Showing posts from April, 2011

Something Worth Cheering About

Whilst doing all I possibly could to avoid the royal hoo-ha I came across this gem on Euangelion... Yes, its another flashmob advert... Though I don't know and don't really care what for... But this is a song of praise in Arabic to the risen Messiah in a Beirut shopping mall this Easter, against a background of upheaval throughout the Middle East. Now that is worth getting excited about... (although if truth be told, I'm not too sure that the English sub-titles are terribly accurate as they seem to have translated "Meshiach" as "Jesus"...)

He is (still) risen!

He is risen indeed.


Oral Tradition

Okay... Here are a few questions for preachers prompted by this post by John Byron: How many of these "pulpit legends" have you promulgated in your time? Who did you hear them from?

1. The “eye of the needle” refers to a gate outside Jerusalem.

2. The high priest tied a rope around his ankle so that others could drag him out of the Holy of Holies in case God struck him dead.

3. Scribes took baths, discarded their pens, washed their hands, etc. every time they wrote the name of God.

4. There was this saying among the sages: “May you be covered in your rabbi’s dust.”

5. Voltaire’s house is now owned by a Bible-printing publisher which is ironic given that he was famous for saying, “One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.”

6. Gehenna was a burning trash dump outside Jerusalem.

7. NASA scientists have discovered a “missing day” which corresponds to the Joshua account of the sun standing sti…

Who do You Think that I Am?

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare'a Philip'pi, he asked his disciples, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?"
And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli'jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Matthew 16:13-16 (RSV)

In the light of Jesus' claims as to he is which we explored throughout Holy Week in his "I Am" statements, we, like the first disciples before us have to make our own assessment as to who Jesus is.

What follows is the daily litany that we used to guide our prayers throughout Holy Week, but the I AM sayings of Jesus are a good place to start our prayers and meditations any day of any week.

Jesus, you said, 'I am the gate for the sheep’
The way to the place of peace and security.
And you offer fullness of life.
Son of God, protect us.

Jesus, you said, '…

I Am the Resurrection...

Jesus said to Martha by the tomb of his friend Lazarus:
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
"Yes, Lord," she told him...

John 11: 25-26 (ANIV)

Martha believed before Jesus had proved his power in the resurrection of her brother... and before his own resurrection...
Do we believe with the benefit of hindsight?

I am
The resurrection and the life
Resurrection – not life after death
But life before, beyond and despite death
Resurrection – not immortality of a disembodied soul
But embodiment of your soul in a body to be enjoyed eternally
A body that doesn’t creak, or crumble or decay.
Resurrection – Not reanimation of a rotting corpse
But new life in a new body
Re-creation in my image
My life
Liberated from the grave
A fresh start
A new beginning
A new Genesis
I am
And you can be...
Check out this song... which we used as part of our Easter Morning cele…

The Light of the World

A reflection for the darkest day of the year, liturgically.

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life…
As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no-one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

John 8:12 & 9:4-5

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"--which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At …

I am the True Vine

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."

John 15:1-8 (ANIV)

In the mid 19th century, while Ireland was laid waste by potato blight, imported from America, France was devastated by another American pest…

I am the Good Shepherd

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.

John 10:11-18 (ANIV)

Although the background to this analogy is almost certainly Psalm 23 and other passages in the Old Testament where God is referred to as a shepherd, the term "good shepherd" would have …

I am the Bread of Life

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval..."
So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' "
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
"Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread.&quo…

I am the Gate for the Sheep

"I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I h…

Before Abraham was I am...

The Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?"Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
John 8:52-59 (ANIV)

"Who do you think you are?" is not only the title of an emotionally manipulative celebrity documentary on the BBC, it is also a key ques…

I Am He

The woman said... "I know that the Messiah is coming. When he arrives, we'll get the whole story."
"I am he," said Jesus. "You don't have to wait any longer or look any further."
John 4:19-26 (The Message)

This week in our Holy Week Services and Prayer Breakfasts at Dundonald Methodist we're reflecting on some of the outrageous claims of Jesus that are often bracketted together as the "I am" sayings of Jesus... If read without any understanding of historical context, or the miraculous "signs" to bear out what he was saying, Jesus could literally be said to have an ego problem... In this first reflection for Palm Sunday we use as our starting point Jesus' encounter with a Samaritan woman at a well, on a previous return journey from Jerusalem to Galilee.

“I am…” Says Jesus…
“I am he…”
The one you’ve been waiting for…
The one you’ve been arguing over…
The one the prophets foretold…
Yet the one who was before the pr…

Singing the Cross

Back on again over on the Methodist Church in Ireland's Lenten Blog on the Atonement... this time reflecting on Stuart Townend's understanding of what was happening on the cross. That, and the fast approaching shadow of Good Friday has prompted me to list my 6 favourite and 6 least favourite songs about Christ on the cross (excluding the 2 Townend songs, which I quite like despite their theological frailties)... It was going to be 5 of each but I couldn't restrict myself to that Let's start with the stinkers first in no particular order:
Lift High the Cross - has too much of the "crusader" overtones for me...
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle - for much the same reason as above- indeed probably more so as it as militaristic tosh like this that set the theological context for crusading Christendom, the unholy alliance of Kingdom and Empire. Also don't like "The Royal banners forward go" by the same author, Venantius Fortunatus , for the same r…

A Community that Should be Called Atonement

Greetings faithful followers... Please forgive the lack of posts recently... I've been busy elsewhere and find I only have a decidely finite amount of time and energy these days... But I promised that I would return with a review of Scot McKnight's "A Community Called Atonement" once I'd finished it and our church book-group had a chance to discuss it...
So here goes, but once again I want to state from the outset that these are my opinions alone, I'm not foisting them on any of the rest of the group... although actually we were fairly unanimous on this one... and it wasn't universal acclaim...
The thing is it all started so well... The editor's preface had claimed that the series to which this book belongs offered "approachable theology" suitable for church small groups... Scot's own prologue offered a helpful analogy of why we need multiple metaphors for the atonement (I've written on that elsewhere), and the title suggested to me a …