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Sunday, 27 March 2016

Part Two: He Is Risen!

Okay, so I couldn't help with the 'risen' gag. This is the bit that everybody knows. Jesus came back, we're all saved, "HAAAAA-LELUJAH!", and we get to eat hot cross buns and chocolate eggs.
*Ahem*. Anyway.

It's easy, I think, to forget that this is actually the important day. Because, as Christians, we regularly have communion, which is reminding us of Friday. The cross is pretty much our symbol - and that reminds us of Friday. Of Jesus' death. But he came back. And that's kinda more important. The illustration I like to use is a bridge.

So, there was this massive chasm, and everyone was on one side of the chasm. And they needed to get to the other side. Because this side was going to collapse, and burn up. And so an architect came along and built an incredible bridge, spanning from one side of the chasm to the other. Some people didn't trust the bridge, and so they didn't get on it. Some did, and they went over to the other side. But others were just so awed by the bridge that they just stayed on it, admiring it and saying how fantastic and amazing and incredible it was.

The bridge is amazing, and fantastic, and incredible, yes. Undoubtedly. But it is there to get people to the other side - if it hasn't done that, then it's for nothing! Similarly, Jesus' death was incredibly sacrificial, and terrible, and fantastic, and loving, and many other wonderful adjectives and superlative. But it is for a purpose. To set us free from sin, and bring us together with our Father in heaven, to bridge the gap that sin has created. If we just focus on his death - then we're kinda missing the point. It's important, heck yes! But more important is why it was done. What it was for.

Also, this guy does a much better job than I could of explaining why it actually makes rather a lot of sense that Jesus rose from the dead, if that's an issue for you: Another nice one to add to the list is that, after the resurrection, Jesus' brother became an avid follower as well. Imagine trying to convince your brother that you were God in human form. Yeah. Hence why I reckon it was probably real, among other reasons. But anyway.

Happy Easter! The third day has come, and it is time to celebrate. May you eat much sweet and fruity dough, and your preferred variety of hollow chocolate. But may you also remember the new life that we are given, and how we have been saved.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Part One Point Five: The Waiting

People often forget about the period in between the Friday and the Sunday. (As an aside, people sometimes say it was three days - wrong. Sunday was the third day, but there were not three days in between the death and resurrection. The Bible puts his death somewhere on Friday afternoon, and the women saw the empty tomb at around sunrise on Sunday. That's no even two days!) But for the disciples, this would have been the longest day. The longest time. And for many of them - probably all of them - they thought that it was all over. They didn't get all of what Jesus had been saying before about dying and coming back. All they knew is that they had been following this guy for three years - and the powers that be had killed him. Brutally. They had bet everything on Jesus - put all of their lives into him - and he was dead.
There would have been a lot of fear. Fear for their own lives, that they would be next. That before two long, there would be eleven more crosses on that hill, carrying their bloody corpses.

We know very little about what actually would have happened on this Saturday. It was a special Sabbath, the day of Passover; but there is nothing in any of the Gospels about what happened on this day, apart from the Sanhedrin asking Pilate to put a guard on the tomb. It is a period of silence. Of absence. And it seems so strange to us. Of course, looking back, we know that it was only one day - but for the disciples then, they didn't know that. They thought it was all over. That it was gone, and their lives would soon end.

So perhaps Saturday, for us, is a reminder. That there are going to be times of silence, of nothingness. That there are going to be times when everything seems to have fallen down. When nothing can be done, and it's all over.

But remember, folks....Sunday's coming. It's only the second day.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Part One: The Dead King

There once was a man who promised so much. He came as a conquering king; he said that he would give life. That he was the way. He spoke of a new kingdom, and spoke against the powers and authorities that had set themselves up. He appealed to the crowd, and they all loved him, especially the children.
But then - he was captured and taken by the very ones he was supposed to save them from. He was judged by the religious powers to be speaking incredible blasphemy against their God, and so was sent to be punished. He was brought before the people, beaten and bruised. This was supposed to be their king - and he had failed them.
"Crucify!" The first voice, one of the religious leaders called. "Crucify!" Cried another. Soon, the call was taken up by more, and more. "Crucify! Crucify! Crucify!" This was not their king. Their king would not do this to them. He was a betrayer, a traitor, a liar. He had no power. He was weak. Eventually, after much protest, the authorities caved in. He was whipped, again and again, until he could barely stand. He was made to walk to his place of execution - Golgotha, or The Place Of The Skull. They tried to get him to carry the crossbeam, but he could not bear the weight after the torture he had already endured. They forced someone from the crowd to carry it for him, and then resumed the long walk.
They stripped him naked, and laid him down on the cross, binding his arms into position. Then one took a nail, and a great hammer, pressing it against his right hand; and with a mighty series of hits, nailed his hand to the wood. He proceeded to do the same for the other hand. Then, moving down to his feet, he placed one on top of the other; then, withdrawing an incredibly long and wicked-looking nail, and with a great blow, nailed both of his feet to the cross.
Slowly, the cross was brought upright. Two others were on either side, both petty criminals. Many came and spat at him, or laughed and jeered as they watched him die slowly, and painfully. He deserved this, for his lies and betrayal. For what he said he would do, that he did not. The man cried out now and then, but never with anything that made much sense. At some point in the afternoon, though, he said this - "It is finished." And then he died. As all men do.

....but this was no ordinary man. And this story is not yet finished. For this was Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth. And it was only the first day. Friday. And now, we wait....

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Worship Without Sacrifice

One of the cool touristy things that we did while we were in India - specifically New Delhi - was go to visit Gandhi's tomb. Around it were written some quotes from books that he had written, or things that he had said - I'm guessing so, anyway, they were in a variety of languages, so I could only understand a couple.

But this one, that you can see above, I really loved. And I think it's quite relevant still today; even though it was written just over 90 years ago. Because I think we still have politics without principles (or maybe they're just bad principles); we still have wealth without work (probably a lot more so); we still have pleasure without conscience; knowledge without character; commerce without morality; science without humanity; and worship without sacrifice. Now, each of these could be a speech in themselves, though there's a few there that I don't really know well enough to talk about. But I would like to look at the last one.

Worship without sacrifice. Do you know what the word worship means? It originally derives from the words worth-ship. It's talking about what is worth the most to you. What is worth more than anything. Here's a good video on what worship can look like in a secular sense. But, generally speaking, you'd think that God would kinda top that list. And wouldn't it follow, then, that if God was worth so much - that you would sacrifice so much for him? I mean, we talk about our sacrifices in lots of other places. The sacrifices we make for our work, for our relationships, for our friends, our children, our communities, our music or art, our cause. But what about our sacrifices for God? What is worship....without sacrifice? I would say - and I think that this is what Gandhi is saying - is that it isn't really worship at all. If you aren't willing to sacrifice - then you're saying it's really not that important. Something else is higher. Something else is bigger. Something else demands your attention, and ultimately, your sacrifice.

I think that's a trend that we see a lot of, these days. People talking about the sacrifices they make everywhere else - but what about our sacrifices to God? Our worship to God? A bit of a dangerous idea, here: if we're comfortable where we are, then we're not worshipping God. Because sacrifice isn't comfortable. Sacrifice comes from the meaning of surrender, to give up, to suffer to be lost - but how often do we do that? I know that for me, not nearly often enough. There are many things that I could sacrifice that I don't. Because I get scared, or because I like my safety and comfortability. But if God is worth everything - if he is so worthy of our worship (and he is!) - then why are we so scared to give up the little that we have? It was never really ours to begin with. But it's always a lot harder to do than to say, isn't it? Something to ponder on.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

And Soon

I'm at breaking point
With every little thing, I feel like the balance will tip
And I'm scared of what might happen if it does
I'm like a leaf blown in the wind
Every little buffet blows me this way
And that
Slave to whatever happens around me
Rather than directing it
It directs me
I'm down the creek with no canoe
Barely staying afloat
I don't know how to get out
Don't know how I got in
Don't know how long it will last
Or how long I will
This is where I am weakest
My most vulnerable
And alone
Yet I have no self-motivation
No drive to get me out
I can only pray
That God will, and soon

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Matters Of Late.

Well, folks. It has been quite a long time since I've been posting at all regularly, and rather a lot has been happening, hasn't it? So I thought I'd best catch you up.

Obviously, I was in India for quite a while. I'm hoping to do a post just about that, because that was pretty crazy. And then, because I didn't have enough craziness, the day after I got back from India I moved. Well, I got back on the Friday, I moved half my stuff on Saturday, and moved in proper on Sunday. I thought I was getting a twin room - but when I got here and opened the door, there was only one bed! (Don't tell anyone though!) So that's been pretty handy.

Then I had to get ready for living by myself - so did a fairly big shop for kitchen bits and pieces, and then a food shop. That was fun :) Figuring out what I wanted to get. I ended up getting rather a lot, and more than I could use before the use-by-dates....bit of a trick when it's just you. You want to buy in bulk because it's cheaper....but you can't because you won't use it all before it goes bad. Ah well. Having fun with doing my own cooking, going mainly vegetarian. When I say mainly vegetarian, what I mean is that what I buy is vegetarian, but if I eat out somewhere else or with other people, I don't make it a rule that I have to be vego. Just makes it a bit easier.

Since I've come back, a few things have started back up. First one was the internship, which was new! And quite exciting. I've been having a lot of fun being a part of that, and being a part of the team that's making things happen at church - and it's a great time to be a part of things! Our church has just done it's big vision casting for 2030, which is pretty big. So yeah. Loving that :) Then I started back at BOE, just continuing to do the website for them. That's been good having that as a bit of a solid base to work off - particularly because the work at the warehouse hasn't been happening so much. It's a quiet season for them at the moment, so everyone gets less shifts if they're just casuals (which is me). So instead of three shifts a fortnight (which is what I basically planned for with my budget), I'm getting one a fortnight. Not great, in more ways than one.

Thankfully, I've had something else pop up - a job at a café in Macarthur Square, which is pretty much down the road for me! Very handy. I've just done my first day there; so they're going to re-assess after a couple of weeks of me working there. But at the moment, it's looking like it will be two days a week, which would be lovely. And it's quite different to what I was doing before as a kitchen hand in the restaurant - this is mostly working with food! Whereas before, I was mostly working with dishes, and occasionally getting to do food bits when it was busy. But now it's the other way around - well, ish. It's fun, anyway :) I'm really enjoying it.

Apart from all of that, I've still got choir happening, life group happening, and I'm also working on doing sound for the next play coming up at the Campbelltown Theatre Group, which is The 39 Steps (plug plug!). That's all been really great. And I'm studying at the moment, as part of my internship - eventually heading towards a Masters of Divinity, but I'm just doing one unit a trimester and thought it would be interesting doing it at Post-Grad level.

I think that's probably enough for one post. There's been other bits and pieces happening, but that's the main lot of stuff. I'll try and get an India post up before too long if I can!