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baptist minister and PhD student
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The church is getting better about observing (or recovering) lent. There are number of resources, ideas, possibilities for people to engage with intentionally (or half-heartedly) over the 40 days. There is little or nothing for the 50 days of Easter. How do we live Easter or to use Wendell Berry's wonderful phrase 'practice resurrection'? Easter tends to pass us by. We get to to the summit of resurrection day and then drift along until Pentecost, or maybe Ascension. What are Easter habits? Lent is hard work, should Easter be a rest? After all, the disciples went fishing or at least were fairly quiet until Pentecost. Should Easter be a break (many clergy often need one), and then at Pentecost, when we pick up the work of again, (empowered by the Spirit)? Its easier to preach Lent, than it is to preach Easter, or that is it what it can feel like. So any ideas for 50 ways to live Easter? Continue reading
Posted yesterday at andygoodliff
As we gathered this morning at around 5.30am looking out to the North Sea, I asked those gathered what was their earliest Easter memory. It is my hope that for our children, it will be getting up for the sunrise, to look for its coming and then as it appears sharing in words of scripture and faith, and then sharing breakfast. This year, both our children were present for almost all our services - Last Supper meal, 3 hour Good Friday service, Easter sunrise and the later Easter communion service. I'm not suggesting they were dutiful disciples (they are 4 and 1), but hopefully they witnessed something of what it means for their parents, and the church, to be Christian. (Before the comments appear, of course being Christian is much more than attending worship, but I don't think it is less than that). As they grow up with this experience of story and faith, it will, hopefully (again), offer them faith-full and faithful ways of believing, speaking and living Christian. It might of course work the other way, but to only offer them a sanitized sentimental neutered experience of the gospel (the easter egg hunt with Jesus squeezed in) is... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at andygoodliff
First Word: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” We gather on this day to be confronted by Jesus hanging on the cross. Jesus, whom we believe is the Son of God, suffering the pain of crucifixion. A voice from heaven had declared ‘This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!’ (Matt 17.5) Here we are faced by Jesus and we listen to his words. Seven in number. We come to give our attention to Jesus and his voice from the cross. We come to be silent because coming to the cross on this day is not a day for lots of words. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The first word speaks of forgiveness. It is addressed to the Father, and so we are over-hearers, those who listen to a conversation, deep in the heart of God. Jesus prays ‘Father forgive.’ Forgiveness belongs to God Reconciliation belongs to God. We do not reconcile ourselves to God, but God reconciles himself to us. Jesus had said “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” and we see now that this was no metaphor, no idealistic dream, for... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at andygoodliff
I was inspired by John Bunyan Baptist Church, Cowley, Oxford, who have made several church crosses over the years, who I think, in turn, had been inspired by the famous Maria Gomez Cross to create a cross for Belle Vue Baptist Church. Over the last two years, one of the church members at Belle Vue, slowly and patiently, created our own cross, which we dedicated yesterday during our Palm Sunday service (with some liturgical help from Sam Wells, St-Martin-in-the-Fields). It will now been on displayed to all those who enter our buildings from the church and beyond. Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2014 at andygoodliff
I've been involved in setting up a contemporary stations of the cross, which we've called Easter Icons, eight times over the last decade - first in Bunyan Baptist Church, Stevenage and more recently at Belle Vue Baptist Church (see here for previous years). This year for the first time we are setting up in a more public space. From tomorrow, you can visit Easter Icons: a pop-up installation in the Royals Shopping Centre in Southend-on-Sea. This has been instigated by Hannah Bucke, the town centre Methodist minister, and a joint project between a few of the Methodist and Baptist churches in the area. Looking forward to seeing what kind of response it gets. Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2014 at andygoodliff
41 books are reviewed in the latest Regent's Reviews. Under review are titles by O'Donovan, Coakley, Hauerwas, Wright, Dunn, Biggar, Harries, Thiselton, plus lots more. Enjoy. Download here. (Currently missing front cover, but that should get resolved over weekend). Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at andygoodliff
People have reflected, meditated, and preached on the seven words Jesus speaks from the cross for centuries. For the first time, I will be leading a service which will reflect on these words. I am being helped by these five books: Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Stanley Hauerwas (Brazos, 2004) Seven Last Words by Timothy Radcliffe (Continuum, 2004) Seven Lasting Words Jesus Speaks from the Cross by Christopher R. Seitz (Westminister John Knox, 2001) Thank God It's Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross by William H. Willimon (Abingdon, 2006) The Seven Last Words from the Cross by Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans, 2005) Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2014 at andygoodliff
Lent puts us face to face with death. On Ash Wednesday at the beginning of Lent we are told “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Lent confronts us with death. It reminds us that death is part of the reality of life. We try and pretend that it's not. It's not that we don't face death, it's on our TVs, it's always staring back at us from the pages of our newspapers, but in a sense it's never really death, or at least, it's never death in the way that Scripture describes it, death that is the denial of life the denial of being human the denial of God and God-givenness ... We know that death takes away life. Most of us have experienced it, felt the tear, the ache, when a life that we once knew, when a person we once loved and who loved us is gone. We know that ... But perhaps what we don't know, or don't get, at least not so well, is that death stalks our lives. It is an ever-present shadow, cast over life, that its power of denial is not just there when we physically cease to breathe,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2014 at andygoodliff
We suffer. Unavoidably, inevitably and often painfully. It comes to us all at some point or another. A phone-call, a door-bell, a test result. Suffering finds it way into our lives. and there it can produce its destruction of our comfortableness, our happiness, our hope. Suffering is liable to produce in us not just pain, but misery, sadness, a self-centredness, which can rob us of life and love. And so Paul’s words that ‘we glory,’ or rejoice, ‘in our sufferings’ offer a discordant sound, something that jars with our sense of the world: suffering is not something to be gloried in. And yet this is a constant theme of Paul’s gospel: you will find similar claims in nearly all his letters. Here Paul says we rejoice in our sufferings because they are a school for character. Tried and test character results from those who persevere, endure and are patient in, and though, suffering. To be a people of character, “a community of character” is to be marked by the character of Christ baptised into Christ and so to live lives that cannot be explain apart from the gospel. And this gospel is one of cross and resurrection, of suffering and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2014 at andygoodliff
It often feels that too many Baptists (in the UK only?) give short shrift to the work of theology. We know we probably need some, but definitely not too much. The Whitley Lecture is one small recognition that Baptists are doing theology. Although it was founded in 1949, during the 1980s (if not before) it fell by the wayside. It was recovered in 1996 as an annual public lecture given by a Baptist. And every year, apart from 2005, it has been delivered around the Baptist colleges and at the Baptist Assembly. Sadly, at an Assembly reduced to two days (and in following years to one day), there is no space for it to be heard. This year it has been delivered at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London and, I'm pleased to say, to a small crowd today at Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend. Over the last eighteen years the Whitley Lecture has demonstrated that there are a few Baptists who have been encouraged to think theologically and at depth. Many of those who delivered it have been past recipients of a BU Scholarship to pursue doctoral research. It has also shown a wide range of topics and interests amongst... Continue reading
Posted Mar 20, 2014 at andygoodliff
Below is my summary of Graham Tomlin's fifth chapter in Looking Through the Cross on 'The Cross and Suffering.' As in other posts, a lot of the summary contains Tomlin's own words. The existence of suffering today names one of the biggest reasons people struggle with Christianity: "why does God not prevent suffering? that he doesn’t surely is evidence he doesn’t exist." This question of God and suffering is actually a very modern one. We – and by we I mean those of us who live in the West – are generally used to a comfortable existence where it is possible to keep suffering at a distance, which means when it does intrude it is a shock disturbing the basic balance of our lives. Look at the cross. Look at the cross, for the Apostle Peter says ‘Christ suffered’ (1 Peter 2.21. 3.18. 4.1). At the heart of Christian faith: is the suffering of Christ, God’s Son. The cross says that we are not naïve about suffering we are not ignorant or indifferent but when faced with evil the Christian faith declares God still to be good and loving. Look at the cross. Look at the cross, for the Apostle... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at andygoodliff
What has happened here today? What have we witnessed and experienced? Some might say that what has happened here this morning is an ancient initiation rite, it’s the means that the church requires for people to join the club, to become an insider. And this is not untrue, Aimee through her baptism has become part of the body of Christ, a member of God’s people. Some might say that what has happened here this morning is the declaration of what somebody believes, they have announced in public their faith in God. And this is also not untrue, Aimee has made a confession of faith, she was asked four questions and shared her story of why she believes and felt it was right to come to baptism. But I want to suggest something else has happened here this morning which does not begin with the church or with Aimee, but with God. I want to talk about what baptism does to you and more specifically what God in baptism does to you. So this is a sermon for Aimee, to say something of what has happened to her in the water. This is a sermon for all those here, who are... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2014 at andygoodliff
Week 2 reading Graham Tomlin's Looking Through the Cross and chapter 4 'The Cross and Identity'. Again a large amount of the phrasing below belongs to Tomlin. Who are you? sometimes an easy question to answer, sometimes an unsettling question to answer. Who are you? when moving to a new town or city when getting married or becoming a parent when changing a job or losing a job or entering retirement when a parent, a spouse or a child dies Who are you? and where do you fit in the world? We might look to nationality race religion gender career but many of these identity markers are not as straightforward as they once may have been. Who are you? has become more fluid, more open to change and so we are encouraged to look within, to discover our true selves, and so who are you? becomes associated with your viewing habits, with your style of fashion, with your likes and dislikes. Who are you? becomes something we are told we can choose. Look at the cross. Look at the cross, for the apostle Paul says, ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2014 at andygoodliff
This year's Archbishop of Canterbury of Lent book is Looking Through the Cross by Graham Tomlin. Using the introduction and chapters one and three, I put together this short summary/reflection on its argument (much of the phrasing is Tomlin's): We see all the time, but rarely do we take time to look, to give someone, or something, our attention; to gaze more intently, to take in fully what is before us. Today, and throughout Lent, I want to encourage us to look, to look at the cross; and to look through the cross. To look through the cross is to see it as a window, a means of framing the world in a new way, a means of viewing God in a clearer way, a means of observing ourselves in a different light. How does life look when seen through the lens of the cross? What would it mean to see the cross as the interpretative key for looking at the world? Look at the cross. Look at the cross and see it as Rome’s means of public humiliation. The cross was designed to make an example of those Rome feared in the most painful way possible. To wear a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at andygoodliff
We spent the last three evenings at church talking food and faith over food. We did a three-course meal over three weeks. Our companion was Norman Wirzba's excellent Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating. The different evenings explored eating as a spiritual practice, godly gardening and saying grace. Our conversations covered a range of topics - eating, cooking, growing, buying - and what it might mean for us as Christians. Below is some sentences from the book (which were tweeted @bvbc_southend) that we chewed over. "eating reminds us that we are finite and mortal creatures dependent on God's many good gifts" (Wirzba) #foodandfaith "food is about the relationships that join us to earth, fellow creatures, loved one and guests, and ultimately God" (Wirzba) #foodandfaith "people should feast so they do no forget the grace and blessing of the world ... 1/2 #foodandfaith "people should fast so they do not degrade or hoard the good gifts of God" (Wirzba) 2/2 #foodandfaith "thoughtful eating reminds us no human fellowship without table, kitchen, garden, ecosystem & source in God" (Wirzba) #foodandfaith "because we eat, we are always firmly WITHIN creation and so must learn to live responsibly there" (Wirzba) #foodandfaith to talk... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2014 at andygoodliff
I believe in Jesus Christ conceived born suffered crucified died buried rose again and now ascended and is seated. We are near the end of this summary narrative of Jesus. It is a story of his descent and ascent. God in Christ comes to us in order to bring us to God. To name the crucified and risen Jesus as ascended and seated is to answer the question “where is Jesus now?” If he’s not dead, if he’s alive, where is he? He is ascended and seated at the right hand of the Father, says the creed. This line takes us from the past tense into the present: Jesus is seated, not was, not will be, but is He dwells at God’s right hand. The words ‘seated at the right hand of the Father’ point to the enthronement of Jesus He is crowned, he now reigns. And so Paul speaks of Christ being exalted to the highest place (Phil. 2.9) and “all things being are under his feet” … (Eph. 3.22) and Jesus says “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28.19). To say Jesus is seated might speak to us as meaning he... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2014 at andygoodliff
‘He is not here, he has risen’ say Matthew, Mark and Luke, ‘I have seen the Lord’ says Mary in John, ‘God raised him from the dead’ Peter proclaims five times in Acts, ‘Christ was raised from the dead’ says Paul in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, and 2 Timothy. The resurrection of Jesus is also witnessed to in Hebrews and 1 Peter and the book of Revelation. ‘If Christ has not been raised from the dead, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ says Paul to the church in Corinth. If there is no Christianity without the cross, there is equally no Christianity without the empty tomb, without the risen Jesus. When we read the book of Acts, we read that the Apostles’ proclaim ‘But God raised him the dead.’ This is the church’s witness. The good news is not just Jesus died, but Jesus was raised. What is more, the cross is only good news because Jesus was raised from the dead. There is no salvation without the resurrection. There would be no church without the resurrection. Before saying anything more about the resurrection let me say something brief about... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2014 at andygoodliff
Imagine reading the creed for the first time … I believe in God, the Father almighty the maker of heaven and earth in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary. If we paused at this point, we have the story of a God who creates and then comes to that which he has created. A story so far of double grace: the gift of a world full of life, the gift of God himself. Now hear the full force of the next line he suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified, died and was buried. Imagine reading the creed for the first time, imagine hearing the beliefs of this group of people who go to “church”. There is no mention of childhood no mention of anything Jesus said or did all we are told is what happened to him. He suffered, he was crucified, he died, he was buried. Paul says in first Corinthians: ‘we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks’ (1 Cor 1.23). We go from birth straight to death. If, as I’ve suggested Christianity, is Jesus, it is the crucifixion and death of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2014 at andygoodliff
It is 20 years this year since the first Matt Redman album, Wake Up My Soul, and since then he has released 11 albums and written over 120 songs. Redman was at the forefront of a new generation of UK worship song writers that emerged in the mid-1990s (others included Martin Smith, Paul Oakley, Lou and Nathan Fellingham, Stuart Townend, Tim Hughes, Martyn Layzell and Vicky Beeching). Redman et al, were the generation that followed Graham Kendrick, Noel Richards, Dave Fellingham and Dave Bilbrough, who dominated the 1980s and early 1990s. Redman emerged as the face of Soul Survivor and was its chief song writer from 1994 to the early 2000s, at which point he left and has spent time in the US with Passion (Louie Giglo, Chris Tomlin and others), but is now based back in the UK in Brighton. Redman songs have found a wide audience and some have become a regular feature of UK churches - 'I will offer up my life', 'Jesus Christ (Once Again)', 'When the music fades', 'Blessed be your name', 'You never let go' and '10, 000 reasons (Bless the Lord)' perhaps the best well known. Within the limits of the rock-pop worship... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2014 at andygoodliff
This morning I want us to think about the incarnation, which in biblical language is to say that Jesus is the ‘Word made flesh’ (as John’s gospel puts it), the ‘Son of God’ (as Luke’s gospel puts it), ‘Immanuel (meaning God with us)’ (as Matthew’s gospel puts it) in the ‘very nature God’ but who ‘made himself nothing … being made in human likeness’ (as Paul puts it in the Letter to the Philippians) or to use the language of the longer Nicene creed that Jesus is ‘the only Son of God eternally begotten of the Father … who for us and for our salvation he came down from heaven and was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made man.’ The doctrine, or teaching, of the incarnation claims that in the man Jesus of Nazareth we see God himself. The doctrine of the incarnation seeks to name something of the mystery that in Jesus, we see one who is truly God and truly man. At the heart of, and unique to, the Christian faith is the incarnation … The doctrine of the incarnation says that in Jesus we see a real human being, this is... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2014 at andygoodliff
This year will see two major works of Baptist theology published by Baylor University Press Contesting Catholicity by Curtis Freeman Baptists and the Communion of Saints by Paul Fiddes, Brian Haymes and Richard Kidd Also in the pipe line is a book of essays on the theology of Stanley Grenz edited by Jason Sexton, Derek Tidball and Brain Harris. Continue reading
Posted Feb 8, 2014 at andygoodliff
Doug Gay, Honey from the Lion: Christianity and the Ethics of Nationalism (SCM, 2013) With the deafening silence amongst Baptists on the question of Scottish independence, save the one lone voice of Stuart Blythe, crying out like a voice in the desert, that the church engage, Doug Gay's book is a welcome and timely contribution. Baptists please read! Honey from the Lion is a work of political and practical theology. We need more of this type of work - that is theologically rigorous, but wanting to shape practice within church, academy and other political institutions. We need more of this type of work when big political questions are before us. Doug Gay's book is not an academic exercise, he genuinely cares about the decision before the Scottish peoples and wants especially Christians to think theologically about the choices before them. The book is written for a wide audience, but this is not a work in the 'popular' sense. Some effort will be needed as Gay engages with the multiple disciplines of history, bible, theology, contemporary politics and even some economics! The book argues for the possibility of a good nationalism against those who only have bad things to say about... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2014 at andygoodliff
The following is an attempt to imagine the way Simeon might have told his story of meeting Jesus in the temple (Luke 2.25-35), that my friend Miriam and I wrote for this morning's Candlemas service. I had been waiting a long time … more than a minute, more than an hour, a day, a month I had been waiting years upon years, waiting like Abraham for a son I was beginning to thing that the promise the promise spoken when I was young, full of possibility full of hope and passion had been more my imagination than God that’s God promise to save was more a wish rather than a word I had been waiting with no sign, no fulfilment Most of my friends, old now like me, will say that the highlights of their lives were all in the past when they were younger For me the highlight of my life, the day that gave all the days before it meaning, has come near the end of my life I know I don’t have many more days left, well at least less than I’ve already lived … but this day last week puts everything into perspective, my life has... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2014 at andygoodliff
Helen Dare, who last year completed her PhD on Baptist hermenuetics is delivering the 2014 Whitley Lecture on 'Always on the way and in the fray: Reading the Bible as Baptists' You can hear it at the following locations: Monday 24th February at Luther King House, Manchester (see here) Wednesday 19th March at Spurgeon's College in the morning and Bloomsbury Central Baptist church in the evening Wednesday 9th April at South Wales Baptist College (see here) Or in due course get a copy of the lecture, probably via the Baptist Union shop. Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2014 at andygoodliff