Saturday, August 27, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be always acceptable in thy sight O Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen
Who is Jesus?
This is the primary question to which each individual has to answer for themselves.
It is the question which the disciples had to answer
It is the question which the Jewish religious authorities had to answer
It is the question which the each member of the crowd which followed him had to answer
It is a challenging and potentially life changing question ... a question for each person in each generation.
It is challenging because of the implications of the answer given.
Take a look at the reading on the sheets in front of you ... The first verse shows the Background to this scene. Caesarea Philippi - I presumed that this was an ordinary villiage somewhere in 1st Century Israel ... somewhere with the flat roofed houses, markets etc etc. It was not until my recent trip to the Holy land and discovered that this was a unique place ... It is up in the mountains, the Golan Heights, it has been a place where in the past loads of pagan religions had their temples, where sacrifices to loads of different gods happened... It is also where one of the tributaries of the jordan springs up. There is a cave which has a spring ... it is known as the gate of hades because of the depth. So with all of this pagan choice of gods Jesus asks his disciples
The general question is asked Who do people say that the son of man is?
Some say John the Baptist
Others Elijah, Jerimiah or one of the prophets
This is an easy question for them to answer ... They have heard the talk, they have been in discussion with their friends, they hear the idle chit chat on the street. It is easy for them to answer about what others say.
The personal question is then asked - “but who do you say that I am?”
Peter answers with a profound answer ... an answer which has enoromous implications.
The word Messiah conjures up the jewish longing ... the fulfilment of all the scriptures
The word Messiah trumphs the prophets, the priests, the kings which have gone before
The word Messiah is not used by Peter lightly here.
Simon Peter has come to this conclusion after all that he has seen and heard, the teaching, the miracles, his own reflection, his discussion with the others.
Simon Peter and the disciples lives change at this point ... He is given the name peter ... meaning rock ... he is given the task of building church ... building church ... the first time that this word has been uttered ...he is to build a new community.
The Background was a pagan marketplace of all sorts of gods
The General Question was asked
and the Personal question was asked
The Background was a pagan marketplace of all sorts of gods
In our world today - there is a market place of ideologies, of all sorts of beliefs, all sorts of weird and wonderful things. gods made of all sorts of things ... maybe not found in temples but certainly gods nonetheless.
Within this marketplace the same questions are posed. The General question is asked
who do people say that the son of man is ...
The Theos research also examined who people thought Jesus was.
Two in five (40%) said they believe that Jesus was the son of God and
nearly half (47%) that he was a holy prophet.
When asked whether they thought Jesus was a good man and wise teacher, 66% of people agreed.
Only 11% disagreed.
That is familiar when we read the gospel account
We know what people say ... The question then turns personal
Who do you say that the son of man is ? ... If he is who he claims to be ... if he is the messiah, the Son of God ... then like Peter ... our call is then a call to surrender, a call of service, the call to prayer, the call to live lives worthy of the calling to which we have recieved, the call to work within the mission of God with everything we have
It is pretty black and white ... either we are involved wholeheartedly or not involved in this mission.
Either we love the Lord our God with our whole heart soul mind and strength and love our neigbour as ourselves or we don’t ... Jesus is pretty clear on this challenge.
This is the call to Christian Discipleship ... This is the question which we all are asked ...
“ Who do you say that Jesus is?”
Here is a quote from Bono ... Lead Singer of U2
Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius.
But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook.
Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet.
I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that.
But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah.
At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this. So what you're left with is: either Christ was who He said He was -the Messiah - or a complete nutcase.
If he was and is Messiah ... then we all have questions to ask of ourselves as to how we are living and how much impact Messiah has in our lives and in our daily work.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Bono: ... It's a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.
Assayas: I haven't heard you talk about that.
.Bono You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics - in physical laws - every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.
Assayas: I'd be interested to hear that.
Bono That's between me and God. But I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity.
Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.
Bono But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.
Assayas: That's a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it's close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world's great thinkers. But Son of God, isn't that farfetched?
Bono No, it's not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this. So what you're left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah - or a complete nutcase. I mean, we're talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we've been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had "King of the Jews" on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I'm not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that's farfetched - Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:
Bono: [I]f only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s--- and everybody else's. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that's the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.
From Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas, by Michka Assayas, copyright © 2005 by Michka Awwayas. Used by permission of Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. For online information about other Penguin Group (USA) books and authors, see the website at www.penguin.com(Note: While the book includes numerous passages of Bono discussing his Christian faith, it also includes occasional salty language from both parties.)Copyright © Christian Music Today.