Sunday, 1 April 2012

Honouring Jesus, Honouring Jews - Keeping this week Holy

Revd Stephen Barton Secretary of the Birmingham Branch of the Council of Christians and Jews gave an excellent sermon on the title above this morning at St George's Edgbaston and is running workshops on the same theme at 6.30pm Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week at the church.

The following is an extract from the beginning of the sermon you can download the full sermon in PDF document here
It is good to be with you for today and the first half of Holy Week. I offer some reflections on the meaning of these days, which I hope will provoke further thinking and discussion.

This year Passover and Easter coincide. Holy Saturday will be the first day of Passover. Last year I attended part of the celebration of Passover at the Progressive Synagogue – there is a communal meal, the seder, on the second night of Passover. This was a week before Holy Week. On taking my leave, Jean, a Jewish friend wished me well for Easter and added, “I hope you will give us an easier time than most.”

Jean was of course referring to the history of Christian “contempt” of Judaism and the Jewish people, especially as expressed in Holy Week prayers and hymns and sermons.

Jean reminds us that when we talk about Jews we are talking about a living people. The Church has often caricatured Jews as essentially a people of the past. But these are our neighbours. 
Some of you will have people in your lives who are Jewish: friends, colleagues, family. Their Jewishness may or may not be expressed in a form that we would call religious, but all belong to a people who have for centuries been aware of Christian attitudes towards Jews. Christian congregations no longer leave Friday prayers to go attack the local synagogue, but it is still easy to meet Jewish people who remember school playground accusations that they had killed Jesus.

I wish to begin this Holy Week by welcoming Jean and all our Jewish friends and acquaintances among us. Let us walk along the road of this week, as it were, in their company. Let us see what happens, what we notice, not about them, but about ourselves. If I had a title for these few days with you, it would be Honouring Jesus, Honouring Jews: Keeping this week holy.

Today we mark the beginning of this week. I have two questions: Who was there? And Why does it matter? READ MORE

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