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Karl Barth

Karl Barth

I don’t know when or where I first found this prayer, but I think it must have been late 2016.

Perhaps it was on the blog written by Mark Goudy, the “pill dispensing Pharmacist turned Presbyterian pastor”. If so, thanks, Mark!

I know that I downloaded it from somewhere and this afternoon, two weeks into 2017, I found it in my Downloads folder.

Our church home group usually gets together on New Year’s Eve, but this year it didn’t work out. However we are meeting tonight… just two weeks late.

Barth died in 1968 but his words to me have a timeless quality.

Let’s pray.

Karl Barth’s New Year Prayer

O Lord, our Father!
We have gathered here at the turn of the year
because we do not want to be alone but want to be with each other,
and together be united with you.

Our hearts are filled with somber thoughts
as we reflect on our misdeeds of the past year.
And our ears are deafened by the voices of the radio and in the newspapers,
with their numerous predictions for the coming year.
Instead we want to hear your word, your voice, your assurance, your guidance.
We know that you are in our midst,
and are eager to give us all that we need, whether we ask or not.

On this night we ask for one thing only:
that you collect our scattered thoughts,
getting rid of the confused and defiant thoughts that may distract us,
and thus enable us to concentrate on your limitless generosity to us.
You were abundantly generous to us last year,
and will be no less generous to us next year, and in every year to come.
Fill us with gratitude to you.

Karl Barth (1886–1968)

 

Eight days ago I officially retired from Wycliffe Bible Translators on 31 December 2016, the anniversary of the death of John Wycliffe in 1384. Not that it was deliberate! It was only yesterday that I discovered the coincidence.

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For God louede so the world, that he ȝaf his oon bigetun sone, that ech man that bileueth in him perische not, but haue euerlastynge lijf.             John 3.16 in the Wyclif Bible

John Wycliffe and his team of helpers translated the Bible into English. He believed that:

it helpeth Christian men to study the Gospel in that tongue in which they know best Christ’s sentence.

The powers, both spiritual and temporal of the time, declared him a heretic although he had powerful protectors among the nobles. His response was:

You say it is heresy to speak of the Holy Scriptures in English. You call me a heretic because I have translated the Bible into the common tongue of the people. Do you know whom you blaspheme? Did not the Holy Ghost give the Word of God at first in the mother-tongue of the nations to whom it was addressed?

So it’s no surprise that Wycliffe Bible Translators was named after him.

It has been a privilege for Ruth and me to be members of Wycliffe Bible Translators for over 28 years.

This Christmas more people than ever before have had the name of Jesus in their languages.

Jesus, Light of the World

Jesus, Light of the World

Please pray for even more in 2017!

Read more  about John Wycliffe on the Wycliffe UK blog

It’s almost that time of year. Well, we’ll need to celebrate Christmas first of course, but many Christians, young and older, students or GAPpers, early retired or really retired… will soon be thinking about a short term mission trip.

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Jesus, Light of the World

Jesus, Light of the World

I have just sent this off to Prayerline, the weekly mission prayer news from the Presbyterian Church in Ireland‘s Council of Global Mission. Wycliffe gets an entry every four weeks and this year, I’m delighted that we have the Christmas slot for a week starting 21 December 2016.

Wycliffe’s December contribution for PCI Prayerline

More people than ever before know Jesus’ name in their language this Christmas because of Bible translation. Here is a small sample of the name of Jesus in 3,000 plus languages with some Scripture. Speakers of up to 1,800 languages are still waiting to have the name of Jesus translated for them. #endbiblepoverty

Jezusi (Albanian)

يسوع (Arabic)

Յիսուս (W Armenian)

Езус (Belorusian)

যীশু (Bengali)

耶穌 (Chinese)

Ιησούς (Greek)

Íosa (Irish)

イエス (Japanese)

Иса (Kazakh)

ഈശോ (Malayalam)

Isus (Romanian)

Иисус (Russian)

যীশু (Sylheti)

ܝܫܘܥ (Syriac)

இயேசு (Tamil)

เยซู (Thai)

Ісус (Ukrainian)

Giêsu (Vietnamese)

uJesu (Zulu)

This Christmas Day the Wycliffe UK & Ireland prayer guide asks us to:

  • Thank God for the birth of Jesus. Also thank God that many more people can read about the birth of Jesus through the translated New Testaments that have been launched during the past year.

As you read and hear the familiar Christmas accounts in the Bible this week, ask God how he might want you to be involved in helping the name of Jesus to be translated into new languages and be known by the speakers of those languages.

 

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It’s almost that time of year. Well, we’ll need to celebrate Christmas first of course, but many Christians, young and older, students or GAPpers, early retired or really retired… will soon be thinking about a short term mission trip.

“I have a sort of love / hate relationship with short term mission trips,” I wrote a few months ago in one of many posts on short term mission.

I look out for blogs on this topic and Eddie Arthur is a regular writer who makes one think.

Eddie’s latest is published in Christian Today website entitled 7 Tips For Making The Most Of A Short Term Mission Trip.

  • Talk to your church leadership: Definitely do that!
  • Go with an organisation that you’ve heard of: Yep, there are some dodgy ones out there… so I’m told.
  • A word of warning: Read this one for yourself
  • Make sure they will look after you: “Going to Burkina Faso for a month is different from spending a week in Ibiza and it’s much more of a challenge,” says Eddie. He’s right.
  • Do no harm: You could you know – “It can be really exciting to go out to the developing world and help to build a new village school. That is unless you are the village builder, who has lost his income because he’s been replaced by a bunch of young Brits who are working for free…”
  • Have a break: Maybe a wee holiday before coming home…
  • Look for the seal of approval: A very important one – read all about it!

Before we joined Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland in 1988, I had never been on a short term mission trip. Could I count taking a school SU group away to Co Tyrone for the weekend or several years as a section leader of Newtownbreda CSSM or hosting a home Bible study group? Do they qualify as “short term mission”? What do you think?

For a number of years I was responsible for summer mission teams for Wycliffe UK & Ireland and I think we got it right in that these were definitely not “mission tourism” but experiencing and contributing to the long term task of ongoing Bible translation projects. An encouraging number of participants later joined Wycliffe long term.

I am retiring at the end of December, so I am unlikely to ever go on a short term mission trip, but well you never know… should I read Eddie’s article again?

Oh,nearly forgot! Check out Wycliffe’s options here

Go, Send or Disobey

Great idea! But there seems to be some disagreement about how...

Great idea! But there seems to be some disagreement about how to…

In Christian mission, you have three choices: you’re primarily a goer, you’re primarily a sender, or you’re primarily disobedient.

A few days ago, me old mate Eddie Arthur discussed the missionary saying which appears above in bold. Like many other “popular” missionary sayings, says Eddie:

…this is pithy, memorable and has a grain of truth in it. However, as with all of the others, I’m not entirely convinced that it is helpful.  [my italics]

He has a couple of comments to make:

Firstly, I’m not entirely convinced that guilt is a great motivation to anything in the Christian life. Saying that if you don’t do X you are being disobedient may well be true and it is certainly a classic strategy of many evangelical teachers. However, in my experience, saying this sort of thing just makes people feel bad and doesn’t do much to change behaviour. It is far better to demonstrate the joy, and privilege of being involved in mission work than it is to make them feel guilty for not being involved.

Next he takes a look at arguably one of the most abused verses in the Bible:

Secondly, the saying is all about going – something that isn’t actually central to the New Testament teaching on mission. I know that many people will want to point me to Matthew 28:19, where the text says “Go and make disciples” or something like that, depending on what translation you use.  The problem is, that in the original Greek, there is only one command in this verse and it isn’t “GO!” A better, but not very idiomatic translation would be “going, make disciples…” Essentially, the command is to make disciples wherever you are. Some people go to the far corners of the earth, others go to the office; but we are all called to make disciples.

And adds:

If you don’t believe me, read this.

I just did – and it’s a very clear discussion of why thundering the imperative “GO!” from the pulpit is not really what Jesus actually said to his disciples.

The rest of the post (and it’s well worth reading it all) discusses what Eddie thinks it really means to be a disciple of Jesus discipling others – and suggests a re-writing of the misleading bold statement above

“Serving Jesus by making disciples wherever you are is the greatest privilege you can have; you’d be daft not to do it.”

I like it!

If you are interested in helping every language group in the world get an accurate translation of Matthew 28:19 – and the rest of the Bible – check out Wycliffe Bible Translators UK & Ireland or search for the Wycliffe office where you live.

 

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Jesus had a habit of answering questions with his own rather challenging questions.

But then God has given us a lot of clues about how to live our lives in relationship with him – and in community.

In the Bible, starting with Genesis, where we find the Ten Commandments we find a good starting point…

  1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

  2. You shall make no idols.

  3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

  4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.

  5. Honor your father and your mother.

  6. You shall not murder.

  7. You shall not commit adultery.

  8. You shall not steal.

  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

  10. You shall not covet.

And then throughout the rest of the Bible!

Which is why Wycliffe Bible Translators exists: to enable all peoples to engage with the Bible in a language which speaks to their heart. It’s how God shows us humans how to live in his creation.

So when the young man got up from his bench, saying goodbye to Jesus… I wonder what he did next?

 

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