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We update our blog several times a week, with news and comment on ministry, theology, the Bible, liturgy and issues of the day.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 10 Dec 2018

Ros Clarke and Amanda Robbie discuss Phoebe by Paula Gooder

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 5 Dec 2018

The lectionary readings this week focus on the purity of the coming day of Jesus Christ.

This week’s readings are Malachi 3:1-4, Philippians 1:3-11, and Luke 3:1-6.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 3 Dec 2018

Ros talks to Ed Moll about the reasons for and different models of plural leadership within Anglican structures.

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Lee on the Lectionary: 1st Sunday of Advent (Year C) from Church Society on Vimeo.

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 28 Nov 2018

The beginning of Advent is upon us, the new liturgical year (Year C in the lectionary). Advent is a period of waiting and eager expectation in the Christian calendar. Strangely for many, however, we look forward at this point in the year not to Christmas and the celebration of the incarnation, but to the second coming of Christ in glory to judge the living and the dead.

This week’s readings are Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, and Luke 21:25-36.

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Posted by Chris Henderson, 27 Nov 2018

Chris Henderson reviews a new volume of Luther's sermons on the gospel readings for Advent and Christmas.

Sermons for Advent and Christmas Day, Martin Luther (Peabody: Hendrickson)

Cover of Sermons for Advent and Christmas Day

This is ‘Luther on the Lectionary,’ the first of three volumes from Hendrickson, with this volume comprising six expository studies on lectionary readings from the Gospels for Advent and Christmas. These have been selected from Luther’s Church Postils, which were produced to help pastors in the preparation of their own preaching. The readings in this volume are in very close alignment with the 1662 Book of Common Prayer readings, and close enough to the Church of England Common Worship lectionary to be of significant help there, though of course the themes which emerge from these sermons will stimulate thinking for preaching throughout these seasons.

As someone who has read a bit of Luther, though a tiny percentage of the whole, and as someone who feels that one cannot get to know a theologian better than through their preaching, I enjoyed this volume thoroughly. There were some surprises; for instance, I had no idea that Luther would make extensive use of allegorical interpretations, (headed ‘The spiritual interpretation of this Gospel’). Not every sermon has such a section, and they vary in length, but it is at the very least entertaining to see how such a methodology takes on a Lutheran edge. I did not realise, for example, that every time a star falls, it signifies that someone has just become a priest, a monk, or a nun! (from the sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent).

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 26 Nov 2018

Bookings are now open for the 2019 Fellowship of Word and Spirit Conference

The authoritative truth of the Word of God is one of the ‘givens’ for an evangelical faith, and yet is in danger of being taken for granted! 

In public worship, a concern to have Scriptures read and shape liturgy beyond preaching is often second to discussions of music or style. In discipleship, with a growing dependence on off-the-shelf courses or notes, personal engagement with God’s Word can be neglected. In engaging with the wider world, Scripture’s challenges to prevailing culture can risk being muted or evaded. In theology, the Bible’s clarity and authority is often questioned and diminished.

Two questions about Scripture which the church has always grappled with refuse to go away:  how should we describe what the Bible is, and what does that mean for the ways in which we should go about interpreting it?  In Reformed circles those questions are often now being asked with regard to something that’s come to be called the ‘theological interpretation of Scripture’.  evangelical belief about and practice with Scripture has been too strongly influenced by Enlightenment thought and should be corrected by recovering some pre-Reformation approaches to Scripture.  In our main sessions, Revd Dr Tim Ward will be helping us to dig into some of this thought and consider its implications for ministry in the here and now.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 26 Nov 2018

In the latest of our series getting to know some of the Church Society Trust parishes, Ros talks to Ed Moll, vicar of St George's Wembdon.

Ros chats to Ed Moll, vicar of St George’s Wembdon about preparing for big changes in a parish and finding ways to reach out to a local community.

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Posted by Sally Orwin Lee, 23 Nov 2018

Sally Orwin Lee looks at biblical counselling, what it is and how it can help the local church in this article from the Summer 2014 edition of Crossway.

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘counselling’? Perhaps you’re reminded of listening in to traumatic events in the news. Those affected are ‘receiving counselling’. You may be reminded of sitting in a small office on a comfy beige chair opposite a very kind person who listens in empathically with a box of tissues to hand. Such might have been the student counselling service when you were at university. What about Freud’s couch? Or the neurotic hero or heroine of a Woody Allen film who can’t quite get life together: Blue Jasmine perhaps?

As a biblical counsellor I often meet with suspicion. Counselling is about victimhood, isn’t it? Or mental illness, and this calls for a psychiatrist or a psychologist, not a well-meaning religious counsellor telling a troubled person to read their Bible more often and pray harder: ‘The words of the Bible don’t seem to mean very much… and my friend has given up on prayer.’

Counselling is a loaded term
I often find I’m answering the question, ‘What is biblical counselling?’ with what it is not. It’s an unsatisfactory place to begin, but it’s necessary because people want to know that biblical counselling is reliable, that it will do what they perceive counselling is designed to do. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy has the following definition: ‘Counselling and psychotherapy are umbrella terms that cover a range of talking therapies. They are delivered by trained practitioners who work with people over a short or long term to help them bring about effective change or enhance their wellbeing.’

For example, we might think of a friend having panic attacks. He goes to the GP to get some anti-anxiety medication to deal with the physiological aspects of panic and to be referred
for talking therapy to help them deal with the psychological aspects of their predicament. These may all be helpful things to do, so why would anyone need or want to talk with a biblical counsellor about panic attacks? Secular counselling or therapy may have helped them feel better by diagnosing the problem and giving them strategies that help them deal with the panic – but they still struggle to make sense of it as a Christian believer.

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Lee on the Lectionary: Sunday next before Advent (Year B) from Church Society on Vimeo.

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Posted by Lee Gatiss, 21 Nov 2018

This week’s Sunday readings encourage patient faith by showing us that the kingdom of Christ and of God is a kingdom that is not of this world, but one which endures forever.

This week’s lectionary readings are Daniel 7:9-14, Revelation 1:4-8, and John 18:33-37.

You can follow along with these video expositions on the Lee on the Lectionary Facebook page. We also tweet the video link every Sunday morning at 6am for those who like a morning exposition of the word to begin the week. Follow us @churchsociety.

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Posted by Ros Clarke, 19 Nov 2018

Marc Lloyd talks to Ros about the particular challenges and opportunities of multi-parish ministry in a small rural benefice.

Three churches, three PCCs, three times the work? Marc Lloyd talks about his experience as Rector of Warbleton, Dallington and Bodle Street Green in East Sussex.

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