The United Reformed Church Chesham

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February/March 2022 Newsletter

Dear Friends

When I completed my term as Minister at Radlett United Free Church, Lorraine and I purchased a Campervan which we lived in for 3 months. First, we spent 6 weeks touring Scotland where it rained most of the time! So we decided in the following 6 weeks to travel south to the Mediterranean, first in France and then in northern Spain. In subsequent years we skipped the Scottish trip but continued with 6 weeks on the Mediterranean going to Gibraltar one year, Southern Italy another time and then to Dubrovnik. Another year we journeyed to Piekielnik in Southern Poland to meet up with Lorraine’s son’s family when they visited the other Grandparents. A subsequent highlight was when we were invited to the wedding of our daughter-inlaw’s brother in a beautiful Catholic Church in Piekielnik, Poland

Then came Brexit and with it, new regulations for driving in Europe. We were just working out what we had to do to meet the new regulations when COVID arrived and travel to Europe was not possible.

Meanwhile we have another series of excellent Bible studies led by Alan Yates. This time based on the book “the last WEEK” written by Marcus Borg an American Lutheran and John Dominic Crossan an Irish Catholic now living in Florida. One of the intriguing characteristics of scripture is how it yields new truths in each age and place. In this case 2005 in the USA. They start with Palm Sunday and highlight that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey at exactly the time the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, rode in from the Mediterranean in a large military convoy. From this they develop the interpretation that Jesus was deliberately challenging “Empire” which meant one group of people dominating many others with the Emperor Tiberius worshipped as a Son of God, the collaboration of the religious authorities and the extraction of tribute to fund the Empire.

The Gospels were written at the time of the Jewish uprising (circa AD 70) which resulted in the Roman army crushing it with great brutality and the total destruction of Jerusalem in order to re-establish their Empire. We did not expect when we started the Bible study that history would repeat itself as the Russian Empire seeks to re-establish itself over Ukraine with similar brutality. In recent history the two great Empires have been Great Britain’s and Russia’s. After the Second World War the European Union (which we have so enjoyed touring) was formed to enable nations to work together without the need for “Empire” with one nation dominating the others. It is intriguing that Great Britain (by a small majority) has opted not to be part of it and Russia has sought to undermine it.

Jesus continued to challenge “Empire” by refusing to yield to it even though it meant death on a cross. On Easter Day we celebrate that God raised Jesus confirming he is truly the Son of God and has established the Kingdom of God on earth. It is in tension with earthly kingdoms and their inherent brutality to which we can only respond with our giving and prayers. But as we worship together scripture assures us the kingdom of God will prevail and invites us to enable it by accepting Jesus as our Lord and following in his way.

Alan Callow