Words from our Minister

Ken Forbes
The Revd Kenneth M Forbes, Minister at Lion Walk Church, Chappel URC and URC Christ Church, Colchester

The Revd Kenneth M Forbes was called to serve at Lion Walk Church, with Chappel URC, in November 2003.  Ken’s ministry with the Congregational Union of Scotland had been in Hamilton and Blantyre; Annan; and Port Glasgow, as well as serving as Synod Clerk for Scotland through the time the Congregational Union of Scotland joined the United Reformed Church in 2000.  Between 1989 and 1994 Ken’s ministry had been in Zimbabwe.  In 2008, Ken was also called to ministry at Christ Church, Colchester.

A few examples of Ken’s sermons can be found on the Sermons page of this website.

Each month Ken writes in the Church magazines.  As Lion Talk is available to members only on this website, the article written for the magazine is presented here for you to read:

The Christmas story is a parable of light and darkness, and like any parable we tell and re-tell it to remind ourselves of a profound truth.  It is a beloved  story, with angels and stars, shepherds and magi and that warm, glowing stable. All these things undoubtedly add to the symbolism and mystery of this wonder-full story.

Yet It is the darker side of the Christmas story that perhaps speaks most powerfully to our times.  It is a story of a young couple embarking upon the risky business of childbirth in temporary accommodation fit only for animals; and a story of a young family, in the face of real danger, fleeing across the border in a desperate bid to seek sanctuary in a foreign land.

It is a story of joy and horror, of promise and threat, of arrival and departure – of light and darkness.

It is a story-in-itself  but it is also the preface to a much bigger story, one whch has the same conflicts and contrasts, but which ends with hope of new life.

It is right that when we hear the Christmas story again we should concentrate on the light and the hope, but we would be drastically diminishing its value if we were to ignore altogether the darker side.

Jesus was born into the world – this world – and experienced, even in the first weeks of his life, the cruelty and danger of the world.  As an adult he came into contact, and into conflict, with the powers of the world, political, economic and religious, and in the end he gave his life for the world – for its transformation from darkness to light.

Except of course that wasn’t the end, for the process of transformation continues through us and all God’s people as we celebrate its beginning at Christmas.

Ken (from December 2016 Lion Talk)

At the end of February I attended an ‘Inter-Faith gathering’ held in the Town hall and hosted by the Mayor. Its simple purpose was to get representatives of the different faith communities talking to one another, sharing their experiences of faith, and perhaps finding some common ground.

It was attended by representatives of several Christian denominations, as well as members of the Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Sikh faiths,the Humanist Society, and one or two of ‘floating’ faith who weren’t attached to any one religious group. We each had the opportunity for brief one-to-one conversation with members of other faiths to share what faith meant to us personally.

It was during these conversations that the common ground was revealed: a passion for justice and peace. Everyone I spoke to – my conversations were with Muslim, Buddhist, Christian and humanist – shared those same values, but embraced different forms of spirituality to express them.

Two things struck me about the event. Firstly I realised that we are all just human people, struggling in our own ways to transform a broken and dangerous world through our faith. There are many different emphases. Some concentrate on prayer and meditation in an effort to cleanse the human spirit; some adhere to a set of formal laws or practices; some concentrate on prayer and some on service to the community. Most combine some or all of these.

Secondly it became clear that all faiths are worried about what we call ‘fundamentalism’, by which we mean a strict, exclusive and sometimes violent understanding of faith. Most faiths, it seems, are troubled by a small minority of their members whose exclusivity and hatred of other faiths arouses fear and suspicion and causes damage to their own faith. This is a problem for Islam, Judaism and Christianity in particular; a problem which is being addressed locally by events such as this.

This worthwhile evening ended with an excellent buffet supper provided by the Muslim community ….

Ken (from April 2016 Lion Talk)