Welcome to the Romans 15:8 leaders blog for June. Please do encourage colleagues to join this network, and if you are reading this page, please consider signing up! It’s easy, painless and free!
June has been a rather strange month in regards to my CMJ ministry as I have been on furlough (Government funded work retention scheme), along with 6 other CMJ UK colleagues. However, I am now back to work full-time and preparing for the on-line CMJ day Conference on Saturday 4th July. This is the first ever on-line conference CMJ UK has organised and all looks good to go! The programme for the Conference looks great with an interview with Amir Tsarfati (of Behold Israel), alongside key seminars and ministry reports from Israel and the UK.
For full details of how to register for the conference please click on the Conference link on our website See you on the 4th July!
Teaching reflection of the month (June)
Bob Dylan released his first album of new material for 8 years this month. The album Rough and Rowdy Ways contains 10 songs, spanning 70 minutes, not a moment is wasted. The album went straight into the charts at number 1, making Bob the oldest ever male artist to have a number 1 album.
I have enjoyed listening to the album and reading a number of reviews. One standout review is by Neil McCormick (chief Rock critic for The Daily Telegraph) who states in his review (13th June)- “... he (Dylan) pours out here, in dense, allusive, cryptic couplets that suggest he is not exactly going gently into that good night.” He also states “His (Dylan) language is drawn from a familiar mix of the Old Testament, Roman poetry, Greek philosophy, Shakespeare, Homer and the Beat poets, with quotes from folk, blues, pop songs and B-movies, high and low culture mixed up, dosed with jokes, ribaldry, epigrammatic phrases and surrealist juxtapositions ... The mood is laid back yet the sentiments are anything but. The album title – from a song by country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers - seems indicative of Dylan’s engagement with the bloody stuff of life at a time when he might be expected to be slipping towards retirement.”
One song which stands out for me is the opening track “I Contain Multitudes.” The song celebrates the freedom Dylan has always shown to embrace multiple identities, complementary and contradictory positions, as well as displaying humour, passion and a rich source of self-awareness.
In many ways we all contain multitudes - we all relate to others in a complex maze of relationships. Recently, I was leading an introductory Bible study on Paul’s life and ministry and I was reminded of the different aspects of Paul, which enabled him to become a key communicator of the Gospel - Paul as Roman citizen, Torah student, Pharisee, former persecutor of the Church, theologian, missionary, traveller, craftsman, apostle (of the church) to the Gentiles and a prophet to Israel (to name but a few).
In terms of Paul’s ministry being both to the Gentiles and to Israel, I wrote the following in my study on Romans 9-11, back in 2009; “I understand that Paul is writing both as an apostle of the church and also as a prophet to Israel. Paul’s critique of Israel is a critique from within the community of Israel. This sense of having in part an ‘insider’s’ perspective is a key building block within the development of Jewish - Christian relations ... For Paul it is this ‘insider’s’ role as a Jewish man steeped in Torah combined with and complemented by his ‘outsider’s’ calling to a ministry primarily amongst the Gentiles that results in creating this dual role. This dual role helps to give to Paul’s teaching a particular and dynamic and resonance to contemporary engagements within the field of Jewish Christian relations, and especially in areas of contemporary Messianic Judaism. For Messianic Judaism could be understood as having within itself this dual role as it does not sit comfortably and is in some ways discontinuous with the classic Christian frame of reference. While equally, Messianic Judaism challenges many aspects including identity issues and core values within the wide ranging area of contemporary Rabbinical Judaism.” (The Case for Enlargement Theology, Glory to Glory publications (2010) pages 53-54).
The richness of Paul’s life and ministry I believe flows in part from this dual role alongside his multiple identities. Equally we see similar ‘multiple identities’ in the life and ministry of Jesus. This has been explored by focusing on the titles given to Jesus by the writers of the New Testament. I have found the following two books very helpful in exploring this, firstly, the book by William Barclay- Jesus as They Saw Him (SCM,1962) and secondly the book by Steve Maltz- Jesus Man of Many Names (Authentic, 2007).
Barclay focuses upon the following 42 titles/names:
Son of David
Son of Man
The Servant (of God)
The Good Shepherd
The Divine Physician
The Bread of Life
The Light of the World
The Way, the Truth and the Life
The Resurrection and the Life
Apaugasma and Charakter
The Just One
He that should come
Alpha and Omega
The Image of God
The Christ of Creation, Firstborn, the Beginning (of God’s creation)
The Bright Morning Star
Maltz focuses on the following 12 titles/names and divides these into 4 parts:
Part 1- The First Days
The Angel of the Lord
The Promised One
Part 2- The Incarnation
Yeshua ben Yosef
Part 3- The Last Days
Mashiach ben Yosef
Mashiach ben David
Part 4-Eternity and Antiquity
The Man of Many Names
In all of the above we see a glimpse of the ‘fullness of Jesus’. Hopefully this fullness will help all of us to be aware of our own ‘multiple identities’ and above all widen our horizons and enrich key aspects of our preaching, teaching and worship.
Ministry News Update
On Tuesday 30th June I was able with many others to listen in live (via the Christ Church, Jerusalem Facebook link) to the memorial service to our dear colleague Linda Cohen. If you have not seen this memorial service it is still available on the Christ Church Facebook page please try and do so. Also you may want to listen to our UK tribute to Linda on our website.
On a lighter final note I mentioned in the April blog the staff team has met most days for prayer during the ‘lockdown’ period and one fun aspect of these times (which may become a new tradition) is often that the meeting started with a song which is supposed to reflect something about how we may be feeling during the lockdown. In the May blog I listed ten songs I had selected so far (the list appears below). I invite all readers of the Romans 15:8 blog to let me know what songs you would have chosen and especially what songs you may want to select as we slowly begin to return to “a new normal”.
Current Top Ten Playlist
1- The Kinks- Waterloo Sunset (which includes the wonderful line- “every day I look at the world through my window”)
2- The The - This is the Day
3- Elvis Costello - Everyday I write the book (which seems highly appropriate for me in regards to aspects of my current advocacy work!)
4- Bob Dylan - You ain’t going nowhere
5- Bob Dylan (the covid -19 parody and cover version) - Everybody must stay home
6- Van Morrison - Ain’t nothing you can do
7- The Police - Don’t stand so close to me
8- The Kinks - I just wasn’t made for these times
9- Dexys Midnight Runners - Tell me when my light turns green
10- Bob Dylan - I shall be released
I am pleased (and somewhat relieved!) to say I have completed the book- Hasadism - A New History (see April blog for publication details). I am just starting a new book which I warmly commend to you - The History of Jewish Christianity by Hugh J Schonfield (originally published by Duckworth, 1936- republished in 2009 by Bruce Booker - Bible Life College & Seminary).
Monthly Memory Verse
God set forth Yeshua as an atonement, through faith in His blood, to show His righteousness in passing over sins already committed. Romans 3:25 (MJFB).