Kemsing with Woodlands
On the first evening I was in Israel, some of us took a stroll from our hotel down to the Western Wall. One group of about 4 left the hotel late, and followed what they assumed to be the tail of our group. It turned out it wasn’t. But they only realised once they’d gone deep inside the maze of streets that is the old city of Jerusalem. They were utterly lost. All they knew was that they were outside a sweet shop, of which there are an uncanny number in old Jerusalem.
How do you find the Old Testament half of the Bible?
I went to Israel on my sabbatical, and one member of the group was especially thankful for the trip. He’d not been a Christian long, and he’d only ever read the New Testament. He’d never read anything of the Old Testament. Visiting ancient sites connected with characters like Abraham, David and Joshua helped him to start to piece together the storyline of the Old Testament.
He’d never read it. And maybe you haven’t. For many Christians, the Old Testament is long, complicated and they don’t really know where to begin.
Many people think the church is always after people’s money.
It’s a reputation we’ve got. And sometimes, it’s deserved.
Have you ever lost something extremely precious to you, and known the heart wrenching anxiety, regret, emptiness at the thought that it’s gone?
In 1902, the author J M Barrie wrote a book called the Little White Bird. It was not a children’s book and in it, he introduced the world to the character of Peter Pan, who escaped from being human as a little baby, and lived a fun life with fairies, and never grew up. Peter Pan did grow up a bit. A play in 1904, another book in 1911, and we have the older boy that has captured the imagination of so many people. We now have endless films, musicals, and spin-off TV series, all starring the charming character of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.
The Antiques Roadshow has been running for 40 years. I’m not an avid follower, but you’re probably familiar with the format. They travel around different British towns with antiques experts, so members of the public can bring things to have valued.
There are inevitable disappointments. Something the owner thought was priceless turned out to be worthless. But then there’s the reverse, as someone’s jaw drops when something is worth vastly more than they’d dreamt.
Old fashioned ideas about God, that turn out to be very important.
Two weeks ago, we looked at guilt. Ezra 9 showed us what God is like, and what we are like. Guilt may be out of fashion, but it turns out it’s very important.
Today, we look at repentance. Also out of fashion. Also very important. And, as we’ll see, extremely costly.
Ezra chapter 10 is a shocking chapter. Did you feel an element of shock as it was read out?
Guilt gets a bad press today.
Many secular counsellors would say it’s unhealthy to feel guilty. We need to let go of our sense of guilt. And if someone is trying to process issues and problems in their life, the last thing they need is to be made to feel guilty for things they’ve done wrong.
Which is more important in the life of the church: Truth, or unity?
It’s a trick question, of course, but it’s one we often ask all the same.
Some people say that truth is all-important. What matters is that we hold onto the truth. If that means relationships get strained with those who don’t agree with us, then that’s a price worth paying.
Others say that unity is what matters. Jesus prayed that his church should be one. If a church falls out with itself or with others because of its stand for truth, then that’s a total tragedy and a defeat.