Three surprises for Christmas

Every year at Christmas, we are once again reminded that the shepherds to whom the angels appeared were poor outcasts, that the holy family was abandoned and alone, and perhaps that the swaddling of Jesus was not something ordinary but a sign of spiritual significance. Christmas is a time for celebration, for feasting and for … Continue Reading

The testimony of John the Baptist in John 1

The lectionary gospel reading for Advent 3 is John 1.6–8 and 19–28, which picks out parts of John the Baptist’s testimony from the first chapter of the Fourth Gospel. Despite being highly selective from this remarkable opening chapter, it nevertheless contains key words and ideas that are carried through the whole gospel. Perhaps the most … Continue Reading

Jesus wasn’t born in a stable—and that makes all the difference

Alongside putting up the Christmas decorations (usually far too early), finding a Christmas tree, preparing for carol services and planning where to buy your turkey, one of the annual routines at Christmas is my posting the argument that Jesus was not born in a stable. I will continue to pursue this annual tradition, since it … Continue Reading

Why does Jesus say so many hard things?

I was asked by the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity (LICC) to write a short series of five reflections on the ‘Hard sayings of Jesus’ for their weekly email Word for the Week which is sent out on Monday mornings. It has proved to be an interesting experience which I am still reflecting on. When … Continue Reading

Speaking out on George Floyd’s death

Adrian Chatfield writes: The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis left me with a welter of emotions: shock, horror, anger, shame, confusion. There are now so many strident voices clamouring for attention following this brutal act that I have wondered whether it is worth saying anything at all. Yet I feel I must, for silence … Continue Reading

Mission, creation and incarnation

I was grateful to Philip North for offering a response to my critique of his views on mission in relation to the incarnation, published in the Church Times. There is nothing quite like hearing someone’s point of view in their own words, and it has been immensely valuable to have this exchange. I offer here … Continue Reading

Do we need to take Jesus to our urban areas?

Last week, Philip North, suffragan bishop of Burnley, made a typically challenging and provocative claim in an article in the Church Times: ‘We don’t need to bring Jesus to urban estates’. His central argument is that we have failed to engage with our urban areas because too often we have brought a packaged message from … Continue Reading