I am sorry to spoil your preparations for Christmas before the Christmas lights have even gone up—though perhaps it is better to do this now than the week before Christmas, when everything has been carefully prepared. But Jesus wasn’t born in a stable, and, curiously, the New Testament hardly even hints that this might have … Continue Reading
Advent is once more upon us, and with it comes two sets of confusion: the idea that Advent is the anticipation of Christmas (when it is really about looking forward to Jesus’ return and The End); and the notion that the set passages in the lectionary are all about Jesus’ return. As we are about … Continue Reading
Not long ago, Mark Woods wrote an article in Christian Today exploring the apparent contradictions between the two accounts of Judas’ death, in Matt 27.3–8 and in Act 1.18. In the first, Judas hangs himself, the priests buy the field, and it is named ‘Field of Blood’ because of the betrayal by Judas. In the second, … Continue Reading
When I last preached on the lectionary reading, Mark 10.2–16 (as many of you might just have done) I felt not a little intimidated by the challenge. It feels though there was a time when reading and preaching on this passage was a lot more straightforward than it feels now. (Life as generally a lot … Continue Reading
How should we respond to forecasts of the end of the world and a coming apocalypse? Will there be a ‘tribulation’ and a ‘rapture’? And what does the Bible really say about the end of the world and the return of Jesus?
These questions keep swirling around—but it is not always easy to find sensible answers.
In this accessible study morning, we will look carefully at the teaching of Jesus, Paul and others in the New Testament to see what they really thought. It turns out that expectation of ‘the end’ was important to the first followers of Jesus—but in ways very different from what we might find in the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
I have a confession: I find myself increasingly fidgety every time I say the Lord’s Prayer according to one of the accepted forms in English language. It all began with a post I wrote five years ago on the poetic structure of Jesus’ teaching, including the Lord’s Prayer, and the fidgetiness gets worse each time … Continue Reading
In my commentary on the Book of Revelation, I assume without much discussion that references to ‘Babylon’ are in the first instance (for John and his readers) allusions to the power of Rome and the imperial system. Someone commented to me that I don’t give much space to debating this, or considering the other main … Continue Reading
Last week the polling company YouGov published the results of a survey asking Christians what they thought about God’s gender. Their ‘shocking’ discovery is that very few agree with Ariana Grande’s claim in her latest single: With Ariana Grande’s recent single being entitled “God is a Woman” a new YouGov survey reveals that British Christians … Continue Reading
The parable of the sheep and the goats in Matt 25.31–46 isn’t actually a parable (since there is no suggestion that ‘the kingdom of heaven is like this’), and isn’t really about sheep and goats (as we shall see). But it is very well known, and is most commonly interpreted as an encouragement for followers … Continue Reading
In the previous post, I explored how the language of vocation is used in contemporary discourse, (expressing individuation, interiorisation, stratification, self-actualisation and marginalisation) and then began to reflect on the rather different description in scripture. God calls creation into being; his disruptive call to Abraham both completed the past and opened the future; God’s call … Continue Reading
Vocation has always been an important term for the Church of England as it thinks about patterns of ministry, and it has recently been hitting the headlines as the ‘number of vocations’ has been increasing, particularly amongst the young. But ‘vocation’ is also a common term in wider culture; once you are aware of it, … Continue Reading