Dietrich Bonhoeffer

What can we learn from his life?

Read & Reflect: Read Mark 8:31-38.
Bonhoeffer was a German pastor and theologian, who wrote, spoke and acted against the evil of the Nazi regime.
Bonhoeffer was executed by Nazis in 1945, having been put in a concentration camp. He believed strongly that we should imitate Christ and that the church must at all times be involved in opposing evil, even when this might prove so very costly.

Bonhoeffer wrote: “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”. He wrote and talked about suffering as we really follow Jesus – and Bonhoeffer did this to the extent of being killed as he followed Christ.

Respond: Hateful politics have a louder voice in our world today. What are we, as Christians, going to do about this?

Corrie Ten Boom

What can we learn from her life?

Read & Reflect:
Isaiah 58 & Joshua 2 Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian from the Netherlands who, with her family, hid many Jewish people in the Second World War and enabled some to escape to freedom. Consequently, she was sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis.

Respond:
Corrie Ten Boom was inspired through her Christian faith to take massive risks for people who were hated by many. She showed love in action. In our daily lives we hopefully do not face such big risks…but are there things we
can do this week to help other people, that at the very least cost us something?

Great Cloud of Witnesses:

Shiprah & Puah What can we learn from their lives?

Read & Reflect: Exodus 1

Respond: At the beginning of the book of Exodus, the Bible tells us that the ruler of Egypt decrees that all Hebrew boys must be killed by the midwife delivering the baby. Two such midwives are named, Shiprah and Puah. They take a stand and refuse to do this. “But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.” (1:17)

Faced with evil, what do we do? How do we support what is right? How do we stand up for God’s way?

From the Minister

This month, I am using someone else’s words. I am so concerned about the climate emergency that we are causing and was struck by this article by Andrew Horton from the Christian charity, Tearfund.

“You may have heard of Greta Thunberg, the impassioned young activist who is pushing to change the way we view our planet. If you haven’t, it’s probably worth your time to listen up.

Sometimes we need to stop and learn and listen to the wisdom of young people – after all, they are the generation who will inherit the world in which we live. As Paul encouraged his protege Timothy: ‘Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.’ (1 Tim 4:12).

Sixteen-year-old Greta wants to change the way we think and speak about the damage we’re causing to the world. She says: ‘You can’t solve an emergency without treating it like an emergency’. And on 1 May, that’s what MPs in Westminster did, making history by passing a Commons motion declaring an ‘environment and climate change emergency’.

It makes the UK the first nation in the world to declare a climate emergency. And with cyclones tearing through nations, droughts destroying crops and livelihoods, species becoming extinct, and plastic waste choking our sea life, it’s a move which can’t come soon enough.
Meanwhile, a new UN report reveals 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction. As the BBC put it: ‘The devastating impact of humans on nature is laid bare.’

And then there are the more tangible, visible manifestations. Cyclones are becoming more intense due to this climate emergency. In recent weeks, Idai, Kenneth, and Fani have all destroyed lives, homes, and businesses in southern Africa, India and Bangladesh. This is an example of how the changing climate is physically pushing people into the grip of poverty.

During his lifetime on earth, Jesus challenged people, systems and structures that created injustice. Our faith is a response to the good news of the gospel and it demands a response in the way we live. This includes challenging the systems and issues that keep people trapped in poverty, including this climate emergency.

So, what are you and I going to do? What can we do as a church? How will we change what we use and how we use it? How can we make a positive difference? We can campaign and join with thousands of others on 26 June to tell our MP how much we care about the devastating effects of the changing climate on the world’s poorest people:

But we also need to change the way we act and think about the way that our choices can destroy the lives of others thousands of miles away.

And, of course, we can pray:

Creator God,
The earth is filled with your glory (Habakkuk 2:14) and yet we have not reflected your goodness to us in the way we’ve treated it.
Forgive us, Lord. Help us to respond quickly and effectively to this climate emergency we’ve brought upon ourselves. Help us to realise the consequences our actions have for our global neighbours, and to be good stewards of our beautiful world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

God bless.

Gerard.

From the Minister

For our anniversary service in April our speaker was Steve Bagnall from Birmingham City Mission. Steve spoke with gentle power both about his experience of homelessness and his work with homeless people. These themes were entwined with his story of becoming a Christian.
And there it is: there is no separation of faith and action as we pursue the path that Jesus has laid before us. Worshipping together is good and is vital but it is “a clanging cymbal” if we do not have love in it and we do not act to serve others, especially those who our society and our whole planet put at the bottom of our pecking order.

So for my part, it feels absolutely right that this month we support the work of Christian Aid through the Big Brekkie (Saturday 11th May), Circle the City (Saturday 18th May) and our usual door to door collection. It feels absolutely right that the Midland Opera concert on the 25th May is raising money for our Fellowship Fund. It feels right that we begin a 2 week series of Bible Studies on Wednesday 1st May on the theme of homelessness.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Jesus of Nazareth speaks as recorded in Matthew 25:35-36.

God bless.

Gerard.