Apr 04

Places of refuge

View from Masada

The Church is a often seen as a place where people are right, or think they are. Wouldn’t it be better if it was a place where people went when they needed love?

I am just back from Spring Harvest 2013 which was great, if a little cold. One of the highlights of the week was listening to Gerard Kelly’s wonderful teaching on John’s first letter. The central point that both Gerard and John were making, over and over again was that love is overwhelmingly the most important aspect of Christian life. Continue reading

Sep 09

Jesus never met a prostitute

Mary MagdaleneI have a couple of pieces on the go at the moment and I am happy with neither of them: hence the long gap since my last post. This, then, is a bit of a ramble – but then that’s sort of the point, isn’t it…?

I want to be better than I am. I want to be generous, brave, wise, loving, gentle and patient. I want to be fun, happy, honest, caring and strong. I want to be fit, energetic, kind, compassionate and sociable. Oh, and I want to be holy, too.

I have said before that I am cursed with a perfectionist streak and that this, when combined with my chronic idleness, is one of the chief reasons I get cross. This is glib, yes, but it is generally true and it often surfaces.

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May 26

Reason grown courageous

Martin LutherWe tackled one of the many difficult bits of James last Sunday, the bit about faith and deeds.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2: 14

It is easy to get hung up on this, many people have, but I do not think there is any need…

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May 11

I can resist anything except…

The Temptations

We moved on to temptation in our look at James last Sunday in church. My failure to resist temptation is a frequent cause for crossness, so this is a topic which is close to my heart!

I have always found temptation to be both clichéd and predictable and this makes it so much more galling when I succumb.  To be frank, the temptations that catch me out are seldom novel or original.

However, we are all tempted, even Jesus was tempted, and the temptations we face range from the small and seemingly trivial to the monstrous, from the white lie to the serious crime.

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Apr 14

Oh ye of little will

Will ShakespeareI disappoint myself a lot and always have: I continually set expectations for myself only to fail to meet them. This makes me cross.

I have always envied those who appear to have bags of energy and an iron self-discipline. I seem to have zeroes in both of these attributes. When I was at school and college I performed magnitudes better when external discipline was high, often falling to pieces when left to my own devices (A-level Maths being a particularly striking example). Similarly, I have always performed best in team sports where I can rely on others to help set the pace and provide persistent focus and motivation. In the workplace, I have learnt to harness deadlines in order to drive myself, but even now I often rely on last-minute efforts to deliver.

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Apr 12

He Never said a Mumblin’ Word

Dali - Christ of St John of the CrossI am a Cross Christian. I believe Jesus died on the cross, for me. Not just for me of course, he died for you too (yes he did, wow! eh?). But he did die for me. That fact is staggering. Jesus Christ died for you and me.

It is more than that though. Jesus didn’t just die for us; he let us kill him on a cross. This is an important distinction to make because it implies a very explicit act of will. Forgive the irreverence, but Jesus did not have a bit of an accident with a cross.

Nor did Jesus have no choice in the matter.

Jesus was the Son of God and he was God incarnate. He had repeatedly demonstrated his sovereignty over creation, life, death and Satan and he was the most powerful being ever to exist. In the heavenly host, he commanded armies of universal supremacy and power. He could unleash the wrath of the creator at will. He could end the universe in the blink of an eye.

One does not crucify such a person without his explicit permission.

Jesus chose, deliberately and intentionally, to let us kill him and, I believe, he continued to choose to do so incessantly and resolutely until the point of his death and beyond.

When I think of the crucifixion, one of the pictures that come to mind is Salvador Dali’s Christ of St John of the Cross.

This is a striking image and, although a little kitsch, it appeals both to my surrealist sensibilities and to my sense of drama and perspective. The painting shows Christ on the cross, but without nails or ties, looking down, from high above, on a fishing scene.  I can easily imagine, in the darkness above and behind the crucified Lord, the most powerful army ever to be arrayed: Michael, Gabriel and the host of heaven baying for blood, desperate to intercede, with Christ’s outstretched arms the only things preventing a devastating execution of justice upon mankind.

The crucifixion is one long, terrible and unparalleled demonstration of loving restraint.

Thank you, my Lord. Thank you.