Week 5: Signposts #BigRead12 #Koinonia

We were a little faster than usual this week, as Bex had just flown back in from Berlin, so we started a little late on Week 5.

Nibbles.

My group are not the most tech savvy, but it’s interesting to see that they are making dips into Facebook, Twitter, etc. but rather than a picture of Jesus, or a #120Jesus tweet, they had been thinking about limericks… one started…

There was a young preacher called Jesus
Who was sent to this earth for to teach us
Who despite all his might on earth
Had a virgin birth
And did much to please us

There was a much better one later, and that last line is pretty much theologically incorrect, but I didn’t capture it! If you decide to do a limerick, the rules are 5 lines, 1,2 & 5 need to rhyme. 3&4 also…

How choose direction? There was a query as to whether this referred to life or what? As always, these are open questions, the leader can take these as they please. A lot of our group said that they would go with flow, but I (Bex) would question whether there’s actually quite a lot of underlying intentionality in that. We of course talked about Satnav, with a bit of discussion (of course) as to which we each used, and whether they actually work or not. There was a mention of Sensible Shoes (a novel about subjective listening to God). We raised the question of if you undertake the same meditation, and get taken in a different direction each time, which is right, or are both right for the right time? Sometimes we need to keep trying in life … Failure doesn’t mean closed door!

We watched the first 2 minutes of the video about The God of our Hunches. We were interested in the Historian’s perspective (Bex is a historian by training). The videos says that Christians are alone in saying God offered a tangible sign of himself,  in Jesus.

The Main Course

Onto the Tom Wright video. Tom talks about the man who was healed from his blindness: if you were blind, it wasn’t ” nice” but at least you knew how it worked, and had few responsibilities. Being able to see again was life changing in many ways, and this applies for the Christian faith also, but we always want things to make our lives easier. When Jesus curses the tree & drives out traders from Temple, it’s an active symbol of what going on in Temple, and not just petulance.

Moving onto the Bible reading we had a question about the use of the word “Brigand”:  What does that mean? We questioned whether this was everyday terminology, but as Tom Wright was taking live questions the next day, we put that question into the pot – with an interest in how he chose the words he uses in a modern translation.

We talked about Faith moves mountains … (see video re: Radio 1), and the need to forgive, tying in with the Lord’s Prayer).

A question was raised about the issue with if you ask, it will be given. It then seems to be a get out ‘if it’s God’s will’  if it doesn’t happen.

Katei talks about the important of  well written & spoken words, the importance of similes, and how pictures help the words live.

Biblical language sings of activity, so many well spoken words. The words of Jesus & those who witnessed miracles are powerful. If speak in with faith, situations can be changed with miracles (what constitutes a miracle?) It’s not a generic ‘bless me’ but a specific request, and faith plays a part (all about faith, rather than “proof:), as Jesus’ words changes course of events. It’s still possible to ask specifically to God. We need ‘no doubt,of course’… which raised eyebrows and a suggestion of “a big of course…”

Questions

1) Which do you identify with the most (Bartimeus or the Fig Tree), and why?

Those who have no children thought about the idea of the fig tree, and we tried to avoid the natural link in our heads from Bart to Simpson! Those with children mentioned Timmy Time  – sorry, can’t remember the link! – although it was something to do with bringing a story into the modern day and stops us always having to be too serious. The group was confused as to why the fig tree was cursed, as this seemed vindictive – if the tree was not expected to be in season, too harsh! We wonder about what being ‘productive’ looks like as a Christian.
When we realised that blind Bartimeaus had few responsibilities, some expressed a desire for this, although I think we’d happily retain our sight (into a discussion about our respective prescriptions!). We are uncomfortable in leaving the familiar? Are we petrified of being healed? It changes who we are, what we’re capable of. Do we assume other people want what we see as ‘healthy’? E.g. When England colonised the rest of the world. The Aborigines, lost their culture because the West saw them as savages, and see where that’s left them. Assuming a universal ‘what is good’, we see a loss of e.g. traditional skills. If we try and pull people into our culture, they’re lost.

What do you need Jesus to do for you?

Thought this was a difficult question, different from what you want Jesus to do. Do we need to make it a less personalised question? Should it be ‘what do you need Jesus to do for your group/church/society’?

We had a mini debate about whether verses or sermon should come first, but this is up to the housegroup leader. If hear Tom Wright first, helps interpret the reading differently, which is the plan. 

What might happen if you allow Jesus to open your eyes?

To open the eyes is hard, and can be subjective. You see things you don’t want to see, including in yourself, and therefore might have to change. Change is difficult. We will see new/good things though. Jokingly: we would have seen a dead fig tree. As a society we’re good at seeing the bad in things – we hope that God is behind this, but it’s still hard. Once seen, the change is irreversible.

What are the causes of spiritual hunger today?

The first answer to come up was loneliness. We have so much that we don’t realise that we have a need for God. Hunger indicates a need – as with food – many don’t reach that stage as people fill themselves with other things.

We wondered about the lack of Biblical literacy? Does it help us to see answers elsewhere? Yazz was at Oasis this morning, talking about how she didn’t deal with fame well. People cope with the media in different ways, and not usually positive ones, e.g. alcohol. She became a Christian after a nervous breakdown. Inspiring story, but needs community & support to help get through. Do we see this in the death of Whitney Houston (did her husband send her off the rails, did she have a choice with the media on her?) Yazz said Whitney was not first nor will be the last. Why do people push kids to fame? Mentioned Lena Navaroni who died in a battle with anorexia. In those days = less icons, but now there are hundreds – is this good or bad (does it reduce the pressure, although there’s an increasing number of “pap” papers).

How confident are you that God answers your prayers?

Are we not or are the answers just not what we want to hear. Lot of debate about the idea that things are ‘meant to be’, and wondering if things get over spiritualised? Do we ever stop to listen to the answer. Members who had previously belonged to our group had been much clearer. God can direct you but it helps to stop & listen. Feeling that you can hand over & give to God is a rare gift? We remembered reading about Adrian Plass’ prayers, where he’d attempted to get up early and pray, and was invariably found passed out on the floor by his wife. (can’t find it, but this is equally as amusing from Adrain Plass)

Puddings

Hot: “Miracles only happened in Jesus time, and everyone else has to wait”. Discuss

We questioned what is a miracle? Missionaries, who saw many awful things, also saw more miracles as didn’t have resources. Is it just coincidences, or what we call miracles? People who think they are lucky – tend see good things happen as looking for them? What about TV programmes like Derren Brown (behind miracles):

There were worries that people didn’t seek needed medical help as they thought they were healed. We agreed that praying for other people helps you look outside yourself. Knowing others are praying for you is equally valuable. Local Church is praying for each street, that God be with those people.  Do we need to be aware that we are sometimes the miracles and could be doing things for everyone.

Cold: What road sign describes your spirituality today?

We played with this idea quite quickly. We laughed at “Beware low flying motorbikes.” We wondered if some were “In a lay by”, where Jesus could be the “Man opening umbrella in road” (aka men at work?). God’s creation =  ducks in the road? Geriatrics? “Drive slowly my Daddy works here”. Which have a theology to them or do we just like them? By this point we were  slightly delirious with tiredness as we started late …

After Dinner Chocs

We liked the idea of walking around the local area, as we could do this even on our daily commutes. Most of us in the group need to learn to slow down on something, so it will be interesting to see who managed it!

We missed last week as Bex had a cold, so tonight we move onto Week 6 with @sheridanvoysey.

About drbexl

Life Explorer, academia/learning, Christian, cultural history, WW2 posters: Keep Calm & Carry On, digital world, coach. Twitter: @drbexl @digitalfprint, @ww2poster @bigbible