The Observer reports: Bishops urge David Cameron to grant asylum to Iraqi Christians
The Church of England has demanded that the British government offers sanctuary to thousands of Christians fleeing jihadists in northern Iraq, warning that ignoring their plight would constitute a “betrayal of Britain’s moral and historical obligations”.
A number of bishops have revealed their frustration over David Cameron’s intransigence on the issue, arguing the UK has a responsibility to grant immediate asylum to Iraqi Christian communities recently forced to flee the northern city of Mosul after militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis) threatened them with execution, a religious tax or forced conversion.
On Monday, France responded to the so-called religious cleansing by publicly granting asylum to Christians driven from Mosul. The Anglican Church argues the UK has an even greater responsibility to intervene, citing its central role in the 2003 allied invasion, which experts say triggered the destabilisation and sectarian violence that shaped the context for Isis to seize control of much of northern Iraq.
The bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev David Walker, told the Observer: “We would be failing to fulfil our obligations were we not to offer sanctuary. Having intervened so recently and extensively in Iraq, we have, even more than other countries, a moral duty in the UK.
“Given the vast amounts of money that we spent on the war in Iraq, the tiny cost of bringing some people fleeing for their lives to this country and allowing them to settle – and who, in due course, would be an asset to our society – would seem to be minuscule.”…
From Toby Haworth:
I’m writing to introduce to you the new website for Presence and Engagement - http://www.presenceandengagement.org.uk/, which you may of course have already visited since it went live a few weeks ago. The website aims to bring together resources for clergy, congregations, chaplaincies and schools who want to follow Jesus in loving their neighbours of different faiths.
Key features include religious demographic statistics from the 2011 Census mapped to dioceses and parishes which can be used as a tool in developing strategies for inter faith engagement. Other parts of the website provide stories and other resources for that engagement.
We intend the P&E blog to be a place for lively and thoughtful debate about inter religious issues and events which overlap with the Church’s work in our multi faith society. For example, a recent blog post from Birmingham (also published in the Church Times) focussed on the Trojan Horse investigations.
Please do be in contact with me if you would like to offer a blog post, update us on particular work in which you’re engaged or with any feedback on the website in general.
This comes with my warm good wishes,
The Revd Canon Dr Toby Howarth | Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and
National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England
Lambeth Palace, London SE1 7JU | Tel: + 44 (0)20 7898 1475 | Mobile: 07811 467 999
firstname.lastname@example.org | http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org
The Church of England has released Prayers for the World Cup, including prayers for the England Team ahead of England’s first match against Italy.
The Prayers have been written by the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt. Revd. Nick Baines, who originally penned them during the last football World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and has posted them on his blog.
In addition to prayers for those participating in the World Cup and those travelling to “join in the party” there is also a prayer for those for who “are simply not interested” by the competition.
Bishop Nick has also written two prayers for the England Team, written after the end of the last World Cup. The first of these “Oh God…” reflects the lived experience of many England football fans, whilst the second prayer is a light hearted take on a traditional prayer used by the Church of England in June each year to mark Bishop Richard of Chichester in 1253.
Speaking ahead of the release of the prayers, Bishop Nick, a die-hard Liverpool fan, said:
“God is not partisan and there are bigger things to pray for around the world, not least in Iraq, Nigeria and Sudan to name but three. At its heart prayer is about expressing our desires honestly and having our vision of God, the world and one another changed by our praying. For the next few weeks at least the passions and hearts of millions of men, women and children around the world will be focused on Brazil, where I’m pretty sure there will be lots of prayers being offered up throughout the tournament.
I know some have suggested it might take too much of a miracle for England to win the World Cup; we constantly over-rate, over-hype and over-anticipate England performance and then indulge in a collective intemperate bloodletting against team and manager when they fail to deliver on the big stage. My hope is that the World Cup would be a reminder of the joy of a nation coming together in a common cause – something that in itself is worth celebrating.”
A Prayer for the World Cup
Lord of all the nations, who played the cosmos into being, guide, guard and protect all who work or play in the World Cup.
May all find in this competition a source of celebration, an experience of common humanity and a growing attitude of generous sportsmanship to others.
A Prayer for Brazil
God of the nations, who has always called his people to be a blessing for the world, bless all who take part in the World Cup.
Smile on Brazil in her hosting,
on the nations represented in competition and on those who travel to join in the party.
A prayer for those simply not interested
Lord, as all around are gripped with World Cup fever, bless us with understanding, strengthen us with patience and grant us the gift of sympathy if needed.
Prayers for the England Football team
“God, who played the cosmos into being, please help England rediscover their legs, their eyes and their hunger: that they might run more clearly, pass more nearly and enjoy the game more dearly. Amen.”
Tonight as part of our Psalms, Pudding and Prayer series, for our 11-18 year olds, I spoke on Psalm 84 – you can download the powerpoint here:
You might know the words of this Psalm from the Matt Redman song that we sing at Soul Survivor. The Psalm is the musing of one unnamed pilgrim as he makes his way up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. He’s longing to get to God’s house – he has this intense desire for the House of God. He longs to be with God’s people, worshipping. We read about it in vv1-2.
This traveller is even jealous of birds! The Temple courtyards were open to the sky, and the great eaves provided a place for good nesting, so there were always these birds in and around the Temple.
Do you have a love like this – a longing for God’s house?
As we read through the Psalm I think there are four key things to reflect on. Firstly:
- Look to God alone for your strength
How many have found that the Christian life is impossible without God’s strength? Yet so often our greatest battle is about learning to trust Him instead of doing it on our own steam. That’s human nature.
We do not have enough resources in ourselves to make the whole journey. Christians burn out because they strive in their own strength. And you know, you can get so far, but you’ll never finish without God’s strength.
At some points there has to be refuelling. Refilling. It’s why it’s so important to stop each day to read the bible and pray – to live daily in God’s strength.
2. Put your heart into the journey
Put your whole heart into the journey. We shouldn’t be people who are just letting life pass us by – being dictated to by our circumstances – “waiting out” our time until Jesus comes – we must have our eyes on the finish line, but our energies, our heart, our hands and feet, ought to be occupied with making the journey count – living for Jesus – Paul wrote: “For me to live is Christ”.
3. See the opportunity in every trial
Trials are on nearly every page of the Bible. The Bible talks about them a lot, because they are common to every person on the face of the earth. And if some well-meaning person has suggested to you that Christians aren’t supposed to have trials – that we’re never supposed to ever have a cold, that we won’t ever experience sadness or loss, that we shouldn’t ever feel a financial difficulty – then I think you should go back to that well-meaning person and invite them to read their Bible through again.
The 3rd key is not to pretend trials don’t exist but rather to see trials as opportunities. “The Valley of Baca” is literally: “The Valley of Weeping”. Haven’t we all passed through some Valleys of Baca? Some Valleys of Weeping. But here it says that, if the Lord is your Strength, and if your heart is set on the journey, you can see the Valley of Weeping become a spring. What to others is a place of bitterness can to you become a place of blessing. A place of growth.
It might not always be apparent, but the opportunity for growth and blessing is always right there in the middle of the trial. It’s not always easy, but with God’s help, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, we can use trials as opportunities.
We all love the “mountain top” experiences; times of blessing and sunshine – but where does the fruit grow? You won’t find many orchards on mountain tops – oh, the view is nice up there, but the fruit grows in the valleys. And it’s those trials in our lives that God can use best to bring us on “from glory to glory” by His Spirit.
And this leads us into the fourth, and final, key:
4. Remember that God is in control
He’s always in sovereign control. He will never surrender His position on the throne to any person or any thing. He cannot be defied. God is in control!
Let’s read together verse 6 of this great 84th Psalm … [Read]. Here is the promise of God. If I am (1) looking to God alone for my strength, and (2) if I’ve put my heart into the journey, and (3) I’m looking to see what opportunity God might have in every trial, then the sovereign God will do two things for me:
a) He will direct my steps in strength, and
b) He will bring me right through to my eternal destination
He will direct their steps in strength: When you allow the Holy Spirit free reign in your life, you will go from strength to strength, until you bear the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Oh, let God do that in your life! Submit to Him, I urge you today.
He will bring them through to their destination: This pilgrim is just longing to get to Jerusalem – to the House of the Lord. And here is the assurance – God will bring him through, safe all the way.
Can you be sure that you’re going to make it all the way to Heaven? Can you really know? ABSOLUTELY. He IS the Author and the Finisher of our faith!
I don’t want to just limp through life – by the grace of God I want to go from strength to strength! With faith in God I believe I can outgrow my difficulties. I believe YOU can outgrow YOUR difficulties.
Here again are the 4 keys to a successful passage through life, as we see them in Psalm 84:
- Look to God alone for your strength
- Put your heart into the journey
- See the opportunity in every trial
- Remember that God is in control
There’s an interesting new missional entrepreneurship competition being launched by Greenbelt and the Church Mission Society:
The Church Mission Society, in partnership with Greenbelt, is launching a missional entrepreneurship competition ahead of this year’s festival.
We are asking festivalgoers to submit an idea that is both transformational and includes a means of generating income.
The shortlisted entrants will get to pitch to a panel of entrepreneurs at Greenbelt 2014.
The winner will receive a free place – worth £400 – on CMS’smissional entrepreneurship week, an annual residential atPickwell Manor in Devon (pictured above). They’ll be taught with other budding entrepreneurs, the expertise necessary to work up their idea into a realistic money-making venture and have the opportunity to present to a panel of potential funders.
How to enter
Simply tell us, in 20-25 words each:
- What is your idea to make a positive difference in the world?
- How will it generate income to be financially sustainable in the long term?
You must be:
- over 18
- a UK resident
- able to take up the prize from 16-21 November 2014
- attending Greenbelt Festival 22-25 August 2014
- and willing to pitch at a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event over the Greenbelt weekend.
Closing date for entries will be Friday 18 July.
Announcement of the successful shortlisted entrants will take place on Monday 21 July.
This morning I spoke at our all-age service on John 2:1-11 looking at Jesus turning water into wine, and here’s the PowerPoint:
The first miracle of Jesus took place in Cana of Galilee. The event was a wedding. Cana was a inconspicuous little town that lay outside of Nazareth. Cana had no social prominence in its day. It’s interesting to note: Jesus ministry, like his birth, began in a small, unimportant town, to common every day people.
Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus and his disciples had all been invited to the wedding. Weddings were, and are, a big deal in the Jewish culture. The wedding ceremony would take place late in the evening after a time of feasting. The father of the bride would take his daughter on his arm, and with the wedding party in tow, would parade through the streets of the village so that everyone could come out and congratulate the bride. Finally the wedding party would arrive at the home of the groom. The wedding actually took place in the front door of the grooms house. It was no short ceremony … no the festivities lasted for days. It was a time of great celebration.
After the wedding ceremony the bride and groom walked through the streets accompanied by flaming torches. Their attendants walked with them keeping a canopy over their heads. The wedding party always took the longest route through the village so that as many people as possible could wish them well.
There was no such thing as a honeymoon! No, the couple kept open house for a week. They were treated like royalty. They dressed in fancy clothes and many times actually wore crowns on their heads. Whatever desire they spoke for…they received. Their word was law!
The groom’s family was expected to provide all the refreshments for this week of festivities.
That’s where we pick up today’s Bible reading. Suddenly the host discovers that they are running out of wine. They had more guests than they anticipated. It would have been improper for the culture of this time to not have wine. Jews did not get drunk at these celebrations — drunkenness was considered a disgrace. But the host could have actually been sued for a breach of hospitality to his guest.
We can assume that Jesus’ mother was a close friend of the groom’s mother and she heard about the problem. Jesus’ mother comes to Jesus and says, “Son, we’ve got a problem here, and we need your help. The groom’s family is running out of wine.” The fact that Mary came to Jesus with such a problem is a reminder that Jesus is concerned with the everyday things in life that we face.
Jesus answers his mother in what seems like a harsh way. He was not being harsh, he was just simply already focusing on his life and ministry, and had began to detach himself from his family.
John calls this first miracle a sign. Signs are usually placed in places to give us information, or point us in the direction. The miracles of Christ were always meant to reveal to us the glory of God, and point us to who He truly is.
Let’s take a look at what this first sign means for us today. Notice that first of all:
The wine can run out.
Mary realises the seriousness of the issue. You can hear it in her words… “They have no wine.” To the Jewish people wine symbolised joy. The Jewish rabbis had a saying, ‘Without wine there is no joy.” At the wedding in Cana their joy had run out! It is a reminder of the emptiness of our life without Christ. This statement by the mother of Jesus goes beyond liquid refreshment at a wedding. It is symbolic of our lives. It is a scary thing when the “wine runs out.”
There are times when the wine runs out. The joy is dry! For example, families that once began with exuberant joy are now ending in the pain of divorce – why? There is no more joy in the relationship. You and I have no resources available within ourselves to replace the joy. Only new wine can come from Jesus Christ.
When the wine runs out, Jesus can turn the water into wine.
Mary came to Jesus and told him of the problem that they were facing. I can just imagine her telling the groom’s mother, “You hold on just a minute! I know just what to do with this situation.” She came to Jesus and told him. I love her instructions to the servants. “Whatever he says to you, do it” Just Do It!
Jesus took the waterpots that were filled with ordinary water for handwashing. When the guest arrived someone would pour some of this water over their hands in a symbolic purification. To eat with unwashed hands would have been a defilement. Jesus took this water and made approximately 180 gallons of wine.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus took the water for purification and used it for his first miracle. The water in those pots was merely for an external cleansing. Jesus ministry over the next three years would teach people about an inner cleansing.
Jesus takes the ordinary things and makes it into something amazing. But not just that, if we look at the first miracle of Jesus we see this truth: “Jesus is not just the giver of joy…he is the giver of “abundant” joy.” He not only met their immediate need, but he gave an abundance. Jesus did not just make some ordinary wine. No, the wine that he produced was better than that which they had started the celebration with.
Jesus didn’t just doctor the water so that it tasted like wine. No, the water in those pots was transformed into the finest wine the people had ever tasted. The truth for us is this—Jesus is not going to just doctor up our lives a little bit, just put a plaster on our needs—no he wants to transform your life, just like he transformed that water. Our lives will take on a new nature.
Jesus is all about transforming power. Changing people—that’s what its all about. This Sign teaches us that…
Jesus offers an abundance of new wine at the end.
Sometimes its hard for us to understand God not only meeting our need but providing for us an abundance. That’s the story of grace. There is no measure to grace. There will always be enough grace to meet our needs. That’s the story of God’s love. There is nothing that you can do that will cause God to diminish his love for you.
Understand this principle of God today…God is not just a God of the required—he is a God of the abundance. Malachi 3:10, “Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now in this, says the Lord of hosts, If I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”
Not “just enough”—an abundance Look at creation – the New Forest, there is an overabundance. God didn’t give us “just enough” beauty, it is all around us. Have you ever been to the seashore and looked out over the ocean. There is far more beauty that our eyes can absorb. Have you ever seen a field of wildflowers? Not just enough to fill a vase in your living room, but more than enough. This is the picture of grace…God always gives more than you will ever need!
So the wine is poured out and all the people who are present rejoice at the richness of this “new wine”. This was completely against custom. The best wine was always offered first. Isn’t that just like our Lord? The best always comes at the end. The grace we once tasted cautiously—we now drink freely. Jesus has poured out in us the richness of his love and forgiveness. There is one among us who is pouring out the rich “wine” and there is enough for everyone!
What do you do when the wine runs out? Mary showed us by example. She told the servants that if they would just do what Jesus commanded they would see a miracle. A miracle that not only met their immediate need…but a miracle of abundance.
Has your joy ran out today? Jesus wants to transform you! Bring your need to him!
Many contemporary Christians feel disconnected from the vibrant, Spirit-filled ministries of the prophets and apostles described in the Bible. In the Old Testament, God seemingly took the people of Israel through miraculous event after miraculous event. In the New Testament, those who watched the ministry of Jesus were seized with amazement at the miracles he performed (Luke 5:25), and the apostles in the early church regularly performed signs and wonders among the people (Acts 5:12).
Yet today, such miraculous events seem rare and, when we do hear reports of miracles, many Christians are skeptical. At the very least, we feel there’s something different about the way God worked in the Old and New Testament periods and the way he works today. This raises a valid question: Why don’t we experience today the miracles we read about in the New Testament?
To answer that question, we need to understand not only how God works through providence and common grace, but we must also understand the purpose of miracles in the Bible.
This is a great video about the CMS Pioneer course:
Statistics from the Church of England for 2013 show that the number of young people (under 30s) accepted for training for the Church of England ministry continue to be the highest number in the past 20 years. Young people now represent 23% of those entering training. The statement went on to say:
The Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council is continuing to be proactive in recruiting young ordinands through providing conferences and training opportunities such as the Ministry Experience Scheme being piloted in 2013/14, which is looking to be extended from four Diocese for the academic year 2014/15.
The Archbishop of York will be hosting a conference, Step Forward 2014, for young people considering ordination. The event will take place at Bishopthorpe Palace, and the Archbishop will be keynote speaker for the day.
Liz Boughton, Young Vocations Advisor, Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council said: “We are delighted with the number of young adults recommended for ordained ministry last year. It’s great that an substantial number are having the confidence and support to hear and respond to God’s call to the priesthood. We welcome young people and value the gifts, enthusiasm and insights that they bring.”
The Bishop of Sheffield, Rt Revd Steven Croft, who is Chair of Ministry Division said: “The Church of England has a fresh vision and commitment to see people in their teens and twenties exploring God’s call to ministry.
This morning our 7-11 year olds spent the morning looking at ‘Why did Jesus die on a cross?’:
Game: FOUR CORNERS
Designate one young person as the ‘caller’. Stand this person in the middle of the room and blindfold them.Number each of the corners of the room.
One of the leaders starts the game off. Each of the young people have to choose one of the corners of the room to run to. When everyone is waiting in the corner of their choice the caller shouts out a number (1 – 4). Everybody in that corner is out and should sit down.
Keep playing until there is only one player left in.
Once there are only eight players left you can add the rule that there can not be more than two people in each corner. With four players left you can only have one player in each corner.
If you have time you can select a new ‘caller’ and play again. You could see which caller manages to get everyone out with the fewest number of numbers shouted out.
Quiz: HOW MUCH IS. . .?
Call out various products from the catalogue and get the group to guess how much they cost. Give four possible price options and four corners where the group members must stand if they think it’s a certain amount, e.g. How much is a Barbie doll?Go to corner A if you think it’s £9.99. Go to corner B if you think it’s £16.98. Go to corner C if you think it’s £13.50. Go to corner D if you think it £17.99
We used this powerpoint to run it as a quiz: How much is it worth?
At the end of the game ask how much a human is worth.
Explain that Jesus died for us, we are so important.
Thought: HUMAN FOR SALE! HOW MUCH ARE YOU WORTH?
Read or show which actual items, what their bodies are made up of.
- 7 bars of soap/fat
- iron to make 1 nail
- 7 cups of sugar
- phosphorus to make 2200 matches
- 6 buckets of water
- sulphur to rid a dog of flees
- magnesium/salt- 5 tablespoons
Explain that no one would sell you for just £7, you’re far more important than that. Jesus died to save all people. God loves us all so much and thinks we’re priceless!
Discussion: WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Start the session by reading the crucifixion story (see ‘CF04 drama’ for the text). Talk a bit about the pain that Jesus must have gone through.Tell the group that people often say ‘Jesus died for our sins’. What does that actually mean? Discuss any ideas.
Ask for a volunteer. Put a white t-shirt on him/her. Ask the group what sins they all do (lie, gossip, swear, mock, bully, boast, be rude, be unkind). As the group say these things, write them in black marker pen into the t-shirt in big writing. Ask “what would God say if he looked at all those wrong things we do?” He wouldn’t be able to let us into heaven because we’re not perfect as God is.
Now explain that Jesus died for all of those wrong things that we do. So, if we love Jesus, when God looks at us, He sees a brand new white t-shirt that Jesus has given to us. We’re now perfect and allowed into heaven because Jesus took our sins and made us clean. As you’re talking, give the volunteer a new white t-shirt.
Show the group this verse from the Bible (maybe write is on a big sheet of paper).
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Isaiah 53:5 (The message)
Talk about what it means and tell the group that anyone can have that white t-shirt, it’s a free gift.
Prayer: THANK YOU LETTERS
Ask the group if they have to write thank you letters after Christmas and birthdays. Why do they write them? (to thank someone for giving them a gift).Encourage the group to thank Jesus for dying for them and for the gift of eternal life in heaven. You may prefer to write this as a group.
You could also use this time to talk about any further issues or misconceptions that may have arisen.
The Church of England has issued this press release now that all the Dioceses have finished on voting on the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops:
Dioceses vote in favour of women bishops
23 May 2014
The Church of England’s dioceses* have now all voted in favour of the current draft legislation to enable women to be bishops. Manchester was the last diocese to vote and they approved the motion at a meeting of their Synod yesterday. In 2011 both London and Chichester diocesan synods voted against the legislation.
The February 2014 meeting of General Synod referred the current Women in the Episcopate legislation to the dioceses.
Diocesan Synods all voted in favour of the motion: ‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and draft Amending Canon No 33.’
For the motion to be carried the houses of clergy and laity had to each vote, by a simple majority, in favour.
The table attached records the votes in favour and against, and any recorded abstentions in each house. The draft legislation will now go before General Synod in July for a Final Approval vote.
The Bishop of Rochester, James Langstaff, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation for Women in the Episcopate said:
“The dioceses have now expressed their view very clearly and the matter now comes back to General Synod in July. I pray that the Synod will continue to approach this decision in a prayerful and generous way as we move towards voting on the proposal that women may be bishops in the Church of England.”
The table of Diocesan Synod results can be found here.
*Due to logistical constraints the Diocese in Europe was unable to convene a meeting in the three month period allowed for this Article 8 reference.
WATCH has issued this press release.
A clean sweep this time: 100% of Dioceses support Women Bishops legislation
Posted on May 23, 2014
Women and the Church (WATCH) is delighted and hugely encouraged by the overwhelming support given by 100% of diocesan synods for the new Women in the Episcopate legislation. Such a resounding endorsement, including from the dioceses of London and Chichester which voted against last time, gives us significant hope and encouragement for the final vote at General Synod in July.
Chair of WATCH, Hilary Cotton said, ‘This is really, really good news in the lead-up to the Final Approval vote. In most dioceses over 90% of votes were cast in favour: surely General Synod cannot turn their backs on this again?’