Statements of Support from Sabeel-Kairos UK & Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

Sabeel-Kairos UK unequivocally stands in support and solidarity with the Revd. Dr. Stephen Sizer as he defends himself in a Bishops Disciplinary Tribunal this month. As a trustee of Sabeel-Kairos UK we have no evidence or reason to believe in the accusations of antisemitism brought against Stephen. As an organization we stand against any form of racism, be that antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise, and believe firmly that Stephen holds to these principles too.

We share Stephen’s concern and desire to see justice and equality become a reality in the Holy Land. These accusations of antisemitism raise significant concerns for us about the use of the IHRA definition to silence genuine concern and criticism of the Israeli government’s policies of oppression of the Palestinian people, now clearly evidenced as crimes of apartheid under international law, by respected international human rights organisations.

We sincerely hope that justice prevails in this trial, that Stephen’s name is cleared, and he receives adequate recompense for the distress he has endured.

Sabeel-Kairos UK Board of Trustees and staff members, May 2022.

Source: Sabeel-Kairos UK


#StandWithStephen

Our dear friend Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer is facing spurious accusations, yet again, in response to his tireless advocacy for Palestinian human rights and brilliant scholarship on the historical and theological influence of Christian Zionism.

His very future as an Anglican vicar is at stake, as he is set to face a Church of England tribunal (held Monday 23 – Friday 27 May 2022) arising from a complaint made by the Board of Deputies of British Jews against Stephen in 2018. The Tribunal will be held at St. Andrew’s Church Centre Holborn, Central London.

In the words of Dr. Gary M. Burge: “Stephen, you have single handedly done more to change this conversation about Christian Zionism than anyone I know.”

The truth is that while Stephen has been somewhat of a lightning rod for cynical accusations of anti-Semitism, this could be any of us. As such, we must not shrink from such accusations as they come, but stand together in solidarity for truth and justice. 

Source: Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)

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Palestinians and Israelis: A Short History of Conflict – A Review

Michael Scott-Baumann’s book on the history of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is the most useful I have read in a very long while. The book is a literary equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife. In 258 pages, broken up into ten easy to read chapters, the author provides much more than a concise history of the conflict. The value of the book is enhanced significantly by the inclusion of an index, a helpful glossary of key terms and people, a chronological time line and a bibliography for further study. The book will also prove useful for interactive group discussion as each chapter begins with key questions answered and concludes with personal testimonies to illustrate the human impact of the conflict. 

Over seventy years old, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is now the longest unresolved dispute in the hands of the United Nations. It is also the subject of more UN Resolutions than any other dispute in the world. Michael Scott-Baumann’s book explains the reasons why and puts in context the futile attempts at resolving the conflict, or indeed to diffuse the simmering tensions which all too frequently erupt in violence and death, invariably of Palestinian civilians.

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The Book of the Covenant: A Very Good Book

Originally published in 2013.

This evening I read Nick Howard’s delightful new book, The Book of the Covenant, published by the aptly named Good Book Company. It is indeed a good read. Nick provides a simple, clear, easy to understand, overview of the entire Bible, tracing the unfolding story of God’s covenant relationship with his people.

Each chapter includes copious scripture quotations, lively contemporary illustrations and a helpful application section called ‘Life Lessons’. Important sentences are printed in bold for emphasis. Footnotes are kept to a minimum.

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The Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership: An Interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis

An interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis, First Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Alexandria, about the launch of the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo this week. The vision is to promote peace and harmony between faith communities through more understanding of faiths, cultures and through working together for the common good.

The Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt played an important role in the drafting of the interfaith agreement between the Anglican Communion and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, signed in 2002 at Lambeth Palace in London. Since then, the Diocese and Al-Azhar have worked together on many community projects through Egypt, and have arranged and participated in an annual dialogue meeting. 

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Conflict or Convivencia?

With friends at the launch of the Convivencia Alliance In London last Sunday – from Jewish Network for Palestine (JNP), Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), One Democratic State (ODS), Kairos Palestine, Naturei Karta and Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

This was my presentation at the launch of the Convivencia Alliance:

I have been looking forward to this day for a very long time. I became very excited when I read the first draft of the Convivencia Declaration. My dream has always been of seeing Jews, Muslims and Christians work together to bring justice, peace and reconciliation in Palestine. Why? Because, if with God’s help we can achieve peace in Palestine, we can achieve it anywhere.

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Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Winchester: The Revd Dr Stephen Sizer

The above Tribunal will be held Monday 23 – Friday 27 May 2022 arising from a complaint made by the Board of Deputies of British Jews against the Revd Dr Stephen Sizer in 2018. The Tribunal will be held at St Andrew’s Church Centre Holborn, Central London. If you wish to attend for one day or more, please RSVP to Mr Darren Oliver, the Registrar of Tribunals, as seating is limited. His email address is: doliver@wslaw.co.uk

A previous complaint by the Board of Deputies was resolved by conciliation in 2013. See below for further information about the previous complaint and its resolution:

Response to the Complaint of Misconduct from Stephen Sizer
Letters of Support
Conciliation Agreement

Convivencia Alliance Launch: Sunday 8 May

New Middle East peace initiative seeks to harness spirit of Spanish Golden Age.

You are invited to the public launch of the Convivencia Alliance on Sunday, 8 May 2022 at 2pm, P21 Gallery, 21 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD.

Speakers include: Mr. Awad Abd Al-Fattah, (One Democratic State, Palestine), Prof. Haim Bresheeth (Jewish Network for Palestine), Prof. Jeff Halper (ICAHD Israel), Rifat Odeh Kassis, (Kairos Palestine, Jerusalem), Mr. Massoud Shadjareh (Islamic Human Rights Commission), Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer, Ms. Naomi Wimborne Idrissi and Prof. Ramón Grosfoguel (University of California, Berkeley)

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Easter Sunday: Jesus is Risen! 

Empty-Tomb-Picture-09

Do you realise the very first person to see the risen Lord Jesus, the first person to respond to him and the first person to tell the good news to others, was not one of the Apostles, but Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene appears in all four Gospel accounts of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

From these we learn that Mary Magdalene became a friend and follower of Jesus after he cast out seven demons from her. She was present during Jesus’ trial (Matthew 27:45). She was there at the Crucifixion (John 19:25).She watched Joseph of Arimathea bury Jesus (Luke 23:56).

And on Easter Sunday she and some other women were the first to discover the stone had been rolled away (John 20:1), first to meet the risen Lord Jesus (John 20:15-16) first to tell the disbelieving disciples the good news (John 20:18).

Surprisingly, it was also Mary and some other women who supported Jesus financially from their income. This tells us something about the value Jesus placed on women. Jesus recruited and traveled with both men and women followers. That was unheard of. When we think of the disciples we tend to imagine the 12 male Apostles, but Jesus drew around him both men and women, into one extended family of sisters and brothers. In this Jesus was very radical. It was the custom that women would only travel with their families. In the Easter story, the Apostle John gives us the fullest account of Mary’s role. As we read John 20 together I want to make three observations about Mary: About her heart, about her mind and about her will.

  1. The Devotion of Mary (John 20:1-2)

“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (John 20:1-2)

While the disciples were sleeping, Mary was not only awake but working. It was still dark when she went to the tomb. After the disciples had found the tomb empty and went home, it was Mary who stayed behind. She was the first and the last at the tomb of Jesus. That’s devotion. She stood by Jesus through the most difficult of times and her devotion persisted even in his death. Remember that when Mary went to the tomb, she did not expect to meet Jesus.

She expected to find a dead body that needed to be prepared for burial. She acted out of devotion even to his memory. What does the word ‘devotion’ mean to you? Is that a word you would use to describe your faith? Are we willing to serve without being asked? When no one is looking? When its inconvenient? When we don’t feel like it? Can we serve when our prayers go unanswered? When our hopes have been dashed? When we don’t have all the answers? Do we serve our sisters and brothers ultimately out of devotion to Jesus? Mary was devoted. The Devotion of Mary.

The Emotion of Mary (John 20:10-15)

“Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? “Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” (John 20:10-15)

Look at verse 10. You might think there is nothing remarkable in those words. But stop and think for a moment what they have just witnessed. The tomb is empty.

The grave clothes which a few days before were wrapped with spices around the body of the Lord Jesus are now lying exactly where they had laid His body. And we read that the men… ‘went home.’ ‘They went home.’  Maybe they thought ‘what else can we do?’ Now look at what Mary does – John tells us (20:11), she remains at the tomb weeping.

Her grief at the loss of her Lord is compounded now by the loss of His body. This was the last place she had seen His broken, dead body and she will not move from it. The loss of His body is the final indignity. Even her grief has been violated and she weeps. The emotional turmoil of the last days overwhelms her and she breaks down and weeps at the sight of the empty tomb. Yet despite her grief (20:12) she plucks up the courage to look into the tomb for herself and what a sight she is met with. He had died between two thieves. Now two angels sit where his head and feet should be.  Between them are the empty grave clothes declaring His resurrection. In verse 13 we read that they ask her a simple question: “Woman, why are you crying?”  From the angel’s perspective, tears of grief on this Easter morning were totally inappropriate. But for Mary they are the only way to express her grief. Through tear stained cheeks and grief strained voice she replies: “They have taken my Lord.” Whoever ‘they’ are, they are now her enemies because they have taken ‘her Lord’ from her. There is a simple lesson here. Anything that takes you from the presence of the Lord Jesus, is your enemy. “I don’t know where to find Him.” Do you know where to find him? Mary didn’t, but Jesus knew exactly where to find her. Mary immediately became aware of someone behind her and turning round thinks its the gardener. Jesus asks her the very same question as the angels, “Why are you crying?” and adds a second, “Who are you looking for?” She is courteous, even in her grief.

She asks where they have taken His body so that she may get it back. How ironic she asks the very person who is responsible for the tomb being empty. “I am the resurrection” said Jesus, and he is. How often we too can find life in the midst of what we thought was death – because Jesus is there. It is often only when we express our deepest pain and emotion, that we truly encounter Jesus. Mary was there alone because she chose to be.

She was there because her heart was broken. The devotion of Mary and the emotion of Mary. 

3. The Submission of Mary (John 20:16-18)

“Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:16-18)

Jesus utters just one word – ‘Mary’ and instantly, her eyes are opened to who it is who stands before. In John 10, Jesus promised, the good Shepherd calls “his own sheep by name and leads them out… His sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4). Jesus simply calls her by name ‘Mary’ and her shattered soul is transformed.

Her broken world is put together again. It was her own name spoken by Jesus which opened her eyes to the truth of the resurrection. When Jesus calls His sheep He always calls us by name. The call from Jesus is always personal.

Mary falls at His feet and clings on to him. She will not let go. She will not lose him again. Then comes the gentlest of rebukes. Jesus tells her not to cling on to Him because He has not yet ascended to the Father.

He wants to teach her and us that He will no longer be known by sight or by touch but by faith. After his dramatic ascension to heaven there will be no more earthly appearances until He returns. Just as he promised at the Last Supper. Mary is to go and tell the disciples that Jesus is alive, and she obeys. The devotion of Mary. The emotion of Mary. The submission of Mary. So what can we learn from Mary Magdalene today?

We can learn to be more devoted to follow Jesus

Before Jesus delivered her, she knew the terror of evil and darkness. She valued most highly the glorious deliverance found in Christ alone. Consequently, she gave freely of her time and liberally of her money to serve Jesus. They are always in proportion. The greater the realization of sin, the greater the sense of gratitude.  She appreciated her freedom because she knew what slavery felt like. As Jesus said, “He who has been forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:43). Maybe the first lesson we learn from Mary is to be more grateful for what Jesus has done for us personally by his death and resurrection. We may have praised him today but have we thanked him? How will we express it? Demonstrate it? Gratefulness and devotion go together. We can learn to be more devoted in following Jesus.

We can express more of our emotions in loving Jesus

When grief and pain in life comes, as it will, we could be less stoic and more honest and open about it. More vulnerable.  More expressive.  Mary Magdalene cried at the tomb. She was overwhelmed by the thought that His body had been stolen. Standing outside the empty tomb, with arms full of spices and a broken heart, she utters the truest words amid tears ‘we don’t know where they have taken Him.’ She didn’t know where He was, but He knew exactly where she was. She had come to the last place she had left Him – the tomb. She returned to the last place she was with him. She remained there, even when everyone else left. And Jesus rewarded her. He calls her by name – “Mary.” Perhaps you can relate to Mary Magdalene? Maybe your heart is breaking and you can identify with those words ‘I don’t know where Jesus is.” Then express it. Don’t hide or suppress it. Maybe this morning you really don’t know where Jesus is. Maybe you have come not even sure why you are here. But you know you had to come because something in your soul said this is where you will find Jesus. Let me assure you – He is here and he is calling your name. How will you know he is calling your name? –

because in your heart there will be a restlessness. In your heart and in your head there will be a battle going on – a battle for you soul and for your eternal destiny. Your heart is restless because you know everything you have heard today, or on previous Sundays applies to you – it is like there is no one else in this church but you and Jesus.  He is calling you by name. But to follow him you must first let go of the past and turn away from everything you know to be wrong. We can learn to be more devoted to follow Jesus. We can express more emotion in loving Jesus.

  1. We can freely submit our wills to serve Jesus

Mary fell at His feet in humble adoration – and you must do the same. Either voluntarily of your own free will, or on the day the Lord Jesus returns, against your will. For one day the Bible says we will all kneel. Better to do it today because you want to, than tomorrow because you have to.

Jesus told Mary to go and tell the disciples that He had risen from the dead. In joyful submission – she went and told them. She submitted. I think there is the profound lesson here for us. We say we have met with the risen Christ.
We say He has freed us from sin and death. Well, who would know? Whom have we told? Perhaps it is time to rededicate our hearts, minds and wills to the risen Lord Jesus afresh, and begin to do as he says? To tell others what He has done for us. That is all he asks. Three lessons we have learnt from Mary Magdalene. Her devotion to Jesus. Her emotion for Jesus. Her submission to Jesus.  Mary loved the Lord our God with all her heart, with all her mind and with all her strength. The Scriptures may not tell us much about Mary. But from these few verses we see what membership means, what a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ looks like. How about you? Easter Day is traditionally the day when believers renew their baptismal vows. I invite you to renew your commitment to Jesus and to serve his Church family here in Fawley in the year ahead.

I invite you to renew your baptismal vows me silently, if the affirmations reflect your heart’s desire today.

A sermon preached at Fawley Parish Church, Winchester Diocese
Easter Sunday 1st April 2018

The Passion of Jesus on Good Friday


The Book of Isaiah, written around 700 years before the coming of Jesus Christ, is quoted more times in the New Testament than any other book of the Hebrew Scriptures. Why? Because Isaiah 53 so explicitly refers to the Lord Jesus it doesn’t need much by way of explanation. Indeed it became so obvious that Isaiah was referring to Jesus death and resurrection that, as the Church separated from the Synagogue, Isaiah 53 was no longer read as part of the Jewish lectionary.

“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

This is the heart of Isaiah and takes us to the very core of why Jesus came.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

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The Time Has Come: Jesus and the Last Supper

Beat the clock. Around the clock. Against the clock. Clock in. Carry the day. Once in a blue moon. From now on. In the long run Come of age. A day in the sun. The crack of dawn. Year in, year out. A month of Sundays. Hour of need. Full of the joys of spring. Now or never. The moment of truth. Better late than never. Make my day. Here today and gone tomorrow. A blink of the eye. Days are numbered. What do they all have in common? Time. We say, long time no see. Killing time. Wasting time. Behind the times. On time. Just in time. As time goes by. The nick of time. Do time. Serve time. A whale of a time. Save time. Good time. Ahead of time. No time to lose. The big time. High time. Time is money. Times flies. Crunch time. Out of time. Time for a change. Times up. I counted over 100 expressions for time. They all refer to chronological or sequential time.

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