Friday, 18 March 2011

It could never happen here?

My blog today is 2 very simple weblinks:

the first is to a news story that was in the press this week and the second is to a group that campaigns to do something about it.

In 2005 the Church of Scotland Guild produced some very good material on this subject and of course, CHO is working along the Cambodia/Thailand border to try to interrupt the trade; talk about putting your life on the line!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

BBC2 and the Bible

Last night (15th March 2011) BBC2 broadcast a programme called Bible's Buried Secrets: Did King David's Empire Exist? This is how the website describes the programme: "Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou goes on the trail of King David and his fabled empire. Did he really rule over a vast Israelite kingdom? Did he even exist? She examines evidence for and against the Biblical account." I have to say it made me angry, so I thought I'd take a few minutes this morning to counter some of what she said, just in case you watched it too!

The programme was based on a premise described as 'Empire'; "The Bible says that David had a great Empire" she kept saying. In fact, the word empire is never used in the Bible during the reign of King David. He ruled over Israel and Judah and subdued a few neighbours, but "empire" is not a Biblical notion. Worse, she then imported her notions of empire, so that there was an assumption that because David had an empire, he must have had all kinds of trapping of power, such as a huge standing army, fortresses and the buildings in his capital city that went with power. She even went as far as to say that if we are to accept the notion that God called David to be King, we needed to see evidence of power, wealth and glory (or words to that effect).

She met several archaeologists during the course of filming the programme. As you can imagine, there were conflicting views based on findings that are 3000 years old. Some were arguing that the evidence begged questions of the Biblical account of David, whilst others were arguing on the basis of other evidence that the Biblical account is accurate. I've never seen a more prejudiced summing up: the sceptics were allowed to comment on those supporting the Bible, but there was no right of reply; her conclusions supported one view because that was the view with which she started.

The Bible story was constantly quoted, but I have to say not often in a way that I recognised.

It is quite right and in order for questions to be asked of the Bible in the light of archaeological evidence. But listen to all of the evidence and give the Bible due place as part of that evidence. Anyone can make the Bible say what we want it to say; the far bigger challenge for us is to listen to what the Bible really says and see what life is like then.

We can't make David (or any other Bible character) fit the mould of our 21st century world-view (of "Empire" or any other notion!); it just doesn't work that way. The call of God on David's life was not about power and splendour; it was about faith and obedience; David wanted to built grand buildings, but God wouldn't let him!

Bad show, BBC. A more one-sided piece of television I've not seen since September when BBC Scotland broadcast a programme telling us that the Church of Scotland is dead.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

The doorkeeper - part 2

Following on from Friday's blog here are some thoughts as to what might be doors into the blessing of God for people in our community:
  • Messy Church might be a door for some
  • The Green Strollers might be a door for some
  • a course, such as Stepping Stones or Christianity Explored might be a door for some
  • The Open Door cafe might be a door for some
  • The Sunday morning service, with Kids' Church, creche and youth group might be a door for some
  • The Summer mission might be a door for some
  • The Girlguiding service might be a door for some
  • A bereavement and a funeral might be a door for some
  • A Christmas or Easter card might be a door for some
  • The Guild of Friendship might be a door for some
  • The gift of flowers from the Church might be a door for some.

Actually, given a good heart in us, most of what we do can be a door for some to come into the blessing of God, into faith and into Church. Don't just sit back and expect it to happen; as the doorkeepers, we have to reach out our hands to help people through these doors.

But we can do exactly the opposite. On Sunday morning, a lady (a visitor, the grandmother of a Brownie) was in Church early; she sat at the end of a pew. Then someone else came in and wanted to sit in the same pew, so she went past the first to sit further in. Then 2 more people came and wanted to sit beside their friend, the second lady to hit the pew. The first lady let them past and stood waiting to resume her seat. Sadly, they didn't move far enough into the seat, so our first lady was left standing in the ailse for some time, till finally she moved to sit in the seat in front. People have stormed out of Churches for this kind of thing; fortunately she was fine about it. This was not done deliberately to push someone out; it was simply careless and thoughtless, but it could be the kind of experience which turns a door into a brick wall for someone.

Is there someone for whom you are a doorkeeper? Is there someone that you can help through the door into the joy of Christ?