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  • Herod's Daughter in Art?

    Next Sunday I am preaching on one of the more brutal, shocking and disturbing stories in the New Testament - the demise of John the Baptist.  Having looked at a couple of commentaries I have some ideas forming, but still a long way to go, not least to get anywhere near the advertised sermon title!

    I have a vague - very vague - recollection of a painting depicting the dance with her depicted not as a nubile seductress but as an innocent child (arguably a more legitimate reading of the text) but I cannot seem to find it, despite looking in such books as I have.  Can anyone help please?  Google is just returning seductresses!!

  • Determination

    Yesterday Great Britain won a medal for men's gymnastics, something that had not happened for the greater part of a century.  As Matt Baker continually reminded us, the last time the men had achieved anything like this the event included rope climbing and drill.  He also spoke of his own experiences as a young man who was ridiculed for doing gymnastics, widely perceived as a girlie activity.

    For almost a century, then, in gym clubs across the UK, boys have trained and practised and struggled to achieve the best they could, even though Olympic competition was never going to happen, even though winning was a forlorn hope.  Quietly they plugged away; generations of male gymnasts we have never heard of because they never won any accolade.  And now, all that work finds it fulfilment, as this generation of young men finally achieve the impossible dream.  Yes, they were amazing to watch, and yes they utterly deserve the medals, but it's only possible because in the 1930s and 40s and 50s and 60s and 70s and 80 and 90s people kept on keeping on, determined that gymnastics was worthwhile, rather than giving up in despair.  I know this isn't the only sport where this is the case, but it serves as an exemplar.

    And I can't help but feel there's a lesson for the church in there somewhere.

  • Go now...

    Off you go, just as you are.  No, don't stop to pack your bag with spare clothes.  No, don't pack a picnic or grab something to snack on on the way.   No, don't take your bank card or cheque book, not even small change.  No car keys, no oyster card, no concessionary bus pass.  No, don't take anything, just go.

    Scary!  But basically what Jesus told his twelve followers as he paired them up and sent them off.  Of course he wouldn't ask us to do that would he?  Would he?!

    Some thoughts - some I shared yesterday, others that have come to mind since.

    Take nothing with you - then you cannot be self-reliant.  You will have to work together with your partner, and more than that you will have to accept help and hospitality from other people.

    Take nothing with you - you could be forever procrastinating as you need to do just one thing to be ready to go... just one more pair of socks, one more language class, one more evangelism course, one more last goodbye to the people or places you call home.

    Go now.  Before you change your mind.  Before the enormity of what you are undertaking hits home.  Before you have time to formulate excuses.

    Go now, because you will never be ready, the time will never be right, the circumstances will never be perfect.

     

    You go with him, and you with her.  You two.  And you, too.

    Go.

     

    Scary?  Definitely.  But Jesus is waiting for us to come back and share our discoveries.  About God.  About each other.  About ourselves.

     

    I have a suspicion that sometimes we try to take the sting out of Jesus' expectations.  We say things like 'God wants us to be happy' meaning 'God wants us to live a nice comfy life with all material trappings.'  We think we are free to choose where we serve and for how long.  I even hear ministers talking of career plans for goodness sake.  Jesus is not interested in any of that.  He just says go, and go now, just as you are, with the things you 'carry within'.  Work with the colleagues I assign you.  Do the things you've seen me do.  Stop prevaricating - go.