What connects preaching, poltergeists and pacifism? The answer is my week, which has been such an enriching and exciting one.
Lay Preach! I was privileged to be part of the team assessing the service of someone seeking national accreditation as a lay preacher. It was privilege because we have people offering themselves to lead worship, because people are prepared to be trained and equipped for such service, and because we have a good structure to test out someone’s call and maintain the highest standards for our Lord Jesus. Thanks for letting me be part of that!
Laying ghosts! On Friday I joined others at the Northern Deliverance Ministry gathering at Durham, twice a year drawing together psychiatrists and doctors, chaplains and counsellors, advisers and practitioners in deliverance ministry, folk from across Scotland and Northern England. We live in a time when more than ever people are believing in and experiencing the supernatural, whatever that may be. When anyone comes into our churches and seeks help about the supernatural, it is unhelpful simply to dismiss this as something we don’t believe in any more. And it is even more worrying to rush into exorcising demons from everyone and everywhere. We need to learn from our sister denominations who have much more experience of deliverance ministry and have robust structures for support and training. We also need to develop safeguarding procedures and to work closely with professionals.
Lay down like a lion! Thursday I attended a conference “Subversive Peacemakers.” This is the title of a book by Clive Barrett, a well-respected author and advocate within the Christian Peace Movement. The day was exciting as Clive was in conversation with James Coleman, Yorkshire Synod Development Officer, who has served as a chaplain in both the air force and army, and lectures in chaplaincy. What we got was far from superficial argument between warmongery and naïve pacifism – but an informed and challenging dialogue to help shape our response to become effective peacemakers for Christ. We explored conscience, remembrance and peace-making. Once again I was struck by the rich tapestry of experience and opinions, and how Christians do not have to be afraid of contradictory views, but find the mind of Christ by engaging with scripture, recognising our own conscience, listening to the experience of the Church for 2000 years, and discerning God at work in today’s world.