Archive | January, 2013

Justice Mail Request 29th Jan 2013

Dear Justice Mail Friends

There is plenty of food in the world and yet one in eight people are hungry and approximately 2 million young children die every year from malnutrition. On 23 January in Somerset House, London, more than 100 British organisations joined together to launch a new campaign entitled “Enough Food for Everyone – IF”. David Cameron is chair of the G8, which meets in June in Northern Ireland. This is the year when we need a massive campaign to demand an end to the causes of world hunger, including action to prevent tax dodging by corporations, which is estimated to deprive developing countries of $160 billion every year.

Many of you will already have received invitations to join the campaign. Christian Aid, Oxfam, UNICEF, Save the Children and many others are sponsoring it. I have decided to ask you to join the campaign through CAFOD, the overseas development organisation of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, simply because we have not yet supported a CAFOD campaign, and I think we should!

When you follow the link below you will be taken to the CAFOD website. All you have to do is provide your name and postcode and send it. You will then receive an email giving you more information about the campaign and what you can do. We need to persuade hundreds of thousands of church members to join and abolish global hunger.

http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Take-action-today/Joint-campaign-on-food

John Hull
Queens Foundation

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The Birth of Jesus and the power of the Empire

When we hear Matthew’s story of the Nativity, our natural response is to ask what it means to us today. But let us try to listen in the way that Christians in the 1st century might have listened. How would it have sounded to them?

The gospel of Matthew, written perhaps about 80 AD, probably came from the ancient city of Antioch on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. Antioch was the capital of the Roman province of Syria. Four Roman military legions were stationed there, including the notorious 10th legion which had taken a leading role in the destruction of Jerusalem. Antioch was thus a military city and a centre of Roman power. There was a lively church there (Acts 11:19-26; 13:1-3). The terrible bloodshed of the Jewish war 66-70 AD and the destruction of the temple would still be fresh in people’s minds.

Matthew and Isaiah

Isaiah was the favourite scripture of the early church. It was believed that all the major events of the life and death of Jesus were described in this prophetic book. It is not surprising then that when Matthew wanted to present the early traditions about the birth of Jesus Christ he asked his listeners to hear his account against the background of Isaiah. The section of Isaiah that is selected for this purpose was also very significant. Matthew drew his material from Isaiah chapters 7-9, using quotations from Isaiah 7:14 and Isaiah 9:1-2 as the bookends of his account. You can find his quotations in Matthew 1:22-23 and 4:14-16. I call these “bookends” because the earlier part of Matthew 1 is basically the family tree of Jesus and Chapter 4:17 introduces the public ministry of Jesus.

What was the background of Isaiah 7-9?

These chapters describe the dangerous expansion of the Assyrian empire in the late 8th century BC. An alliance of two small states just to the north of Judah was trying to set up resistance to Assyria and threatening to take over Judah to create a combined block to stop the Assyrians. Isaiah’s message to King Ahaz was that a young woman would have the courage to name her new baby “God with us” (Emmanuel) in spite of the threatening war clouds, but that in any case the Assyrians would soon invade the little states, leaving the kingdom of Judah intact.

Once again, in the first century AD, the land of Palestine had been swallowed up by the irresistible power of a pagan empire. The sacred territories of Naphtali and Zebulon, north of Judah, were under the power of the Roman soldiers commanded from Antioch. But once again a deliverer would be sent, like Joshua, and the occupied territories in the north would soon be freed (Matthew 4:16). The “Galilee of the Gentiles” (verse 15), ie the sacred lands now trodden by pagans, would be restored.

This is why the child of promise was called Joshua. “Jesus” is simply the Greek form of the name. This is why the empire represented by the puppet king Herod in Matthew 2 tried to destroy the baby, why in Chapter 4 vv 8 and 9 Matthew describes the world empires as being under the power of the devil, why another Roman puppet king arrested John the Baptist (4:12) and why at last the empire succeeded in destroying Jesus (Matthew 27). But the empire did not have the last word.

Millions of hungry people today still live under the power of an empire based upon Western military might and money. We live on the inside of the empire. Does Matthew still have a message for us today?

John M. Hull

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Justice Mail Action 15 Jan 2013

Dear Justice Mail Friends

Since 2006 at least 500 Bangladeshi garment workers have died in factory fires while sewing clothing for giant fashion companies, like Gap and H&amp.

Six months ago Gap publicly promised it would sign on to a worker safety program that would include independent inspections, mandatory repairs and renovations of safety hazards, a central role for workers and unions, transparency and binding commitments to protect workers

Labour Behind the Label ask us to join Bangladeshi and international unions and labour groups that are calling on Gap to implement this fire safety program that will save the lives of Bangladeshi garment workers. Use the link below to email such a request to Gap.

http://www.cleanclothes.org/urgent-actions/gap-appeal

Cheers

Mike Cross All Saints Kings Heath

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Justice Mail 4th January 2013

Dear Justice Mail Friends

CAFOD Writes

We produce enough food to feed the world – but one in eight people don’t have enough to eat.

The way that food is grown, sold and shared out is not working for the world’s poorest people. But we have the power to change this injustice and to tackle global hunger.

If you believe no one should go hungry, please join our campaign and take action using the link below.

Speak out with us to help poor families get enough to eat – today, tomorrow, and in the long term.

Are you hungry for change?

http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Take-action-today/Hungry-for-change

Cheers

Mike Cross All Saints Kings Heath

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Test yourself against the Five Marks of Mission

Christian mission has changed. It used to be thought of as churches in Britain sending missionaries abroad. These missionaries were selected, trained and sent by special agents, the missionary societies of the various denominations.

Today, mission is from everywhere to everywhere. The missionary agencies have either changed their role or even ceased to function. Instead of thinking of missionaries as special agents, we now think of the church as a whole as being called to mission, and of every Christian as sharing in that call. Moreover, the mission thinking of the worldwide church is now that the church does not even have a mission. It does not have a mission; it is a mission. The mission is the mission of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit engaged in a huge project to love and redeem the whole of creation.

In seeking to understand what the mission of God might mean, in 1984 the Anglican communion worldwide recommended five marks of mission as a sort of checklist – http://www.anglicancommunion.org/ministry/mission/fivemarks.cfm  In 1996 the general synod of the Church of England adopted these, which are now known as “the five marks of mission”. Would you like to test your own Christian life against the expectations of these marks? If that seems a bit too personal, then perhaps you would like to assess the life of our own church in Kings Heath as a mission church. Here we go!

The first mark of mission is to proclaim the Kingdom of God. This expression is taken from the teaching of Jesus himself, who saw the Kingdom of God coming in his words and deeds. In what ways do we bear witness to the Kingdom of God?

The second mark is to call people into discipleship to Jesus Christ and to nurture them in faith. The Holy Spirit does that through us whenever a child is baptised or people are prepared for confirmation. How else do we do it?

The third mark of mission is to extend loving care to the community. This is where we really score! Surely the medical centre, the services to young people and senior citizens, to say nothing of the village square are all extending care to the Kings Heath community.

The fourth mark of mission is a tricky one. It is to transform the unjust structures of society. What is an unjust structure? Can sincerely good people find themselves working in unjust structures? Who benefits from the unjust structures, and how can these be identified, challenged and changed? Clearly, these are important questions for our society and for the world: about the growing gulf between rich and poor, and about the worldwide situation of hunger, sickness and war. How does our church measure up to this mark of mission?

The fifth mark of mission is to strive to protect creation and to restore the face of the earth. Here again, as with the third mark, perhaps we are doing rather well in All Saints. After all, we are an eco congregation and are about to have solar panels installed on at least one of our buildings.

How do you respond to the five marks? Should every Christian be involved to some degree in all five? Is it right for a particular congregation to specialise in one or two of these? What steps can we take to ensure that through our lives, our worship and our witness the whole mission of God is being expressed?

John M. Hull

The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education

3 September 2012
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