WTC MOOC Week 4: Jesus  (@WTCTheology)

This week we’ll explore the story of Jesus Christ as revealed in the four Gospels, beginning with the testimony of face-to-face encounters with him.

John 20:11-18, 21:15-17

Matt 5:1-12

John 8:1-11

Bauckham

Jesus favoured indirect communication – appealing to the imagination/provoke thought. Asking questions without giving answers., using a range of styles (metaphors, similes, analogies, stories that mean what they say).

Also indirect communication via actions, and not just words, including symbolism in meals, action, riding in on a donkey, washing his disciples feet.

A common feature of indirect communication is creating a pause for thought between what is said and space for a realisation of what is meant.

Jesus does draw on the Hebrew Bible when talking with religious leaders, but otherwise “doesn’t engage in learned exegesis of Scripture”… otherwise used tales that were familiar to the world his hearers knew well… especially drawing on characters other than Kings – more regular ‘figures of authority’ that would have been meaningful to ordinary people in a rural context.

Narrative Parables: The stories were short, containing only what was needed in them to make the point, engaging, drawing their hearers into them – therefore popular. Let the story make an impact as a story, before seeking its message. Most are stories about the kingdom, rather than broad moral lessons or truths about God and the world

Aphorisms – short, tend to be skim read by modern readers, but are intended to be paused and pondered – and possibly memorised. Some are deliberately riddles/puzzles. All designed for an oral society – few off the cuff, but carefully prepared, repeated, and designed to be memorable. (Rote learning was common in the ancient world). As the gospels say, Jesus must have spoken at more length, but this is not what is recorded in the Bible (although a sense of this is given in the Gospel of John). He took every opportunity to teach and preach.

Jesus’ relationship with God ‘the father’ was core – God was clearly the God of the Hebrew scriptures. Jewish teachers constantly retold the story to bring out its relevance in the contemporary situation. Jesus = the start of re-establishment of God’s rule. He avoids direct reference to God’s action by using passive verbs, and although discussing ‘the kingdom of God’, never refers to God as ‘King’… likely because at that time, human kings offered oppressive rule. More frequent references to God as father gives more of an impression of a combination of authority and loving care (including loving correction). The importance of the word ‘Abba’ – typically used within Aramaic families from childhood to adulthood – evoking family intimacy, which Jesus is doing in his conversations to God… and then used by many non-Aramaic early Christians (whereas Jews had typically used YHWH). Note the compassionate face of Jesus, etc. does not remove the judgement of God – in fact his presence was testimony for the need to make a decision.

In Jewish tradition = 2 ways in which instructions on how to live were given. Interpretation of the law of Moses, or wisdom counsel on how to live. Jesus tended to offer radical interpretations … in answering which of the 613 commandments were most important = love God, love your neighbour (so 2 commandments), Loving ones neighbour was not the same as loving God, but loving God meant that one would love ones neighbour. Love is not emotional, but obedient… from the heart. In a conflict of laws, these 2 would be expected to override all (as demonstrated in the story of the Good Samaritan).

With an emphasis on oaths, Jesus was not banning ‘swearing’, but indicating that disciples should have no need to be ‘under oath’ to tell the truth, but should be telling the truth at all times. Even more challenging – do not retaliate. Jesus looks at motivation not outcome (e.g. murderous/adulterous/covetous thoughts). Pharisees were more concerned with ritual purity … at the expenses of moral demands. The Sabbath was to be a gift, not a burden – Jesus’ answer to an ongoing debate as to what work could be done on a Sunday. Many of these debates were not new, but Jesus exercised far more freedom in interpretation than other… and rarely argues but announces authoritatively. The integrity of the heart = the source of all true obedience to the law.

Jesus’ talking about current social structures/relationship – highlights a society in which the world’s current status/rank has no place… Fellow disciples become family … from which fathers are not listed, as fatherhood is reserved for God… Nothing (including feet washing) should be beneath a disciple’s dignity… the disciples were reduced to the lowest status, the ‘slave’ – none is more important than the others. To become like a child was not about trust, but about social status – as children had none… common thinking is subverted to do away with self-importance. Inviting the poor/destitute for meals, etc. was more than ‘generous charity’ but a well-recognised duty – treating as social equals. The beatitudes – the poor recognise their total dependence on God, whereas the rich feel self-sufficient. Jesus requires a day-by-day trust to ‘Give us this day our daily bread’.

What about Jesus’ position on Jewish political issues of the day? Again, indirectly. Protested at the markets in the Temple because the focus was on profit, which was hindering access to God’s presence, especially for the poor. The debates were religio-poltiical rather than fully political.

The story of the forgiveness of debt … the king demonstrated astonishing mercy, but the slave didn’t take the opportunity to change his world, but chose to remain where mercy is unknown – therefore the king retracted his mercy. The dark side is the seriousness with which Jesus warns of destruction for those who take the mercy and compassion of God but don’t own such extravagant generosity. The judgement therefore becomes self-imposed.

Tilling

https://www.academia.edu/503314/Richard_Bauckhams_Jesus_and_the_Eyewitnesses_Summary_and_Short_Critical_Reflection

CRITIQUING Baukman – Eyewitnesses of gospel history – authoritative sources and guarantors of the traditions of Jesus.

‘The historical Jesus’ – relies on accessible material. If we don’t trust that material, how can we trust the gospels? Many have addressed these by seeking external verification to support (etc) the Gospel narratives… but can this substitute for the Gospels themselves as a way into the ‘reality of Jesus’.

The importance of testimony – to be trusted, not uncritically, but nor solely dependent upon independent verification. All history essentially relies upon testimony, and this a value and unique way of accessing historical reality. The Gospels were written within living memory – Mark early on, and the others were captured before they could be lost.

Papias – deliberately using the terminology of historiographical practice – the ‘living and surviving voice’, part of the ‘oral tradition’. He was more concerned with the voices of those who had directly connected with Jesus, rather than the collective memory of churches. Important to understand whose voices, and which names are used – what is the significance of those to ‘trust’ in the material. Evidence of commonly used names, but expected Biblical names were rare (e,g. Moses, etc.) as would have been seen as presumptuous to name ones child such. Names of the 12 disciples often given in a particular order – discrepancies across the Gospels possibly down to the way that distinctions between common names were made amongst the disciples.

Material relating to different writing devices by each gospel writer, and why some characters would need to have remained anonymous for their own safety. (especially within the early church). There are questions about what oral tradition look like, and how that helps us understand their veracity.

“Rather, given memorisation, possibly the use of writing, and the presence of eyewitness testimony, the (isolated) traditions underwent a particular kind of formal control  in their transmission.”

When these eyewitnesses started dying out ‘the Gospels will have stepped into the

role of the eyewitnesses … functioning as the guarantor of the traditions, as the eyewitnesses had in their lifetimes, and as controls on the tradition’.

Maurice Halbwach – collective memory…

In other words, ‘social memory or oral tradition has to be constantly negotiating the relationship of the present to the past. In this negotiation the past has a voice that has to be heard. It cannot be freely invented’.

Eyewitnesses would have been remembering inherently memorable events, reinforced and stablilised by frequent rehearsal soon after the event – therefore implicit reliability.

A particular focus on the Gospel of John, which appears to have been sidelined, highlighting the links between Prologue and Epilogue, showing connections.

Highlighting 2 types of discipleship – active service (Peter), and perceptive witness (John, the beloved disciple). Gospel’s interpretative nature appropriate for the subject matter. In a modern individualistic society, we need to understand more in communal or inter-subjective terms… Testimony invites trust, whereas modern historical methods come from a position of doubt… this is linked to how we can trust e.g. testimonies from the Holocaust – giving ‘truths’ in a way that other sources can’t. .. but access it as testimony.

Session 4.1: Jesus of the Gospels

‘The Word Became Flesh’ … 4 Gospels (see screenshot).

 jesus-gospels

Lots of similarities, but different target audiences

  • Matthew – Jewish brethren, quotes Old Testament and how Jesus was the fulfillment of this, and the Jewishness of Jesus
  • Mark – shorter – action account, uses the word ‘immediately’ a lot. Stories revolving about Peter’s experiences. Focuses on Romans (see customs and words are explained/translated)
  • Luke – the Dr – travelled with Apostle Paul. Used many sources and researched carefully. Draws particularly on Mary (mother of Jesus) stories. Focuses on reaching the Greeks. Emphasis on healing ministry ofJesus.
  • John – 3 generations after other 3 gospels are written. Language shift – less focus on the Kingdom of God, and more about Jesus’ offer of eternal life. Jesus IS the gospel.

Session 4.2: Jesus: Face to Face

Jesus has many face-to-face, one-on-one meetings – it’s not all big mountaintop stories. They touch us because they are venues where we can also come face to face with Jesus.

JOHN 3 (NICODEMUS) – It doesn’t matter where you are born, where you come from – be born again – new life. Jesus is more than a ‘good teacher’, but the Son of God.

John 4 (Photini) – Meeting with the Woman at the Well –crossing lots of social boundaries. Evangelised, using her witness within Samaria until (probably) murdered.

John 20 – (Mary in the Garden) Mary Magdalene receives the revelation of Jesus in a garden (righting the wrongs of Eden).

John 21 (Peter on the beach) – ‘Do you Love Me?’ ‘Feed my sheep’. “I have a job for you to do” – qualifies him as a disciple and the one who would lead the story into the book of Acts.

Session 4:3 Jesus – Words of Life

‘The Sermon on the Mount’ – an introductory sermon for those who wanted to know what his core teaching was – his idea/revelation of the Torah. All of the law/prophecy – come into focus on Jesus.

The first half of each Beatitude = related to Jesus’ crucifixion, whilst the second half gives a glimpse of the resurrection. Bring into daily discipleship – what does it mean to take up your Cross daily and follow daily? What does it mean to die on the Cross but continue to live? Essentially in the Beatitudes (Matt 5-7) – not only ‘how to become a good Christian’ but how to become human. Gandhi said if we could but take up the Sermon on the Mount and live it .. many of the problems of the world would be solved.   The fine print of our Covenant with Christ – our sins are totally forgiven, and we are given the Holy Spirit as we continue on the earth.

The story of the Prodigal Son has been called the microcosm of the whole gospel. All who have wandered away are invited back – not to a retributative God, but to a welcoming God, with no need to jump through hoops for redemption. The story of the Good Samaritan is also key. Jesus picks up the broken – takes them to the Inn (church) – Jesus asks us to look after similar? If echoes today, maybe that’s a little what salt and light look like in the modern day.

Session 4:4: Jesus,: Works of Love & Power

Works of Love

John 8 – forgiving sin (woman caught in adultery) – challenging Jesus – will he obey the law of Moses or not? Law came through Moses, but grace and peace came through Jesus. (Jeremiah – writes in the dust). “Go and sin no more”, not an instruction or I’ll rescind, but because she’s been offered a fresh start (life of transformation)

Luke 8 – The demon removed from the man = a healing of his soul, not just a demon removal.

Works of Power

The miracles (signs) – including raising from the dead, healing, resurrection, calming the storm, etc.

The passion (the cross) – Matthew, Mark, Luke – seen as a humiliation/defeat until the resurrection, although John treats the Cross as the glorification of Christ at that stage.

The resurrection = at the heart of our gospel.

Session 4.5: Jesus & Beliefs

Who is Jesus? What did the church come to in the end? By the end, of Jesus’ ministry, he was seen as the Messiah, the Son of God. Fully man and fully God.

The early church – agreed on the Nicene Creed. Divine identity language – God brings everything together… God enfleshed in human form.

WTC Mooc: Week 3: Living the Christian Story – Exodus (@WTCTheology)

exodus

Core Reading

Exodus 1:1-15 (or chapters 1-15, but there’s only 10!) through to the story of the Plagues … but overall a story of oppression leading to recreation?

Dempster

Israel is becoming ‘many’ as ordained at creation… but there are several obstacles to be overcome first. Seen alone, misses the ‘new humanity’ destined to restore creation blessing to the world. With Moses, see how it harks back to e.g. Noah, and forward to Israelite experiences. Moses says ‘I am’, which has led to a lot of discussions as to whether he was divine – or God’s representative. Either way it’s important to understand that God was present.

Moving from a time of chromos to kairos (exile is almost over):

Such is the case with chronos and kairos. Both are Greek words which mean time, but they imply different things.

Chronos refers to minutes and seconds. It refers to time as a measurable resource.

Kairos is the word used for time in Ephesians 5:16 (which I examined in more detail here). Kairos means an appointed time, an opportune moment, or a due season.

http://www.lifeofasteward.com/chronos-kairos/

Constant battle between Israel/Egypt, pre-ordination of what will happen when Jesus comes, and defining the Israelite nation – the importance of the ‘firstborn’ sons, the gradual admittance of the ‘superior power of Yahweh’. The parting of the waves of the ‘Reed Sea’ answers the question of who is in control. The goal of the journey to re-establish the Abrahamic covenant, having passed through the water, now to pass through the human gauntlet, to re-establish ‘Edenic sanctuary’, where God can dwell again with his people. The importance of Mount Sinai to the Torah… a new covenant with God – where obedience leads to blessing/fullness of life, disobedience to curse and death – set apart as a ‘holy nation’, imaging God to the nations. Moses as the mediator between God/the people as God is too powerful, a covenant marked by blood/a sacrifice. An important part of this covenant is to work and rest. The development of the Tabernacle = similarities with Eden, but even before the covenant is made, the Israelites have broken it with false idols. The freedom emphasised by the divine is ‘grace and mercy’. In the 10 commandments, the judgements are given first, but the ‘rear view’ of God emphasises mercy and forgiveness. The golden calf doesn’t represent God, but human beings in converse with him.

Ekblad

Pharaoh felt threatened by immigrants (such as Jacob’s family) – so became ruthless in the tasks they imposed upon them – but despite this – the numbers increased. Considers how this is in parallel with the Latin American experiences (of men currently in jail) – especially when they are given ‘education’ but not opportunities to take jobs, so go back to what they know – a life of crime – in order to live. The ‘baby boys’ were killed before they could become a problem. The Egyptians needed the immigrants because they did the work that the Egyptians didn’t want to do, but the general thinking was for deportation or down-trodden-ness. The midwives were expected to kill the boys, but refused, so were blessed by God. By worldly standards, Pharaoh was at the top, but God was on the side of the oppressed/weak (not the oppressors) and they survived.

Often when people read the Bible, they read it through oppressive interpretations, which can be subverted by careful reading of the text itself. Guided readings can question assumptions and invite unexpected identifications. When Moses impulsively kills a harsh taskmaster, he has to flee – originally a ‘saviour’ he is now absent from the scene, and failing to intervene – how many see God also… but a deeper reading can see a bigger picture coming to fruition.

When working with Latino prisoners, the author – a Caucasian pastor – representative of the prison system, and of God … many in the prison see God as hyper-sovereign – distant judge who has pre-ordained everything, so lives cannot be re-mapped… all negative aspects of their lives are ‘God’s will’. Their theology assumes that God is just/good and therefore that they must be bad/deserving of all the calamities that have befallen them. No redemption is expected. .. and people attend the sessions for reasons such as social interaction, especially once they find that ‘accepting Christ’ does not instantly solve all their problems. They may think that attending will give a lighter sentence. Belief is, however – people are hungry for an authentic encounter whatever the original reason.

The facilitator has a careful role, which subverts those barriers, replacing the old, paralysing theology. .. with a need to distance himself from ‘taskmasters’, and make the prisoners realise that he’s on their side. God’s will happens through covert disobedience, non-compliance, etc… God listened to the groans of slaves, but they remained slaves … author discusses his experience of working with those seeking to find liberation from e.g. heroin addiction – not in terms of the ‘heroic victor’, but weakness/ignorance on how to heal. In Mexico – often become violent – taking frustration out on someone – as Moses did – direct experience of poverty/oppression = violent. No long-term respect however… required for that = respect and humility. God shows up where Moses is (wherever that wilderness is). Moses when called to go back, said that he wasn’t worthy (he was human). “There’s another really important guy in Israel’s history who didn’t feel cut out for this. Look, God used him. God can use me too.” [Imposter syndrome?]

Session 3:1 Exodus: Setting up the Conflict (Matt Lynch)

Theology and Social Action…. Exodus – reflected in the way they rebuilt their society – institutionally built into their laws, etc. Moving from being a family, to becoming a nation. There was fear-based oppression … being fruitful and multiplying = in the wrong place/time = threatening to Egyptians. Pharaoh does not know God, and does not let the people rest. God cares and hears the cry of the afflicted. God hears it and responds.

Session 3:2: Exodus – The Plagues

God has power of creation, has concern for poor and the afflicted. Conflict between Pharaoh/God. God displays his power over Pharaoh and over creation with the boils. God “you can’t act this way towards my people and get off the hook.” Why does God harden Pharaoh’s heart? The plagues are not to get the Israelites out of Egypt, but to show his power to Pharaoh… who has fraudulent power… shows future generations his power?

Session 3:3 Exodus – Concern for the Vulnerable (Bob Ekblad)

What actions lead to liberation (Exodus 1)? Do we see the presence of God in this text? Confusing – God blesses people who lie in order to protect the innocent? [Makes me think of Corrie Ten Boom – ‘they are under the table’]. What does God do? He’s on the side of the underdog? How does God liberate? Who are the main characters from most powerful to weakest? Who is God with?

exodus-power

  • Shiprah and Puah (midwives) à non-compliance and deception
  • Moses’ Mother à Hides the baby not obey the law
  • Moses’ Sister à Spies for Moses (proactive)
  • Pharaoh’s Daughter à Seeing/having compassion

Session 3.4: Exodus: Liberation Today

Understanding contemporary law enforcement. A challenge to those who believe that deception is a sin – most characters are undertaking this in this story. What does the use of these weak characters tell us about God? How does God save now? It tends to indicate non-compliance. Pharaoh’s daughter uses her privilege to rescue. What would that look like today? Funding people to look after other people? Should we be giving work to denied asylum seekers? Educating them? What are the limits of compliance for us?

Session 3.5: Exodus: Seeing the Vulnerable

The importance of “seeing” human beings (rather than ‘the mass’). [Seeing individuals/telling people’s stories?]. Moses (and most on the margins) assume that God is on the side of law enforcement and the status quo, but Moses’ violence response doesn’t disqualify him from God’s mission to be an agent of liberation. God is looking for similar characters in contemporary culture.

WTC MOOC: TH49X1: Living the Christian Story: Sin & Redemption (Week 2) @WTCTheology

WTC-week2

Core Reading

Genesis 3-4; 12: For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Romans 8: For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Revelation 21-22 : No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants[h] will worship him.

Tom Wright/Scripture

Scriptural authority – needs an integrated view, including listening, wresting with, obedience and proclamation.

Scriptural ‘reading’ may encompass a range of tasks but:

We read scripture in order to be refreshed in our memory and understanding of the story within which we ourselves are actors, to be reminded where it has come from and where it is going to be, and hence what our own part within it ought to be

The Bible (and not just the newspaper/latest political fashion) in hand, in which the church can go to work in the world – confident that Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not. Not about ‘telling people what the Bible says’, but about radical transformation of life, a personalized faith. Can happen if just the Bible is read, but more commonly comes about through the work of God’s people – who understand it and apply it to their own lives. That authority works at the cosmic, political and personal level.

Church needs to pay attention to tradition, listening carefully/humbly/not uncritically to how read/lived scripture in the past… helps us understand what we read ‘naturally’. We should see the ‘living voice’ of the ‘very human church’ as it struggles with scripture… why this is a fresh challenge for each generation.

We need to pay attention to reason, to being attentive to context (especially our own biases), detail, etc. where public discussions and debates (NOT shouting matches) are so important… rather than trying to ‘wipe one’s opponent off the board’. Pay attention to the input of other subjects, such as science (which studies the repeatable) and history (which studies the unrepeatable?) – reason forms the language of understanding.

We need a multi-layered view of God, understanding genre, setting, literary style, etc… and take care when referring to The Bible as one book [especially when used for lifestyle understanding].

5-Act Hermeneutic: Creation, ‘Fall’, Israel, Jesus, the Church. Even if we don’t accept this model, we need some kind of overarching narrative, otherwise becomes mere ‘fuel for devotion’ – there is continuity with previous acts (as plays), but that continuity implies change. “We must be ferociously loyal to what has gone before and cheerfully open about what must come next.”

e.g. We can discuss how things were, but not directly change that (e.g. Garden of Eden) as it will be, as it will have been transformed and fulfilled. We should not imagine a world without redemption. We don’t need to rebuild [live by?] OT structures such as the Temple. We are not living in Gospel times so the rules may be different, but that is the foundation for our current lives – they are not relativized by the passing of time, or by cultural shifts. We are living in ‘the fifth act’, after which will come a new creation… we ‘improvising’, which doesn’t mean a ‘free for all’, but “a disciplined and careful listening to all the other voices around us, and a constant attention to the themes, rhythms, and harmonies of the complete performance so far, the performance which are now called to continue.” This may include ‘fresh expressions’ – all churches need to ‘play the same tune’, but may devise their own variations, though not from other tunes, or with a different ending … this understanding would lead to more respectful interactions.

Contextual reading of scripture – each word within a verse à within a chapter à within a book à within its historical, cultural and canonical setting. All is ‘culturally conditioned’, so cannot add/set some aspects aside. We need to understand both the culture of the time, and our own culture… this will be an ongoing project! Work with both the bigger picture and the detail.. read incarnationally – paying attention to both the humanity of the text and of its readers.

The key importance of corporate worship, where the Bible is read – we’re prepared for it, appreciate it, and given the opportunity to meditate further on it… not just to understand content, but to use the media to shape the mind and life of the community. The readings should be arranged so that glimpses into the story of both the OT and NT are seen, rather than lost as a pre-cursor to a sermon. At communion:

“Scripture forms God’s people, warming their hearts as with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, so that their eyes may then be opened to know him in the breaking of the bread.”

For life-changing transformations, then ordinary Christians need to read, encounter, and study scripture for themselves, in groups and individually. Since the enlightenment, the Western world has prioritised private reading, but Wright would emphasise communal reading/understanding. The church should understand what individual readers are discovering in the text, facilitating bringing a range of viewpoints to the wider body, enriching the larger community, and ensuring that maverick/misleading readings can be gentle/appropriately corrected. Fresh insights presented by churches should build up, rather than threaten – the mission and life of the church – scholarly research is encouraged, but the framework used should be taken with care, as scholars will always be working within a framework of some kind. The church needs to re-establish a hermeneutic of trust, rather than a hermeneutic of suspicion and anti-intellectualism.

Church leaders need to examine their practice, especially at the more senior levels, where life becomes so busy, there’s no time for fresh, careful, prayerful re-interpretation of the text, but rather an old sermon is shaken off… The importance of sermons as the place where heaven and earth meets .. as a time of sacrament.

Session 2:1 – Creation-Fall (Matt Lynch)

Act 1: Creational Shalom & Unfinished Tasks – humanity is not only to tend the garden, but to help it flourish and become what it has not yet become.

Act 2: Falling out between God, creation and humanity. Fallout was not just felt by humans, but by all parties involved. Not just humans implicated, but the serpent. Originally parity of humans, now we have hierarchy, plus shame, fear and hiding … complicating the ability of God to carry out his creational purposes. Sin as a theological problem – the serpent introduces the question of God’s goodness/abundance and blessing. As Adam/Eve questions this – they act in rebellion to God, as they seek an autonomous wisdom.

Sin and death are now in the picture, so how will God accomplish his purposes.

Session 2:1 Flood-Israel

Act 3: The floodwaters sent over the earth covered a world that was already ruined…. God (with Noah) is already preparing the way for a new creation. However, the ‘damaged’ humanity took their issues/damage onto the ark, so God promised never to destroy in the same way again – so what is he now going to do to uphold the integrity of creation? Creation post-flood is an act of grace.

Act 4: Most important part of this story is the calling of Abraham, as the start of the nation of Israel. In the Song of Songs we have a recapturing of the original equality, and – set in a garden – Eden can be recaptured if people live out God’s will in the world. Old, infertile couple to become immigrants in a foreign land as the solution to the fallen world… God chooses King David to represent Israel … Solomon is to build a temple – Kings has many high points with times of obedience, with glimpses of the Garden of Eden – but mixed with ongoing reaching for autonomy and idolatrous rebellion.

Session 2:3: Exile Jesus

Act 5: Exile and the death of Israel – back to Babylon – the land, the people, etc. were all devastated, so there was a question as to whether God was still good, and faithful to his people. Not a return just to the land, but the resurrection of a righteous people – God breathing in new life and becoming ‘covered with skin’. There is a return to the land – in Nehemiah, they are still in a condition of slavery.

Act 6: Jesus and the restoration of humanity. Previously was God focused on Israel? Is that scrapped to focus on the wider church? Think about the story in context of his Jewish identity. What is so significant as the Jewish story? He comes as the representative of Israel before God, but also the representative of humanity (what Israel couldn’t do on its own). With trust in Jesus, we get the benefits of his obedience.

Session 2:4: New Creation and Review

Act 7: The story of new creation … we as humanity have not yet reached this stage. We don’t know what this is going to look like – God isn’t go to start again, but burn off what doesn’t endure. Including the sea (seen as chaos in Biblical thinking).

Jesus came, as a human, to connect the past and the future … in this he accomplishes the tasks given to Adam and Eve in the beginning. By succeeding where humanity has failed, the reconciliation process begins, with the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit.

Col 1: 19-20 – Christ comes in weakness, something that we can see as a pattern of God, but works through them. The weak things of the world shame the wise. We need weaning off our idolatrous pretensions – our wish for fame, power, significance – our reaching after Godlikeness.

Now have a sense of the bigger picture, and next – unpacking the significance of living out this story as Christians in the world.

WTC MOOC: TH49X1: Living the Christian Story: Creation (Week 1) // @WTCTheology

So, I’m a little late starting this one, but I can see a two-fold benefit from it. 1) I do theology every day, but am “a little hazy” about the terminology, the core names (or ‘meaty theologians’ as someone put it earlier) 2) I get to see a second online course in action and think what works/what I’d improve:

WTC

Intro: Module Rationale and Overview: The premise of this module is that an enriched and engaged Christian life depends on engagement with the riches of the Christian story, a story told in the Old and New Testaments, and in the life of the early Church. This module explores that Christian story and then considers several ways that Christians can creatively and meaningfully live out that story in their everyday context.

Overview: Matthew Lynch – Biblical story in old/new testament, early testament creeds/doctrines, social practices/social justice and in the workplace and ministries.

Core Reading:

Genesis 1-2

‘The Drama of Scripture’ – the importance of the ‘name’(s) of God, the understanding that the moon/sun are created by God, so God the creator is to be worshipped rather than the sun/moon itself. Written particularly to help those in the ancient world who were promoting different worldviews.

The importance of understanding the way that the story is told is important, clearly crafted, with an overview of themes (pp10)

  • God is the divine source of all that is
  • He stands apart from all other things in the special relationship of Creator to creation.
  • The fashioning of humankind by God was intended to be the high point of all his work of making and forming.
  • God had in mind a very special relationship between himself and this last-formed of all his creatures.

We worry so much about how that we think less about the why, and of our own place in the divine story. The main ‘actors’ in the play are God and humanity, and the relationship between them.

Creation = an amazing piece of art, and Genesis introduces us to the artist. In OT times, there were lots of questions about ‘authority’, and God is introduced as the ultimate authority. There is a relationship between God and his subjects, and we are invited to partake in the task of filling/ordering the world, which is our home.

Whatever questions there are about evolution, etc. the important point is that we are not random products of time/chance. Augustine Confessions would say that we are made for God and ‘our hearts are restless until we find our rest in him’. We are distinct from God, but made in his image. We are not given authority for ruthless domination over nature/tyrannical exploitation, but to steward/caretake it well. It’s like being asked into the studio to finish one of Michelangelo’s designs, and ensure that his reputation will be enhanced by the finished product… God is revealed in work, art, music, life, etc… We are not fully human on our own, but built in a variety of relationships. The world is not something to be looked down upon by those who are ‘saved’, but described by God as ‘good’. We are God’s image bearers, but we are tarnished (unlike Jesus).

Session 1:1 (Introduction)

There are 2 creation stories, which help us understand (according to the Bible), what does it mean to be human? They are also ‘the background music’ to the rest of the Bible.

“God is at work creating a people and a place for his presence so that creation can share in his abundant life.”

There’s a people focus, but there’s also a place.

The Bible has given us 2 lenses through which to understand the stories – a liturgy of creation, and ‘the drama of dirt’.

Session 1:2 (Genesis 1 as Liturgical Poetry)

Genesis 1 is structured carefully/poetically, and therefore that should inform how we should read it.

What existed before Creation is not fit for any form of habitation by creatures. God ‘breathes’ creation into existence. Creation of domains, and the filling of those domains.

¼ Light/Dark // Create heavenly bodies

2/5 Waters above/below // birds/fish

3/6 Earth // humans

7 – Sabbath ‘a day set apart’.

This is to be emulated by God’s people, including animals. All creation is made for a rhythm of work and rest.

Materiality – God declares it ‘good’, it has a goodness apart from its usefulness to humans. Invites rhythm, and meditation upon the story itself, and our fundamental relationships in/within the world.

Other texts echo the idea of the importance of creation (the importance of the creation of the tabernacle), the number 7 is woven into other Biblical accounts. Ensure that creation is not squelched in its use.

Session 1:3 Humanity in Genesis 1

God does not make idols of himself elsewhere, but chooses to be present in “us” – in the Bible, with the exiles. God’s continual movement towards humanity, to be with them.

God shares his power/rule with humanity, which then has an enormous responsibility for both the environment, and to ensure that each human is dignified as an image bearer (OT – special concern for the poor). No such thing as ‘human-to-human’ encounter, are encountering the divine – so to oppress the poor is to oppress their maker.

God shares his abundant life through blessing and provision. It’s not just giving good things, but provisioning for a task, with male/female working together as equals.

Session 1:4 Humanity in Genesis 2

‘The drama of dirt’ – God gets his hands dirty in the creation of the world. This is an earth-oriented story, whereas 1:1 is heaven oriented. There was no human to cultivate the earth, til Gen 2:7, when God could begin to form humanity (unclear whether it was ‘a man’ or ‘a human’.

To be human means to live with ‘bounded freedom’. Eat from every tree (a generous, giving God), except the tree of good and evil. Important to hear that the first command is one of generous abundance, but there are constraints. If the playground is a place where everyone can play ‘freely’ (without rules) then there is no freedom to play within that space.

Humans are deeply connected to the earth – images are made in the image of God above, but formed from the ground below. Humanity has a God-given task, of work – not as cheap labour, but to tend the divine garden (in the OT East, an abundant garden was a sign of wealth).

Man & woman are made for co-equal relationship. There’s a belonging together, serving as partners in the task (not a subordinate). The term ‘helper’ is used elsewhere in the Bible to speak of God. The first words spoken about man/women spoken about how they are alike, rather than how they are different. Loneliness is not seen to be good in creation. The human need for relationship is not threatening to God, or a sign of weakness in human beings. We are made for community with others as well as with God. In the ancient world, women typically left their household to join the man, Genesis encourages the man to leave his household.

Session 1:5: Reading Genesis 1& 2 Together

Being human before God – we share God’s life, power and rule, but we are made from the earth – the two need to be taken together. If we’re feeling down, look up, if we’re feeling superior, look down…

Being human in Creation – we rule/subdue it, but we also serve and steward it. We’re to be kings, but also to be servants.

Being human in community- in relation to other humans. Gen 1 – corresponding to the divine, whilst Gen 2 – corresponding to one another. What does the Bible understand as the ideal purpose of humanity? Jesus is seen to come as the fulfilment of the perfect role model…

Next week: looking at the overall Biblical story, what happens when sin enters?

‘Citizen’ by @AwakenRob

1794824_10154732177950161_9058088988011595710_nSo, I met Rob earlier this year at Spring Harvest, and it was a nice surprise to receive this in the post a few weeks ago with an invitation to read/review… this morning I picked it up, and read it quickly, and appreciatively!

The overall question that Rob is asking is what does it mean to live as a citizen of God’s kingdom, living as ‘resident aliens’ (Hauerwas’s term) on earth?

I was struck by Rob’s questioning of what was a ‘successful’ life, as he sought to live a life true to God’s leaning, discern his passions, and to ensure that prayer was accompanied by action, challenging the gospel of individualism – aka ‘Golden Ticket Theology’ (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory style), which focuses the question on ‘if I died today, where would I go?’, and doesn’t challenge our life on earth too much. Using the character of Frank:

He has not allowed Jesus’ gospel to permeate his being. Instead, Jesus has become an add-on when Frank has run out of options on his own, a go-to in times of trouble. Frank is trying to live the “Western dream” and bring Jesus along for the ride as well. (p27)

Rob’s emphasis is that yes, Jesus died to save you from something, but also for something. We are looking for transformational living, not just of our own, but also as a part of community (especially those who wouldn’t set foot in a ‘traditional’ church). We are called to reimagine our lives, reposition our values, re-identify who we are, and re-centre on Jesus (p29) – and in this – lose our fear – we should be the biggest risk takers on the planet… but we prefer safety, comfort, routine, etc (p100)

We long to be noticed, to be listened to, to be known and understood, and our identity – the way in which we see ourselves – is affect by all of these things. (p49)

Giving us a sense of citizenship through both his own journey from the States to the UK, and notions of citizenship in Jesus’ time, as they affect our identity – although this ideally should not be dictated by our present circumstances. As we claim our identity in Christ, we claim a solid identity – which breeds security. We gain an understanding of the word ‘ecclesia’ as it was in Roman times – an exclusive, and how Christians reclaimed the word to make it an inclusive meeting. Rob emphasises the importance of friendship in identifying the beauty of others, but also in ourselves, and cautions that in a modern world, it’s easy to have many friends and be incredibly busy, but avoid deep friendships.

On p70-71 Rob highlights the difference in the way we introduce ourselves. In Biblical times (and still in many cultures) people are introduced as part of a clan and identified as part of a line of descendants, whereas in contemporary Western culture we are introduced by what we do. What we do achieves us certain material goods and lifestyle, but we, as Christians, are unlikely to be satisfied by this because we were not made for this (and you know, having decluttered strongly, and done a lot of work on values, etc. this is far more satisfying = less things to maintain/upkeep!). Rob also challenges the denominational model that so many align themselves with: “What matters is that each of has found Jesus, and our citizenship is now in heaven” – however much the denominational lenses may differ. We spend too much time and energy arguing about our differences, than focusing on our unity… and that much of church growth is done at the expense of other churches, rather than a joint venture. Christlikeness does not happen by osmosis, but by practice… note Mahatma Gandhi… if we are Christians, it is part of our identity and therefore should inform how we live (see some thoughts on this from a talk I gave at Spring Harvest) – see also p139 re sacred/secular divide.

Rob talks about the dangers of inoculating the world with mild Christianity – we give the impression it doesn’t matter to us/makes not difference to our lives, so they go about their business. If we compartmentalise our lives, we end up living Pharisaical or secret lives. We like taking the benefits of living with Jesus – but often don’t see the full picture, thinking nuns/monks, etc. are those who need to do the full thing. This is all part of a process of sanctification of ‘becoming more like Jesus’.. a proactive, not a reactive process – one that involves spending time with other ‘citizens’, being honest, asking hard questions and examine your motives with more mature Christians. On pp 127-129 Rob calls on Rich Wilson’s session on discipleship in a digital age – noting that what people feed on tends to dictate who they become, that the world/information moves so fast that we have no time for questioning the ethics and impact. The top 0.05% of users on Twitter are celebrities, but are read by approximately 50% of users. They become ‘the cultural disciples of our day’.

I love Rob’s example of counter-cultural notions of success as p142 outlines – when choosing what grade to aim for at theological seminary, the tutor noted that those with other responsibilities such as family, should not be aiming for an A, as family was a higher priority. We are challenged as to whether we have an ‘association’ or a ‘relationship’ with Jesus – have we given into the priorities of the world? If we follow religion rather than faith, we echo actions and behaviours of others and feel that we are ‘doing it right’. WE need a life of intentionality.

These disciples became citizens and observers of the Kingdom way of life as they walked and lived with Jesus. He modelled for them what heaven on earth was to look like, and then he took them aside to explain it to them. (p158)

We are challenged that we should not be ‘outsourcing’ evangelism, but looking at what we as a community can do. We need to consider how many programmes, activities and Bible studies we are involved in, giving us no opportunities to be part of the wider world. The gospel is not just something you speak/profess, but something that you live and act upon. We need to identify what is broken in our world and begin righting the wrongs, even if it is at our own cost – God continually identified with the poor, and so must we. See Isaiah 58:3-9 in The Message.

Inspired? You should be … to read the whole book!

Enjoyed Reading ‘Year of Biblical Womanhood’ by @RachelHeldEvans

cover-image1

I have really enjoyed reading this book over the past week (thanks Bryony for lending it to me) – had me chuckling and thinking at alternate moments, and occasionally reaching for the iPad to take note of a particular paragraph, as outlined here:

morning-prayer

Early morning prayer? How can I expect to have a civil conversation with God?

take-risks-first-rate

Be yourself. Take risks. Work Hard. Make mistakes. Keep Going. Surround with cheerleaders.

faith-certainty

Faith is believing in the midst of uncertainty. Don’t wait for certainty.

equality

Women should not have to pry equality…

fair-trade

Thinking about what we buy… and how it affects others… (one of the most impactful Lent things I did was give up purchasing in supermarkets & seeking to ‘shop local’ more – changes eating habits a lot!)

intent

Remember the historical context in which the Bible was written.

women-church

Church – an off-putting place for women?

the-bible

The Bible isn’t an answer book, set of rules of a self-help manual, but a sacred collection telling God’s story

bible-2

Do we find what we’re looking for?

Thanks Rachel – lots to chew on (as someone who came from a Brethren background!)!

Godslot Series for @UCBMedia

The following 7 1 minute ‘Godslots’ will be played for at least 6 weeks on UCB Media from 4th August:

#Luke2Acts: Luke 6/7 and #ForgivenessChallenge

Poor_in_spirit

Luke 6 – Finally having seen the final in the series of #Rev this morning (I say finally, because was avoiding reading people’s posts about it since last night!) – so the Beatitudes jump right out at me, having watched Adam curled up on his bed, reciting these to himself, feeling that God is a long long long way away.

Is it helpful that I often think of this series of verses:

41 ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?42 How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,” when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

when I am thinking about the whole question of ‘tweeting in church’. So often people think that people are playing on their phones, etc. whereas often people (well, I can definitely speak for myself) are focusing in on the sermon, and sharing it with others, possibly querying something heard in a truly interactive way. If someone is paying attention to what I’m doing, what does that say for where their attention is, as it’s clearly not with the sermon?! However, who am I to judge what they are doing? :-) 

We need to understand our values, our faith, and understand what our lives are built upon, which will inform our thinking and our behaviour… to which we are answerable to God in the ultimate.

Resurrection

Luke 7 – Having been looking at a bit of Shane Clairborne recently – especially thinking of the title of his book ‘What is Jesus really meant everything he said?’ – there’s plenty of challenging stuff in Luke, including this chapter…

It’s interesting to look at the interactions of the people – some said, it’s enough that you give the word, other’s wanted some kind of reaction from Jesus … and the outstanding verse – those who have been forgiven much also love much!

Last year we started talking about plans around Stephen Cherry’s book Healing Agony re working together in discussions around forgiveness – possibly with The Forgiveness Project … so interesting to see this from Desmond Tutu – starting in 5 days:

forgiveness-challenge

#Luke2Acts – Luke 5

Source: The Worship Cloud

Source: The Worship Cloud

Luke 5 – The chapter starts with Simon in the boat – he’s been fishing all night – it seems pointless, then Jesus says ‘just try one more time’ … and then there were SO many fish. Jesus then says that they are to become ‘fishers of men’ – sent out with a real sense of encouragement.

There’s then a sense of busyness, crowds, and lots of healing action – but to survive all this – Jesus takes time out to spend time alone in prayer…

31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

#BIGRead14: Amen #Luke2Acts

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

The final poem in Stephen Cherry’s encouraging but challenging series for Lent – starts and ends with ‘Amen‘ (so be it) – as it is ‘over to you’, and we think where we go next.

#Luke2Acts

Luke 4 – For 40 days (the length of Lent, once Sunday’s are removed), Jesus wandered the desert eating nothing (something that challenged Keith Hebden this Lent as he sought to highlight food banks this Lent). I found a day of it hard enough!

Then a powerful series of stories about Jesus resisting temptation, preaching, teaching and performing miracles.. and as things do today – news of this was spread by word of mouth…

#BIGRead14: Dying #Luke2Acts

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

Only two certainties in life, right? Death and taxes? Today’s poem deals with dying, and the sense of ‘slipping away’ … although Ernie’s comments earlier today that death for many isn’t such a comfortable time… although what most would hope for – slipping away in sleep! I loved hunting out the image above though … a comforting potential … which reminds me somewhat of the stories of Narnia – when the Pevensie family die in a train crash, but don’t feel anything – and are transported to Aslan’s country.

#Luke2Acts

Luke 3 – There’s a lot in today’s reading – John proclaiming the coming of Jesus, the strong promise “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”, the instruction – “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same”….

Makes me think of Shane Claiborne’s Red Letter Revolution: What if Jesus really meant what he said? - lots of uncomfortable challenges.

We also have the baptism of the Holy Spirit – a third of the Trinity that we tend not to focus on too much – aside from at Spring Harvest this year! There is also a long genealogy, which can be tempting to skip through – but traces the line from Jesus back to Adam, and therefore back to God.

#BIGRead14: Breeze #Luke2Acts

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

I have to say a breezy day (preferably a warm, breezy day) is one of my favourite kinds of weather, so I love the fact that Stephen’s poem today looks at the breeze:

When the breeze comes;
we rise to life.

I am currently pretty tired so ready to be pretty still, but then awaken at the next breeze… so I may not be all that cohesive!

#Luke2Acts

Luke 2 – There’s a huge amount of thinking here from @zugzwanged – so enjoy! How do we gain this level of excitement ‘When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child’?, or the faithfulness and devout belief of Simeon and Anna … Having been talking about my book for the last couple of days, the thought of a 12 year old disappearing – I can just imagine the parent’s panic… but Jesus simply said ‘where did you expect to find me?’ … exception rather than the rule, as always… 

#BIGRead14: Joy // #Luke2Acts

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

Death and taxes .. the only certainties in life, right? Today’s poem on ‘joy’

Unpredictable, undemanding joy, let me
dissolve into your abundant
sufficiency, your limitless
expansiveness, your eternal,
redemptive fullness.

I have had a day of ‘joy’ – recording God Spots for UCB, lunch with Lynne, recording a longer interview around #digitalparenting with Paul Hammond, then on the train to London catching up with Rev, before an evening with lovely friend Karen…

#Luke2Acts

Luke 1 is focusing on a number of miracles, foretellings of Jesus, as the story starts. Throughout, my brain seized upon “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us”, right at the beginning … which in my head connects with the message that we as Christians, as the ‘face of God on earth’ may want to share the things that have happened to us – choosing whether it’s the good, the bad or the ugly we share, but demonstrating our wholeness… 

#BIGRead14: Reconciliation

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

Today’s poem focuses on ‘Reconciliation‘ – a tough topic, that we can all too easily skim over. Having just spent the day on an excellent ‘emotional intelligence’ course with Andrew Scott, one of the standout elements of the day was his passion for the stories/narratives we weave around ourselves, and – particularly – around others … which then tend to become self-fulfilling prophesies – especially dangerous if those are ‘negative’ stories (“he never listens”, etc).

I have made an other of you.
And you have made an other of me.

Stephen has done a lot of work on forgiveness (including the difficulty of being able to truly forgive, and the damage that can be done by being forced to say you forgive when that stage hasn’t been reached mentally) – and encourages us to truly see the person behind the picture we have drawn:

to read the hope, the aspiration, the desire,
that makes no sense to us,
no sense at all.

to seek reconciliation and relationship. It feels a bit ‘Miss World’, but would ‘world peace’ ever actually be possible with a bit more of this…

 

#BIGRead14: O Thou

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

Today’s poem can be hard to read – because Stephen appears to be trying to articulate something that’s hard to articulate:

O beginning!
O beauty!
O brilliance!

O wonder!
O presence!
O silence!

O mercy!
O wholeness!
O healing!

O energy!
O darkness!
O glory!

O friend!
O end!
O thou!

I chose the image above because it draws out the wonder of the intricacy of the smallest details (and believe me, as may occasionally be noted publicly – I’m not a detail person!)….

Creativity

This morning, I have been watching Ruth Daniel explaining how she is changing the world, through music, through creativity, through co-operatives. I was fortunate to get to know Ruth when I worked at the University of Manchester – and Facebook has kept us in touch. Watch this and be inspired:

#BIGRead14: Embracing the Mystery

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

Today’s poem

Help me to be clear about this at least:
that I know little;
that I miss more than I see;
that I am surprised more often,
far more often, than
I ever admit.

… reminded me of a postcard I used to have on my wall – which was something along these lines:

2HS1Q642GJ294_7O20_BB_L_LS

The focus of the poem, however, is upon the mystery – which the first description in Wordnik is “One that is not fully understood or that baffles or eludes the understanding” – and that is the power of Easter Sunday – the mystery of the ‘One’ who came to earth … (and having given a talk which included a section on ‘reason’ versus ‘faith’ – cannot imagine a world which is limited by ‘what we know’, in which there is no mystery).

LATER TODAY – Come join us for an Easter Service online.

Don’t forget that Lent is officially 50 days … so Stephen’s poems continue until the end of the week!

#Do1NiceThing: Love Your Street street party – keep on your #Do1NiceThing challenge

Maggi Dawn

Thank you to Maggi for Giving It Up over Lent, the last day of which is today.

Tanya Marlow on Facebook this morning shared this piece for those stuck on Easter Friday, and can’t feel the joy of Easter Sunday.

Maggi gives us John 21: 1-14 – the sense of uncertainty for the disciples after Jesus’ ministry appears to have ended … not sure what they are supposed to be doing, going back to their old trades – in this case Peter’s fishing (an aspect of their lives I hadn’t really thought about before) – but they can’t go back to what they had done before - everything had changed… 

Lent is over …. Easter has just begun!

#BIGRead14: Contemplation

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

Image Source: The Worship Cloud

#BIGRead14

Well, after a day which has been mostly about not working (although setting up online service for tomorrow has taken a tad longer than expected), this poem seems appropriate in a day of ‘waiting’ and ‘silence’, in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday:

I remain in your peace.
I absorb your peace.
I will rise, in due course,
to live your peace.

#Do1NiceThing: Visit a local shop you have not visited before or in a while (support locally!) // I do this a lot :-) Ever since I gave up supermarket shopping one Lent, it opened my eyes to what else is out there..

Maggi Dawn

John 19. A day of living in the shadows, a sabbath day, in which the disciples had seen the man they believed to be their leader suffer a punishing death, and appeared to have lost the hope of the future that he promised – they did not yet understand about the resurrection. Sometimes we just have to hold on … until a glimmer of light appears on the horizon.

#BIGRead14: Mysterious Cross #sh2014 #eastermeans

Image Source: Mysterious Cross

Image Source: Mysterious Cross

#BIGRead14

Today’s poem focuses upon the Cross, and the complacency that so many of us of us have towards it because of its familiarity – and an encouragement to re-engage with its mystery:

Mysterious cross,
you hold my stare, reflect it back.
your unfathomable eyes, like the blackest
of holes,
draw me in, draw me deep.

As we were preparing the video material for this, Stephen drew our attention to a small/quiet Cross in Durham Cathedral, that many don’t notice – the sabachthani cross… see him in front of it in this video, and earlier in the series, he reflected that there are also many people that we don’t notice… (again, this was done in front of the cross).

At Spring Harvest final Big Top celebration this morning – the Cross that had been there all week, appeared to come more sharply into focus as we prepared for communion …

spring-harvest-communion

and I still remember the beginning of the week, when a cross covered in denim jeans pockets was placed, and people encouraged to place the things that got in the way of their confidence into the pockets – literally on the cross…

And check out this video:

crucifixion

#Do1NiceThing: Put spare change in a charity box // still remembering my Tearfund charity box..

Maggi Dawn

Maggi (in Giving it Up) encourages us to spend time at the Cross … there’s a time for mourning (which are today/tomorrow), and then Sunday we celebrate the resurrection. A powerful discussion of religious art, and the way that it encourages us not to engage with the true pain of the crucifixion, and what a torturous method of death it was [I’m thinking of Mel Gibson’s The Passion].. and to check out the work of Brazilian Sculptor Guido Rocha ‘The Tortured Christ‘.

Christianity is not comfortable, conventional or respectable – and can be painful – are we prepared to take this on?

Twice this week, I’ve partaken in a mini-‘drama’ in which we hold our arms out in a Christlike pose, and look down at the crowds below, to the left/right to see the other’s hanging there, then up to God, then down with ‘It is Finished’ – powerful – and surprisingly painful to hold your arms up – so the thought of how powerful that would be with no chance to put arms down with nails driven through… that’s still resonating with me as I approach home via a long train journey…

#EasterMeans

There’s a number of people posting what #eastermeans to them on Twitter over this weekend – I’d encourage you to join in, and share ..