By Jake Agnew
Monday, February 27, 2012
The last 18 months in Christchurch has reminded us all how inflexible the modern ‘wineskin’ is, probably far more effective in a bar fight than the Jewish, animal skin equivalent, but definitely inflexible. CCTV footage of wine isles turning into a sea of red glistening glass has been a favourite fodder of our media.
Although the question posed to Jesus in these scriptures is about fasting, His response is far bigger. His response challenges our very character – how flexible are we? Those challenging Jesus with these questions had dedicated lives to becoming inflexible, religious. Have I done the same? Or, could I possibly be the opposite – tolerant, changing, growing, open, accepting, progressive, alive ...flexible.
As we long for Jesus to do new things in us and through us, to pour out His new wine, let’s strive to remain soft and flexible.
When our radical Saviour stretches our hearts, challenges our thinking, questions our motivations what will happen? I guess there is the risk that maybe we have become so religious that the worst thing possible could happen...nothing. But if we can remain flexible then the most beautiful thing could happen...we become more like Christ.
When Jesus comes back and wanders down the wine isle will He have to wade through a sea of red glistening glass? Or, will there be plenty of fine vintage wine, fit for one serious party!
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Do you know these phrases?
“To boldly go where no man has gone before”
“Mama says...life is like a box of chocolates...”
“Go ahead, make my day”
“Show me the money...”
These are all famous phrases from movies that have become part of our everyday language that when used have the echoes of something deeper, something shared, something understood. When my three year old son defies me and won’t put his seatbelt on...and I say “You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk”...we all know who is going to win this standoff!
It’s that kind of echo that was going on in this passage for the original readers - “You are my son. You are the one I love. You make me very glad.” (Psalm 2, Isaiah 40-55) 40 days in the wilderness. (Exodus journey, Exodus 15:18) “The time is fulfilled. God’s kingdom is arriving.” (Isaiah 40:9 & 52:7)
These words, grouped together evoked for the original reader the promise of God and the story of God – the long awaited arrival of the true King, the one who would put things to right...and what could not be missed was this: God was saying – my Son is the King, He is setting up His kingdom now...the appropriate action then (and now) is to...
“Turn back, and believe the good news!”Let God be God and establish His rule in our lives and through our lives.The question is: do we hear the call & are we responding?
Prayer for Today:
“Lord Jesus Son of the living God, help us to believe that you are the world’s true king, and to turn back from all that gets in the way of your rule in our lives.”
Friday, February 24, 2012
In Jesus’ day there were social dining conventions, as there are today in some ways but probably more explicit. According to these social norms a host with status in the community such as a Pharisee should only invite people who boost their own standing in the community. So this would mean a person like a Pharisee would invite people within their own social standing. People did this so that they wouldn’t lose face socially. In a strong culture of honour and shame these things are very important.
So mealtime was a time for many to maintain the social hierarchy. People would use a network of relationships to maintain social power.
So, of course the Pharisees ask Jesus' disciples, "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" These people didn't rate highly on the social scale. Jesus' answer to the Pharisees was that he has come to those in need: the sick.
What we can so easily miss when we read this text is this: we can label everyone else as the "sinner or tax collector". The beautiful thing about Lent is that this is a time where we stop and examine our own lives. It won't take most of us very long to figure out that we are indeed sick and that we also need healing. The good news for us is that Jesus longs to sit at the table with us. He didn't come to pat the self righteous on the back but rather to heal broken sinners.
A prayer for today: Father, we come before you as people who are broken sinners in need of healing. Jesus, may you bring healing and wholeness to our lives. Holy Spirit, inspire us afresh to have love for those in our world who are also sick like us and in need of healing. Amen.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Recognizing Authority (Mark 1:21-28)
by Liam Cadigan
In our world today roles of authority are usually clearly visible, such as a policeman has his uniform or a Judge and a teacher/principle have a title.
A question I ask is, where does the authority for these roles, titles etc come from? If I get caught speeding, a policeman gives me a ticket because I broke the law, if I stand before a court on trial for theft, I am judged in accordance with the law, or if I argue and refuse to listen to the teacher, I am breaking the class rules. We see an occurring theme of law.
The authority for these roles then lies not on the uniform or title but in what the uniform and title serve, the law. If a Policeman, Judge or teacher is not a faithful servant of the law/rules their authority lacks plausibility.
“the people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority…” Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. God’s perfect, obedient, faithful and righteous Son fulfills Gods perfect law. Hence as Jesus teaches people begin to recognize the breadth and power of his authority. We also see however that Jesus authority is not recognized amongst the seen but also the unseen. The evil spirit knew who Jesus was, he knew his authority and power.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Today we begin a journey together...
Monday, February 20, 2012
We are about to embark on the journey of Lent as a church. For some of us this is a new thing. Many of us did it for the first time last year. Some of us have grown up doing it. Some of us don't even know what Lent is about.