Friday, 20 May 2011

Listening To God

Have you ever read a Bible passage many times and then suddenly noticed something 'new' in it? Of course it isn't new at all, it's just that you didn't notice it.  This happened to me this week when reading the well known story, much loved by Sunday School teachers, about the calling of Samuel. I'm sure most of you know the story of how God called out to Samuel and 3 times he thought it was the priest Eli calling him until Eli realised that it was God calling Samuel and told him how to reply.

The verse that jumped out at me was I Samuel 3:10 "The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” " Notice anything? It's the opening words 'The LORD came and stood there.' On the first 3 occassions it just says 'the LORD called Samuel' without a mention of the Lord coming and standing there.

This made me stop and think, why was the fouth time different and what does that mean to us today? The answer, I think, lies in Samuel knowing it was God on the final occassion and being ready to listen which made all the difference, God could come because Samuel was listening and prepared to accept God.  The lesson for us today is that we have to take time to stop and listen to the voice of God; He calls everyone but unless we are prepared to listen He can't come to us.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

The Baptism of Jesus

Last night at house group we were looking at the baptism of Jesus; a subject I have struggled with for years.  You see as a Baptist I view baptism as a sacrament that symbolises the believers new life in Christ; they symbolically die to their sin as they are immersed in the water and rise into their new Christian life.  That is fine for the here and now but why did the sinless Jesus have to be baptised?

I suspect the answer is that we view faith as an individual issue but in first century Palestine the community (corporate?) was important as well.  As far as we can know from the Gospels Jesus lived a very ordinary life between the ages of 12 and 30 in a society which, like all the rest of its members, would have been sinful.  As Jesus sets out on His ministry he leaves the life of a carpenter behind and separates Himself from the sinful society in which He had lived.  His baptism is therefore symbolic of Him moving out from His former life in society to take on fully His role as the perfect Son of God.

Any other ideas?

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


Following the reaction to Osama bin Laden's death I felt rather down as I thought it showed that we live in a world where the hope of a lasting peace had been lost.  Today it took just one news item to show me that there are still people of peace who will break the rules to try and bring about peace and reconciliation between longstanding enemies. The item is about the Jewish conductor Daniel Barenboim taking an orchestra to Gaza.

Here it is, go read and have your heart lifted:

Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama bin Laden's Death

This morning I heard the news that American forces had killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and that there were crowds rejoicing in New York and Washington. I found the joyful celebration of the killing of someone made in God’s image rather repugnant and I winced to hear it described as ‘justice’. I don’t know whether the plan was to kill bin Laden or whether he was killed resisting ‘arrest’ (by the armed forces of a foreign country) but justice would only be served by a trial when the facts could be weighed. The statue of Justice on the Old Bailey varies from the traditional image of Justice as she isn’t blindfolded; Justice is meant to weigh the facts without seeing who is being judged. By that standard this was not justice but revenge.