Author and speaker Brian McLaren once stated: “Every authentic move toward God has to go through atheism.” I think he means that as we move forward in our journey and relationship with God, we will discover that God is not who we thought. We may have to deny the faulty and flawed perceptions we once treasured in order to open ourselves up to the God we are growing to know.
15 He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the first-born heir of all creation. 16 For through the Son everything was created, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it was all created through him and for his purpose! 17 He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him.
18 He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything. 19 For God is satisfied to have all his fullness dwelling in Christ. 20 And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again!
Annette introduces the next daily readings More Mission Trips (Acts Chapters 16 to 20), becoming fruitful in times of difficulty. RevMac Dick leads us in Communion, you are welcome to join us for a Bring and Share Lunch afterwards. Ottery St Mary Parish Church, 11.15am.
I’m reading Tom Wright‘s book, The Day The Revolution Began, and it’s giving me great insight into Jesus’ death on the Cross. Here is a fairly long section I found very helpful:
Few readers of this book are likely to have seen, except on screen, the kind of violence that was common in the first century. Even those who watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christmight either screen out the gratuitous horror of it all or be so overwhelmed by the physical brutality as to miss the point that such a death was designed to degrade as well as kill. Crucifixion was one of the central ways in which authorities in the ancient world set out quite deliberately to show subject peoples who was in charge and to break the spirit of any resistance.
The point is often made but bears repetition: we in the modern West, who wear jewelled crosses around our necks, stamp them on Bibles and prayer books, and carry them in cheerful processions, need regularly to be reminded that the very word “cross” was a word you would most likely not utter in polite society. The thought of it would not only put you off your dinner; it could give you sleepless nights. And if you had actually seen a crucifixion or two, as many in the Roman world would have, your sleep itself would have been invaded by nightmares as the memories came flooding back unbidden, memories of humans half alive and half dead, lingering on perhaps for days on end, covered in blood and flies, nibbled by rats, pecked at by crows, with weeping but helpless relatives still keeping watch, and with hostile or mocking crowds adding their insults to the terrible injuries.
Tom Wright writes about part of one of this week’s readings, Acts 14:1-7, in his book Acts for Everyone (Part 2):
I once knew a young man who suffered seriously from depression. He was grappling with all kinds of issues, memories, buried fears, imagined guilt (and some real guilt, too). He had, on my recommendation, been to see one or two doctors, because his condition was becoming clinical. But, he told me, he got frustrated with the medication he’d been prescribed, and which he had taken for a while.
‘All the highs and lows disappeared: he complained. ‘OK, I don’t like the lows. In fact, they’re terrible. But the highs went as well. I just felt like a cow, mooching around, never getting excited about anything. I can’t live like that. It’s just not me.’ And he came off the medication and went on working with a counsellor who, through patience, wisdom and prayer, brought him steadily through the worst.
Now for all I know they may have improved the medication since then. I’m not an expert in that area. Sometimes medication may be the only way to help someone out of the deepest part of a depression so that they can begin to work on the real issues. But that notion stuck with me, of doing away with the highs and the lows. And I find myself thinking of it as I read a passage like this and compare it with what I know of ordinary church life in today’s Western world.
Gill picks back up The Essential Question with The First Mission Trip (Acts Chapters 13, 14 and 15). Paul’s mission trips will become the main focus for the rest of the book. 10.30am, Ottery St Mary Parish Church.