• It is still Easter!
    I know that chocolate eggs have finally disappeared off the shelves and you can now buy a rabbit in a pet shop but it is still Easter. Traditionally in liturgical calendars, the celebration of Easter continues for 50 days of joy and celebration until we raise the roof as we rejoice on the day of Pentecost.  The 50 days of Easter prepare us for the challenges of the year ahead. They are a constant reminder that we live in the days of resurrection hope, a new Kingdom has begun, and although we do not experience it in its fullness; it is our longing. Easter is a focused 50 day reminder of what we long to live in all year round, as the old hymn says “this child can face uncertain days because he lives.” Indeed, the uncertainty of the future is made steadfast and secure by the constant reminder that Jesus lives and has sent his Spirit to guide us day by day. My personal testimony, at this moment in time, is of the comfort, security and hopefulness of the Spirit leading and guiding Ruth and I into something that is a new, and as yet unknown, area of service for us in the coming year. Therefore at the recent Baptist Union of Scotland Trustee Board meeting I invited the Trustees of our Union to begin the process of seeking a new General Director. The past 9 years have been quite remarkable and I have experienced an amazing partnership in the gospel throughout our Union. This has been a role of great privilege and has without doubt had a deeply positive impact upon my own faith and my understanding of the mission and ministry of the church. In years to come, I will look back on this time as significantly formative for me and rejoice in all that the Lord has done through this uniquely shared ministry period. Whilst I rejoice in what the Lord has done, I also recognise that deep challenges remain for the church in Western Europe and the Baptist churches in Scotland are in no way exempt from these. However, in this Easter season we also acknowledge the great opportunities that abound for us as Union seeking to live in the power of the resurrection. With a strong foundation and a willingness to face uncertainty faithfully we will discover new pathways, forged in actions of self-denial that lead to resurrection celebration. Our engagement with the Easter story in believers Baptism calls us to a life of change, a transformed and transformative life, as Walter Brueggemann calls it “a way other than our own”.  As a Union of churches this is the way of life we have committed ourselves to in the ‘now and not yet’ of the Kingdom of God. We therefore trust in the leading of our risen Saviour, through his Spirit, to guide each of our churches into this new way of living and new ways of presenting the gospel message in the changing cultures of our nation. We also trust afresh in the faithfulness of God together in this time of searching for a new General Director; a time of not knowing for all of us and for those who will consider if this is an area of Christian service for them. Our Council will meet on the 9th May to begin the process of searching for a new General Director. Join us in prayer for them that as they approach this task in faith, trusting they will meet with and be strengthened by the risen Jesus as his Spirit guides them to the person called to fulfil this deeply rewarding and significant role among us. Rev Alan Donaldson General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • Costly Hope
    I think we should call it Resurrection Day. ‘Easter Sunday’ sounds like a date in the calendar, along the lines of Spring Bank Holiday or Boxing Day. Resurrection Day sounds like a celebration, in the same spirit as Christmas Day. Resurrection Day is our great celebration of hope. The risen Lord Jesus Christ is the promise and the proof of the coming kingdom of God. The powers of death and destruction that put on their best (or worst) show at the cross have been overwhelmed. What Jesus called ‘the renewal of all things’ is irreversibly on its way. Living under the lordship of Christ now is a foretaste of life in his future kingdom. Amidst the political confusion and racist violence that have dominated our news recently, we are confident in God’s ultimate victory. Righteousness will have the last word. But there is no way to Resurrection Day without first encountering Good Friday - the place of sacrifice, where God in Christ acted once and for all to reconcile the world to himself. As followers of Jesus in Baptist churches around the country, we recognise our calling to walk the costly path of humility, service, forgiveness and reconciliation. We can only witness to the history-transforming power of the resurrection with a demonstration of life-transforming cross-shaped love. Rev Martin Hodson Ministry Development Coordinator Baptist Union of Scotland
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  • Rediscovering hospitality
    We all know that the answer to Cain’s question, “Am I my brother’s keeper” is “yes, of course.” The New Testament version of the question is, “who is my neighbour?” Shockingly, the answer appears to be all those who share our humanity. These questions requires us to answer a further question: How will we welcome the stranger? There is fear associated with welcoming strangers and our modern lifestyle seems to hold neighbours at arm’s length. We no longer bump into neighbours as we walk but bypass them in our cars. We have delegated the care of the elderly neighbour to civic institutions and charities that employ professionals to care. Typically, we see more people but know them less. We have lost or are losing the ancient meeting places: the city gate, the village green, the community centre, the local church. Our TV’s teach us all about entertaining in our homes, but little about true hospitality. At the centre of our understanding of hospitality has to be our understanding of Christ. Jesus, who as he hangs on the cross turns to a thief by his side and says, “today you will be with me in paradise”, demonstrates hospitality, just as he demonstrated in his life over and over again. Christian hospitality is about responsibility, not reciprocity. It is about laying down ourselves as Christ did, without requirement of response. Hospitality is a step of faith in a God who provides, be that protection or finances. In faith we welcome the stranger and feed the lonely, lost or wondering. Hospitality is a response to our own salvation. When we remember that we, who were far away from God, have been drawn close to him. Ephesians 2:12 Hospitality is an act of witness. We are called to show the love of the Father for all the world, for ‘neighbours’, defined as those who share our humanity, rather than our geography, culture, social standing, language or friendly response. It reaches out to the ‘other’ in the name of Christ and in the way of Christ. It will take a conscious effort on all our parts to break through the current cultural hesitancy to welcome strangers. Maybe we can start by simply showing hospitality to those in our congregations who need it most, by visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, going the extra mile to bring someone to church. Then we might feel ready to walk next door, or across the office, and reach out with the offer of community to those in our neighbourhood or network. Who knows, it may not be long before we are opening our homes to widows, orphans, the homeless or asylum seekers and discovering the presence of Christ in “the least of these.” Rev Alan Donaldson General Director Baptist Union of Scotland
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