Thursday, November 14, 2019

Hidden Christmas

‘Because of the commercial indispensability of Christmas, it will remain with us as a secular festival. My fear is, however, that its true roots will become more and more hidden to most of the population. The emphasis on light in darkness comes from the Christian belief that the worlds hope comes from outside of it  The giving of gifts is a natural response to Jesus stupendous act of self-giving, when he laid aside his glory and was born  into the human race. The concern for the needy recalls the Son of God was born not into an aristocratic family but into a poor one. The Lord of the universe identified with the least and the most excluded of the human race.

These are powerful themes, but every one of them is a two-edged sword. Jesus comes as the Light because we are too spiritually blind to find our own way. Jesus become mortal and died because we are too morally ruined to be pardoned any other way. Jesus gave himself to us, and do we must give ourselves wholly to him. We are, therefore, “not [our] own (1 Cor 6:19). Christmas, like god himself, is both more wondrous and more threatening than we imagine.

Every year our increasingly secular Western society becomes more unaware of its own historical roots, many of which are the fundamentals of the Christian faith.  Yet once a year at Christmas basic truths become a bit more accessible to an enormous audience. At countless gatherings, concerts, parties and other events, even when most participants are non-religious, the essentials of the faith can sometimes become visible  As an example, let’s ask some questions of the famous Christmas carol “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” heard in shopping centres, stores, and on street corners. Who is Jesus? He is the ‘everlasting Lord’ who from ‘highest heaven’ comes down to be the ‘offspring of a virgins womb’ What did he come  do? His mission is to sin ‘’God and sinners reconciled’ How did he accomplish it? He lays his glory by that we ‘no more may die’. How ca this life be ours? Through an inward, spiritual regeneration so radical that, as we have seen, it can be called ‘the second birth.

 With brilliant economy of style, the carol gives us a summary of the entire Christian teaching.
While few of the most familiar Christmas songs and Bible readings and that comprehensive, it remains that one season a year hundreds of millions of people, if they would take the trouble to ask these kinds of questions, would have this same knowledge available to them. To understand Christmas is to understand basic Christianity, the Gospel.’

Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas, p.2-4

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Murray on the death of Europe

This is a thought-provoking interview and captures many of the issues that a bubbling under the surface on all sides of the arguments about Brexit and other matters during election season.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Towards the conversion of England

1. My pal Matt, a Vicar of a wonderful church in Fulham, organised an evening with Sandy Millar with a twofold purpose. Firstly, he wanted to encourage the use of social media. Secondly he wanted us to be encouraged by some teaching from Sandy on Ezekiel 37.  It was a terrific night. If Sandy's talk comes online I will post it here. Sandy recommended we all read 'Streets paved with gold: The Story of London City Mission' .

2. Another pal Wayne recommend a book that, as it happens, was just reviewed by Daryl Dash. If you find yourself in a hurry a lot then this might be one for you.

3. One of the people who spoke last night was Chris who I have known for a few years. It was my Canadian/English friend Peter's daughter who made me aware of his online persona. He is part of something called 'The Korean Englishman' and remarkably it's had over 300m hits.  He also runs something called 'Young Franciscans'

4. I am really enjoying Manna by Steve Farrar. He's a man whose writing has kept me running the race down the years. It's one to read if you feel you are in a tough spot.

5. Politics is too important to leave to politicians. 

6. I've been pondering the expression used by Emma Watson 'self-partnered'. As someone who was single until 45, I can't say that I ever sought an alternative descriptor.

7. If you want a good devotional on marriage and relationships then Keller has a new one called 'A seal upon my heart'.

8. Sandy used a Wimber quote (about church planting) that has stuck with me:

'It's easier to have babies than conduct resurrections'

9. This is great  and thanks to Tim Challies for posting.

10. John Mark Comer apparently reads the book Sacred Fire once a year. I've just started it.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

A week is a long time...

This was how James Forsyth started his article in the Spectator this week:

'This general election isn't the most important in a generation, it is the most significant in the lifetime of anyone since 1945. It will decide whether Brexit happens, whether Britain has the most left wing prime minister in its history, whether the Scottish Nationalists are able to secure a second referendum and whether the two-party system can survive'

I have also been reading Dominic Cummings blog and this quote stuck with me and chimed a similar chord:

‘Politics is a job that can really only be compared with navigation in uncharted waters. One has no idea how the weather or the currents will be or what storms one is in for. In politics, there is the added fact that one is largely dependent on the decisions of others, decisions on which one was counting and which then do not materialise; one’s actions are never completely one’s own. And if the friends on whose support one is relying change their minds, which is something that one cannot vouch for, the whole plan miscarries… One’s enemies one can count on – but one’s friends!’ Otto von Bismarck.