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In this part of our site, we publish articles that may be of interest, written by members of our community.

Christian attitudes to the environment

In these talks you’re used to me making a disclaimer about ‘the’ Christian attitude to our topics. It must be very irritating for the Muslims here when I’m forever saying, ‘Well, some Christians think this and some Christians think that’. Can’t you make up your mind? you must wonder. Well, I’m sorry to say that today’s topic is even worse than usual, because the question of ‘the environment’ as we understand it could not have concerned our ancestors in the faith. We live in a world about which we know far more than they did: the centuries and millennia it has already been in existence; the variety and interconnectedness of its species; the fragility of its ecosystems and the dangers that we human beings pose to it.

How to be a better person

‘How to be a better person’, like all the subjects we were looking at together before Christmas, is a huge question. You’d be right to ask me, ‘How on earth can you claim to know an answer to that that would satisfy everyone in the world, wherever they are and whatever they believe?’

Scriptures: our holy books

Christians have the Bible as their holy book – the word Bible means book, though actually it’s a whole library of books, written over thousands of years. And as I said last week, if you’re looking at Christianity you have to start from Judaism, because their holy book, the Hebrew Bible, has become the first of our holy books. The Hebrew Bible starts with five books of the Torah, or Law.

Our purpose in this life

Because Christians believe that the universe has been made by God, we believe that all life has a purpose. The purpose of the natural world is to give God glory by being what it is. Trees grow tall, fish swim, birds fly, flowers bloom and lions roar because they have developed through centuries of evolution - and also because God has made everything in the universe to be as perfectly itself as it can be.

Justice and judgment

The people of Israel, descended from Abraham and Sarah, had their beginnings as a poor group of slaves running away from their masters in Egypt. They had to fight for a land to call their own. But like people everywhere, when the Israelites stopped being slaves and started to become prosperous, they didn’t worry too much about social division. The rich became richer and the poor poorer; some people slept on ivory beds while others lost their family’s land, and with it any hope of supporting their families. In the end Israel’s kings started playing power politics with the superpower nations around them – Assyria, Egypt, Babylon – and lost. The people had to leave their land. And the Hebrew Bible says that this disaster was a judgment from God, because they were no longer acting justly, as God’s people.

Missives from Madagascar

Final epistle

Hi everyone. We return to the UK on Monday so this will be the final letter from Madagascar. We spent a nice time on Ile Sainte Marie with the church centre out there. The centre is on an even smaller island off the southern tip of Ste Marie. You land at the island's airport, walk across the end of the runway and hop onto a canoe which takes you across to the island. No cars and white beaches all the way round. It was idyllic. I preached on each of the Sundays there and we also helped in the work of the centre. In return we were given massive portions of delicious food. Plenty of fresh fish and coconut sauce.

'Basically I have been compelled by curiosity'

Just over fifteen years ago I stood in the snow outside St. Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Upper Hanover St, Sheffield, wondering what sort of people worshipped there and whether, if I got the job I was going for, I would be one of them. On the notice board outside it still said Peter Chave was minister and it was not until I got home in the evening that I learnt from my father that the congregation was in vacancy.

Life begins at 41?

Dear Friends

Now I’m 41 I’ve got my midlife crisis out of the way, so I’m reflecting on what I have to look forward to as an Older Person. But being old isn’t what it used to be. When I was little, old age began when people retired from work in their sixties and reached for their slippers. Now the baby boomer generation are starting to retire – but they’re reaching for scuba gear.

Will God's kingdom come?

Dear Friends

Dropping a big hint, I always love it when someone really wants to know what I believe. But I was taken aback recently just after the service, in which I’d been going on about the coming of God’s kingdom, when someone asked me, ‘Sarah, do you really believe in that? Do you really think God’s kingdom is going to come?’

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