Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Passion - Episode 4

VICTORY FROM THE JAWS OF DEFEAT: So the resurrection eh? That's a bit far-fetched isn't it? Is this where Christianity moves into the realms of fantasy?

Did Jesus rise from the dead? The answer can either be yes or no. What does the historical evidence suggest happened?

This is the most important question of all time, because answering it holds massive implications. Without the resurrection Christianity falls flat on it's face. It can be reduced to nothing more than another set of decent life values. With it, the promises of Jesus have been proved to be true. We can have forgiveness and new life. Our own personal victory from the jaws of defeat.

It's an event which makes possible the promise that one day, 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.'.

2 days ago hope had been destroyed. Nietzsche had been justified in his horrific claim. But not any more. Today, hope has been restored and renewed like never before!

The event is beyond superlatives. In some respects it's beyond comprehension. And yet some of it's aspects are so ordinary.

Jesus is initially mistaken for a gardener. He shows his friends his wounds before going on a fishing trip with them.

Let's pause in this scene to bring our eventful exploration of Easter to a close. Grab yourself some of the freshly caught fish, combine them with some bread, and sit down to eat with Jesus and his mates. Having passed the food round, and shared some quality catch-up time, Jesus has a question burning within him:

After all Jesus has been through, after all he's achieved, there's still one question left which needs to be answered......

......Jesus wants to ask, 'Do you love me?'

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Passion - Episode 3.

THE MOURNING AFTER:
As the dust settled on the tragic events of the day before, the friends of Jesus would have started to mourn. As tears fell and grief took over, they would have been asking some deeply profound questions.

Wasn't this supposed to be the long-awaited Messiah? The Rescuer? The one that would overthrow the Romans from their land? This wasn't much of a warrior. Why had he just let it happen? Why hadn't Jesus fought back? If this guy knew God as well as he claimed why hadn't God intervened?

Was Jesus just a wannabe like the cons of the past? Had they all been tricked by some cheap joke? Had they just been taken for a ride for the last few years? And now their safety was in jeopardy because of him.

But what about the miracles they'd witnessed with their own eyes? Surely they meant something? Maybe he was just a prophet who got a bit carried away? A bit deluded perhaps? But not even prophets deserved this injustice. This was our friend who we enjoyed hanging out with. He's been taken from us, despite being innocent. WHY?

...

There are more unanswered questions here than in an episode of LOST. But unlike in LOST, our next episode will provide answers to all these questions. In fact all these profound questions were soon to pale into insignificance.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Passion - Episode 2

'Do we hear the noise of grave-diggers who are burying God?
Do we not smell the divine putrefaction? - for even Gods putrefy!
God is dead!
God remains dead!
And we have killed him!
How shall we console ourselves,
the most murderous of all murderers? ...
Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us?
Shall we not ourselves have to become gods,
merely to seem worthy of it?'


I'm pretty sure Philosopher Nietzsche didn't have Good Friday in mind when he wrote these 19th century social observations. But for me, these haunting, depressive words sum up the brutal events that we remember today.



I desperately wanted to use the benefit of hindsight and finish this sad post with an optimistic 'TO BE CONTINUED...'
But then I thought back to the friends of Jesus as they witnessed his death. Their hopes had been destroyed. For them, this was the furthest thing possible from a 'good' Friday!
In their minds there was no 'TO BE CONTINUED.'

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Passion - Episode 1

Have you seen the BBCs take on 'The Passion' yet? It's worth a watch. I'm appreciating their attempts at character development - particularly surrounding their depiction of Jesus. iPlayer the first episode before Sunday and see what you reckon.

I expect it'll be repeated next Easter though! Last Easter I tried to put my blogging spin on the story. So before the BBC repeat their version, I'll get in first. Over the next few days I'll present my serialisation in improved High Definition and Surround Sound where available. Here's episode 1:

'TAKE THIS CUP FROM ME.'

The severity of these words has only just hit me.

This is not a whimsy, 'maybe please, if it's not too much bother...' suggestion. This is a serious order. This is the prayer that any man facing the death penalty would think of uttering. Yet Jesus knows 100% that his plea is actually possible!

This is the desperate emotional cry that even makes Jesus sweat blood. Please let there be another way!



...But then come the bravest 9 words of all time. It's these words which singles out the prayer of Jesus from the others on death row. It's these words which would change the course of history:

'YET, NOT WHAT I WILL, BUT WHAT YOU WILL.'

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Long Walk To Finish the Book

15 months ago I was given a big book. The autobiography of Nelson Mandela. It's 751 pages. 15 months on, I'm on page 324.

Even at this early stage I'm struck by his determination to just keep going no matter what. I expect this admiration will only grow further as I read on. I am yet to reach his major stint of imprisonment but have already been shocked by some of his early prison experiences. The following situation took place - would you believe it - less than fifty years ago:

The first stipulation was that there could be no physical contact between white and black prisoners, and between male and female prisoners. The authorities erected an iron grille to seperare Helen and Leon (whites) from us and a second partition to seperate them from Lilian and Bertha (as African women). Helen needed to be seperated from Lilian because of colour, and from us because of sex and colour. Even a master architect would have had trouble designing such a structure. In prison we were seperated from each other by this elaborate metal contraption.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh

I often blog about needing to choose what to watch on TV rather than just wasting hours away channel hopping. Without a tele at Uni I feel freed from this temptation but web browsing can be just as much of a mindnumbing waste of time. And then came along the great invention of BBC iPlayer.

I'm back home again now and the potential to plug myself into a virtual world of moving images is once again at my fingertips. But why would that be a bad thing?

I recently read a post on Phil Togwell's blog, which presented some thoughts on this. He'd been to visit some monks and while the thought of so much silence terrifies me, the monks explanation for his lifestyle really challenged me.

I've pinched the following paragraphs cos I thought it was so good:

The word obedience comes from Latin terms meaning 'to listen'. Obedience comes from listening... and it is this desire to listen (or to *learn* to listen, since so few of us are any good at listening) that shapes the monk's lives of silence.

The monks aren't entirely silent (as Brother Thierry was demonstrating by speaking with us), but silence is their default. Whereas noise is probably our default. We're surrounded by the noise of machines and vehicles and people and busyness all the time... and then we fill any remaining cracks with music on iPods, on the radio, with shallow chattering (Benedict warns against "unnecessary" conversation) and with the (mostly rubbish) TV as soon as we sit down in the evenings.

And why do we do it? "Because," said Brother Thierry, "we are afraid to be alone with ourselves." In silence we encounter ourselves, including the stuff that we'd rather keep hidden away... the head-noise, the loneliness, the pain, the guilt, the fear, the honest cries of our hearts. The real us.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Greatest Ever Varsity Pool Match

THE 2008 VARSITY POOL CHAMPIONS ARE CAMBRIDGE! It was a day to tell the grandkids about. Aruably the greatest ever Varsity Pool match. And it went something like this:

With 90 frames to play in all, 46 was the magical number to chase. Oxford imposed themselves from the off and after day 1 looked to be in control, holding a 31-23 lead overnight.

Cambridge needed to start day 2 strong and get back in contention. But once again Oxford were first out the blocks stretching the lead to 11, 35-24. Cambridge seemed doomed. As the frames ticked away, the gap didn't appear to be cut. Oxford were on the brink of victory.

But Cambridge dug deep and ground out a few frames that could have easily gone the other way. The tide turned in a flash. Having failed to reach the finishing line, fear set in for Oxford that the tactic of playing their strongest players early on in day 2 may have backfired.

video Suddenly Cambridge believed the unthinkable could be possible. Oxford stalled on 43. Under enormous pressure the light blues chalked up the final 8 frames in a row to romp home 47-43. The celebrations were wild. What a comeback. And what a way for Cambridge to win their 3rd consecutive Varsity Pool Match!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

This one goes out to my Mum.

Happy Mothers Day. Put your feet up this afternoon. I'm looking forward to coming home in 2 weeks, when you can take me shopping. And my jeans have an awkwardly placed hole that I need sewing up. Love Pete.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

LOST - My personal testimony


I feel like a 'Lost' evangelist at the mo. Several friends around me have caught my enthusiasm as they borrow season 1 dvds.

I'm genuinely loving the start to season 4. Already there have been many 'wow' moments. It's the depth of the show that makes it so addictive. You can watch it on so many different levels. For example, it's often observed on the geeky websites, that one character, Sawyer, is regularly seen reading different classic books. The theme of each book links to the storyline in that episode.

And there is continuity. A recent twist in season 4 should not have been so shocking had we remembered a certain scene from season 1.

I'm also astounded that people can interpret Lost in so many different ways. There's a running theme of science v. faith in the show, which also seems to split the audience in how they view it. Which is a masterstroke of writing! Those who pick out the religious elements often miss the scientific links, and vice versa.

Interesting. Hmmm, I could go on but I'd better not bore you any more.