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baptist minister and PhD student
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Apparently the Archdeacon of Oxford thinks street preaching should be outlawed. Presumably he'd have arrested Paul in the Agora as nuisance. It is a joke, a lie and a scandal that the BMA now insists on talk of 'pregnant people' not 'pregnant women'. The ultimate mysogyny. The Cof E bishops need to curb the sometimes a bit sinister networking control exercised by Holy Trinity Brompton. In Prague: can't help feeling sad that the Czechs seem to have exchanged communism for a cult of the sinisterly-sentimental John Lennon. Prague: why do Czechs always fall for shallow Anglo-Saxon fads: Wycliffe, Britpop etc? The Church, as a militant mother, must reclaim Mothering Sunday from the American 'mother's day'. In 20thC was restarted in Nottinghamshire. Tattooed ladies belong in fairgounds. And even there one moves on fast to the gypsy fortune-teller. Sussex campus: fifty years after 1967 it still has the odd hippy. Maybe the right potion has kept them young and alive. Why do trails of soccer supporters at railway stations look so grim, stunned, mesmerised, hopeless, infantilised? Dispiriting to see English schoolchildren in uniform unisex baseball caps. Cricket caps for boys, berets for girls is our own culture. Bonkers fascist headmasters with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2017 at andygoodliff
1 English Baptist Records 2 Brian Brock and Stanley Hauerwas 3 Lauren Winner - Girl Meets God 4 Chris Ellis 5 Alan Greider - The Patient Ferment of the Church 6 William Cavanaugh - Torture and Eucharist 7 Michael Northcott - A Moral Climate 8 Barry Harvey 9 Daniel Izuzquiza 10 Kim Fabricius 11 Ruth Gouldbourne 12 David Ford - Self and Salvation 13 Robert Jenson - Conversations with Poppi about God 14 Steve Finamore 15 Miroslav Volf - Against the Tide 16 David Goodbourn 17 Keith Jones - A Shared Meal and a Common Table 18 Rowan Williams - Resurrection 19 Vincent Donovan - Christianity Rediscovered 20 William Cavanaugh - Being Christian 21 James K. A. Smith - Desiring the Kingdom 22 Charles Spurgeon 23 Scott Bader-Saye 24 Norman Wirzba - Making Peace with the Land 25 Eugene Peterson - Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places 26 Isaac Villegas - Presence 27 Walter Brueggemann - Cadences of Home 28 Rowan Williams - Being Christian 29 John Webster - Confronted by Grace 30 Jeremy Begbie - Theology, Music and Time 31 Will Willimon - Sunday Dinner 32 Sam Wells - God's Companions 33 Anne Wilkinson-Hayes 34 Philip Doddridge 35 Steven... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2017 at andygoodliff
On this Holy Saturday, and final day of Lent, we listen to a theologian of Holy Saturday, Alan Lewis and an extract from his book Between Cross and Resurrection, completed just before his death from cancer in 1994. Like baptism, the Eucharist is profoundly personal and individual, the promise to each recipient of bread and wine that this is Christ's body broken, his blood spilt, specifically "for you." And communion, like baptism, is by definition communal: we, being many, are one, just as the loaf of many particles is one; for Christ himself, who comprises many members, is one, and we participate in him (1 Cor. 12.16-17). But above all, like baptism, the Lord's Supper is cosmic in its scope. As is understood increasingly today, through an ecumenical deprivatizing of the sacrament, this is a meal for all humanity, a messianic, doxological banquet proleptic of eschatological festivities, when humanity shall comes from east and west, north and south, to eat together at one table in God's kingdom (Lk. 13.39; cf. 1 Cor. 11.26; Lk. 22.15-18), and when every creature shall be reconciled and gathered up in hymns of praise and glory to the Maker of heaven and earth (Col 1.20;... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today is Good Friday. The Old Testament scholar Patrick Miller is our thirty-ninth person in these forty days of Eucharist. ... taste and see the bread and wine that mark the goodness of God, a goodness that stands over against all suffering and tragedy and evil and wickedness that mark and mar human existence. For that too is the meaning of the death of Jesus we remember on this occasion as we eat bread and drink the wine. That strange willingness on the part of one who is the transcendent ground of all that is to take into God's own self the pain and suffering of the human lot. That is indeed scandal and foolishness - except for those who have also experienced the pain and suffering. For Jesus represents and stands with all of them in his death even as he represents and stands with God in saying No to all that. 'This is my body which is broken for you' - and for all broken bodies and minds. 'Taste and see.' Patrick Miller, Stewards of the Mysteries of God: Preaching the Old Testament - and the New (Cascade, 2013), p.130. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today is Maundy Thursday and we listen to the preaching of Stanley Hauerwas. Often his sermons will end with a connection to the Eucharist. Here are some of them. Wheat becomes bread, and through the Spirit, bread becomes the body and blood of Christ. God is present here in this meal in a way God is present nowhere else. We are that wheat; we are that bread, which the families of the world need if they are to know God. We are the people on which the peace of God depends. We are God's eucharist; we are those children for which creation had been longing. In the celebration of this meal, God lifts up as he lifted Christ at the cross, so that the world might see the beauty of God's creation made real in a people at peace with their world. How can we not hunger to share this meal and share if often? May God continue to make us hungry for it. So now let us come to the table, the table to which we have been led by this cross, the table where God welcomes us as friends, to handle his Christ. Here God invites us to... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today's extract comes from Richard Lischer moving memoir Stations of the Heart, which tells the story of the final months of his son Adam's life has he battles with cancer. Late one morning, when Adam and I were sitting in the lower level of his house with nothing to do, he started talking about the Eucharist again. It was another of his monologues that began from a standing start, with no introduction. 'If you have cancer and you want to give to God a taste of the hell you are going through, you get down on your knees in front of a cross and tell him about it. Then you come to the altar and give God everything you have, and God gives you everything He has. That's how Father Steve puts it.' We were no longer discussing the composition of the communion elements like a couple of scholastics; he was gathering steam like a street preacher, and he was good at it: 'You say, "This is my body," and you bring it to the altar like a piece of bad meat, and God says, "No, this is my body." You come naked, and God dresses you. You come hungry,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at andygoodliff
This strange Communion scene comes from near the end of Graham Greene's novel Monsignor Quixote (thanks to Kim Fabricius for suggesting it). Father Quixote led them down into the shadows of the great church lit only by the half moon which shone through the east window. He walked firmly to the altar and began to say the words of the old Latin Mass, but it was in an oddly truncated form. He began with the response 'Et introibo ad altare Dei, qui laetificat juventutem meam.' 'Is he conscious of what's he doing?' Professor Pilbeam whispered. 'God knows,' Father Leopoldo answered. The mass went rapidly on - no epistle, no gospel: it was as though Father Quixote were racing towards the consecration. Because he feared interruption from the bishop? the Mayor wondered. From the Guardia? Even the long list of saints from Peter to Damien was omitted. 'When he finds no paten and no chalice, surely he will wake,' Father Leopoldo said. The Mayor moved a few steps nearer to the altar. He was afraid that, when the moment of waking came, Father Quixote might fall, and he wanted to be near enough to catch him in his arms. 'Who the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today Steven Bouma-Prediger and Brian Walsh describe a scene of folk receiving communion. This Sunday is Communion Sunday for Edna and her children in the wooden pew at the little pink church in Waxahachie. As the minister speaks the words of the institution ('This is my body ... this is my blood'), the choir begins to sing the familiar evangelical hymn 'I Come to the Garden Alone.' The chorus ('And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells I am his own') provides the backdrop was a silver tray containing plastic cups of grape juice is passed from person to person down the pews. Upon drinking the symbolic blood of Jesus, each person says to his or her neighbour, 'The peace of God.' In the company of those partaking of communion and passing the peace, you notice an elderly woman. This woman had been homeless, living in her car, when she was killed by the tornado that raged through town. But now she is among those celebrating the Lord's Supper. Behind the nameless woman, seated on the aisle near the back, you see Moze, an unexpected presence in this segregated white church. Furthermore, the Klan had... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2017 at andygoodliff
As holy week is about to begin tomorrow, one final hymn, from nonconformist Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). My God, now is your table spread, your cup with love still overflows: so may your children here be fed as Christ to us his goodness shows. This holy feast, which Jesus makes a banquet of his flesh and blood how glad each one who comes and takes this sacred drink, this royal food! His gifts that richly satisfy are yet to some in vain displayed: did not for them the saviour die may they not share the children's bread? My God, here let your table be a place of joy for all your guests, and may each one salvation see who now its sacred pledges tastes. Continue reading
Posted Apr 7, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today's extract comes from the Baptist Anne Wilkinson-Hayes as she reflects on the Lord's Supper in light of the work of Alan and Eleanor Kreider. "Oh by the way," concluded the worship leader at the end of the service I was visiting, "There's communion on the tables at the back - help yourself on the way out ... if you want." I was stunned, and all the more the fact that everyone around me seemed to accept this statement as normal. But was it any worse than the service I attended on a freezing cold Christmas Eve in a beautiful twelfth-century building, where the liturgy was pared down to the absolute minimum, conducted at speed and with all the soul of a fast-food outlet, without even the perfunctory "Have a nice day"? What have we don etc the expression of sharing the Lord's Supper that makes it such a pale shadow of the Kreiders' aspiration to 'joyful communal thanksgiving'? I have had good experiences of communion. The church were I was a member in Australia had an unusually rich liturgical life for a Baptist church. The Eucharist was very much the focus and climax of the beautiful liturgy, but the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2017 at andygoodliff
Sam Wells explores how to receive communion. Where the majority of Baptists will sit and remain in their seat to receive communion, perhaps something to think about here. One local congregation found it difficult to decide whether they should sit, stand or kneel to receive communion . Kneeling seemed appropriate to some, because it embodied humility. But some said that, without an altar rail, it asked too much of people with disabilities. It seemed that sitting was the posture that stressed equality, because everybody looked and felt much the same. But it was felt that, besides being too comfortable, remaining in one's seat suggested that God made the whole journey, with almost no response from his people. Standing in a circle became the norm. It stressed the differences of height, age, and physical ability, and it made it necessary for some to rest on the strength of others. Though some said they felt unworthy to stand, others pointed out that Christ had enabled, even commanded them to stand. and that standing was a symbol of the resurrection. By standing in circle, the congregation realised they did not just eat of one body - they were one body. Samuel Wells, God's... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today we listen to a small extract from an early book by Will Willimon on the Lord's Supper. A friend of mine says he's skeptical of my emphasis upon the Lord's Supper as a meal, as a time of fellowship and life, to the exclusion of some of the former stress upon Holy Communion as a time of sacrifice and death. "At Holy Communion, are we coming to the table or to the altar?" he asks. In recent years, we have rediscovered the ancient emphasis upon the table. The old altars, which were pushed against the back wall of the sanctuary and placed on high steps away from the people in the Middle Ages, have been converted to small tables , brought out into the light, set in the midst of the congregation, as they were in the early church. My friend questions some of this. He does not mind the recovery of the Lord's Supper as a meal, but he wonders if, beneath our current emphasis upon the fellowship and the joy of the sacrament, we may be avoiding some of its more threatening, more challenging implications. He reminds me that a table is more accessible than an altar.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2017 at andygoodliff
Jeremy Begbie, reflecting on the Eucharist from the perspective of music, considers how the Lord's Supper stabilises and destabilises. The repetition of the Eucharist stabilises. Here God regularly re-calls the Christian community to know again the transforming power of the cross - here the Church's generative and inexhaustible theme is heard and sung again, here 'the Lord's death is proclaimed' (1 Cor. 11.26). At every Eucharist, in being opened to Christ by the Spirit, we are opened to his past, bearing upon us. However, the very same eucharistic repetition also destabilises. To be opened out repeatedly to Christ's past is to be opened out to a future anticipated in him, and thus to experience a re-charing of God's promise of a new future. It is to be incorporated into a forward momentum of the Spirit which activities in us an increased longing - 'until he comes.' To speak of stabilising and destabilising here is not to speak of a dialectic of opposites set against each other, or of successive phases of a process (as if we first 'look back' and then 'look forward'); in music, the accumulated tension at an upper level is generated by the repeated 'return' to the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 3, 2017 at andygoodliff
From a sermon by the late John Webster delivered at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, Maundy Thursday 2001. ... The memorial which is instituted tonight and which we are commanded to continue is a memorial not of the Last Supper, but of his death. Maundy Thursday is about Good Friday. And to continue week by week, day by day, to celebrate the Lord's Supper is to lodge at the heart of the Church the single fact of the death of the Lord. This means, immediately, that there is an inescapable backward reference in every act of gathering for the Lord's Supper. The Christian Eucharist is a memorial. But what is a memorial? Clever theologians sometimes take me to one side with a kindly look in their eyes and explain to a poor benighted Protestant like me that in the Bible remembering doesn't mean calling to mind something past, but rather reactivating or re-enacting the past so that it's powerfully present among us now. But though I'm open to argument, I don't in the end think that's really right. It's not right because whenever we start talking in terms of making something present, we cannot avoid taking away from the uniqueness and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2017 at andygoodliff
Rowan Williams again. For every year (I think) of his time as Archbishop, Rowan gave lectures for Holy Week in Canterbury. Many have now been published - Tokens of Trust; The Lion's World; Being Christian; Meeting God in Paul; Meeting God in Mark and most recently God With Us: The Meaning of the Cross and Resurrection Then and Now. Today comes from the chapter on Eucharist in Being Christian. One of the most transformingly surprising things about Holy Communion is that it obliges you to see the person next to you as wanted by God. God wants that person's company as well as mine. How much simpler if God only wanted my company and that of those I had decide to invite. But God does not play that particular game. And the transforming effect of looking at other Christians as people whose company God wants, is - by the look of things - still sinking in for a lot of Christians, and taking rather a long time ... Rowan Williams, Being Christian (SPCK, 2014), p.51. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at andygoodliff
In the last month and a bit, four new books from British Baptists have been published - history, theology, ministry and spanning 17th, 18th and the 20th century. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2017 at andygoodliff
Walter Brueggemann on the Eucharist as alternative, dangerous bread. What if Christians began to notice that certain kinds of bread enslave and are the bread of affliction? The most elemental faith decision we make concerns who feeds the body, and if the truth be told we are in various ways into 'eating disorders' of a theological kind. We must reflect on bread and alternative bread. We may begin our reflections with the Eucharist, the relentless enactment of our conviction that only broken bread feeds, only poured out wine contains the power of new life. But we daily resist the brokenness and refuse the poured-out-ness. We have become victims of junk food, the junk of social ideology, the attractiveness of consumerism, the killing seductions of security and despair; we are domesticated, silenced in our satiation. We scarcely notice that all these ersatz bakers have made promises they cannot keep. What freedom there would be for us exiles if we left off the dominant hopes of our society, if we refused the dominant fears all around us, if we ate bread that hopes only evangelical possibility and that fears only the truth of God's faithfulness, utterly free of every other hope and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today is an extract from a sermon given by Isaac Villegas, a Mennonite pastor of Chapel Hill Mennonite Fellowship, North Carolina. As we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we are eating at the table of our tortured saviour - the one the powers of this world wanted to make go away. At the Lord's Table we gathered our lives around the wounded one and learn that in God's kingdom the dead will come back to life, the tortured will be able to speak the truth. As we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus through this holy meal, we are being drawn into what Johann Metz calls 'a dangerous memory.' We remember what the powers of violence want us to forget: that, in Jesus, the tortured one comes back, and with him comes all of the others. In paradise the tortured come back and are invited to eat. Thus, Luke's crucifixion story poses a question for us: Do we want to be part of that party, of that heavenly banquet? Or, will we have to excuse ourselves because we can't bear the thought of sitting at the same table not only with the enemies of society we... Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2017 at andygoodliff
Eugene Peterson does his usual thing of getting to the heart of the matter. Remember and proclaim are the magnetic poles of the Eucharist: they operate simultaneously but in polarity, the 'remember' a continuous reorientation to the North Pole in the action of Christ on the cross that accomplishes salvation, and the 'proclaim' a continuous reorientation to the South Pole, the articulation of that crucified Christ in kerygmatic words and acts, for 'how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?' (Rom 10.14). If the 'remember' and the 'proclaim' get isolated from one another, the eucharist compass that keeps our salvation participating lives headed the same direction and in step with the salvation accomplishing life of Christ malfunctions. The Eucharist stands as a bulwark against reducing our participation in salvation to the exercise of devotional practices before God or being recruited to run errands for God. It is hard to get through our heads, but the fact is that we are not charge of our salvation and we can add nothing to it ... At the Supper we renew our understanding and obedience in this salvation reality and receive over and over again what we cannot take or perform... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2017 at andygoodliff
Today is a brief reflection from Norman Wirzba. The Eucharist, in other words, is not an occasional nibbling session in which Christians recall the violence done to their Lord. It is the table where we go to die to ourselves. It is the regular time when we learn to put to death all the self-serving impulses that distort and degrade the world around us. Here we learn to live our baptism in which we die and are buried with Christ, so that we can also be raised with him into the newness of life that glorifies God rather than ourselves. ... It is tempting to confine eucharistic eating to a ritual realm. When this happens, the table around which Christians gather stays in a sanctuary. This is a serious error. The life and ministry of Jesus is not a pious idea. It is an economic revolution that has multiple practical effects, such that the tables in our kitchens and the dining tables in restaurants and cafeterias become places of eucharistic eating. Recall that the members of the early Christian community who gladly and generously ate together were also known to sell their possessions, give to those who had need and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2017 at andygoodliff
Scott Bader-Saye reminds us of the importance of seeing the Eucharist in Jewish terms. By re-Judaizing this sacrament and reclaiming its Jewish elements, Christians will come to see what it means to be Jews with the Jews or, in Paul's terms, to be grafted into Israel. In this way our experience of the Word in the bread and wine may transform our reading of the Word in the text. ... for [Eucharist] celebration has long ago fallen prey to Israel-forgetfulness. Just to the extent that this practice has come to be understood primarily as a transaction imparting divine grace to the individual soul, it has been not only de-Judaized but de-politicized. By abstracting the Eucharist from the context of Passover and Exodus, we have left behind the politics of liberation and community formation that were central to the Last Supper. Further, by ignoring the Jewishness of the eucharistic body, we have dissociated the practice from God's election and covenant with the flesh of Israel. So, as often as we partake of this non-Jewish body of Jesus at the table, we become trained to see a non-Jewish Jesus in the Gospels. ... by reflecting on the significance of the fact that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 26, 2017 at andygoodliff
Baptists can write hymns. Here's a third, this time from Charles Spurgeon. Among us our beloved stands, and bids us see his nail-pierced hands, points us to his wounded feet and side, bless emblems of the crucified. When at his table sits the Lord, what generous food adorns his board; when Jesus comes his guests to meet, the wine how rich, the bread who see! If now with eyes earth-bound and dim, we see the signs, but see not him, then may his love the veil displace and help us see him face to face. C. H. Spurgeon (1834-92), altd. Baptist Praise and Worship, 427 (Oxford, 1991) Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2017 at andygoodliff
In this extract from Desiring the Kingdom, James K. A. Smith draws attention to how the Eucharist is forward looking. 'there's a certain sense in which the celebration of the Lord's Supper should be experienced as a kind of sanctified letdown. For every week that we celebrate the Eucharist is another week that the kingdom and its feast have not yet fully arrived. And every week the words of institution remind us of this fact, for we do it "until he comes." By this I don't mean to denigrate the peace, joy, and nourishment that is found in the Supper; rather, the point is to emphasise that the Eucharist is an eschatological supper. It's sort of a meal "to go", or at least a meal on the way. It's a table in the wilderness (Ps 78.19) and in the presence of our enemies (Ps 23.5), and so there's a certain sense in which we eat it "on the run" - not because of the frenetic pace of consumption and distraction that so often finds us in the drive-thru and eating fast food in the car, but rather because the Lord's Supper is an anticipatory meal that we eat while we... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2017 at andygoodliff
We're back with William Cavanaugh today, but different book, different thought. There is no question about whether or not to be a consumer. Everyone must consume to live. The question concerns what kinds of practices of consumption are conducive to an abundant life for all. In the Catholic tradition, the Eucharist is a particularly important locus for the Christian practice of consumption. In the Eucharist, Jesus offers his body and body to be consumed. "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.': (John 6.35). The insatiability of human desire is absorbed by the abundance of God's grace in the consumption of Jesus' body and blood. "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life' (6.54), that is, they are raised above mere temporal pursuit of novelty. "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life" (6.27). It would be easy enough to assimilate the consumption of the Eucharist into a consumerist kind of spirituality. The presence of Jesus could become another kind of commodity to be appropriated for the benefit of the individual user. Indeed, much of what passes... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2017 at andygoodliff
Vincent Donovan shares introducing the eucharist to the Masai people. ... I was extremely cautious in passing onto the people the liturgy of the eucharist ... ... To take the first step in directing them how to do this ritually was filled with dangers. Any symbols or gestures I might choose, as proper liturgical celebration, could easily seem a cultural encroachment to them ... ... So the first Masses in the new Masai communities were simplicity itself. I would take bread and wine, without any preceding or following ritual, and say to the people: 'This is the way it was passed on to me, and I pass on to you that on the night before he died, Jesus took bread and wine into his hands, blessed them and said, "This is my body. This is the cup of my blood of the New Covenant, poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in my memory."' ... The people took it from there. It is extraordinary the way people will play the gosepl back to you, if it is presented to them in an uninterpreted way. ... Masai men had never eaten in the presence of Masai women. In their... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2017 at andygoodliff