Nigel Uden, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, shares how reading fuelled a rediscovery of the real song of Easter
This is Holy Week – the week of weeks. Throughout my ministry, Holy Week has been preceded by a season of slightly anxious wondering about what to say around the events of Calvary and the empty tomb. Always, some reading helps.
This year, I was assisted by a senior colleague offering a comment upon the sermon I had preached at a funeral. I had suggested that the empty tomb was crucial as an image of God’s reliably resurrected love, for the deceased and for those who mourn. I suppose I was saying that, in the inextinguishable light of the empty tomb, those who had sought to defeat that love were seen to have been foiled. Concerned that I was understating the cross, my correspondent reminded me of the work of Scottish theologian PT Forsyth, who 110 years ago published The Cruciality of the Cross.
After a journey out of more liberal thought, Forsyth wrote:
Only if [we] hold that in the atoning cross of Christ the world was redeemed by holy God once for all, that there, and only there, sin was judged and broken, that there and only there the race was reconciled and has its access to the face and grace of God – only then [have we] the genius and plerophory* of the Gospel. Continue reading
Derek Estill, Moderator of the United Reformed Church General Assembly, on Lent, and his other commitments in March
During Lent, I often need to take time to consider my own spirituality. This year, in addition, and mindful of needing to try and make a difference, I signed up to one of the ‘Living Lent’ campaign challenges by giving up meat during Lent. Led by the Joint Public Issues Team (Jpit), Living Lent, as many of you will know, is about creating a climate of change.
This Jpit initiative is a great way of catching people’s imagination to be a catalyst for action in changing our climate meteorologically and spiritually. So far so good – I am managing to keep myself focused on both these objectives.
Standing with Muslims
Did you take the opportunity to have a look around your local mosque on national Visit My Mosque Day (3 March 2019)? I was able to go to a mosque not far from the church I am a member of, with friends. During my visit, I was able to affirm and say to local Muslims that though we have real differences, we have a lot in common. Building good community relationships by finding out a little bit more about each other, and non-Christian faiths, is a good thing to do. As we know, Jesus was clear about reaching out to all communities and is a prefect role model for us in this troubled world. Such interfaith experiences help me to build confidence in speaking to others about my own faith, and I know that people from other faiths appreciate that. Continue reading
Arriving for an early March visit to United Reformed Church House in London’s Tavistock Place, I was stopped in my tracks. The walk from Kings Cross station takes one through an estate of unexceptional flats, but as I emerged to approach our offices, the winter-despatching sight of cherry blossom was a joy. It punctuated the urban scene with prettiness, it enhanced the 1950s building and it lifted my spirits.
It also alerted me to how different a superficial image can be from the reality inside. As I enjoyed the pink prunus blooms, I recalled the internal remedial works taking place inside Church House. A year or so back, building works took place to transform of Church House. But since then, further works have been needed to correct issues with the basement. This work has been essential and unavoidable. Although disruptive to the working conditions of many of our staff, they have worked on, uncomplainingly, and to great effect. From a moderator’s vantage point, I find myself impressed and grateful in equal measure for all our staff, some of whom have had to steer the project for far longer than it was ever anticipated to last, and others of whom have borne its not inconsiderable consequences whilst maintaining their work so fruitfully. Continue reading