Book review – Greater Things: The story of New Wine so far

Greater things cover image

Two weeks ago I attended the launch of this book (full citation below) which tells the story of New Wine on its 30th anniversary. It has been a very stimulating read as it narrates and reflects on a movement which has had widespread influence on the Christian church in the UK and beyond. The title is taken from John 14:12 and the teaching of Jesus that ‘whoever believes in me … will do even greater things than these’. It thus identifies New Wine at the outset as a movement of people seeking to follow the example of Jesus and perpetuate his ‘works’.

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‘Take Courage’ : A reflection for Good Friday

On a few occasions recently (through Lent) I’ve been reflecting on fear and courage.

At some superficial level, these are opposites. Either you are afraid, or you overcome fear by having courage. The Bible verse most likely to be cited in support of this is Joshua 1:9 ‘I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’

However, it can sometimes be acknowledged that if you do not have any fear, then you hardly need be courageous, since there is no inhibiting factor to overcome. So it may well be that fear and courage are more intimately intertwined than they are opposites. Continue reading “‘Take Courage’ : A reflection for Good Friday”Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Interpretation of Love

“The difficulty, as I see it, is when we place the authority of our particular interpretation of the Bible … beyond question and above the gospel imperative to love.” This quotation comes from a letter published in the Church Times a couple of weeks ago. It leapt out at me as soon as I read it, and I have been wondering ever since whether I am alone in seeing a more fundamental ‘difficulty’ in this thinking. Continue reading “The Interpretation of Love”Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

“Are we nearly there yet?”

I was chatting with a friend recently, who was anticipating a long journey with children. We talked about the expectation of that familiar question, the irritation that it might provoke, and strategies for making the journey less wearisome for all.

When I am waiting, I want to know how long it is likely to be for. Sometimes, this is because there may be an alternative. Or perhaps because there is the possibility of doing something while I am waiting. Continue reading ““Are we nearly there yet?””Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feelings for Vengeance

Much of my time over the last month has been spent marking assignments. A significant number of students chose to study Psalm 137. Popularised (in part) for anyone over 40-ish by Boney M.’s ‘By the rivers of Babylon’ (1978), the psalm is, in equal measure, notorious for its closing verses, which some lectionaries deem unfit for public use: Continue reading “Feelings for Vengeance”Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Mudslinging at God

A friend recently wrote on his blog: “I cannot pray at the moment. I’m struggling to believe.”

My first reaction on reading this was to marvel at his bravery in making such an honest assertion, knowing that to some it would doubtless be shocking. That’s not the sort of thing that church leaders are meant to say, is it? But it stands as testament to just how bad the situation must be that it is necessary to take the risk of voicing such feelings, knowing that they are impossible to hide and that putting on a brave face is not only disingenuous but likely also to lead to further hurt.

And so my next response, which is the one that lingers, is a profound sense of sadness and compassion for him, as it is for anyone who finds themselves in such a situation. The sense of being cut off from our source of life, our source of comfort, is disturbing to a deep level, shaking the foundations of life lived in relationship with God. If God seems unreachably distant, to whom else can we turn? There is no substitute.

My friend is not the first person I have heard of to go through such an experience. Continue reading “Mudslinging at God”Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail