God has created us with meaning and purpose, with dignity and value – in His image. But for what? – We inhabit a world designed, created, nurtured and sustained by Almighty God, to whom we are accountable for the way we steward His good earth.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idolor swear by a false god.” (Psalm 24:1-4)
Jared Kushner’s long awaited “Deal of the Century” aspires to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians through $28 billion of investment in the Palestinian economy. Previous international initiatives have proposed exchanging land for peace. This US initiative, appropriately called “Peace to Prosperity”, unashamedly proposes trading land for money. In this regard, Kushner’s “deal” actually has strong biblical precedent. In Genesis 25 we read of how Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of stew.
It takes great humility to find oneself unjustly condemned and to be silent, and to do this is to imitate our Lord. The truly humble person will have a genuine desire to be thought little of, and persecuted, and condemned unjustly, even in serious matters.
You know that I deprecate excessive penances; here, however, there is no cause for fear that your health will suffer. The interior virtues do not weaken the body, but strengthen the soul.
Remember how the Lord took the Magdalen’s part in the Pharisee’s house, and when her sister blamed her. On the cross, He had only a thief to defend Him. Be glad when you are blamed, and you will see what profit you experience in your souls.
In this way you will begin to gain freedom. It is difficult at first, but with the Lord’s help, the gradual attainment of this freedom, and of renunciation and self-detachment, is quite possible.
The Way of Perfection, chapter 15 Saint Teresa of Avila
Modern English Version translated and abridged by John Venard OCD
We support refugees and asylum seekers in Southampton. One particular asylum seeker was advised by the Home Office that she and her family would be rehoused to another city. We helped clean the rented property after they had gone and returned the key to the landlord via the estate agent.
As the family were to be housed temporarily in a hostel by the Home Office until permanent accommodation was found, we gave our home address to the estate agent in case any mail needed forwarding to the family. Big mistake.
First of all, I received a letter from Southampton City Council stating that I was no longer required to pay Council Tax and that our direct debit had been cancelled. The euphoria was short lived when I received an identical envelope from the Council addressed to the asylum seeker at our address.
It took a month of writing letters and phone calls to Southampton City Council to convince them that we had not moved and that the asylum seeking family did not live at our address, indeed they had never even visited our home. It took another month for the Direct Debit to recommence. I asked who had advised them that we had moved. No answer.
Then guess what? Today, I received a letter addressed the the asylum seeker at our address from Southern Water. Here we go again. Was it the estate agent? If so, were they under some kind of legal obligation to notify the local Council and utility providers of the forwarding address for the asylum seeker?
I am now half expecting to receive letters from our telephone, gas and electricity providers addressed to the asylum seeker as well.
And to make matters a little more confusing still, the letters were addressed to the partner of the asylum seeker whom I’ve never met and who has lived and worked abroad for some while.
Photo taken in the Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine
I once heard someone say, that daily prayer and scripture is as important for a new mother, as milk is to a baby. I knew it would bring much-needed life and nourishment to my tired being. Life with two little ones has been quite a shock to the system, to say the least. No antenatal course quite prepares you for the requirement of such a total sacrifice of your body and self. The vulnerability, pressure to avoid mistakes and harassment of expectations is often overwhelming as I would fret over my attempts to “sort my life out”, portray an appearance of success, pursue professional dreams, grapple endless to-do lists, toddler-going-teen tantrums and navigate commitments to my family. In a season where I didn’t have the time for many words, I longed for a tangible assurance of God’s presence. But carving out time for myself to shower or eat, let alone have quiet times has felt quite impossible. Daily brain fog becomes the norm on better days or sleeps deprived migraines on others. At times I even struggled to string thoughts together talking to friends.
We thank God for Richard Bewes, for his biblical teaching, his inspirational books and his pastoral heart. We were honoured to have Richard and Pam as members of Christ Church, Virginia Water since 2013. It was a privilege to have Richard join our preaching team and mentor several of our staff team. Richard also helped launch Peacemaker Trust in May 2017. He was a valued and respected member of the Peacemaker’s International Board of Reference. Continue reading →
Middlesex University has recently made available my PhD thesis online. The thesis was later adapted for a book published by Intervarsity Press in English, Arabic, Spanish and Farsi. Although originally submitted in 2002, the thesis is as relevant today as it was then, covering the historical roots, theological basis and political consequences of Christian Zionism since 1800.
Zion’s Christian Soldiers is now available on Kindle
“Few themes in biblical studies could be as important. Christian Zionism has brought to the church an interpretation of Israel and the Bible that future generations will criticize harshly. It is every Christian’s obligation to understand what they are saying and how it should be evaluated. Writing in a style that is accessible to everyone — and a passion that is sure to ignite strong responses — Sizer outlines the landscape of the problem and its solution.” Professor Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament, Department of Biblical & Theological Studies, Wheaton College & Graduate School (author of Whose Land, Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians)
Israel, Palestine, the Promised Land, the Holy Land, the very name we use says as much about us and our presuppositions and aspirations as about this inscrutable, hypnotic, exotic location. Historically the birthplace of the Judeo-Christian heritage, it is today claimed by two peoples, the Jews and Palestinians, its holy sites shared, at times uneasily, by three religions, Jewish, Christian and Moslem, often in close proximity as at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem or the tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem. Baraba Tuchman summarises some of the reasons why this place holds such fascination to so many,
More blood has been shed for Palestine than for any other spot on earth. To Protestant England it was not only, as Lord Curzon said, “the holiest space of ground on the face of the globe,” the land of the Scriptures, the land of the Crusades, the land “to which all our faces are turned when we are finally laid in our graves in the churchyard.” It was also the geographical junction between East and West, the bridge-head between three continents, the focal point in the strategy of empire…
Few countries attract so much media coverage, or arouse such intense religious feeling and political controversy. Yet it has been the same for countless generations. Why have people for millennia, longed to live here, or make a pilgrimage to this land? What is the fascination this land has over so many people around the world?