Thank you Jonathan

by Nicholas Henderson
from Signs of the Times No 51 - Oct 2013

I fancy that when Jonathan took over as General Secretary from me just under twelve years ago, it was fortuitously a case of ‘Cometh the hour – cometh the man’ – ladies please forgive the unreformed language.

It’s a strange saying without true provenance although John 4:23 has ‘But the hour cometh, and now is’ and a William Yancey, said about Jefferson Davis, President-elect of the Confederacy in 1861: ‘The man and the hour have met’. Alas, neither of those analogies are suitable to Jonathan, the first he would modestly dismiss as he would consider himself unworthy of such a comparison and the second came from an avid defender of slavery before the American Civil War – which certainly would not represent the Jonathan who has spent so much time and energy defending the rights of minorities (and, in the case of women in the Church, suppressed majorities).

Read more ...

A theology of encounter

by Lorraine Cavanagh
from Signs of the Times No 51 - Oct 2013

Pass the parcel is an excellent ice breaker – at least for children’s parties.

Properly timed it serves a number of purposes simultaneously. While the parcel is being passed, everyone who is not holding it has time to get their bearings socially. Who are my friends here? Possibly not the person on my left, but maybe the one on my right. When the parcel lands on me I need to shed a layer of wrapping as quickly as possible while at the same time hoping that I’ll be lucky enough to land on the last layer and take home the much coveted prize, usually rather small and somewhat disappointing given the collective effort involved in unwrapping it. It is also a game of calculation and forethought, so it helps to know the music that is being played while the parcel is going round. Knowing the music allows you to control the game to a certain extent. You know when the pauses are likely to come and can time your own hold on the diminishing parcel accordingly.

Read more ...

Making sense of the Eucharist

by Jeyan Anketell
from Signs of the Times no 51 - Oct 2013

This is a belated attempt to continue the discussion, begun initially by Graham Hellier and Anthony Woollard nearly three years ago.

We will all have come to our own particular understanding of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, over and above the basic teaching of the Church; that in this service we are in a special way united in communion with Jesus Christ, with God, or with each other. Many of us will have a deep emotional attachment to our own particular understanding. This is one person’s attempt to come to an understanding of the intent and meaning of the Eucharist, without wishing to cause offence to anyone else.

I was taught that the Eucharist is a sacrament, an outward sign of an inward and spiritual grace given to us. The outward signs are the bread and the wine. The inward parts are the body and blood of Christ, which are really present, given and received; and that our souls are strengthened and refreshed by Christ’s body and blood, just as our bodies are by the bread and the wine.

Read more ...

The burning fiery furnace

Editorial by Anthony Woollard
from Signs of the Times No. 51 - Oct 2013

The heat was intense. The weather for our Annual Conference is usually good, but this year took the biscuit.

Some eighty people, not all of them members of Modern Church, sweltered through three days of debate. This summer has certainly made it easier to believe in global warming. And, as the environment was at the core of our debates, and speaker after speaker (some of them truly outstanding) took us through the facts and their implications, we became ever more aware of the heated urgency of action. I am sure that most of those attending have subsequently taken such action, whether on the political or the local/practical level or both.

Read more ...