Saturday, 24 March 2012

Laying on of Hands

If somebody says "Just wait 'til I get my hands on you," You know at that point, assuming they're bigger, it's time to head for the hills as fast as you can because they want to do you some harm (e.g. Es.3:6).

But it's not all bad. Since the dawn of time, people have been laying hands on each other to confer a blessing. In so doing, they share something they have with the person who is on the end of their arms. For example, outside the bubble of the secular West, fathers often confer inheritances (family wealth and authority) on their sons (e.g.Gen.27:26-27). The church is not unique in this practice. Many religions do the same kind of things for the ordination of their spiritual "elites." It is a very human behaviour.

But before you think I've gone all anthropotheic and liberal, let me say that humanity was made in the image of God not vice versa and that changes everything. We are not rational creatures, we are liturgical ones. We aren't here to define reality, but to reflect it - to reflect the reality of Heaven where Jesus lives with his Father in the fellowship of the Spirit (Matt.6:10).

A quick glance at the phrase lay hands in the Bible, reveals an interesting difference between the Old and New Testaments (covenants).

In the Old Testament, the laying on of hands was bad news. If someone lay their hands on you, you were about to get it in the neck - literally. You were about to die. Animals would be brought to God's appointed place of worship for sacrifice, the people would lay their hands on them and then slaughter them by slitting the throat so that the blood of the animal could be poured out.

However in the New Testament, the laying on of hands is no longer an "uh-oh!" moment and as a practice is actively pursued in the early church (2Tim.1:6). So it begs the question... What's changed?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Loving the Poor

Last night, a number of us gathered in the Church office to think through how to help poor people in other countries (What we learnt will probably apply here too in the not too distant future).

We were ably led by David Woolnough. We thought through a biblical response to the poor, God's heart for them and why our lives often don't live up to the radical nature of Jesus' commands.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Biblical Thinking Forum: Monday 19 March @7:30pm

As Reading Family Church grows, (God willing) we will have more opportunities to serve people overseas. The question is: what's the best way to do that kind of thing?

On Monday night, we'll be thinking through that very question. David Woolnough who has been working in this field for years now, in a number of contexts, will be providing us with examples of the good, the bad and the ugly from the world of "Aid" to get our thinking juices flowing and helping us to navigate through some the complexities that this issue throws up.

Do join us if you can.

Monday, 12 March 2012

When the Church Becomes a Hell Hole - Literally

An off shoot thought from the previous post:

I haven't seen the film associated with this picture, nor do I particularly care to, but it caught my attention as I walked through the arteries of the London underground, because it conveys a truth. Namely that there is an evil worse than "evil" and that is evil masquerading as good (2Cor.11:14).

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Turning Tables

I read the Parable of the 10 Minas this morning (Luke 19:11). The context of it in the flow of Luke's gospel shed new light on it that I had never noticed before. You're probably wondering what took me so long. Here are some thoughts in no particular order...


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Bible Instinct: The Seventy or the Seventy-Two?

A few days ago, my housemate said he was reading the commentary in his study bible on Luke 10:1. Apparently some of the original Greek manuscripts say that Jesus sent out 70 disciples to preach and heal in Israel and others say 72.

The study bible in question laid out some theories as to why this discrepancy came to be, but in classic "pleasing everyone and no-one" fashion gave no definitive answer. So, my housemate asked me if I knew anything on more it. 

I paused. 

No, I didn't know anything about that particular instance and why it might be thus. And then it struck me... Now I'm no formally qualified theologian, I haven't written any books and I don't have a cool theological name for this bog standard blog, but I do have a hunch as to why this might be so and (Heaven forbid) it wasn't mentioned in the commentary!