Monday, 30 January 2017


It often seems that we live in a world of rushing around. We bounce from one thing to the next and it seems wrong to not keep busy. There always needs to be something going on. Of course that way of doing things misses out on the space that we all sometimes need. We do need to pause. We need to find the opportunity for those times of reflection. I have been reminded of that as I have been reading W H Vanstone’s The Stature of Waiting. The clue, of course, is in the title. The book values those moments of slowing down and allowing time and space for reflection. So often that is when God manages to speak to us.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Gospel Is About Being Rescued

Jesus’ ministry is fundamentally a healing ministry. His preaching and teaching are healing acts. Jesus’ aim is to make a difference, to make God’s difference, in the world. This was, and is, good news.

This was surely a large part of why people flocked to hear him in big numbers. As word got around, the people came. Matthew 4, verse 24 – the news about him spread through the whole country of Syria.

It goes on to say – people brought to him all those who were sick, suffering from all kinds of diseases and disorders: people with demons, and epileptics, and paralytics – and Jesus healed them all.

There is no doubt that there were a lot of people who needed healing in Jesus’ day – and it is not really surprising for that to be the bit that hit the headlines. His ministry is there to present God’s love, and God’s love looks to bring about wholeness. Another word for that is healing.

We live in a world that is broken in so many ways. We encounter people who are hurting in so many different ways. Some of the needs and diseases today may be different from how it was in Jesus’ time but the basic need – and desire – for healing is exactly the same.

The good news, today as then, is that it can happen. God’s healing love is available to us. It may not always work the way we want or expect – but God is there for us and with us. That’s the promise. The Gospel is about being rescued. It always was. It is. It always will be. That’s what Jesus starts proclaiming. That’s the ministry – and that is what the first disciples, and all disciples since (including us), are called to share with the world around us.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017


What ought we to be doing?  How ought we to be living?  What ought we to be saying?  What kind of church ought we to be?

The word ‘ought’ is an interesting one.  I ought to do this.  I ought to have done that.  It carries the suggestion of how things should be, or should have been, and also includes the suggestion that they were not quite there.  This is how it should have been, but it wasn’t quite right.  I ought to have done so-and-so – and the implication is that I didn’t. 

So John says to Jesus, on that occasion when Jesus came requesting baptism, as recorded in Matthew 3:14 – I ought to be baptised by you.  John is effectively saying that things are the wrong way round.  They should be different.  He should have gone to Jesus for baptism, but actually what has happened is that Jesus has come to him – and so he responds to the request – I ought to be baptised by you.

I guess that, most times, it is best that we get on with doing the things that we identifies as things that we ought to do – and so, instead of saying ‘I ought’, we can say ‘I have’. 

However, sometimes that is not how it is going to be, and sometimes it is best to leave things as they are.  And so, on this particular occasion, Jesus says to John: Let it be so for now.  Jesus wants to model what God can do.  His whole ministry is designed to demonstrate that.  Jesus is concerned to point the people in the right direction.  It offers a message of hope, as it stresses the possibilities that can be realised with God.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

The Gift of Ministry

I am currently reading Daniel Jenkins’ The Gift of Ministry which offers some very interesting and perceptive comments about what ministry is and how it serves the church. Some of the language is not entirely appropriate as its reflects its time, rather than today’s perspectives, but, considering it was written around seventy years ago, being published in 1947, it has some remarkably relevant things to say.

Jenkins’ fundamental thought is that ministry is not ours, nor is it the church’s, but it is the ministry of Jesus. That is what we are called to offer. “The ministry is not an institution in its own right: it is the ministry of the Word of God in Jesus Christ” (p. 17). Jenkins builds on that as he emphasises the servant nature of Jesus’ ministry. “The whole office of the ministry is to be understood as the expression in the Church of this fundamental paradox – that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of all the earth, comes and establishes his kingly rule among men (sic) in the form, not of a king, but of a servant” (p. 20), adding that “the minister must accept the fact that he is indeed a minister and not a lord, and be content with the form of a servant“ (p. 23).

Ministry is a gift that is given by God. That thought is important and provides the book with its title. However, ministry is demonstrated as valid by following the model that Jesus provides and is a critical part of church life as it holds the role of keeping the church on track and being held to account.

Through the servant leadership of its ministers the church is able to engage in the mission to which it is called by God. So, we offer God’s love to the world. “The disciples of Jesus are to be servants and bondsmen to one another and servants and bondsmen of mankind (sic). Thus the community wanted by Christ exists out of plain love. The office in it is nothing but the working of this love” (p. 24).

So what kind of ministry do we see in our church(es)? Are we all about doing things correctly and being built up ourselves – or are we simply concerned to offer God’s love?

”What is required of us if we are to minister his healing touch is not therefore a correct spiritual pedigree, although in its place that may have its own value and importance, but that we should obey his will for his people and strive always to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in prayer” (p. 54).

Sunday, 1 January 2017


New Year is a great time for making resolutions. The question is usually as to how long we manage to keep them.

Whether you have made or are making any new year's resolutions this year, or not, it is well worth pausing to consider your sense of direction. What are your hopes, your dreams, as you go into 2017? Equally, what are your fears, your worries? We live in a fast-changing world, in an age when communication is instant. What are we saying and doing? What profile does our church have?

At a mundane level, what will people discover if they google your church? (Will they find out what's happening next Sunday - or will your website tell them what was going to happen last month (or worse!?))