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?

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Retreat Day

Last week as part of my end of term activities I took part in a retreat day at the Carmelite Priory at Boars Hill in Oxfordshire.  The day was led by Ian Adams, one of the CYM Chaplains, who used the story of Elizabeth, Zechariah and Mary to introduce us to some meditative practices.  I arrived early to avoid the traffic and was able to enjoy the sun as it rose over the crisp, frosty fields.  I rarely travel without my camera so was able to capture a few shots before everyone else arrived.

Boars Hill Sunrise

The day was divided into three sessions, each providing space for reflection and time to listen for God.  During one session I felt inspired to draw (something I never do, and have no talent for) and was moved to reflect on what I’d drawn.  A new experience for me, but one which I greatly appreciated and will continue to ponder the notes I made.

We divided into two groups for the final session and were encouraged to use Mary and Zechariah’s example and write either a magnificat or a benedictus based on our context/experiences/feelings.  Here’s what we produced in our group:

Thank you God that everything is upside down;
that you don’t see things the way the world sees them.
You accept this generation, though others reject it;
others want to put them down, but you desire to raise them up.

Where the world leaves young people empty, only you can satisfy.
Through your love there is so much more.

As you draw them near to you we see them longing to be valued and eager to serve;
to accept others in the way that you’ve accepted them.

We see your hope rising through this generation.
Thank you for the momentum which flows from and is sustained by your Spirit.

Amen

It proved to be a really valuable time of reflection and refreshing – much needed preparation for the two mad weeks which have followed.

Christ-follower or Christ-like?

In our Home Group we’ve been exploring the Kingdom of God and trying to re-establish our vision of what ‘the Kingdom of God’ means.  Just after our second session in which we looked at Matthew 7:21 (“not everyone who says ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom…”) I found the following ‘parable’ by Pete Rollins which really backed-up what we’d been saying:

In a world where following Christ is decreed to be a subversive and illegal activity you have been accused of being a believer, arrested and dragged before a court.

You have been under clandestine surveillance for some time now and so the prosecution has been able to build up quite a case against you. They begin the trial by offering the judge dozens of photographs which show you attending church meetings, speaking at religious events, and participating in various prayer and worship services. After this they present a selection of items that have been confiscated from your home: religious books that you own, worship CDs and other Christian artefacts. Then they step up the pace by displaying many of the poems, pieces of prose, and journal entries that you had lovingly written concerning your faith. Finally, in closing, the prosecution offers your Bible to the judge. This is a well-worn book with scribbles, notes, drawings, and underlings throughout, evidence, if it were needed, that you had read and re-read this sacred text many times.

Throughout the case you have been sitting silently in fear and trembling. You know deep in your heart that with the large body of evidence that has been amassed by the prosecution you face the possibility of a long imprisonment or even execution. At various times throughout the proceedings you have lost all confidence and have been on the verge of standing up and denying Christ. But while this thought has plagued your mind throughout the trial, you resist the temptation and remain focused.

Once the prosecution has finished presenting their case the judge proceeds to ask if you have anything to add, but you remain silent and resolute, terrified that if you open your mouth, even for a moment, you might deny the charges made against you. Like Christ, you remain silent before your accusers. In response you are led outside to wait as the judge ponders your case.

The hours pass slowly as you sit under guard in the foyer waiting to be summoned back. Eventually a young man in uniform appears and leads you into the courtroom so that you may hear the verdict and receive word of your punishment. Once seated in the dock the judge, a harsh and unyielding man, enters the room, stands before you, looks deep into your eyes and begins to speak,

“Of the charges that have been brought forward I find the accused not guilty.”

“Not guilty?” your heart freezes. Then, in a split second, the fear and terror that had moments before threatened to strip your resolve are swallowed up by confusion and rage.

Despite the surroundings, you stand defiantly before the judge and demand that he give an account concerning why you are innocent of the charges in light of the evidence.

“What evidence?” he replies in shock.

“What about the poems and prose that I wrote?” you reply.

“They simply show that you think of yourself as a poet, nothing more.”

“But what about the services I spoke at, the times I wept in church and the long, sleepless nights of prayer?”

“Evidence that you are a good speaker and actor, nothing more.” replied the judge, “It is obvious that you deluded those around you, and perhaps at times you even deluded yourself, but this foolishness is not enough to convict you in a court of law.”

“But this is madness!” you shout. “It would seem that no evidence would convince you!”

“Not so,” replies the judge as if informing you of a great, long forgotten secret.

“The court is indifferent toward your Bible reading and church attendance; it has no concern for worship with words and a pen. Continue to develop your theology, and use it to paint pictures of love. We have no interest in such armchair artists who spend their time creating images of a better world. We exist only for those who would lay down that brush, and their life, in a Christ-like endeavor to create it. So, until you live as Christ and his followers, until you challenge this system and become a thorn in our side, until you die to yourself and offer your body to the flames, until then my friend, you are no enemy of ours.” – Pete Rollins

Church: Please keep to path…

I took this especially for a couple of close friends – they know who they are ;o)

Please keep to path...

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.”

God Is…

With a title like that I thought this packet of sweets was going to reveal something profound about God, and in a way it did.

The word “skruvblandning” is translated on the back of the packet as “nuts & bolts”.

So a direct translation might be “God is: nuts & bolts”.  Theologically sound when you consider the following verse of Scripture:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11 [emphasis mine]

Theologically Reflect on that!

The title of this post is a phrase we frequently quote both during and between lectures – and is usually said with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The phrase was my first thought when I read the quote below:

“I wanted a bike, and asked God to give me one. But then I realized God doesn’t work that way. So I decided to steal a bike and ask God for forgiveness. It worked.” – Emo Phillips [via Marko]

I might throw that one into the mix during our Ethics lecture on Tuesday…