House-groups are back

coffeecupnbacklrOur house-groups return after their summer break this week. The Tuesday evening group, Cakes, Coffee and Colossians began last night. It meets at Brian’s and Jenny’s and, over the next few weeks, will study the letter of Paul to the Colossians as those who are trying to live Christianly in a society with other loyalties.

The Wednesday Group begins tonight at 7.30 and will meet in the manse. Tonight, we will support and pray for each other and discuss what we might study in the weeks ahead. Please feel free to join a group. For further details, please drop me a line or give me a call.

Marion Scott Playgroup Outdoor Play Area

playareawork01lrAfter years of hoping and months of planning the builders are on site and so far are doing a fantastic job. With a new doorway children will be able to move freely from inside to outside. It should all be done in another week.

Sad News

I am sorry to announce that Bert Ford, long-time friend and member of our congregation, died on Wednesday evening. Bert was getting on in years and had been ill for the last six months. He was spending increasing amounts of time in hospital and it was there that he died. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. Bert will be greatly missed. He was a real character: friendly, gregarious, considerate and kind. The funeral will take place on Friday 4 September at 11.30 a.m. at Stockport Crematorium.

Canoe trip on the Mersey

Yesterday, a  group from Didsbury Baptist Church enjoyed a canoe trip down the Manchester Mersey. I couldn’t join them but I got a few shots of them passing as my wife and I were out walking by the river around Didsbury. They are not the best photos but they’ll do for a simple montage. The person who organized the trip is in the process of setting up a canoe business to lead groups and hire out boats on the Mersey. He can be found at www.messingaboutonthemersey.co.uk. Sunday’s canoeists certainly looked like they were having a good time. Here they are:

canoe_montage_468

Books on the Book of Revelation (part 4)

Towering behind the work of both Woodman and McKelvey is the influence of Richard Bauckham. Written for an academic audience, his books may be less accessible to the general reader. bauckamtheologyEven so, his The Theology of the Book of Revelation (Cambridge University Press, 1993, 169 pages) is a brilliant introduction to the themes and issues and to the overall theology of the book of Revelation. Bauckham sees Revelation as a Christian prophecy, an apocalypse and a circular letter. It “does not predict a sequence of events, as though it were history written in advance” (150). Rather it is interested in the nature and meaning of history in the time before the end. It is a call to the church to live a counter-cultural life in imitation of Christ.

Worship, which is so prominent in the theocentric vision of Revelation, has nothing to do with pietistic retreat from the public world. It is the source of resistance to the idolatries of the public world. It points representatively to the acknowledgement of the true God by all the nations, in the universal worship for which the whole creation is destined (161).

The only problem with this book is that it is almost better than the real thing. If it is difficult to understand, it reads more easily than the book of Revelation itself! It transformed my understanding of the millennium and restored my appreciation of Revelation as not only palatable but vital for the church’s witness in the world today. This book is brimming with insight and understanding.

The Book of Revelation

Back in July our house-group completed a seven-week study of the book of Revelation.  It was more of an introduction than an exhaustive study (we always spend some of the time talking, laughing and praying together) and we left plenty of unanswered questions. Even so, I think we all found it enlightening and engaging. It helps when one of the group is a university lecturer in New Testament studies but also when others  have not read Revelation any time recently and at least one expresses dislike for the book to begin with. Over the course of the seven weeks we read the entire book out loud and if we had done nothing else this would have been a worthwhile exercise in itself.

Anyway, someone asked me what I thought were the best, accessible books on Revelation so here is my top five (in no particular order):

Reversed Thunder 02Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination by Eugene H. Peterson (Harper Collins, 1988). This is not a commentary but a beautifully written meditation on the book of Revelation. This is Peterson at his best. Through the lense of Revelation, he reflects on scripture, Christ, church, worship, evil, prayer, witness, politics, judgement, salvation and heaven.

The book of  Revelation is complex and draws heavily on the rest of scripture, especially the Old Testament.  If we don’t know the Old Testament we will have difficulty in even beginning to understand the book of Revelation. Peterson reintroduce us to the Old Testament in the light of Christian spirituality. He sparks a desire in our souls to read scripture, to pray and to deepen our lives. He has this to say about Revelation’s view of heaven and our response to it:

To the person who simply wants more, who is impatient of limits, who is bored with what he or she has and wants diversion from it, St John’s vision of heaven will not serve well. This is not a paradise for consumers. St John’s heaven is not an extension of cupidity upwards but an invasion of God’s rule and presence downwards. Heaven in the vision, remember, descends . . . If we don’t want God, or don’t want him very near, we can hardly be expected to be very interested in heaven (184–5).

I don’t go along with everything Peterson says but if I could keep only one book on Revelation this would be it.

The rest of my top five will continue tomorrow.

Summertime at DBC

Having enjoyed a holiday in Jersey in early July, I returned to plenty of things to do and little enthusiasm for blogging. As a result I have not written anything for this site in over a month now. Today I return to posting something every other day.

Summertime at DBC brings a more relaxed schedule. People are away on holiday and the attendance at Sunday services is less predictable. Still, it provides opportunities for socialising so the church organises a varied programme of activities and events we refer to as the mid-summer mix. The schedule is well advanced now. We have enjoyed walking, going out for meals, hosting and attending barbecues and the like.

At the verDSCF0859y beginning of the summer a group of thirty or so from the church had a weekend camping in Brassey Green near Tarporley, Cheshire. This has been an annual event for quite a few years now. My wife and I joined them for a night and a day. We don’t usually do camping (as anyone who saw our borrowed tent full of duvets and hot water bottles would have quickly summised) but we enjoyed it that weekend. I said I would post a few photos so here are a couple to start with. Better late than never, I hope.

DSCF0843

Pendle Hill Walk

Pendle 01A few of us from Didsbury Baptist Church spent Sunday afternoon and evening walking up Pendle Hill in East Lancashire. We took the 6 mile circular route from Barley, over the hill, past the Ogden reservoirs and back to Barley. We took our time about it and, in perfect weather, enjoyed a great afternoon together.

Besides the beauty of the largely undiscovered area, Pendle is known for its historical associations. Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is that it was the home of the so-called ‘Pendle Witches’. In 1612, ten of them were publicly hanged for their ‘crimes’. They were convicted on the evidence of a nine-year old girl who had been carefully coached by the prosecution. Whatever the ‘witches’ were guilty of it was nothing deserving of death. Some Christians occasionally decry the association of Pendle with witchcraft. Still, the executions of 1612 remind us of the potentially disastrous consequences of religious intolerance, confusion of Church and State, and the misuse of the Bible (Exodus 22.18). Baptist Christians will recall that at about the same time that the Pendle witches were being tried Thomas Helwys, a leader of the first Baptist church to be formed on British soil, was writing his treatise on religious liberty, perhaps the first printed argument for religious freedom to be published in England.

GeorgeFox225Some years later, in 1652, George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, visited Pendle. There he had a vision that guided him to the villages he was next to visit and that would be particularly receptive to his message. He writes of Pendle Hill in his journal:

As we traveled we came near a very great hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved of the Lord to go up to the top of it; which I did with difficulty, it was so very steep and high. When I was come to the top, I saw the sea bordering upon Lancashire. From the top of this hill the Lord let me see in what places he had a great people to be gathered. As I went down, I found a spring of water in the side of the hill, with which I refreshed myself, having eaten or drunk but little for several days before.

On Sunday I took a drink from what is purported to be the same spring, now known as George Fox’s well. I grew up near Pendle Hill and have loved it all my life. For me, it is one of the very special places in God’s world:

Old Pendle, old Pendle, thou standest alone
twixt Burnley and Clitheroe, Whalley and Colne,
where Hodder and Ribble’s fair waters do meet
with Barley and Downham content at thy feet.

Pendle_top

Didsbury Fun Run 2009

bmpfr08

Preparations are now under way for the Annual Didsbury Fun Run organised by Didsbury Baptist Church. The date is 12 September, the distances are 1.5k and 5k, and the proceeds will be divided between our building fund and Francis House, the local children’s hospice. It is usually a great event (though last year it was muddy!) Perhaps you would plan to join us. Further information and application forms here.

Getting ready for Didsbury Festival

The 30th annual Didsbury Festival is to take place this Saturday (6 June) and I have been busy preparing some church publicity for use on our stands. Didsbury Baptist Church will be running a Bouncy Castle (proceeds will benefit our building project) and a plant stall to benefit Christian Aid. The churches of Didsbury will run a Fair Trade Cafe and members and friends of our church will be helping to sell refurbished tools at the Tools for Self Reliance stand. Two of the event organisers are members of Didsbury Baptist Church so we all take an interest in the event. It is usually extremely well supported and is one of the highlights of the Didsbury year.

Publicising one’s church at the festival (or any other event) presents its own problems. Many of the churches of Didsbury will be involved in the festival and I don’t want our publicity to be seen as competitive. I think in future years the churches ought to share in some united publicity. Still, it is no bad thing that people using the bouncy castle know who organised it; and the people we would like to attract to the church are not those already worshiping elsewhere but those who are not part of a church at all. Those of us who have come to believe in God and are learning to follow Jesus together in community are discovering a life worth promoting. We want  others to make the same discovery. I hope the postcards and posters I am putting together convey this sense, without being too cheesy.

dbc tunnel journey lowres01

%d bloggers like this: