Author Archives: All Hallows Leeds

Thought for the Day : Monday 21 September

Thought for the Day by Katherine-Alice Grasham (All Hallows)

Readings: 1 Kings 19:15-end and 2 Timothy 3:14-end

For today’s reflection, I wanted to share again the Black Lives Matter prayers that I shared at All Hallows yesterday, which were written by Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church in London, who are part of the Inclusive Church network just like us.

Loving and forgiving God, we come to you today recognising that in matters of ethnicity we have no choice – we are who we have been made to be. Before you we rejoice at our diversity, and our hearts lift at your great vision of a worshipping multitude gathered from every nation, tribe, people and language. But nonetheless we recognise that our present reality is very far from this ideal.

We have each of us been shaped by different forces; some of us have been ground down, whilst others have been built up. Some of us have been worn away, or have become fractured and broken. Some of us have found life a burden rather than a joy. None of us have experienced the perfect life.

Some of us have inherited powerwhilst others of us have inherited powerlessness.

Some of us have been born white, in a world where whiteness confers privilegeOthers of us have been born black, in a world where darker skin carries disadvantage.

We know that this is not the world as you would have it be, but it is our world, and it has been our experience.

None of us asked for our skin colour, none of us asked to be born the heirs of oppression, none of us asked to inherit power or powerlessness.

So before you, and in the name of Jesus Christ who loves all people equally, regardless of ethnicity, gender or social status, we come now to recommit ourselves to your vision of the world.

We come now to pray ‘your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’, and to offer ourselves once to live out your coming kingdom of equality and justice in our lives, in our churches, and in our communities.

And so we confess our own complicity in the status quo which divides and distorts humanity. As we pray, we ask that you will release us from guilt, and will help us to find ways of laying down the burdens we have inherited.

Help us to discover our true and rightful place within the new humanity created in Christ Jesus. All races together, we confess that we have sinned, and that we have fallen short of the glory of God.

We confess our failures to speak out against injustice. We confess those times when, as individuals and as churches, we have witnessed the fracturing of humanity along ethnic grounds, and yet have remained silent. We confess those times when we have been the powerful ones and have chosen to withhold that power whilst another human suffered.

We confess the sin of racist exclusion, the abuse of power to oppress and demean. May those of us who have ourselves experienced exclusion be the first to speak up for others. May we create spaces for reconciliation.

We pray for our churches. May they become places of reconciliation, where each human soul is valued, and where equality in Christ is a reality in our midst. Forgive us those times where we do not live out our calling as your people. May our churches model the new humanity of Christ to those in the communities where we live.

We pray for our communities. Where there is division, may we bring restoration. Where there is inequality may we bring justice. Where there is powerlessness may we lift up the broken hearted. Where there is damage may we bring healing.

Loving and forgiving God, hear our confession, hear the desires of our hearts to be different, grant us your forgiveness, and remake us according to the likeness of Christ.

Amen.

Sunday Worship 20 September 2020

Today we continued our series in Creation Time: Rhythms of Life on the topic of serving. We were priveleged to be able to welcome Marvina Newton as our guest preacher to tell us all about Black Lives Matter Leeds and how we can be better Black Lives Matter Leeds allies

Thought for the Day : Saturday 19 September

Thought for the Day by Anna Bland (All Hallows)

Readings: 1 Kings 8:1-30 and Acts 15:36-16.5

I enjoyed reading with a little more focus about the Ark of the Covenant being brought to the Temple during the reign of King Solomon (1 Kings 8). After reading it I wanted to pick up on a few key elements of the story that really stood out to me

The Ark was brought to the Temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles which was a feast that commemorated God’s faithfulness in the Israelites’ time in the wilderness. It looks back at their time in slavery and forward to the promised land. The placing of the Ark in the Temple was significant as it was a fulfilment of their hope – God in the Holy of Holies in their Temple. Solomon had waited for months so this celebration could happen during this significant feast that all Jewish males had to come to consider the past, present and future.

Everything in this temple was brand new except for the Ark, it symbolises the continuation of God’s faithfulness to them and their continuing commitment to following the law. A modern example of this could be the opening of Victoria Gate shopping centre in Leeds City Centre with all its grandeur and modern design. Rather than a temple to Mammon this is their long-awaited Temple, the home of God forever. I love the idea the old Ark that has been through the desert with them sitting at the centre of this magnificent modern building, it is symbolic of where they have come from as well as being the earthly throne of God.

Just before Solomon is about to make his speech a cloud fills the room so the priests could not perform their final services. This is God appearing as a cloud as God often does to the Israelites. In the middle of grandeur, tradition and rules I love that God is a disrupting presence as all the busy-ness and duties have to stop because people cannot see through the cloud. Perhaps God is trying to suggest that they all need to take time as individuals to appreciate the moment, stop their busying and see the wonder of what has been achieved: God is palpably with them in the Temple. Hope is fulfilled. How often do we fail to take a moment to appreciate what is happening or what we have achieved? Often people say they can’t remember much of their wedding or other significant days because they were so busy and caught up the detail they fail to take a step back and see that moment in all its fullness.

I think this passage has much to teach us as individuals, church communities and a society about looking at our current context, considering what led us to this time but also to look ahead with hope on a firm footing. The Israelites were re-committing to what has always been core to their identity, appreciating the generations that got them to where they are and had built something to symbolise a new phase. While I am not suggesting we built a Temple, perhaps all of us today could take a couple of minutes to consider:

  • What is core to who we are, what is our Ark at the centre?
  • Name a few key things that have brought us to this present moment?
  • What is our hope for the future?

Sunday 20 September

This Sunday we’re thrilled to welcome Marvina Newton as guest preacher- to tell us all about Black Lives Matter Leeds and how we can be better Black Lives Matter Leeds allies

Do join us at 10.30am on All Hallows Church, Leeds Facebook Live if you’d like to join us / eavesdrop!

We will be continuing our Creation Series of The Rhythm of Life and the theme this week is SERVING. The angle for us will be ‘How can we better SERVE Leeds’ People of Colour as allies?’ Our readings will be from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and Matthew 5:6

Thought for the Day : Friday 18 September

Thought for the Day by Adriaan van Klinken (All Hallows)

Readings: 1 Kings 6:1, 11-28 and Acts 15:22-35

Each other’s prophets

At first sight, there’s very little that our readings for today have in common. In the book of Kings, we read about Solomon building a temple for God, using lots of gold and other beautiful decorations. In the book of Acts, we read about the leaders of the early church being concerned about developments among Christians in Antioch. They sent two representatives, Judas and Silas, with a letter of warning.

Although very different in context and content, both readings remind us that holiness – of a temple, a church, and believers – cannot be taken for granted. It requires constant attention, care and investment of resources.

I was struck by the line in the reading from Acts, which says that Judas and Silas were well-received in Antioch: “being themselves prophets, they said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.”

The letter which the two men carry with them appears to be of a rather moralising tone: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.” Yet once they have arrived, they apparently strike a different tone: not just reinforcing the do’s and don’ts, but delivering messages of encouragement that strengthen the believers in their faith.

They could do so, because they are prophets. Prophets are not moral police officers – they do not control whether you follow the latest government guidelines and report you in case of a trespass. Prophets remind us of the bigger picture, of the things that really matter; they bring us back to the basics of faith and truth.

Who are the prophets in our midst today, and how do they encourage us? Also, how could we be a prophet to others, to fellow believers in our church community and in society?

Only when we pay attention to each other, care for one another, and invest our resources in our communal well-being, we can grow in the direction that God wants us to be.

Thought for the Day : Thursday 17 September

Thought for the Day by Tim Ward (St Chad’s)

Readings: 1 Kings 4:29-5.12 and Acts 15:1-21

Hildegard of Bingen

Hello, my name is Hildegard of Bingen. This is my festival day and so, this is my Thought for the Day.  I have written poems, hymns, natural history, music, theology and medical books before, but nothing since 1179.

I was born in 1098 and became a Benedictine nun at 15. I am still famous for my visions, convents and religious writing. My passions also included drawing, medicine, natural history and music.  I based my most famous work “Knowledge of the Ways of the Lord” on 26 of my visions.  After a full, sometimes painful life, I left this earth on 17th September 1179.

I can relate to Solomon in today’s reading from the first book of Kings, Solomon was going to build a temple as the ultimate place of worship.  I had my own struggles moving a convent community to near Bingen on the Rhine.  In Kings we read of all the logistic problems Solomon had working with his neighbour Hiram, who supplied all the cedar and pine logs he wanted.

But the writer shows Solomon had wider interests: he “spoke of trees and plants…about animals, birds, reptiles and fish.”.  I too wrote, and drew about all these things, plants, fishes, trees, birds, quadrupeds, reptiles, medicine, science.

Solomon was, famously the wisest of all men” who composed “3000 proverbs, and more than a thousand songs” As well as books, I wrote a morality play Ordo Virtutum, with women taking the key roles. And also music, I was devoted to sacred music, because it helped:…

“… to build a bridge of holiness between this world and the world of all Beauty and Music.”

Kings from all over the world heard of Solomon’s wisdom and sent people to listen to him.  Well, I saw powerful people too, but did not let them get away lightly: King Henry II, the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and Pope Eugenius III and others got a flea in their ear: they needed to get back to the gospel.  I would have berated Solomon for his use of “forced labour” in the building preparations.

I knew conflict when developing my convents, and Luke, in this chapter of his Acts of the Apostles, details the division in the early church about the status of non-Jewish believers. Ending the distinction Peter says”, We believe and are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they are.” Peter spoke out in accordance with the vision he’d had on the rooftop in Joppa. I think we both saw creation as one.

So, thank you for letting me write this Thought for the Day. I can relate to Solomon and to Peter with his fellow disciples. I hope that this speaks to you, so you too can begin to “build a bridge of holiness”

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 16 September

Thought for the Day by Katharine Salmon (St Chad’s)

Readings: 1 Kings 3 and Acts 14.8-end

Reflection on the missional leadership in Acts

Acts gives us a glimpse of the challenges faced by the earliest missionaries proclaiming the gospel in a multi-cultural, multi-religious world. The words and deeds of Jesus’ disciples could easily be misunderstood by people with a wholly different set of values.

In Acts we see evidence that there were many wandering wonder-workers in the ancient world. In Samaria, for instance, Philip, Peter, and John encounter a magician named Simon who amazed the people with his magic and whom people believed to have divine power (8:9-11). When Simon sees the Holy Spirit given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offers them money to purchase this gift, earning a sharp rebuke from Peter (8:17-24).

Acts draws a stark contrast between the authentic leadership of apostles and missionaries commissioned by the church and the dubious undertakings of other prophets, magicians, and wonder-workers. Jesus’ disciples are not motivated by personal gain of wealth, power, or status. Indeed, they put themselves at great risk and endure persecution for the sake of the gospel. They know that they cannot control or manipulate the gift of the Holy Spirit, but trust the Spirit to work through them as God sees fit. Their ministries do not draw attention to themselves, but point to the good news of God’s kingdom drawing near in Jesus Christ.

We live in a diverse and pluralistic society with many people who have different values. How do we live in a way that shows that the Christian way is different?

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 15 September

Thought for the Day by Hannah Lievesley (St Chad’s)

Readings: 1 Kings 1:32-2:4, 2:10-12 & Acts 13:44-14:7

Ambition – good thing or bad thing?

A friend recently confessed to feeling a bit jealous of an ex-colleague who’d been promoted to the job she’d been destined for herself before she left to train for ministry. Jealousy is never a good thing, we know that, but it often arises as a bi-product of ambition. So what about ambition? Is that a bad thing too? Should Christian’s ever be ambitious?

The 1 Kings account of the rivalry between Adonijah and Solomon brought our conversation back to mind. In Old Testament history, God often seems to choose the leader who least wants the job. Indeed, ambition sits awkwardly with a lot of the teachings of the bible, not least Jesus’s Beatitudes (Matthew 5).  But there are different kinds of ambition. Can some of them be good?

I guess it boils down to the questions, “What is the end goal of your particular ambition?”, and “What are your drivers in seeking this goal?”

Emma Ineson was Chaplain at the Lee Abbey Community in Devon, then Principal of Trinity College Bristol. She’s now suffragan bishop of Penrith in Carlisle Diocese, and last year published a book, ‘Ambition: what Jesus said about power, success and counting stuffin which she explores the issues around faith, vocation and the question of ambition. She says,

The Christian tradition has been largely negative about ambition that exists to fulfil personal aims or further personal status, as in ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition’ (Phil 2.3). Rightly, most Christian thinkers have advocated humility over this kind of ambition. But there is a different kind of ambition that we might instead term zeal or passion for changing the world for Godly ends and with Godly means. In that sense, Christians should be the most ambitious people in the world!”

I wonder, if you are a naturally ambitious person? If so, what are your drivers and your end goals? Now think about it for a moment. Do these sit comfortably with Jesus’s teachings and his mission to the world?

If ‘No’, then are there ways you can re-focus or channel your ambitions to serve his purposes?

And if ‘Yes’, then thank God for planting that ambition within you, and go to work!  

https://www.eden.co.uk/shop/ambition-5063333.html

Thought for the Day : Monday 14 September

Thought for the Day by Clive Barrett

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Sunday Worship 13 September 2020

Today we continued our series in Creation Time: Rhythms of Life on the topic of sharing.