For this Sunday’s teaching, we are not only going to continue talking about “Jesus, the Original Punk”, we’re going to be reading about him from the original punk gospel – Luke, specifically the Parable of the Feast (Luke 14:16b-23). Reading this parable confronts us with loads of questions:
Why are the guests invited twice?
Who is the host, and who are the invitees?
Why do only three of the invitees excuse themselves, but not one of the “many” invited show up?
What does it mean when the slave is sent by the host to invite those in the wider streets, squares, narrow streets, and alleys (Lk 14:21)?
And then those in the roads and country lanes or hedges as well?
The most important questions of all, how does this parable help us understand the Kingdom of God, and what does it mean for us today?
Come and join us on Sunday at Alpine to delve deeper into this feast and find out.
Last Sunday we kicked off our Lenten series, Jesus as the Original Punk.
Punk is/was a movement characterised by challenging the status quo, as Jesus did. Where the culture of the day drew lines in the sand, Jesus crossed them.
Jesus is not an easy character to digest, his teachings and his ways were fundamentally disruptive (You d not get crucified for being a nice guy).
Jesus challenged the status quo.
Jesus turned the world upside down.
Jesus broke the rules.
Jesus declared the outsiders in, and the insiders out.
Jesus was the original punk.
Series starts the first Sunday in March, and will be looking Jesus most challenging, mind bending, and disrupting parables. Come join us at Alpine, 6pm on Sundays.
When we first announced the series, artists in and around our community were volunteering images, poems and ideas. Here are two, the first a poem by Johan Ferreira, and the second a painting by Melanie Stapelberg. If you have an image, or poem, or spoken word, or song to share.. please bring it on Sundays and share your gift.
JESUS the original REBEL
"What would Jesus look like today?
I've been confronted with the fact that Jesus would look very different to me today. Knowing that he is returning to judge the earth one day, he would not be judgement alike I can be all too often. He would be kind when I am not and he would see the people I ignore. He would love more practically, pray more powerfully, do more radically, and live more abundantly. And the list goes on. Infinitely.
But while I'm writing I'm also reminded of Jesus's grace and his simple and profound love. For me and for his Church. He loves each one individually, even with their faults and failures and man-made labels. Jesus would surely have fun with cool hipster Christians – I think he'd have an affinity with their beards and love of fine craftsmanship. He'd enjoy hanging out with those whose heart for the poor and the hurting reminds me of him and blows my mind. I know he already loves spending time with some of the older and wiser Christians, whose love for him, scriptures and the lost, genuinely challenges me.
The more I reflect, I keep coming back to the paradox that Jesus would look entirely different, and yet at times look remarkably like some of the Christians I know today. I could be wrong, but I think it would be pretty hard to neatly categorise Jesus as a Christian today. I don't think our man-made labels would stick easily to him. Given the way he approached many questions put to him in the gospels, I'm not sure he would answer such a query on our terms.
Continuing the theme of Jesus's words, they were never ill-conceived, sinful, careless or misjudged. They were sometimes very offensive to the people around him, often misunderstood, always true. Always spoken with perfect justice and perfect love. He had the opportunity to teach systematic theology on the mountain top, but he talked of neighbours and anger, lust and the birds of the air. He could have expounded the theory of – well – everything, but he chose to tell stories about farmers and people who had lost coins. The deep spiritual truths about God and the good news of His kingdom was revealed in surprisingly down to earth language and encounters. I think Christians today are beginning to rediscover the power of their words under God's word, but I'm still pretty sure Jesus would sound different to the average Christian talking today.
We should also consider the Christian subculture. What would he make of Christian television channels and radio stations, the Christian worship industry, Christian book industry, the millions of Christian blogs, articles, and social media chatter? Maybe Jesus today would make good use of the press and the internet - maybe he would have his own YouTube channel to disciple his followers. Maybe he would lead a mega-congregation, a worship band or a Christian life-coaching consultancy. But I'm not so sure. While I've no doubt he approves, and celebrates many of these ways of spreading the good news, I wonder if he'd also have some 'table in the temple' moments." - Melanie Stapelberg
The last way of thinking about God that we will be discussing in the series "What do we talk about, when we talk about God" is God as event.
So when an event takes place in your life, the way you see the world changes, in a sense, absolutely nothing has changed and yet absolutely nothing remains the same.
Usually it is prophets -or in the words of Jacques Lacan - symptoms that we must listen to that keeps on challenging us to these moments of change. For if you are caught up in your glory days, a nudge will be missed... The nudge is where God is, God is present in the event, when you love your neighbour, when you wash your enemies feet, when you forgive, when you change.
It is therefore of the utmost importance that we keep it real, keep on reforming , being born again, again, again and again.
God as Event. This Sunday at Alpine, 6pm.
When we think of God as a being we tend to wonder where it all started and where God is at this moment? Is he in heaven, sitting on his throne?
God as ground of being brings us to a point where we need to start to discover God as a more than only the big guy in the sky.
Join in this Sunday as we ask the question if God is not in the sky then where can he be found?
This coming Sunday we will explore God as hyper-being.
The Christian mystics would say that God is the name we give to a hyper-being, a being that cannot be conceptualised. Where God as super-being, or a being, can be defined and studied as an object, though a larger more amplified object or version of ourselves, God as hyper-being cannot be studied and defined.
"God is that than none greater can be conceived' - Anselm
Anselm explains God as not the greatest being we can think of, but the greatest we cannot think of. In other words, I can think that there is something great, but I can also think that there is something that is greater than I can think of.
Join us this Sunday as we dig into this idea of God
18:00 for 18:30 Alpine Boutique Hotel
This Sunday we will be talking about one way, a very common way actually of viewing or thinking about God,
God as a super being…
One example of this is when people tend to cry out to God to come and intervene, ie. 'If you are up there God, please come and help me with my exam"
This view basically places God as a bigger, better, perfect version of ourselves. For example, if we can know, then God knows everything, if we can love, the God loves perfectly.
This super being lives out there, and comes down and intervenes and rescues every now and again, if we pray, sing, worship etc.
The question then, if this is our view of God, our language for describing God, what does that do to our day to day lives? Our churches?
Have a SUPER DAY… and see you on Sunday, 18:00, Alpine
Have you read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, or at least seen the movie? I hope you have. If not, go and watch it right now and come back. Life is too short not too have experienced it.
The Hitchiker's guide to the galaxy has an interesting back story though, beyond just being hilariously funny. The author, Douglas Adams, describes himself as a radical atheist and much of the book/s are clever critiques on religion and philosophy. Such as the fictional character, Oolon Colluphid, with his three books in the pic below.
Who is God?
So, this is the question we want to tackle in the next four Sundays. More precisely, we want to look at how we think and talk about God . We all have a picture or a metaphor that comes up when we hear the word 'God'? What is yours? Is there another way to think about it? We want to explore and ask questions about the different ways people have structured their thoughts and theologies around who God is, and how God is. (Theology Proper for those academics amongst us).
Some of the thoughts might surprise. Do we look at God as super-being, hyper-being, ground of being, or as event? Is God merely an amplified version of ourselves? Is God everything that we wish to be, but aren't? Or is it all together different?
The next four Sundays
So from now till the last Sunday in Feb, this will be our focus. Come and join us, bring some friends, and let's fire it up. 18:00 for 18:30 Sundays, at Alpine Hotel
*Title of this post is a title of a book by Rob Bell -What we talk about when we think about God', and also another great read is: How (not) to speak of God - Peter Rollins
“Christians are people learning who they are in Christ. We are being taught about our new identity. Do you see how deeply this new identity affects the life of a community? I heard a teacher say that if people were taught more about who they are, they wouldn’t have to be told what to do. It would come naturally. When we see religious communities spending most of their time trying to convince people not to sin, we are seeing a community that has missed the point. The point isn’t sin management. The point is who we are now.
Often communities of believers in the New Testament are identified as ‘saints.’ The word ‘saints’ is a translation of the Greek word ‘hagios,’ which means ‘holy or set apart ones.’ Those who are ‘in Christ.’ Not because of what they have done, but because of what God has done. There is nothing we can do, and there is nothing we
ever could have done, to earn God’s favour. We already have it.”
A Net for Catching Days
”How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing. A schedule defends us from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.” (Annie Dillard)
A few seconds in our lives stand out above the blur of all the rest. Declaring “I Do” to your spouse for life. Signing a contract for the loan for your first home. The clarity of a moment at work where you realize you were made for this. As the cliche reminds us, each day contains 86,400 unique moments to engage the gift that is your life unfolding over a relatively minor period of time within human history. For our family, 11:29am on Monday, March 31st, 2014 contains a moment like this that is forever seared upon the deepest recesses of our souls, as our precious daughter Mia Anne entered the world arms held high.
The rest of our days? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, they are filled with the depressing realization that we spend a third of our lives sleeping (over 28 years!), 2.5 years grooming ourselves, and most disturbing of all, almost 9 years (!) glued to the growing prevalence of social media invading every empty space in our lives. When all is said and done, in a life that spans almost 80 years, only roughly 1/8th of it actually is somewhat ‘unscheduled,’ free to be defined as we see fit. It’s really no wonder that time has been commodified into a currency, the literal feeling that “time is money.”
An Unexpected Resurrection
“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” (John 20:1-8, NIV)
“For until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.” (John 20:9, NLT)