One of our group works for BT, and happened to mention that they allow people to set up charity websites for free, with the ability to collect monies. Anyway, here’s how my housegroup ‘Koinonia’ got on with Week 2 of #BigRead12.
Did we do our activities from last week? Our family went to a maze in the playground. It may not have been particularly reflective, but was enjoyable with the kids joining in. The rest of us had undertaken many new activities, but hadn’t thought about them particularly consciously – aside from the Baileys cream that we all tried over dinner (quite nice, actually, but quite strong). Last week, one member had started using a Kindle, and we asked how that had gone. She said that the fact that there are so many free books has encouraged her to try a range of new authors.
What do we think of when we hear the word Echoes. The group literally went with the first things to come into their head: Caves in Scotlandl Echo Beach, the song; Echo & the Bunnymenl; Sir Echo; Going under railway bridges or tunnels.
We watched 3/4 of the video: echoes of creation. We found it peaceful. We’re a group that’s not good at resting, or sitting & just enjoying. We enjoy being outside, and thinking about God’s creation. A (previous) member of our group works for A Rocha, and our group has general consensus that Christians should reclaim the environment as a Christian issue, an issue of stewardship.
I’m not sure if anyone is having an issue with this, but the embedded video (which works well on any other machine), doesn’t seem to want to show the visuals on my iPad. We solve this by going to YouTube and find the original video.
Tom Wright indicates that we are likely to find resonances in today’s reading, that we’ve heard it before. If we’ve read some of The Old Testament, this is likely (e.g. Psalms 65-7; 107-29). The story of the stilling of the storm is something special. Jesus is asleep. The disciples cry to the Lord in trouble – he delivers them. Brings to mind the story of Exodus – God made way through the sea. The Spirit of God moves over waters of chaos. The story is vivid & evocative. Yes – this is how God does stuff – not just Jesus powers. Psalms – teach us how to pray- not detached – we shake God – time to wake up – help us! We may not get what we thought we were asking for… Learn who God is & who we are – whatever storms in our lives – we can wake Jesus up now .. Follow where he leaves.
We read our own Bible reading, where Jesus calms the storm.
Brian Draper. Is Jesus’s reaction calming or panic that Jesus is sleeping through it. Our own response is often to panic. Jesus is a deeply anchored presence who calms the waves & the situation. Brian goes on to say that the story also reminds him of the large fish catches that the disciples made when Jesus was present, and that modern boats are now fitted with ‘echo sounders’ allowing great catches… offering insights into hidden dangers & treasures, a picture of deeper down. We rarely look… But God does. Jesus in depth – Lent – he looked at himself, and who he was put on earth to be.
- When have you felt the same as the disciples in this passage?
One of the group was skiing once, off piste. The ski instructor was encouraging her to go fast. It was terrifying as cliffs were off to the side (although she knew that she could ski well). We discussed how worry borrows worry – and that usually thinking it through is worse than actually being in situ, when we may not have time to think. We usually feel like this when we’re not in control, and don’t know what’s going to happen. Our group has more experience of hospitals than we could wish for, and we discussed how they can be scary places, with lots of information availalbe, but we don’t have the headspace to take it on board.
- What echoes from the Old Testament do you see in Jesus’ life?
Jesus was straight talking. We see much of this in Tom Wright’s commentary, and in the Psalms. We thought about the discussion of Passover in the Old Testament, and how this links to the sacrifice of Jesus death (animals and the temple). The parallel is that Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, and there’s no need to sacrifice more. We know there must be lots of examples, but how do we think of them on the spot can anyone help by commenting with thoughts). There’s some thought within the group that the New Testament, written some years after Jesus, writes in some of these circumstances retrospectively to make parallels. Is that helpful in thinking about this? Aware that this is controversial, but we need spaces where no question is ‘not allowed. Further controversial thoughts about seeing creation in trees (as veins), and whether evolution was the most efficient way (we’re not saying without God) got discussed.
- What echoes from Jesus life do you see in your own?
He was born, as we were. He died (as we expect to). We have friends and eat together. The conversation went rather fascietiously to having been on a boat, having been to sleep, been fishing, being a man… but is this facetious, as Jesus was fully human! He felt human emotions: frustration, temptation. What about the way that people react to us? If we were bullied at school does it help us to know that Jesus was rejected? If people don’t understand what you’re saying, do you feel moments of isolation. Bex was mentioned as a good communicator,using the tools of the time, as Jesus did. Most of the group have also taught in come capacity. He was an everyday man and had every human emotion
- Why did Jesus calm the storm? What impact does this have on us today?
Do we have peace because we know Jesus is in control? Not everyone necessarily agrees with that. If we’re caught up in chaos, he won’t say what’s actually going on. What do we say to people in the middle of an earthquake? So if God is in control, he controls the bad & the good. How do find peace, or use these events for his glory in the long term? Really big, difficult question… We reflected on God being in the Psalms, demonstrating that Jesus was God, he was behaving as God did: never thought of that before Tom Wright. The Bible was written culturally so they could understand. It made sense to them, it speaks to us differently today. With one group from The Hebrides, are they more in touch with natural world or legalism? It’s noticeable on a Sunday: quiet as all are at church.
To clarify that we usually expect a housegroup to do one or the other, but my housegroup are testing to see that these have legs, before everyone else gets to them!
Does God intervene in today’s storms of life? This is kind of what we’ve been discussing. God is reflected in the way people react & get involved afterwards (after a crisis). It’s difficult if we’re in the middle to see God. To a toddler, every thing is the end of the world. We are like toddlers, operating on a different level to God – though he’s with us in our suffering. We can’t see outside ourselves – we still talk ‘I’m’. But we still have a need to be sympathetic to those in need, and not just offer platitudes that God is in control. We need to meet people where they are.
Can we demonstrate the echoes of Jesus in our own lives? We didn’t have post-it notes, and decided to just talk. Jesus was not always super-sympathetic – we joked that one of our group isn’t particularly – but good at getting to the point. Jesus however, many times, came alongside people and was sympathetic, which can be seen in our group. Jesus had consistent values. The group referred to a recent competition for Innocent smoothies. They make a great deal of the fact that all their fruit is shipped in (not air freight), but the prizes were air travel. We eat together every week. We talked about how we should be able to do miracles with faith mustard seed, but had not experienced this. Jesus talked to outcasts: should we do more for e.g. the homeless – basics bank, night shelter, etc. Should we be giving stuff, or time? What does compassion look like? Returns us to WWJD – do we really want to turn our backs on our family, hang out with prostitutes etc. How do we get to know those that aren’t our friends?!
We go on tangents galore, but always come back to the topic!
We talked about the example of a Vicar, off to talk about The Good Samaritan. He passed someone who needed help, but decided he had no time to stop. Can be hard to get a balance? It’s not an excuse for doing nothing, but think about what we are most useful for doing?
After Dinner Chocs
We discussed the possibilities for finding places in Winchester for echoes – maybe the Cathedral (would they let us do that?), a number of railway tunnels? We started talking about positive stories from childhood, about fun we’d had that had echoes in the kind of jobs we’ve gone for (most of us have gone for ‘vocations’ rather than ‘jobs’). Tonight we’ll not be onto Week 3 of The Big Read as we’re having a Muslim visitor (unless he gets snowed off) to help give us insights into that world.
We played with the idea of geocaching, and talked about YouVersion, which allows us to listen and read at the same time, which we felt allowed more to go in than reading or listening alone!