Welcome to the Romans 15:8 blog for April. I hope and pray that all members of the 15:8 network had a good Holy Week and enjoyed the Easter celebrations. I especially welcome any newcomers to this network who have joined over this festive period.
Teaching Reflection of the Month
I was very pleased to lead several live Passover events during Holy Week. These were especially significant as, due to Covid restrictions, these were the first such events since March 2019. For those of us within CMJ, such events are a valuable connection point with many Churches in diverse settings and we often get very positive feedback. However, from time to time, questions are raised about such events and the charge of ‘cultural misappropriation’ is placed upon us and others. I have reflected on this and produced a teaching article, which is now on the CMJ UK website. I invite you to read this article as our teaching reflection of the month and let me know your thoughts on this, especially if you have led such events, or if your Church has hosted such events this year.
Ministry News Updates
This month I had the privilege of travelling to Jerusalem, meeting colleagues and preaching at Christ Church Jerusalem. The evening sermon (3rd April) was recorded and is available via the Christ Church YouTube channel.
This month the visit to Jerusalem, alongside the live Passover events and a major outreach event in London all evidence that Covid restrictions have been lifted. We are very pleased to experience this, however seven CMJ UK colleagues have had Covid infections recently, with related absenteeism resulting in many challenges for us, especially as we are a relatively small mission team.
God’s Playground - A History of Poland (Volume 2, 1795 to the present) by Norman Davies (Oxford University Press, 2005).
My CMJ colleague Canon Daryl Fenton recommended that I read this book in preparation for sharing in a mission event in Poland. This book gives a complete and insightful history of Poland. Davies writes with great knowledge and uses a wealth of primary and secondary sources. He writes with an infectious enthusiasm, yet also at times with a cool detachment, which are important tools for any historian.
At times I was rather overwhelmed with the detail given in this book (it stretches to over 500 pages of text, plus countless endnotes) yet, as I plodded on, I discovered many facts and learned a great deal. I particularly valued the opening chapter on the growth of the modern nation-state. This helped me to reflect upon the concept of nationalism and related issues, such as sovereignty and patriotism. In addition to this, two key chapters stood out for me. First, Chapter 7 (The Roman Catholic Church in Poland) was of interest, while the section on the emergence of a radical Christian Socialism provided many issues to stimulate my thinking regarding the interface between faith and politics. Second, Chapter 9, with its focus on the Jewish community, was full of valuable analysis, vivid quotations and historical reflection, and I underlined many points as I read and re-read parts of the text.
The final postscript takes the history of Poland up to the collapse of the Soviet Union and Poland’s membership of NATO. The final paragraph gives a helpful flavour of this book:
“The dilemmas of Poland’s past constantly prompt anxieties about Poland’s future. For much of modern history Poles asked themselves how their country could be restored to its former independent condition, and more importantly, what kind of country that independent Poland should be: in Lelewel’s words, Polaska tak, ale jaka? (Poland yes, but what sort of Poland?). The first question was answered by the outcome of two terrible World Wars, and most recently by the collapse of communism in 1989-91. The second question, as ever, remains.”
In conclusion, I am thankful to Daryl for his recommendation, and I would think many people in the Romans 15:8 network would also appreciate this substantial and insightful book. It is certainly well worth reading in the light of the proposed CMJ mission event in Warsaw (August 2022) and the current Ukrainian crisis.
Monthly Memory Verse
“My eyes had heard you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5) NIV