Blogroll: Sussex Parson
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 60 posts from the blog 'Sussex Parson.'
Disclaimer: Reproducing an article here need not necessarily imply agreement or endorsement!
(Suffering is real and painful and is often given as an objection to the Christian faith)
Suffering is not simply a hypothetical issue to be discussed (vv1-2)
Suffering is not (normally) a direct consequence of extreme personal sin (vv2-3, v4)
Suffering is a warning of the judgement to come, which we all deserve (v3, v5)
Suffering should lead us to real repentance before God’s patience runs out (vv6-9)
* * *
Lessons for Israel (vv1-9)
(a) Tragedy and the need to repent (vv1-5)
(i) Massacre by Pilate and the call to repent (vv1-3_
(ii) Tower of Siloam and the call to repent (vv4-5)
(b) Parable of the spared fig tree (vv6-9)
(i) Instruction to destroy the tree (vv6-7)
(ii) Delay and warning (vv8-9)
* * *
All Souls’ Langham Place, Richard Bewes, Suffering - a dead end? - G027Series: The Bible Speaks Today (Issues of Topical Concern) - 09/11/1997
(1) We are all living in a fallen world
(2) We’re all living in a temporary home
(3) We are all living on borrowed time
(4) We’re all living as debtors to love
* * *
St Ebbe’s, Al Gibbs - Questions Of Life: What is Jesus looking for? 15/03/2015
(1) The role of suffering: suffering is meant to make us repent.
It shows us that something is wrong and that something needs to be done about it
(2) The need for repentance
Suffering is a foretaste of the judgement of sin and a worked example of the horror of sin
(3) The urgency of the hour
Which do we particularly need to work on?
How can we develop these?Marc Lloyd
Maybe the kids would enjoy how many food / harvest words beginning with "g" can you think of?!
The ground has produced a harvest.
The crops have grown.
They are all good gifts of the grace of God.
We should respond not with greed but with gratitude and generosity.Marc Lloyd
(1) No friendships?
Some Christians have few real friendships outside the church for all sorts of reasons. Maybe quirks of personality. Perhaps business at church activities and meetings. Obviously there are some cultural and worldview bridges to cross between contemporary British evangelicals and the average local pagan.
But as a strategy this whole approach is questionable, is it not? We do not befriend people solely for the purpose of propping up our club, as if the Village Hall committee were a bit short of helpers and the current team were tasked to target people they might recruit by getting them round for dinner a couple of times and then popping the question. The friendships must be genuine if there is to be honest and ethical friendship evangelism.
(2) No evangelism?
But I imagine most of us get stuck at the friendship stage. We are for ever building up the friendship. It is too soon to mention Jesus. And then the friendship really matters to us, so it is a bit risky to mention Jesus if that might jeopardise the friendship.
Better than a friendship evangelism strategy, how about this:
If we love people and we believe we have the best and most vital news in the world ever to share, it will be hard to shut us up, though, won't it?
This is of course easier to say than to do. Pray for the Rector in this too!Marc Lloyd
I found this comment from MacCulloch's Cromwell interesting:
"Henry, when not showing off his masculinity in sports and open-air pursuits, was... an addict of books, even though he often got other people to read them to him. The large accumulations of them in his various palaces were one of the most genuinely individual features among his displays of monarchical conspicuous expenditure. He spent laborious but clearly enjoyable hours annotating his collection, usually with some particular political or theological purpose in mind." (p141)Marc Lloyd
Luke 12:22-34 (p1045)
FOR WHAT SHALL WE THEN LIVE?
(1) DON’T LIVE FOR TREASURE THAT FAILS AND FADES
What is life all about? V15, v23
Concerned about the necessities of life?
Illustration 1: The ravens (v24)
Vv25-26: Worry is pointless
Illustration 2: The lilies (v27)
Vv28ff: Worry is unnecessary
The antidote to worry: trusting your loving heavenly Father (v30)
(2) LIVE FOR TREASURE THAT SATISFIES AND STAYS
Don’t worry / Don’t think of a pink elephant!
The alternative to setting your heart on food and drink and running after such things: seeking God’s kingdom (vv29-31)
Irish logic? Vv31-32
The motivating power of grace!
V34 – You / your heart will follow your money!Marc Lloyd
The rich fool: greed without gain
Worry: ulcers without profit
(1) Kingdom priorities (v31)
(2) Kingdom confidence (v32)
(3) Kingdom generosity (v33)
I would say that significantly more than half of the sermon could be called diagnosis and application rather than exposition or explanation, though there is certainly a good measure of that. The theological ideas are arguably relatively few and simple but we are shown our need of them and the difference they might make.
The preaching actually connects to how we might think and act.
For example, we are encouraged to think about what produces excessive emotional reactions in us and to chase down the rabbit holes to discover what we are really running after.
We feel that at least to a degree the preacher empathises with us and is seeking to understand us.
Issues of identity and security are explored and related to relationship with God our heavenly Father. What determines your sense of self? What or who are you trusting?
I would say that is less than typical of some evangelical preaching, or at least of how we typically think of it, and that there is much to learn here.Marc Lloyd
“The Robin and the Sparrow"
Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me.”
― Elizabeth Cheney
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/714001-the-robin-and-the-sparrow-said-the-robin-to-the Marc Lloyd
Most preachers re-use some of their material from time to time.
And it seems that the Lord Jesus was no exception.
Who knows how often Jesus preached.
Maybe most days, perhaps several times a day or for several hours.
And so he probably didn’t have time for lots of extra sermon preparation as he travelled around.
You can imagine the disciples saying to him, “O, Jesus, tell us the one about the whited sepulchres again!”
Or, “Jesus, what about the one about the man with the plank in his eye?!”
The oral tradition of the time depended on repetition and that helps to account, under God, for the remarkable preservation and agreement between the gospels.
We’re more familiar with this famous passage from the version in Matthew’s gospel where it forms part of the sermon on the mount.
And we’ve looked at that passage together before.
But here it has a different context which brings out particular aspects of its meaning.
Starting the reading at v22 is really starting mid-way through!
When we come to the “therefore” in v22, we ought to know from our Bible study training that we should ask: “What is the therefore therefore?”
What is the logic of the passage that is being pointed out here?
Because of that, therefore this.
Because of what Jesus has previously said, now here comes the application which follows from it.
So the application of what exactly?
Let’s recall that brilliant little parable of the rich fool which Jesus told which we studied last week.
God does not live in temples made by human hands. Absolutely.
But consider 2 things which give our buildings significance:
(1) Meaning and value are partly socially and historically constructed.
Which sounds fancy. What it means is that Elton John's glass or Elvis Presley's guitar are worth much more than any old cup or instrument to many people.
Say your church has been at the iconic, religious, cultural, physical heart of your village since AD 800 and that prayers have been offered there every day time out of mind. Does that make the building magic? Of course not. Does it physically change it? Probably only fairly minimally. Does it matter? I think any reasonable person would say it does. Even if it does not matter to the Evangelical preacher, he can be sure it matters to the villagers, even those who rarely attend!
Calvin would not want you to play ping pong on the Lord's Table, though it is just a table. Consider that.
(2) Neutrality is impossible.
Even an empty white box of a building has a significance and sends a message (maybe God hates stuff, or beauty, or something!). You building must have some sort of shape, so maybe a cross is not a bad one.
If you are Christian at all you need some kind of Table and you need to put it somewhere. You probably want a pulpit or lectern of some description.
So we need to think about this stuff.
Don't worry (Matthew 6 / Luke 12)
(1) "That’s easy for you to say!"
Well, yes, it is. Relatively. Maybe. We’re not exactly living the high life at the Rectory but we are relatively comfortable and secure compared to many, in some ways, I suppose.
But remember that these are the words of Jesus. He was born in relative poverty and had lived in exile as a wanted baby. He had no where to lay his head. He would die as the worst sort of common criminal, seemingly with only the clothes on his back to his name. He was buried in a borrowed grave. He knew whereof he spoke.
(2) "That’s easy to say!"
Well, yes, it is.
But Jesus gives us good reasons not to worry. Worry is pointless and unnecessary. We cannot add to our lives by worry. And we need not worry because our loving heavenly Father will take care of us and bring us at last to the promised land of the New Creation.
We might have money worries, but we do not have to cultivate them. Jesus is not saying that we are never to think of money or plan for the future. But we need not be consumed by worry about these things. We can cast our anxieties on him, knowing that he cares for us.
Rather than just saying "do not think of a pink elephant" / "do not worry", Jesus gives us a positive focus: seek first the kingdom of God. Marc Lloyd
The crew did lots and lots of filming and they have, of course, chosen the most engaging, striking material. Naturally they had an eye to any issues or angles. A bit of controversy is good for ratings.
And though the BBC is not a bastion of evangelicalism (!) I would say CAP comes out excellently. Even if you are not a God-botherer of exactly their brand, there is so much to admire.
One issue is that perhaps CAP are doing what some think the government or maybe the financial services industry should do. Well, I don't buy that. But the government aren't doing it, are they?
As someone has on Twitter, in fact, it is the Christians who are working with the most vulnerable most effectively and this could be multiplied in many other areas. When Richard Dawkins and the National Secular Society run food banks and schools and drug rehabilitation, maybe we should listen to their arguments a bit more carefully. Until then, as someone else said, by their fruits you shall know them.
And, surprise surprise, Christians, like, believe in God and the Bible and Jesus and prayer. And they invite people to church. And give them free literature. Of course! They think the gospel is good news worth sharing which actually works. Trusting Jesus and church membership would actually help people in debt if they gave it a go.
But this is done with gentleness and respect and the highest possible ethical standards. Say, "thanks, I'm not interested in all the God stuff, but can you help with my debt?" and bob is your father's brother.
If I knew anyone with debt issues, I know what I would Google, even if I were a militant atheist.Marc Lloyd
Peterson's (and other right thinking persons') response: These are problems!
How do we go from "facts" to values?Marc Lloyd
What does your atheism do for you? Are you willing to give that up?
You can believe lots of things that don't seem possible to you.
And you can feel profoundly lots of things you think are untrue.
You can do what you want in this area.
You've got to get over yourself.
To believe is to give intellectual assent and to trust, to depend, not so much to feel persuaded or be able to prove something.
Carry on!Marc Lloyd
(The is interesting as the C of E thinks about the parish system. And as society things about Anywheres and Somewheres).
Though Christians have had something to say about time, space and place are perhaps less discussed in our Systematic Theologies.
Space and place are created things and are good.
Place is space with meaning and purpose, space with stuff in it or viewed from a point of view.
In the Old Testament place really matters. There is Eden and the land and the world. There is the temple and the promised land. There can be special and common places and clean and unclean places. And the goodness is to spread. The earth is to be made more like heaven.
The earthly scheme somehow is modelled on heaven according to the book of Hebrews. Heaven is a place too, mysteriously.
People are embodied and that is good and makes place necessary.
The incarnation, resurrection and ascension require a place. Though there is also a extra - the divine nature.
The Spirit can bridge spaces e.g. between earth and heaven.
What happens in the NT? Does all the Temple / Land stuff go to Jesus or is there more?
What of church buildings? Are they mere rain shelters (however glorious)?
Can there be a kind of sacred space?
In Acts there could be said to be a kind of salvation geography and a scheme which is somewhat place oriented: Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the Ends of the Earth.
Some first points might be:
(1) Sometimes his mythological psychological readings of the Bible are a bit weird and sometimes traditional Christians would call them plain wrong. They are also not necessarily the chief concern of the Bible writers / the church who, like, really care about God!
(2) God actually does exist and that really matters. Likewise the specifics of the life and teaching of Jesus, the Word of God etc. The after life.
(3) Peterson says he lives as if God exists. But doing so would mean active involvement in the community, life and discipline of the church and this would give important spiritual and ethical shape to life. The Christian vision is of a community, a people, not just the honest seeker after truth on his own with his books and You Tube.
(4) Even if you buy a kind of evolution, it is questionable to what extent that should shape how we ought to act.
(5) It is right to encourage responsibility etc., but you probably need rather more forgiveness, grace and external power (The Holy Spirit) in your system than much of Peterson's teaching sometimes seems to imply.Marc Lloyd