20.4.14

Faith or Resurrection Faith?


So what must it have been like? Let's look again at this narrative and the faith of John, who runs towards the tomb and the faith of Mary, who runs away from from it.
Mary from Magdale (on the shores of the Galilee) is drawn in early darkness to the tomb of her master. But on arriving, the stone across the burial place is gone. Where is his body? Have Tombraiders struck? In shock and outrage she runs to town, to the disciples and shares her story.

Simon Peter and John each respond by running the path she has come. John stopping short doesn't enter the tomb but peers in to discover - the body has gone! She was right. But it hasn't been robbed because as Peter now sees, there's no body but there are grave clothes. There's no Jesus but there's his face cloth lying neatly folded. And as John now joins Peter inside the tomb, they try to make sense of it all. Do they get it at last? And we're told 'He saw and believed.' John saw and believed. But what? And how does faith change him?


We're back now with Mary and her response to the tomb. She bends low and enters in and through her tears sees two angels. Asked why she's crying, she says. “They have taken my Lord … and I do not know where they have put him!” With her face marked with grief, searching for answers, she encounters another who joins the scene, interrupting her space and her time for weeping. It must be the gardener, he's taken Jesus's body. But “Mary!” he says … and how would he know? That Mary's her name? It's the voice of her master. “Teacher,” she proclaims. And in her joy she lunges forward, arms outstretched to take hold of him but he says, “Do not hold on to me... [hers not for the taking!] I have not yet gone back up to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am returning, to him who is my Father and their Father, my God and their God.”


So she runs from the tomb as formerly John had run towards it and perhaps before they hear her, she begins to proclaim: “I have seen the Lord, I have seen the Lord, I have seen the Lord!”


The faith of John and the faith of Mary. Perhaps there is a choice here that is put to us this Easter. Will we go on today with the faith of John or with the faith of Mary?

“I have seen the Lord.” says Mary. Have you seen the Lord? Really seen the Lord? The Glory of the Lord this Easter?



John's gospel presents a Jesus who is certain of glory despite the pain he suffers ...that the cross is just a station on the way back to the Father. We make our Easter too small when we focus only on Christ's sufferings. John is keen to tell us as he narrates Christ's final week that "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper…" (John 13:3–4; cf. 14:28). This is his first rising in confidence, in confidence of the ultimate rising, that he will conquer death through the power of God's Spirit within him. It is, as the writer of Hebrews puts it, "for the joy that was set before him" that Jesus "endured the cross..." (12:2). Jesus knew a joy before his earthly life began and he knows a joy after his earthly life is over. Jesus is on his way back to that previous glory, the glory he had enjoyed with the Father since the beginning of time (17:5, 24)! Let's not forget Jesus lived before he became one of us! That he lives after he dies as one of us, shouldn't be so hard to believe.

But it can hard for us to believe, as hard as it was for John and for Mary. And so what has the faith of each of these disciples to teach us about our faith this Easter?

Perhaps that we must not only travel to the tomb with John, we must run from it with Mary with news for the world. We must not stay weeping with a faith limited by logic, still searching for answers for things that can't be explained. We must move on instead to a place of resurrection, just as sure as Jesus, that the glory has come. “I have seen the Lord!” Have you? I have seen the Lord! Have you seen his glory this Easter?


John's seeing and believing is not yet the resurrection faith of Mary. Only John's logic can deduce that there is indeed no body, that Mary is certainly on to something. He has not yet the revelation that will come later, through the power of the Living Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. It will take Jesus himself to explain all that has happened. It will take the power of the Spirit, coming fifty days from now, to triumph logic with faith, evidence with power and reason with resurrection.
Where are you?

Are you meeting Jesus through his Word? Are you meeting Jesus through his Spirit? Do you need to move from John's faith to Mary's? From questions to acceptance, from puzzling away to a freedom in faith? From your own limitations, into the limitlessness of God? From the natural to the supernatural? From stone strewn with death clothes to angels in bright raiment? I have seen the Lord! says Mary. This Mary who sees angels too.

John leaves our scene without encounter. Encounter for him will come later. Jesus will breathe on them 'Receive the Holy Spirit!' and then John will begin the resurrection days of his faith. Breathe on us, Lord, so we might receive the Holy Spirit! Transform our questioning faith, dampened by logic and the powers of deduction to a faith that is active and joyous and believing. Bring us quickly like Mary into the resurrection days of our faith! I have seen the Lord! Says Mary. This Mary who can also see angels.
Mary encounters. Mary is transformed – Jesus becomes present to her and tears leave her face and energy comes to her body as she runs to declare this truth to the town. “I have seen the Lord!” is a declaration of a resurrection faith, a living faith, an active faith.
John's faith is where ours can so easily be today: 'He saw and believed.' John saw and believed. But what? And does faith change him? “For they did not yet know the scripture that he must rise from the dead.” Do you accept this? That John had not heard, that Jesus had not spoken about what was to come. Or is the gospel writer teaching us that there are two ways of hearing, with the ears of the world and the ears of faith. That there's a hearing and a seeing that comes with life in the Spirit. Just like us with our Sunday school lessons and sermons, our Bible notes and study groups, John had heard from his Saviour the news of his rising. Don't be fooled, for Jesus would have spoken perhaps long into the night, “I will not leave you orphaned, I am coming to you (14:18) “I have told you before it happens so when it happens you might believe (14:29) “I will see you again (16:22).” But hearing and knowing are two different things. We've heard. Do we know? And if we know, do we act?

A resurrection faith is a seeing with eyes, and a hearing with ears that is a knowing in the heart; a knowing that will cause us to turn and be healed (Isaiah 6:9-10). Revelation occurs from encounter. It is only Jesus's Holy Spirit who can “open our minds to understand the scriptures. (Luke 24:27).” Without encounter, John's seeing and believing can't be activated. John can't run from the tomb to declare his belief, he is not yet transformed into worship and joy, he returns to his home and his faith is tame. Mary's encountering leaves her never the same! Where John saw a death shroud, she has seen angels.

Has God given you power to see possibility and life where others see death? In the Spirit, your eyes will see what others can not see, evidence of a God who from all things can work good (Romans 8:28), who can send angels where before you had only known sorrows. Mary Magdalene who'd known demons is the first to see angels. Because those who've been cut through with the channels carved by suffering have a greater capacity to hold living water. The channels aren't as wide in those who've not known pain. This is also why our Saviour can bear the sins of the world. Mary sees angels and knows God's about his business and when God's about his business crying turns to joy.

And so Jesus and the angels ask Mary a question that perhaps they ask here this morning of us. If we've failed to see his glory, and dwelt too much on his suffering. If the weight of our sins has robbed us of joy, if we're still applying logic and science and reason – if our faith sticks at Good Friday and hesitates at resurrection – Jesus says to us this morning as he does to Mary– why cry when I live? Turn around and hear me. Mary's 'I have seen the Lord' can only come when she turns, that metanoia, that repentance, that turning to the Way as Christianity used to be called, that turning to be healed, as Isaiah describes it, is in her turning to the voice, to the person of Jesus, from one kind of believing to a resurrection-rich faith as she is released into faith that is active, a faith that is joy-filled and unabashed in proclaiming. She turns away from the tomb and out instead to the world, she turns from the darkness of a grave to behold the light, she turns from Good Friday and beholds Easter Sunday as he calls out her name and our names today.

This is The Way.

Jesus summons his sheep this way and by name, and then charges them to take his message to the world, to stare not at empty tombs and seek explanations, and neither to hang onto Jesus as Mary would prefer, he's not ours for the taking, though a personal God, he came for the world and asks that we share him. He calls you by name so you proclaim his. He can't be contained in this church or our liturgy, he's to be one with the Father and with us through his Spirit. So Mary turns from the tomb and out to the world. The faith of Mary is a resurrection days faith. The faith of Mary is active and real. It takes the message of a Saviour to the people who most need it.
So what's Jesus asking of you this particular Easter day? To move on from John's into a faith like that of Mary? To turn from the emptiness and behold the potential, to dwell not on the impossible but be filled with the Spirit. Let this Easter be remembered for your turning towards him, not to hold him down or work him out, he works in you and lifts you up. Let's put Jesus in his rightful place, our resurrection King. Let's invite the Spirit to activate our faith so that with Mary we might go out in joy to declare 'I have seen the Lord!' 'I have seen the Lord!' 'I have seen the Lord!' Amen.

16.4.14

Betrayal

Come eat with me, it's time to rest
With blood and body you'll be blessed.
Surround me now and share and speak
For pain is climbing to its peak.
For just a while, be still, accept,
All your struggling's now inept.
Please, jostle not for fame and power
My life drains to its final hour.

So now be still in swaddling heat
And let me tend to hearts and feet,
I'll wash away the grit and sand
Of journeys we've made over land.
This life of three and thirty years
Will then be marked with blood and tears.

I'll soon no longer need to eat
Or sip this wine so smooth and sweet.
I'll fast before the feast begins
So light before the weight of sins.
For tomorrow is a day for mourning,
Where once you loved, you'll soon be scorning.
Where once you cleaved unto my breast
You'll cringe and crumble with the rest.
You'll drop your cloaks to run still faster
And fling betrayals at your master.
You'll deny you ever knew this man
Who stands before you bread in hand.

So break it now, I'll soon be broken.
I'll reside forever in this token.
Feast on me, I am the life,
Cutting through your fear and strife.
Thirst no more but drink this down
Behold my head without its crown
Gaze upon my sun-bruised skin
Soon to be splintered with your sin.

If only you could understand
What must befall the Son of Man.
You glance away and eyes depart
In close inspection of your heart.
Think not upon the darkness there,
I come to cleanse the temple bare,
I come to reconcile you now
You know it too but daren't ask how.
The answer kills and then revives
To give you new and perfect lives.
You'll be redeemed; a new creation
Speak me loud to every nation.

The points of my cross out in every direction
Mine is a death for a resurrection.
Yours is a life for a mission like mine
Of the coming Kingdom, you're a living sign.
So set your glass down now, come with me to pray
Tomorrow will prove the most beautiful day.

The Son and the Sun

Hopefully not too green (naive) about The Sun



It's been an unusual few days.
I haven't yet packed up my house... it's a strange thing - this resignation of control...

Faith!

They'll move the contents of my old life to the new one.

Some of it I will leave behind, metaphorically speaking.

The days have been punctuated with goodbyes, promising myself I would visit everyone who wanted to exchange final hugs and prayers. It's been tiring but lovely - all these unique people. Praying slightly differently, dependent on the person for whom the prayers have been said. Receiving prayers in return for a fruitful future, for my husband and the girls, for discernment and wisdom and more of God's Spirit.

I have half-finished meditations and sermons as Holy Week progresses and as my writing is interrupted by visits and visiting, time spent at home has involved too much pacing, as I go from room to room wondering really if I can leave that corner of confusion without boxing it up into something more orderly.

And then just when you begin to find pace with the week, even though its one of such weight, both for its story and our leaving, a new experience comes... and with it ... more thinking.

I find myself writing an article for The Sun Newspaper.
For Easter.
Its relevance to the twenty-first century generation: the smart-phone, pop idol, social media savvy generation and apart from the pop idols I have such things in my life.

So for a moment, faith becomes strange again, or at least objectified, as a reporter from the paper asks me about clothes. Zara is mentioned as a place to buy skirts and I think 'But where are we expected to shop - the moon?'

And I write something about the atonement in the only way I can think how.
Where else do we see such courage played out?
The courage of the cross?
So vast.
So huge.
So I put pen to paper, or rather fingers to keyboard and say something about whistle-blowing and even day time TV, our obsessions with story, modern day betrayal, last meals with colleagues before huge actions are taken that will change friendships forever.
Is there something in this that's a little like Easter?
The Last Supper.
Remembrance.
Blood out-poured.
Wine.
And in a telephone interview I am asked about the alcohol and I share just one scripture amongst other things that come to mind - the one about not being drunk on wine but being filled with the Spirit and there is a smile I can hear from the other end as I mention the pun that is there on the Spirit. I then talk about how no amount of anything that the world can give, can compare to relationship in God through his Spirit.

...How if only there had been Street Angels around back then, outside the clubs that I had danced in, when younger.

...How in raising two girls, as I do, I see vulnerability... and the Easter story's there again, is it not, in water and flip-flops?

...And perhaps I say too much and I wonder what will come of it but a friend says take these opportunities to speak of the gospel. Well, perhaps they won't publish it after all, I tell myself.

I then spend an hour being photographed (for the Sun Newspaper) in the church that I am leaving and as I check my hair in the reflection of the huge golden cross on the Communion table I wonder quite what I am doing. The cross becomes my mirror - the cross of Jesus! For a while I have made it reflect me back to me.

And I hope for a moment that this will all be okay, that my motives are the right ones and my words will not be twisted.

Faith.

...it's a strange thing - this resignation of control...

13.4.14

A few unstructured thoughts on transitioning to vicaring

Reflections after reading
The Quantum Leap— From Assistant to Senior Minister, Reflections on Navigating the Jump. 

A Grove Booklet. 

I won't be telling you what to do.
I read that 'there are many unique characteristics to leadership that can only be properly appreciated once in post. In that sense, preparing to become a senior minister is a lot like becoming a parent. You ... learn from your peers who go through the experience before you, and you may read up a certain amount before the big day happens. But ultimately the challenges can only be appreciated once you have made the transition.' The analogy to parenting has just come up in a conversation with a dear friend of mine. With parenting, you bring the whole of yourself to the task and then bear the fruit and the consequences of the ways in which you have parented. In part, you receive the gift of what you have created. Of course, children have independent minds and evolve despite their parents. I think, regarding church, this analogy only works to the extent that it is true that the parent creates the culture in which children can either thrive or .... not.

In all other ways the analogy fails or might even perpetuate the creation of an infantilising culture, one I desperately want to avoid. After all, congregations of unique individuals have stories that have developed independently of any new minister and will have as much to teach the minister about disciple-life in the new context.

It's not MY church!
As the minister, you are moving into a church that belongs primarily to God and perhaps thereafter to that resident congregation and its surrounding community. Only thereafter, surely, can your own sense of leading that community develop. The cuckoo bird is a parent known as a brood parasite because it lays its eggs in the nest of other species. There is a lesson here in that I don't think the new minister can afford to lay its eggs (whether those be worship services from their old context, ministry initiatives, clever ideas, strategy, etc) into the new nest. At least, if the minister does this, they might face a time of nest-competing in that the new ideas, if transplanted unhelpfully into the new context, could be ousted from the nest even before they have grown feathers. I want to be more interested in what God has been doing in the life and people of the new context then arriving with a collection of ideas based in what God has been doing over the past few years in me.

Let's take a bit of time.
Adrian Beavis, (Vicar of St Luke’s Redcliffe Gardens, Earls Court), in his Grove booklet The Quantum Leap— From Assistant to Senior Minister, Reflections on Navigating the Jump, describes how it can take 'three years to adjust to being a vicar.' This would seem a sensible period of time with a good tradition behind it in terms of the disciples' time with Jesus before they were navigating life with with the Spirit. In three years, an Anglican minister can also journey through years A, B and C with the lectionary and perhaps complete the reflective cycle a good couple of times and be more measured and less reactionary in their forward planning as a consequence.

Can we be collaborative and participative? Let's grow an open and transparent culture to facilitate this.
I read that 'One of the main reasons why the jump into senior leadership is such a quantum leap is the increase in both the quantity and quality of decisions and challenges facing a senior minister, in comparison to an assistant minister. There are more decisions to make and those decisions have a qualitatively greater impact and bearing on the life of the church.' Rev'd Adrian goes on to describe, though, how there are 'wise co-leaders to share these decisions with.' Nevertheless, 'the weight of responsibility' comes not from the fact that these are big decisions, but because the senior minister is the one who makes 'the final call.' It is my wise co-leaders in whom I hope to invest, listen and creatively think.

Human hermeneutics for loving people
One of the most impacting aspects of curacy for me was the sheer exposure it afforded to such a huge range of human beings. When your circle is smaller, as it was before curacy, it is hazardous being surrounded by the like-minded i.e. you spend time between family and theological training friends who all in some ways share your view on life. Curacy then introduces you more obviously to the 'other' (Buber). It is through these experiences of the 'other' you realise both your own uniqueness and become more measured as a response to the discovery that not all people think as you do. People are huge books to be explored and fixing anyone with judgements and labels is very unhelpful. A friend of mine who has shared some of her counselling experiences, tells me that group sessions begin by being asked 'Where are you today - what is happening for you, both negative and positive?' I think the journeying daily with people with this kind of a question in mind, for both yourself and the other, prevents you making snap assessments. 'Human hermeneutics' makes the reading of people a flexible and constantly evolving art. It is challenging to experience the shock of that moment in which someone blows away your preconceived ideas about them with something spoken or done. A whole reassessment has to hastily occur. My prayer is that 'human hermeneutics,' as I call it, will cause me to reinterpret and question my own assessments so that I always allow for the possibility of surprise and development in my relationships. The danger of snap assessments is probably more obviously there, in the early days of the new post. Rev'd Adrian describes how, 'One first-time senior minister spoke of his frustration as he was desperate to delegate some significant areas of responsibility... he had no idea of the gifting and capacity of his new team, as he was just getting to know them.'

I am wondering how best to get to know people, whether this should organically happen or whether there should be some very deliberate strategising. In some ways, the strategising conflicts with the ideals that I hold about waiting for the unfolding of relationship, listening to the Spirit, being measured. On the other hand, I suspect a certain amount of pragmatism will be needed.  Rev'd Adrian reassures with his words: 'As a congregation realises that this new minister is serious about ‘equipping the people for works of service’ (Ephesians 4.12), and that decisions on vision, direction and strategy are going to be shared exercises, they will become increasingly comfortable in stepping into areas of genuine leadership and responsibility. Although this process may take some months, drawing others into sharing leadership is the best way of reducing the weight of responsibility. However, as the New Testament and the ordination services remind us, the weight of responsibility will always be something that accompanies the role of senior leadership.'

A teachable spirit
Rev'd Adrian explores one area of church governance that is often new to a first-time incumbent: the financial health of a church. His proposals for strategy here are helpful.

He proposes that vision is essential for financial health: 'Commitment follows vision and money follows commitment...If a new vision emerges that has been patiently and collectively discerned, clearly and
humbly communicated, and has been captured by the congregation, then people will be willing to commit themselves and their resources (including their wallets!) to making it happen.' I guess this is what occupies much of the first two years. I am wondering at one point the absorbing and the listening turns into action and vision-setting for the future. 'A Vision-shaped Budget' makes sense. We all want to know in what ways our money is being spent and how it is being used to build the Kingdom. This necessitates a culture that is transparent and where there is high accountability. I have Christian friend who champions a 'low control, high accountability' culture and this makes sense to me. There has to be a liberating amount of risk-taking, celebrating failure and lessons learnt, accepting humbly where God has closed doors but grown both faith and the capacity to be redirected. I hope to shape a culture where people can think aloud, dream dreams together and step out but also be secure enough in who they are in God and the love of the community to redirect energies when doors seem to be closing. Teaching on giving has to be going on, as well. If everything we do is rooted in faith and the scriptures, we are leading out of an authority that is far more profound than our own, a greater story about which we are both messenger and inhabitor.

Buildings are another area that is often now for management. Rev'd Adrian recommends from bitter experience setting aside 'two or three days to get familiar with the building and any outstanding issues. It is then wise to get together a dedicated group of people, who have expertise (or interest) and time, who can plan long-term for a regular programme of maintenance, repairs and improvements rather than simply responding to the latest crisis.'

Re-fresh!
I have focused here, then, on my two areas of least experience: buildings and finance. This Grove booklet goes on to also explore the importance of peer-coaching and mentoring, prayer and resourcing, self-care and balance in terms of work and life. Having never gone yet on one of those 'space to yourself, silent type retreats,' I am looking to have my opinion about them challenged because I might need to take deliberate time away sometimes. Currently, I re-energise at New Wine Conferences or with friends and family. A certain Eileen describes retreat centres hence: 'Retreat centres are amazing places. People go there and you can offer them plain food, give them menial tasks to do (tell them it's "discipline"), just leave them to their own devices (and call it "space"). And then you charge them a fortune.' I am hoping to discover that this might be something of a myth but I am not prepared to be sent away to one of these places quite yet. In the meantime, I have a caravan parked up somewhere south of the M25. Sometimes I might just go there with a book and a pot-noodle!

Are there any good books that you would recommend a transitioning minister, like myself, should read?

Thanks.

31.3.14

JOHN

Rev'd John Richardson who went to join the Lord today March 31st 2014


John Richardson September 2013 'How the strategy goes Part 2": The pastor must lead and lead people into leadership...It's about deliberate, person-centred, goal-orientated, equipping and empowering ministry that produces people that in themselves have a ministry to others.



I first encountered John Richardson as I took my angst to the internet, launching a blog in June 2008, One thousand, four hundred and eighty two posts ago.

John Richardson quickly became a conversation partner of mine. I read and re-read his blog as I came to understand the more conservative evangelical position on women's ministry as I was discerning call to the Anglican church. Of course, on the way, I encountered his writings on diverse issues too.

I even sent John my first ever theological college essay draft and he wrote some wise words of guidance regarding its content and told me he would probably award it a pretty average 2:1 if he were marking it. This was indeed the mark it did receive.

Our relationship began to change as I found myself moving from a place of theological wrestling on the women in ministry issue to acceptance of the other viewpoint because it was expressed with such grace and conviction; such personal theological integrity, by John.

On Thursday 10th July, 2008, John admitted that I was the first to 'out' him on his blog - his news was that from a week Saturday, his 58 years a bachelor would come to an end and he was to be married. I was thrilled for him. We had both recognised ourselves in the cartoon that he had posted on his blog, which gave rise to my asking him whether he was married or not. See cartoon here.

That cartoon also revealed the time-wasting that can occur amongst evangelicals who become overly concerned by those differences between them on secondary issues, when there is just far more important stuff upon which to concentrate. It was this stuff that then began to characterise John's blogUgley Vicar, more often. The subsequent book he wrote, which launched a network and an Anglican conference, highlighted just how much he cared about the Church of England.

Once I entered ordained ministry, I began to realise that in such a broad church, people like John Richardson would become some of my most significant prayer and learning partners and when he wrote A Strategy that changes the Church of England, I devoured it hungrily.

In this book he calls Anglican evangelicals everywhere to set aside their own divisions and instead develop a strategy for converting the denomination into a tool for evangelism.

On hearing that he had launched AEJCC, I wrote to him and asked whether it would be appropriate for me to come and spend time with him and those with whom he connected on such primary issues. This was the Anglican Evangelical Junior Clergy Conference, which was rather a mouthful and became in turn JAEC (pronounced affectionately Jake) - Junior Anglican Evangelical Clergy. I went and at first I was the only ordained woman there. This photograph was taken.



On May 16th 2013, I took part in a consultation as a representative of JAEC concerning the future of CEEC at All Souls Langham Place, London.

I then went on to JAEC's next conference and was deeply impacted by John's delivery of the personal epiphany he'd had, that people are brought to Christ far more effectively through our pastoral care of them than through pulpit proclamation. This was a brave move for John and he expressed himself persuasively with that real fervour for a life submitted to Christ, that so characterised him.

(John's words on pastoral ministry: "It is not preaching, alone...that changes things. It has made me reassess "What is pastoral ministry?" It is not only about comforting people in their troubles.")

John had a huge impact on my faith and development as a minister. I remember on first meeting him, having known him only before in 'blog-land,' how graceful he was. He shook my hand with the slight tremor that even then made me worry for his health.

In October of 2013, he asked if at the next JAEC conference in 2014 I would speak to the gathered there about funeral ministry. I said I really appreciated being asked and would confirm with him this Spring, once I knew what my future held, coming to the end of curacy as I was.

John had challenged my thinking in those early days of my discerning call, he had then fed my appetite for engaging with scripture and then, here he was, just a while ago, showing such support for my ministry, asking me to come and share the little wisdom I have with other junior evangelicals at the September 2014 JAEC conference. He really was a pastor in the ways he describes in his talk above.

When I heard at the beginning of the year that he was unwell, I felt hugely burdened to rally prayer and did so through social media and also prayed for him when ever I could, asking others to pray too. I knew that there was something going on here for me too, I had not known him hugely well: I wasn't a neighbour, I hadn't visited his house at any time or become acquainted with his family, but this man had deeply impacted my faith and taken a general interest in my well-being and my ministry in the Anglican Church.

There was perhaps something a little father-like about him too, my own dad having the vulnerabilities of Multiple Sclerosis and a physique, age and beard, even, comparable to the Rev John Richardson.  I am self-aware enough to know that I bring other things to my grief. I do nevertheless feel so sad today at the loss of this man, both for myself, and moreover, for the church. At the same time, I imagine the joy he now knows and the certainty he had about where he was headed. I hear the rejoicing in heaven that he is finally home and no longer an alien in this world.

I will forever be grateful to the Reverend John Richardson for the impact that he had on my life and faith.

I will end with some of John's words from the opening address that he gave at the first JAEC conference that he convened:

The Church of England is still viable. It still has thousands of minister and hundreds of thousands of members. Its parishes cover the entire nation and in some areas, particularly in the countryside, it is the only remaining visible Christian presence.

It is worth fighting for!

Evangelicals ought to be at the forefront of evangelism. It is only a ministry which seeks conversions that deserves the label ‘evangelical’. But they ought also to be aiming at nothing less than making the Church of England itself ‘evangelical’. If we are content to thrive in our small corner whilst the national Church remains indifferent to the task of evangelism, we truly care neither for our own beliefs nor for the people of our nation as a whole. In the words of Christ to the Church at Sardis, it is time to “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die” (Rev 3:2).

Let us then endeavour, now and in the coming months, to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

John Richardson
11 July 2011

Thank you John. Rest in the peace and glory of eternal life with Christ, our Saviour!

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A little background reading on the two theological integrities in the Church of England regarding women in ministry.