churches I serve are having Christmas fairs tomorrow? Rather like the way we protest against Sunday trading but have church bookstalls or fair trade stalls on a Sunday. Or more seriously, like the way too much of church culture bows down at the idol of consumerism. Christian retailers speak of ‘product’. I once saw a bookseller advertise ‘this indispensable book’ – and it wasn’t the Bible. We are dreadfully compromised.
 
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John Sentamu on English Culture and the Gospel

Archbishop John Sentamu in The Times:
 
“The gospel I got in my country was so good. I am simply telling the English, it is my job now, to simply remind you of what you taught me.”
 
Amen. May God send us many more like Dr Sentamu.
 
 
 
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John Sentamu on English Culture and the Gospel

Archbishop John Sentamu in The Times:
 
“The gospel I got in my country was so good. I am simply telling the English, it is my job now, to simply remind you of what you taught me.”
 
Amen. May God send us many more like Dr Sentamu.
 
 
 
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Marriage

You don’t usually read techie or geek blogs to get wisdom about marriage but read this post by Anil Dash - full of wisdom and a breath of fresh air.
 
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Advent Hope and Christmas Faith

I just wrote the following for my December/January church newsletter …

 

It’s mid-November and I’m writing something to cover all the way through January. Having just seen the end of Debbie’s miserable ear infection I’m not quite thinking of Christmas yet.

 

But others are, and have been planning for months. The shops have been working out their campaigns, the record companies have been recording wretched Christmas singles, et cetera. And blow me down if Debbie hasn’t announced that she has bought all her presents.

 

Me, well, I’ve ordered Rebekah’s main present and bought her a stocking-filler; I’ve bought Mark’s main present and I have a couple of small things so far for my lovely wife. But the rest of it – I haven’t a clue.

 

I know I’m far from unique: Christmas shoppers seem to be divided between those who start buying in the January sales and those who rush around frantically on Christmas Eve.

 

Yet I believe that the Christmas faith is one that calls us to look forward in a far greater and deeper way. Christmas is not only a time to cast our minds back two thousand years to the miracle of God taking on human flesh in obscurity and poverty, revolutionary as that is.

 

Let me put it like this: I don’t suppose for one moment that when Slade wrote ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ they had theology in mind, but the line, ‘Look to the future now, it’s only just begun’ is exactly what the Christmas faith is all about. The coming of Christ has changed everything and the future has begun, the future which is God’s kingdom.

 

That’s why we begin Advent four Sundays before Christmas with the theme of the Advent Hope. We are not only looking back to the incarnation of Christ, we are looking forward to his coming to bring the fulness of God’s kingdom.

 

In the meantime we live in the tension between the ‘now’ that is full of pain and sin and the ‘future’ which has begun with God’s forgiveness, healing and justice. Our challenge is to live the Advent Hope, to live under the joyful reign of God’s Kingdom in the midst of the worst this world offers.

 

To do that is to live the Christmas faith.

 
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