When Jesus Came To Birmingham

When Jesus Came to Birmingham

When Jesus Came to Birmingham was written by Geoffrey Stoddard Kennedy, an Anglican pastor who lived in Birmingham during the time of Jesus’ arrival. ‘Indifference’ was the title of his poem. Woodbine Willie was the nickname given to Kennedy during his time serving as a chaplain in World War I trenches. He gained the nickname because he had a practice of offering Woodbine cigarettes to injured and dying men. Kennedy composed this poem in the midst of what was referred to as “the great disillusionment” of the 1920s.

After four years of war, the British economy was in shambles, and poverty was widespread, with the exception of a small number of affluent individuals.

Kennedy’s affection for England and his religion began to erode.

They nailed Him to a tree and built a Calvary from His hands and feet; they crowned Him with a crown of thorns, and His wounds were both deep red and painful; for those were crude and cruel times when human flesh was considered cheap.

As a result, they did not damage a hair of Him, and instead they simply let Him to die; for mankind had become more tender, and they did not wish to cause Him agony; instead, they simply passed by and left Him in the rain.

I am aware of your actions, and I am aware that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were either cold or hot.

As a result of your declaration that you are “rich and have grown affluent, and have no need of anything,” and as a result of your failure to see that you are wretched and sad and impoverished, as well as blind and naked,


Have you ever had a similar experience? Although I would have confidently claimed to have had such an experience maybe 2 or 3 times in my life up until about 15 minutes ago, after reading an interview with the actor who plays Jesus in the History Channel’s “The Bible” series, I can now say without reservation that I have not had such an experience in any shape, form or fashion. Perhaps you can help me. As the actor pointed out, the word “exCRUCIating” derives from, guess whereI’ll give you a hint: – “crucifixion”!

A truth that I will never be able to comprehend in my own existence Consequently, I will never again pretend to be an expert on terrible pain, save from one unexplainable and life-changing truth: I have experienced agonizing agony “The Lord Jesus took my sins and my sorrows and made them His very own; He carried the cross to Calvary and died for me.

excruciating discomfort There is no greater lovethan this for you, for me, and for everyone.Happy EasterChrist has risen! Christ has definitely risen from the dead! The indelible scars of searing anguish will serve as a constant reminder throughout eternity of the immeasurable extent of God’s love.

When Jesus Came to Birmingham

When I was at seminary, our retreat master introduced me to this poem, which I found to be quite moving. That happened 30 years ago, and the memory of it still haunts me. The following is something I recently came across on the internet and would want to share with you (I used it in my homily on the Sanctify of Life Sunday): When Jesus Visited Birmingham, written by Sean Wright It was a crude and cruel time when Jesus arrived at Golgotha, and human flesh was considered cheap. They nailed Him to a tree and built a Calvary from His hands and feet; they crowned Him with a crown of thorns, and His wounds were both deep red and painful; for those were crude and cruel times when human flesh was considered cheap.

As a result, they did not damage a hair of Him, and instead they simply let Him to die; for mankind had become more tender, and they did not wish to cause Him agony; instead, they simply passed by and left Him in the rain.


Drawing inspiration from the poetry of the Revd G.A. Studdert Kennedy, an Anglican clergyman and army chaplain during the First World War, who was known as “Woodbine Willie” due to his habit of always having a pack of cigarettes to hand out to soldiers. Hodder & Stoughton published the book in 1927. Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy composed the poem in the 1920s, during the period of “great disillusionment” that followed the slaughter of World War I, and in the middle of the economic slump, hardship, and unemployment that followed.

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True, Victorian periods were not as “religious” as they are generally portrayed; a large number of ordinary working people in Britain had lost contact with their Christian faith by 1850, when the Victorian era began.

All of it came to an end as a result of the war and its aftermath.

It was also during this period that the secularism that we know today first took root, the old-established churches never regained their former confidence, and the indifference to Christianity – not actual hostility, but just disconnected indifference to Christianity – that Studdert Kennedy portrays so movingly in this poem became entrenched in society.

  • Nonetheless, despite the fact that it is anchored, it is not universal.
  • They’d feel too ashamed to acknowledge them, and they’d struggle to find the right words to express themselves virtually all of the time.
  • When I was a parish priest in the Anglican tradition, I would always accept the request to “go back to the home” after a funeral if it was possible.
  • – ordinary working people whose families had had no contact with any church for generations would do something they would never normally do: talk about the meaning of life and death, their thoughts, their fears, and the questions they had – all to a priest, of course!
  • However, when confronted with this circumstance, a large number of English churchgoers are at a loss for what to say.
  • The economy and the expense of living, their personal lives and interests are all topics that they can discuss; nevertheless, they will not discuss God and how his love and power have touched and transformed their lives.
  • I recall walking into St Aidan’s early on a Saturday morning for Vespers a few months ago and overhearing two members of the church discussing God.

Despite this, it is rare.

During the time before church, I’ve overheard a variety of topics, including the Sunday supper, people’s sicknesses, aches and pains, if they liked the flowers, whether they believed they remembered the hymns, what the weather was like, and a whole host of other topics.

However, it happened at St Aidan’s, and it is not uncommon around here.

Unlike most other churches in England, this congregation has a mix of Orthodox converts from other Christian traditions as well as those with roots in places where being a Christian can be more difficult than it is in the United Kingdom.

And it, I believe, provides us with a unique ministry and chance to serve.

Of course, you have to pick and select when you want to do it.

If you choose the incorrect time, the individuals you know will consider you to be in the same category as them!

As previously said, bereavement is an obvious example, but there are others as well.

do not be concerned about how you are going to talk or what you are going to say, because what is going to say will be given to you.” The Church is also comprised of you, and the Church is the Body of Christ, an extension of the Incarnation of the Divine Word into the here and now, and you get his Risen Life and strength each time you receive the Holy Mysteries, as follows:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,

“The Apostle,” a newsletter published by St. Aiden Orthodox Church in Manchester, United Kingdom.

When Jesus came to Birmingham

In Newtownards, I went to a talk on the magnificent work of Betel, which was organized by someone I’d never seen before named Alan McQuade. Betel’s art is something I’ve loved for quite some time. The opportunity to tour centers in Dublin and Madrid has been extended to Sheila and myself. Betel (Spanish for Bethel) welcomed its first group of poor men and women from the streets of Madrid in the year 1985. Since then, more than 100,000 homeless and socially disadvantaged persons have received assistance in a variety of nations all over the world, including the United States.

  • Betel of Britain was established in 1996 and has its headquarters in Birmingham.
  • Kennedy, like many who labor in Betel, sensed God’s heartbeat for people and ministered honestly to regular troops who were going through ‘hell on earth’ in the trenches, both through tangible compassion and through his poetry.
  • Fortunately, Betel is attempting to fill that need by ministering to and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ to individuals who are still experiencing ‘hell on earth’ today.
  • The need in the North is immense – let us have faith that this will happen, and that it will happen soon!
  • Indifference When Jesus arrived at Golgatha, they nailed Him to a tree and nailed large nails through His hands and feet, forming a cross called Calvary.
  • During Jesus’ visit to Birmingham, the people simply passed him by.
  • Men have become more tender, and they would not cause him pain.
  • ‘Forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing!’ Jesus shouted out again.
  • G.
  • Studdert Kennedy & Associates, Inc.
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According to G. Studdert Kennedy’s renowned poem, when Jesus arrived in Birmingham, people just passed him by without a second thought. This is no longer the case. In Winson Green, Birmingham, Geoff Holt and I spent two days with the core staff of the Newbigin Center for Urban Hope, where we learned about their work. Four of the six have Ph.D.s, and they are all filled with compassion. Their goal is to build Roots in the Soil, Relationship with the Neighbourhood, and Rhythms, and they have welcomed us to offer our thoughts into these endeavors.

  1. Two members have begun to collaborate with others who live in the area.
  2. In most cases, the youngsters don’t know how to communicate in English and only stay for a few months before being moved on by the system that governs asylum seekers and those who are at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
  3. She has successfully convinced a farmer to establish an animal shelter.
  4. They provide healing, camaraderie, and the ability to interact in a creative way.
  5. During Ramadan, a number of Christians have opted to fast with them.
  6. Bishop David of Birmingham gave his blessing to it.
  7. Churches of Christ sponsored two blogs, I contributed insights on how to maintain rhythms, and Geoff presented everyone with a Celtic Cross.
  8. A few of booklets on how to learn Iranian popped out of his mailbox – a large number of Iranians who have sought refuge now attend his local church.
  9. A good book to read about their work in the slums of Bangkok is Ash’s book ‘Risky Compassion,’ which is available on Amazon.
  10. Aidan’s Bamburgh – the site of Aidan’s death – where we were introduced to Christine Hardman, the Anglican Bishop designate of Newcastle, United Kingdom.
  11. We did the same, presenting to God the changes and opportunities that lay ahead.

**** As a result of my book on Hilda of Whitby’s success, the British Research Foundation (BRF), which has commissioned a book on St. Aidan’s model of mission for our post-Christian society, is advertising for an exciting variety of new roles. www.brf.org.uk/vacancies.

Poems for Lent (3): ‘Indifference,’ by GA Studdert Kennedy

The people of Birmingham did not even bother to look at Jesus when he arrived. They would not damage a hair of His body, they would merely let Him to die. Selfridges in Birmingham’s Bullring has emerged as a contemporary architectural landmark in the city. (Image courtesy of Patrick Comerford, 2011) Patrick Comerford is a writer and musician from the United Kingdom. ‘Indifference,’ or ‘When Jesus came to Birmingham,’ is the poem I’ve chosen for today’s Lenten reading. It was written by Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy while serving as a chaplain during World War I.

  1. Kennedy’s poem contrasts the behavior of Christ’s contemporaries with our current attitudes toward strangers and outcasts, and he invites us to evaluate if we are truly following Christ to the cross this Lent.
  2. Kennedy once wrote.
  3. During World War I, he was given the moniker ‘Woodbine Willie’ because of his reputation for providing Woodbine smokes, as well as pastoral and spiritual assistance, to injured and dying men in the field of battle.
  4. He obtained his early education at Leeds Grammar School before attending Trinity College Dublin, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in classics and religion in 1904.
  5. In 1914, he was assigned to the position of Vicar of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Worcester.
  6. His wartime duties included being connected to a bayonet-training service and touring with boxers and wrestlers in order to provide morale-boosting talks about the need of bayonets.
  7. The Military Cross was awarded to him in recognition of his valor.
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In addition, he was converted to Christian Socialism and pacifism while serving in World War II, which had an impact on his writings.

Immediately following the war, Kennedy was assigned to the position of Rector of the Church of Saint Edmund, King and Martyr in Lombard Street, London However, he soon went to work with the Industrial Christian Fellowship, where he traveled around the United Kingdom giving speeches.

As far as I am aware, there is only one spiritual life, and that is the sacramental life.

When we leave the singing of the angels and the archangels and begin to examine economic situations, problems of pay, hours, and housing, we must eradicate within ourselves the current sense that we have descended to a lower level.

It is difficult, really difficult, but it must be done.

It follows that if the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament causes us to lose sight of God’s Omnipresence in the universe, then the Sacrament has become idolatrous and our worship has become genuine sin, for all evil has as its source and foundation the denial of God’s Omnipresence.” When I was younger, I used to go to Mass in places where I thought it was wicked – terrible because there was no zeal for social justice in the congregation.

Because your hands are swollen with blood, I will keep my gaze away from you when you extend your hands out in front of you; likewise, when you offer long prayers, I will not hear you.

Seek the advice of a professional.

Make a decision on the fatherless, and advocate for the widow.

It had significant meaning in that context; however, outside of that context, it has no meaning at all, and worse than nothing, it is a hollow mockery.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) will commemorate him on the 8th of March, which is a Thursday of the following week.

tsingirillies’ zyngarettes, whereas Woodbine Willie, who was very popular with the poppyrossies.

The Crucified Christ on Peter Ball’s cross in the north aisle of Birmingham Cathedral is made of copper and bronze foil, and the cross itself is made of a simple wooden sleeper (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011) By GA Studdert Kennedy, the term “indifference” is used.

They nailed Him to a tree and built a Calvary from His hands and feet; they crowned Him with a crown of thorns, and His wounds were both deep red and painful; for those were crude and cruel times when human flesh was considered cheap.

As a result, they did not damage a hair of Him, and instead they simply let Him to die; for mankind had become more tender, and they did not wish to cause Him agony; instead, they simply passed by and left Him in the rain.

Canon In addition to being a canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Patrick Comerford is a Lecturer in Anglicanism and Liturgy at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute.

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