Blistered, Ripped and Bled

I’ve just found this video which features a fantastic Easter poem performed by John Goode. It formed the end of the Good Friday service at Buckhead Church in Atlanta.  I know it’s a little late for Easter (although we are still in the season of Easter) but the message of the poem is applicable year-round. The poem starts at 1:24 if you’re too impatient to sit through – and the words are below the video:

picture this:
the sins that we’ve committed
are the direct cause
of the pain that was inflicted upon Jesus
cos He saw
the consequences of our flaws
and actions,
and He decided to take the awful lashes in our stead.

so that night you left the club
so messed up that you ignored your God and the danger
that you invited a stranger
into your body and your bed
your actions were the lashes that stripped the flesh
from Christ’s legs.

and those late night fights
that led you to lift your fist against your wife
as she whispered, whimpered and begged for you to stop
but you would not until you had knocked some sense into her head
got Christ ripped across His back
until the skin blistered, ripped and bled

and when you said congrats to your co-worker on her promotion
but in fact you tore her down behind her back
because you envied what she had
you added the punches, lunges and jabs
that split Christ’s upper lip
the upper cuts from the fists of the soldiers as they kicked
the Saviour in His ribs

He endures the crown of thorns for every time you watch porn
He takes up the cross for your every transgression in the dark
He went to Calvary for the sins of you and me,
the senseless whims that we believe are victimless crimes
but please believe the victim is Christ
and I hope you see
that every time you deceive
your company with your embezzlement schemes
a nail goes through His right hand, right then, and He screams

and every time you plot to meet your mistress
and cheat on the missus
you can hear Him yell as the nail punctures the precious flesh of His feet
as He screams for no more
He implores us to cease
but we ignore His pleas
find ourselves on these streets, searching for more than we need
gluttony, envy and greeed
feed the need and plant the seed
and indeed you can’t see
that man who can’t stand up
with his hand out, looking for a hand up

and the irony is Christ is screaming ‘he is me’
and the nail goes through his left hand
because we ignored and left him to die hungry
on these streets

and on that fateful morning
when the cross finally stands and comes to rest
when His needs quake in its wake
and there’s a pounding in His chest
after everything we just put Chris through
for the sins of me and you
He looks to the heavens and says
‘Father, please forgive them for they know not what they do’

but we do in fact
daily we nail Christ to the cross

now can you picture that?

Church on the Edge

Church on the EdgeSome notes and quotes from Church on the Edge:

“If Church is not a building you go to but a community you belong to, then when and how that meets can have no boundaries.”

“If we assume everyone who comes to Church ‘ought to know what to do’, we shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t stay long.”

The Flaw of Post-Modernism?

Alternative, more provocative title: Brian McLaren in a blouse?

“The excerpt is from an episode from the 14th season of E.R. titled ‘Atonement’. A man looking for answers does not find what he needs in a post-modern view of religion.”

Planning on the Edge

Church on the EdgeJust a minor diversion – mostly for my own benefit – as I think through our new youth work project. Some notes from Church on the Edge:

  • Purpose: what are we here for?
    • everything else should be measured up against this
  • Values: what is important to us?
    • values are often not what you make up, but are what you observe about yourselves and the way you do things…
  • Vision: where are we going?
    • vision should be imaginable, desirable, feasible, focussed, flexible and communicable
  • Strategy: how will we get there?
    • plans to make it work – reality is shown up when you think about strategy
  • Goals: what will we do and by when?
    • goals help you to make a start

Strategy and goals are likely to change as you travel along the journey – they are contextual – and change because they are based on the latest information – as you learn lessons and build up knowledge your strategy and goals are likely to change.

Flushed With Mercy

Exiles - Michael FrostFor my Culture, Society & Mission module I’m currently reading Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by Michael Frost, and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m a slow reader and a quick forgetter – so here, partly for my own reference purspose, are some of the quotes which jumped out at me:

“The Christian movement must be the living, breathing promise to society that it is possible to live out the values of Christ – that is, to be a radical, troubling alternative to the power imbalances in the empire. In a world of greed and consumerism, the Church ought to be a community of generosity and selflessness. In a host empire that is committed to marginalising the poor, resisting the place of women, causing suffering to the disenfranchised, the Christian community must be generous to a fault, pursuant of justice, flushed with mercy.” – p15

“Responsibility cannot be preached: it can only be borne, and the only possible place to begin is with oneself.” – p17 (quoting Vaclav Havel)

“Not all [oppressed and faithful Christians] are rescued from the lions, but somehow, under God’s great grace, their faithfulness eventually will elicit praises from the mouths of their oppressors.” – p17

“By imagining himself to be autonomous, Pilate demonstrates his own folly, and Jesus calls him on it. Like Jesus, exiles must avoid such phony and seductive autonomy. Allhuman life is at the mercy of God and is expected to yield to God’s sovereignty and carry out the diving purposes of justice, love and mercy.” – p20

“We have imprisoned Him [Jesus] in a stained glass cell, and want only to worship Him, never to follow Him.” – p52

“The key to building missional proximity is frequency and spontaneity.” – p62

“God’s presence charges all our activities with glory.” – p67

“We must never tire of doing little things for the love of God, who considers not the magnitude of the work, but the love.” – p68 [quote Brother Lawrence]

“Jesus called us to take up our cross and follow Him. And it’s important to note that for all the discreet medieval art of the Vatican Museum, Jesus died stark naked, covered by nothing but His own dried blood. His hands held no mitre, no staff, no symbol of power. They were empty but for the nails, as big as our thumbs, that anchored Him to that cross.” – p71

“By living expansive lives of justice, kindness, hospitality and generosity, we model the life of Jesus to those who would never attend a Church service or read the New Testament. […] We will, like Jesus, go naked and empty-handed to others, with no motive other than to show them grace and practice mercy.” – p74

The Geographic Spread of Religion

A fascinating animation of the geographic spread of religion (via ThinkChristian):

Spread of Religion

Different Christmas

Yesterday I lad the Brigade Service at Church on the theme of “A Different Christmas”. We had a quiz based around the following Christmas statistics (source) and then reflected on them and what they say about how we ‘celebrate’ Christmas:

  • £600 million – spent on decorations annually
  • 2 million metres – of fairy lights put up each year
  • 15 hours – average time spent Christmas shopping (presents only, not food)
  • 8000 tonnes – of wrapping paper discarded (enough to wrap island of Guernsey)
  • 46 million – toys thrown away each year
  • £1.2 billion – value of unwanted gifts each year
  • 64% of over 45s said – they felt Christmas had ‘lost its magic’
  • 50% of teachers said – their school would be incorporating a non-Christian Christmas celebration

World Vision have produced a video, called “no child should have to endure this”, which highlights the problem with our approach to Christmas.

I mentioned that I’ve had two conversations since Christmas with young people whose excitement about presents was bursting out of them – and they weren’t typical gifts. One was bought an alternative gift by her mum which fed a donkey for a month, and the other had bought a gift for her mum which would provide dinner for 100 school children. We talked about the benefits of different ‘alternative’ gift catalogues such as Living Gifts from Tearfund, Great Gifts from World Vision, Unwrapped from Oxfam and Present Aid from Christian Aid, before moving on to consider the needs of those around us. We then spent about 10-15 minutes in small groups considering the question:

How can we live differently and meet the practical needs of our neighbours next Christmas?

Next we discussed the thoughts of the groups, making notes as we went. The Amicus members will be considering the feedback in September, and we’ll seek to encourage everyone in the Church to put the ideas into practice at the end of the year with the intention of enjoying a different Christmas. We’ll revisit the topic in our October Parade Service and kick things off.