A Rubicon has been crossed
As legend has it “crossing the Rubicon” refers to “the point of no return” because once Julius Caesar crossed this shallow river in Northern Italy in 49BC war was inevitable.
A ruling from the High Court in England has in effect declared war on traditional Christian values, the very values which shaped much of the law of our land: the dignity of humankind; the right to hold to private beliefs and express them publicly; and the abiding wisdom of God’s 10 commandments, to name just a few.
Mr and Mrs Johns believe that Christianity teaches that homosexual conduct is wrong. They believe that this is what the church teaches and they think that this is to be found in the bible. To teach a foster child in their care that homosexuality was right would be in contradiction of their faith. As Mrs John’s says: “All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing” (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-12598896).
The high court has ruled that protecting a person from being discriminated because of sexual orientation trumps protecting a person against discrimination because of their religious beliefs.
So now it seems: Christianity is an oppressive and an unhealthy place to bring up foster children. The downward spiral our society has experienced is-
- Denial of Christian beliefs;
- Loss of Christian behaviour;
- The conviction that Christian beliefs and behaviour are not good but bad for society and even to teach a child Christian morality is harmful to their well being.
A foundational part of equality is the right to hold your own views and not to contravene your own conscience. But modern England today, like ancient Rome has “exchanged the truth for a lie” (Romans 1:25):
My conscience and common sense dictate that I must continue to say:
1) That children thrive in heterosexual relationships when brought up by the good role models of a mother and a father who have pledged to stay together for life;
2) That homosexuality is bad for the body (anatomically), and it fails to recognise genetic and biological differences between men and women;
3) Ultimately society requires opposite gender sexual intercourse in order to produce children and generally people are still agreed that traditional husband/wife families are good for society.
The dilemma is that if Christians continue to appeal to the Christian values which have shaped not only the Church but our legal system and the foundation of society, then I will be judged by many to be holding to oppressive and inhuman views.
We may feel that we have reached a point of no return. But we should also bear in mind that our society has not quite yet got to the degenerate state of the Roman Empire (as described in Romans 1). Paul’s conviction was that the message about Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation for all believe. Many have argued that despite Caesar’s great conquests, it was the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ which ultimately contributed to the Fall of Rome. The Rubicon may be crossed but ultimate victory belongs to God.
See more Christian responses to the Mr & Mrs Johns High Court ruling over Foster Care:
Peter Ould on popular reportings of the case misreading the judgement http://www.peter-ould.net/2011/03/01/breaking-christians-with-traditional-moral-views-can-still-be-foster-parents/;
Cramner blog on the challenge of privileging Discrimination laws http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/2011/03/laws-and-usages-of-realm-do-not-include.html
“I/thou” relationships in the electronic age – is the internet the preacher’s friend or foe?
When Jewish theologian Martin Buber published his famous book “Ich und Du” in 1923 he made the important point that Christian faith is based not on “I/it” but the more interpersonal language of “I/thou”. Existence is encounter. God is not an object but He is a person. We relate to God in this way because God internally relates within himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At the heart of the universe is an interpersonal God and all human relationships which flow from this foundation.
I have been thinking quite a bit about the role of modern technology and the preacher’s role. As I have done so, Buber’s important book has been ringing in my ears. A couple of recent encounters have stimulated my thinking.
The Medium and the Message
First, at the Evangelical Homiletics Society meeting which I attended in Chicago recently there were a number of good papers on the relationship between the preacher’s task and the use of the internet. For some, relationship is so important that even recording sermons, let alone uploading them for a world-wide audience, spoils the preaching beyond redemption. I partially agree. Preaching is intended to be relational. If, as Marshall McLuhan famously stated, The Medium is the Message then the medium of the internet has deleterious effect on preaching. The message communicated by the internet is one of passivity, ultra-selectivity and independence. Preaching should engage, it should interact, it should connect with people! Thus, for some, the internet is an enemy of good preaching.
On the other hand, some have emphasised the pedagogical benefit of the internet. After all: reading is a highly selective and individualistic activity. But most don’t see reading as an enemy of preaching, but rather, for most people, it is a supplement to preaching. Although, in passing, remember that for years Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones refused to allow the printing of his sermons and then only if the full unedited text was published in order that the reader could at least attempt to hear the message.
Perhaps the danger from the internet is more subtle. After all, something is always “lost” (as well as gained) when we make use of media. McLuhan argued that the media is an extension of the self. Media are not just a means to an end, but they encapsulate the personality and body of the person who uses them. They are a message in and of themselves. McLuhan’s concern was to warn of the costs of unthinkingly using the technology, for there is always a cost involved in using such means of communication.
Secondly, the highly individual nature of modern communication was observed in an article in The BBC News magazine (26.10.10) entitled i – how can one letter mean so much? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11625862.
Commenting on the recent launch of the Independent Newspaper’s “i” edition they speculate over what it is that is so attractive about the “i”. Apple has added to their increasing array of gadgets from the imac; to the ipod; to the iphone; to the recent ipad. Now, the magazine notes onto the market have sprung the idog and the iteddy toys alongside their own BBC iplayer.
The new Independent, aiming at a younger audience claims to communicate concepts such as intelligence, incisiveness, interest, influence and ideas. Young people want things to be personalised (using “my space” and personal branding, for example); they want their information to be instant, headline grabbing and easily digestible.
So, what might this all mean for today’s preachers and congregations?
Is the internet the preacher’s friend or foe?
For years I had read the (poor) translation of Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (NIV ) in highly personalised terms: God’s word living in my heart, that is what keeps me on track, I had thought (of course there is some defence for this view in Psalm 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”). I had a serious “aha” moment when Peter Adam rightly pointed out that the “you” is plural, and of course, the admonishing and teaching role which follows in the rest of the verse is something which happens in the corporate gathered community. The Word of God at work among God’s people. That’s the preacher’s task!
In a highly individualistic, web-surfing, “i” world I offer the following cautious advice for preachers using the internet:
- beware of the disembodiment of the preacher from the hearer; and the listener from the wider body of Christ. Christian learning happens in Christian community;
- beware of pulpit plagiarism, or, more subtlety, the “drag and drop” approach to sermon preparation. Serious thought militates against web surfing. Books – with margins – foster deeper thought.
- value the plethora of good models of preaching which can be heard with the click of a mouse (my forthcoming 12 Things Good Preachers do Well has a positive take on this modern benefit). But use resources wisely and discerningly.
- don’t binge or snack on homiletical fast food. Feast and savour.
- words matter; images are liable to distort. Do all you can to foster the primacy of words and the Word.
I am sure there is more. These are my first thoughts and I would value and further discussion. Overall, being “all things to all people in order that we might win some” seems to be a good maxim for the internet. But be a critical user and shun the standardising individualism of our age, preferring rather to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (1 Cor 9:22; Rom 12:1-2).
Wycliffe in 2010
Wycliffe Hall is an evangelical theological college with 100 full time students, located in the fine city of Oxford. Wycliffe is a Permanent Private Hall of the University of Oxford. Over half of the student body are Ordinands in the Church of England, the rest of our students come from various denominations, and from around the world, pursuing qualifications up to Doctoral level.
The 1877 Trust deed of Wycliffe Hall, signed by all members of the Hall Council, emphasises a Protestant interpretation of the Thirty-Nine Articles, atonement, justification, the sacraments, priesthood and the Bible. This is the rich heritage in which Wycliffe Hall stands.
Throughout its existence Wycliffe has identified itself as an Anglican Evangelical Theological College. In practice this means that we have represented in our community those who would describe themselves as conservative, those who would call themselves charismatic and those who would have a more reflective or contemplative spirituality. We believe that this gives us a genuine depth and richness which enhances our community and equips those preparing for ministry within the Church.
Our Chapel services include daily worship using the range of services in Common Worship (and Book of Common Prayer), Scripture readings, a combination of organ, keyboard, and guitar for sung worship. Students lead and preach, taking responsibility, along with their tutors; our weekly Holy Communion service often includes a guest preacher. Other services include a weekly student led Complin service and occasional prayer meetings and a Taize style service.
The three principal parts of ordinand life at Wycliffe are Academic learning, Ministry Training and Spiritual formation. All students study towards an Oxford University qualification (Diploma in Theological and Pastoral Training, C.Th. B.Th., B.A., M.Th. D. Phil). Wycliffe’s academic results have consistently been high, with the Hall in the top two positions in the Norrington table for at least the last 5 years. Amongst the Tutorial staff we have (8 Doctorates) and (91 years of parochial experience)! Our recent staff appointments have deliberately sought to hold together academic excellence and recent parochial experience.
Ministry training is undertaken by practitioners and we place particular emphasis on the ministry gifts of Leadership, Preaching, Church Growth and Christian Apologetics. Students will spend some of their time at Wycliffe in Pastoral placements which take place in churches of very different sizes and demography to enable them to experience worship in contexts which are different to their sending Church and range from rural parishes across Oxfordshire to larger City Churches with a more student emphasis. Many students elect to use their placements to experience a Churchmanship with which they are not familiar.
Spiritual formation lies at the heart of everything we do. Some formation happens within the formal curriculum, including writing a Pastoral Reflection on a long summer placement, or writing an essay on Worship, or on a style of Pastoral Counselling. All students meet with their personal tutor formally at least once per term, and informally on a regular basis along with the other 11 members of their fellowship group. They will undertake the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and spend an intense week considering the spiritual aspects of Church leadership. The communal experience of rubbing shoulders with men and women from different backgrounds over meals, worship, sport and informal conversation is often very significant for personal devotion and spiritual development. When put alongside the active mentoring of students by Tutors throughout their time here, the two or three years at Wycliffe Hall can be the most spiritually formative period of an ordinand’s life.
Men & Women in Ministry
Wycliffe holds together the “Two Integrities” which are currently evident in contemporary Anglican Church life. Two of our full time academic staff are ordained women who along with a substantial number of students and fellow tutors hold to a more egalitarian approach. Others, both on the staff and in the student body, hold to a more complementarian approach to men and women in ministry. What is important for us is that Wycliffe is a place where differences of viewpoint may be acknowledged, discussed and allowed an equal place alongside each other.
Focus Days and Integration Study Weeks spend considerable time discussing the ministry and personal implications of academic training. For example, an annual Focus Day on Men and Women in Leadership involves a debate between two tutors who have divergent views in this area and allows students to hear a passionate and clear presentation of both positions. Additionally, the Focus Day on Human Sexuality recognises the pertinence of a related current issue in the Anglican Communion, wrestles with the biblical text and concludes by seeking to encourage students to be aware of the conclusions of “Some Issues in Human Sexuality” (and other Church House publications) whilst exercising positive love, overcoming prejudice and showing compassion to the struggles of many in this area of human sexuality.
Wycliffe is a thriving community which continues to train some of the finest men and women for 21st Century Church of England Ministry. We consider that our best ambassadors are the students themselves. We hope that Bishops and DDO’s will take up our invitation to visit the Hall and experience student life here. Students will happily share of the positive and negative experiences of Residential training in the Hall and give a balanced impression of what it is like to be a student at Wycliffe.
Revd Dr Simon Vibert
Vice Principal Wycliffe Hall
Just back from a good time at Bible by the Beach meeting in Eastbourne on the South coast.
Bible readings by Alistair Begg (blog summary by Hugh Bourne at http://www.hughbourne.co.uk/) and good input from Wallace Benn and others, on the theme of the Cross of Christ. Engaging and winsome presentation of the glory and power of the cross. It was heartening to have the bible opened and the clarity of preaching the sinbearing work of Christ’s death. Stuart Townend, Lou Fellingham and Ian White did a great job leading sung worship.
I led seminars on “Maintaining Healthy Marriages” launched “Lives Jesus Changed”, and preached at Victoria Baptist Church http://www.victoriabaptist.org.uk/ on the Sunday
For an event in its second year it was most encouraging to have over a thousand at the two evening celebrations and an average of a little over 600 over the whole weekend. Praise God for a great new event! 2011 event planning is well under way (29th April – 2nd May 2011). See www.biblebythebeach.org
Spectacle Frames and Skeletal Outlines
We had a great Study Morning with the Students at Wycliffe Hall last week. NT tutor Justin Hardin, Doctrine Tutor Benno Van DenToren and I to bring our integrated thinking to apply academic learning, spiritual formation and ministerial training from 1 Peter. My job was to do a “walk through” sermon from first read of the text to final form.
Sometimes I detect a little impatience when we discuss matters of structure and homiletical form. Surely we need to get on with the task of preaching the message of the bible and spend less time on homiletics?
But I have become increasingly convinced that form and content belong together. The skeleton of the sermon should not be protruding the flesh, but without any bones and support structure the body if formless and lifeless.
As I have mentioned elsewhere (see http://www.Simonvibert.com) Spurgeon was a master at the art of structuring and simplifying skeleton sermon outlines, producing over 12,000 of them, still in print. I have always felt that John Stott is brilliant at this task, always leaving me with a sense that his sermon has said all that needs to be said about the passage, helping me see it with a new clarity.
To illustrate: I am not very good at looking after my glasses. When they are well cared for and not scratched I hardly notice that I am wearing them. However, at the moment, I have bent one arm and scratched the right lens. The consequence of this clumsiness is that rather than seeing through the lens I am forever noticing the scratch. And rather than having clear focus on objects in front of me I have very aware that I need to wiggle the arm around to get a clear view.
A similar clumsiness at the stage of sermon construction can mean that the congregation is distracted from the content of the biblical passage by the lack of focus in the sermon outline. Instead of seeing the passage clearly, the structure distracts.
If the preacher states: “Rejoice despite trials” (1 Peter 1:6-7) the well educated congregation knows this to be true but fails to connect this with the specific flow of Peter’s thought.
If, on the other hand the preacher says: “Welcome trials and testing because like gold, your faith is precious. God will allow faith to be tested through suffering to make it pure.”
This task of pressing for clarity in the homiletical outline is a gift to the congregation. It enables them to concentrate on how the ancient bible passage applies to contemporary life. Good preachers structure sermons in such a way that the framework supports the bible message and enable congregations to focus their gaze on the God who speaks through his living Word.
On this Valentine’s Day I want to ask the question: what is true love?
1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to start. This might be many people’s favourite but it is much misunderstood:-
1) 1 Cor 13 is not about romantic love
I think I can say with confidence that the Apostle Paul did not dictate 1 Corinthians 13 in order that thousands of years later the vicar might have a text on which to preach at a wedding day.
2) 1 Cor 13 is not about Jesus
It is sometimes said that 1 Corinthians is a “portrait for which Jesus sat”.
Of course, of all people in the world, Jesus was know to fulfil the qualities of v4-7: He was patient, kind, not envious, humble, respectful, not self-oriented, angry, forgiving, truthful: He alone ALWAYS protects, trusts hope and perseveres.
But I think I can also say with some confidence that Paul did not primarily have Jesus in mind when he wrote 1 Cor 13.
3) 1 Cor 13 is about the Corinthians
This is a church which has caused the Apostle quite a bit of heartache. Vv 1-3 is addressed to competitive Christians who parade their knowledge, gifts and great acts of faith… which is having a hugely divisive effect on the congregation… Of course it is not so much that tongues, prophecy, interpretation, knowledge, faith, sacrifice, martyrdom are not gifts to be prized. Rather they had come to perceive these things as being the most excellent of gifts. And they had paraded them in a way that denigrated those with “lesser” gifts.
V4-7 is also about the Corinthians, for:
- They are quite clearly not patient, their love is short-lived, they are not kind … Paul believes that when such things are absent in a congregation, however great their other virtues, then things are sadly lacking.
- There should be no place for competitive, pride etc among God’s people.
- Paul seeks to show them the excellent way of LOVE: The Corinthian view of excellence is incomplete and passing
- Their gifts, their sacrifices, their wisdom will fade … love won’t
But what exactly does this mean? What does it mean to say that love will never fade and that love is the most excellent way?
Is love a force which cannot be conquered (as some of our pop songs seem to suggest)? If we are going to join Cheryl Cole and “Fight for this love” – what exactly is the love for which we fight and what does it look like?
Paul’s conclusion of this chapter is significant, I think.
Faith hope and love remain, love is the greatest.
Why? Because faith and hope die out in heaven? No. Rather, because in loving this way we most reflect God.
The key to interpreting this chapter, it seems to me is see why, in Paul’s mind, the greatest out of faith, hope and love is LOVE…
In other words, the secret of true love is: God!
In reaching this conclusion I have been very much helpful over the years by the 18th Century New England revival preacher Jonathan Edwards. For Jonathan Edwards, true religion, true worship and true love are very much focussed on God. Let me illustrate this is in the life and works of this great man.
Religious Affections – In this book Edwards described true love as affection. In modern parlance we tend to use “affection” to mean “Like, a bit” … but for the Puritans the “affections” were the root of our desires, wants and motivations.
‘The religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference: God, in His word, greatly insists upon it, that we be in good earnest, “fervent in spirit,” and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion…’ (p.27).
Charity and its Fruits – Love as “Light and heat”
‘A truly practical or saving faith, is light and heat together, or rather light and love, while that which is only a speculative faith, is only light without heat; and, in that it wants spiritual heat or divine love, is in vain, and good for nothing. A speculative faith consists only in the assent of the understanding; but in a saving faith which is only of the former kind, is no better than the faith of devils for they have faith so far as it can exist without love, believing while they tremble’ (p.13).
By heat he means warmth. By light he means truth and intensity.
Relationship with Sarah
Jonathan Edward’s life long study in the love of God was grounded in his “uncommon union” to his wife Sarah. He wasn’t an easy man, something of a work-aholic, although he did find time to father 11 children…!
When the George Whitfield visited their Northampton home in 1740 he wrote:
“A sweeter couple I have not yet seen… she talked feelingly and solidly about the things of God, and seemed to be such a help meet for he Husband that she caused me to pray God, that he would be pleased to send me a Daughter of Abraham to be my wife”
Another visitor to their home commented that it opened up
“the world in which love lifts the whole animal endowment to an ethical level” (George Gordon)
Edwards was quite clear in his writings to say that True Virtue is not to be found in the love of love, or the sentimental sensations of love. But rather love for love to be true it flows to and from God.
Love is the root of a relationship with God
Love is the fruit of a relationship with God
All true love is grounded in God
All true love has God as its goal
Do you want to know true love?
Do you want to show true love?
God as the Ground of Love – Know true love
1 John 4:16: God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
Put your absolute confidence, security and trust in no one other that God!
You won’t learn to love truly and fully without focussing your life on God
God as the Goal of Love – Show true love
All love should have as its highest goal, the love of God
Let me illustrate this from the well known, albeit controversial Ephesians 5:21ff passage –
The Daily Mail (see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1250464/Curate-outrages-congregation-telling-women-silent-submit-husbands.html)was outraged this week that the Curate of St Nicolas Church Sevenoaks suggested in a sermon that wives should submit to their husbands. Of course I don’t know the full details of the content of this sermon, but Paul does say in Ephesians 5 that husbands should love their wives with same sacrificial love which Christ loved the Church – in total self-giving. Wives should submit to their husbands, in sacrificial self giving.
Of course this is a tall order, not least in our egalitarian day and age. However, Paul expects both the husband and wife to see the Lord as the highest object of your affection, not your imperfect spouse. If you make God the highest object of your delight then loving and serving your less-than-perfect spouse will be possible.
The illustration which I find helpful is from golf. When lining up to putt the ball, one way of avoiding “choking on the ball”, (which is hitting the ball short of the hole) is to focus on a spot 3-4” beyond the hole and making that your target. When aiming for that, the ball will drop in the hole.
In a similar way, if we make God our greatest love then loving our less-than-perfect spouse becomes possible.
Jesus said: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Matt 22:37-39)
As popular culture rightly recognises: love is often lacking when it is most needed. Experiencing true love is our life quest, but is elusive to so many people…
However 1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that true love will only be found when our lives are focused on the one true who is LOVE … for sure, it seems to me, this will do much to enliven Romantics on this Valentines Day, but more, it should and could transform our families, our churches, our friendships and, ultimately the world.
May God work this God-centred love deep in our hearts so He may be the deep source of our love and the object of our highest affections. (more on Jonathan Edward’s and Love in this Churchman journal article http://churchsociety.org/churchman/documents/Cman_117_4_Vibert.pdf)
Let’s make Valentine’s day a day which is all about God!
I am writing a book on what we can learn from good preachers and communicators.
I hope to include an online resource as part of the Wycliffe Hall School of Preaching with observations on some of the best preachers today.
Could you take a moment to answer these two simple questions? (use the comment tag below)
I’ll let you know the results in due course!
Make a house a home
Some thoughts on preaching which hits home
We are preparing to move house again soon (2 miles across the other side of Oxford). As we prepare for the process of transporting all our possessions from one house to another my thoughts turned to what makes a house a home? The bare structure and location of a property only becomes home when it feels lived in and starts to reflect the personality of its inhabitants.
The same could be said to be true of preaching. Many sermons which I listen to show evidence of structure, design and effort. But they often don’t feel lived in. They lack the warmth and personality which only comes when the preacher has inhabited the text for themselves and taken it home.
What are some of the errors which sermons make? You can probably think of more, but these few thoughts came to mind.
When you first move into your new house boxes get emptied and mounds of clothing, books etc. await proper ‘filing away’. Should someone come to visit the chances are their coat will need to be draped over a chair or put on the bed. Hopefully, in time, pegs will appear upon which you may hang your coat.
In a similar way, many sermons which I hear offer nowhere to ‘hang your hat’ so to speak. There is content, but it lacks pegs. Without this attention to structure, the hearer can struggle to navigate their way through the sermon. Without pegs it is unlikely that hearers will be able remember salient points of the sermon for the week ahead.
Rhetoric gets a bad name today. But the later Greek sophists (Isocrates. Cicero etc.) believed Rhetoric to be the ability to speak with such clarity that the audience would be persuaded. Philosophers think clearly. Rhetoricians think clearly out loud. Preachers should be doing the same. This will in part be reflected by careful attention to the structure and form of the sermon.
It takes time for a house to become a home. Over time the inhabitants will begin to stamp their own personality on their property – hanging curtains, arranging flowers, decorating to taste etc.
Many sermons I hear lack personality. Phillip Brooks’ now famous comment that preaching is “communication of truth through personality” is exactly right. Obviously we don’t want the sermon to be littered with personal anecdotes and stories. It is not supposed to be a talk about them. However, congregations listen when they can see that for the preacher the message has hit home personally.
They have been moved by the message they are preaching. They have made the connections as to how it applies to their own life.
Sermons which hit home are those which apply pertinently and pointedly to today’s world. They are illustrated in real life.
Too many sermons I hear leave me only in the world of the text. Now, of course, this is not the worst problem, there are equally many messages that never take me to the world of the text and only start in the world of today. I guess the former may be the weakness of evangelical expository preaching; the latter is the weakness of liberal preaching.
John Stott has regularly repeated the need to engage in “double listening” – Hearing the voice of the text; hearing the voice of the world.
When you move into a new house you are inclined to think: however did they live with that wallpaper? How come they didn’t modernise the bathroom suite etc. But of course, it is very difficult to see your environment and culture from the fresh perspective of an outsider.
As preachers we need to retain the fresh “eyes” of an outsider, someone who has not spent the whole week labouring over the text, and who can see the difficult punchy questions which might need addressing.
At home in the sermon
By this expression I don’t at all mean that preaching should be psychologically therapeutic, only comforting and devotional. What I think I mean is that I expect preaching to give me pegs (to help me recall and apply the bible to my life in the week ahead); personality (so I feel that the preacher has met with God in his preparation); punch (I see the issue with a freshness and pertinence for the week ahead).
UK LAUNCH OF FELLOWSHIP OF CONFESSING ANGLICANS JULY 6, 2009, WESTMINSTER CENTRAL HALL, LONDON
THE launch in the UK and Ireland of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), an orthodox Anglican movement for mission at global and local level, is to take place on July 6 in London.
The Fellowship is the outworking of last year’s GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, at which 1200 delegates signed up to the Jerusalem Statement. Those attending Gafcon 2008 represented some 40 million Anglicans world-wide, 70% of the total active membership of 55 million.
The launch event, entitled ‘Be Faithful! – Confessing Anglicans in Global and Local Mission’ will be held at Westminster Central Hall from 10.30am-5.30pm. The aim is to encourage and envision Anglicans who are committed to the orthodox teachings of the Anglican Church and who are passionate about global and local mission.
It will be the first of regular ‘fellowship’ events both in the UK and across the world. Speakers at the July 6 gathering, where around 2,300 bishops, clergy and laity are expected, will include contributors from across the Anglican Communion, including Bishops Keith Ackerman (President of Forward in Faith North America), Wallace Benn (Bishop of Lewes), John Broadhurst (Chairman of Forward in Faith UK) and Michael Nazir-Ali, Dr Chik Kaw Tan plus Archbishop Peter Jensen (secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans www.fca.net).
They, and others yet to be announced, will also lead gatherings in London churches on Sunday July 5th. the day before the launch.
Regional meetings, in the run up to the London event will also be held on:- * May 14, St Batholomew’s,Bath
* May 15, Christ Church, Virginia Water
* May 18, Holy Trinity, Platt, Manchester
* May 19, St Andrew’s, Newcastle-under-Lyme
* May 20, Christ Church, Fulwood, Sheffield
The Revd Paul Perkin, vicar of St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, London, and Chairman of the event planning team, said: “The fellowship is just that, a spiritual movement of brothers and sisters across the nation and the world. It is not a separatist party, nor is it an organisation, but a spiritual fellowship issuing from a concern for truth and unity. It is a renewal of our confessing Anglican roots and convictions, and will be forward-looking in gospel mission locally, and in solidarity globally with Anglicans throughout the world, especially those suffering through poverty or discrimination”.
For further information about the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or book on-line here For further information: Revd Paul Perkin, Be Faithful, Event Chairman: 020 7326 9412 Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Anglican Mainstream): 01865 883388
I was preaching on Matthew 5:27-30 today and used an extended illustration of the health of the lawn being analogous to the health of the human heart.
I know it is hard to imagine this at the moment but try to think back to the hot summer months in sultry heat (!), enjoying the lushness of the garden, with a gentle hum of electric fly mowers in the background.
It can be quite irritating to have the peace and quiet of summer shattered by lawn mowers, but I suspect that many people mow their lawn frequently as a fairly fool proof way of making the garden look nice and well tended.
At the heart of the growing season, if you leave your lawn for little more than a week tell-tale signs of its true nature will be revealed. This is certainly true in my case. If I fail to mow regularly, the apparently lush, well tended lawn shows its true nature – dandelions begin to sprout yellow and eventually shower umbrella seed replicating themselves all over the lawn. Big green dock leaves shade the delicate grass. Untendered weeds spoil what initially appeared to be a lush lawn.
You see the problem with only cutting the grass is that it deals superficially with the weeds. It doesn’t deal with root causes. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount tells me that I must not live the Christian life at the level of superficial appearances. I can fool other people most of the time; I can fool myself some of the time; but I can never fool God
There are two more fundamental care issues related to my lawn which need attending to if I am going to have a healthy lawn – they involve feeding the soil and weeding out the roots of the intruder!
Feeding your spiritual lawn means tending your heart. Psalm 119:9-11 this:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (NIV)
Tending to the state of the heart needs to happen in order for the Christian to be healthy and pure and not controlled by lust.
Weeding your spiritual lawn requires pulling out sin at its source
Behind adultery lies lust (And behind murder lies anger). In order to deal with lust radical action is required – metaphorically gouging out eyes and chopping of wayward hands. Controlling what we watch and controlling what we do with our hands is necessary for a godly Christian life. If I make myself blind, deaf, mute and paraplegic, yet retain my soul then I am of greater value than if I have a beautiful body and prefect facilities yet corrupt my soul…
As ever, Jesus’ words challenge and provoke. But a godly life is a healthy life and, moreover is the only way to avoid hell!
See www.simonvibert.com for full sermon.
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