I’m looking forward to Wednesday and the launch concert for colleague Geraldine’s new album, “Can You See It.” She’s released one of the cuts for free on SoundCloud and I can’t stop listening to it: Spirit of God.
Tim Carter gave a magnificent chapel sermon at London School of Theology this week. It distilled years of work he’s done on the topic of Forgiveness into one sermon, based on his reading of Colossians 3:5-17.
Forgiveness, he suggested, is a journey and it begins with recognising that there was wrong-doing, and then recognising and setting aside one’s ‘natural’ negative reactions to being wronged. This was the point that interested me the most. He said that the list of sins in 3:5 were the wrong-doing, and that the pile up of words in 3:8 was actually a list of negative responses to being sinned against that we must ‘put off’ if we are seeking to forgive:
anger = our first response to being sinned against
rage/wrath = losing our temper, giving in to and wallowing in that anger
malice = wishing evil in return; dreaming of or plotting revenge
slander = ‘triangling’, trying to involve neutral parties in our feelings against the offender
filthy language/verbal abuse = pulling someone down with words; slagging people off.
Tim urged us, as does the New Testament, to rid ourselves of these natural but wrong reactions, and work towards reconciliation, speaking truth and love.
The first four college chapel services of 2017 focused on our key values as a community: Bible, Gospel, Church, & World. Our new principal, Calvin Samuel gave the talk the first week, on the Bible. You can listen to it here.
I’m still in the throes of marking and I never feel great about taking time to blog while there are students waiting to hear from me, but I must mention our Laing Lecture last night, in which alumnus Iain Provan took us through the difference between a ‘literal’ reading of scripture (yay) and a ‘literalistic’ reading (boo) and did so by referencing not some academic philosophico-rhetorical treatise, but by a PowerPoint slide showing Amelia Bedelia. Gotta love it.
This morning I will have the final sessions of my first time teaching Romans. I’ve had such a great time; LST students are such good people to journey with on an adventure like this. I decided to keep back the “formal epistle bits” of 1:1-17 and chapter 16 until the last session. My thought was that just as the formal Thanksgiving section of 1 Corinthians is amazing once you know the rest of the letter well enough to recognise the important themes, perhaps we’d see more of the formal bits once we were familiar with the rest of the letter.
I’ve indeed found some interesting things in the opening verses. Commentators have recognised the towering importance of the phrase “obedience of faith” in verse 5, and there is much discussion about what it means.
There are actually quite a few more interesting points, but what’s less often discussed is the way the relation between Paul calling himself a slave in verse one, and the two main features of slavery: verse 5 obedience and verse 6, ownership — you belong to Jesus Christ.
Imagine how the actual slaves (and slave owners) among the recipients would have received this as the opening to a letter!
At the LST alumni conference this month, we were treated to a talk on Faith by my former colleague Mary Evans, who has just finished writing a commentary on Judges. One of the stories that she told us from there really struck me. It’s from Judges 13, about Samson’s parents. The mother-to-be had been unable to give birth, but an angel came to her and told her that despite that, she was going to have a son, and when he was born, he should never shave and should live a certain way and he would defeat the Philistines. Wow.
So she went and told her husband, repeating the detail of how she and the boy were to act. But the dad-to-be prays to God “I beg you to send the messenger again, to teach us how to bring up the boy who is to be born.” What? The mom has already been told and has told the dad. But the man, apparently, wants God to send a messenger to tell him, not some woman.
God does send the messenger a second time. But to whom? Not to the two of them when they’re together…. and not to the man when they’re alone… but again, it is again to the woman that the angel comes, and she runs and invites the man to come and see too.
I can’t wait for Mary’s commentary. I really liked the one on Samuel!
From the biography of poet & actor Rob Lacey:
Rob had commissioned Rachel Taylor-Beales to work her way through the entire Bible systematically, noting the general style of literature for every chapter and verse. The result was: 51% story, 29% poetry, 20% exposition. This became one of Rob’s favourite facts. A huge 80% of the Bible was made up of narratives, plots, characters, lyrics, metaphorical musings, meditations and fun. How could such a wonderful collection of sixty-six books be rendered so culturally dull?
Lacey, Sandra & Steve Stickley, People Like Us: Life with Rob Lacey, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010, pp. 207-208.
Geoff Ashley at the Village Church blog wrote on a favourite passage of mine, Matthew 15:21-28, in which Jesus implies that a Gentile woman is a dog. I’ve written about this story in Jesus Asked, pp. 105-12, and in a recent blog below about Jesus pretending.
Ashley and I have come to similar conclusions: that Jesus isn’t insulting the woman as much as challenging her to respond well.
Ashley first pulls out the ol’ Greek word-choice argument which doesn’t do that much for me, but then he pops in an example from Shawshank Redemption which I think helps a lot in seeing the dynamics of the situation:
Andy says, “I don’t waste time on losers, Tommy,” but he does so not in order to close off the relationship, but in order to stimulate it. Good analogy.