Archive | November, 2019

Carpe diem

25 Nov

I really am more interested in the end of my life than in the end of the world. I think of the word ‘end’ as meaning purpose – my purpose in life; whether I am young or old (in the opinion of others or in my own mind). There is a remarkable phrase known to us at least from the time of the poet Horace, and we might well know it in the Latin language he used – it is “carpe diem.” It means do it now – get on with it – seize the moment and don’t put it off. Advent is about coming – Christmas, Christ’s birth, holidays and celebrations; the future is constantly coming, so we must do now what we want and what we should. Yes, listen to the church readings for this day, yes, hear the news and the forecasts for the future, yes, have future plans for ourselves, but chiefly just get on with what we know we should be doing now!  Get on with what life is really about. You might like to watch a video of a lesson about this – about carpe diem –  here.

King of…

19 Nov

The meaning of words can change over time and in different contexts. The word king for many centuries referred to a man, a ruler of a country. It meant someone in power, someone to be respected and even celebrated. You might know some kings of England or Scotland. At the time of the Old Testament the Jews had their own Kings – you might have heard of Solomon and David. At that time other nations had Kings and rulers. Some were even called King of kings, like Ashurbanipal of Persia – this was to express the extent of his rule just like the word emperor so associated with the Romans. In the New Testament we can read of Herod who was king at that time. Jesus was nothing like such kings.

Nowadays like so many words king has additional meanings. It is used to refer to some individual who excels (and excites) in some area of popular culture. You will have heard it used of Michael Jackson as king of pop, or Elvis Presley; it was even used of Sony Liston as a boxer – you can probably think of other such uses. In this way it refers to someone to be admired in some way and even sometimes to be emulated.

Quite early in the growth of Christianity Jesus was referred to as king. But he is faultless unlike so many others who are called king in some way. Jesus is the greatest human ever; He is the ideal others should try to follow. His ruling comprises exemplifying, assisting, encouraging and enabling – all these in order to improve humanity – to help each individual to be human like Him as best they can. This universal role that He has is recognised by Christians and because of his perfection and universal concern He is rightly called king of kings.

In order to correct His being thought of as grandiose, dominant or flaunting, Christians like to recall that His exemplary life on earth which they try to emulate, ended with crucifixion and a crowning with thorns. So Christ the king is unlike any earthly ruler – even unlike anyone else – but one Whom we should all try to be a little like, in His humble, caring and daring humanity.

A work in progess

12 Nov

I like to think of God’s creating like this. Children can have an idea to create a picture. They work at it, introducing different ideas, some of which are more important than others and some look unsuitable. Along the way, at some stage it becomes almost clear what the picture is aiming to be. During the process/activity there are mistakes but they can be deleted or even incorporated towards the final ideal that is forming. A stage might come when an adult thinks it is finished, but the creative child might carry on with further touches and improvements until there is satisfaction and then completion.

This is much how, from our standpoint, creating is going on. The life of Jesus was an important stage in the process of God’s creating. It eventually showed how a human should be and should relate to others and to the rest of creation. The Jews and Christians had developed some idea of God as creator – or rather creating. Like the child, at a ceartain point God seemed to intervene trying to keep the process on track. God tries to interact/correct mistakes and keep progress in the direction of actual progress.

So it was after the life of Christ on earth in Jesus the idea arose that the end/completion was at hand or very nearly so. The temptation arose to relax from any activity and just wait for it. But actually there was and still today is a lot more to be done to the ‘picture.’ And this although the vision has been set in the life (and death) of Jesus. The end is not nigh, and we have more to do.

Life in Heaven

5 Nov

We spend a lot of our time doing things – working, cooking, cleaning, talking and even eating and texting. Hopefully there are at least moments for us when we just relax. These may be if there is music to be heard in the background, an enchanting view before us to distract, or even a blank mind when we are at some routine occupation that needs no concentration at all. Sometimes people speak of an out of the body experience, but all these moments though they are sensory are remote from the bodily goings on that normally crowd our lives. We don’t have to always be eating, drinking, chatting, working or concentrating on doing anything. Apart from these, I suppose, are moments that are most like the heavenly experience of life after death with God – like heaven.

Most Christians, I think, believe in the resurrection of the body, and there are not a few who report extraordinary experiences of visions, of angels or of people in heaven (saints). Christians believe in our resurrection because of their belief in that of Jesus based on the appearances related in the gospels. But there are at least two accounts of His appearances that are my favourites, that I think make another point.

One account is when Mary in the grounds where Jesus was buried sees the gardener and speaks to him – but then realises that she is seeing Jesus. Also when two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus are joined by a very ordinary person (who even seems ignorant of what has been going on in Jerusalem), and they invite him to join them for a meal and then realise they are in the presence of Jesus – fleetingly. To me this says that Jesus is present in our world, in the people in it. If we could only see folks as creations of God, albeit in process we would realise the beyond is here and now.

I can’t tell you what life in heaven is like, but I hope you have some realisation of spiritual presence even in this life, and that it is closer to heaven than any earthly or passionate experience which makes you think or exclaim ‘that was heavenly!’