I was at school 40 years ago when the USA Apollo 11 programme managed to put the first man on the moon with less processing power than my mobile phone. I was entranced by the whole adventure and have been fascinated by the space race ever since. I read today in The Church of England Newspaper that astronaut Buzz Aldrin shared Holy Communion in thanks for a safe flight and was inspired to write our verses from Psalm 8 as he stared into the blackness of space from the lunar surface. The following are the only bible verses to be written and left on the moon:
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise [b]
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Filed under bible, God, space
Today I heard the news that the oldest Bible will go live on the internet later this week. The Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Its heavily corrected text is of outstanding importance for the history of the Bible and the manuscript – the oldest substantial book to survive Antiquity – is of supreme importance for the history of the book. This has been made possible by The Codex Sinaiticus Project -an international collaboration to reunite the entire manuscript in digital form and make it accessible to a global audience for the first time. Drawing on the expertise of leading scholars, conservators and curators, the Project gives everyone the opportunity to connect directly with this famous manuscript. To read more on this see http://www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/
So will we discover that some of the passages we have grown to know and love so well are not quite what they should be? No doubt this will re-ignite arguments and discussions amongst scholars, and I guess soon we’ll have the Blokes Codex S or the 100 minute Codex Sinaiticus appearing in Christian bookshops? What I’d rather see is that all thinking Christians think about how they reflect Jesus to their friends, family and neighbours. After all, you could be the only bible they ever read.
In the opening chapter of Acts the resurrected Jesus tells his followers not to leave Jerusalem but to wait there for the promises of the father- The Holy Spirit. The disciples are excited at the prospect of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel- they still don’t get it! Only a few verses later Christ tells them to be his witnesses on Jerusalem, all Judea, and Samaria and the ends of the earth and then he disappears! As my friend George Lings would say, the message may have reached the ends of the earth but the church has set up a number of mini-Jerusalems. How many Christians effectively reach out beyond church walls other than through blitz events like Hope and Soul in the City and specific ministries like Street Pastors?
Some would say that the church is obsessed with Jerusalem and making it look better, bigger, slicker and brighter- when the real need is to set up camp in Samaria or even venture to the ends of the earth. As a church we tend to focus on people who are like us- Churched- those comfortable to be our people. What about the de-churched on the fringes of Samaria who are at least 3 times bigger than we are and many of whom don’t like who we are? What about the non-churched where we could come into contact we a group amongst the under 45s who are 6 times greater than that age profile in our churches? There is some excellent news and stories around the Back to Church Sunday initiative for which we should praise God, but we can’t ignore the facts that around 40% of the populations have had some experience of church yet have not returned- was it really their fault. My friend George suggests that the complex DNA have the church has dominant Anglican genes called worship and pastoral care and that evangelism and mission genes are recessive. For a national church, the Church of England, the number of people who appear to be deeply alienated from us is disturbing. It’s time to leave Jerusalem.
I have been listening again to Psalm– a collection of 12 Revised Standard Version Psalms by Evangelist, Actor and musician Frank McGregor. I find this collection uplifting, reflective, inspiring and reassuring – thank you Frank.
Col 3:16 says:“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Frank says in the sleeve notes to the CD; ” It’s not surprising that many of our hymns are based on them (psalms) because we can all relate in some way to them- they reflect both the joy and sorrow of human experience in relation to God…thanks to God who as used all of these Psalms to speak to me in different ways, times and places. My hope is that everyone who hears these songs also hears God speak to them too.”
To listen to sample tracks and to buy Psalms see http://www.gospelrocky.co.uk/supporters.html
Filed under bible, music, Psalms
Today is Trinity Sunday when the Christian Church has a focus on how God has reveled himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a sticking point of Christian doctrine that prevents many engaging fully with the faith- they simply can’t get their head around this glorious mystery. How can one person become three and why and where and when? I am not a learned theologian and have not answers to this mystery that will give doubters the answer that they seek- it simply doesn’t make logical sense- but that doesn’t make it any less real does it? As Nick Fawcett writes in his prayer for Trinity Sunday in Daily Prayer:
“It reminds us of a truth we cannot afford to forget: that God is beyond the human intellect, defying expression, greater than we can ever conceive. We cannot explain how the pieces fit together but we know that they do, for we have experienced the truth ourselves. If we imagine that we have solved the mystery and that the full wonder of God is firmly in our sights, then it is time to think again, for if we ever think that, then the truth is that we have lost sight of him altogether. Sovereign God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. teach me to live with mystery, and simply to celebrate each day my many experiences of your love. Amen.”
So God not one person but a community of persons made one through their mutual love. The mystics and theologians have speculated long and abstractly on these matters, and we continue to do so until God settles the issue. In the meantime lets draw meaning and inspiration and give thanks by using the words of the peace for Trinity Sunday:
Peace be to you from God our heavenly Father. Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace. Peace from the Holy Spirit, the life-giver. The peace of the triune God be always with you. And we continue to give you thanks because you have revealed the glory of your eternal fellowship of love with your Son and with the Holy Spirit three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour, yet one God ever to be worshipped and adored.
May you discover peace, comfort and inspiration this Trinity Sunday and see more of the glorious oneness of love, mystery and hope.
The Mirror Newspaper reported this week that a quarter of 11 to 16-year-old Britons cannot recall ANY of the Ten Commandments, according to a recent poll. Apparently just one in 17 adults and teenagers could recite all 10. And many were left baffled by the language of the Old Testament rules. Most of the 1,000 questioned for the survey commissioned by computer game makers Electronic Arts said there should be modern commandments such as “protect the planet”.
A few years ago the Methodist Church and Ship of Fools ran a competition to find a new 11th commandment and the winners suggested the following:The 11th Commandment initiative was designed by The Methodist Church’s 20s and 30s Group, and seeks to reach out to the “missing generation” of under-40s to discover what matters to them and what they think about God.In the current climate a few MPs made their own suggestion- “Thou shalt not get found out!”
Thou shalt not worship false pop idols
Thou shalt not kill in the name of any god
Thou shalt not confuse text with love
Thou shalt not consume thine own body weight in fudge
Thou shalt not be negative
Among the runners-up were: Thou shalt not…
… dump your lover by text… covet thy neighbour’s iPod… dance like your dad… marry unless truly in love… change allegiance if your football team is relegated… hold loud conversations on thy mobile in a public place… condemn thy neighbour for having different beliefs… use faith to hide from reality… use plastic to multiply your possessions… shrink-wrap cucumbers… pretend to have no change when asked to donate to charity.
And also: Thou shalt…
… commit random acts of kindness… respect the earth… indicate at roundabouts… smile at the person opposite.
The overall winner, Andrew Shaw, 21, a student from Essex, thought it had been “a good idea to take the discussion into pubs”. His commandment, “Thou shalt not worship false pop idols”, is particularly topical. “Celebrities are the golden calves of today,” he said. “They do not serve any purpose other than to be idolized”.
This morning we had a great innovation at our Church service. The Reader, didn’t preach a conventional sermon as such, but taking the reading of The Good Shepherd from John 10, invited the congregation to answer a series of questions from which the key sermon message emerged up on the large screen fro everyone to see.
After asking us what we were expecting to hear from God at the service, he asked us to name ‘which command or instruction did Jesus utter more than any other to those he encountered whist here on earth?’ We all offered various suggestions such as: love one another; pray; listen; do good to others; honour God etc etc. Then we were told that the phrase (or variations of it) that Jesus used more that any other was “Be not afraid” or “Do not fear”.What a comfort in a world dominated by a financial crisis, wars, swine flu pandemic, global warming and spiraling debt. But are these words enough to give us peace? Can we feel the peace and comfort that Christ offers? Can we stay still long enough to begin any meaningful conversation or spiritual journey which will give us this peace? If your not sure, maybe you can take some comfort from this short prayer which I would encourage you to say out loud if you can:
Loving God, I know I shouldn’t be afraid but sometimes I am- afraid of what happened in the past, what is happening in the present and what may happen in the future. I sometimes wonder if I have what it takes to face these challenges and lose sight of your words do not be afraid. Help me to trust you more and not be worried about failure or success- but to know that you love me as I am however things turn out. Give me whatever portion of courage and trust I need to be the person you have called me to be. Loving God who takes away fear, embrace me in your arms, encircle me with your grace and enfold me in your love. Help me to see and feel this and reflect it to others with a new confidence in you.For Jesus’ sake. Amen.