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Showing posts from August, 2006

This Teaching is Difficult

When many of his disciples heard [what Jesus had to say], they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” [1]
Anyone who has heard the teaching of Jesus has to sympathise with those first disciples. His words about Holy Communion may no longer have the same power to shock seasoned churchgoers, because it's an established ritual of the Church which many of us share in without any more thought than we would give to a picnic in the park. But, for many people outside the Church, the idea that we can meet Jesus simply by sharing bread and wine is at best ludicrous and at worst a serious stumbling block to faith.
I guess it offends them in the sense that it offends against their notion of common sense. Perhaps they would find it easier to accept if they understood that Jesus is not proposing any magical or supernatural change to the bread and wine we share. He is simply promising to be with us, in spirit, as we come together around the communion table.
The sharing of holy com…

The Two Roads

Over the last few months I have been thinking quite a lot about a poem written by the American poet Robert Frost, which is called 'The Road Less Travelled '. It goes like this:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And, sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
One of the problems with doing two jobs – my day job in the community and the job I'm actually paid t…

A Happy, Healthy Church

The Letter to the Ephesians was probably written a considerable time after the death of St Paul. In the meantime he had fallen out of favour and then regained his popularity. People were clamouring for more of his teaching and Christians of long-standing found themselves hunting through their lofts, packing cases and blanket chests, looking for some of St Paul's missing letters which had been circulated long ago around the young churches in his care and then discarded or forgotten.
If losing a letter from St Paul sounds sacrilegious or careless then, in fairness, we need to remind ourselves that St Paul never crafted his letters as though he intended them to be kept for posterity. He dictated them, often in great haste, in a kind of shorthand that our careful English translations paper over and conceal. He was addressing immediate problems and often he was writing to people who disagreed with him intensely. Little wonder, then, that some of his letters did not survive, and that oth…