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Little Gidding

Earlier this month (4 December), the Church of England commemorated the life of Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637) as a ‘minor festival’. Nicholas Ferrar was a scholar and businessman, briefly an MP, and a deacon in the Church of England. He was a close friend of the poet and hymn writer, George Herbert. In 1626, having lost much of the family fortune in the Virginia Company, he retreated with his family in 1626 to the manor of

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The Benedict Option

The ‘Benedict Option’ is an idea, a book and a movement, which has attracted great interest in the USA, and beyond, in the last couple of years. It is the brainchild of Rod Dreher, an American journalist and author Much of it is familiar. Its core argument is that, in post-Christendom, the Church, inspired by the example of Benedict of Nursia (480–537), needs to construct close, intentional, communities as contexts for evidentially living out radical discipleship

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The community of the Church: Hopes and dreams

In the course of this short series of articles I have sought to make some suggestions that may inspire and encourage you to look at different aspects of church life in a new way, and to remind you to see church as the community of God’s people, just as the early church did. In making these suggestions I have tried to draw on my own experience and ideas to present things that are achievable for

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The community of the Church: Strengthening identity

Significant portions of the book of Acts are taken up with the question of how much of the Jewish law should Gentile Christians be forced to observe, and how much the Jewish Christians themselves should hold on to (See particularly Acts 15). It is easy to work out from some of Paul’s writings that there was a tension between these two groups over this matter, although it seems to me that the New Testament writers

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The community of the Church: Sacred spaces

The issue of church buildings has become a difficult one in recent years, particularly for those of us in small country churches and chapels where incomes are usually small, upkeep remains important and safety legislation imposes an ever-increasing list of duties and restrictions. The closure of such buildings has been a characterising feature of the rural church, giving the impression of a people without hope and a God looking the other way. Yet the community

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The community of the Church: Belonging to the community

Community is about belonging.  Everybody needs to belong to something, not just ‘signed up’ to it but really find themselves at home there, or else we drift, get ourselves isolated and then fall foul of doubts and darkness that overtake our minds.  The modern world is largely losing its sense of community, and mental health issues are sharply on the rise. The same is true of the church.  To belong to a church we must

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The community of the Church: Community – the outworking of love

When defending the validity of his ministry to the Corinthian church, Paul says that ‘the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power’ (1 Cor 4: 20).  Genuine love, which has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5: 5) and so does not come from our own resources, is a fruit of that kingdom and therefore is also not about words, although we do use words

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The community of the Church: Building a foundation

In these post-modern days where truth has become subjective, based on ‘what feels right for me’ rather than the application of logic or facts, people are hungering more and more for something that is truly genuine.  Whilst this is a great opportunity for the kingdom of God to be advanced, that hunger makes people much more discerning in their quest and able to spot imposters who claim to offer the genuine but whose own lives

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The community of the Church: Introduction

In order for the church to flourish it must adapt, not by trying to copy the trends of the society around it, but by re-emphasising certain aspects of its nature that have been lost in recent times, largely because of the demands of that society.  With huge pressures to devote more and more time to the workplace and massive opportunities to spend hard-earned money, the meeting of the saints can become just one more chore

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