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Image sourced 21st May 2014 from the: Frontline Hobbies FB page
… ‘Pilate said to them, “you have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can. So they made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard’ (Mt.27:65-66)
Reading through some material this morning I was stopped by something Bonhoeffer had written.
In sum, he is discussing life as proclamation of the gospel. The Lenten reflection caused me to think about how fasting can be a sign of proclamation. I.e.: We don’t fast to gain something, we fast in order to give something from the heart, mind and soul, whether symbolically done or not, in response to that which is already given.
From a brief exegetical look at , despite the contrasts, it is possible to see this ‘something already given and our response to it’ as God’s delight and our hearing of the deeds which flow from His delight.
It is possible then to say that God’s delight in us saves us. That is according to the Psalmist and Jesus in John 15:5 God: plants us and prunes us. He fights for us and wrestles with us in order to set us free; as much from ourselves as from those who stand as enemies in hostile opposition against us. Here there is a possible connection to Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32. This appears in the Psalmists confession ‘You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob!’ (Ps.44:4).
In His delight for us, it is only God, who in Jesus the Christ ‘ordains salvation’[i].
The Psalmist reminds us that this is achieved by ‘His right hand, arm the light of His face and His delight’(Ps.44:3).
‘It hurts body and soul that no day passes without the name of God being doubted and blasphemed.
“Where then is your God?”
I confess God before the world and before all enemies of God when in deepest need I believe in God’s goodness, when in guilt I believe in forgiveness, when in death I believe in life, when in defeat I believe in victory, when in desolation I believe in God’s gracious presence.
Those who have found God in the cross of Jesus Christ know how wonderfully God hides himself in this world and how he is closest when we believe him to be most distant.’[ii]
On this day in 1942, Darwin, a city in Australia’s Northern Territory was bombed in two air raids by the Imperial Forces of Japan. Just over two months after the attacks on Pearl Harbour.February 19thre probably will not find it imprinted anywhere on Australian made calendars. What could account for this is that the Government of the day downplayed the event through ‘censored and limited coverage, in order to protect public morale in the southern states of Australia’[Source: Australia.gov.au]. It is probable that this accounts for the limited awareness of the severity of the air raids in the contemporary Australian psyche.
We marked it on our calendar but even I almost missed marking the day.As a nation we do Anzac Day [April 25th] well, we remember the cost of war, remember those left, those who sacrificed and are also get our fair share of confrontation with the indifference of generations who forget it.
The 19th of February needs to be marked as national day of remembrance for Australians. Thankfully efforts are being made by politicians to see that this happens..
According to the archives regarding the events in Darwin, 1942:
‘The two raids killed at least 242-3 people and between 300 and 400 were wounded (including members of the U.S military personal). Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed…the intention was not invasion, but to disrupt the Allies using Darwin as a base for a counter-attack against the invasion of Timor’ [Source: naa.gov.au]
The bombing of Darwin stands alone as the first big attack against the Australian mainland by a foreign nation.
‘In all, there were 64 air raids on Darwin. The final occurring on the 12 November 1943’ [Source: Australia.gov.au]
The Darwin bombing is not only about remembering how close the War in the Pacific came to Australian shores. It is also a reminder of the rough road to reconciliation present in the relationship between the Australia and Japan after the war had ended.
This is exemplified in an excellent 2010 production from the ABC program 7:30 N.T. The brief documentary outlines the event and the aftermath. The dangers in Darwin harbour, when the time had come to remove the hazardous wrecks would also have been crocodiles.
The highlight from this story is the Japanese salvage team. They used metal from the wrecks to forge crosses “as a sign of peace and reconciliation”.
For my home-school friends I have attached a free printable which contains the Geographical outline of Australia. (This one is homemade). We gave it a spin today and our Year Four home-schooler loved filling in the blanks, adding a ton of colour-shading, borders, capital cities and other key locations.
The synoptic authors recall the sending forth of the disciples by Jesus.
Matthew, Mark and Luke discuss the event with particular attention to polarity. Their focal point is the contrasts between the ‘for, against’, ‘peace, swords’, ‘binding, loosing’, ‘finding and losing’.(Mt.10:14/Lk.9:3-5/Mk.6:811/Acts 13:51)
Within the texts Jesus employs an economic[i] and political rhetoric. We read words like labouring, wages, authority, power, court and persecution.Within this discourse the sender and the sent are engaged in an economic project of proclamation.
This could be viewed as an economic protest that is both transactional and transformational. Words such as ‘value, worth, pay, giving, receiving, work and reward’ all rotate in and around the commanded reordering evident within the text.There is a transaction taking place, it precedes the announcement of transformation. Accompanying the message is exorcism, deliverance and proclamation of true value and true cost.
We read the words “take up your cross” in recollection of the steps taken by Jesus from stable, temple, workshop, garden, cross, empty tomb, upper room, and the promise of His physical reappearing.
When Jesus points to cost it is true cost. We are found or lost in the underlying the notions of presence, arrival, departure and acceptance or rejection. Acknowledging presence means we hear the cost of wrath, value, worth, or worthlessness, unforgiveness or forgiveness.
Here we see that life-is-proclamation. It is not just economic but political. The transaction has no monetary value and yet it becomes transformational. These distinctions are about the strategic advancement of the Kingdom of God which lies outside human conjuring.It is given and cannot be purchased.
We, the post-modern hearers of the texts are confronted by the weight of declaration and doubt. This is a heaviness which takes place in the recollection of John the Baptist’s call to ‘Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand – God has come near’ (ESV)
In the reminder of the horror and shame of crucifixion, and John’s call to repentance, we are redirected to align our thoughts onto the polarity between acknowledgement – acceptance, and denial – evasion (in a word, rejection).
For instance: we read of dust, feet, and wiping away.
Dust in its Anglo-European context is understood as confusion, disturbance, something worthless, a state of humiliation, particles into which something disintegrates[ii]. For the first century audience, dust would have been ‘symbolic’[iii].Reminding them that ‘divine displeasure rests on any place that refused the Gospel’[iv].
Dust can announce arrival and signify departure.The finite significance of dust is its strength as a silent symbolic act of re-ordering; possibly forgiveness. A loving push-back; an assertive handing back of the hat, label,or false accusation that doesn’t fit.
Dust as a declaration of disturbance points us towards distinctions. The qualitative[v]: God is the majestic giver of life and ‘humanity, in its misery’[vi] runs hard and fast towards and artificial light, believing in the ability and power of self to justify.The proclamation mentioned within the texts are not about preaching the ‘manifestation of God as an idea; but about acknowledging that the revelation of God as a whole is a spiritual reality[vii]’
Proclamation here is a declaration of disturbance. Our self-reliance is disrupted; as such we are not left in our sin to wallow – “God has drawn near”.
We are forgiven, raised and reminded by proclamation that this state of forgiveness is not about ignoring deliberate injury. For sin is not justified or legitimised by forgiveness. Forgiveness acknowledges a wrong, and calls for a response, a re-ordering; change. Otherwise there would be no cause for forgiveness. For the sinner this means that we are justified by the final act of the forgiver.
Proclamation calls us to acknowledgment. Here we experience acceptance and see shadows condemned in the true light of ‘veritas’ and the true cost of forgiveness. By doing this we drop the dust from our feet, stop feeding the echoes of the past and as a consequence find ourselves moved towards healing.
‘In Jesus Christ God comes forth out of the profound hiddenness of His divinity in order to act as God among and upon us…
…In Jesus the living God has spoken to us in accents we cannot fail to hear’[viii]
In repentance thought and speech must meet deed.We acknowledge the negative but assert the positive. In this sense diverse forgiveness, including the act of forgiving the absence of apology, is like exhaling dust, and inhaling grace. The act of removing the dust from our feet.
[i] Green, J.1997 NICNT:The Gospel of Luke, Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Company, p.413
[iii] Hendrickson, W. 1978 NTC: Luke, Baker Academic p.575
[iv] Ibid, p.575
[v] Kierkegaard’s ‘infinite qualitative distinction’
[vi] Barth, K. 1938 The Miracle of Christmas in CD.1.2:173 Hendrickson Publishers
[vii] Ibid, p.178
[viii] Ibid, pp.182-183
Advent days 23-24: God is present
Walking past our computer last night I saw my daughter working away at something. I walked closer and discovered her designing a nativity scene using the standard “paint” software found on most computers.
The artwork was of her own making, straight from her heart utilising gifts and developing skills we are yet to teach her.
It reminded me that the advent season is a journey that involves both movement and anticipation. Lesson and learning.
God teaches us because He loves us. He chooses to reaches out to us because He wants to be near us.
The march from the advent-outhouse to Golgotha is sign-posted by the Christ mass (for Catholics); the Christ Passion (for Protestants). The Christ march is for our celebration. Such a celebration is to be ‘marked by the forgiveness of sins and the cry of joy that Jesus is the Victor!’[i] Christ is at once ‘God’s judgement and God’s compassion’ (Dickson & Clarke, 2007:116).
It is not about marking an eve of devastation, but the eve of destruction and subsequent restoration, whereby God takes His rightful place in our lives. Today is a day when all earthly authority which stands as its own supreme authority is put on notice. A time when they are reminded that what little authority they have is borrowed, if not, only delegated to them.
Such a theology is not about empty, deluded triumphalism. Rather it is about understanding that because of the living God, the world is living in the light of Jesus the Christ. Creation groans, we are told, and is experiencing in ever greater events the dawn of His physical return. The Holy Spirit seeks to reconcile you and me, the time of grace is now, present.
Karl Barth wrote:
The ‘Christian message is an historical truth…not one truth among others; it is the truth. In thinking of God, we have from the beginning to think of the name of Jesus Christ, the unity of God and man, by being an historical truth which became real at that time and place, is no transitory truth…To pronounce the name of Jesus Christ means to acknowledge that we are cared for, that we are not lost.’
‘God is not an ideological imaginary friend. If we look at the covenant which God has really concluded with humanity, then we know that it is not so. God on high is really near to us in the depths. God is present.’[ii]
This act relates to us the truth as it penetrates all kinds of un-forgiveness, absent apology, broken recollection and insecure reflection.
Right here, at this time of year we are confronted in Jesus Christ by the God of the exodus who still ‘has a future for His creation. That this future is somehow intrinsically related to the mission of Christ and the intention of God in raising him from the dead’(Moltmann)[iv]
It is Christmas eve. The summer heat over the past three days is breaking as a cool southern wind brings clouds and cooler days. The sky although grey, is full of promise. Today’s post will mark my 200th contribution to theo-blogosphere. I write in order to express a ‘faith which seeks understanding’ (Anselm of Cantebury). My conversation partners on this journey are people who held, and hold on to such an understanding.The Living God invites us to this conversation. I hope, at least, my attempts in responding have been far more than just a “dinner and a show”.
Whether you be a weary traveller or an energetic pilgrim, I thank you for reading my ramblings this far.