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Showing posts from April, 2019

To be a peacock or not to be?

John 12.1-8 What do you think about the peacock? I don’t mean, what do you know about peacocks? Or even do you like peacocks? I mean what’s your gut reaction, your first thought, on seeing a peacock?
Someone once described peacocks as ‘the most beautiful birds in the world’. Alexander the Great certainly agreed. He was so impressed by peacocks that he made it a crime to disturb or kill one. Early Christians liked them too. Peacock feathers were believed to keep their colour forever so Christians saw them as a symbol of the resurrection. 
Is that the sort of thing you think when you look at this picture, that peacocks are magnificent, lovely birds? Do they give you a good vibe?
In contrast some Arab people believe the peacock isn’t a cause for wonder but a bad omen. Legend has it that peacocks are supposed to be good at killing snakes but, according to one story, the peacock let the side down by allowing the serpent to slither past him into paradise. The serpent confused him by wrapping it…

Whither Hope in the Age of Brexit & Climate Change?

John 12.1-8 In the ancient myth of Pandora a beautiful woman is sent to earth with a box full of gifts for a man called Epimetheus. Epimetheus was so delighted with Pandora that he married her and forgot all about the gifts.
This was a pity because his brother, Prometheus, had upset the gods and the box contained their revenge. On their instruction, Pandora opened the box and let the gifts out. But the gifts were all harmful things, designed by the gods to divide and upset people.
According to one version, when Pandora realised that the gifts were not meant to be a good thing, she quickly put the lid back on the box, trapping the last one inside. But in other versions she was too late and they all escaped.Either way, the last gift or curse left in the box, or the last to escape, was hope.
The ancients saw hope as a bad thing because it stops us from making the best of the way life is now. If we're constantly hoping for something better to turn up we won't confront the problems fac…

Martha and Mary

Luke 10:38–42 It’s easy to forget that ‘a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home’. It was Martha’s home and Jesus was her guest. And when it’s our home, we’re in charge and we expect our guests to be grateful for our hospitality.
Furthermore, when our guest is someone important like Jesus, we would probably put a lot of thought into how we would like the visit to go. We wouldn’t just have a tidy round; we would think carefully about the food we might serve and the seating arrangements.
This might require a special outing to the shops, or at least to the allotment, to get the ingredients we will need. In the sort of humble home that Martha could have lived in, we might need to call upon our neighbours to lend us some of their cooking pots and cutlery, or extra chairs, or even their dining table.
We haven’t actually had too many famous visitors to our house. One I do remember was the actor David Kossoff. He stopped acting a long time ago, to write and tell Bible stories on the radio …

Holding on to Memories

2 Peter 1:12-21 Whether the writer is the real Peter, or just someone writing from his point of view, he claims to  be the older Peter living in Rome just before he was put to death for following Jesus. People often say, as they get older, that time seems to fly by faster and become more precious. It’s not an original idea. It’s what the writer says here.
Memories become more important with age too. We have so many of them and they become ever more precious the further away in time they get. There is always the fear of losing our memories, or indeed of losing the ability to remember. For the original eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life and work there was a desperate anxiety to pass on their memories of him and make sure they were cherished. 
It’s fashionable to say that the Christian story is a ‘clever made-up story’ only loosely based on the real life of Jesus. But this isn’t a new claim. The writer of 2 Peter talks about it here. He affirms that the Christian story is based on real memories, t…