The Crucified One has been raised!

Easter morning at DBC was wonderful! I know, I should not be the one to say so because I led the service and was at the wrong side of the lectern to offer an objective view. But what made the service wonderful had little to do with me. The music and singing was full of inspiration, beauty and power. (Thanks to our musicians, singing group, soloists, children’s percussion section and a responsive congregation!) We read some of the greatest words of scripture and we received Communion on the most significant day of the Christian year.

The congregation is always interesting on Easter Sunday. While many of the regular members are away, we are always augmented by visitors and friends. We begin the day with an Easter morning breakfast and perhaps this helps to set the tone of celebration and joy. Or perhaps it is just that everyone knows that on Easter morning we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus so they come to church ready to give thanks and rejoice. Well, there was certainly a great atmosphere on Sunday. (If you were there, you were one of the reasons why). It was a great joy to welcome and meet congregation members new and old.

My message was based on Mark 16, the major reading for the day. We are reading the Gospel of Mark together at DBC this year and I have been finding it particularly rewarding. I would love to think I did justice to Mark 16 on Sunday but I am sure that, in fact, I did not; (I am not sure that anybody could). I concentrated on the sudden and open ending of the Gospel that seems to invite the readers to continue the story of Jesus in the daily living of their own lives.

I don’t think I made enough of the words of the young man in white who met the women at the tomb. ‘You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified One; he has been raised, he is not here . . .’ (Mark 16.6). Sometimes, especially on Easter Sunday, we are so taken up with resurrection that we forget the cross. It is as if we have moved on. The cross is no longer important and all that matters is that Christ was raised. Yet in Mark’s Gospel the resurrection narrative is so short and the passion narrative so long that the reader is left with the abiding impression that, important as resurrection is, the crucifixion remains central. The words of the angelic figure confirm this impression. It is specifically the Crucified One who has been raised. The reader and the church is called to follow in the way of a crucified Messiah. The church is called not to arrogant triumphalism but to self-giving service. Here the risen Lord is to be encountered. I hope our congregation heard something of that message on Sunday morning as we also heard of the new hope offered to all, even to disciples who, like Peter and the rest, had already failed but were not forsaken!

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Baptist Assembly 2010

I recently returned from our annual trip to the Baptist Assembly. It was held, this year, in Plymouth. The theme was One World, One Mission. The very best thing about the assembly, for me, is always meeting up with good friends, especially those that we see only once or twice a year. The highlights in terms of the programme were Ruth Gouldbourne’s George Beasley Murray Memorial Lecture, ‘In Praise of Incompetence’ and Anne Wilkinson-Hayes’  address given during Sunday morning worship. We received the annual reports of the Baptist Union of Great Britain and of BMS World Mission. We saw a taster of this year’s Home Mission DVD, Making Peace which looks interesting enough to use. As always, I found the recognizing of new mission personnel and of newly accredited ministers to be deeply moving occasions. It was good to hear from David Coffey and it was good to join in the worship of God with fellow Christians from all over the country. The schedule for seminars and special interest groups was such that it was impossible to attend everything so I look forward to catching up with what I missed when the MP3s become available from EssentialChristian.com.

Bullfrog Brown, 30 Aug

BullfrogBrownPicture040Sunday, 30 August history was made in Didsbury Baptist Church – those who had an opportunity to put in an appearance from 7.30 pm onwards were pleasantly surprised to find an up and coming alternative Blues band from Estonia – Bullfrog Brown – give their third concert in Manchester.  As the gig was a very last minute arrangement and it was on the Bank Holiday Sunday, my most pessimistic prognosis was that we could get 8 people in the audience. This, however, did not put the Frogs off and they were more than happy to sing for our family only for an hour and half. We did, in fact have more than 8 people and the Frogs were very pleased to find such an appreciating and knowledgeable audience. The band gave a breathtaking live performance.

As I later learned, useful contacts were made  and if all goes well, Manchester can welcome Bullfrog Brown again next April. Sadly, no-one seemed to take any photos of the evening, so the one that is here is from an earlier concert this year, on the up side, you can see the faces of all three on that pic.  🙂

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