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Showing posts from November, 2019

Jacob's Dream

Genesis 28.10-22 This an interesting passage because so much of it can be read in either of two ways, a rather negative way or in a really positive way. In the dream God says to Jacob, 'I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ On the face of it this is a wonderful promise. Jacob is a penniless fugitive without a friend in the world, but God will be with him, watching over him, ensuring that he will prosper. On my 19th birthday Helen gave me a little book. It finished with the words, 'Let’s be friends for ever and a day.' But God's promise to Jacob isn't ‘for ever and a day.’ God says, ‘I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ It's not really a promise, it's a deal. To use management jargon for a moment, it's activity based. While they're engaged in the project together, God will be there for him. But what if the project ended? What if the goal was rea…

Breaking Down Walls

Peter’s strange dream, where he found himself eating giraffe, and antelope, elephant and parrot, wasn’t a call to give up being vegetarian and tuck into all kinds of meat. Nor was it a promise that he would soon be going on the sort of exotic holiday where you get to eat something unusual - like my son who recently went to Peru and got to eat alpaca, which he said was delicious. He also spent a night in the jungle but I haven’t heard yet whether he got to eat any juicy ants.  Peter could have woken up and thought, ‘Oh good! I’m going on holiday!’ and made his way round to the estate agents. But he didn’t, and that’s because just as he woke up some people who weren’t Jewish knocked at the door and asked him to come and help them, and their families and friends, to join the Church and become followers of Jesus. That made Peter realise that the dream was about building bridges and breaking down walls. People can look different, and have different languages and customs, but in the end we’r…

Bringing the past into the present

Deuteronomy 4.9-13 This passage is an example of bringing the past into the present. The technical term for this is ‘anamnesis’. Here the people of Israel are asked to remember the covenant made between them and God on Mount Sinai. This is where God gave the people the Ten Commandments to follow, and promised to look after them so long as they were obedient. Moses appears to be talking to the people forty years after the original event that he's recalling. Like himself, a very few of the older members of the community might actually have been there as participating adults. Some of them would have been there to witness it as children. Many would not have been born.  But Moses would not have sympathised with the argument, put forward by the Brexiteers, that important national commitments have to be re-examined every so often. For him this past event must be continually brought into the present and made binding on each new generation. 'You must be careful not to forget the things you …

Magnetic fishing

John 21.1-15
Our story tells how Peter and his friends went fishing with something called a drag net, or a seine net as it’s properly called. This is a very ancient way of fishing. There are pictures of people doing it in tomb paintings in Egypt that were created 5,000 years ago. And it’s the way that people used to fish until very recently in the Sea of Tiberias, or the Sea of Galilee as it’s better known today. The net has floats tied all the way round the top to keep it on the surface of the water, and weights tied all the way round the bottom to make it sink. The crew start lowering the net into the water and the boat sails in a big circle until it’s created a purse made of net. Then the crew use winches to gradually make the space inside the net smaller and smaller until they can haul it on board. But in the time of Peter and the other disciples who went fishing on Lake Galilee the boats didn’t have winches. So if they caught the fish the modern way it must have been very hard work.…