Highams Park Baptist Church continues to operate within Government guidelines for places of worship. Details can be found in the leaflet "Guidance on attending Highams Park Baptist Church during Covid-19 restrictions".
We are meeting on Sunday mornings at 10am.
To contact us by email (email@example.com)
10:00am Sunday Morning Service
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We are a friendly and welcoming Baptist Church in Highams Park, NE London. Our Sunday Morning services start at 10am, last about an hour and are currently led by our members, visiting speakers and ministers whilst we are in between ministers.
Our Church Magazine contains various articles about the Church and Highams Park in general. The Calendar contains details of upcoming events some of which can also be found in Church Notices. Please consider joining our mailing list to receive email updates from us about our work. To contact us please use the details on the Contact Us page, particually for Hall Hire enquiries.
Highams Park Baptist Church
Jerusalem was preparing for the feast of the Passover. The city was already busy with visitors when Jesus and his band of followers made their entrance. Transport had been found for the travelling teacher. Seated on a donkey, the man who had become well known as a healer and miracle worker rode into the city to the sound of cheering crowds. Some perhaps recognised the symbolism associated with his choice of mount from an old prophecy. Waving palm branches, they welcomed the arrival of the party from Galilee.
From that moment on, the chief priests and the teachers of the law were in no doubt about the threat that Jesus posed. There were already concerns about the popular appeal of this man who rode roughshod over their traditions. Now there was real anxiety over the threat he posed to their status in the community. To preserve the status quo, this man would have to die.
Palm Sunday, as it came to be known, is a turning point. From this moment on there is no turning back for Jesus, for the disciples, or for the religious authorities of the time. For later generations of Christians, there is also a shift in focus as the move from Lent into Holy Week begins. From today the familiar story of the events of the following week will be retold. On this Sunday, as Jesus rides into Jerusalem, we know that the road to Calvary becomes inevitable. The Triumphal Entry leads to the ‘Via Dolorosa’ that Jesus will walk carrying his cross. The path to eternal life for all was the ‘way of suffering’. There was no other way for the mission of Jesus to be completed.
Palm Sunday this year feels like something of a turning point. Here in England, further changes to COVID restrictions are expected to begin on Monday 29th March with more planned for early April. Holy Week begins in 2021 with what it is hoped will be a return to greater freedom. As many churches prepare to gather for worship for the first time in three months this Easter Sunday, there is a real sense of a new beginning.
The first Easter Sunday must have been a bittersweet experience for Jesus and the disciples. The joy of the resurrection was reached by the way of suffering, not just for Jesus but also for his anguished followers. As we approach Easter this year, perhaps we can identify with their experience. We look ahead in hope but cannot, and should not, forget the suffering that has brought us to this point.
The death and resurrection of Jesus changed everything. The Via Dolorosa led to new life. Moving forward in faith, we trust that the ‘way of suffering’ the world has walked in the past year will bring us in time to new life, new hope, and a new beginning in a future yet to be revealed.
Nicodemus made his way to see Jesus under cover of darkness. As a Pharisee and a leader among his people he was taking quite a risk. By visiting at night, he hoped to avoid being seen by his colleagues on the Sanhedrin. Most of them took a dim view of the new teacher. The priests were concerned that the popularity of Jesus among ordinary folk threatened their position with their own community and, more importantly, the Roman authorities. The Pharisees and scribes considered him either a heretic or a lunatic. Nicodemus wasn’t so sure. He wanted to find out for himself what Jesus was about.
Jesus welcomed his visitor and the two theologians sat talking late into the night. Nicodemus went home with much to think about. We don’t know what conclusions he reached but we do know that Nicodemus would risk his reputation again on at least two further occasions. The first sees an appeal to his colleagues on the Sanhedrin to give Jesus a fair hearing fall on deaf ears. The second sees Nicodemus participating in the burial of the crucified Christ.
Towards the end of the conversation recorded in the gospel of John, Jesus explains to Nicodemus something of his mission. Using an image that would have been familiar to them both, Jesus explains that just as life was miraculously restored to their ancestors in the desert, he will bring eternal life into the world. The people Moses led recovered from venomous snake bites when they looked up at a bronze serpent held aloft. Similarly, anyone who looks up at the crucified Christ and believes will receive God’s gift of eternal life.
One sentence in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus stands out. John 3:16, sometimes described as the ‘gospel in a nutshell’, is perhaps one of the best-known verses in our bible. The message Jesus shared that night with the man he refers to at one point as ‘Israel’s teacher’ is summed up in a single sentence. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life’.
Nicodemus was one of the last people to see the dead body of Jesus. Three days later the despair of Good Friday would give way to the joy of Easter Sunday. The Resurrection gives new meaning to words of Jesus spoken in conversation with the Pharisee prepared to risk his reputation in the face of a new reality. Centuries later, those words are both an invitation and a challenge to all who hear them.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
April 2021 has been dry and cold. Here in the South East of England, gardens are parched and the heavy clay soil is hard and solid. Great weather for walking but no so good for growing plants. Maintaining a perfect lawn at the moment is a challenging, to say the least.
On the plus side, where the grass struggles to grow the wildflowers thrive. Bluebells, daisies, violets and forget-me-nots are a welcome sight in gardens and parks. Bright yellow dandelions flourish. Seasoned gardeners watch and wait, knowing that it will be wise to take action before their flower heads become 'dandelion clocks' shedding their seed far and wide. Both wild flowers and weeds grow effortlessly with little help from we humans.
Wildflowers and weeds appear in the teaching of Jesus. On the one hand, we are invited to marvel at the beauty of the wild flowers that surpasses that of even the best dressed monarch. Consider the wild flowers, Jesus tells his disciples, even Solomon in all his splendour was not dressed like one of these. (Luke 12:27). On the other hand, Matthew's parable of the sower is a reminder of the risk posed to the healthy growth of seed crops by thorns and weeds.
While the sight of wildflowers in unexpected places is a thing of beauty and a source of joy, the unchecked spread of weeds is likely to bring grief up ahead. In nature, as in the whole of life, we do well to watch for the tell tale signs and take action at the right time to avoid problems later.
Consider the wild flowers... but watch out for the weeds.
By the end of Easter week everything had changed. An unseasonal cold snap, the death of Prince Philip, and concerns over vaccine safety brought a creeping sense that this spring might not deliver all it had appeared to promise. It seems it will be some time before the shape of the new normal emerges and becomes a reality in daily life.
Jesus' disciples experienced something similar at the first Easter. The events of Easter Sunday promised new life. Encounters with the resurrected Christ restored faith and rekindled hope. And yet, despite the sense that everything had changed, ongoing uncertainty characterised the daily lives of those who had been closest to Jesus. The days and weeks following the resurrection proved to be a period of transition and preparation for what was to come next.
At Easter, and each spring, we celebrate new life. This year, like the early disciples, we find ourselves making our way through a period of transition as we prepare for what lies ahead. In 2021, the promise of spring may take some time to become a reality. We wait in hope.