“When will it end ………”

One of the privileges I have is in sharing the work of being a Deputy Chair of the Nottingham and Derby District of the Methodist Church. Together with my co-Deputy Paul and the Chair of District, Loraine, we are putting on three evenings in August looking at the subjects on the poster below.

As you can see they each take place at Langans tea rooms in Burton and EVERYONE is welcome. Please try and come along, possibly letting me know in advance if possible (email, FB, Twitter, phone or through our circuit office. If you don't let me know you can still turn up on the night.

However, notice the title I've got, “RADICAL HOSPITALITY”. As I've read through this tonight the news is breaking of the knife attack in Japan, which follows atrocities in Germany, France, Turkey, Israel, Palestine in a seemingly growing list. Is anywhere safe ? Will the world ever get it right ? Frustratingly it seems not.

I'm sitting here, on holiday in Cornwall, thinking and praying about all sorts of things, my so precious family, my Churches, praying for my Chair Loraine and so many others, and into this mix I pray for folk on the other side of the world who I'll never meet.

All I can cling to, all that sustains my prayer life, is the Christian hope that somehow, someday all will be well. I'm wise enough to know that isn't any comfort to those who've lost loved ones but the Christian story is one of a redeemed creation, restored to paradise and we have to hang onto that exercising the all embracing love, that which took our Lord Jesus to the cross for each one if us.

To take us back to the evening with the Chairs gathering, my subject of Radical Hospitality is made all the harder in the light of these atrocities. My natural inclination is to want to bomb ISIS, shoot any captured terrorists, exact revenge on those who wreak havoc, and that's not about fighting religion or extremism or anything: it's simply about a natural human reaction for revenge.
So, how should we respond ? Well, if we truly believe that somehow God will make this creation right again, then we need to accept that “vengeance is mine, says the Lord” and leave it with him. That's not to say we'll just let anything go, nor is it to fail to punish, but it's about holding fast to the notion that Jesus died for ALL people, even murderers and terrorists.
So tonight I find myself practising the radical hospitality of praying for those who commit atrocities, that they may repent and accept Jesus as Lord.
But it's hard !!




Just back from a quite simply stunning couple of days in London, where a good friend and colleague was Ordained into the Methodist Presbyteral Ministry. It was an honour and a privilege to share in his special time, and to be able to smile when Lews son, Max was carried to the Communion rail and Lew, Carly and Max joined together in Lews first few minutes of Ordained Ministry.

Today Alison and I journeyed home and we stopped off for several hours in St. Albans for our first ever visit. What a delightful place but the real Jewel was spending time in the Cathedral/Abbey. (Apparently it's called both). We booked not a guided tour and for an hour were given the history of the sacred place.
There were several areas and we took various pictures but the above picture (on a pillar) struck both Alison and I. One of the surviving pictures from the ransacking of the Monastries, this is found on one of the pillars in the main body of the Cathedral. What's of interest is that in most depictions if the crucifixion there are nails in the feet and BOTH hands of Jesus; however in this depiction there is no nail in the left hand and yet the hand remains on the cross. The nail can be seen on the ground between the feet of one of the saints.
How? why ?
This has been the subject of much discussion over the years and today between Alison and I. What is the symbolism telling us ?
For what it's worth (& I don't profess expertise in religious paintings), my thoughts are perhaps firstly that Jesus went to the cross voluntarily and in some ways the nails didn't hold him there; in other words man couldn't 'put' him on the cross, as it was his mission to be there for love of each one of us. It was his love for his creation that held him.
A second thought is that whilst the nail in the right hand reminds us of the pain of death he endured, the emptiness of the left maybe speaks of the conquering of death: resurrection.
No doubt there are other thoughts on this, but tying it in with my own Ordination 24 years ago (many memories this weekend) it speaks to me of how the love of Jesus, my certainty in his existence, and his purpose for calling me into Ministry is as strong as ever. Over the years there has been much pain, doubt and anguish but there has been tremendous joys and affirmations in every circuit and church I've served in. I've made friends all over the country and every place has added another rich layer to my journey.
My prayer for Lew and his wonderful family is that in 24 years time he faith that they have will have continued to blossom and be beautiful.