This is today’s posting on ‘From the Deacon’s Desk’, a blog by Deacon Rick Wagner.  Well worth following!

Passion Defined

January 16, 2018

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As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?” (Mark 2:23-24)

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees are questioning the actions of Jesus and His disciples on the Sabbath.

Jesus tries to tell them, in both word and action, “You’re getting so caught up in words, rules, and laws that you are missing the truth.”

What He wants them to hear is, “I heal the sick. I restore sight to the blind. I teach about love. I teach about serving others. And here you are, telling us we are breaking the law of the Sabbath because we picked some grain to eat? You are missing the point entirely!”

Jesus was certainly passionate about His cause. He was willing to suffer and die in order for us to get the message.

I leave you with a few questions and a challenge:

What are you passionate about? What injustice do you see that needs to be addressed? Who is suffering and needs you to be their voice?

What are you doing about it? If you act, there is a chance you could make a positive impact. If you don’t act, there is no chance.

Image from Apologetics Press


A Deacon in Denver

Rev Jessica Foster, curate and Distinctive Deacon at St Peter’s Hall Green, Diocese of Birmingham UK, writes:

Many of the people we met in Denver, a city in Colorado, USA, wondered (some aloud) why an Anglican minister was part of a delegation from Birmingham, England to think about Countering Violent Extremism. I have to say, I also wondered why on earth I had been asked to join a group of law enforcers, academics, educators and council officials for the week-long exchange programme.

CVE is not my job or my area of expertise but building community is my passion.  Building relationships of trust that bridge perceived barriers has been my job and my vocation for the last seven years.

We need experts to support people who have been radicalised, to stop criminal activities and intercept those planning atrocities, but we all have a part to play in creating a culture in which hate has no traction. Prejudice, suspicion, fear and hatred come in many forms and drive people apart. While I was in Denver I found it shocking that many groups on a list of extremist organisations claimed to be Christian – some were White Supremacist groups, others specialised in vilifying LGBTI+ people, others were so vehemently pro-life they had become a threat.

I have not come across Christian hate groups in the UK, but I am sure some exist, and I know that the Christian Gospel has been misused over the centuries to justify violence and persecution. BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) people are still hugely under-represented in church leadership, and our unwillingness to welcome immigrants from the Caribbean into the Church of England continues to affect our relationships in this city.  I believe that the Gospel compels us to examine our own prejudices, to see each person as sacred, and to remove every obstacle which separates people from the love of God and from one another.

Supremacy on the streets of Charlottesville looked very ugly. Violent religious extremism on the streets of Barcelona wreaked senseless destruction. We need the experts, but we also need people of passion: people who have the fire of the love of God burning in their guts; people who are inspired by Jesus to love all their neighbours, and people who are compelled in the power of the Holy Spirit to risk relationship and build trust.

Love wins



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