Jesus & The 5 Thousand: A first-world translation

10516641_10152229752776872_6432681443322654705_nJesus withdrew privately, by boat, to a solitary place but the crowds continued to follow him. Evening was now approaching and the people, many of whom had travelled a great distance, were growing hungry. Seeing this, Jesus sent out his disciples to gather food, but all they could find were five loaves and two fishes. Then Jesus asked that they go out again and gather up the provisions that the crowds had bought to sustain them in their travels. Once this was accomplished, a vast mountain of fish and bread stood before Jesus. Upon seeing this, he directed the people to sit down on the grass.

Standing before the food and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks to God and broke the bread. Then he passed the food among his twelve disciples. Jesus and his friends ate like kings in full view of the starving people. But what was truly amazing, what was miraculous about this, was that when they had finished the massive banquet there were not even enough crumbs left to fill a starving person’s hand.

The initial shock of this story relates to the way that is inscribes selfish and inhuman actions onto Christ himself by twisting the story we all know on Jesus feeding the multitude. While it would seem perfectly acceptable to attack governments, corporations and individuals for failing to distribute goods appropriately and turning away from the poorest among us who suffer as a direct result of our greed, it would seem inappropriate to read such inhumanity into the actions of Christ himself. If anything, Christ was the one who demonstrated a life of joyful simplicity, radical healing and unimaginable love. Christ challenges us to look outward, and thus he should not be the one whom we condemn.

Yet in the bible we read that those who follow Christ are nothing less than the manifestation of his body in the world today (Colossians 1:24, 1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 5:30). The presence of Christ in the world is said to be directly encountered in the presence of those who gather together in his name. In very concrete terms, people learn of Christ through those who claim to live out the way of Christ. However, if Christ is proclaimed in the life of his followers, if the body of believers is thought to manifest the body of Christ in the world, then we must stop, draw breath and ask ourselves whether the above tale reflects how Christ is presented to the world today, at least in the minds of those who witness the lifestyle of Christians in the West.

Excerpted from ‘The Orthodox Heretic & Other Impossible Tales’ by Peter Rollins.

Psalms 2.0 [Adoration]

YOU ARE

You are a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. My redeemer. My lover. My best friend in this entire universe. You are the anchor of my entire existence.

You are my fortress in the fight, my provider, my shelter from the storm and my rock high above the miry clay. You are the beacon of light that pierces through every dark day. You are abundance itself and your favour is my inheritance.

Everything my eyes alight on testify of your majesty. When I see, hear, smell, breath in, taste, touch, perceive, I am awed that you have created me to understand and experience pleasure.

You are sweeter than honey. Your love expands my heart in ways I have never felt before.

You are grace; the epitome of love, kindness, patience, tenderness, strength and wisdom. You are my creative, limitless and fierce God, whose love knows no bounds, whose power is beyond measure and whose goodness cannot be contained by breadth or depth or height or any other dimension.

You are my companion and the only one who walks with me wherever I go. You fight my battles for me, going before me in all things. Your love is the banner over me, your standard flies high above me, a sure declaration of victory to all who see.

You are my good God and everything you think towards me is good. You thought of me before the foundations of the earth were laid and when you poured out your love on the cross and granted me a new covenant, I was there in your heart.

You are unchanging in your faithfulness, ever more when I flicker and fade. What you were like before I knew you, is exactly who you are now. You are my safe place, my comforter. You are forever near.

Life after Sunday.

coffeeSo Friday came and we agonised at the foot of the cross. On Saturday we wrestled with doubt, despaired and waited with bated breath. Then, to our surprise, Sunday came and Jesus ushered in a celebration of the new shalom; the reconciled, resurrected life. But now, it’s Wednesday… which comes after Tuesday, which comes after Monday. What happens now?

May I suggest coffee and croissants?

In John 21, we read: “Jesus said to them, ‘come and eat breakfast’. Of course, the new work was only just beginning: there was discipling to do and the gospel had to reach the ends of the earth, but before any of that, Jesus invited them to sit and eat with him.

I’m reminded how, at the close of his life, Jesus “desired earnestly” to break bread with his disciples. And when I read this account in John, I love that at the beginning of this resurrected life, Jesus invites them to break bread once again. I wonder if that’s why he chose to be remembered by the breaking of bread – that daily act of sharing a meal is a moment of rest from work, a brief relief within the busy day. The bread becomes sustenance and nourishment to our bodies. The very act of eating is itself a reminder of life. As my friend said at Church this last Sunday – “only the living eat”.

Perhaps, when you strip it all away and get right back to basics, maybe Jesus invites us to breakfast because its the opportunity to sit with him, to be nourished by his supply (yes, I am hinting at the fact Jesus is the bread of life). The breaking of bread invites us into his company.

So yes, it is Wednesday and for me, that means its time to bring out the coffee and croissants. After all, isn’t that what Jesus said to Martha when Mary was found sitting at his feet?

“only one thing is needful”.

Let’s eat.

Unapologetic #HosannaInTheHighest

“They arrive at the walls, but it’s too late in the evening for the entrance Yeshua has in mind, so they wait till the next day in the straggly settlement outside the gates. Then in they go, Yeshua and the nucleus of twenty or so men and women who have been following him about. The narrow stone streets are packed with visitors who’ve come in from the province for the biggest festival of the year, a festival of death averted, in which the people of the one God remember how he saved them by smiting the rest; and the visitors see, well, something like a parade, with Yeshua riding on a borrowed donkey, and the friends around him shouting make way, make way. Who’s this? It’s another bloody prophet. It’s that crazy preacher who says we don’t need the law. It’s the rabbi from up north who heals people. What, the river-dipping one? No, he’s dead. This is another one. It’s a kind! Rubbish, kings ride on horses, not donkeys. But there are prophecies about donkeys. Maybe he’s the one. Oh come on. This fellow? Where’s his sword? It’s the king, it’s the king! Keep your voice down, idiot. Better get the children indoors, just in case.

Is it a king? The scene is hard to read. It’s like a royal progress and a parody of a royal progress, all at once. Yeshua is doing exactly what a christos would do if he were making a momentum play, gambling on snowballing crowd support. Yet the details are off-script somehow, from the donkey, to the way that only some of the friends seem to be shouting the slogans you’d expect, to the way that the man himself doesn’t have his face set in the shining megawatt mask of charisma. It isn’t clear what’s happening. But something is, and though only a portion of the crowd are young enough, or hopeful enough, or desperate enough, or unwary enough, to give Yeshua their acclaim, quite a lot of them are curious enough to follow and see what comes next: for the parade, or procession, or whatever it is, is clearly heading for the temple, up the twisting alleyways to the top of the city, and.. into the wide forecourt of the one God’s most sacred place…

Yeshua looks around. He sees the doves in their wicker cages, and the half-grown spring lambs in their straw, and the nervous cattle sidling, kept perpetually antsy by the smell of blood that drifts out of the temple’s doors. He sees the money-change stalls where, before you can even buy your animal for the sacrifice, you have to swap the emperor’s dirty coinage for the temple’s own clean currency, good nowhere else. He sees the whole apparatus for keeping this one little walled acre of ground separate from the compromised, colonized world outside. And he begins to shout. Do you call this pure? Do you think any of this keeps you clean? Do you think any of this keeps that at bay?–waving his arms out at the city, the hills, the entire empire. Nothing is pure! This is the house of the loving father who welcomes home his lost children! This is the house of my father, and your father! Do you think you can sell his forgiveness? Do you think there is a price for peace with him? It cannot be bought! It cannot be sold! It can only be given! These are thieves! They promise you are buying what can only be given! God gives freely!”

(pgs 134-136)

Live by Faith -Serving

Pondering on ways in which we are called to Imitate Christ. I spend a lot of time reading so I can better learn how to put Christ into action everyday. I am still learning. It’s a challenge.

Christ loves unconditionally and He served lovingly.

He’s heart was grieved on several occasions, He’s body was broken by the very people He came to serve, He was betrayed by one of His friends,  another friend denied any knowledge of Him – just a few pointers to put His journey into perspective.  Christ certainly didn’t have an easy road. Continue reading “Live by Faith -Serving”

It might feel like Friday, but Sunday is coming.

Let’s be honest, none of us like to wait. And I preach right now to myself as the principal amongst the chiefs of sinners in this category. If I cut away the excuses and drama, the truth is that I equate time spent waiting with time spent wasting; time which I do not have. To couch my impatience in biblical terms, I could argue that my human life is so finite, akin to a “flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow” that I can’t afford to wait. In other words, life is short, and patience – well, ain’t nobody got time for that!

Waiting. Wasting.

In my moment of reflection about this, God whispers to me – 400 years. You may have been waiting, but I was working.

400 years is the space between Malachi and the birth of Christ. For the Israelites, it was an incredibly long period of waiting – utter silence, no prophets, no words of promise from God. To just sit in such quietness is unfathomable to me. The silence must have been deafening. Continue reading “It might feel like Friday, but Sunday is coming.”

Convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt

The Case for EasterI started my original investigation [of the resurrection of Jesus] as a spiritual skeptic, but after having thoroughly investigated the evidence for the resurrection, I was coming to a startlingly unexpected verdict. One final fact — described by a respected philosopher named J. P. Moreland — clinched the case for me. “When Jesus was crucified,” Moreland told me, “His followers were discouraged and depressed. So they dispersed. The Jesus movement was all but stopped in its tracks. Then, after a short period of time, we see them abandoning their occupations, regathering, and committing themselves to spreading a very specific message — that Jesus Christ was the Messiah of God who died on a cross, returned to life, and was seen alive by them.

“And they were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming this, without any payoff from a human point of view. They faced a life of hardship. They often went without food, slept exposed to the elements, were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways. For what? For good intentions? No, because they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead.” Continue reading “Convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt”

Being present in His presence.

“God’s presence is always hyper-presence. This is analogous to the idea of a ship sunken in the depths of the ocean: while the ship contains the water and the water contains the ship, the ship only contains a fraction of the water while the water contains the whole of the ship. Our saturation by God does not merely fill us but also testifies to an ocean we cannot contain…” – Peter Rollins

Imitate. Initiate. Impact.

“Making disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching people the Word of Christ and then enabling them to do the same thing in other people’s lives—this is the plan God has for each of us to impact nations for the glory of Christ. When Jesus left the earth He left behind a total of 120 men and women who simply loved him and believed who he said he was. From this handful of men and women, grew the worldwide church we have today. With the task of taking the gospel to the world, what was required was a few men and women who would think as He did, love as He did, see as He did, teach as He did and serve as He did. All God needs is to revolutionize the hearts of a few, to impact the world.” (Andrew Pratt)

Our approach to discipleship can be summed up in the words of Paul:

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

We are here to walk together, helping one another to constantly keep our eyes on Jesus and by doing so, becoming transformed by His grace and love, more and more every day.