Category: Reflections

Bishop David Jenkins 1925–2016

Bishop David Jenkins, who died this week, came to the Church of Christ the Cornerstone during 1990s for the annual lecture in the series ‘Theology for Today’.
He was a 20th century man with a 21st century way of believing and as such was a godsend to newspaper editors and fundamentalist Christians. He was an easy target for bigots.
As with all of us, Bishop David was much more than that which others said of him. For me David Jenkins was a breath of fresh air, a Bishop who did not need to hide behind clever words, finely rehearsed speeches or archaic theology. He did not pussyfoot before those with political clout.
One reason why he, as a Bishop, was mistrusted by much of the establishment was that he was far too close to ordinary people. All establishments prefer bishops and the like to be set apart, somewhat remote, so that the boat of life glides rather than rocks. Although a somewhat shy person, he was much more of a boat rocker than a glider.
David Moore

Service of Thanksgiving for the Gospel on the Occasion of the Death of Alan Sell

[The full text of the sermon can be downloaded as a PDF here: Sermon APF Sell.]

The words we have heard from scripture, and the words we have sung, affirm the glorious message of the Christian gospel. The verses from the opening of the first letter of Peter tell us that through Christ’s resurrection we have been given a ‘new birth into a living hope’ (v.3). This hope is secure, that despite the trials we now face, whatever happens in the world around us, whatever happens to our loved ones, whatever we face in our own lives, we can live with the assurance, known by faith, that God loves and God saves. Or in the words of our first hymn:

Jesus lives! Thy terrors now can, O death, no more appal us
Jesus lives! By this we know thou, O grave, canst not enthral us.

Our short gospel reading records Jesus telling his disciples that while he is to leave them for a short time, he goes to prepare a place for them so that where he is, there also his disciples shall be (John 14:2–3). Or, again in the words of our hymn:

Jesus lives! To him the throne over all the world is given
May we go where he is gone, rest and reign with him in heaven.

As we gather today, these words encourage us not to linger in the shadow of death, but to look to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; a refuge and stronghold, a timely help in trouble (Psam 46:1–2). And so, what we feel and know to be such a great parting is not ultimate; as final as it seems, it will in fact pass; as much as it marks the end, we look forward to, and live in hope of, a new beginning. Because Jesus, who died, was raised from the dead and through God’s gracious gift, we share in what he has achieved, leaving us able to affirm with the Apostle Paul that

… there is nothing in death or life, in the realm of spirits or superhuman powers, in the world as it is or the world as it shall be, in the forces of the universe, in heights or depths – nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38–39).

Through these words – these mysterious, powerful, inspiring words – we are drawn to the faith that where we stand at our weakest, our most vulnerable, our most helpless, God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit does everything; everything to enable us to live this life, and everything to give us the living hope that death has been defeated. We are drawn back to God’s promises that the new life made real in Jesus Christ does not end at this point. And we are drawn back to God’s seal on those promises, for as we approach the Easter season, we see that in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, those promises are fulfilled, and so ‘sin and death and hall can never over us final triumph gain’.

Week 4: The encounter with frailty

The Mystery of Everything – a Lent course based around the film ‘The Theory of Everything’ Week 4: The encounter with frailty It’s not easy to give reflections without having seen the film, ‘The Theory of Everything’, based on a book by Jane Hawking with her story of hers and Stephen’s life together, but for those of...

Week 3: The complexity of relationships

The Mystery of Everything – a Lent course based around the film ‘The Theory of Everything’ Week 3: The complexity of relationships It’s not easy to give reflections without having the film, ‘The Theory of Everything’, based on a book by Jane Hawking with her story of hers and Stephen’s life together, but for those of...

Week 2: The enigma of weakness

The Mystery of Everything – a Lent course based around the film ‘The Theory of Everything’ Week 2: The enigma of weakness It’s not easy to give reflections without having the film, ‘The Theory of Everything’, based on a book by Jane Hawking with her story of hers and Stephen’s life together, but for those of...

Week 1 The experience of wonder

The Mystery of Everything – a Lent course based around the film ‘The Theory of Everything’ Week 1: The experience of Wonder It’s not easy to give reflections without having the film, ‘The Theory of Everything’, based on a book by Jane Hawking with her story of hers and Stephen’s life together, but for those of...

Lent Study: ‘The Mystery of Everything’

‘The Mystery of Everything’ is a new and original Lent course by Hilary Brand, which takes the multi-award winning film about Stephen Hawking, ‘The Theory of Everything’, as its starting point. The course explores ways in which the mysteries of the universe and of everyday life – and the acceptance that we have more questions than answers – can reinvigorate our faith and spiritual journey. The course is based around five weekly group sessions entitled: ‘The experience of wonder’, ‘The enigma of weakness’, ‘The complexity of relationships’, ‘The encounter with frailty’ and ‘The hope beyond brokenness’.

We shall run two sessions:

Tuesdays, 7.30–9.00 pm, starting on Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Wednesdays, 1.00–2.30 pm, starting on Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Everybody welcome

Salt of the Earth: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Produced by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Day 1 – Let the Stone be Rolled away Ezekiel 37:12–14 I am going to open your graves. Psalm 71:19–23 Your power and your righteousness, O God, reach the high heavens. Romans 8:15–21 We suffer with him so that we may also be glorified. Matthew 28: 1–10 He...