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  • Ascension - Part Deux

    Well, they didn't eject me for unspeakable heresy!  In fact a number of people even said it was interesting, topical or made them think - I think that's sort of praise.

    What intrigued me was not the reaction to the Da Vinci Code but the responses to the little quiz with which I began the sermon - if I thought I'd been showing a high level of Biblical illiteracy (earlier post today), it was nothing compared to that of my three colleagues or the congregation in general!

    Test yourself out without looking at a Bible, commentary or concordance and see how you do...

    1) How many gospels are there in the Bible?

    2) How many of these gospels have an account of Jesus' death and resurrection?

    3) How many of these gospels have an account of Jesus' birth?  For a bonus point can you name them?

    4) How many of the gospels have an account of the ascension?  Which? (No bonus points for those smarties who can give an answer relating to the longer ending of Mark)

    Suffice to say that the only question that people got right was No 1 with three the most popular answer for all other questions (perhaps an assumption about the synoptics?)

    It is no wonder we get tied in knots by cynics, sceptics and seekers when we don't have a clue ourselves.  Perhaps we need to worry a little less about what Dan Brown is writing and learn a bit about the Bible ourselves?


    PS The answers are...

    1) Four

    2) Four

    3) Two - Matthew and Luke

    4) One - Luke.  Or two if you accept the longer ending of Mark

  • Da Vinci and Ascension

    With the release of the Da Vinci Code film there's a lot of blogging going on about it - Graham Doel has a nice video blog giving his initial thoughts and Simon Jones has been using it his cafe services.

    As for me, although I enjoyed the novel immensely (even if it has effectively the same plot line as Angels and Demons), there were no plans to pick up on it... until I started writing my Ascension Day sermon, the first one I've ever had to do, and so the first time I've really looked at what the Bible says, and doesn't say, about Ascension.

    I realise this will shock and dismay my erstwhile Biblical studies tutor, but I had not appreciated that it is only Luke-Acts that explicitly includes this event (though I did know that these two accounts differ in detail), with the longer 'added on' ending of Mark being the only other gospel reference to it.  At least it made me look at the endings of all four gospels again!

    So why did the writer of Luke-Acts see it as important to include this when the other three (haven't re-checked the gnostic writers, sorry) did not?  What questions were being asked about Jesus that prompted its inclusion?  Bells started to flash and lights to ring (as one of my old maths teachers used to say) and the dear old Da Vinci Code popped into my mind - perhaps even in the second century people were wondering and dreaming up wonderful theories (certainly the resurrection accounts in the synoptics suggest this to be so).

    We Baptists don't go much on Ascension - indeed the only reason I'm preaching for it is an ecumencial service - perhaps, a bit like the gospel writers, we don't see it as very important, which is a shame because it seems to be exactly in tune with the interest that arises from Dan Brown's novel.  Did Jesus remain on earth, marry and have children?  Well it doesn't answer that question epxlicitly, but it gives another perspective.  Will I escape with my life after I brandish a copy of the Da Vinci Code and Bentley Layton's Gnostic Scriputres in the Methodist church tonight?  Now that's a different story!

  • Putting a 'WoW' in my Step!

    Part of my holiday last week was spent with a friend with whom I will be walking the Trans Pennine Trail in the fortnight that bridges July into August.  It's a mere 200 miles or so, 5 OS maps wide and 2 high, around 2000m of climbs and is probably sheer madness.  But it achieves two purposes: firstly a long standing ambition to complete a long distance walk and secondly a means of raising money for a good cause.

    Over the last year, two former colleagues, a student 2 years below me at college and one of my tutors, died.  Each had wrestled with cancer or 'as near as makes no difference cancer' affecting their reproductive systems and I felt that I wanted to do something to honour their memory and maybe help other women facing similar difficulties.

    I stumbled across a charity called Wellbeing of Women which funds research into 'all aspects of women's reproductive health'.  Although perhaps best known for its work on ovarian cancer, it also funds work in such diverse areas as fertility, endemetriosis and menopause.  I guess if it's female, below the waist and causes people to feel uncomfortable when they mention it, they work on it.  Whilst the big 'C' is the obvious focus, they take a fairly holistic approach.

    So, gentle reader (a quaint phrase I've often wanted to use!) what I will be seeking (if you happen to know me, if you don't please ignore this request) is sponsorship and possibly the odd overnight stay to keep costs down.  My fellow walker and I know quite a lot of people along the first 40 miles of the route but once we enter Yorkshire not so many.

    Please check out the WOW website to find out more and feel free to wonder at the insanity of this endeavour whilst at the same time realising that we will be remembering Rachel and Gillian.