An Asian Christian woman living in London blogging about the everyday issues of religion

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Simple Explanation of What Lent is About

The following was printed in the prayer sheet at Church today and I think it's the most succinct and simple explanation that I have ever seen on what Lent is about:

Lent is the period during which we prepared for Easter. 
At this time we are encouraged to practice self-examination, 
penitence, self-denial, study and generous giving
 to those in need. 

I have found a website that lists prayers for the whole Lent period. This is today's prayer.

Lord God, 
you who breathed the spirit of life within me.
Draw out of me the light and life you created.
Help me to find my way back to you.
Help me to use my life to reflect your glory
and to serve others
as your son Jesus did.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

CoE Touched By HSBC Scandal

Noam Chomsky Quotes Moral Agent

The long arm of Capitalism has managed to pull the CoE into the scandalous immorality of tax evasion perpetrated by HSBC. The Guardian newspaper yesterday broke the story about how the Swiss branch of HSBC was helping rich people from, among many countries, the UK evade tax. The bank under declared accounts which meant that 7,000 wealthy British people were allowed to evade tax that, collectively, amounted to £27.1 billion. 

Central to this activity is a man called Lord Steven Green. He was in charge of HSBC private banking and later became the Chief Executive. Crucially, Green was in charge of the bank during the years when tax avoidance was a rampant activity. This is the part that will be of interest to Christians. He is an ordained CoE minister and published a book called 'Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World'. I am sure that the irony of the inclusion of the word 'morality' in the title will not escape you. The book actually contains the line and the advice to go beyond "what you can get away with" in the context of how business leaders should legally and ethically behave. 

I wonder how many public service people (doctors, nurses) could have been employed with the money lost? 
I wonder how many firemen who have lost their jobs could have stayed employed at their now closed firestations? 
I wonder how many A&Es could have provided better services?

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Are Women More Religious?

The British population expert, Professor David Boas, undertook a survey of 9,000 people and found that 34% of women are either atheists or agnostics, compared to 54% of men. Professor Boas does not offer any reasons as to why a big gap exists between men and women when it comes to religious belief.

Deborah Orr, writing in The Guardian argues that women are more likely to see themselves as being a part of a much bigger plan, are more open-minded, more imaginative and are more likely to think that anything beyond their comprehension can still have value. It is worth reading her article especially on her conclusions.

I do notice that more women than men attend church on a Sunday and it is the women who tend to volunteer on a regular basis. Men may take on the one-off jobs of organising an event or shifting/moving furniture but the women have proven to be a sustained and steady stream of help to draw from. In my humble opinion this is because women have a wider sense of what stewardship involves. Arranging flowers, handing out the service sheets on Sunday and helping out with the offering maybe administrative tasks needed to keep the church going but women place another dimension to these tasks and it is stewardship.

From a personal point of view, as a mother, I wanted my daughter to grow up in a religious space which would imbue her with values and a belief system. Deborah Orr finishes off her article by stating that women believe in God because they can't believe in football. That maybe so but I don't see any comparison between anything on earth that can inspire hope and listen to your woes and worries like God does. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Does this satirical cartoon of the birth of Christ offend you?

Following yesterday's tragic events in Paris when a group of talented journalists and cartoonists who worked for the French satirical magical Charlie Hebdo were killed over a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad there have been numerous debates over the legitimacy of publishing religious satirical pictures/cartoons.

As a Christian I don't find satire over Christianity offensive. The front cover of Private Eye's Xmas issue (see above) draws modern life into the birth of Jesus. There are political references and parallels drawns which turns a sombre occasion of the birth of Christ into a rather funny moment.

I am interested to hear what other Christians think. 

Friday, 26 December 2014

A Xmas letter from a Christian Pastor who is in an Iranian Jail

Christian Pastor Imprisoned in Iran For His Faith Sends Christmas Letter from Prison Cell

December 17, 2014 - 4:35 PM
Saeed Abedini
Iranian-born American pastor Saeed Abedin. (Image: ACLJ)
Pastor Saeed Abedini, an Iranian American Christian pastor who was imprisoned for his faith in Christ, wrote a heartfelt and thought-provoking letter on the meaning of Christmas from his prison cell.
Just who is Pastor Abedini? Many know the story, but many more are unaware of this man’s plight.
Saeed Abedini’s official site tells Pastor Abedini’s story:
“Saeed Abedini, a 34-year-old Pastor, father, and husband from Idaho, is currently imprisoned in Rajaei Shahr prison (formerly imprisoned in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran). On 28 July 2012, during a visit to Tehran to visit family and to finalize the board members for an orphanage he was building in Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard detained Saeed, asserting that he must face criminal charges for his Christian faith…”
And it is because of Abedini’s steadfast faith that the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reminds everyone that “we must remember those who are in chains…in chains for the very Gospel – the Good News – we are celebrating.”
Feel free to download Pastor Saeed Abedini’s letter, or read it in its entirety below:
Rajai Shahr Prison 2014
Merry Christmas!
These days are very cold here. My small space beside the window is without glass making most nights unbearable to sleep. The treatment by fellow prisoners is also quite cold and at times hostile. Some of my fellow prisoners don’t like me because I am a convert and a pastor. They look at me with shame as someone who has betrayed his former religion. The guards can’t even stand the paper cross that I have made and hung next to me as a sign of my faith and in anticipation of celebrating my Savior’s birth. They have threatened me and forced me to remove it. This is the first Christmas that I am completely without my family; all of my family is presently outside of the country. These conditions have made this upcoming Christmas season very hard, cold and shattering for me. It appears that I am alone with no one left beside me.
These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell? Why did the birth have to be in such a way that it was not only hard physically, but also socially? It must have brought such shame for Mary and her fiancé that she was pregnant before marriage in the religious society of that time.
Dear sisters and brothers, the fact of the Gospel is that it is not only the story of Jesus, but it is the key of how we are to live and serve like Jesus. Today we like Him should come out of our safe comfort zone in order to proclaim the Word of Life and Salvation though faith in Jesus Christ and the penalty of sin that He paid on the cross and to proclaim His resurrection. We should be able to tolerate the cold, the difficulties and the shame in order to serve God. We should be able to enter into the pain of the cold dark world. Then we are able to give the fiery love of Christ to the cold wintery manger of those who are spiritually dead. It might be necessary to come out of the comfort of our lives and leave the loving embrace of our family to enter the manger of the lives of others, such as it has been for me for the third consecutive Christmas. It may be that we will be called fools and traitors and face many difficulties, but we should crucify our will and wishes even more until the world hears and tastes the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas means that God came so that He would enter your hearts today and transform your lives and to replace your pain with indescribable joy.
Christmas is the manifestation of the radiant brightness of the Glory of God in the birth of a child named Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
Christmas is the day that the heat of the life-giving fire of God’s love shone in the dark cold wintry frozen hearts and burst forth in this deadly wicked world.
The same way that the heat from the earth’s core melts the hard stones in itself and produces lava, the fiery love of God, Jesus Christ, through the virgin Mary’s womb came to earth on Christmas to melt the hard heart of sin and wickedness of the world and removes them from our life. In the same process, the work of the Holy Spirit is a fiery rain of God’s Holiness and Mercy that flows into our body, soul and spirit and brings the light of Christ into us and through us making this dark, cold, wintry world into radiant burning brightness. He is turning our world into a world full of peace, joy, and love that is so different than the dark, cold, and wintry world that we used to live in. Hallelujah!
So this Christmas let the lava-like love of Christ enter into the depth of your heart and make you fiery, ready to pay any cost in order to bring the same lava love to the cold world around you, transforming them with the true message of Christmas.
Pastor Saeed Abedini

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Xmas (and a double Santa Wave)

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Merry Xmas to Christians everywhere.
Specially remembering and praying for those who are living in insecure conditions around the world and who live in fear for their lives.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Christmas Eve Prayer

O God
it is your will to hold both heaven and earth
in a single peace.
Let the design of your great love
shine on the waste of our wraths and sorrows, 
and give peace to your church,
peace among nations,
peace in our homes, 
and peace in our hearts

A New Zealand Prayer Book