Services at Highams Park Baptist Church are suspended for the duration of the current lockdown.
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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 usually led by our Minister, Rosemary Eaton. Our Church Life comprises many events such as Prayer Meetings, Cell Groups and Men's/Women's meetings. We also have a BBGA group.
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
Thoughts and Views from Highams Park Baptist Church, London, E4
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.
By modern standards, Jesus and his disciples didn't travel far. Jerusalem was just a couple of miles from the Bethany home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The group from Galilee seem often to have stayed there on their way to the city.
Photo by Ian and Wendy Sewell
The route that Jesus walked from Jerusalem to Golgotha was even shorter. Pilgrims still travel along the six hundred metres of the Via Dolorosa. The route is marked by the stations of the cross. Four of the nine stations describe Jesus engaging with individuals that he meets along the way. Two of those encounters are mentioned in the gospels while the others have their roots in church tradition.
The Stations of the Cross represent a spiritual journey for both Jesus and for the latter day pilgrims who follow his path. The journey is a very human one. The encounters with Simon of Cyrene, Mary, Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem are a reminder of all that drove Jesus throughout his life. Even as he walked to his death, Jesus reached out to those he met with compassion and love.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
Today is the first anniversary of the imposition of lockdown restrictions in Britain. At midday the nation will pause for a minute of silence. As hopes of the end of the current lockdown grow it is again time to remember all that has been lost and all that has been endured in the past year.
Photo by Eva Dang on Unsplash
Yesterday, March 22nd, was the fourth anniversary of the terror attacks on Westminster Bridge. Survivors of that attack are asking for the installation of a plaque on the bridge to honour those who died that day. For those most affected, remembering is an important part of grieving.
In the Christian calendar, last Sunday was Passion Sunday. Four weeks of Lent have passed and, in company with Jesus and his first disciples, we turn our faces to Jerusalem. Before celebrating the joy of the Resurrection there must be time to remember death, loss and sacrifice. This year, as we remember the great love of God shown to the world through the Easter story, our celebrations and remembering will somehow be different. the past year with all its losses has changed us all. This Passiontide we will remember and promise together never to forget what has been endured and sacrificed in this year of pandemic.