“A word in season.” In favour of cherry-picking Bible verses

I was once coaching a preacher, and together we were critiquing another person’s sermon, in an effort to learn more about our craft. My friend commented that the sermon simply consisted of ‘cherry-picking Bible verses, and smashing them together’ to which I replied, ‘sounds like a great recipe for cherry jam!’ I was being flippant,…

The language of creation in Genesis and Job

I’ve recently been listening to the book of Job on my commute to work, which may explain why my colleagues have often found me a little morose first thing in the morning! Towards the end of the book, God speaks out of the heavens, to address the suffering of his servant Job and the questions…

One year on

One year ago today we arrived in Oxford! It feels simultaneously like ages have passed, and yet no time at all. This has no doubt been exacerbated by the fact that despite moving in April, I continued working for Christ Church London until the end of July (and indeed Helen only finished last month), and…

Eternal Prayers: Paying to pray on the blockchain

I often wonder what the Apostles would make of modern ‘Christianity’. If you could resurrect Paul for a week and get him to visit a selection of churches – or worse still, hand him an iPhone and let him scroll through Christian Twitter – what would delight him, and what would baffle him? What innovations…

What’s wrong? A conversation starter from David Foster Wallace

I was recently reminded of this paragraph from David Foster Wallace’s novel The Pale King: ‘The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you…

Day of Prayer for Ukraine: Three reasons to fast in a time of crisis

This Wednesday, 2nd March, the Pope has called for a day of fasting in response to the war in Ukraine. Many churches and Christians around the world will join in this initiative, devoting themselves to prayer and asking God to intervene and bring peace.  For lots of Christians, fasting is a practice that rarely features…

Another, or A New? A prayer for your Monday.

Monday. The beginning of a new week. I don’t know how that makes you feel? I’m sure some of us start our Mondays thinking “Yes! A new week!” while others think, “Ugh, another week!” Even those of us who temperamentally lean towards the former response have weeks that push us towards the latter! I think…

Don’t Look at Yourself: Polarisation and the ‘Problem’ with Parables

I left social media for Christmas and returned to find everybody talking about a film about why nobody is talking about the climate crisis.  Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up is a piece of satirical sci-fi about two astronomers (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence) who attempt to warn humanity about a comet that’s set…

Advent Reflection: The assumptions of Mary

‘“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne…