Burnley 1 Sheffield United 0

I am not sure that a football score really has a place on a church’s weblog and yesterday’s Championship play-off final at Wembley has very little to do with Didsbury Baptist Church (in Manchester). Still, I am a member of the church and I was there! So permit this Claret Baptist minister one opportunity to gloat! Sure, Sheff U should have had a penalty and I do feel sorry for their fans, but I think, on the day, Burnley were the better team. And it is 33 years since Burnley last had top-flight football!

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I was born in Burnley and have supported the club almost all my life. I was there, at Preston North End in 1973, when Burnley last won promotion to what was then called the first division and I was there yesterday when they did it again. How the game has changed since 1973! Still the two games had some things in common for me. I was at both games with the same woman (though she was only 14 years old last time round!) My dad took us to the game in 1973 and I was there with my girlfriend. We married in ’79. We took one of our (adult) sons to yesterday’s  game, he with his girl friend. So it is not only about football but also about family, life, and love. So let me celebrate Burnley’s victory and thank God for a life in which these things are possible, amen!

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US Methodist Ad Campaign

The United Methodist Church in the United States has come up with an internet advertising campaign that asks us to rethink church. It seems to be mainly about the church responding to world need. I am not a Methodist and I have my own questions about aspects of the campaign but there is plenty that is good about it. What do you think?

Christian Aid Week Thank You!

header-balloonsChristian Aid Week is well and truly over and now the figures are coming in for the amounts of money raised. I don’t know yet about the rest of our area but I know that we at Didsbury Baptist Church raised £1159.62. A big ‘thank you’ to Liz – our coordinator, to all who collected and to all who gave. I wondered how the recession might affect giving but I understand that, at least for us, this is the best year yet. Many thanks to all who made it so!

A trip to hear the Sixteen

Nineteen from Didsbury Baptist Church went to hear the Sixteen in concert at the Bridgewater Hall on Wednesday evening.

The Bridgewater Hall

The Bridgewater Hall

In fact, there were twenty six of The Sixteen, though, from my seat in the side circle, I might have missed one. They were, of course, excellent. We rearranged our house group for the sake of the concert. We are currently studying the book of Revelation together so the the concert theme of A New Heaven was particularly appropriate. I thought I caught a glimpse of that new world in the singing of Sixteen.

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth:
for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away;
and there was no more sea . . .
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men,
and he will dwell with them and they shall be his people,
and God himself shall  be with them and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;
and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain,
for the former things are passed away.

(from Bainton’s setting of Revelation 21:1-4)

In addition to the inpsiring concert, we enjoyed being together and meeting up with friends from our own and plenty of other Baptist churches too.

Sunday 17 May

Our communion service on Sunday morning was a particularly happy one because we received a new member into our fellowship. During my sermon I talked about the nature of the church and church membership. I referred to Vernard Eller’s The Outward Bound: caravaning as the style of the church, a book that had greatly influenced me in the ’80s while I was living in the United States.

Outward Bound 01

I made use of Eller’s imagery and the contrast he draws between two models of the church: as commissary or caravan. The language, of course, is American but the content seems to me every bit as pertinent for a British audience. The caravan Eller has in mind is that of a journeying group of people rather than the mobile home variety. It seems to me, 25 years after first reading Eller, that our consumer society presses us all the more toward the model of church as commissary. In this model the church dispenses salvation to a passive consumer clientèle. In the caravaning model all the members join together, help each other and journey together from where they are to where they would like to be. Of course, I argued for the caravaning model. I hope it served to make further sense of the covenant we make, when receiving new members, to walk together before God in ways that are known and yet to be made known.

Did Eller’s book have any influence on these shores?

I also made reference during my sermon to the new title from Brian Haymes, Ruth Gouldbourne and Anthony R Cross, On Being the Church. I am still reading it but, so far, it is a treat!

SPSTANDARD.9781842271216

Christian Aid Week (10–16 May)

It was good, last night, to share a meal with members of many of the churches of the Didsbury area, to worship together and launch Christian Aid Week. Many events will be going on in local churches. At Didsbury Baptist Church, we will be participating in the area door-to door collection as well as receiving Christian Aid envelopes during worship on Sunday.

Christian Aid logo

Shared Meal, Shared Worship and Christian Aid

Join us and Churches Working Together in Didsbury  on Sunday for a shared meal  and shared worship to launch Christian Aid Week.

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