Dear Minster and Friends
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming, Clear the road for him!’” This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with[d] water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!” (Mark 1: 1-7)
Not everyone likes science fiction. Some people loathe it. But either way, it is an art form in books and in film and TV which nevertheless allow us to discuss issues of philosophy and purpose, all wrapped up in cool shots of space and action sequences.
A recent film, Arrival, centres on the usual motif of an alien visitation to earth, and not wanting to spoil it, in this instance, the hero of the hour is Dr Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams) who is a university lecturer and linguistic expert. The film combines issues of time and destiny with the importance of overcoming communication barriers in order to rid the world of conflict. Towards the end of the movie, when armed with a sense of what is to come which includes future suffering, and weighing this up with future love, Dr Banks says “Despite knowing the journey, and where it leads…I will embrace it… and I welcome every moment of it.”
And the gospels, too, are shot through with issues of time, purpose, history, prophecy and destiny.
In John, the gospel it is framed in terms of the ‘word’ and ‘eternity’;
(In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.)
Whereas for Mark, it is the gospel, which is the overall purpose of the story, which is front and centre : ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The opening verses then lurch from history, to prophecy (Isaiah) and then back into history (John the Baptist) and the prophecy (John says there will be one coming who is greater) and finally to the sense of destiny for the people of God who will be baptised with the Holy Spirit. Those who enjoy films of superheroes and space adventures and other forms of science fiction and fantasy have a longing to engage with these large themes, but often do so without a realisation that the ‘real’ saviour who transcends time but operates within it, has already come into the world; that the hinge of history has already opened the door to our destiny, and that the transformation of the human condition is already possible through a relationship with God.
But the gospels also make it clear that our redemption was made possible by a great hero who gave his life for our sake, and did so knowingly, and willingly. Love does this, throws itself into the path of oncoming traffic to save a life; will choose suffering if love is possible, because love is so much more important for life than comfort. Leonardo da Vinci was supposed to have said ‘a life without love is no life at all.’ Goethe commented that ‘A life without love, without the presence of the beloved, is nothing but a mere magic lantern show. We draw out slide after slide, swiftly tiring of each, and pushing it back to make haste for the next.’
And so my prayer for us this week is that we would jump into the greatest story ever told – realise we never have t live a life without love, and embrace, receive and enjoy the love of God which is given to us in Christ, and experienced through the work and person of the Holy Spirit. God has arrived, and spoken to us in a language even we can understand, he has spoken to us in love on the cross, epic love.
Tomorrow (Friday) – still chances to find out about the family film tomorrow afternoon 4.30-7pm in the barns. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details and to let us know how many you would like to bring.
Saturday – The community Farm day – 9.30-2.30pm – come for as little or as much of the day as you like to join in the making of raised beds, some mowing and chopping and other exciting, worthwhile and fun adventures on the farm.
Sunday – 10.30am – Morning service. Frog Preaching, and with great worship, children work and refreshments as usual!