Here is a short video I put together on the Eucharist, the highest and holiest moment of the Christian life:
A great video by the guys at Speak Life by Glen Scrivener (who has featured on this blog before here and here). The video is called ‘Numbers’ but my title is taken from a line later in the poem that should cause us to wonder what it could possibly be!!
Numbers. That’s what we get, each day we’re beset with numbers.
Numbers doing what numbers do, Numbing the me, numbing the you, Numbing our sense of the she and the he, Numbing the sense that THEY are me.
With numbers ‘They’ stay ‘THEY’, It’s what numbers have allowed.
Each life lost is lost in the crowd. The shroud of death enfolds the heap, Costs it cheap.
We try to weep but numbers can put us all to sleep.
Except for those who we have known, Our flesh and blood, our very own, Who, when exhaling final groans, heard our goodbyes on the phone.
And then were buried all alone. How can each loss be shown?
Each mum, each son, each dad, each wife, Each irreplaceable, iridescent life.
Each gift a vast amount. Each ONE too much to count. Beware the numbers, our dose each day, Until we’re numbered all away.
Until we’re deadened to the toll, Till each one’s lost into the whole. But no.
Awake my soul.
Make each figure strike, Like spurs in my flesh, to stir me afresh, To see galactic worth distilled in each daughter of earth, in each son brought to birth, And near infinite crime in snuffing them out.
Let me shout to the skies with full-throated cries, and, desperate—despise—when the least of them dies.
And when COVID is done, May the numbers not numb May we wake from our slumber And number each one.
Because some day soon you will hear that the peak is long past and we’ve got the All Clear.
The lockdown has lifted and friends can draw near. And we will cheer. But let’s be clear, The numbers are not what they appear.
Each year, in this land, understand we have FOUR Covids. In This Nation, 200 000 terminations. A four-fold pestilence devours these isles, the dead in piles, a hideous mount.
But do THEY count?
In heaven’s account but what will WE say? Each day, 550 slain. They are Abel. We are Cain. And righteous blood cries out in vain. It does not enter our calculation.
We deem it beneath our briefing the nation. We only make public explanation of THESE when disEASE is pursuing. But not when the deaths are All OUR doing.
And maybe you say, “It doesn’t compare.” I say: That’s fair. Cos with the virus we were afflicted, this black death is self-inflicted. Are you convicted?
I’ll depict another figure, this one’s bigger. As I bring this number, I hear you numbing, You are. You’re ahhing and umming, You’re drumming your fingers. Your mind is elsewhere. There you go with that thousand yard stare. Are you there?
By June, worldwide, half a million have died of COVID. As I’ve said, each ONE dead is plenty.
But if we’re counting in millions, abortion’s killed 20. And that’s just by June. It’s not stopping any time soon. Every four days it kills more than the virus.
Let this truth fire us: in 96 hours it devours just the same. But without the fame. This, friend, is our silent shame. So awake my soul.
Make each figure strike, Like spurs in my flesh, to stir me afresh, To see galactic worth distilled in each daughter of earth, in each son meant for birth.
And near infinite crime in snuffing them out.
Let me shout to the skies with full-throated cries, and—desperate—despise, when the least of them dies. And when COVID is done, May the numbers not numb May we wake from our slumber And number each one.
Glen Scrivener is an Australian author and speaker living in the UK.
Speak Life is a UK based charity that resources the church to reach the world.
The whole house shook as the package hit the floor with a resounding thud! In a few months I am teaching a module to undergraduates in Biblical Theology, and I could think of no better resource to add to my own notes and books from teaching in previous years, than this beautiful beast of a book by the great theologian Ben Witherington III. His 2019 published work is called, ‘BIBLICAL THEOLOGY – The Convergence of the Canon’ and rocks up at nearly 500 pages!!
“When the Day of Pentecost arrived…”
Pentecost….from the Gk meaning 50th. 50th what?
50th day after Passover.
In the OT it is called The Feast of Weeks (Shavuot).
A national holiday of rest, offering and celebration of the harvest (Lev. 23).
Now that’s interesting.
On the day of rest and offering and celebration:
On the one hand liberation and exodus from tyranny in Egypt.
On the other, the first fruits of the harvest in field and herd in the land.
The disciples were all together, 50 days after Jesus’ death and resurrection;
Just a few days after Jesus had ascended to the Father (Acts 1).
With final instructions to bear witness to Jesus, here, there and everywhere (Acts 1:8).
OK, Ok, but first they needed to replace Judas; and Mathias became an apostle.
What did Jesus mean when he said we would be clothed with power?
Anyway, until then….
Here is another fabulous chat by Jeff and Jon, this time with former Spurgeon’s tutor Rev’d Dr John Colwell.
I met Dr Colwell when he taught on one of my Masters modules in 2009/10 at Bristol Baptist College (Where Helen Paynter has now been appointed – see her interview on one of her areas of great expertise: Violence and the Bible). At the time he taught Systematic and Historical Theology for over 20 years.
Rev’d Dr John Colwell is a wonderful man, and I was so privileged to have him as a mentor for several years during my early pastoral ministry. These days I meet with him in a theology symposium group which is wonderful, and occasionally, for lunch where I can pick his mighty brain on a whole range of issues. I always find it helpful to make the first half dozen questions a mixture between Thomas Aquinas and the nature of God (mental note: It’s John’s shout next time)!!
Having participated in two funerals in the last week, I offer this prayer that I have adapted to allow for two perspectives: the beloved one who has died and the beloved ones who are grieving. I wanted to share this because the experiences have been so unusual given the social distancing and other attendant Coronavirus limitations, that loss and grief have been made more complex and our grief more exposed.
I offer it here for those who have lost loved ones, for whatever reason, and are grieving, whether in the UK or around the world.
“When we speak of the centrality of the Atonement, I have said, we mean much more, worlds more, than its place in a religious system. We are speaking of that which is the centre, not of thought, but of actual life, conscience, history and destiny. We speak of what is the life-power of the moral world and its historic crisis, the ground of the Church’s existence, and the sole meaning of Christ himself. Christ is to us just what His cross is. All that Christ was in heaven or on earth was put into what he did there. And all that man’s moral soul needs doing for it eternally was done centrally there.
Jon Stannard and Jeff Jacobson speak with Dr. Helen Paynter.
Helen is a tutor at Bristol Baptist College, director of Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence and an author. In 2019 she wrote God of Violence Yesterday, God of Love Today?, which explores the theme of violence in the Old Testament.
Buy her book at Amazon here: https://bit.ly/GVYLT
Helen is producing a video every day on a book of the Bible: https://bit.ly/TourBible
See my review for Helen’s book ‘Reduced Laughter’ here.
Enjoy this excellent interview:
Having just read G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man, so much stood out as, frankly, pure genius. However, these few lines were among many that were just stunning, and I hope they inspire you to read this incredible journalistic and dare I say, playful, account of history, religion and the fact of Jesus of Nazareth….
“‘The first rational explanation of his life was that he never lived…
Then the idea that he was a divine being who did not exist gave place to the idea that he was a human being who did exist.
In my youth it was the fashion to say that he was merely an ethical teacher in the manner of the Essenes, who had apparently nothing much to say that Hillel or a hundred other Jews might not have said…
Then someone said that he was a madman with a Messianic delusion. Then others said that he was indeed an original teacher because he cared about nothing but Socialism; or (as others said) about nothing but Pacifism.
Then a more grimly scientific character appeared who said that Jesus would never have been heard of at all except for his prophecies of the end of the world… Among other variants on the same theme was the theory that he was a spiritual healer and nothing else…
There is another theory that concentrates entirely on the business of diabolism… as if Christ, like a young deacon taking his first orders, had got as far as exorcism and never got any further.
Now each of these explanations in itself seems to me singularly inadequate; but taken together they do suggest something of the very mystery which they miss.
There must surely have been something not only mysterious but many-sided about Christ if so many smaller Christs can be carved out of him…
It were better to rend our robes with a great cry against blasphemy… rather than to stand stupidly debating fine shades of pantheism in the presence of so catastrophic a claim… when a strolling carpenter’s apprentice said calmly and almost carelessly, like one looking over his shoulder: ‘Before Abraham was, I am.'”
Many people will be in despair and hopelessness.
Asking: Where is the hope in the midst of such unusual events worldwide?
The Apostle Paul said that ‘Love never fails’ (1 Cor 13:8).
He went on to say, “these three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love” (v.13).
I’ll say something about this love in a minute.
But as for hope? It is seen and acted out in and through the Church of Jesus Christ.
Just as Jesus was incarnated,
God becoming a man;
So the Church is incarnational.
It is the people.
The bodies are the Body of Jesus Christ in the world.
That’s where hope lies.