Category Archives: Ramblings

A ramble through the week.

For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. http://esv.to/Rom5.17

Each one of has come into this world through the anxiety of separation, formed by less than perfect contexts. Though each of us is conceived from the beginning as good by a good God and eternally loved by him, we are parented in suffering by fallible parents. In God there is abundant grace and in Jesus God the deliverer is revealed. By his life, death and resurrection we know the perfect revelation of God, Father, Son and Spirit. By turning to him in life we receive healing and forgiveness. The light within us leads us to the light of life, to abundant life in Jesus our anointed savior.

Of cursing and millstones

21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.
22 If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come!
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. http://esv.to/1Cor16.21-24

I don’t know if like me verse 22 leapt out for you. I wonder, given how high minded and judgemental the gathering at Corinth was, if this was Paul’s terse summing up of the message of love: if it doesn’t look like love then it isn’t God.

Jesus often referred to those gathered to him as little children and said to those chosen to lead that it would be better to tie a millstone round their necks and be drowned than cause one of these to fall. It can be easy to ignore the messages of cursing and drowning as mere hyperbole; bigged up, but not serious. But look around you.

It seems to be the wile of those in authority to wield it for the sake of position and power. How many are scattered and divided from the flock for the sake of an idea or being right?

I myself lament the showing of the yellow card, the last chance, to others. I can only pray: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner, and seek to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God.

The lost sheep was part of the flock and the prodigal son a member of the family. We have a job to do.

Deep calls to deep

By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life. http://esv.to/Ps42.8

It’s hard not to feel detached, separated from the community we love. The ever-flowing divine community, God, Father, Son and Spirit proclaims his love for us and sings over us. In these times, to love and to praise are our prayer causing us know God in the normal, yes, looking forward to a time of festival and being together, but living the life God has given us today in it’s fullness.

Consent

Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve…
So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd. http://esv.to/Luke22.3-6

What’s the back story; certainly behind the story is a real person with a past and a hoped for future. We know he killed himself after the event. To pity or to scorn?

He chose: something consumed him. Was it a false hope? Whether we believe he was on an inevitable path or was destined to betray Jesus, Judas consented and Jesus gave himself up to be killed. By welcoming Judas as his friend, discipling him and sharing his bread with him, Jesus prepared the way.

Judas was there when Jesus spoke of his death. He heard the voice of God. He consented to Jesus being given up as a sacrifice but this time no angels stepped in to prevent the sacrifice. No lamb was provided; Jesus died. He was slaughtered for our sakes and bore the sin of the world and the wrath of God at that sin.

Judas died. He betrayed his saviour. I find myself emotionally conflicted over this pitiful man.

God it’s a mess. God, how wonderful to be human and have this care at our hearts pointing to a love beyond understanding! Help me today not to betray you Jesus; lead is not into temptation. Save us from our selves.

Walk

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. http://esv.to/1John1.5

Grace is the free gift of God. The free gift is that Jesus takes upon himself our sin. Christ is our sin bearer. In him bearing our sin, we are made righteous, not of our own doing but through faith in the work of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus is our only hope and it is by grace we are saved from the slavery of sin. We are redeemed through his death. We are saved from pursuing a life of futility and pride. We are subject to futility and pursue violence listening to the lies of the Satan. This is the wide way we all travel that leads us away from goodness.

The narrow way is to be found in Christ, strengthened by hope in him. We all wander, we all miss the mark, but God in his divine mercy seeks each of us out and offers us the way of life. As we turn to the ways of life we are purified. We choose life and know forgiveness.

In Christ sin and death are no more. Jesus in his humanity has defeated the power of death on the mess of the cross. The innocent victim has paid the price of pride and violence and bears all of our sin.

From the beginning God creates this space for love to be poured out. In the beginning he poured himself out to create this space where love might dwell. In Jesus he pours himself out for us so that we are forgiven.

All creation is in God and he is in everything, shining his light in everyone. He is the light that shines in everyone. Each is loved; all life is sacred. All life is blessed; choose life. The cross opens the way for us to return to God.

In creation God opens the way through prayer. Prayer is the way through which God acts. Each person through prayer is called to partake in the divinity of God. This is our purpose. Jesus, fully human and fully God prays. Jesus’ authority is exercised through prayer and he calls us to follow him. He has shown us the way. He is meek and humble. In him we know God is our Father and we can walk with him.

Formed

20 The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. http://esv.to/Isa43.20-21

We are free to live and breathe and have our being and to choose life. This is God’s gift to us all. We are free to walk into God’s arms or to turn our backs and walk away. God is here to receive us, be with us and if necessary bring us back. This is his overflowing love in the face of our sin. We experience this abundance despite the wilderness we sometimes create.

Sin is ravaging creation but blessing restores: prayer forms a people in the midst of the devastation. Beauty rises from ashes. Prayer forms us together as a people of praise and God acts to bring blessing and salvation. This work is revealed fully on the cross.

The cross is the place and the time where the depths of God’s love and the means of his forgiveness are glorified. This happens in the midst of sin; in the mess of human evil, the One who knew no sin becomes sin for us. By faith in the One on the cross to save us from sin, we receive grace upon grace and walk free in resurrection life. Jesus is alive and death is defeated; the sting of death, its power, is destroyed.

In a dying world we become light as he is the light and the darkness does not overcome. We pray, Lord as you lead us, save us from our selves and deliver us from the evil one. Form us into a people for your praise.

Known

O LORD, you have searched me and known me! http://esv.to/Ps139.1

In the good news of Jesus we see the faith of the Church that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is the Son of God, One with the Father and the Spirit. In Jesus humanity has seen, heard and touched God.

The Church is those gathered as witnesses to this truth that Jesus is Lord and are a people who embody this truth. All come to know the Father through this mystery. It is a work of the Spirit; its foundation is the work on the cross wrought in Jesus made sin who knew no sin. The life of Jesus is the revelation that forgiveness is found in Jesus and through him we are restored to righteousness before God.

Our Faith is in Jesus who is the Kingdom of God made present: the message that God is the One who saves and restores. This is now, always has been and always will be true.

This faith transforms us. In the knowledge of the Holy we become wise.

Our ever word and thought is known by God and he has prepared a way for us. He has known us from before our formation from the dust of the Earth. In every moment of the day, in every choice we make, God goes before us calling us to choose life. Even in the depths of our running from him he calls. Even in the fury of the assault of the evil one God has formed a path of blessing leading us to calm.

God knows and has purposed that there is life in every choice made in Christ. We are in Christ as we proclaim Jesus is Lord.

Psalm 104

33 I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the LORD.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the LORD, O my soul! Praise the LORD! http://esv.to/Ps104.33-35

Beauty calls us out to wonder at the works of the Creator. As we rest, still on the presence of the one who formed us in the womb we know our needs. For a moment we can push these away and allow space for the LORD to breath his Spirit into us, to take us to a place of Light and Life. Then we are awakened to the world, beacons of peace and gentleness, in imitation of Christ.

Bless the LORD for our bodies and our voices to proclaim his holiness.

Bless the LORD who provides enough for each day.

Bless the LORD who is almighty and humble of spirit.

Bless the LORD who heals all flesh and does wondrous works.

May we be protected from ourselves and delivered from the evil one. We long to see sin consumed from the earth and sinners transformed to become worshippers of the Living God so that wickedness ceases. Begin with us first LORD!

In Jesus we have seen the proud scattered in their thoughts and the mighty brought down from their thrones.

Bless the LORD who fills us with good things.

Incarnation?

The Nicene Creed, a touchstone of Christian orthodoxy states of Jesus,

For us men and for our salvation,

he came down from heaven:

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.

Having a science background, this has been an article of faith for me and I have written of my position elsewhere[1]. But recently I have become aware that some recite this creed but believe that the Virgin Mary is an historical title, a tradition, not a fact about Mary of Nazareth[2].

This in mind, I decided to buy a book that would let me understand the full argument and was from a perspective I would not hold to be true. The book I chose was a recent publication by Kyle Roberts which he has summarised through the blog post, Virgin Birth or Incarnation? Why You Can’t Have Both (December 23, 2017)[3].

I found the book very informative. I realised that yes, historically we have a problem with philosophy invading our faith, with extra scriptural traditions based on pagan thought, and an inability to accept the humanity of Jesus. I understand the reason for Greg Boyd’s podcast which recommends us to think more of Jesus,

…from the perspective of “God as Human” rather than “God and Human.”[4]Do we struggle with Jesus eating and defecating, vomiting, feeling ill, experiencing sexual attraction and basically being human? Do we hold true to the Gospel of Jesus?

… we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. (Hebrews 4, GNB)[5]If we do, then we are at that point where we too join with the Fathers and Mothers of the church who created traditions to cover up the subversive nature of the historical birth of Christ.

We might build ideas that include the perpetual virginity of Mary who was not only a virgin at conception, was also preserved as a virgin through the birth of Christ and remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. The Virgin Mary’s birth canal becomes so important to some, Mary is believed to have been impregnated by the Holy Spirit through her ear[6]. Some have decided it is best to side-line Mary all together and avoid the questions.[7]

I have looked at all of this and, despite all, I still hold that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Surprisingly what I wrote at Easter 2017, I still hold to.

[1]https://memlynhumphries.me.uk/2017/05/03/easter-2017/

[2]https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/24/story-virgin-birth-christianity-mary-sex-femininity

[3]http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology/2017/12/virgin-birth-incarnation-cant/

[4]http://reknew.org/2017/12/podcast-jesus-god-human/

[5]https://www.biblesociety.org.uk/explore-the-bible/read/eng/GNB/Heb/4/

[6]https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2017/22-december/comment/columnists/angela-tilby-letting-the-virgin-birth-mystery-be

[7]http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/2017/12/22/protestants-dont-know-mary/