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Showing posts from February, 2006

The Sound of Sheer Silence

The Prophet Elijah's experience at the mountain cave marks both the low point and the high point of his career. [1]
He had made a habit of upsetting the king of Israel. The king's name was Ahab, and the Bible says that – like his father, Omri – he did evil in the sight of the Lord; never more so than when he made an advantageous marriage to Jezebel, the daughter of the King of Sidon, a woman who was a devout worshipper of the storm god Baal.
The Bible says that Jezebel led Ahab astray, encouraging him to throw his weight about and behave unjustly, as well as to worship her favourite god. Most people in Israel went along with this, but not Elijah. He felt that the one true God was calling him to denounce Ahab and Jezebel. Unfortunately for him, Jezebel was a gutsy opponent. She threatened to have him put to death, and Elijah knew she meant it. So he fled into the desert, and ended up hiding in a cave. That was the low point of his career.
So what about the high point? Elijah had g…

Making The Desert Bloom

The temptation to wallow in nostalgia and tradition, to long for 'the good old days', is not a new one. The Prophet Isaiah had to warn the Jewish people, in exile in Babylon, not to remember the former things or consider the things of old. [1] The Prophet did not mean, of course, that it is wrong to value our past, but he did want his listeners to understand that God's focus is on looking forward. God draws us into the future. God never holds us back. 'I am about to do a new thing,' says God. 'Do you not perceive it?'
In the prophecy God tells the Jewish people, 'I give water in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.' For a long time Christians in Beeston Hill felt, increasingly, that they were in a wilderness place, a place where it was hard for their witness to make a difference and for faith to take root. Yet miracles can only happen in difficult circumstances. There is no such thing as an ordinary miracle! It is in the wilderness that God can b…

A Clash of Civilisations?

The last few days have been marked by a so-called clash of civilisations, not just in Britain, or even in Europe, but across the world.
On the one side are ranged the so-called forces of secular liberalism – people who believe so passionately in free speech that they insist on the right to insult other people and offend their most cherished beliefs, for no other reason than to show that there aren't any no-go areas in Western culture.
On the other side, are ranged those people who feel that freedom of speech goes too far when people are using it simply to wound others or cause trouble and division. For the most part these are people of faith – Christians upset by the portrayal of Jesus in 'Jerry Springer The Opera' and Muslims upset by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers and shown fleetingly on British television.
The forces of secular liberalism seem to have the upper hand in the UK just now. Only a few days ago they formed an unholy allianc…