Each month our minister writes an editorial for our Church Magazine - Church Chat. If you would like a copy just pop into MBFC to collect one. Below are a selection of previous 'Graham's Gossip' articles.
You do not have to be interested in politics in order to be disturbed about the recent debates and issues in parliament surrounding Brexit.
Political history in parliament as the government has been defeated the government and new sets of constitutional problems have arisen as plans have had to be drawn up to prepare for the unknown and untested consequences of there not being an agreement reached about leaving the EU.
Like others. I have been concerned and disturbed about the pumped up and angry rhetoric that has been used by both politicians and by members of the public as the different sides have argued their case. The voices of the ‘Remainers’, the’ Leavers and the government have been heard but I have found it harder to hear the ‘Christian Voice’ within all of this.
The ‘Christian Voice’ should be the voice by which we are able to air our differences and work towards a collaborative solution. It is a tone of voice and a way of speaking that should not just apply to international politics but to family life and church life, in fact in any dispute!
What should a Christian Voice sound like? Here are some thoughts!!
It should be gentle in tone and spirit. Jesus had many differences with the leaders of the day who he disagreed with and who disagreed with him, yet he rarely raised his voice. He remained patient in discussion and teaching with them, often allowing his miracles to speak for him. Remember, he said Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5)
It should be spoken with care, wary of the power and danger of the tongue to wound and hurt: James writes ’Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body, It corrupts the whole person , sets the whole course of his life on fire’ .( James:5-6a) What we say and how we say things can have a damaging impact in ways which we never dreamt of or intended.
It should be the voice of love and reconciliation. Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 5: 16-21 that we should see no one from a worldly view as we have been reconciled with God through Jesus. Therefore, we too are messengers of reconciliation of God with humanity and humanity with itself. This reconciling spirit needs to be heard in our words and seen our actions and our approach to differences of opinion.
It should reflect the unity we have in Christ and which God desires for us all, excluding no one.. Jesus came to bring God’s love and forgiveness into all the world. We are all one in Him and in God the Father. Paul tells us ‘You are no longer foreigners and aliens but fellow citizens and members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19)
It should reflect God’s loving compassionate concern for us all. The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving rebellion (Numbers 14:18) but in our disputes we are often quick to anger, holding unforgiving attitudes and positions which prevent the work of reconciliation. This has to be transformed into a Christian Voice and approach to others.
We might ask when have we heard this Christian Voice in the debates in the world? But we also need to look at ourselves and ask ‘Do we hear it in our family and church lives? Do we ever consciously use it ourselves? ‘ I do hope that we will!
Welcome to Advent and the Christmas Card season!
According to the Greetings Card Association, 100 million single Christmas cards and 900 million cards in boxes and packs were sold in Britain in 2017!! We buy, on average, 33 cards each- although most (85%) are bought by women!! £50 million was raised for charity through the sales of cards.
I wonder what the inventor the Christmas Card in 1843, Sir Henry Cole, artist and pioneer of the Penny Post and The Victoria and Albert Museum, would have made of this?!!! His original intention was to increase the use of the new postal service hence the appearance of Robins (an early nickname for postmen!) and Post Boxes in the snow!
Christmas Cards are an inescapable feature of Advent and Christmas, even in this age of email and social media. From the very beginning they have varied in style, from snowy village scenes, through robins perched on post boxes and angelic looking choir boys to all kinds of representations of the Nativity story are reproductions from Old Masters.
Whilst many cards seem to be more of a celebration of winter than the birth of Jesus, there is something important about the sending and receiving of Christmas Cards whatever they may depict.
Every time we write and send a card we are making a connection with another human being. We are remembering that we not alone, that we live in relationship with each other even if it is in a distant way.
The sending and receiving of Christmas Cards is an expression of the very nature of Christmas
Every time we receive a personal card we are reminded that we matter to someone, that we have been in their thoughts, that we have been part of and continue to be part of their lives in some way.
The birth of Jesus demonstrates that God values us so much that he sent his only Son into the world to enable us to reconnect with Him, to receive his peace and salvation.
In the Baby of Bethlehem we receive a gift, an assurance that we matter to God in every way and that we are all united in his love that we are called to share.
Consequently, Christmas Cards need to be sincerely sent and received in this attitude of celebration of God’s love being shared among us whatever the illustration on the front!.
Enjoy sending and receiving your cards and may you have a Happy Christmas and Blessed New Year!
This November sees the 100th Anniversary of the First World War, the ‘war to end all wars’. Even a hundred years on, the horror of those four years of fighting is still part of our national psyche. While other events of 100 years ago have been forgotten, the memory of this war carries on. This is perhaps inevitable given the scale of the casualties. 7 million civilians and 10 million military personnel were killed and an estimated 8 million civilians died of illness or went missing, creating ‘a generation of lost youth ’, not forgetting the 23 million wounded (of which my grandfather was one).
It can be said that no one in Britain was left untouched by this war, which was the first to be mechanised, the first to involve aircraft and to be properly documented in photographs and film, Here, in St Albans, we have the poignant reminder of how the war touched ordinary lives with the street memorials dotted around the city centre linking names to particular streets. Closer by, in the church vestry, we have the memorial to those men associated with the Tabernacle Church who died.
Although we have the distance of time separating us between then and now, when we look back at those memorials and the sepia photos, we need to remember that we are looking at real young men and women for whom life was cut short and whose families were ripped apart or who carried the pain and scars on their bodies for years afterwards. Each in their own way were called upon to give everything that they had in the service of their country and it is right that they should be honoured and remembered.
The great sadness is that ‘The Great War’ as it became known, was not the war to end all wars, it did not bring a lasting peace to the world. Indeed the aftermath of this war was a major contributory factor to the circumstances leading to the Second World War and, almost in every year since 1918, the UK has been involved in armed conflicts somewhere in the world.
And so it is right to ask ourselves, where is God in all of this? I believe that God weeps as we weep at the loss and destruction that we wreak on each other across the world. His response, I believe was to send that Jesus, the Prince of Peace as his gift to a warring world.
It is only when the whole world follows in Jesus footsteps of peace, loving forgiving and living in justice that this constant trajectory of war and violence will end. It is only when the great nations truly support the poor, it is only when we see each other as God’s children and not as ‘them and us’ will this cycle of violence be broken.
On this centenary of end of ‘the war to end all wars’ the greatest tribute and honour we can pay to those who gave everything is to make that phrase a reality for our generation and the coming generations.