I believe Easter is a special time of year. I also believe in the magic of a Bank Holiday Monday break, too. We all have the opportunity to be with our friends and family on an official day-off together.
I think there, surprising, is a theological slant to that day off. We are the post-Easter people. Not only do we live with the power of the cross, not only in the power of the empty tomb, but also in the life afterwards. The life that God has opened up for us is huge, immense, and hope-filled. When we struggle, we know Jesus struggled too. When we fell content and freed of guilt, we know that this was possible through the gift of God’s Spirit, revealed at Pentecost.
Being post-Easter is not to overlook Easter itself; we live in the triumph over death and sin from the Holy Week story. We are not to be condemned by God, we are set free by Him. Our guilt can be released with an open heart, a prayerful mind, and a supportive and trustworthy believer.
Our faith is not based on feeling bad about our failures and shortcomings. It is about Jesus Christ, who by His triumph of our shortcomings on Good Friday, and the victory over death at Easter. We cannot add or take away what the faith means. It is what it is. Nothing complicated, nor academical about this.
Enjoy the rest of your Easter break. Through the unbelivable grace of Christ the Lord we have earned it
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- Pope presides over trimmed Easter Vigil service (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- Happy Easter From Barack’s House (theobamacrat.com)
- God and man at cross purposes (tithebarn.wordpress.com)
He is a paradoxical fella: a conservative with a radical streak, a quiet controversialist, and a unassuming very-public figure. His papacy has been highlighted with controversy, politics, and reconciliation. He’s made errors, but we do know that he is in charge.
What I have learned from his time in office comes from his detractors. The fact he has opponents means he is clear on what he believes and in articulating it. Like many politicians, love them or hate them, you had some opinion on them.
True leadership does not always equate to being nice. Standing up to what is true, holy, and just will always upset someone. There will always be accusations of being a do-gooder, being stuck in your ways, and being ‘not with it’. But this version of leadership is what stops apartheid legal slavery, and gender inequality.
I wish His Holiness well. I have disagreed some of his decisions (the reinstating Bishop Richard Williamson, who later admitted to being a holocaust denier). I praise some of his actions (His encyclical ’Deus Caritas Est‘ and his visit to the UK). The fact I know he is in charge and what he stood for meant he was the leader of the Church.
Quid futurum deinde?
- Pope was not afraid to say sorry (smh.com.au)
- Pope Benedict XVI: a paradoxical pontiff (newstatesman.com)
- Farewell to a modest and wonderful Pope (blogs.telegraph.co.uk)
The Large Hadron Collider, perhaps the biggest science experiment ever, has discovered the possibility of the Higgs boson: this particle creates ‘the matter mass and holds the physical fabric of the universe together‘ (quoted from www.new.stv.tv). This maybe the smallest of particles that makes the universe keep shape, makes gravity a reality, and brings form and shape to all that exists.
A phrase that has been touted with the exploration and discovery with this project is ‘The God Particle’. I guess that it can be viewed as the last thing that finally proves God’s non-existence. It can also be seen as science discovering everything we need to know about absolutely everything. It may be seen as reason’s greatest hour.
I always find it interesting whenever the anti-theist lobby call any science discovery (historical and modern) as a triumph over religion. Basically, to believe that one veiwpoint is better is missing the point of rationalism. Surely to present all the results of a particular study in a non-emotional sense is true scientific endeavour. Theorising on this, understanding the implications on the results, and working on the next steps of discovery seem the most natural steps to expanding on such work. Science study can prove or eradicate the existence of faeries is through a science study on faeries, not on any other scientific study.
This is science’s greatest hour of the modern era. I must add that this does not mean we have now discovered everything; this is the beginning of new discoveries. As G K Chesterton would say, reason seeks to cross the sea of infinity.
Does the boson deny God? I always believe that there is always another step further back from all science of the universe. The adage of nothing makes everything is still a difficult thing for me to grasp. It certainly does not make grammatical sense.
I believe that all scientific discovery, all philosophical writings, all poetical verses, all viewpoints of life are based on our reaction to God. The Bible reads that God’s ways are unfathomable (Romans 11:33, Job 9:10). God is immeasurable (Ephesians 3:20). God cannot be explained, or explained away, in to a single sentence.
If we use the scientific method in theology, and the poetical method in scientific theorising, we will gain in our understanding of the most profound questions of humanity and eternity.
- I have no idea what God particle is for: Peter Higgs – Zee News (zeenews.india.com)
- Vatican astronomer says ‘God particle’ is misnamed, but exciting (catholicnewsagency.com)
- Getting a grip on Higgs (bigpondnews.com)
I was cycling to my Mum’s the other week. She doesn’t live too far from me, so I decided to give my two-wheeler a dust off. I was cycling on the road when I went on to a near-by cycle.lane. I slipped off the kerb, fell of my bike and banged my head. It gave me a scare as I’m epileptic, and any bump always freaks me out.
What happened next really worried me. At least a dozen drivers drove past me, and a pedestrian strolled past me close by. I couldn’t find my spectacles and spent a few minutes looking for them, with much squinting. I was completely alone and isolated even though I was near a busy road with a pavement in broad daylight.
It always gripes me when anyone tells me that we’re all generally good. I was in a situation where this ideal could shine… and it failed.
We must admit to our short-comings as ordinary human beings. I have struggled with the quote ‘It has seemed to me that most people are generally good, in every race and in every country where I have been’ (Langston Hughes). Sadly, this was a moment when this quote was not fulfilled. Our ignorances, ill judgments, and our prejudices cannot be dismissed.
Recognising our short-comings is in fact part of modern culture. The public form of confession from celebrity culture is a starting point, though this is not suppose to be an exercise of judgement on our part. This is setting an example of honesty and openness. This is not about everyone being public with their ‘dirty laundry’, but for each of us to know we have our own.
History has always underlined human failings. James 4:17 reads: ‘Anyone… who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins’. That simple pearl of divine wisdom is about being active in our good deeds, not to just believing it possible.
I hope noone else I know ever has to experience what happened to me that day. My only response is to make sure no one has to go through that again
- Yahweh, Christ and Mankind (divinityhc.wordpress.com)
- 8 Ways Christian Fundamentalists Make People Convert — to Agnosticism or Atheism (alternet.org)
- Believing Jesus Is Healing! (corbenstreet.wordpress.com)
Professor Dawkins was on BBC Radio 4 last week, esposuing again the reducing poularity of religion that has negative and destructive intentions (according to him). He publisied a poll on religion, asking participants their religious persuation, and their understanding of basic Christian doctrine and practises. The results from the poll (carried out by the Richard Dawkins Foundation) showed that those participating were not regular church goers, did not have understood some or all of the Christian doctrine asked, and only a third knew what the first book of the New Testament was. This survey has been seen by some as proof of a secularised nation.
There are a handful of diffiuclties with this poll. Firstly, it is comapring itself (a poll of over 2,000 participants) to a census that has tens of millions answering by law. Secondly, the questions asked in the survey are not the ones asked in the census. Thirdly, it is saying you are only a Christian if you ‘tick these particual boxes’, thereby believing that Christianity is about an alliegence to a rigid ideology.
I do believe there is some from this survey for the church to mull over for everyone. I would like to ask if there are church goers do not know some of the long-standing Christian doctrines (e.g. the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, Jesus as Son of God, etc.), then why not? And where will someone learn these things which are part of our belief in the God of Christ?
I would also like to suggest that, on light of this poll, that the 2021 census to keep the ‘religion’ section and to include a ‘Atheist/Agnostic’ box. The best way to speak about the religion in our country is not to look primarily at the state of the church and belief, but on the people who tick the box that effectively says ‘I don’t believe/I can’t believe’. We can only say for sure how secualirsed our nation not by looking at the church, but on the numbers found in the biggest of surveys.
The poll shows the continued need for the Church to strengthen the congregation’s understanding of the ways and works of Jesus Christ and His Church. The Christian faith is an intellectual, loving, and experiencial way of being. If anyone wishes to understand or to deride your faith, as St Peter writes: ‘… in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…‘ (1 Peter 3:15).
The image came from: http://gedlinghealthnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/survey.jpg
- What Is a Christian? (neitshade.wordpress.com)
- Stumbling Toward Salvation (fatherstephen.wordpress.com)
- Believe it or not, secularism is not what it used to be (independent.co.uk)
The UK has less than one in ten people attending a church service regularly (once a month or more). The Lord Spirituals have been blamed for having influence on potential law changes being passed through the House of Lords. Religious leaders are told to keep out of political discussion in the public arena. The neo-secularist mantra of ‘religion is the root of all evil’ has gotten louder. Yet, some how, there is a noticeable number of people who call the UK a Christian country. How is this possible? What viewpoint can someone have that says the church is a welcomed part of life for most people?
We must stand up and admit that we live in a post-Christian era, and have done for decades. We could sulk, hark back to a bygone era, point out the pluses of the Christian faith. Or we can be far more proactive and become more public with our faith. The idea of being nice and not causing a fuss has now been taken by non-church-goers. Giving time and money to charitable causes is seen as good, rather that Christian, acts.
The sooner we understand our place in society and how to live the life possible through faith in the Risen Jesus, the better.
I believe the classic hatch, batch, and dispatch ceremonies (i.e christening, weddings, and funerals) are a huge part of the outward image of the church. The local church supporting the local schools (both church and non-church), with Christmas services and assemblies for example. The vilage chapel providing creche, holiday club, and elderly people events have been part of church life for decades.
The church is the defining character of the greater good. This is possible through following the ways of the Jesus of the Gospels. We need to remember the actions of faithful of history and carry on their mission of shining the light of Christ in all things.
- A Pulpit For The Masses: YouTube, Christians Click (npr.org)
- Present day falling away? (pastoronmain.wordpress.com)
- Article: Robert Pattinson & ‘Bel Ami’ in The Christian Post (belamifilm.com)
Hope is a human desire. I have no doubt about that. From childhood onwards we believe in something that is not yet attainable. Our capacity to dream has given many great thinkers the ideas, designs, and aspirations that have shaped history. From Reformation to the iPad, hope has been the inital idea and the driving force behind it.
No believing in hope can lead to a so-called ‘healthy cynicism’, a sense of purposelessness. It can also lead to a questionable response to charity and other acts of altruism. Hope is, for example, why students attend exams; Hope makes our daydreams in to action; Hope can motivate us to keep hold of our beliefs.
I believe that a sense of hopelessness has affected our belief in humanity. A recent survey had 10% of people believing that an unruly child at age 10 is a lost cause. Aged 10?!? What does that say about us? Does this mean our society would rather such children grew up to be unable to positively contribute to the wider community? Am I naive in believing that each human being has the capacity to mature and transform their life?
Injecting hope in our day can make an immense impact. Progress is only possible when we believe in hope. I can’t imagine living without the not-yet possible. I wouldn’t like to believe in a life whose mantra is ‘If you don’t try, you don’t lose anything’.
The Bible tells us that ‘Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.’ (Hebrews 11:1). Faith and hope go hand in hand. I believe therefore I hope, I hope therefore I believe. The Hope found in the everlasting God is rooted on always having someone and something to believe in. There is always hope somewhere, and the Church is part of this hope-sharing mission for the world.
What I want to underline is that negativity is short term, hope is eternal.
- Faith is about the Journey (johnrconverse.wordpress.com)
- Gotta Have Faith… (strugglingwoman.wordpress.com)
- A New Year, Life, Love, and Body (realitynibbles.wordpress.com)
It is amazing how easy it is to be filled with doubt and panic whenever you visit the shops during the Christmas season. The sensation of being unprepared for something you try to remember is an unpleasent part of the season. We all get dragged into it, even if we know it’s all about Jesus’ birthday. We get surrounded by rubbish TV specials, listen to an eternal loop of the same five Christmas songs, and seem to indulge for the sake of it. We are missing something special.
Let’s focus on two days where most of us are expected to put down tools and enjoy being with our loved ones. Let’s focus on allowing ourselves to just sit still for a bit. Let’s focus on that feeling of being more charitable for the season.
Jesus came in to a mixed-up world to live with people like you and me. He wants us to live on earth for the greater good, as He lived. We are blessed whether in our partytimes or in our dark days. Like Abraham, God blesses so that we may be a blessing to many others (see Genesis 12:3). We are part of a mission that seeks to save everyone from their fear of death, hurt, and regret. The greatest gift we have is our God-ordained life, willing to take on life face-on.
We can get through Christmas. All we need is to enjoy what God has already given us, and know that we can do great things for the greatness of God, humanity, and creation. Long may this mission continue.
It’s Advent time and the sermons are being written. Irregular church goers make their regular pilgrimage. The regulars are excited with a full chapel. Now for the message… The theme of ‘true meaning of Christmas’, ‘Easter is what it’s all about’, and ‘Keep coming back’ are good for the season.
I believe there needs to be additional themes for the season. How about some of these ideas?
‘Christmas – A New Hope’. Jesus’ birth is a turning point in history, where the access to God starts on a one-to-one basis. We find hope in believing in the omnipresent Son of God who wil be with us for all of eternity (ff Matthew 28:20). All prayers are heard, anyone can belong to the community of faith, and imperfection is not unusual on the road with God who accepts you and morphs you into holiness and perfection that last for eternity.
’A New, New Way’. Jesus came into the world to complete the way of the people of Israel and to open up the new way of God. The temple of God, the eternal presence of God, and the way of God lives in one man. To follow His way is to experience what it is to follow the way of the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David.
‘The New Beginning of Everything’. John’s Gospel begins with the words ‘In the beginning…’. It is a repeat of the beginning of the Old Testament (or Hebrew scriptures), with the onus of something starting again. Jesus is our opportunity for a Mulligans or a do-over in our lives. Telling the God of Jesus Christ that we want to start again in life, and asking for God to put it right, we can start all over again in our life of faith.
’Jesus – The Meaning of Life’. Further along in John’s Gospel it reads ‘The Word was made flesh…’ (John 1:14). The Greek word for Word is ‘Logos’ (λόγος) means a number of things. It’s where we get the word logo: a picture or group of words that are dynamic. We can also read Word (with a capital ‘W’) as the Hebrew Scriptures becoming visual, alive, and physical in one man. This Greek word is also where we get the word ‘Logic’. The reason for existence, the ultimate point of understanding, and the start of our search for the meaning of life was born in Bethlehem thousands of years ago.
The Christmas story is exciting, deep, and a defining point of what it is to be human. This point of history starts of God’s salvation story for humanity. The gateway to the divine was born for everyone to meet.
Good News for Christmas and beyond.
- Will We Follow Jesus? (lifereference.wordpress.com)
- The Meaning of Life (jasonmcintyre55.wordpress.com)
- The true meaning of Christmas (lovemysnoopy.com)
I have previously blogged about my hope that the Occupy protests around the world would stand highlight the issues of corporate greed, rather than the protesters themselves. My wish has been unfulfilled.
I agree that the church started with a mixed response (Reaction to such protest will do), but we have reached the stage where the intentions of the protesters are far outweighing the cause they congregated for. The Occupy movement is also in Bristol (where I live): This too has had more bad press than good. The global movement (in the US and Germany, amongst others) has caused similar ill feeling. The talk of indefinite residence of tents, legal action, bad behaviour, and annoying resolve has made the cause less significant. This is not how it is meant to be. What kind of response is expected? What action from which authority will appease such protesters and create a better world for many more?
I’ve heard about the current Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker, and how he protested, as a councilman, in 1999. He was so dismayed by an area where open drug trafficking was rampant that he went on a ten day hunger strike living in a tent in the very area this was happening. He then lived in a modern mobile home in the area, and stayed for 5 months. His protest for better social housing, law and order, and education for the residents eventually lead to the council bringing in such change. His diligence and public support lead to greater social change for many. I believe that a culture of avarice for the few has lead to millions of people being affected.
I believe that the electorate need to stand up and tell the banks and traders this. I believe that a new form of capitalism (much closer to Adam Smith’s ‘On the Wealth of Nations’) needs to be practised. I do not want the right to dissent to over-ride the human rights of those who have lost so much from the economic downturn. I would also like to argue that you and I are also part of this problem. The sub-prime mortgages, the ease to get credit cards, the living beyond our means? We have made decisions that have affected our home-life and the world as a whole. Jesus once said: ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?’ (Matthew 7:3). The Bible, again, speaking about the modern world.
This is an important message: The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing. I pray that this becomes a mantra for the Occupy movement.
- Small group of Occupy Newark protesters brave cold for cause’s sake; overnight plan unclear (nj.com)
- Occupiers ousted in Ottawa (canada.com)
- WATCH: Why Are Tents So Important To Occupy Denver? (huffingtonpost.com)