Sunday 24 March 2024

The Revolution Won't be Temporary

As long as this world turns, the effects of no revolution, no liberation, last forever.
The Hebrews escaped from Egypt, went to the Promised Land, and were exiled in Assyria and Babylon.

The Jews returned from Babylon, then were conquered by the Greeks.
They threw off the Greeks as told in the books of Macabees. Then were taken over by Rome. And the final revolt against Rome ended in disaster.

The English in the Civil War threw off the power of the Throne. Then realised living under a bunch of incompetent Puritan ratbags was no fun.

In 1804 Haitians revolted against the French, became the first republic in the Caribbean, the second in the Americas. And after 220 sad years is now a failed state.

The appearance of a Liberator is always a sure sign that, somewhere down the line, it’ll all go wrong again. Yet Jerusalem, Sunday before Passover, 33 or so AD - this kind of looks like a conquering general or a liberating hero.

But here, riding a donkey instead of a warhorse, in a triumph with disciples and pilgrims and childrens instead of slaves and prisoners, comes a puzzling Liberator.

His struggle will be on a cross, not a battlefield. His victory will come not in strength but in weakness. The liberation he brings will not be a country that will fail, or a form of Government that will creak under pressure or be seized and manipulated by a rabble-rouser or a technocrat.

The liberation he brings grows in our hearts, as a seed grows into a tree. The freedom he brings is to love others, even if they’re different to us.

And the kingdom he founds will last forever. You can’t draw borders round it. You can’t get a passport. But you can see it and feel it. It grows every day. And one day beyond this world’s time, it will be all there is. And what seemed to be a failure on a cross will be the deed that freed us all.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Rite of Spring Equinox a Day Early

 All: All hail the spring! The spring is sprung!

Archdruid: What are you all doing out here?

All: Celebrating the Vernal Equinox.

Archdruid: Which is tomorrow.

All: The Daily Mail said it's today.

"Spring has officially sprung! Vernal Equinox is today as the sun shines directly over the equator - meaning winter is finally over Today is the Spring Equinox which marks the start of 'astronomical' spring At 03:06 GMT tomorrow morning, the sun will pass directly above the equator "

Archdruid: If the Daily Mail told you it was a good idea, would you vote for Brexit? Actually, forget I asked that. It's tomorrow. I presume that some 14 year old "reporter" or AI bot has scraped an American site, where the Equinox will happen later today. But it's still tomorrow our time.

Marston Moretaine: My brain hurts now.

Archdruid: It frequently does, doesn't it?

Burton Dasset: Diana in the Daily Mail comments says it's always  21st March, every year, at least that's what she was always told, and that's how it was in the 50s. And she's got upvotes.

Diana lowestoft, United Kingdom 19 minutes ago  I was always told that the Spring, or Vernal Equinox takes place on March 21st, whilst the Autumn Equinox is on September 21st. The Summer Solstice is on June 21st and the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st. That's how it always was whilst growing up in the 1950s and 60s ...

Archdruid: What someone was always told is not the same as truth. And it wasn't true in the 50s either. And Diana has no idea what she's talking about. Do you have any concept of objective truth?

All: We're members of a made-up cult worshipping our own feelings. What do you reckon?

Archdruid: Good point. Anyway. See you out here at 6 minutes past three tomorrow morning?

All: What time?

Archdruid: Actually. Shall we just crack on now?

All: All hail the spring! The spring is sprung!

Sunday 17 March 2024

If a kernel of wheat dies (John 12:20-33)

The first thing always strikes me about this passage is: these Greeks have come to Jesus. Or to be exact they’ve come to Philip, who’s gone to Andrew, and together they’ve gone to Jesus.

Who then ignores the Greeks completely and just goes off on this tangent.

Is this because the Greeks have actually served their purpose? Jesus has gone out to the Children of Israel. Some have responded, some haven’t. And occasionally he’s met a Gentile - a non-Jew - and dealt with them – the Centurion whose servant he heals, or the Syro-Phoenician woman.

But this time there’s a delegation come to see him. Isaiah 60 says “all nations will come to your light”. And maybe Jesus sees this as the sign that his mission on earth is coming to an end – and the greater mission is come. And so immediately he’s talking about his death, and about how when you plant a seed, that seed “dies” in the ground, but many seeds will come from the resulting plant.

And so he knows he will be lifted up on the cross. But when he is, that means the Spirit can be poured out on all the disciples – from then until now – to share the Good News throughout the world. The seed will be sown – and many seeds will be produced. That first generation of Jesus’s disciples showed the recklessness that only those who know the most important thing on earth- and want to share it – can show.

And in being lifted up, Jesus also draws all people to himself. The word “lifted up” also means “exalted”. And it’s in Jesus’s crucifixion that he’s shown in glory. It’s in his death that he drives out the evil Prince of this world.

Being a gloomy soul, I like to spend a lot of time in churchyards. Apart from anything else, wearing my big archdruidical cloak, you can terrify the unwary around sundown. And it’s not the big old tombs to important people that move me. They've maybe had their reward. It’s the graves of young children. It’s the military graves, people dying in their 20s and 30s and 40s to protect our country. The young women lost before they achieve their dreams. And I think of all that sadness, their lost potential for love and achievement, not living to see dreams  come to fulfilment or their children grow. I think of all those young people lost in the AIDS pandemic, of my friend Sally, so full of life and interest in everyone else that she drove us up the wall quite frequently -  taken so suddenly in the Covid pandemic.

And then I consider the Son of God, crucified for me, just in his early 30s. The grief of his mother. The dashed dreams of his disciples. All the teaching and preaching he could have done – all the love he would have shared given another 40 or 50 years of ministry.

In all our broken dreams and lost potential, and all our sadnesses, and in every might-have-been that never will be – God is with us.

And yet because a seed has been sown, it will grow to new life. At the point of death, beyond the point of hope, in the grave, God is with us there too. Calling us all to him. Calling us to share in the glorious land beyond all our dreams, where we are truly ourselves and can worship the King face to face and know as we are known and love as we are loved.

And it’s only through a cross that we can be saved, and only through the grave that we can be raised, and only when a seed dies that it will grow to new and abundant life.

So we trust in the one who was exalted on a cross and follow the one who gave up his life, that we might all share in it.

Sunday 10 March 2024

The Complete Church Generation X Detector

I feel I should share this with you. This was revealed to me today, as in a dream.

If you refer to the Book of Judges, and you say that the best judge was a woman.

And you say that her name was Deborah.

And then say that it never suited her.

Anyone who nods and smiles quietly, is Generation X.

If they look baffled, they're Boomers.

And if they say she should have been happy with the name her father gave her, they're evangelicals.