Monthly Archives: October 2012
I haven’t kept refreshing a news story so frequently for ages. But the story of five-year-old April Jones’ abduction chills me like nothing in ages, even in our information-saturated culture.
I’m a Dad. I have a nine-year-old daughter who wants to walk home from school alone. Sensible as she is, the answer is no. While I was coming home from school on my own at that age, I don’t feel it’s safe in our society. Yes, I know an argument will rage about whether these incidents are more prevalent or simply more reported, and yes as a Christian I am not to be ruled by fear, but I have a parental duty of protection to my children.
The fear is coming out socially in other ways. Many have already assumed that the arrested man is guilty of the abduction (and maybe much more). But we don’t know yet. We can’t allow fear to launch vigilante groups. Our craving for safety could create a new Wild West if we were to follow all the populist cries. There is a danger that some people will do anything or vote for anyone they think will bring peace and safety. That anything or anyone could bring greater trouble, though.
Meanwhile, I see many messages on social media from Christians who are praying for the safe return of April. I find myself adding the qualifier, ‘if she’s still alive.’ Since little April wasn’t with the arrested man and they are searching in the area of a river, I feel sick about the prospects of finding the poor girl still breathing.
How, then, do Christians model living free from fear and full of compassion? Because right now, that could be a central part of our witness in the UK.
I noticed last week that a lot of people were coming to this site to look for sermons on last Sunday’s Lectionary Gospel passage of Mark 9:38-50. If people want to find what I have preached in the past on this coming Sunday’s Gospel passage, they may struggle with conventional Google searches. The assigned passage is Mark 10:2-16. However, when I preached on it six years ago, I preached on Mark 10:1-16, because verse 1 makes a significant difference to understanding this difficult passage. So if you want to know what I’ve said on the painful subject of marriage and divorce, you need to go here.
Direct from the crazy world of Christian television, two networks are jostling to cover the Second Coming. Yes, it’s the ultimate ratings war. No longer is the Parousia the great doctrine of hope, it’s the great deliverer of commercial success. You’ll need all those extra viewers to sell your advertising when the Lord returns, won’t you? And as a guy called Leo, who was the second person to comment on Matthew Paul Turner’s post about this, says, if they believe in the ‘Rapture’, who will be operating the TV equipment? Only those ‘left behind’. Won’t it be a shame if Jesus has signed an exclusive deal with a different channel?
Am I being sarcastic? Probably. Should I be? I guess not. But I’m annoyed at another religious stunt which brings our faith into disrepute. It is not that I believe the doctrine of the Parousia should be spiritualised or demythologised. I don’t believe that the coming of the Holy Spirit fulfils the prophecies of this event. Rather, I believe that Christ will appear again (note that word ‘appear’ – it translates the Greek parousia). He is invisibly present in creation but will appear again ‘to judge the living and the dead’. This carrying-on has all the likelihood of becoming the religious equivalent of that early Internet phenomenon, the webcam that was trained on some coffee in a Cambridge University lab. The sceptics will mock ever more loudly. Looks like a case for Tom Wright, in my opinion.