Hard Texts for Jewish-Christian understanding was the theme at our April 4th meeting and AGM when we were delighted to return to St Peter Church Hall in Staines, where the branch held its inaugural meeting in 1992.
Guiding us in understanding the difficulties presented by three New Testament texts, from Acts and from the Epistles to the Romans and Hebrews, was Dr Steve Innes, Scholar in Residence at the Council of Christians and Jews.
The goal of the evening was to examine how difficult texts affect our dialogue together, and how honest engagement with them can actually improve our fellowship and insight.
Steve ensured it was an interactive evening, asking us to read and discuss the texts in small groups and feedback our thoughts. An innovation for us and very successful.
The texts raised difficult issues such as supersessionism and the role of Israel in Christian eschatology. There was vigorous yet respectful discussion and a consensus that difficult texts such as these become easier to interpret when understood in their historical context.
Steve has said he would be delighted to return to run a similar session looking at a different selection of texts and we are looking at suitable dates with the next 12 months.
Branch chairman Cedric Dowe also gave a recap of the past year. Our speakers have been Rabbi David Zucker who had taken us through the Servant Songs of Isaiah prompting healthy thought and discussion, Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko, speaking about her life experience in Israel and London, Dr Jane Clements, on developments since the ground-breaking Vatican document Nostra Aetate and most recently Patrick Samuels of the Church Army, speaking about his job as chaplain and faith co-ordinator for Surrey Police.