The Editor writes...We start this issue on a high note, with a fortnight of studies on 'Blessing' (from Keith Beech-Gruneberg, a new contributor to Guidelines), followed by two weeks on "Psalms" 101 - 113, with an emphasis on praise, from regular writer Henry Wansbrough. The beginning of a new year is a good time to think with gratitude of our reliance on God and his faithfulness to us. Our Gospel studies this year come from the second half of "Luke", and David Spriggs begins our exploration with notes on chapters 14 to 17. This section has something of a party atmosphere, with its focus on communal meals and celebrations, and the joy of finding lost things. Yet there are conflicts not far from the surface, with the threat of worse to come, as Jesus looks toward Jerusalem for the last time. In our world today, we are often reminded of threats on the horizon, and Margot Hodson tackles one of them from a biblical perspective in her notes on 'Environment'. She finishes, however, on the theme of hope and, throughout, brings a vision of a cosmos that was created to be good and continues to be loved by God.
We then move into more contemplative mood, as Janet Fletcher writes on Prayer in the New Testament and Robert Mackley (who brought us notes on Christmas two years ago) guides us through his reflections on Passiontide, leading up to Easter Day. After Easter, we dive into "Isaiah" 19 - 39 with Maggie Guite, wrest-ling with some of the mysteries involved in God's dealings with ancient national and international politics. Then Patrick Whitworth shows us Paul's approach to pastoral leadership in 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon. The issues addressed in these three short letters might also be described as political, albeit on a smaller scale than Isaiah's concerns. Whatever the arena, however, we are encouraged to endure hardship or apparent chaos, trusting in God's overarching control. Finally, we spend two weeks looking at the story of Isaac, a somewhat neglected figure in "Genesis". David Fleming offers some sympathetic insights into Isaac's character and spiritual growth, ending with an emphasis on blessing that brings us back full circle to the theme of our opening set of notes.
From the next issue, we welcome David Spriggs as Commissioning Editor of Guidelines, and look forward to meeting more new writers as well as some familiar names. About the contributors in this issue: Keith Beech-Gruneberg is Director of Local Ministry Training for the Diocese of Oxford, and Programme Director for the Local Ministry Programme at Ripon College Cuddesdon. He has a PhD in the Old Testament, and particularly enjoys teaching courses on preaching and on the Bible. David Fleming is a Baptist minister. After studying for the ministry in Oxford and specialising in Old Testament Theology, he has been minister of churches in Medway in Kent and Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Janet Fletcher is Team Vicar in the Rectorial Benefice of Bangor. She offers spiritual direction and enjoys teaching groups in prayer, faith and spirituality, and leading quiet days. She has written "Pathway to God" (SPCK, 2006). Margaret Guite is an Anglican priest. During the 1980s she taught doctrine in two colleges of the Cambridge Theological Federation.
Since then she has been serving in various parishes in the Diocese of Ely and is currently parish priest of St Mark's, Cambridge, and an honorary canon of Ely. Margot Hodson is Vicar of Haddenham Benefice in Buckinghamshire. She has taught Environmental Ethics at Oxford Brookes University and is on the boards of The John Ray Initiative and A Rocha UK. Margot's books include "Cherishing the Earth", with her husband Martin (Monarch, 2008). Robert Mackley read history and theology at Cambridge University before ordination. Fr Robert is currently Assistant Chaplain and Research Student at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He is a published church historian and a regular columnist and reviewer for the Church Times. David Spriggs is a Baptist minister who has worked for the last 15 years with Bible Society, helping the churches and Higher Education to engage more fruitfully with the Bible. His passion is to see Christians enjoying their faith more and growing in their love for God and people. Henry Wansbrough OSB is a monk at Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire.
He is Executive Secretary of the International Commission for Producing an English-Language Lectionary (ICPEL) for the Roman Catholic Church, and lectures frequently across the globe. Patrick Whitworth is the Rector of All Saints, Weston Bath with North Stoke and Langridge. He served as Rural Dean of Bath from 2003 to 2008. He has published six books, including "Prepare for Exile" (SPCK, 2008), "The Word from the Throne" (2011) and "Paul as Pastor" (BRF, 2012).