Thursday, June 28, 2007

Off to Sweden...

Hardly believable that my little nephew Mark is getting married this weekend to Emma. Seems only yesterday I was in Woolworths buying Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,Thundercats, and He man gear!

So it is off to Sweden tomorrow for the wedding in Gothenburg on Saturday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NT Wright's The Resurrection 3/4

The point is not, in other words, that the new humanity will exist in a place called 'heaven'. Rather, it will originate there

NT Wright takes a great deal of time working through particularly Paul. Trying to understand the concept of resurrection and its implications in terms of new creation as a first century Christian. In others words, what actually was Paul saying.

In particular he starts to undermine any concept that suggests that there is a framework that can explain the resurrection body within ideas of 'astral immortality'. In other words:

"The point is not, in other words, that the new humanity will exist in a place called 'heaven'. Rather, it will originate there, where Jesus himself currently is in his own risen and life-giving body; and it will transform. the life of those who are presently located on earth and earthy in character.." (pp 355)

This is where his arguments pick up speed - it is quite a shock to discover that any concept of heaven you may have grown up with actually may have been more informed by Philo and Plato and Gnosticism both ancient and modern rather than the New Testament. The heart of NT's conversation here is that:

The point is not to escape from earth and find oneself at last in heaven, but to let the present 'heavenly' life change the present earthly reality. Heaven and earth, after all, are the twin partners in the creation which, at the heart of the passage Paul has in mind throughout this chapter, the creator had declared to be 'very good'. (ibid)

If eschatology is built upon a hope that rests upon eternal rest within a disembodied heaven, NT Wright leaves us in a place where at the very least we need to examine what has shaped our eschatology.

He leaves some questions, what is our eschatological hope? What then is our inheritance? What then is heaven?

------------

NT Wright's The Resurrection 1/4
NT Wright's The Resurrection 2/4

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lectio Divina - Luke 8:26-39 (NRSV)

Lectio -Read the passage slowly several times.

Meditatio
- Reflect on the text of the passage, thinking about how to apply to one's own life.

Oratio
- Respond to the passage by opening the heart to God.

Contemplatio
- Opening our mind, heart and soul to the influence of God.

Given a few emails from comment shy lurkers I think I'll persist with a weekly lectio divina. Like a good Salvationist I'll use the gospel readings from the lectionary!!

Take time to read through the account slowly- possibly 2 or 3 times, then...

  • Identify what 'shimmers' for you?
  • Where is your focus drawn in the account ?
  • What for you is the main point?
  • What is your point of contemplation?
  • Which word or phrase has touched your heart?
  • What have you "heard" or "seen"?
Only one rule - remember that this isn't a bible study more a place of contemplation of scripture, so read comments with respect and be released from needing to respond to someone else's comment

Proper 7, Year C

Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac

Then they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. As he stepped out on land, a man of the city who had demons met him. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he did not live in a house but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he fell down before him and shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me’— for Jesus had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many times it had seized him; he was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the wilds.) Jesus then asked him, ‘What is your name?’ He said, ‘Legion’; for many demons had entered him. They begged him not to order them to go back into the abyss.

Now there on the hillside a large herd of swine was feeding; and the demons begged Jesus to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came out to see what had happened, and when they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. Those who had seen it told them how the one who had been possessed by demons had been healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them; for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, ‘Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.’ So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Amazing Grace...

"...so do you know what grace is?"... "course...." I'm surprised, but wait for 'it is what we say before we eat at Nan's'

My draft file on blogger needs some attention, while I was doing a little weeding I found this tucked away from the good ol' Poplar days.

-----

I'm helping Ian download some MP3 tracks in youth club when he asks for "Amazing Grace...". We ascertain that it isn't anything to do with the pipes and drums of the Scot's guards but a more recent Mariah Carey recording that has been flirting with the charts....apparently??

There were 4 or 5 young people in the IT room so I ask "...so do you know what grace is?"... "course...." I'm surprised, but wait for 'it is what we say before we eat at Nan's'.

Between the taps of a keyboard Lisa says "It's a girls name, and so there must be something pretty good about her... 'Amazing Grace!'"

The tapping continues but I reply.

"oh ... but it is so much more..."

I like talking grace!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Growing in Godlikeness...

"Nothing can make me holy except the presence of God."

Ringma points out that:

"The Christian life is growth in love, holiness, and service. Holiness is growing in Godlikeness and this is the product of the grace of God and the empowerment of the Spirit. It is not the result of spiritual techniques."

Mother Teresa goes to the heart of the subject. She comments, "Nothing can make me holy except the presence of God."

Ringma continues
"Christlikeness is the formation grace of Christ. It is becoming like Christ in obedience to God and in service to the neighbour. It is the growth to becoming a reconciling and healing presence in the many relationships of life."
Holiness makes no sense without mission and mission makes no sense without holiness. Our spiritual formation if it is to be authentic needs to go beyond us as individuals to that of our community.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Malcolm Duncan @ WBC

We had our first one day conference today at the college. It really was a pilot to test the waters whether the college could host these kind of events more often - it seemed to work pretty well. Near on 120 people were there to hear Malcolm Duncan of Faithworks as he took us on a journey looking at that place where Mission and Spiritual Formation collide.

It was interesting to hear him say that he thought our sacramental theology of the sacramental life was right for TSA and was something that was a gift to the wider church. "You have something to teach us....."

It was interesting hearing his concept of Spiritual Formation only making sense when it impacts our communities through us.

It was interesting hearing him point out that Mission without Spiritual Formation makes as little sense as Spiritual Formation without Mission.

It was interesting hearing his unrelenting proclivity towards 'the poor'.

A point that stayed with me was when answering a question that was really an apologetic for a position of 'there is more than just poor people to look out for...!' - 'know your purpose don't be a jack of all trades'

As he left for his train he turned to me and with a puzzled face asked "Why would anyone join The Salvation Army if they weren't bothered about the marginal?"

"OK.......?"


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lectio Divina - Luke 7:36-8:3 [NRSV]

Only one rule - remember that this isn't a bible study more a place of contemplation of scripture, so read comments with respect and be released from needing to respond to someone else's comments.

I found the last Lectio Divina fascinating so I thought I'd try again using the lectionary reading for Sunday last. As last time - feel free to stay anonymous if you want. Only one rule - remember that this isn't a bible study more a place of contemplation of scripture, so read comments with respect and be released from needing to respond to someone else's comments.

Take time to read through the account slowly- possibly 2 or 3 times, then...
  • Identify what 'shimmers' for you?
  • Where is your focus drawn in the account ?
  • What for you is the main point?
  • What is your point of contemplation?
  • Which word or phrase has touched your heart?
  • What have you "heard" or "seen"?

    Luke 7:36-8:3

    A Sinful Woman Forgiven

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.’

Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’ ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, denarius was the usual day’s wage for a labourer and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’

Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’

Some Women Accompany Jesus

Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

Monday, June 18, 2007

NT Wright's The Resurrection 2/4

"One of the most striking features of the early Christian movement is its virtual unanimity about the future hope" - NT Wright starts part two by suggesting that you would expect the first Christians to have developed a spectrum of beliefs that would mirror the Judaic context from which it emerged and the Paganistic culture it entered, however eschatological hope was firmly rooted.

Interestingly NT Wright develops the thought that Paul has Genesis 1 and 2 underpinning his understanding and thereby 'sees the final act of redemption not as a rescue from creation but as the renewal of creation'. I like how NT develops this and draws on Philippians 3:20 imagery of heavenly citizenship - the point being that "Citizenship is a point about status and allegiance, not a place of residence" (pp230). Therefore,
"For Paul, the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is the heart of the Gospel... it is the object of faith, the ground of justification, the basis for obedient Christian living, the motivation for unity, and, not least, the challenge to the principalities and powers".
NT Wright concludes - having fried my brain - by pointing out that 'Paul held a richly variegated, but fluently integrated understanding of the resurrection' (pp 271) which he used for different purposes. That of pointing to the power of God, that of illustrating the future hope of bodily resurrection and that of underlining in the present the power for Christian living.

Resurrection in this sense happens first to Jesus and then all his people, but also has a new depth in that the metaphor that once meant restoration for Israel now points to the moral restoration which Paul points out only makes sense with the resurrection of Jesus.

This all points away from what NT Wright suggests is a skewed and highly gnostic eschatology - that of a disembodied heaven. Like he often says 'heaven is important but it is not the end of the world'!

-----

NT Wright's The Resurrection 1/4

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Magnolia....

I've been 'umming' and 'ahhing' about whether to use Magnolia in its entirety for a session I want to do on the beatitudes next week following an idea in the epic resource Pungente, J.J. and Williams, M.(2005)Finding God in the Dark. The problem is that it certainly is a bit fruity in places and I don't want to make anyone feel awkward. Fruity or not it is listed as a significant watch on the top 100 spiritually significant films - listed here. Interesting list.

Here is what Christianity Today says about Magnolia...
The unflinching portrayal of spiritually lost characters in Magnolia may scandalize some believers, but there's no denying it's one of the most often cited favorites among Christian film buffs, with its wonderfully human (and profoundly admirable) Christian cop, its intricate moral and relational complications, and its undeniable acts of divine intervention. Punch-Drunk Love, a less obviously religious film by the same director, also finds its way onto the list, a prime example of a story without explicit religious elements which nonetheless holds great appeal for Christian viewers, with its grace-filled portrait of damaged human beings yearning toward redemptive love.
I tried to watch it last night but fell asleep - can't be that fruity!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Two Churches...

Everyday I drive past this church at least twice a day and I have only just noticed it....

Our route to school takes down a street where there is a church that is so noticeable. Not because of a clever noticeboard, not because of a glitzy facade, not because it is bathed in light or that it has a trendy programme. For 9 months we have driven past this church and have become surprised when the doors are closed.

This church says 'we are a presence in your community, we are here for you' simply by communicating that it is available, through nothing more than an open door.

I've only just noticed - after 9 months - that there is a church opposite that has bright pink doors, bright pink steps. I was astounded that I had missed it. Everyday I drive past this church at least twice a day and I have only just noticed it. Now I am surprised when its doors are open!

Its doors open only on a Sunday and for an hour on a Wednesday evening to proclaim its message! A message hidden behind closed doors. Pity!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What a Burger...

Jim Wallis' sojouners are highlighting the problem with Burger King:
Farm workers who pick tomatoes for Burger King's sandwiches earn 40 to 50 cents for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes they pick, a rate that has not risen significantly in nearly 30 years. Workers who toil from dawn to dusk must pick two tons of tomatoes to earn $50 in one day.
If this is correct there is something not right. Even MacDonald's are trying to sort the inequity out!

Tell Burger King here

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lectio Divina - Luke 24:13-35 (NRSV)


I've been preparing for something I am involved in tomorrow, part of which I want to lead a group Lectio Divina on Luke 24:13ff 'the road to Emmaus'. It struck me that it might be interesting to do Lectio Divina on the blog to see what comes out - feel free to stay anonymous if you want.

Take time to read through the account slowly- possibly 2 or 3 times, then...
  • Identify what 'shimmers' for you?
  • Where is your focus drawn in the account ?
  • What for you is the main point?
  • What is your point of contemplation?
  • Which word or phrase has touched your heart?
  • What have you "heard" or "seen"?
The Walk to Emmaus

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.


As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
Remember that this isn't a bible study more a place of contemplation of scripture, so read comments with respect and be released from needing to respond to someone else's comments. Potentially if there are people 1000's of miles apart in different continents this could be an interesting exercise!

Monday, June 11, 2007

www.missiology.org

I'd completely forgotton about this site. However for Monthly Missional Reflections, links, quotes and resources missiology.org is worth a visit.

Thanks for the reminder Andrew AKA (Grinner).

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Missional Communities...

Brian D. Russell at realmealministries.org invariably has something worth reading as he draws out missional themes from the Old Testament. He has been putting some thoughts as to what constitutes a Missional Community which you can read here.
  • Missional communities stop worrying about being corrupted by the world and instead dream about ways to influence the world.
  • Missional communities focus on the needs of the world rather than on the likes/dislikes of insiders.
  • Missional communities speak human rather than communicate in shibboleths and other insider jargon.
  • Missional communities unleash all of God’s people to deploy their gifts, talents, and passions for God mission.
  • Missional communities are communities of transformation. God is in the business of transforming lives and igniting persons to live the lives of God’s dreams.
  • Missional communities stop worrying about the transitions in their neighborhoods and instead give thanks for all of the new people that God is sending their way.
  • Missional communities are more concerned with their current irrelevancy than with the risks involved with interacting directly with contemporary culture.
  • Missional communities are led by the Spirit to create culture rather than to stagnate in some past (real or imagined) or to capitulate to the world’s culture.
  • Missional communities are less safe havens from the world and more staging areas for launching world changing initiatives.
  • Missional communities are not defensive with the wider culture “attacks” or challenges the faith. Rather they use these opportunities as moments of traction to demonstrate reality of the Gospel.

First ever garden blog...

Despite an encrypted wifi set up someone takes delight in piggy backing our network so invariably our use of wifi is so slow as to make it a nonsense! However making our connection intermittent seems to have worked so I am enjoying an afternoon in the garden enjoying flicking through my feeds.

So officially this is my first blog from the garden!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

NT Wright's The Resurrection 1/4

Since hearing NT Wright speak last year I've been intrigued at his suggestion that we are missing the point when it comes to our theology of heaven.

His claims that a theology based on 19c Hymn writing has shaped our understanding away from the text and closer to a form of Gnosticism (beyond the blue horizon there's a better place I know!) have certainly got me thinking hard. The questioning of a woman at that day's conference will remain with me. "Am I to say that I have spent the day with Bishop Tom, NT Wright only to come away to say there is no heaven?" ... "You can say what you want but make sure you base what you say on the text" A good evangelical answer! - base what you believe on the word!!

Is he saying there is no heaven? I'm not sure he is. I'm on a journey looking through the third in his trilogy "The Resurrection of the Son of God" to see what he is saying. Too be honest it so far has been a heck of read so I aim to summarise periodically.

Part One is about setting the scene, building up the context through which the early disciples' use of the language must be understood. His conclusion he suggests should not be particularly controversial. However those - he suggests - who have written and preached about Jesus' resurrection in isolation to the complete Jewish context will struggle. Our theology has been shaped by so many who have written and preached with scant attention to the complete Jewish context.

Spending time in Ezekiel 37, Isaiah 26 and onto Daniel 12, Maccabees 2 NT Wright is keen to point out how the metaphorical meaning of 'resurrection' that pointed to a hope and justice for a people of exile through a covenental God moved onto a literal understanding of re-embodiment by the time of Maccabees 2. This in turn was flavoured with Hellenistic, perhaps Platonic ideas of a continuing of the soul which gives way for the resurrection existing as a belief in a continuing post-mortem existence. (NT Wright 2003)

He concludes
"However Abraham, Isaac and Jacob may have been in Jewish thought, nobody imagined they had been raised from the dead. However important Moses, David, Elijah and the prophets may have been, nobody claimed that they were alive again in the 'resurrection' sense. The martyrs were honoured, venerated even; but nobody said they had been raised from the dead. The world of Judaism had generated, from its rich scriptural origins, a rich variety of beliefs about what happened, and would happen, to the dead." (NT Wright 2003)
Some interesting points, Part Two looking at Early Christian understanding waits to be read. NT whets the appetite by referring to the 'new mutation that would spring up, like a totally unexpected plant, within the already well-stocked garden'.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Get thee behind me ShinyHP

Rob AKA Shiny Headed Prophet points out a pretty cool website TV Links with 24; Lost; Prison Break and vintage Flash Gordon what more could you want?

Could be the end of hoping a friend remembers to video 24 off Sky.

Jack "I'm Back- send me a patch...!"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

SAVED

Salvationists Valuing Ethnic Diversity

The latest Multi-ethnic newsletter is available here

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Gordon is a Moron...

I pushed 'send' and immediately... kind of regretted it!

A strange exchange of emails happened today.

Before I realised it, I was communicating with world famous Christian author Gordon MacDonald. I thought I was in communication with his publisher but it became apparent that I was talking to GMAC (to his friends) himself.

A shared first name that, let's face it is not that trendy, led to an anecdote of his walking in the Alps and discovering that Gordon means 'he that climbs...', I reciprocated of course by sending him a youtube link to Jilted John's 1978 punk classic 'Gordon is a Moron!' with the story of my informative years at a roughish inner city school!



Anyone with the first name Gordon who didn't suffer Jilted John's prose for years at secondary school - needs to know what I went through! I would have hated for world famous Christian author Gordon MacDonald to have missed out.

NT Wright @ Act Justly...

There are MP3's available of the Act Justly conderence I went to a while back and mentioned here.

The afternoon plenary is here:

The evening talk is here:

The NT Wright page is a wealth of info - enough MP3's to keep me ironing until I retire!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

God's Moving...

'You looking for God in there...?'

I'm not sure that this is the time for a debate into the omnipresent nature of God - so I reply 'I guess I am...?'

Arriving late to Laos (The Youth Congregation of TSA where I attend) is a good way of meeting the outside crew! Jim sits on the wall outside Nunhead Salvation Army and gives me a cursory 'lright?' I reciprocate with my own 'lright' and smile.

'You going in there...?' Jim gestures over his shoulder to the entrance to the church where worship can be heard.

'I thought I might...'

Jim continues 'You looking for God in there...?'

I'm not sure that this is the time for a debate into the omnipresent nature of God - so I reply 'I guess I am...?'

'Well you'll be wasting your time - I wouldn't bother...!'

'why's that then...?'

'he's moved'

'moved...?'

Nodding over his shoulder to the door Jim continues 'yeah... last week they all came out saying that God had really moved...!!'

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Back from Holiday...

A soggy week under canvas was inevitable but nevertheless enjoyable.

I enjoyed late night DVD watching with the portable DVD player up to my
nose to simulate my much loved front row at the cinema! So enjoyed the
Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest , was disturbed by Kidadulthood (thanks Nick!) and was intrigued with the account of the last days of Hitler in
Downfall.

Caught up with some reading:

Tony Jones' The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life' -
Excellent and highly resourceful.
Mark Yaconelli's 'Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence
of Jesus' - OK - worth borrowing
Gerald Hughes' God of Compassion - has started well!

Managed to beat Kate at scrabble - no mean feat!

Had a great time with the Eryn, Bethan and Kate in the New Forest, but
yet fail to see the point of crabbing!