Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Who Jesus Is

When Jesus was alone praying his disciples came to him and he asked them, “What do people say about me?  Who do they think I am?”

They answered, “Some say that you are John the Baptist or Elijah the prophet from long ago has come back to life."

A still from the "Jesus Film"
They knew that there was something special about Jesus. They knew that he was a prophet; someone who heard from God and told others.  They knew he was powerful, like Elijah who had made fire come down from heaven.  But the people didn’t really know who he was.  Then Jesus decided to ask his disciples what they thought about him.  They were the people who had been with him every day of the week, who had worked with him and eaten with him and and seen the things that he had done.

So Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

The interesting thing is this: only one of the disciples really knew the answer.  Peter answered, “You are the Messiah sent from God.”

The disciples had been with him for such a long time, but they didn’t truly know who he was straight away, but it became apparent through his death and resurrection. His humility of being obedient to even to the point of dying on the cross. And the acceptance of  this sacrifice by God vindicating his life and ministry.  All this showed them that Jesus is the one sent out  from God.  In fact, to know who Jesus is is to know he comes from God.

Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!  Philippians 2:5-8

To know Jesus is to know God.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Adolf Hitler: a Tragedy

Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th 1889 in Braunau am Inn in Austria. As he grew up Adolf proved to be a sensitive you man with an interest in fine art.  His father, Alois Hitler, was a harsh man who strongly disapproved of Adolf's artistic bent.  At an early age Adolf rejected the authority of Austria-Hungry and instead became increasingly interested in German nationalism.

The 50th birthday of Adolf Hitler on April 30th 1939 was celebrated as a national holiday in Germany. The celebration of his birthday included a massive military parade and was really an extravagant celebration of the Fuhrer Cult: Adolf Hitler was in effect an object of worship.  In September 1939 Hitler's German troops invaded Poland initiating World War II

On midnight of April 29th 1945 we see Adolf, an older and more bitter man.  Germany, he now realised, was going to lose the war.  Under Adolf Hitler's leadership the Nazi's and their collaborators, in addition to military action, were responsible for the deaths of millions of civilians including two thirds of the Jewish population in Europe.  And now as the enemy troops closed in, Hitler at midnight married his long time girlfriend Eva Braum in his bunker in Berlin. Hitler then heard of the execution of the Italian dictator Bernito Mussolini. Hitler and his new wife committed suicide the day after their wedding on April 30th 1945.
Adolf Hitler was born, was married and died in the month of April.  His childhood, wedding and death were all marked with tragedy. And yet the greatest tragedy is the immense harm he caused in between these events, his absolute harshness leading to so much death and suffering: far overshadowing the emotional harshness of his father.

As I write this it is the birthday of Adolf Hitler, a day to be marked with a profound sense of sadness.



The video version of this blogpost on Youtube

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The UK General Election 2017


PM may announces the snap election
The United Kingdom is scheduled to have a general election on Thursday 8 June 2017. In response to infighting and voting against the Brexit process following the UK's decision to leave the European Union the previous June Theresa May came out and called for a general election in a statement on April 18th 2017.  With the negotiations on leaving the EU certain to be a central part of the manifesto for the political parties it seems that UKIP,  the party formed to campaign to leave the EU, will have a resurgence.

For whom should Pete vote?

 
In this video Pete explores the reasons for Theresa May's decision to call an election

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday: let's think about it

Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus' last supper with his disciples and his prayer and then capture in the garden of Gethsemane. The word Maundy is from the old Latin name for the day, Dies Mandatum, which means "the day of the new commandment." 



As Jesus first shared bread and wine with his friends, in church service on Maundy Thursday, we also share the bread and wine of the Holy Communion service to demonstrate our love for Jesus Christ   We celebrate that through bread and wine that he is present and active in our lives. And we remember that first Maundy Thursday  especially recalling the simple meal of bread and wine that Jesus and his disciples shared.

After Jesus gathered and shared bread and wine with his disciples and friends, their lives were changed. And so it is for us: each and every time we eat the bread of life and drink the cup of salvation our lives are changed as once again we share in the body of Christ.

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, this was a job given usually to the lowliest servant.  And we recall that Jesus came as a true leader should, to serve:

to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many  Matthew 20:28b

In many services, including the ones I lead, at the end of the service the communion table and surrounding are stripped of all decoration including any remaining bread and wine as well candles and cloths. 

The candles are extinguished and removed. Candles represent Christ’s light: “I am the light of the world”. In recognition of the darkness following the death of Jesus on the cross, the candles are removed from our presence.The bread and the wine which represent Jesus's body and blood in the service, are removed just as He was removed from us in the grave.

The communion table has a cloth and a red covering to celebrate the presence of Jesus, the King of Kings. And just as Jesus’ body was stripped of its coverings when he went to his deat, so we too, strip the coverings from the table.


At the end of the service we leave in silence - in a way the service is no over but continues as we reflect and pray over the weekend  It concludes in a joy-filled celebration on Easter day.  We mourn of Jesus' death  and then celebrate his victory over death remembering his resurrection to new life, life that lasts forever.  The sort of life that he offers to those who follow him.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

    but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b

The lesson we learn from Maundy Thursday stays with us after Easter because it has taught us how to love each other: as Jesus loved us.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Global warming is not really due to carbon dioxide!

Water vapour is the main culprit for global warming but economies are being ruined because governments and their advisers do not pay attention to scentific studies..

A study in 2008 conducted by Andrew Dessler and colleagues from Texas University in College Station confirmed that the heat-amplifying effect of water vapor is potent enough to double the climate warming caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

These scientists confirmed experimentally what existing climate models had anticipated theoretically. The research team used novel data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite to measure precisely the humidity throughout the lowest 10 miles of the atmosphere. That information was combined with global observations of shifts in temperature, allowing researchers to build a comprehensive picture of the interplay between water vapor, carbon dioxide, and other atmosphere-warming gases. The NASA-funded research was published recently in the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters.

Eric Fetzer, an atmospheric scientist who works with AIRS data at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Water vapour is the big player in the atmosphere as far as climate is concerned."

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