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How did the first Christians ‘worship’?

One of the most frustrating things about the ‘occasional’ (rather than systematic) nature of the NT writings is that none of them give us precise details of what the first followers of Jesus did when they met together for ‘worship’. (I use inverted commas here, because the NT never actually uses the word ‘worship’ for what Christians did when they met.) If only Paul had attached to his letter to Corinth and order of service! We would have avoided centuries of debate between denominations, and saved ourselves hundreds of thousands of hours in liturgical revision—and even avoided the debate about whether we do in fact meet to ‘worship’!

The latest Grove Worship booklet is by Colin Buchanan, and asks the intriguing question: suppose we do have hints in the Letter to the Hebrews as to what happened when believers gathered? Colin is well equipped to ask this, being not only a life-long commentator and contributor to thinking about worship and liturgy in the Church of England, but also classically trained and an excellent exegete.

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Using images well in preaching

Many churches these days have digital projection and a screen—so the question is, how to use this well in preaching? Many people use it to put up words, perhaps setting out the points they are making. This has some value, because it enables listeners to see and understand the shape and flow of what you […]

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Resolving tensions in our reading of Scripture

Following my previous observations about Tony Campolo no longer calling himself evangelical, Tony himself responded on Christian Today. Every once in awhile unfair judgments are made. That was the case when Christian Today contributor Ian Paul wrote that I, along with other Red Letter Christians, emphasised the red letters in the New Testament, which in many Bibles highlight […]

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Do we need to ‘interpret’ the Bible?

Some years ago a well-known Christian leader, minister of a large and influential church, proclaimed: I don’t interpret the Bible. I just tell you what it says. How you react to that statement will say quite a lot about your attitude to the Bible, its interpretation, and the role of ministry. On the one hand, […]

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Is grace opposed to law?

It is relatively commonplace, in ordinary discussions about Christian discipleship, to hear the idea expressed that grace is the opposite to ‘law’. I think this is intended at a number of different levels: we are forgiven by God’s grace, and not because of (or in fact despite of) how we have lived our lives; our […]

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Is John 17 about unity?

If I was given sixpence every time I heard someone quoted John 17.21 ‘…that they might be one…’ then I’d have a lot of change that I wouldn’t know what to do with. It is commonly suggested that, in this, Jesus’ ‘high priestly prayer’, we see his last desire expressed to his heavenly Father, and […]

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Synod’s Shared Conversations

Through a mixture of rain and shine, cool breezes and muggy stillness, General Synod spent three days engaged in ‘Shared Conversations’ about the Church and sexuality, the final event in a two-year process of conversations involving representatives from dioceses meeting to do the same around the country. Feedback from previous events had been somewhat mixed, and […]

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