In this great action shot from Makkah Mosque yesterday… You get 10 points each for finding:
- and 50 points if you can spot Thor!
In this great action shot from Makkah Mosque yesterday… You get 10 points each for finding:
Our Muslim sisters and brothers would like our help feeding hungry people… Anyone up for a Palm Sunday procession to Makkah Masjid??0 Like this?
Ramadan starts tomorrow (Thursday 18 June), and we’d like to deliver a card like this to each of our 3 local Mosques: Leeds Grand Mosque, Makkah Masjid, and Makki Masjid and Madrassa . All in favour, say Aye??
And let’s remember our Muslim sisters and brothers in our prayers this next month… ‘Loving God, Good Shepherd of us all: We give you thanks and praise for the rich diversity of your world and your people. Give us humility to see your Spirit at work in the life of others; give us joy to show your Spirit at work in our life; and above all give us love to embrace and break down the barriers that separate us. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.’2 people like this
Christmas, a time for giving and a time for receiving, a time of joyful celebration and sharing.
So no room for politics!
But … Christmas is a political statement!
Mary’s song (the Magnificat) speaks of the birth of a new king who will scatter the proud, bring down rulers, lift up the humble and redistribute wealth.
A new king, one who becomes a refugee in the first few months of his life.
What could be more political?
“Simon” puts it very well in his “a sideways glance” blog – he says that Christmas is the:
“most political festival in the Christian calendar (apart from all the others!), it is the perfect moment for Christians to be talking about the things that matter to God – justice, equality, being practical good news to the poor, and challenging elites and the wealthy to use the resources under their command to work for God’s agenda in the world.”
So, I would like to wish you all a very happy and political Christmas – may the message of the kingdom that Jesus came to bring into the world be our inspiration for the New Year, and may His Spirit and our fellowship together be a resource to sustain us as we work to “make all things new”.
Paul0 Like this?
Katherine Hogg of Christian Aid shared today about some of the work that Christian Aid are doing in Brazil.0 Like this?
Scott Coulson (aka ‘Beanz’), co-leader of the break dance group ‘Shaolin Shadow’ who practise in All Hallows on Saturday evenings made it as far as the semi-final of the Red Bull breakdance competition recently.
Scott, who has shouldered more of the leadership of the Leeds group since Shane Fenton has been more involved in the national scene, is hoping along with his partner Rawgina to start break dance and exercise classes at All Hallows in the not-too-distant future. We wish them luck with this venture which has as one its main aims the health and well being of youngsters in the local area so look out for that!
Meanwhile, click on the link below and have a look at the video of Beanz and the other competitors – and also a clip of a Saturday night session at All Hallows!
Steve1 person likes this
The gospel reading today is from Luke chapter 13 – which is basically all about judging.
I’ve been reading a colleague’s sabbatical study on the spiritualities of the Coptic and the Celtic churches – which among other things shared the idea of a Rule of Life that centres on
All of these areas of life call for judgement of some kind.
Life is full of judgements isn’t it? –
Ø Egypt and the conflict between a regime acting on the will of millions of people to topple a seemingly corrupt leadership – and a political group whose democratically elected leader has been summarily arrested and imprisoned…
Ø The partner of the Guardian correspondent who was held for nine hours at Heathrow airport under terrorist legislation without charge or arrest…
Ø The cull of badgers – unnecessary wiping out of innocent defenceless creatures, or essential protection dairy herds…
Judgement always has two parts – our words and actions in expressing judgement (including sometimes saying and doing things we don’t realise give away what we really think, feel, believe) – and the judgements we hold in our minds and hearts.
Sometimes these two don’t match as neatly as we’d like them to… especially in those judgements that affect us more personally; think for a moment. In your dealings with each other and with other people, what are the things that determine your judgements – your intentions, words and actions?
Because among the many gifts that nature in her wisdom has given each of us, is a very strong instinct for survival and this often leads us into conflict, doesn’t it… conflict between our wants and what we know from our discipleship of Jesus the Christ and following his Way, are his wants for us.
In the news over the past couple of days was the story of the British soldier, a bomb-disposal expert, the first foreigner ever to be honoured by the Danish government. This was for an incident that happened in Afghanistan when the soldier shielded his Danish colleague with his own body.
I wonder what went through his mind in the second or so he had to make a decision about preserving his own life or potentially saving the life of another? Maybe you think that that kind of incident is far from your life and the judgements you need to make day by day – But I would argue that it’s precisely this kind of thinking that has to rule everything we do. We Christians talk about the Way of Christ; in our welcome at the start of our Sunday services we often use the words, “Everyone is welcome to receive communion – all we ask is a heart open to God and a respect for the Way of Jesus”… Well we’ve already made a judgement about who can have communion (everyone) – but we also judge that a heart open to God and a respect for the way of Jesus is more deserving than perhaps a tortured heart that knows nothing of God and has never even heard of the way of Jesus…
Judgements – more tricky than perhaps we sometimes think!!
So it was for the poor leader of the synagogue in today’s reading from the gospel of Luke. He obviously had something against the woman who Jesus healed, or maybe he even had a thing about women in general? Or perhaps he was just a mean-spirited man who you just want to slap?
He was evidently defending (rather too hard, you might think) his received religious instruction to keep the Sabbath, and that meant no work of any kind – which for him and many others included healing, As our Old testament reading says:
If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honourable;
if you honour it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;*
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord…
Maybe there is a point here that we miss at our peril: could the leader of the synagogue have been genuinely, even faithfully according to the received teaching, exhorting people to put even their need for healing (or their desire to heal?) secondary to the importance of keeping Sabbath – focussing totally on the things of God to the exclusion of all else? His fervour does seem genuine…
15But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?’ 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
There always seem to be winners and losers when we get involved in judging … in Keith Hebden’s book ‘”SEEKING JUSTICE”, in writing about our response to people we judge to be wrong-doers and how justice and forgiveness are always personal, he says this:
“Finding a way to forgive an offender is often challenging. We have been taught to believe that the natural human response to being offended against is to seek retribution” – There has to be payback, punishment, JUSTICE!!
The leader of the synagogue in our gospel reading is a good example of this. It seems to me that Jesus’ compassion for the woman is paramount and rightly so, but what about the man?
What is your response to him? What does the way of Jesus say about how we ought to treat him?
On Jesus’ response to the man’s complaints, the gospel says, “all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.”
Well hooray for our side! Jesus is the winner and this horrible man and people like him are all losers.
But let’s look at that again:
When Jesus replies 15But the Lord answered him and said, ‘You hypocrites (PLURAL!)
And then goes on to suggest something positive – “…ought not this woman be set free on the Sabbath?”
Two points here: firstly, you might say the leader of the synagogue is wrong and needs to be castigated in some way; made to feel shame for his thoughtless and uncaring attitude…
But wait – the Old Testament reading (Isaiah 58. 9 & 10):
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
10 if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
you shall be called the repairer of the breach!
So if you were to offer the ‘food’ of your compassion to this evidently spiritually hungry man you might say he is just a poor individual whose religious fervour and devotion have led him to make a wrong judgement. So when Jesus replies in the plural, could it be that he is not having a go at this one man in a condemnatory way but is actually talking to a whole Community about getting the right message about making judgements?
Keith Hebden echoes this in his chapter on ‘Making Community Personal’ when he distinguishes between an individualistic outlook on the one hand – and a personal world-view on the other. With Individualism the individual strives to be materially and emotionally self-sustaining; in other words it is based on a selfishness that serves to divide communities and make us dependent on a system that is beyond individual control. Personalism assumes that we have collective needs and an ability to express a consensus; and that this can only be done as we learn to meet one another with personal responsibility. Individualism makes the needs of others less important than our own needs and manufactured wants. Personalism seeks to hear the needs of others and find ways to communicate our own real needs.
And the second point, Jesus asks a really powerful rhetorical question that is designed to help people, (the leader of the synagogue included) to reach the right conclusion about judging between our conditioned responses, and the Way of Jesus… “…ought not this woman be set free on the Sabbath?”
Whenever we make judgements: whether we are judging others or ourselves, or we are seeking justice for ourselves or others, this question of Jesus’ is the kind of powerful question that challenges our conditioning when we’re tempted to choose habitual practice over what our heart tells us is right… as such it is also the kind of powerful question that is designed to invite us to listen more closely to what actually is there, deep in our hearts… it’s the kind of powerful question that encourages us into a way of being where justice and mercy, in the words of psalm 85 ‘kiss each other’… it’s the kind of powerful question that warmly beckons us to the Way of Jesus.0 Like this?
Saturday August 10th saw an exciting evening of brilliant contemporary dance, visual art and fantastic break dancing.
First up was ‘Terrarium’ with Simon Birch Dance, fresh from their successful tour including the City of London Festival and the SALT festival in Cornwall. Debbi Purtill and James Southward performed the powerful and moving to John Hughes’ specially-composed soundtrack played through eight ‘Ambisonic’ speakers and the effect was breath-taking.
In an extended interval the audience had the chance to view an exhibition of beautiful visual art by Sheffield artist Trish O’Shea and local artist Nick Greenhall.
To cap the evening off, break dance group Shaolin Shadow gave a magnificent display of break dancing followed by a ‘dance battle’ – inviting some local lads to join in and show off their skills too.
Quite apart from being a scintillating evening’s entertainment, the event raised over £700 towards our plans to repair and renovate the church roof – but even more wonderful than that was the atmosphere of excitement, togetherness and sheer delight in the variety of creativity that was so generously on offer. Many thanks to the artistic contributors and to all whose efforts (box office, bar, food, raffle) made the evening so lovely and so memorable.
Love to all, Steve0 Like this?
This coming Sunday is Leeds PRIDE and at our 10.30am Communion service we shall be welcoming as our preacher Kerry Cockerham
All are , as always, most welcome!0 Like this?
Mission, or Task, is at the heart of what the Church of God is about. The idea starts with the assumption that belief isn’t just something that goes on internally, either in our minds or within the walls of our church buildings on Sundays, but is to do with transforming what we believe into what we do.
To those who are confused or even frightened by the very notion of being involved in some way in the mission of the church, there have been a couple of helpful developments in recent times:
Firstly there was the introduction of the idea of mission having five ‘hallmarks’: it meant preaching to the unconverted, baptising and teaching new Christians, having an eye to ministry among the needy, a desire to see the world changed through the power of the message of love and care for the created order of which we and all people are part…
Secondly (and thankfully for me and people like me) someone decide to ‘alliterate’ the list (write them down so they all start with the same letter!) to make remembering and understanding these hallmarks easier.
SO – the five ‘marks’ of the mission of the church are:
TELL – this is about communicating to the world around us our experience of the things of God: joy, liberation, generosity, hope, grace, faithfulness, peace, love… When we say ‘Tell’ of course we must remember the words of St Francis “…use words if necessary” . In other words, telling, preaching, proclaiming the message of love is every bit as much about how we live, how we behave, what sort of things we say and how we say them, how much we listen, our patience, compassion, grace, peace, generosity and so on, as what we merely say.
TEACH – this is about nurturing people who are new to faith, passing on to them something of what we’ve experienced and learnt – and are still learning – for example about trust, humility, mercy, commitment, forgiveness, prayerfulness… and helping them to experience the things of faith for themselves
TEND – this is about looking to the needs of others, whoever they are, whether we consider them to be good or bad, like or unlike us, near or far, deserving or undeserving
TRANSFORM – this is about having the vision of the world as it could and can be (our local community, family, colleagues – and ourselves) and seeking to help it to grow in love, hope, compassion, justice-with-mercy, peace
TREASURE – this is about having a wider view and respect for the of the whole of Creation and the way its parts are all inter-related and inter-dependent – including us
It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean that each of us individually is expected (or even be able!) to do all of the things in each of the five areas; these are the ‘Marks’ of mission: guidelines for what the Church needs to do in order to fulfil its vital task of revealing the kingdom of God on earth – which is the whole point of the church’s existence.
Steve3 people like this