A few years ago I went with a group of people on a sponsored walk to raise money for the charity Tearfund. It was a 100 mile walk along Offa's Dyke, the ancient line of the Welsh border. The walk took 5 days and as we camped each night we would sit around the campfire - well actually a gas cooker - and talk and play games. One of the people was a genius at maths who loved maths games and puzzles of all kinds. He was so good at them he couldn't be caught out. Then one day round the stove I set him a puzzle he couldn't solve. I put a pile of sticks on the ground and said "what number does that represent". After a few goes at this everyone else except my mathematical friend could answer easily. I was using the old trick of extending my fingers and placing them on the ground at the same time as I put the sticks down in a pile. Two fingers meant the number two, the sticks were irrelevant. He didn't get it until I threw down the sticks and placed two hands on the ground with all fingers and thumbs extended while everyone shouted "ten!" in unison. He loved it, he rolled over backwards in glee. He was tickled pink at being fooled. At this moment the irritating boy genius became a much liked member of the group. Just like Peter when he is humbled by denying Jesus (as discussed in the Good News Show on Tuesday) humility, paradoxically, can be a great asset.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien tells a story in an imaginary world that somehow rings true. In Tolkien’s fantastic universe of humans, hobbits, elves, wizards, dwarves and monsters, a great evil threatens to cover the world in darkness and make every living being its slave. Chaos is the order of the day. Fear rules the hearts of most. Hope is faint. Yet amid the darkness, there are flickers of light in the love, unity and courage of a few heroic characters. One of them is Aragon, who is destined to be king. The trilogy ends with his long-awaited return to the throne and triumphant deliverance of his people. Mark 11:1-10 is one of the Bible passages for Palm Sunday, it tells of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowd, it is the return of the King: Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a c