This Sunday @ Healingsprings fellowship

Like other nations of that era the Exile from The Promised Land, the destruction of The Temple; the captivity of the people was meant to be the end of the Jewish people. However it turned out to be their defining moment owing to the efforts of visionary leaders like Ezra, Nehemiah, and the company of faithfuls that bought into their vision, making that hard long journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. 

In similar vein, the movie Hidden Figures demonstrates the influence of leaders within Black Churches in that era. Their vision and hope for Social Justice will inspire women to work for NASA and IBM, and to be the best in their fields. In-spite of segregation, and other racial challenges these women excelled and made their mark in history.
This Sunday as part of my series God Was In Christ, I will be showing Hidden Figures with a view to demonstrate the church’s vital work of Reconciliation
Our role as Salt and Light. Our role in harmonising planet earth to God through our hunger and thirst for Social Justice.
Join us @ 3pm, light refreshments afterwards
The Parish Hall 

St John’s Sidcup,

Church Road, 

Sidcup, 

Kent DA14 6BX
Reachout | Revive | Recover

http://www.healingsprings.org.uk

Sin?

Some of the ideas we hold as ‘truths’ in judaeo-Christian traditions were very radical ideas when they were advanced.  
For instance when Amos took up the plight of the poor and disenfranchised (who at the time were seen as cursed by Yahweh), he was very unpopular with the ecclesiastical authorities and the people of him time. 
In fact, Jesus’ continuous mingling with ‘sinners’ was the chief reason why he was unpopular with groups like the Pharisees, eventually, leading to his death. In a strange way affirming that he died for ‘the sins of the world’.
I say this to note that what we term as ‘sin’ today have not always been absolutes. A case in point, the writer of Ruth vindicated Boaz for accepting Ruth (a Moabite) in marriage, in what can also be best described as a polygamous relationship. In similar vein Jesus challenged ‘sacred’ concepts like: fasting, giving, sabbath, and even Temple worship. 
Friends, we miss the mark if we don’t realise that Christianity and her older cousin Judaism has always been about people – especially those at the fringes of society. It’s about the bringing together of ALL, even the lost. It’s about creating ‘One New Man’.

Therefore, if people are hurting, we ought to be listening. If they are left behind, we should be reaching out. If they are tired, we should be reviving.
It’s also noteworthy to stress that most of what we refer to as the Old Testament was written retrospectively as part of nation building after The Exile.

As such, the Hebrew cannon (the Old Testament) consists of oral, administrative and historical documents that were edited and crystallised with a political vision of keeping the people and their culture together. A project which I believe Africa can learn from.

Perhaps, also important is the fact that the Christian notion of sin emerged from these Old Testament texts, and the prevailing view of the time. Hence we should be very wary when the shadows of these texts are cast on us today.
We need to build on the foundations laid by Christ: love towards God, through our love towards humanity, especially the ostracised. Even at the cost of our very lives. 

Healingsprings fellowship: JuneSeries2017

JuneSeries 2017: Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19)
We stand in solidarity to Reconcile our brothers and sisters in the Congo with social and economic justice.
This Sunday we will be showing the Award Winning documentary: When Elephants Fight.
Following the doc we will take questions from panel members with a view to stir up a call to action! 
Refreshment will be provided, and we have opportunities for networking and collaboration. 
Join us as at 3pm as we continue the work of Reconciliation entrusted to us by Jesus.

Which Way Africa?

Ideas, doctrines and dogmas of Christianity that had been proved to be erroneous through the Reformation, the French Revolution, The Enlightenment, Post Enlightenment etc., were dumped on Africa by Christian missionaries. 

For the Church, America and Africa were fertile soil for the expansion of the gospel, after loosing influence in Europe.
Most of these missionaries did not even understand or appreciate the culture, philosophy and traditions of Africans. Rather, they saw their race, faith and culture as superior, hence any social, technological, spiritual or economic progress Africans had made was dismissed, and discouraged. They did not even consider the fact that Africa received the Gospel centuries before Europe. 
From the Ethiopian Eunuch, to countries like Libya, and Egypt. For Egypt as far back as AD33.
The Bible was interpreted through faulty lenses by these missionaries, hence Christians were able to justify errors like ‘Ham Theology’ as the basis for slavery, segregation, apartheid and racism. 
Sadly, even till now some African Christians still manage to convince themselves that they are under a curse from God. As such these ideas justify the current state of affairs individually and collectively.
We arrive at the 21st Century and Africans are crippled with under development, mediocrity and poverty. Our churches are packed, yet we hardly see the fruits of the Gospel permeate our communities, or nations.
For example, instead of fixing roads where fatal accidents consistently occur through the use of technology, we would rather hold prayer meetings to bind the ‘demon’ causing accidents. Suffice to say that the head of the prayer group is in fact a Civil Engineer, his deputy a graduate of Computer Science, and their pastor, a graduate of Urban Regeneration. 
We have pastors behind pulpits with no formal theological training, because we are meant to be ‘led’ by the ‘spirit’. So we open the Bible, teach and preach from our narrow lenses. No understanding of the history, context, genre, culture, worldview or authorial intent of the writers. 
Who gave us minds? Why do we have minds? Why have we been tasked with the stewardship of the Earth? 
We fail to understand that the Jewish faith from which Christianity blossomed is a highly intellectual faith. In fact academics argue that our current system of compulsory education was adapted from the Jewish culture. John the Baptist attended theological school, Jesus attended theological school, Paul and the disciples did; because it was a compulsory element of their upbringing. Once they completed their studies, they learnt a vocation and got married afterwards. 
Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that those of us in the diaspora have also refused to be enlightened. Instead of challenging backwardness and mediocrity, we form the core. We have no understanding why we are in the West, neither do we understand our role in the progress and development of the Continent, and our World. 
But, we are quick to copy doctrines and teachings that are neither Christian nor ethical from the continent. Instead of reading Scriptures retroactively through the image of the invisible God – Jesus.
Father, open the eyes of our understanding, so that we may know the hope of our calling, in Jesus’ name, amen.

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.

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.