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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 MeetingsCell 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. 


     

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  • Thoughts and Views

    Highams Park Baptist Church
    Thoughts and Views from Highams Park Baptist Church, London, E4

    Thought for the Week - 16th August 2020

     

    Jesus and his disciples had been busy. Wherever they went people came for healing and help. Religious leaders were becoming increasingly anxious as Jesus’ reputation and popularity grew. This travelling teacher and healer who neglected the handwashing rituals central to their faith could not be allowed to continue unchecked.  A deputation of Pharisees and teachers of the law was sent from Jerusalem. The response they received did nothing to allay their fears.

    The tide was turning for Jesus. Although popular with the crowds, his actions and words horrified the religious professionals of his day. According to Matthew’s gospel, soon after this first clash Jesus and his disciples withdrew across the border to Lebanon. Their visit seems to have been brief but significant. Jesus encounter with a local woman is brief but deeply significant. For Matthew, and for the disciples, this is a turning point. As Jesus interacts with the woman it becomes clear that his mission extends beyond Israel.

    This story of a mother determined to get help for her troubled daughter gives just a glimpse of the future. That future that was becoming a reality by the time the gospel attributed to Matthew was written. The movement that began in Galilee soon spread to Europe and Asia. People of all nations were welcome in the emerging Christian church. A brief encounter that showed Jesus engaging with those outside his own community was a sign of things to come. 

    Engaging with outsiders as Jesus did is a challenge to us right now. Across the world the pandemic has forced us to remain at a distance from others. The spiritual contamination feared by the religious leaders of Jesus’ day finds a parallel in the fear of infection with which we now live. Early church believers were also challenged by the radical spirit of inclusion implied by this short story. Tensions within local churches are clear from the letters Paul wrote to some of them.

    One day long ago Jesus showed that race, gender, and language are of no significance to God. All are welcome in the new kingdom of which Jesus spoke. Those who are broken in body or in mind are not to be ignored. Jesus reaches out in compassion to an unseen girl because of the faith her mother showed. In that moment national boundaries and religious restrictions were swept away. God’s kingdom embraces both the lost sheep of Israel and the people of faith of all nations. Healing and wholeness are for all, not just for those already within the Christian community. Those who follow Jesus are called to make that a reality in every time and place.

    Thought for the week - 9th August 2020

    For over a hundred and fifty years the Met Office has issued warnings of bad weather several times each day. The phrase that begins the Radio Four bulletin has become famous. ‘And now the Shipping Forecast’, begins the announcer, before beginning the list of conditions in the mysterious sea areas of Tyne, Dogger, Rockall and the rest.

    Britain is an island nation with a long maritime history. In the days before boats were equipped with onboard technology the shipping forecast was essential to ships of all kinds. Even today the daily broadcast helps seafarers confirm the data generated by onboard systems. The weather can change quickly at sea. The lives and safety of all on board depend on accurate and up to date information about the weather around our coasts.

    At least four of the named disciples of Jesus were fishermen. Simon Peter. Andrew, James, and John knew Lake Galilee well. They would have been all too familiar with the sudden storms that arise in the area. Unlike Britain’s fishermen, they relied only on what they could see and sense of the weather. Crossing the lake after Jesus had miraculously fed a crowd of thousands, they found themselves caught in a storm. Struggling to bring the boat to shore, with their vision obscured by wind and rain, they saw what seemed to be a ghost. They were, understandably, terrified.

    What happened next completely changed their understanding of who Jesus was. Up to the moment when Jesus walked on water, he was in many ways just one in a line of teachers, miracle workers and healers. A character like the prophets of old but still a human being. His ability to rise above the storms of the natural world marked him out as something else. Jesus was not just a messenger from God, he was the Son of God himself. 
    On that day, twelve frightened men in a boat saw their teacher in a new light. As Jesus reached out to prevent Peter being overwhelmed by the waves, they learned that with Jesus, Son of God, anything was possible. They fell to their knees and worshipped God in their midst. As those who follow in the steps of the first believers this message is one that brings both reassurance and challenge.

    In recent months the changes in our world have at times seemed overwhelming.  As the situation evolves in the coming weeks and months there will be yet more uncertainties and changes to negotiate. The promise of God to those who follow Jesus in faith is that the storm need not overwhelm us. Jesus, Son of God,  himself stretches out his hand and raises us to our feet. There is nothing to fear for those who have the faith to follow where he leads.

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  • Something Ventured

    Something ventured

    Christmas unplanned

    Photo by Claus Grunstaudl on Unsplash
    Photo by Claus Grunstaudl on Unsplash
    Clocks change tonight. From tomorrow the evenings will be darker. Winter is on the way.

    The countdown to Christmas is as usual underway. In our year of pandemic, media speculation and concerns about the impact of coronavirus restrictions on celebrations are taking centre stage. Christmas Eve is just two months away but in 2020 no-one knows what this Christmas will look like. 

    Some two thousand years ago Mary and Joseph faced their own uncertainties. The first Christmas was unplanned in every sense. A government edict and an unexpected journey led to the birth of their son in a stable. With no family to share the event the new parents were dependent on the kindness of strangers. 

    The shape of Christmas 2020 is uncertain. Family celebrations may need rethinking at short notice. Church services and school nativity plays will take a different form. With planning next to impossible only one thing seems sure. Whatever the limitations and restrictions, the birth of the Christ Child will be celebrated by Christians across the world whether at home, in church or online. 

    Christmas Unplanned could turn out to be the Christmas we have all been waiting for.

    The gentle art of letter writing

    Photo by Diane Helentjaris on Unsplash
    In the early years of the twenty-first century letter writing seemed to be a dying art. The immediacy and convenience of email or text led to changes in communication between family and friends. Mailshots by businesses were replaced by email subscription lists and online advertising. Hand delivered letters, either handwritten or typed, became a rarity rather then the norm.

    When COVID-19 took hold across the world the shift towards connecting and communicating online was both inevitable and essential. Home working, home schooling and online GP consultations became a necessity rather than an option. Video conferencing allowed business, community organisations and social groups to stay in touch. Life in 2020, for those with access to the technology, moved online.

    The apostle Paul found himself restricted while living under house arrest in Rome. A few close friends were allowed to visit but contact with others was limited. Preaching and public debate were longer possible. Paul adapted using the means at his disposal. Letters were dictated and sent to the churches Paul had earlier helped to establish. Letters that would shape the development of the Christian Church came about when others forms of communication became impossible. 

    With restrictions on contact with others likely to continue in the coming months we could do worse than follow Paul's example. Perhaps now is the time to revive the gentle art of letter writing.


      

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