We haven't had a great deal of time to vegetate in front of the box this Christmas... but we have managed to watch a couple of films...
The first an incredible film, which I thoroughly recommend to anyone with a fairly strong constitution (at least in terms of graphic violence) Fernando Meirelles awesome and award winning "City of God"... the film records the rise of organised crime and gang warfare in the favellos (slums) of Rio. The story revolves around a young lad growing up in the heart of the slum who dreams of being a photographer. The young gangsters (circa 8-18) are played by actual residents of the Cidade de Deus, the vast majority had never acted before and the lot of them are superb, believable and even the most disturbed characters have a real human quality... which may well have grown from the actors real understanding of the situations and circumstances that turn children into non-chalont killers!
Alexandre Rodrigues as Buscapé (Rocket)
The second film, well the least said about the drivel that is "The Da Vinci Code" the better (Lou made me watch it) suffice it to say that my 10 year old niece would have worked out that the globe linked with Newton was an apple before these so called academics... and the extra clue describing (rosy flesh containing seed - or something like that) might even have made it possible for Nathan to have worked it out! (sorry if I've spoiled it for you ;) ) Oh well, I'll give Ron Howard some credit it is a marginally better film than it is a book! On the other hand he did wimp out and put in some excretions at the end to pander to the religiously sensitive cinema goer... (just because Jesus may have fathered children doesn't mean he couldn't have performed miracles... and the suggestion that his descendants may also have divinity, blah blah blah)... if you haven't endured this, just don't bother it's rubbish from start to finish.
A very early heads up... Dr. Jonathan Wooding, Senior Lecturer in Early and Medieval Christianity at Lampeter (University of Wales) has a new book coming out later this year (April) called... Saints and Seafarers: Perigrinatio and the Ocean Desert in the Celtic Lands... which you can pre-order from Amazon... and here it is on my Wish List ;-) It apparently explores...
the role of the sea in the religious consciousness of the Celtic churches in the early middle ages... [and] uses historical, archaeological and hagiographical material to examine both the phenomenon of the ocean voyage and the geographical and religious perspectives it provides on the development of the insular church.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God's Sunrise will break in upon us, Shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, Then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. Luke 1v78&79
So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David's town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiancée, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. An Event for Everyone There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, “Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.
With my own eyes I've seen your salvation; it's now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. Jesus' father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted - the pain of a sword-thrust through you - But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are. Luke 2v30-35
Our prayer for you this Christmas season...
May it be one that unsettles you, takes you out of your comfort zones, is a time of contradiction.
May it be for you one of joy, of fellowship, of fun.
May it seed an unrest in your hearts for those with no family, with no liberty, with no laughter.
May it be one full of spiritual moments, of expectation, of celebration.
May it be one of selflessness, of giving, of peace.
May it be a blessing on you, your family, your friends.
May it stir you to be a blessing for them, for others and for this world.
May it be the start of a new season in your life.
christ compels us to be better than we usually are.
christ compels us to forgive those who've wronged us.
christ compels us to love our enemies.
christ compels us to be humble and non-judgemental.
christ compels us to care for the neediest.
christ compels us to be non-violent.
christ compels us to recognize that the material world and all of our posessions will ultimately turn into dust, so we shouldn't get too attached to our bodies, our lives, and our stuff.
and, most importantly(in many ways), christ compels us to love one another and look after one another, and to see all people as our own family.
so when i call myself a christian it's because i find christ's character and teachings to be incredibly compelling and, well, divine(cos they're too weird/impractical/perfect to have ever been invented by a human being).
Ok there are no doubt some holes in this, (but then there are holes in each one of our attempts to grasp the meaning of the incarnation) but Moby has some interesting and challenging things to say... and Lou and I reading felt that though we might want to ask some questions (not necessarily critical ones) we want to echo Mobys words this Christmas, in this mess of a world, there is a serious need for believers to recognise the call of Christ on life and lifestyle! But then again maybe I'm a "wierd sort of Christian" too!
If anyone is interested in a summary of the first Year of the Telford Missional Community I have uploaded a pdf of the report I produced for Bishops Council... Ok it's not a Christmas Newsletter... but I've always been crap at those!