Andrew Perriman on The Good News
This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Andrew’s local newspaper is the Harrow Observer. Here is Andrew Perriman on the Good News.
THE GOOD NEWS
About three years ago a group of young people decided that they would do church differently. They did not think of themselves as radicals. They were not unhappy – in that familiar postmodern way – with normal church. They were not much influenced by the emerging church conversation. They were not looking for celebrity. They just felt called to box up their traditional assumptions and practices, put them into storage, and start again with an empty space – somewhere well outside their comfort zone, where they could learn what it means to be good news.
They moved together into a derelict corner of north-west London. Harlesden is no longer the Yardie battleground that it was a few years ago when gang members were gunned down in broad daylight or stabbed in high street shops. There is a vibrant, if occasionally strained, multiculturalism – a heady blend of Irish, Afro-Caribbeans (it is unofficially London’s Reggae capital), Brazilians and transitory asylum-seekers. But it still has the familiar mix of inner city social problems.
Community Church Harlesden has developed into a passionate, close-knit, egalitarian community of 25 to 30 people, mostly under the age of 30, sharing accommodation, with five marriages and one baby between them – oh, and you can now include my wife and I, who in one respect at least are well outside the prevailing demographic.
They hang out with the kids in Roundwood Park on Sunday afternoons; and in the summer months they picnic in a precarious cultural space between the bikinis and the burkhas. Last winter they helped to run a homeless shelter; they have set up fledgling charities to provide financial advice and refugee support. They build friendships; they are generous; they keep the borders of their community life open.
All this may prove to be good news for Harlesden. But the better news, I think, at this moment in the long and tortuous history of the people of God, as the church in the West slowly emerges from the social, cultural and intellectual ruins of Christendom, is that God is first doing something to redeem his people – from folly, from divisiveness, from complacency, from isolation, from irrelevance.
That is how the good news works. ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…’ (Isaiah 52:7). It is the people of God that needs to hear the good news: their God is king, the Lord is returning to Zion, he has redeemed Jerusalem from the catastrophic consequences of its rebellion. Only then is this salvation made known to the world: ‘The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.’
So through the extraordinary faithfulness of Jesus Israel was redeemed from its sins, rescued from folly, divisiveness, complacency, isolation and irrelevance, and made a new creation. And that possibility of new creation – worked out painstakingly in community – has become good news for the world.
|Andrew and his wife Belinda recently moved from the Hague, Netherlands, to Maida Vale in London, a few stops down the Bakerloo Line from Harlesden. Andrew runs Open Source Theology, is author of The Coming of the Son of Man, Re: Mission: Biblical Mission for a Post-Biblical Church, and a couple of other books, teaches occasionally, is part of Christian Associates, and is strongly in favour of a narrative-realist hermeneutic as the answer to most of the world’s problems.|