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".
To contact us by email (email@example.com)
7:45pm - 8:45pm Paul and Sarah's Zoom Home Group
Click here to receive email updates from Highams Park Baptist Church Follow @HPBCtoday Follow us on Twitter
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
Some time around 50AD a group of Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica received a letter. The author, Paul, was at that time probably working with the church in Corinth. Timothy, the young pastor who Paul mentored, had recently returned from a visit to the churches in their area. On his return he brought Paul news of the Thessalonian church. Some time earlier Paul had spent time in the city preaching and had lived among this group of believers. These were people he knew and cared about. Paul wanted to help and encourage them in their faith.
Letters were important to the early church. With only travelling preachers to rely on these first-generation Christians could easily flounder. There were no books to read about their newfound faith and no online resources to consult. Familiarity with the Hebrew scriptures could no longer be assumed as the gospel spread across Europe. Letters were often all they had they had to guide them.
As Paul draws his letter to the Thessalonians to a close, he speaks of the times and seasons of the life of faith. Praise and encouragement are followed by reminders that there is still a job to be done. This is not the time to sit back and wait in the hope that Christ will soon return. Drawing on imagery that he will use again in another letter Paul urges the Thessalonian believers to ‘fight the good fight’, as the old hymn puts it.
This year the Christian church has been through challenging times. As spring gave way to summer, a season of closure gave way to a new season of ‘church but not as we know it’. The arrival of autumn brought ‘Lockdown Mark 2’. We do not know what winter will bring. Adapting to these changing seasons of life has not been easy. In times such as these it is tempting to sit back and wait until life returns to ‘normal’.
The story of King Alfred and the cakes reminds us of the consequences of falling asleep on the job. Paul’s words encourage us to remember that sleepy Christians may have a rude awakening. Sitting back and waiting until the circumstances change is not an option for those living the life of faith.
Our current season is one in which church life as we know it has been paused. With the usual options to sustain our faith and witness unavailable we face a choice. Maybe we will choose to sit back and wait until the situation changes. Or maybe, with Paul’s words of encouragement ringing in our ears, we will choose to put on the breastplate of faith and the helmet of the hope of salvation. And then we will be ready to reach out to others and share the love of God made known to us through Jesus.
Remembrance Sunday will feel different this year. The usual march past the Cenotaph in Whitehall has been cancelled. Locally, short acts of remembrance held outdoors will go ahead in a reduced form. Band marches will not take place. There will be no church services to mark the day. It seems likely that the day will be quieter this year. In this time of pandemic, where loss of life has been a daily reality, a more muted way of remembering seems somehow appropriate.
National remembrance of those who died in war has been part of life in Britain since 1919. A two minute silence was always a key element of the annual commemoration that began a year after the armistice that ended World War I. Faced with the reality of unprecedented numbers of deaths, silence is perhaps the only possible response. Speaking up at such a time can too easily lead to us becoming like a noisy gong or clanging cymbal, as the apostle Paul puts it.
Paul’s familiar words were of course written in a rather different context. That said, the early Christians in Corinth were facing challenges that have arisen in Christian churches ever since. Tensions within the church reflected those found in the wider context in which they lived. Social inequality and a lack of consideration for the needs of the whole community were causing divisions and factions in the church. Paul’s correspondence with these early believers is often critical as he seeks to remind them of the foundations of their faith.
Chapter thirteen of the first letter to the Corinthians is very well known. Paul’s words are often read at weddings and at funerals. For Paul, love is at the heart of the Christian faith. All our festivals, ceremonies and services become meaningless if love and concern for others is missing. Without love no amount of singing, preaching, or praying has any value. Worship without love for those around us is nothing more than an unpleasant and unwelcome noise.
Tensions and divisions are growing in England as the new lockdown begins to take effect. Christians living through this situation have a message of good news to share. At the heart of that message is the love of God for all creation. That love was shown most fully in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
With Christmas on the way, there is a story to be told and a love to be shared. Christmas, like Remembrance Sunday, will feel different this year. In the name of love, those who have experienced the grace of God through Jesus will share the good news in whatever ways are possible. We may find ourselves celebrating the coming of the Christ Child more quietly this year, but we cannot be silent.
Speculation about Christmas in this year of pandemic has been much in the news this week. With five weeks to go the shape of this year's festivities remains uncertain. Planning is still impossible as everything depends on the daily coronavirus figures. Statistics and graphs are studied in the hope of detecting a downward trend in cases, deaths, and that all-important 'R' number.
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
In the midst of the national anxiety and media hype it seems that at least some of the familiar elements of Christmas will survive. Radio stations have begun using their Christmas playlists early. Food retailers are encouraging customers to book Christmas delivery slots. Despite the uncertainty all around Christmas 2020 has not yet been cancelled.
For Christians, the time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child will soon begin. Advent Sunday this year falls on 29 November. With churches closed the lighting of the first Advent candle, the candle of hope, will be an online event. As the candle is lit, we will pray for the courage to continue to hope in the midst of uncertainty.
May the light of the Christ child shine on each one as we begin the Advent journey.
News this week has been the usual mix of the good, the bad, and the ugly. On the positive side, hopes were high that a COVID-19 vaccine might soon be available. When we humans put our minds to it and work together much is achieved. By contrast, infighting at Downing Street led to the resignation of two Government advisors. In the volatile world of politics, working together is always a challenge.
Photo by Rich Smith on Unsplash
Towards the end of the week the death in prison of serial killer Peter Sutcliffe was announced. Old memories were stirred for the families of Sutcliffe's victims. The stories of those who chose to speak to the press when the news broke of the death of the man known as the Yorkshire Ripper were a reminder of dark and very ugly time in Britain's history.
On the day Sutcliffe's death was announced, the son of the killer's first victim gave a compelling interview. In response to the questions asked he agreed that the news of the death would bring some kind of closure. In quiet, measured tones, McCann explained that he had taken a decision some years ago to let go of his anger towards Sutcliffe and took no pleasure in hearing the news of his death. He went on to ask West Yorkshire Police to apologise to the families of victims for the way their loved ones had been described by officers at the time. In response to an official apology later that day McCann tweeted 'Now that's worth celebrating. Thank you.'
All human life was there in the news this week. One man's grace and courage showed something of the best of which we humans are capable. Thank you, Richard McCann.
You can read Richard McCann's story here