This October, we are running a series called Hot Topics in which we will be looking together at some very difficult, complex and contentious issues. Be warned – these are likely to be challenging for us, as we are unlikely to agree about everything and frankly, I’d be amazed if we do! I do hope though, that we can disagree well (where we do disagree) and agree completely on some over-arching Biblical principles, most especially Jesus’s command that we should “love one another as I have loved you.”
This will be a test for us. Do we really believe we are to love one another as Jesus loves his disciples?
Here’s what’s coming up –
Sunday 3rd October: “A Multitude of Sins” (Racial Justice)
Sunday 10th October: “Nobody’s Perfect” (Disability Issues)
Sunday 17th October: “Baby, Baby, Baby” (Abortion – Guest Speaker)
Sunday 24th October (inter-generational service): “Climate Control” (Climate Change)Next year, we hope to revisit the specific issue of climate change in a bit more depth than our inter-gen format allows, and we may even persuade former BU President Rev. Dave Gregory (a.k.a. Messy Church Does Science’s “Dr. Dave”, who is a familiar face to EBCers of a certain vintage!) to come and speak at that one! (I’ve already ‘tapped him up’!)
Also next year, we plan to be exploring issues around sexuality, another hot topic that will be challenging for us to consider together.
For this upcoming series in October, I’ll be preaching on the first two topics, and making the observation that opinions vary. Depending on our perspectives, we may even look at the facts together, agree that they ARE facts but still arrive at different views. Sometimes that will depend on our personal experiences, sometimes even on our knowledge and understanding of Scripture!
For the third topic, abortion, we will be having a guest speaker, Dave Brennan, coming to us from an organisation called Brephos (which is Greek for baby). This has come about really because Rob Lea and I both watched Dave being interviewed by the well-known evangelist, Canon J. John. We were both startled by what Dave had to say and felt compelled to ask Dave to come to EBC, to which he gladly agreed. You can watch that interview here – it lasts just under 30 mins.
However, forewarned is forearmed. This is obviously a deeply sensitive issue for many people, and Dave has a very strong message. He argues that he does not need to protest against abortion, but rather he just presents some facts and figures and lets abortion protest itself. But the facts, figures (and sometimes images) Dave may ask us to consider will be upsetting and some will find his language emotive. Please don’t say nobody warned you – this is me warning you, as gently as I can, that some of us will find this difficult.
As with the other topics, it’s likely we won’t all agree about everything either. In preparing for my talk on racial justice, that much has become readily apparent to me and I’ll be sharing some of the facts and some of the opinions I’ve heard on that topic in recent months. Even on disability issues, opinions can vary, and our understanding of Scripture can vary. However, our understanding of what disability is, and how we should respond when we encounter people with disabilities (assuming we even know they have one) will hopefully be shaped by our reflecting together on Jesus’s teaching and example.
In running this series then, the intention is not to provoke division, or even to establish total agreement on everything, but rather to provoke careful thought, reflection and perhaps, a change in the way we look at other people’s opinions. Above all, I hope we’ll end up agreeing that we can disagree well on some matters but still agree to speak of and to each other (and other people) with love. “Love one another as I have loved you”, is, I hope, a commandment from Jesus that we can all agree on.
Hope to see you soon.
Romans 12: 9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honouring each other.