Archives For Easter

I recently had the privilege of being a guest on an XYZ Google hangouts panel, which included XYZ’s editor-in-chief David Hiscox, & Matt from Matty’s Modern Life.

A few things worth mentioning: this was a first for me, though I don’t think this factor took too much away from the overall discussion. It was great to sit down with David and Matt to discuss, in brief, the finer points of homeschooling, Resurrection, freedom in Christ and cultural Christianity.

The panel was live streamed to YouTube and the link can be found here:


Wings stretch and earth darkens.

From West to East, wrists to wood
From the river of bitter vinegar, to where it merges with blood from the north.

South past open flesh,
.                        before which mockery stood.

To where pierced feet meet;
.                        on branch intersecting branch;
.                        where branch kills the vine,
.                        and the vine is laid to rest.

All within the borders
.            of an empire, and an empire’s hornets’ nest.

To where silent spaces are professionally sealed
For fear of blind and impassioned zeal.

Before the scarlet X.
That marks the scarlet spot;

To the place where men and women,
.                  embalm the unforgettable
.                  with a burial cloth.

Look to the place forged by Light;
.       to the heart of where the darkened,
.       once received their sight.

To where the sudden presence of the messenger
disturbed the guards and the still of night.

There you’ll find that death
.         and boulder was no match for Light from Uncreated Light.

There the fire-born, who stands inside this broken enclave.
turns to humanity and sets its gaze.

“From God comes His own humiliation.
This; God’s self-limitation, now become your exaltation.

This unforgettable vertical collision,
lifts the now forgiven.

Therefore, rise as you are raised.

For I tell you the truth, He is Risen!”


‘In the person of Jesus Christ, in the death of the Son of God on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. God allowed this humiliation to come upon Himself and this exaltation to be the lot of the other, humanity […] God could not be more glorious as God than in this inconceivable humiliation of Himself to humanity, and the no less inconceivable exaltation of humanity to Himself.’ 

-(Karl Barth, CD. II:1 pp.662-664)

Ash & Ambrose

February 10, 2016 — Leave a comment

Cross Ash Wednesday Word Art


The day before Ash Wednesday is Pancake day. It announces the first day of lent.

It means that we get to eat pancakes. More importantly it’s a time when we commit to giving up a luxury for forty days. This year we’ve chosen to fast from console games. That said, we’re not all that religious about it. For instance, because our fast is not food related we count Sundays, whereas traditionally those days are free from the Lenten commitment. Our aim is simplicity. We draw out the material and spiritual benefits of lent for our kids in the hope that they will see and experience them in a healthy way.It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Participating in Lent also connects us to the broader ecumenical Christian community, both past and present (hence the Bonhoeffer book in the header). Lent lends itself to us as a challenge to participate in something greater than ourselves. To be shown that life without some non-essential things is still a life well lived. The season officially marks out a time for remembering the importance of grace, forgiveness, repentance, gratitude, and self-denial.

Barth makes this same point in one of his later sermons on 1 Corinthians 15:50-58:

‘What is Easter?
Easter is Jesus as he is, Jesus as Victor.
Paul describes it in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58:
Thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
It is not enlightenment, nor a model to imitate, nor a religion, nor a church that gives us victory.
It is Jesus…by God’s act Easter happens and Jesus is revealed as victor, there the promise is fulfilled that death is consumed in the victory…because Easter is, because Jesus lives, because the last trumpet sounds, because the all-deciding Word of God has been spoken. We can know the why, and we can take the admonition to heart. Or should we really not know it? Then let us seek, ask, and knock at the door until we know it, much better’ [i]
(Karl Barth, Sermon April 4th, 1920)

Barth reaches for the theological ground he shared with Johann Christoph Blumhardt and his son Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt.

The latter who wrote:

‘Even if our age has become riddled with evil, even if death runs rampant on the earth, we will not accept these as final facts.
We must not sleepily say, “It is the Lord’s will. What will be, will be.”
No, we must resist and, like Moses, throw ourselves into the breach […] Salvation and healing are the will of God. To the devil and to all powers of hell, which accusingly proclaim the hopelessness of our situation, we will cry out, “You will not win! We know this because we know Jesus, who is victorious over every devil.” [citing Matthew 4:4] [ii]

If we fuse the two quotes into one. Together they formulate, frame and direct the Lenten road.

Paul, Barth and Blumhardt set the tone by helping us kick-start our journey.

Traditional Shrove Tuesday prayer:

Mercifully hear our prayers oh, Lord, and spare all those who confess their sins to you; that they, whose consciences by sin are accused, by your merciful pardon may be absolved; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.


[i] Barth, K. & Willimon,W.2009 The Early Preaching of Karl Barth: Fourteen Sermons Westminster John Knox Press, pp.133-139

[ii] Blumhardt, C.F Jesus is the Victor Kindle Ebook ed. Copyright 2011 by the Plough Publishing House. Used with permission.

Three pierced.

Wrists. Feet. Side.

Three days.

Bruised, whip-shredded. Dead. Crucified.

Three words.

Jesus is alive!

Holy Week_three nails_RL2015_2

‘For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him…This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil…But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
– (John 3:16-21, ESV)

Or, as summarised astutely by Karl Barth in C.D. II:1, page 274:

‘God does not will to be God without us, and He does not will that we should be without Him’


{My original haiku, before I had the idea of pushing myself to only use 16 words, can be read over on my instagram page: here}



Title: My Lord and my God, the resurrected Jesus in lead light.

Process: I used oil pastels and then took a photo. The next step included turning the photo into a black and white pic. using Instagram on my phone. An all original work.

Purpose: This is a semiotic work in progress that fits with my current colourful theological wrestling over the traditional label attributed to Thomas as being ”the doubter”. The inspiration for this comes from the Christian East, particularly Byzantine frescos, related to Greek Orthodox Iconography. The real focus in this picture is on the eyes.


I am also trying to explore the deeper socio-political impact that labels and symbols have on us, both privately and publicly.

My focus here is on how they can be an affront to a theological worldview, and how in return, theology can be a critique of such stereotypical pigeon-holing. The scriptures that relate to this are John 8 and John 20:24-31.


English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...


‘He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’. (Is.53:3-6 ESV)


T.F Torrance wrote that ‘sinful existence is a will to isolation from God and a refusal of His grace’ (‘Incarnation’ 2008, pg 52).Within this statement we can see an idea that is stimulated by Paul in Romans 5:12-21. This is that humanity is plagued by an uncertain primal aversion to God brought on by a distortion in humanities relationship with God. This theme of primal-atheism has in impact on how the world deals with the depth and relevance of Easter. Easter disturbs us because it reminds us that our ‘elevation into union and communion with God exists because of the humiliation of Christ the Son’ (‘Incarnation’ 2008, pg 57). It does not exist because of any human effort to prove ourselves right before God.

This can be connected to something Paul writes about in Romans 5:12-21. ImageHere he points to a counter disturbance whereby ‘grace does not leave humans unaffected in their consciousness and behaviour’ (Schreiner ‘Romans’ 1998, p.292; Moltmann‘The Spirit of Life’ 1992, p.113). This provides the framework for understanding how the ‘grace of Christ conquers and subdues’ (Schreiner 1998, p.285) sin and death. The Christ-event is an act of interceding grace (Rm.5:20) from which God fulfils His promise (Rm.8:26) and brings life out of death (Rm.4:17); light out of darkness. This counter disturbance summons every human to a response of gratitude (Barth) for what has been done on our behalf. This dynamic invitation ruffles our feathers as the tradition of the Church, along with the Spirit of God calls us to remember that in Christ humanity is found, rescued and offered new Life.

ImageBarth asserts this when he states that ‘the theme of the Gospel is the death of death’ (R2 1933, p.166). His emphasis here fits the literary context of Rm.5:12-21 because it points to Paul’s main theological point in Romans. This is that in Christ, God calls humanity into a newness of life. This means that in Jesus the Christ, God wills human existence (Barth C.D IV/III.1 p.362). In order to actualise this God addresses our unrighteous, ‘bleak, lifeless and unrelated existence’ (Barth 1933, p.170).Consequently righteousness becomes connected to life because ‘the victory over sin…rests in the entire accomplishment of the course of Christ’s existence’ (Pannenberg ‘Jesus-God and Man 1968, p.362). In other words Christ’s existence becomes our existence. For the biannual pilgrims of Christmas and Easter these words are a reminder that God not only gives permission for them to breathe, but that God also empowers them to do so.

Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome is about a ‘restoration that is outside our competence’(Barth ‘R2’ 1933, p.168). The good news of Romans 5:12-21 is that through Christ, God recalls us to a life transformed. He takes the initiative and through his act of reconciliation ‘invades the being of man and woman, making them his saints’ (Barth C.D IV/II 1958, p.523).This is a remedy established by the free gift of grace, which is given through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Despite primal-atheism, a product of a distorted relationship God does not desire to be without humanity (Barth). Consequently humanity is delivered from the abyss (Barth 1933, p.240) bringing us to a point where we can joyfully say ‘’I know who did it’’.


Artistic process: I put together a display and photographed it at different angles. I then choose three to four of the best and used instagram to frame them. I put the collage together with the standard photo editor for windows 7. The hand print was done by using a print out, a glove and red food dye. (2013)