What did Jesus have against goats?

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

On mothers, church, and the motherly love of God

There’s probably no occasion in the calendar which is more bittersweet than Mothering Sunday—more recently but incorrectly called Mother’s Day—no other occasion which combines gratitude and celebration with pain and discomfort. Given how difficult we find it in modern culture to hold together joy and grief, it makes for a uniquely challenging pastoral moment. Kate … Continue Reading

Ministry at Grenfell Tower

Gabby Thomas writes: On Wednesday 14th June, like the rest of the UK, I awoke to the most harrowing pictures of Grenfell Tower on fire. Like many others, when the circumstances began to emerge around how 24 storeys could burn to the ground that easily, I was utterly speechless: How could something so simply prevented … Continue Reading

How do we give and receive love? (John 13)

The new edition of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God has just been published, and this is the third part of my contribution reflection on John 11–13. Acceptable service (John 13:1–17) Why do we find it so difficult to be served by others? Because it draws unwelcome attention to us? Or because we don’t feel we deserve the attention? … Continue Reading

The compassion of God in John 11

The new edition of Scripture Union’s Encounter with God has just been published, and this is the first part of my contribution reflection on John 11–13. Even to the casual reader, John’s gospel seems to be in two halves. In the first, we have a series of seven ‘signs’ performed by Jesus (including the water into … Continue Reading

Compassion and power in John 11

If someone is in a fix, do you listen sympathetically and show you understand, or do you try and remedy the problem? Of course, that is a false dichotomy, but it a challenge we face often. If you want to take a stereotyped or generalised view of sex difference, by and large women tend to … Continue Reading

The Challenge of Loneliness

The latest Grove Pastoral booklet explores the challenge of the growing loneliness many in Britain face in old age. Written by John Dawson, a hospital chaplain, and Pete Rugen, a parish priest in Chester diocese, it is a multifaceted exploration of the problems of loneliness—and some possible solutions. It begins by offering some typical examples of loneliness … Continue Reading