Monthly Archives: April 2009

rage, rage

[or, ‘Reflections on Death #2]

I’m preaching on Luke 7:11ff this week. It is striking the reaction that Jesus has towards the widow and her plight, losing her only son to the great thief of Death.

Her grief (which prompts his reaction of compassion) reminded me of one of my favourite poems, written on death, by Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
age, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

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help with a ‘real man’

Ok bloggers and snappers and Facebooker’s out there, here’s a chance to help out.

I am speaking at the St Paul’s Men’s Challenge Conference in August this year. The topic I have chosen to speak on is ‘The Real Man’.

I have my four talks sketched out, pretty much know where I want to head with them.

What I am after now is stuff that points to what our culture thinks is a ‘real man’. It might be a product for sale, and ad you see, a comment you hear, a joke you tell, whatever. Comment on the blog, comment on Facebook, write on my wall, email me or send me smoke signals if you like. I’d love to gather a whole bunch of data on what our society thinks is ‘man-ly’, or typifying a ‘real man’.

Here’s one I picked up yesterday at the movies – this is the way I could identify the ‘mens room’:

Hmmmm…..

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vale Marcus Loane

Being an historian by training, you get to realise that we are only where we are because of who and what has gone on before us. During my time at Theological College and beyond, the stories of the leadership of former Archbishop of Sydney Sir Marcus Loane left an impression on me.

He passed away last week. There is a great rememberance and reflection piece on him by Philip Jensen here. Here’s a sample:

Sir Marcus’ ninety-seven crowded years can be summarised: as child of God, husband, father of four, grandfather of seventeen, great grandfather of twenty-three, minister of the gospel, pastor, army chaplain, scholar, lecturer, college principal, archbishop, primate, historian, theologian, author, and preacher. He preached in every parish of our diocese and every diocese of our nation. He was a great ambassador for Christ often representing our diocese around the world. But apart from telling of a full and active life in the service of other people, such a summary does not really remind us of the man.

He was, for most of his working life, quite simply the leader of Sydney Anglicans. A Christian of deep Protestant and Evangelical convictions, he stood for all that Sydney Anglicans hold dear. He was a man in Christ. Reverently, carefully and faithfully committed to the exposition of the Scriptures. He loved the sovereign ways of God’s action in the salvation of people – especially in the Reformation of the 16th century, the Evangelical Awakening of the 18th century and in the history of Australia. In his own tumultuous times, he stood firmly for the evangelisation of the city and nation, while being deeply involved in the promotion of world mission. Consistent with the tradition of evangelicals, he carried a deep social conscience for the poor, the addicted and the marginalised of our society, the “widows and orphans” of our day.

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Jesus’ healing in Luke

“The general question which arises from the whole account of his healing ministry is, of course, ‘Does he do the same today?’

My own view (and it is no more than that, on a matter where there are such divergent views) is this. Luke presents throughout this whole section a Jesus who utters words of power, and in these particular instances a Jesus who is the Healer of men’s ills. And Jesus is the same today: ‘Thy touch still has ancient power; No word from Thee can fruitless fall.’ But his methods are his own, and not the over-simplified ones his patients would sometimes prescribe for him.

I would therefore make a broad distinction between two methods of healing: not the obvious distinction between the miraculous and the medical, but one which lies deeper than that. Where his object is to be known as the Healer, he works immediately; such cures are, as it were, for the shop-window – the kind of success story which establishes the reputation of a great surgeon or physician. I see no reason why in some circumstances today Jesus may not choose to work in this way and for this purpose. But where he is already known, he may well say to his trusting patient:’I could of course give you immediate relief; but I would rather take the opportunity to do something more far-reaching, which will be to your greater benefit in the long run. You will find it more protracted and perhaps more painful, and you may not understand what I am doing, because I may be treating disorders of which you are yourself unaware.’

He will then set to work to deal with the needs of the whole person, rather than with the obvious needs only. He may aim at a calming of spirit, or a strengthening or courage, or a clarifying of vision, as more important objectives than what we would call healing. Indeed the latter may not be experienced at all in this life, but only at the final ‘saving and raising’ of the sick, when their mortal nature puts on immortality.

For I think it is no accident that each of these two words in James 5 has a double meaning, making them equally applicable to this life and the next: sozoI, to heal, or to save; egeiro, to raise from sickness, or to raise from death. The ‘prayer of faith’ cannot fail to bring about this result, one way or the other. But the faith in which such prayer is prayed must be, not faith that Jesus will heal in some particular way (ie. The way we should advise him to do it!), but faith in Jesus the Healer, who will choose his own timing and method. Then even today his word of power in this respect will amaze onlookers (4:36) and bring other to seek him (4:40).”

 

Michael Wilcock, The Message of Luke (Leicester: IVP,1978),67-8.

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next bookclub book

Our book for this next term is by English author Tim Chester, called ‘You Can Change’. Here’s the blurb:

‘Many books are written by experts. This isn’t one of them,’ admits Tim Chester. ‘ It was born out of my own struggle to change. My long battle with particular issues set me searching the Bible as well as writings from the past. This book shares the amazing truths I discovered.’
You may be:
· A new Christian, struggling to change former habits
· An older Christian who has plateaued – you grew quickly when you first believed but now your Christian life is much of a muchness
· A Christian who’s fallen into sin in a big way, wondering how you’ll ever get back on track
This book is about hope in Jesus, hope for forgiveness, hope for true and lasting change. God promises liberating grace and transforming power to his people.

Retail price: $15.00. Special Digging Deeper Bookclub price: $12.00. 200 pages, with discussion guides. Available from this Sunday at the College of Ministry table at St Paul’s, and from John Hooton and Glenhaven.

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