Let Down, OK Computer; Radiohead
Friday, April 20, 2007
Let Down, OK Computer; Radiohead
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Jesus' expectation that God would vindicate him is fulfilled in his resurrection and is yet to be fulfilled in the final renewal of creation at the End. The End of all things has barely featured in church history and Christian teaching and preaching, except at times of suffering and persecution. This lack calls for serious thought, for it suggests that Christian believers can easily become like the Sadducees, so comfortable in this world that they have no place in their thinking and living for its ultimate renewal at the End, and for understanding and living in the light of God's judgement to come on that day.
Exploring the NT, Vol 1, 185
Monday, April 16, 2007
Defeat can be only in the mind, the Channel swimmer insisted, because there is nothing the body will not do, given the will to drive it. The body is a beautiful machine, he said, gazing away into the hazy distance...I knew exactly what he meant. Cycling had taught me to think of my body as a machine.Then, afterwards...
I cycled more within myself. I would still ride the hills, but at a more gentle tempo. I did not want to hurt myself for some abstract ideal of fitness...Physical existence now appeared a relatively fragile fact, not to be relied upon; I would not abuse my body like an engine, a machine made only to be driven hard.
Seaton's discovery happened in a heartbreaking manner. We all tend to shut our eyes to our own weakness, and to a world of fragility and suffering. We need to make sure they are open.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Stuff to take away from the Mustard Seed and Leaven looked a bit like this, in a brazil nutshell:
- We Must See Ourselves in the Story: We can respond to these parables by thinking 'yes, our work here is like a small seed and I long for days of power.' But, this is the wrong way to respond. The Bible is a story and the right way to respond is to see that it has and is being fulfilled around the world in an amazing way over the last 2000 years.
- We Must Have Confidence in God Alone: These parables warn us against (i) despondency (ii) headless-chicken activism. The power of God is the power of the Kingdom. Where the authentic Kingdom is, it will grow, even in the face of rejection. Faith is the attitude, authentic Kingdom life and work is the response: in love, hope, joy and proclamation.
- We Must Understand the End of the Story: The Kingdom will triumph. An inclusive salvation awaits; the Kingdom gives shelter to all. A holistic salvation awaits; pre-figured by the healing of the woman. Our proclamation should reflect these things.
- Are we in the Kingdom? Luke follows his account with Jesus' pleading with the people to enter into the Kingdom before their opportunity passes.
- Striking Imagery: In rabbinical thought, the mustard seed used as a metaphor for smallness. The mustard plant was considered to be a weed. Leaven in Jewish thought represents corruption, something unholy. Jewish views of the Kingdom were grand, large and triumphant. The hearers would have been astounded by these reversals; Jesus challenges Jewish expectations with the Unexpected Newness of the Kingdom.
- Insignificant Beginnings: A mustard seed is small; leaven is common. Not only does the Kingdom consist of just Jesus and a few disciples, but it is opposed - Luke juxtaposes the parables with the opposition of the synagogue official.
- Inherent Power: This is Jesus' main point in Luke's version. A seed and leaven have inherent life. In Matthew and Mark the man plants the seed, here in Luke he throws it in his garden (check the Greek). Perhaps there is a picture of rejection here. But, it still grows. Pliny the Elder says: 'Mustard...grows entirely wild, though it is improved by being transplanted: but on the other hand when it has once been sown it is scarcely possible to get the place free of it, as the seed when it falls germinates at once' (from Ben Witherington's Mark commentary). Jesus compares the Kingdom to a weed? Perhaps so! The weed is a threat to the established order. The leaven too is simply mixed into the meal, that's all. But it leavens the whole mass of dough.
- Future Greatness: A mustard plant grows to about 10ft. But this one becomes a tree - the hyperbolae links in the OT image of the kingdom of Israel as a tree providing shelter for the nations of the world. The woman is making rather a lot of bread - an overflowing mass! She has about 40 litres of meal - that's a lot of dough and even more bread! The small and surprising beginnings lead to greatness and abundance.