A hand reaches out of the dark blue ocean ,towards the pale blue part of the sky which is overshadowed by dark grey storm clouds.

Christian suffering: What happens when there is no happily ever after?

“It’s the end of a fairytale we all love – everything was alright in the end, even if you were abandoned in the forest by a wicked stepmother and then abducted by a cannibalistic witch. It’s something we still want – the happy ending after the trauma of the past …

However, the Bible doesn’t promise everyone an easy life and instant solutions to problems…until Heaven. Bad stuff happens to Christians too.”

Read this great article by Kay Morgan Gurr in full at http://bit.ly/2OTQeAK

Thoughts about Lent

I struggled this year to find something to do for Lent that I can realistically take on … I’m not experiencing quite as much pain (due to my new meds) but my fatigue is quite severe. I love the idea of doing various challenges but in reality, I am struggling with day to day stuff and have a to-do list that is approximately a mile long.

So I’ve decided to try and be kind to myself and simply do the following this Lent:

Fast from judging others; feast on the Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.
Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.
Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast from negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast from unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from hostility; feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.
Fast from personal anxiety; feast on eternal truth.
Fast from discouragements; feast on hope.
Fast from facts that depress; feast on verities that uplift.
Fast from lethargy; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.
Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that undergirds.

-William Arthur Ward

I’m going to take each day at a time and just try my best ❤

The Clobber Verses – A Rebuttal

A helpful summary ❤

The seven Scriptures sometimes claimed to be about homosexuality are not at all related to the consensual, committed same sex relationships we see today …

  1. Genesis 19:1-14, 24-26: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of what happens when God’s people do not live up to God’s expectations. It is teaching a lesson about the importance of hospitality to the stranger. The cruel men of the town were planning to rape the visitors and were definitely not homosexuals.
  2. Judges 19:1-30: This story parallels that of Sodom and Gomorrah and provides an example of how the townspeople plot to rape the visitor. It is yet another example for the ancient Jewish culture of how not to act by showing the extreme inhospitable behavior of the town. Some mistakenly interpret the townsmen’s behavior to be somehow related to homosexuality, but this was an example of the brutality of one group of men toward a group of visitors.
  3. Leviticus 18:22 and … 4. Leviticus 20:13: These texts state that a man should not lie with another man, and that if they do it is an abomination. The rules were meant to set the Israelites apart from the Canaanites and Egyptians who at that time participated in fertility rites in their temples that involved different forms of sex, including homosexual sex. Male-to-male sex was seen to mix the roles of man and woman and such “mixing of kinds” during ancient times was defined as an “abomination,” in the same way that mixing different kinds of seeds in a field was an abomination. This scripture occurs in a section of Leviticus called “The Holiness Code” which has as its main purpose to set out laws to keep Israel different from the surrounding cultures. (Helminiak, pg. 54)
  4. Romans 1:18-27: The behavior Paul was addressing here is explicitly associated with idol worship (probably temple prostitution) and with heterosexual people who searched for pleasure and broke away from their natural sexual orientation or their natural ways of having sex (both male and female) and participated in promiscuous sex with anyone available or used methods not culturally accepted. (Miner & Connoley, pg. 14) In the surrounding culture it was common for men of a higher status to take sexual advantage of male slaves or male prostitutes. Here Paul is instructing his readers to keep pure and honor God. Paul is talking about the use and misuse of power and authority and how that impacts one’s relationship with God. (Dwyer, pg. 58) Paul didn’t have in mind specifically prohibiting consensual same-sex relationships because they were never considered in his cultural context.
  5. I Corinthians 6:9-10: Paul’s list of sinners includes malakoi and arsenokoites. Malakoi means “soft” and is also interpreted as male prostitutes. Arsenokoites is difficult to translate, but it probably refers to a male using his superiority to take sexual advantage of another male. Paul is right to condemn these sexual activities, but this has nothing to do with a consensual homosexual relationship.
  6. I Timothy 1:8-11: This passage is similar to I Corinthians, above. This time it is a list of sins (as opposed to sinners) and includes the words pornos, arsenokoites and andrapodistes. Pornos most likely refers to a male having sex outside of marriage. Arsenokoites can probably be defined as male same-sex relationships that involved some level of exploitation, inequality or abuse. Andrapodistes can be translated as “slave traders.” Scholars believe that the three terms were used together in that slave dealers (andrapodistes) would be acting as pimps for captured boys (pornos) who would be taken advantage of by powerful men (arsenokoites). (Brownson, pg. 274) These are sins that certainly need to be addressed, but this Bible passage does not relate to homosexuals in a committed relationship.

 

Read the more in-depth summary aThe Clobber Verses

Religion, Race and Sexuality: A Complex Trinity? — BAME Anglican

An excellent article by Reverend Jarel Robinson-Brown, full of wisdom ❤

The last couple of months I’ve been wrestling with the fact that the Church doesn’t live what it proclaims and thinking about the horrifying amount of irreparable damage we’ve done throughout history … and yet we still haven’t learnt from our mistakes.

I feel overwhelmed with sorrow and anger, and I don’t have many coherent thoughts around this issue because I keep having to stop and cry. But one thing I know is that I am so ashamed of the Church, so sorry and I am determined to help change things.

Right now I’m in the process of educating myself. I hope that by listening to and learning from my brothers and sisters who are already engaged with this fight, I can become a better ally.

More thoughts to come …

 

A few quotes from the article:

“… the sheer poverty of mainstream White Christianity in its inability to acknowledge its past, re- imagine its future, and come to terms with its present. To me White Christianity was impotent against the principalities and powers of this world, against the principalities and powers of itself, precisely because it was living in untruth, largely still ignorant of the present-day ramifications of its history.”

“Professor of Black Theology Dr Anthony Reddie has said: ‘Racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, ageism, classism, among other things, all intrinsically deny the love of God because their perpetrators fail to love the wisdom of God that has given them relational opportunities to love their neighbour, often when their neighbour is not like them.’ So God has put diversity in the world, diversity is fundamentally of God – it is a way in which the possibility for us to practice love and not just talk about it is opened up, and whenever that opportunity is to practice love is missed, we deny the love of God and we reject the wisdom of God.”

 

 

In essence, I would say that Christian Theology and the Church are not a threat to black, gay, life. But bad, poor, shallow, lazy, Christian Theology/Christian Thinking which goes on to create bad Churches is certainly at the heart of the problem.

via Religion, Race and Sexuality: A Complex Trinity? — BAME Anglican

A Theology of Disability & Miracles

This is the piece I wrote for the Theology Slam Competition run by Church Times. I didn’t get through to the final but I’m still quite proud of it and want to share it with you!

As a disabled Christian, I have wrestled, struggled and wondered about the Biblical narrative in which Jesus and his followers perform many healing miracles; the pressure in Churches to pray for healing and the low number of such miracles reported in the modern church.

Here are some of my thoughts:

“Everywhere Jesus went he performed miracles that amazed and astounded people. Nowadays miracles seem to be few and far between, particularly in the Western world. Why is this?

The majority of the miracles Jesus performed, as documented in the four gospels, revolved around the most important factors for a person’s survival at that time – food and health.

There are more than seventy passages where Jesus cures an illness, raises a person from the dead or takes away a disability. We know that Jesus did more miracles than those documented (John 21:25), but we assume that the gospel authors included those chosen for a reason; perhaps because of how dramatically the miracles changed people’s lives and circumstances.

In the first century accurate medical knowledge was in short supply, and unfortunately, this led to the assumption that sickness and disability was a result of sin and evil. People with disabilities or those who became ill were excluded from society because they were seen to be impure or unclean. They often lived lives of poverty and isolation, if they survived at all.

Our medical knowledge, while still not perfect, has vastly improved in the 2000 odd years since Jesus died. For example, we now know that leprosy is treatable and isn’t highly contagious as previously thought. Increased scientific understanding of biology, genetics, sanitation and the discovery of effective drugs has resulted in a changed world.

When Jesus was alive, disability & sickness limited people’s participation in Temple worship. This emphasised society’s belief that they were separate from God.

We understand now that disability and ill health are not the fault of the person experiencing them, the result of a sinful life, or something that can always be fixed with ‘a little more faith’. Many disabilities and illnesses including depression have a genetic component, which brings a whole other level of meaning to “You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

Sin is what separates us from God, and Jesus came and died so that we can be fully reconciled with Him. This was an act of grace and not dependant on our health or lack thereof.

I believe that through a combination of human intellect, scientific innovation & divine inspiration, we have been able to use creation to improve health and welfare worldwide. In these days of antibiotics, organ transplantation and more, perhaps a healing miracle doesn’t have the same social impact as it would have done in the first century?

In the West, our basic requirements for food & health are met and the areas in our lives requiring miraculous healing have changed. Many people with disabilities are able to manage their health, but still face massive injustice and isolation in other areas of life.

How we look to the needs of those with disability and illness remains a challenge. Transforming our world, and peoples lives for the better will surely continue to need God’s miraculous intervention …”

I’d love to hear your what you think! Particularly thoughts from other disabled Christians and people interested in Disability Theology who can point me in the direction of books to read!

xx

Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash

 

 

Don’t you love illegal immigrants?

“Everyone is fearfully & wonderfully made … No one exists illegally, anywhere, ever. God’s favour rests on each single one.”

#Illegal #Immigrant #HostileEnvironment #Love #Community #Christlike #Politics

The Republic of Heaven

A guest post from Rev’d Martin Kettle. Martin is a policy advisor to the Church of England. He writes in a personal capacity.

Christians do not want a hostile environment. We want to love everyone. That means we want to love illegal immigrants. We DO love illegal immigrants.

Because we love them, we don’t call them immigrants, because we don’t like using nouns as labels to stick on people’s foreheads. This person came into the UK at the age of 4 with their family, is now 21 and is now in a detention centre pending removal. Is this prison an immigrant? Someone else has been here since the 1960s, having come from Jamaica: for sure they migrated, but that doesn’t make them less British than anyone else. And of course, ‘immigrant’ is very often racist code for someone who seems to belong to a visually identifiable category of people many…

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The Carpenter

It’s not thursday but here are some beautiful thoughts anyway …

The Woven Word

Isn’t this (Jesus) the carpenter’s son? Mathew 13:55
Isn’t this (Jesus) the carpenter? Mark 6:3

Reflecting on the cross being made from a tree, I became aware of the significance of wood in the life of Jesus. Right from birth, as a carpenter’s son, he would have seen his father, fashioning wood, into beautiful items of furniture, or for use in buildings. His father’s work place would have perforated with the smell of freshly cut wood, such a familiar smell in his childhood. He may have even played with the sawdust, shavings or off cuts. Knowing his destiny from a very early age of 12 Luk 2:49 his father’s work of sawing or hammering in nails, would have reinforced for him daily, the death he was going to die.

When he himself became a carpenter, every nail that he hammered in would have been a constant reminder, that one day…

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