Friday, 25 March 2016

The Darkest Day

I wake in the darkness
One side of my face swollen from the beatings
It hurts when I breathe
I think my fingers are broken
Abba, Abba, I’d rather the bitter cup of hemlock than this
How much longer will they have their way?


I heard his screams during the night
A nightmare for every piece of silver – that bloodied money
I just don’t get it
He can bring people back from the dead
He can calm a storm.
What’s happening here?  What have I done?

Ecce Homo.
Pilate.  A thug in a smart suit.
Representative of power and might, or so he thinks.
Just a puppet in truth.  When I look at him, I see the puppet master
The one holding his strings
Only he has no idea, it is so sad to see.

No, no…he looked right into my soul
I saw him with the cross beam, hardly recognisable
His face beaten out of shape
But his eyes; piercing, full of forgiveness no anger or retribution
I don’t deserve that; how dare he, how can he forgive me.
I can’t go on, I want to run and hide!

Father, Forgive them for they really don’t know what they have done
Let the barrier be torn
There is now on Earth a seed of Heaven
No hiding places any more
Let your will be done here as well as in Heaven
It is finished


Monday, 21 March 2016

At the foot of the cross - It is finished

It is finished
The work is done.
Evil’s force has been spent on him.
The beloved bears all, arms spread wide.
Judgement is served.
The veil is torn in two.
Heaven kisses the earth in love.
Silently, how silently, this wondrous gift is given.
Sin is forgiven
Jesus sleeps at rest

It is finished.

(c) Colin Waldock

Friday, 18 March 2016

Chrysalis Bible study group Luke 3:21-4:13; the baptism of Jesus and the temptation

Luke 3:21-4:13
The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus of Nazareth


3:21

Baptism: 
Luke has heaven opening as Jesus prays – after the Baptism not during.
-       Matthew – heaven opens AFTER Jesus left the water
-       Mark – as Jesus was coming up…he saw heaven being torn open.
-       John – The Baptist talks about Jesus’ baptism but John does not share the synoptics’ story

Key points –

1 Opening of heaven is not public at this point, it is known only to Jesus and possibly the Baptist (John 1:32)

2 Heaven and earth are united in the person of Jesus.  At this moment, he entered full realization of who he was, fully divine and fully human. 

3 The Temple becomes obsolete, this could be  why John’s Gospel has the clearing of the temple closely related.  Jesus is the new Temple, the way and the means of God’s putting right of his beautiful creation.

4 We need to meet with God before we can minister to others.


3:24 

The Genealogy of Jesus

Matthew and Luke totally differ in some sections.
Luke adds Adam to Abraham
Much the same from Abraham to David (at least for male personnel)
David to Jesus  - totally different!

Opinions:
Were Mary and Joseph both descended from David?
Was Luke following Mary’s lineage due to the virgin birth?
Other ideas also made but in the end we are not sure why they differ.




However,
1              They show Jesus’ full humanity
2              His descent from David – a prerequisite for a Messiah
3              In Matthew’s list the inclusion 4 women, 3 of  ill repute – Where has that come from?

Ruth is a Moabite woman, a descendent of Lot (of Sodom fame), Her people had been excluded from Israel, but by showing loyalty and bravery she was included into the Nation of Israel. She became the Great Grandmother of David.

Tamar – seduced her father in law, was threatened with death but was later found innocent. 

Rahab – a harlot from Jericho and a Gentile was included into Israel for allowing Joshua’s spies into Jericho.   She was an outsider.

Bathsheba – the woman with whom David committed adultery.

The common theme is that these women had all been abused and threatened our lusted after or excluded.  The Gospel of for everyone, not just the self -righteous men of Israel.

4:1-13
Jesus Temptation in the Wilderness

This occurs immediately after God’s unique affirmation. Jesus is not driven into the wilderness by the Spirit, he is IN the Spirit.

Jesus goes into the wilderness, away from towns for a time of deep reflection and soul searching.

Luke suggests that “for 40 days he was tempted by the Devil”  Not at the end of 40 days but for 40 days.

How long do we normally last against temptation?

This is all about what sort of Messiah Jesus was going to be.  Was he to be an avenging revolutionary King or something altogether different?

Luke underlines the adversary Jesus is fighting against: Not the corrupt Temple authorities, or the Roman Emperor.  He is fighting the cause of Evil.



The temptations:

1     If Jesus is the Son of God, can he not use his power to make life more comfortable for himself?  Jesus rejects this and replies that he will trust only in the word and the will of God and will test it against his knowledge of Holy Scripture.

IF you had the power to do anything, what would you first do?


2     If Jesus were to follow the ideas of the world he is being shown that he could set up a community or society based on caring ideals, of equality and diversity, a utopia.  BUT, he would have become subservient to the ways of the world, he would have to make deals and compromise with nation states, make alliances, enter into economic contracts etc.  This would have meant for Jesus worshipping Satan, or Mammon if you like; when his mission is to free the whole of creation from following the never ending cycle of violence and death.

How do we make compromises with Satan?  How do we learn not to?

3     Jesus is led to the pinnacle of the Temple, this is the highest point of the Temple at the edge of Solomon’s Colonade.  This is where people would have been thrown off prior to being stoned.  It nearly happened to Jesus (John 10:22-32).  Somehow it is not surprising that Luke also has Jesus nearly stoned to death in the immediately following verses, (Luke 14-28).  Satan holds the horror of the path Jesus has chosen before him and seeks to draw him astray.  It is the hardest temptation that will stay with Jesus throughout his ministry and will return at it’s strongest in Gethsemane. 

How do we face fear?  Who can we really trust?



Saturday, 12 March 2016

Living with Depression

It has been about 5 months now that I have been officially living with Depression, though I suspect it was an unwanted squatter for a while before that.  It has been a fascinating journey that we have taken together into the wilderness with an occasional drinking hole from time to time.

One of the key things I have discovered on this journey is that Depression does not appear only a sickness of the mind; the body is sick too.  I have put up with pain just about everywhere, and yet if I were to have a scan (I had one recently on the knee and Thoracic Spine), I am pretty certain they would be reported as normal.  Those two were.

I think the waves of uncalled for and unwarranted sadness is one of the hardest elements to cope with.  There is nothing for me to sad about really; I am happily married to a wonderful woman and have two talented daughters who I love very much, and yet there are times that I just feel indescribably sad.

I am sure that most people would think that this is due in part that I am now applying for what is called medical retirement.  I will be leaving my profession.  Does this make me sad though?  No, it doesn't.  I have had a very lucky and full career as a Physiotherapist, I have been fortunate to enjoy a wide range of experiences, introducing acupuncture to Medway, becoming one of the first Physiotherapists able to prescribe medicines, I have been Chairman of a Local Research Ethics Committee, been published twice and have reviewed articles for publication and been a reviewer for the Arthritis Research leaflets.  I have taught Acupuncture courses both independently and with a team, and presented case studies and potential research designs.  How can I be sad to have enjoyed such a fulfilling career.

The onset was sudden and gradual together, which makes as much sense as living with depression does really!

I am confident that I will recover my health, though I know now that I will never be able to function at the level that I achieved.  Leading research, working across a CAS and Physiotherapy service, requesting imaging, prescribing, managing a team, deputising for the head of service when necessary; those days are gone, and I now look forward to pacing myself, literally spending time with my best friend; my wife, and doing things about the house that I have never had time to do before.

The weird thing in this, is that while initially I was unable read anything or pray, I am now able to read Theology and preach again.  I have taken up learning the Piano, which is proving to be such a joy, I lose myself when I practise and the sadness lifts, only to come back when any sense of complexity rears its head with decision making.

So we tag along, my unwarranted squatter and me, finding more about each other with every passing day, life is certainly interesting, and looks to remain that way.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Chrysalis Bible Study 11.3.16

Chrysalis Bible study 6:  11/03/2016     Luke 2: 41-52 & 3:1-20
Refs:         NIV Bible
L Morris (Tyndale Commentaries) Luke
M Wilcock (The Bible Speaks Today) Luke
T Wright Luke for everyone

You recall that Luke completed his account of the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple with a summary of His growth and development thereafter. He now picks up the story with one episode in Jesus life, which occurred when He was twelve years old.

At thirteen boys became fully active in the synagogue, but it wasn’t unusual for them to be introduced to what was expected of them some time earlier. Additionally Jews were to observe three festivals annually – Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles – in fact many observed only the Passover (the prelude to the release of the Israelites from Egypt on the night that all the firstborn male children died, unless the sheeps’ blood smeared on the lintels of the houses protected those within) and Mary and Joseph have gone up to Jerusalem for the occasion and taken Jesus with them.

It was common for extended families and groups to travel together and probably to take joint responsibility for the children, so Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have been aware that Jesus was missing until the end of the first day of the return journey. It took them another day to get back to Jerusalem, so it was on the third day that they eventually found Him.

Any parent who has lost a child can empathise with their feelings – do you remember the blind panic when you first realised they weren’t where you expected them to be? The mixed emotions when you found them? The sense of sheer relief, the self-recrimination and guilt which lead to an outcry – what we mean to say is “How could I be so stupid?”, but what we say is so different, and Mary is an ordinary human parent – she blames Jesus for the anguish she and Joseph have experienced!

Jesus’s first recorded words, in contrast, are a model of calm, but they reveal His growing awareness of His true identity – the translation “in my Father’s house” may also be rendered as “about my Father’s business” – in either event the clarity of Jesus’s understanding of the true identity of his Father must have pierced the hearts of both Mary and Joseph. Yet having established his autonomy Jesus returns with them and is obedient to them for several more years, of which we know little except that he continued to mature and to become a model adult.    
                                                                                                                                                                    
.At the beginning of Chapter 3 we have moved forward several years. The detail Luke gives allows us to date this with some precision to AD 25-26. The Emperor Tiberius had tightened Roman control of the province so that the sons of Herod the Great were puppet rulers of the Northern territories while Pontius Pilate, a Roman, had administrative responsibility for the South, including Jerusalem. Annas the High Priest had been deposed by his son-in-law Caiaphas who was supported by the Romans, but many of the Jews still regarded Annas as the legitimate religious authority.

 The Romans had effectively outsourced the taxation of the Jews in the province - the highest bidder being sold the right to collect the taxes, often adding extra charges of their own to enhance their profits (am I alone in seeing some similarity to buy-to let landlords in our day?) Jewish soldiers had to protect both the Quizling princes and the tax collectors, using the opportunity to make something for themselves by the odd bit of extortion here and there. The political scene was tense and, as the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, things were far from stable (does any of this sound familiar?).

Against this background people were looking for change and onto the stage strides a figure who has been in the background for a while – John. The expression “the word of God came to John”, in Verse 2, place him in the great tradition of the prophets. Luke quotes from Isiah to further emphasise the point. Historically the prophets rarely brought words of comfort, or if they did they were accompanied by warnings and demands for change before things would get better. So it is with John – he speaks words of warning, it is no good simply claiming to be descendants of Abraham as justification for salvation, there needs to be more, a real change in personal conduct, a way of living that shows concern for others, for ethical and moral conduct in secular and religious life.   

Traditionally baptism was required only for Gentiles converting to Judaism, but John makes it clear that this is to be an outward sign of the recognition by the penitent of their own failings. Symbolically immersion in the Jordan represents leaving the former life and entering the Promised Land of the new, which is yet to be completed by one greater than John, for he baptises only with water while He who is soon to be revealed will baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The latter is probably a reference to the final judgement which all will face and the picture of the wheat and the chaff is all too vivid.

Luke concludes with the consequences of John’s condemnation of Herod Antipas’s incestuous and adulterous relationship with his niece, Herodias – but he deliberately omits part of the story, which we will see next time.

AMH 10.3.16