Author Archives: All Hallows Leeds

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 1 July

Thought for the Day by Toby Parsons from All Hallows’:

Readings: Judges 9:22-57 and Luke 16:1-18

“No, that isn’t what I meant!”. 

Maybe you’ve muttered those words quietly to yourself in frustration, when someone fails to grasp what you’re trying to say, for the third time!  Perhaps you’ve said it aloud in irritation, when your words are being deliberately twisted.  And no doubt we can all think of times when a news article or interviewer deliberately takes something out of context.

It’s easy to focus on a few words and ignore the wider context.  And with retweeting and sharing of Facebook posts by the million, it’s even easier these days for snippets of a conversation or article to be passed on, without much thought about what the original speaker was trying to say.

The same is true of the Bible.  We can find ourselves focusing on a few words, and missing the wider point.

Today’s reading from Luke chapter 16 is a good example.  Verse 18 states clearly that “anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery”.  It might be tempting to say that this is absolute, unequivocal teaching straight from the mouth of Jesus.  This single verse could be thrown at people to shut down any further discussion.

But that would be at best simplistic, at worst deliberately manipulative.  And it would certainly ignore the many questions that come up when we look at the wider context.

Chapter 16 is about money.  We have the parable of the shrewd manager to start, and then the story of the rich man and the beggar to close.  Verses 14 to 18 seem to be an almost random inclusion, at first glance.  So why has Luke added these words, at this point?

And then we need to consider who’s being addressed.  Jesus is talking to a group of religious teachers who he saw being hypocritical and hard-hearted.  Many of them had probably been divorced, perhaps more than once.  They were often missing the point, and Jesus challenged them throughout the gospels in ways that were intended to shake them out of their comfort zone.  He chose topics because of how they’d be heard by his listeners, the pharisees.  We therefore need to be careful about trying to hear specific words of Jesus from our own perspective, without taking account of his audience at the time.

Of course this isn’t to say that we just gloss over verses that seem a little out of place.  People in Jesus’s day would have come together to listen to scripture, to hear teaching, but also to wrestle with it.  Understanding and application was an ongoing process, not a one-off sermon.  Scripture carried weight, but also required work.  

Perhaps we can learn from that today?  And keep challenging ourselves to look more deeply into the bible, trying to understand the full picture… unless we’re happy picturing Jesus standing there, saying to us “No, that isn’t what I meant!”.

Thought for the Day : Tuesday 30 June

Thought for the Day from Katharine Salmon from St Chad’s:

Readings: Judges 9:1-21 and Luke 15:11-32

The Prodigal Son – an extract below from a reflection on this passage by Rev Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor of All Sinners and Saints Church, Denver, Colorado. She blogs @sarcasticlutheran, and the whole text is on patheos.com. Nadia is one of my favourite preachers and is well worth looking up on line, and I love this reflection on the Prodigal Son.

For some reason there is so much of Christianity that has felt more comfortable with a punishment and reward system than it is with living in the pure love and freedom that Jesus has secured for us.

So if you hear nothing else in the reading, hear this: that angry punishing God is not the God I know. And it is not the God revealed to us in the person of Jesus Christ. This Jesus who ate with sinners and tax collectors and upset the religious authorities and who loved and healed and forgave people indiscriminately – well this Jesus was God’s way of telling us who God is.

So when I reject my identity as beloved child of God and turn to my own plans of self-satisfaction, or I despair that I haven’t managed to be a good enough person, I again see our divine Parent running toward me uninterested in what I’ve done or not done, who covers me in divine love and I melt into something new like having again been moved from death to life and I reconcile aspects of myself and I reconcile to others around me.

If you would like to listen to a beautiful musical reflection on the passage, here is a link to “I’ll die no more for bread” by Peter and Mary Alice Amidon (link below)

Thought for the Day : Monday 29 June

Thought for the Day from Hayley Matthews from All Hallows’:

Readings: Isaiah 49:1-6 and John 21:15-22

This Week 29 June – 5 July 2020

Every evening @7pm Candle Prayers
Mon 29 June @12-2:30pm Rainbow Junktion CafeTake out only
Tue 30 June @7:30pm Remote Bible Study with David – Contact David for further details
Wed 1 July @7pm Live streamed Candle Prayers from the home of David RH via our Facebook page
Thu 2 July @12-2:30pm Rainbow Junktion CafeTake out only
Fri 3 July @11:30am Remote Bible Study with David – Contact David for further details
Fri 3 July @12-2:30pm Rainbow Junktion Cafeshop
Sunday 5 July @10.30am Sunday morning worshipActs for an ACTivist church live on our Facebook page Luke 24 and Acts 1

See our calendar for more details of what is happening in the All Hallows’ community

Sunday All Age Worship Live 28 June 2020

Our Sunday All Age Worship service today was live streamed onto Facebook from the home of Graham and included all sorts of activities!

Thought for the Day : Saturday 27 June

Thought for the Day by Heston Groenewald from All Hallows’

Readings: Judges 7 and Luke 14:25-35

What are your greatest treasures?? The ‘possessions’ you have fought hardest for in life, which help define who you are?

For 1st century Israelites, this was a no-brainer:

  1. Land – the promised land
  2. Lineage – being children of Abraham and Sarah
  3. Law – Torah and Temple

All of these treasured possessions – which Gideon and many Israelites had fought and died for – identified and defined the Israelites over against ‘the nations’.

Sound a little bit nationalist?? YES says Jesus! And so his challenge (through St Luke today) speaks powerfully into our own time of contested national identity and values.

Jesus says, Give it all away. These national treasures are great – they are symbols of YHWH’s love and presence, and they are signposts to YHWH’s love and presence. But but but – they are not themselves the Ultimate Treasure – which is YHWH’s love and presence. If you lose sight of the Ultimate Treasure, you start turning symbols/signposts into idols.

This is exactly what had happened, and exactly why Jesus challenged so forcefully these great symbols of Israel’s identity. To remind Israel that YHWH is not limited to Israel’s land and family and temple – that God’s love and presence have always been intended for all the world.

(And to offer God’s love and presence in his own love and presence! Jesus’ fulfilment of all these national symbols is a Thought for Another Day) J

And so for us:

The quest for God, the never-to-be-completely-satisfied longing for God, is worth one’s life. Do not be afraid to forfeit whatever owns you, whatever idols capture your heart. This is your joy. A single-minded focus on Christ will help you to survive and give you courage and insight even in darkness. Those choose and possess the treasure who can hold on to God as their source and affirmation not only in joy but even when their great desire seems disappointed by life.

Constance Fitzgerald

Sunday 28 June

The service on Sunday will be a new All Age accessible format; lots of lively contributions, activity and singing included. We are also giving our own dear Heston and Lydia a very well earned Sunday of rest so look out for a new presenter!

Please be prepared and bring a large piece of paper or a party hat and have party nibbles and drink on hand. We will not have a formal communion but will end with our own party food in celebration. Zoom coffee will follow at 11.30 as normal.

I attach your invitation which is also the program and words for Sunday.
So for EVERYONE come and join our celebration: FaceBook LIVE, Sunday 28th June 10.30am.

From Kids’ Church,
Andrea, Hannah, Penny, Ruth and Graeme

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Thought for the Day : Friday 26 June

Thought for the Day for June 26th by Angela Birkin from St Michael’s:

Readings: Judges 6:25-40 and Luke 14:12-24

He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in
return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid
at the resurrection of the righteous.’ Luke 14.12-14.

In the ancient Middle East, meals were important social ceremonies. Deeply important issues like who one ate with and where one was asked to sit were clear indicators of where a person ranked in the social hierarchy.

In our reading from Luke Jesus has been invited to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the sabbath, and he challenges the assumptions of the host and of the other guests. The guests are rebuked in Luke 14.7-11 for taking the places of honour and urged to hold back, if only to avoid the embarrassment of being asked to move to a lower place. The host is challenged in the verses quoted above to extend his highly selective invitation list to include those who will never be in a position to repay his hospitality.

Jesus challenges us with lessons in humility and generosity to look beyond our own selfinterest. Our culture is still preoccupied with hierarchy and status – how many ‘likes’ will my facebook post or youtube video get? How many people follow me on Twitter? What’s
in it for me?

Jesus teaches the values of God’s kingdom, where all are invited, regardless of social standing, gender, sexuality, race or creed.

Let us pray today for humility to put others before ourselves, for generous and welcoming hearts, and that we may serve without looking for personal reward.

The artwork is the sculpture ‘Homeless Jesus Christ’, designed by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, outside St Ann’s Church in Manchester. Jesus’ feet are pierced.

Thought for the Day : Thursday 25 June

Thought for the Day by Robin Fishwick

Readings: Judges 6:1-24 and Luke 14:1-11

Humility and Humiliation

Today’s New Testament reading is not just a guide to etiquette. It does actually work as a guide to etiquette – don’t risk embarrassment by taking a place of honour you might be asked to leave – but it does have deeper implications than that , encapsulated in the final proverb “Everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be raised up”.

This teaching arises from Jesus’ observation of people who are self important, who feel they are better than the common people, people who think that the best things in life are theirs by right. Again and again his teachings are urging his followers not to be impressed by the proud, the pompous, the arrogant or the powerful, but rather to seek inspiration from the humble. Jesus is repeatedly unimpressed by the impressive; by Herod, by the buildings of Jerusalem, by Pontius Pilate, and least of all by the religious leaders. The heroes of his stories and observations are often the humble, the poor, the outsiders, those whom people wouldn’t normally look twice at. Nobodies.

What a terrible place to be, when you are  so engrossed in a privileged bubble that those outside are seen as “nobodies”, as not even being. That’s one way of understanding what Jesus means by “raca” (Mt 5:22). The current “Black Lives Matter” campaign is one expression of those outside a bubble of privilege crying out to be noticed by those inside, for their experiences to be heard. But the bubble is also a prison for those inside, and the way out of the prison is humility. Here’s a piece of wisdom from Uncle Iroh. If you don’t know  who Uncle Iroh is, ask a teenage friend:

Humility is an easier thing to embrace than it appears to be – once you embrace it. Before you embrace humility, you live in fear that you might be humbled – and that the experience of being humbled will be the end of you. The fear of losing face is a terrible thing for those whose existence is bound up with outward appearances. Whenever you do get to embrace humility, you find yourself  free to frolic in the great world outside the bubble. As the beatitudes tell us, that great world outside belongs to the humble, rather than the entitled. 

So Jesus and Uncle Iroh tell us this counter-intuitive truth. If you want to avoid humiliation, embrace humility. Then, when the wind blows your hat off and you have to bend over and pick it up out of a puddle, you cannot be hurt by laughter, because you were the one who laughed first.

Thought for the Day : Wednesday 24 June

Thought for the Day from Anna Bland from All Hallows’:

Readings: Malachi 3:1-6 and Luke 3:1-17

We are living in a time of expectation and anxiety. We look to the future and do not know what is around the corner. As lockdown eases many of us are making predictions about what the world and our society may look like, some more positive than others.

John the Baptist lived in his own time of expectation as he waited for Jesus. Admittedly a more exciting prospect than the potential economic collapse we are faced with. As he prepared the way through his teaching and baptising, John knew he had a role to play in the salvation of the world and he fulfilled it with enthusiasm. In Luke 3 we see John has gained quite a reputation for this teaching and gathered a number of followers who ask his advice about how to live. He shares excellent advice unique to each individual, advocating that tax collectors collect no more than they are authorised to and soldiers do not extort money from anyone by threats. He advocates a fairer and more humane society; where everyone regardless of status takes into the account the full humanity those they interact with.

As I read these words of advice I am aware how relevant they still are for us today. In a world of Black Lives Matter, Me Too and many other movements encouraging drastic changes towards a more humane and loving society, we still haven’t managed this. Change is slow, as any activist will tell you, so if we believe that, like John, we have a God-given role to play in building the kingdom here on earth, what does this mean for us? What small part can we play in bringing about the more loving society we want to see?