From Tanzania to Corsham Baptist

Picture of Steve and Ruth

As you may know Steve and Ruth landed back in the UK after their Tanzanian service just before Christmas and had to quarantine over Christmas period.

They are now wrapping up their time with AIM and readjusting to life back in the UK. One aspect of this is, following Paul and Barnabus’ example in Acts 14:26-27, has been reporting back to various churches on their work and what God has been doing. They hope to return to living in Corsham in mid-March.

You can see the full report below.

Notices for 21 Feb 2021

This week

Just to remind you there are no in-person meetings at the moment.

Zoom Junior Church

  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom. 
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings. And then add your name.

‘Gathered to Praise’

There won’t be a full ‘gathered to praise’ this Sunday evening but Steve Chilcott has put together this playlist to inspire you to worship.

Women’s Bible Study

A warm welcome awaits you on Monday 22nd February at the Women’s Bible Study.  As we continue to journey through Genesis, Sharon D will introduce us to Jacob.  
Bible Study notes can be downloaded here
Grab a cup of something and join us on Zoom at 7.30pm.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82973000518?pwd=ZmdOL2trblQ5WW1sMTNKcmVTazYvUT09

Meeting ID: 829 7300 0518
Passcode: 777

The ARK

The Ark Sat 27 Feb 10 am

Pray for the team as they lead the Ark activities on Saturday morning.

Lots of family fun : puppets; songs; things to make and a powerful story of Jesus’ parents searching for him after they became separated in the crowd in Jerusalem. Their home is also on Facebook for now.

Church Directory 2021

It is that time of year again! If your details in the Church Directory need updating, or if you are wishing to be added to the Directory, please send your details to Cathy Simon (cathys@corshambaptists.org).

If you are new to this the Directory records, name; congregation (Church on the Green/ 09:15/11:15; address; phone number; email; children

Please send no later than Friday 5 March 2021.

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

COUNT DOWN TO MONDAY STUDY ON JACOB

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Hi sisters! We look forward to seeing you on Monday, 22 February, at 7:30pm on the zoom bible study! We are in for a wonderful feast from the life of Jacob. We will learn more who God is, who we are , and how it all points to Christ. You don’t want to miss it!

Get in touch with Anne Holmes for zoom details, or check on Facebook on Captivated, our CBC’s women’s FB page on Monday.

Lots of love and we are cheering you on!

The Women’s Ministry Team

The Failings of Tribes: Part 1

This post by Ross Maynard was originally published at Seventy Two

[To honour confidentiality, I have refrained from mentioning many details in the following story. My vagueness at times is intentional. However, I don’t believe this takes away from the impact of the story.]

I’m at a conference. I love conferences. There’s always so much coffee to drink and so many people to meet. As an extrovert this suits me perfectly. This particular conference was for ministers, so being a minister myself, I’ve always found it a great source of encouragement and solidarity, being with people who I could relate to on so many levels.

During the conference we were told about an evening session on the second night in which we could share stories, the good, the bad and the ugly, of our ministries. I had been asked to share, as at the time the church in which I ministered was going through a very difficult period and they believed that my experience may be helpful for those gathered. At the very least it would be a chance for me to be prayed for.

So, there I am, stood in front of all these other ministers, anxious and if I’m honest, fearful. I shared about our church’s struggle, but as part of that I had to share how I had changed my mind on a certain controversial theological topic. I shared with tears in my eyes, laid bare and completely vulnerable. The only thing I remember from sharing was the reactions on people’s faces. Some, those who generally agreed with my theological position, were doing all they could to show they supported me and were with me. The faces I remember most though were the ones that dropped: unable to look at me. I felt their disappointment. I felt their rejection.

Two people offered to come and pray for me. Neither of whom mentioned me in their prayers. They prayed for the church and that they would be guided into what could only be articulated as their understanding of theological orthodoxy. Not once did they pray for me.  They didn’t pray for the person they had been laughing with earlier. The hurting human standing next to them.

After that meeting a few people ignored me and didn’t want to or didn’t know how to talk to me. I was no longer a part of their club. The changing of my mind had excluded me from their tribe. I had crossed an invisible boundary that I didn’t know existed. Only an hour before that we were friends, now I represented the allusive enemy, the opposing viewpoint.

That night I rang my now wife; my then girlfriend, who was and is quite simply my rock. She is an endless supply of support and strength. We start talking about our days and I tell her about the evening session and what I shared. Within seconds I was in floods of tears. I felt so rejected and excluded. It felt as though many of my relationships were fragile, based entirely on what I read and ultimately, what I believed.

I feel it’s important to note, before moving on, that my tears were a drop in the ocean of tears cried by those who know constant rejection from the places in which they should find sanctuary, welcome and love: the church. This blog has been written with these people in mind. The excluded, the marginalised, the ones that don’t fit in because they think differently or act differently. It is with their faces, their stories and their tears, firmly secured in my heart, that I write this blog.

————————————————————————————————————————–

So, let’s talk about tribal boundaries.

For the sake of clarity, let me explain what I mean by this. By tribe, I mean the people you agree with, find solidarity and community being around. In the Christian world this could be your denomination (Methodist, Anglican, Baptist…), your Spirituality (Charismatic, Liturgical, Contemplative…), your broader theological tradition (Evangelical, Conservative, Liberal, or somewhere in between…) and your narrower theological convictions (Creationist, Evolutionist, Affirming, Traditionalist, Complementarian, Egalitarian…). We could mention hundreds more, and we could probably argue for ever over the lists I’ve just made, although this would distract from the point I’m trying to articulate. A tribe is a group of people you find solace with, who think like you, act like you and see the world in a similar way to you. These tribes have boundaries that mean you’re either in or out. Most tribes, it would be fair to say, would be a mix of the above categories.

In a funny way Rob Bell captures what I mean well, when he describes the tribes of the Ancient Near East.

‘In the ancient Near East, your tribe was your family, your bloodline, your home, your identity – your tribe was everything. And everyone belonged to a tribe.

You worked for your tribe, as did everyone else in the tribe. You accumulated possessions, fought battles, made alliances, all in the name of tribal preservation. And if you did something unacceptable, something shameful, it reflected poorly on your tribe.

Tribes existed for their own well-being and preservation. (You see the humour in that last sentence, right? Like anything has changed in thousands of years.)’

I think it’s fantastic that Rob Bell acknowledges at the end of the quote that nothing has changed, ‘in thousands of years.’ Tribalism has and always will be a very human thing.

At this point I must nuance my very negative portrayal of tribalism. Tribes are natural and not necessarily bad at all. We are drawn to people like us. People who share our beliefs, our values and our world view. This is what, in my opinion, leads to the beautiful diversity of our faith. It’s impossible to say Christians believe a, b and c, because the breadth of beliefs in denominations is huge, let alone across broader traditions, such as Evangelical and Liberal. Or geographically: East and West. We are a diverse bunch of misfits, who find solace in the company of those like us.

The problem for me with tribes is that more often than not they exclude the other, as I have shown in my experience at the minister’s conference. Also, equally as problematic, they have a tendency to make God small, as we’ll go on to explore now.

Ultimately, tribal boundaries dictate what God is like and how God is to be experienced. Often this leads tribes claiming a certain ownership over God, making God small. Richard Rohr put this far better than me in his book, ‘The Universal Christ’:

The Christ is always way too much for us, larger than any one era, culture, empire or religion. Its radical inclusivity is a threat to any power structure and any form of arrogant thinking. Jesus by himself has usually been limited by the evolution of human consciousness in these first two thousand years, and held captive by culture, by nationalism, and by Christianity’s own cultural captivity to a white, bourgeois, and Eurocentric worldview… [Jesus] came in mid-tone skin, from the underclass, a male body with a female soul, from an often-hated religion, and living on the very cusp between East and West. No one owns him, and no one ever will.’[1]

You may not agree with everything Rohr says and that’s fine, but I hope you’d agree with his last sentence in regard to Jesus, ‘no one owns him, and no one ever will.’

Jesus never fitted into categories or stayed within the boundaries of tribes. In fact, he had a habit of blowing tribal boundaries to smithereens. Let me throw out some examples:

  • The Pharisees got regularly rebuked by Jesus for their strict tribal boundaries; the hundreds of extra laws they placed around God’s law.
  • Jesus was the Messiah, but not as any understood the title Messiah. No understanding of the Messiah could contain him. There were aspects of the title he owned, but much he didn’t. This is why, particularly in Mark’s gospel he comes down so harshly on those that try too early to define who he is (see Mark 1:40-45 for an example of this). This is regularly referred to in biblical criticism as the Messianic Secret. Jesus wants to redefine this highly politicised title in all that he’s doing and therefore, needed time to do this.
  • Jesus constantly ignored the tribal boundaries around appropriate company. The famous criticism thrown at Jesus being, ‘why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ (Mark 2:16). This isn’t the behaviour of a Rabbi. This isn’t the behaviour of a religious Jewish man. In first century, Palestine, the company you had at your meal table was hugely important. Your guests reflected on you and your values. So, in order to maintain good standing in the local community, you made sure you ate with the socially acceptable. The ones who were like you: part of your tribe.
  • Jesus refused to hate and treat people as second-class citizens. Again, challenging cultural norms of the time and placing himself firmly outside the tribal boundaries of appropriate behaviour. He spent time with Samaritans (the enemies of the Jewish people), treated women as equals and welcomed gentiles (non-Jews). All of which was deemed unacceptable.

There are hundreds more examples I could give. The point is this, no tribe could adequately describe him, and no tribal boundaries could contain him. ‘No one owns him, and no one ever will.’

If all of this has been a little confusing, let me spell out in one sentence what I’m trying to say: strict tribal boundaries nurture exclusion and make God small. I would love to say that my experience at the minister’s conference is an anomaly. I would love to say that the rejection I felt was rare and unprecedented in Christian circles. However, the very fact you’ve got this far into my blog means you probably know all too well, that it isn’t.

Here’s where I’m at…

I am done with tribal boundaries and the exclusion they foster.

I am done with tribal boundaries and the small god they defend.

I worship an immeasurable, untethered, wild God. A God of love, inclusion and God who blows our tribal boundaries to smithereens.

 

[1] Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, 35. I must add that Rohr makes a distinction throughout the book between Jesus and Christ. Jesus, the human nature of the Second person of the trinity, is culturally bound, whereas Christ, the divine nature is universal. The ‘Christ mystery’, his oft used phrase, has always existed and is present in all people and things. I do not think you need to agree with him here for his quote to still be valid. I felt, however, that this was important to mention as it does further expound what he says.

 

The post The Failings of Tribes: Part 1 appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notices for 14 Feb 2021

This week

Just to remind you there are no in-person meetings at the moment.

Holiday Bible Club

The February half term holiday Bible club session will run on Thursday 18th February from 10am. It will be available on the ‘CBC Junior Church’ YouTube channel. Craft packs are available for collection from outside Corsham Baptist Church,  Priory Street on Monday 15th February 10am11am. Contact Rhiannon to register or for more information: childrensworker@corshambaptists.org

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours ;
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

Lent Lessons from Luke

Lent is the period of 40 days, excluding Sundays, leading up to Easter. Traditionally, Christians use this time to remember Jesus’ period of preparation for His ministry when He withdrew to the desert.

These days Lent tends to be associated most with cutting things out (chocolate, coffee, meat etc.) and that is appropriate as Jesus fasted during His time in the desert. Luke 4 tells us that Jesus ate nothing for 40 days and at the end He was hungry. (As an aside, if you think that is the most redundant statement ever written, perhaps it is to underline that Jesus, though fully God, was also fully human with all the implied frailties).

But I’d argue it’s perhaps even more important to add things in. Jesus is clearly putting in some serious prayer and meditation as we see with some of the temptations that are recorded for us. Each and every one is met immediately with a verse of scripture. Such fluency, and confidence, does not come without work methinks.

So what will you be putting in this Lent? Each Wednesday one of us from 9:15 or Church on the Green congregations will provide a little video reflection to help get you thinking. You’ll be able to find them here or on the CBC YouTube channel.

Entire playlist from the beginning
week 1
week 4
week 2
week 3

CHECKING IN!

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Hi friends!

Hope you are staying cosy in the cold temperatures!

Our next zoom Women’s Bible study is on Monday, 22 February at 7:30. Sharon Durant will be leading us in our study on Jacob.

So, we encourage you to get with your study buddy via phone/zoom/ ? if you haven’t already! Your bible study questions and readings were sent to you by Anne via email. It is also on GRACE PLACE or download a PDF.

I found it to be SO helpful and really amazing to consider our human sinful hearts, the wonders and faithfulness of God, and how it all points to Jesus! All through the narrative of Jacob in the Genesis. Such a treasure.

Don’t miss out! Enjoy your time with Jacob! See you on the 22nd! Save the date!!!

Lots of love and cheering you on,

Women’s Ministry Team x

Arguing People into the Kingdom?

This post by Michael Shaw was originally published at Seventy Two

I am a big social media fan, and as an Enneagram 8, I love an argument. I have been reading a lot of Richard Rohr recently, which has allowed me to realise that that online argument is probably not as important as I like to think it is!

But one thing I have tried not to do, is argue with people of no faith.  Most of my responses are to Christians who, in my opinion, are talking nonsense (I am also prone to talking nonsense sometimes). I genuinely believe that we cannot argue people into the Kingdom of God, and that ridiculing or baiting people of no faith is counter-productive and an unbelievably bad witness.

But I have seen two examples recently, one was a Facebook friend who posted a rather trite Christian Meme (you probably know the type I mean), one of her clearly not-yet-believing friends commented with a facetious comment about fairies, and within a few minutes another (this time Christian) friend piled-on, there was an attempt to “prove” God existed. Luckily, the argument was defused, but I wondered if there might have been a better way to handle this.

I recently had an article published in a local paper, about why our church had opted to move online during Lockdown 3.0. I tried to avoid the comments section as my local paper’s online edition can get rather toxic. But my wife did look and saw an ex-church member had commented. The comments section contained a few comments by the “usual” commentators, mostly saying that religion was a nonsense, and “you may as well stay closed”. But this ex-member, who is theologically in a different place to me (probably why he is an ex-member) weighed in with a proof text Bible verse and with a few comments aimed at “the atheists”, which probably didn’t help things!

But it made me think, how could we be better at using social media when we face opposition. Sadly throwing proof-texts at people will never work (they won’t read them for a start) nor will trying to “prove” them wrong. The answer to me comes back to when Jesus faced opposition, he very rarely tried to win the argument, but often found better ways of engaging with people. He would often meet a question with a question, and let his opponent find the answer!

My advice is, next time someone replies to you with “you may as well believe in fairies” or “Jesus wasn’t real”, rather than trying to prove or to win, maybe the offer should be to further dialogue, to meet face to face for a coffee, to listen and learn about why they feel so hurt by Christians, let down by faith or so angry at church, maybe there is story here that needs to be heard?

The post Arguing People into the Kingdom? appeared first on Seventy Two.

Notices for 7 Feb 2021

This week

Just to remind you there are no in-person meetings at the moment.

  • Church on the Screen @10am: If you prefer a more active service rather than simply watching, a warm welcome awaits from Rob and the team. All details at: https://www.churchonthegreen.online/event/10am-sunday-service-online/
  • Priory Street joint service @10am: Worship, intercessions and Eddie will speak on Daniel 12. Watch on YouTube. Subtitles should be provided live and a transcript and audio podcast will be published shortly after at: https://corshambaptists.org/teaching/
  • Please note we will be joining together online for Communion at this service
  • Zoom Junior Church starts this Sunday
  •  Please join Rhiannon for our first online, live junior church session starting this Sunday (Feb 7th).  Details are:
  • KS1 junior church:starts at 10 am and the joining details are:
  • Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/74667394889?pwd=TTZFbE94Kzlwa2ZxMlMrK1JQd3NPdz09
  • Meeting ID: 746 6739 4889
  • Passcode: JCKs1 
  • KS2 junior church:starts at 11am and the joining details are:
  • Join Zoom Meeting https://us04web.zoom.us/j/78440614259?pwd=OUtlaVN5Qm4zdzFzNEVsalY4VUp5dz09
  • Meeting ID: 784 4061 4259
  • Passcode: JCKs2
  • If you would like your child to participate in these sessions but haven’t done so already, please contact Rhiannon (childrensworker@corshambaptists.org or mob: 07579062921) giving permission for them to join
  • There are safeguarding rules that we need to adhere to and in the first place parental consent is required for your children to take part in these meetings.  Please could you send Rhiannon an email or text / message with the following (filling in the relevant information):
  • I give permission for …………… to interact on zoom. 
  • I give permission for a leader to contact me (Parent’s name) by email/ phone/text for the purpose of  setting up these Zoom meetings. And then add your name.
  • Youth continues online @7pm.
  • Junior Church songs from Adrian and Jo Pillinger are available on the CBC Junior church YouTube channel this Sunday. They can also be found in the church website worship section.‬

Lent Reflections.

There will be a weekly series of short (2-3 min) Lent reflections starting in 10 days (Lent starts Weds 17th), please watch the website / Facebook or contact the office to receive email notifications

News from our Mission Partners:

Bible Society Webinar 09 Feb 10:00-11:30

The Bible Society are hosting another webinar in February where the Church is invited to pray and lament for our nation, seeking God for his missional heart for this cultural moment. Register for the event here.

Tearfund.

Do watch the latest Tearfund video here which is part of Tearfund’s 2021 Lent appeal. Further Lent resources are available from the Tearfund website here

Activities during lockdown

  • Souper Friday continues to reach out to our community and neighbours ;
  • Community Money Advice is handling work remotely, but do get in touch if you are aware of or are having money difficulties ;
  • Several small groups meet and share online.

Please send items for next week’s notices to Cathy Simon and/or Tim Stephenson by 12 noon on Friday

IN THE BEGINNING- GOD! JACOB

This post by kathylarkman was originally published at GRACE PLACE

Excerpt of Bible Study Questions from Sharon Durant, teaching on Jacob on 22 February

The life of Jacob crosses half of Genesis – he is born in chapter 25 and dies in chapter 49! He is a man well known to us by his deceitful name, Jacob, and God-given name, Israel. This study is going to focus on the earlier parts of his life and if you want to read them through in the weeks leading up to the Monday night zoom study, here are the Bible references for the main episodes of his life:

  1. Jacob is born (Genesis 25:19-26)
  2. The thing with the birth-right (Genesis 25:27-34)
  3. The thing with the blessing (Genesis 27:1-41)
  4. Jacob leaves home to find a wife (Genesis 27:42-28:5)
  5. Jacob has a vision of a stairway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22)
  6. The thing with Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29:1-30)
  7. The thing with the sheep (Genesis 30:25-43)
  8. Jacob leaves Laban (Genesis 31:1-55)
  9. Jacob prepares to meet Esau and prays (Genesis 32:1-21)
  10. Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32:22-32)
  11. Jacob and Esau are reunited (Genesis 33:1-20)

======

The life of Jacob is long with many twists and turns. Sometimes he behaves greedily. Sometimes he lies. Sometimes he prays. Sometimes he is cocky. Sometimes he is afraid. He is clearly not an example to follow, yet he is incredibly important because he is part of the family of God and a great-great-great-etc-grandfather of Jesus.

  • At his best, Jacob points to Christ.
  • At his worst, he points to us and our sinful nature.

(The entirety of this study is on GRACE PLACE)