Week 7 #BigRead12: Koinonia: Transformation

Bex’s housegroup have just finished the course, we’ve just done week 7… We hope that others are continuing to enjoy the course, and that people will share more widely the top levels of their discussions, as we seek to shake each other out of our ‘comfortable’ “we know what we think” habits…

Nibbles

Looking back at the questions from the previous week,  we’d had quite a lot of discussions about The Shack.

Thinking about the course and what we got out of it. The group, thankfully, were very happy to have helped me process the information, and also enjoyed the opportunity to meet as a full group with focused information, which got us to engage with the Bible more fully (we often listen to poems/Greenbelt talks & discuss those, but it tends not to be as structured).

We watched the video, which was an extract from the Manchester Passion in 2006. Very powerful, and we all remembered it happening, making great connections between 2000 year old events and modern, contemporary, secular music. Bex remembered being invited to go by her non-Christian housemate, and finding the scope of the event powerful. The song fitted the Manchester culture. The video gives us the song ‘Sunshine after the Rain’, shortly after Jesus died. She sings “Everywhere I go I see your face”, which we thought was a hope for most of us, that we’ll see Jesus in everything we encounter.

Main Course

Tom Wright’s video considered the ending of Mark and where new translations come from., and asked us to consider the importance of Easter. How we treat Easter is not really enough – we need to think about how it will transform us? If we’re not afraid of what Easter means, have we made it too comfortable? Jesus offers us a whole new creation, we nee dto learn not to be afraid of where the new world is going.

The reading gives us the women going to the tomb.

Eunice, in her reflection, encourages us to imagine what it would look like if your good friend came back to life, would you still live in mourning??Transformation indicates a marked change. God is beyond our comprehension, he is “awe” but we can still have a relationship with him. Jesus is alive , we should be transformed by his presence .

1. What does resurrection mean for you?  for the world?

To us, the first thought is that it means “The Resurrection” Jesus’ death was a symbolic sacrifice, was there a deeper value to the resurrection? Does it mean everything that’s gone before is forgotten? The power of being forgiven & new life. Is the resurrection to do with the Holy Spirit, because he was here already. Spirit was left to help us, was already there, so did Jesus actually need to die?

C shared a story of a prisoner who worked in the gardens at her place of work. Funding was not available for it to continue, but the now ex-prisoner is returning once a month to maintain the gardens. Questioning whether this was about the relationships that had been built or a sense of “paying back”, when official ‘debt to society’ had been paid.?Resurrection offers a positive light to move forward, born anew into a new mindset.

After a number of questions we Googled re the Holy Spirit and the Resurrection. The top 3 answers were “Did the Holy Spirit impregnate Mary?”; Did the Holy Spirit get released because of Jesus’ death? Was the Holy Spirit in existence before Jesus death? We acknowledge that there are many strange interpretations around this, and some of the group have suffered from some of these. We chatted about the fact that the Spirit in us but we still have to take responsibility for the way we live, as the world is not perfect. This led to a bit more discussion re prisons, where it’s been noted that trainers going into male prisons, if they dress conservatively, the prisoners are less likely to reoffend. Whose rights are whose… make us think about SlutWalk, where “Participants protest against explaining or excusing rape by referring to any aspect of a woman’s appearance.” We started talking about temptations offered by chocolate, alcohol, etc. are different for different people, and we have to think about how we take responsibility for our own actions!  The core importance of resurrection is that we are talking about overcoming death!

2. What transformation do you want to see?

We want to see less temptations (bearing in mind that we had some chocolate cookies (lush!) celebrating birthdays in our group). What we’d really love to see is justice, people caring for each other across society . We’re a very selfish society, we need to look more globally, and stop focusing on money as the definer of people’s “worth”. We questioned whether the recession has made people reassess values.

3. On Easter Day Tom Wright says “”People today are afraid of Easter….” Discuss why people might be afraid of Easter?

Image taken from Facebook message

Well, there was a starting conversation about the fact that Creme eggs disappear from the shelves, because most of the group weren’t sure where to start with this question! On Googling this, there was nothing sensible. Bex suggested maybe people fear power, Jesus was raised from dead – that’s an enormous event. The enormity of it is scary, and as a result it creates change, and most people are people are afraid of change. We like to trundle along in our comfortable faith, do we need to be challenged. Many are worried about the  dictatorialness of church, which much of the time appears to lack compassion? We then had a bit of a discussion about the resignation of Rowan Williams and who might be next!

4. On Easter Monday Tom Wright says “But these surprised and unprepared messengers go out anyway, with no great skill of their own but simply with ‘the message’, the good news. And the Lord worked with them. That is the key.” Why might these messengers have been surprised? And what do you find most surprising about Easter?

The people at the time were surprised because they hadn’t worked out what Jesus meant, they were still looking for a fighter, a military warrior, and it looked like it hadn’t happened that way, so they had to work out what their message now was. This weekend the papers have been full of stories of Fabrice Muamba, who had a cardiac arrest in the middle of a match. Today’s headline in the Sun had been “God is in control”, and we talked about how on Saturday many had tweeted that they were praying, but the BBC changed it to “thinking” as though praying is not acceptable. His family have been prepared to talk about their faith in the middle of all this. We often say “The Lord works in mysterious ways”, but we pray that some good comes out of this situation.

Puddings

What has Jesus done for you? What are you going to do for him?

The hot & cold question is the same, but can be tackled in different ways:

The hot topic was to consider what a transformed life could look like. One of the group had met Geoff Holt, and talked about how inspirational he was. After being paralysed, he learnt to sail again, eventually sailing across the Atlantic. On one of his first trips, he “failed” in front of many of the media, but in the long run, this gave him more time to be appropriately prepared. Ending up on the beach where he’d been paralysed, he reflected upon how his life had been transformed by the injury, for the better, to a life with more joy and purpose. We thought how many appear to survive by moping and moaning, whereas the tough areas of life can be positive.

The group asked Bex whether the cold topic – writing with your non-dominant hand – was rather ‘new ageish’, and even something that ‘Mediums’ profess to do. This is certainly not what we were thinking about. I’ve done the exercise in different situations. Using left/right hands engage different areas of your brain, so can produce different (more creative?) answers.

After Dinner Chocolates

We thought about our plans for next bible readings, noted that we remember the Zombosium and the difference was between resurrection (to full life), and the living dead – one involved the soul, the other only the body. With a couple more weeks to go until Easter, the group are each going to think about resolutions.

About drbexl

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