We Are Moving Forward!

Dear friends,

It gives me great joy to announce to you that we have secured use of a purpose-built church hall with kitchen facilities in Sidcup for our Sunday services.
So, starting Sunday 2nd October, we will be having services at:
St John The Evangelist

Church Hall,

Church Road,

Sidcup DA14 6BX
3pm – 4:30pm (refreshment afterwards)
This Sunday we will be holding our last service at Bexleyheath Academy, 

Where I will be building on ideas from Ruth chapters 3 & 4. Same time, same room!

“For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” – Habakkuk 2:3

The Challenge of Our Times

Like the current Brexit debate which hinges on 3 core positions: hard Brexit, soft Brexit and no Brexit; the disciples were faced with similar challenges after the death of our Lord. 

By way of background, Judaism was not originally a missional faith. Converts were meant to be attracted to the faith through the actions of the Jews, and God’s glory in their midst. But during the time of our Lord there was already a missional drive by the Rabbis, hence Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees (Matthew 23:15), for the negative impact of their efforts.

It is also important to note that Jesus was a prophet of his time. In otherwords, he addressed issues of his time, challenged the ‘ideals’, and reinterpreted scriptures. Jesus didn’t come to set-up Christianity (as many would love to believe), but rather to reform the Jewish faith, and to open its doors for mission to the wider-world. In fact, most of what we know today as Paul’s teaching or insight are from Jewish commentaries on the Old Testament (the Talmud and Mishnah). 

Equipped with the Holy Spirit, the apostles (who had the mandate to ‘go’ and tell the world about the messiah) were still caught between: hard Judaism, soft Judaism or no Judaism. But they were never shy of these debates. The sharp end of their arguments are evident in most of the letters in the New Testament. 

As we know through history, Judaism has always moved with the times. From the invisible God who communed with the patriarchs, the Tabernacle, the temple, destruction of the temple, the exile, the second temple; the faith has always been resilient, adapting to the forces of change and pace of human advancement.

These changes were led by people with inspired vision, people with strong convictions, radicals – willing to go against popular opinion. 

In the same vein, the faith we know today as Christianity needs to keep evolving dear friends. We need to challenge the status quo. Ask the difficult questions. Revisit scriptures, and interpret them in light of the speed of change in our world. The reformation was not meant to stop after the efforts of the reformers, rather, it should be part of our DNA.

Are you willing to stand up and be counted? 

Summary of the Book of Ruth

First let’s consider the term Exception Clause. In law, it is defined as a statement allowing that which is contrary to normal expectations. 

With that in mind let’s consider the law concerning Moabites:

“No Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of their descendants shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord, because they did not meet you with food and water on your journey out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam son of Beor, from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. (Yet the Lord your God refused to heed Balaam; the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you.) You shall never promote their welfare or their prosperity as long as you live.” – (Deuteronomy 23:3-6)

Using the book of Ruth as a test case or case study, in the first chapter we realise that Ruth was a Moabite. Also, not only has she been accepted into the assembly of Israel, she marries Boaz, a prominent Jew. 

On one hand the kinsman in the story who turned down the offer of marrying Ruth could easily be vindicated for upholding ‘the integrity’ of the law, however, Boaz and Naomi who were technically in violation of the law were the focus of the writer’s message.

As with the writer of Ruth, and in blatant disregard to Deut. 23:3-6. the prophet Isaiah declared:

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.” – (Is. 56:6-8)

Conclusion:

Just like all human endeavours, though inspired, the writers and editors of the Scriptures had their biases. Clearly the writer of Ruth was challenging the notion of a True Worshipper of Yahweh: one that is born a Jew, or one that lives out the spirit of the law? 
In the same vein, a true Christian is not necessarily one that ‘upholds the integrity of scriptures’, but rather, one that goes beyond the letter of the scriptures. One that lives out the scriptures in the context of their time. One that reinterprets scriptures in the spirit of Christ, in line with human development and advancement, and the challenges of their era. 

Dare I say, one that sees the Exception Clauses in every situation.

This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship!

We arrive at chapter 3 where Ruth being encouraged by Naomi, lies at the feet of Boaz. This single action was carried out in the hope that he consents, and passes on Elimelech’s (her father-in-law) inheritance to her through marriage.

On the issue of consent, this week we were told by experts that girls ‘aren’t strong enough to say no’ to sexual bullying, and that ‘widespread’ sexual harassment and violence has become acceptable in schools in the UK.

That aside, research shows that most ‘single’ church going Christians are sexually active. Some reports even highlight that singles are more sexually active than married Christians. 

Interestingly, most of these casual encounters are with non-Christian acquaintances.

Rather than pretend all is well as its normally the case, how does the church deal with sex and relationships in postmodern times? Bearing in mind that in the time of our Lord, a woman could marry at the age of twelve, and polygamy was part of the social construct to deal with deaths, inheritance, gender ratio imbalances, poverty etc; and the fact that we are living in more prosperous times, in which women have more rights.

So, this Sunday I will be looking at how the Bible defines relationship. 
Questions include: what is marriage, what is adultery, what is fornication; and how did Roman Catholicism hijack a neo-Judaistic movement (Christianity), and shifted these definitions to fit with Western and in some cases, pagan values. 

This book poses tough questions to the thinking Christian. It also provides ideas for contextualisation of our faith in our time.

So join us on this epic journey into purpose, meaning and destiny.
3:00pm – 4:30pm
The English Room

Bexleyheath Academy,

Woolwich Road,

Bexleyheath, 

Kent, DA6 7DA

The Temple: the Day of Atonement

“The evening meal of the high-priest before the great day [the Day of Atonement] was to be scanty. All night long he was to be hearing and expounding the Holy Scriptures, or otherwise kept employed, so that he might not fall asleep” 

  • Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: the Day of Atonement

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship

Last week I laid the foundations for the book of Ruth. 
In comparison to other writing in the Old Testament, this book presents an unconventional story of race relations in ancient antiquity. 

The story challenged social and cultural norms, and theology in new and radical ways at the time it was written, as it does today. 

During the course of my lecture, I discussed Jewish relation with Gentiles (non-Jews). We looked at early assimilation under the following three headers: the mixed multitude, the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, and converts to Judaism. 

Today I will be building on these gains, with a closer look at conversion to Judaism, and how this is reflected in New Testament doctrine and theology.

This book poses tough questions to the thinking Christian. Perhaps most importantly it equips us with ideas for contextualisation of our faith in a postmodern world.

So join us on this epic journey into purpose, meaning and destiny.

3pm

The English Room,

Bexleyheath Academy,

Woolwich Road,

Bexleyheath, 

Kent DA6 7DA

Ps: Big thank you to all who helped towards the rent arrears. The Lord will meet you at the point of your need.

Today @ Healingsprings fellowship!

According to most writers in the bible, the Jews were warned against marriage to Gentiles (non-Jews), except they converted to Judaism. In fact there were clear guidelines for conversion for men and women. 

So much so that most of the prophets challenged intermarriage with neighbouring nations, and state it as the chief reason behind their inability to comply with the articles of the Covenant, which eventually leads to Yahweh’s judgement and the Exile. 

Therefore, in comparison to other books in the Old Testament, the Book of Ruth presents an unconventional story of race relations and worship for Jews in ancient antiquity. 
The story challenged social and cultural norms, and theology, in new and radical ways at the time it was written, and it still does today. 

As such questions have to asked about scriptures as presented in library of writings we know today as the Bible. 
So join us as I lay the foundations for my series on the Book of Ruth. 

As per usual, I will be doing some ground work today by way of history, background and context, to set the scene for this epic journey into purpose, meaning and destiny.

3pm

The English Room,

Bexleyheath Academy,

Woolwich Road,

Bexleyheath, 

Kent, 

DA6 7DA