4th December 2023

The Old Testament lectionary reading this week, Isaiah 64.1–9, prompted some thoughts about prayer.

A paraphrase of the first verse could be: “If only you had come down from heaven…” How often have we prayed something like that? We suffer, or we see others suffering, and cry to God, “if only you had…” Prayer that is heart-felt begins just where we are – in need of God.

Isaiah’s prayer then looks back to what God had done for his people in the past. Sometimes prayer can be remembering what God has done for us. Other times that can seem too difficult – then we must “remember” what we have heard God has done, maybe in words of scripture or stories of others.

This remembering is followed by a confession of the nation’s sin – the rejection of God’s way in favour of the beliefs and practices of the nations around them. Doing what was right in their own eyes. Sometimes it can be a prayer of confession that we need to utter.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.

(Isaiah 64: 8, ESV)

Old Testament scholar Alec Motyer says: “the child would not be there but for the father, nor the pot but for the potter, nor the artifact but for the craftsman.” In prayer, we come before the God who loves us (our Father), forms us (potter) and cares for us (the work of his hand).

At the beginning of advent, we remember that God has come down from heaven and it is to the incarnate God that we pray.

Ian Waddington

Sunday 3rd December 2023 – First Sunday of Advent

Join us in person or online for a streaming service via Zoom at 10.30 am – check your email or contact us for the details.

The service includes communion, so if you want to join in at home, prepare beforehand with a piece of bread and a glass of something red.

A recording of the service is available here. Apologies for the poor quality of the music recording following an “upgrade” to the sound system.

After starting the video, there will be a full screen button at the top right.

1st December 2023

Recently lots of people have been marching in support of their views on the Israeli Hamas conflict. Have you ever been on a demo? Marched through Bristol or London with hundreds, maybe thousands of other people holding aloft their banners in support of some worthy cause? I haven’t (although some of my family have). But you must have seen them on the television news. ‘What do we want?’ shouts someone, and back comes the response followed by ‘When do we want it?’ – ‘Now!’ Now, not tomorrow; not next week; not in a few months’ time. No, we want it now.

On Sunday we come to that time of the year we call Advent, the season that leads to Christmas. What do we want? Christmas! When do we want it? Now! Well, sorry, you can’t have it now, you have to wait another 26 days. Advent is a time of waiting. It always has been. Waiting has been part of Christmas right from that very first.

Mary had to wait. Like any expectant mother she had to wait some nine months. How did she pass her time? She went to visit her relation, Elizabeth, who was also pregnant. It was while she was with Elizabeth that Mary expressed her feelings and the significance of what was happening in what we have come to call the Magnificat – ‘My soul tells out the greatness of the Lord’.

So now we too wait. Mary used the time to prepare and so must we – no not just the sending of cards and the buying of presents, but by contemplating the significance of what we are waiting for.

David T Roberts

27th November 2023

It is strange how sometimes separate conversations with friends and family link up!  A friend shared this cartoonist’s illustration of ubuntu with me:


Then, in a separate conversation, I was encouraged to look up Desmond Tutu’s descriptions of the concept of ubuntu: You cannot be human on your own. We are human only through relationship. We are made for this delicate network of interdependence. I need you in order for me to believe. I need for you to be you to the fullest. We are made for complementarity, to become fully human. Ubuntu says you are human because you participate in relationship. A person is a person through other persons.

It was suggested to me that a sense of our interconnectedness and common humanity is desperately needed in situations of conflict (e.g. Israel and Gaza). If principles of ubuntu are embraced as applying even to me and my enemy, surely this would help in finding the will to try to navigate through hatred and hurt towards alleviation of pain and suffering?

In her book “Slow Down, Show Up and Pray: Simple Shared Habits to Renew Wellbeing in Our Local Communities” Ruth Rice mentions a woman who had started coming to a Renew Wellbeing café (Nick Parsons’ Thought, 17 Nov 2023 has further information). Until finding the café, the woman sometimes didn’t hear her name spoken all week, outside the context of healthcare appointments. That story has stayed with me.

Maybe thinking on the concept of ubuntu will inspire us in our relationships with others, and in taking simple steps towards a world where acts of friendship can help to dispel loneliness.

Ruth Allen

Sunday 26th November 2023

Join us in person or online for a streaming service via Zoom at 10.30 am – check your email or contact us for the details.

A recording of the service is available here.

After starting the video, there will be a full screen button at the top right.

24th November 2023

We have a small weather station in our back garden which wirelessly transmits its data to a receiver in the sitting room. On top of the station are three connected cups that spin in the breeze, sending a measurement of wind speed to us indoors. Our then four-year old granddaughter spotted this device and, not unnaturally, wanted to know what it was for, but after hearing the explanation made no further comment. However, next day she solemnly announced, ‘there’s no weather today, Grandad.’ When I asked her why she thought that, she said it was because ‘the things on top’ weren’t going round – and nor were they on what was a very still morning.

Of course, there’s never a day when there’s no weather, and in these times of climate change we’re only too aware of it. The British Isles get warmer and wetter, with weather patterns growing more variable and extreme. Our children experience hotter summers than I ever knew, but they’re also denied the joy of playing with deep, fresh snow in the street or garden on crisp, winter days. The reason for these changes is that the atmosphere is having to hold more and more energy, and the best reliable, scientific consensus is that this comes mainly from man-made, fossil fuel emissions, which in turn encourage global warming. In the Bible, the older of the two creation stories tells us that ‘the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it’ (Genesis 2: 15). Sadly, as our weather increasingly testifies, we find exploitation easier than keeping!

Ken Stewart

22nd November 2023

Strange. Instant TV news coverage of the Israel-Hamas war brings – by the hour and almost as it happens – the horrors in Gaza right into our living rooms. On the other hand, because so many of those fighting and suffering are not ‘us’, separated from us by geography and often differing by religion and language, the war still seems somehow distant. It’s about ‘them’, ‘over there’.

But I’ve just been reading the reports from the Baptists in Gaza – yes, there are Baptists in Gaza too (I recall visiting the Baptist-run hospital there, sadly now closed, some 30 years ago). Along with the St Porphyrus Greek Orthodox Church and the Holy Family Catholic Church, the Baptist Church in Gaza City is holding on there, the image of the cross still etched over its open gate. But at what cost! The pastor, Hannah Maher, was visiting Egypt when the war erupted and is now trapped there while his wife Janet and three children are still in Gaza, having with many others been given shelter at the St Porphyrus Church. On 18 October an Israeli airstrike, targeting a Hamas command centre nearby, resulted in the deaths of 20 people sheltering there, including 18 Christians. Among them were Janet’s cousin, one of her close friends, the sister of an elder in the Baptist Church, his wife and granddaughter, and three children who attended the Baptist Sunday School. Before the bombing Janet had been reading the Bible and praying with many.

This isn’t just ‘them’, ‘over there’. This ‘collateral damage’ is happening to our family in the Body of Christ.

Keith Clements

20th November 2023

In the Genesis 3 account of Adam’s rebellion against the rules of good order in Eden, in a passage challenging to ardent feminists, it is through Eve that the serpent secures human disobedience with its fateful consequences. By vivid contrast, Mary’s response to Gabriel’s announcement that she is to bear a child who will be ‘the Son of the Highest’ is simple consent. But with that consent comes the announcement of radical changes, scattering the proud, putting down the mighty and filling the hungry with good things [Luke 1.26-38]. It was for this reason that the apostolic church came to call Mary, God’s ‘Second Eve’, obedience replacing rebellion.

The familiarity of the language of ‘Second Adam’ we owe to John Henry Newman who in ‘Praise to the holiest in the height’ has the memorable lines: ‘A second Adam to the fight and to the rescue came.’ But the idea is already there in St. Paul [Romans 5.12- 21, 1 Corinthians 15.21-23, 45-47]. In the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, Adam’s rebellion is, at great cost, undone, and mankind is restored to created innocence for, ‘God created man in his own image’ [Genesis 1.27]. Whilst the tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden brought about Adam’s sin, the second Adam’s death upon another tree is the source of redemption. In our physical being we all share the first Adam’s earthly existence which suffers from his rebellion, and its consequential limitations of death, disease, and incomplete achievement. But the good news is that believers can know with certainty that in their heavenly bodies they will become like the second Adam, sharing Christ’s imperishable, sin-free, eternal and completely fulfilled life.

John Briggs

Sunday 19th November 2023

Join us in person or online for a streaming service via Zoom at 10.30 am – check your email or contact us for the details.

A recording of the service is available here.

After starting the video, there will be a full screen button at the top right.

17th November 2023

Open to God, Open for all.

We are rightly and properly proud at Tyndale that we are open to all who come in to the building; it is a sanctuary in more ways than one. This week I have received a little reminder that I must not let my pride in what God does through us lapse into complacency. It is still possible for someone to come in and not feel the warm welcome we would hope for despite everyone’s prayerful best efforts.

An interesting aspect of the Renew Wellbeing café is the provision of something on the tables to do. Even if you don’t want to talk, there is a place where you can join in. Or somewhere you can sit quietly by yourself if that’s what you need.

We enjoyed a lunch together this week to discuss the changes to Tuesday mornings and I (eventually!) showed a short training video which introduces the Renew Wellbeing philosophy. Some people there felt that it really spoke to them; a new way of mission, perhaps.

If you would like to see the video for yourself then you can find it by following this link.

Let us pray that the Renew Wellbeing way broadens our welcome so that when we say “all” the all gets bigger and even more inclusive!

Nick Parsons