Along with the "walled nativity" others have blogged about The Amos Trust have a download-able resource pack called "voices from the ghetto 2007" a series of personal stories prayers, meditations and songs by Amos Partners in Bethlehem and the surrounding towns of Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.
Is it hidden behind a 25ft high separation wall?
Is it trapped without a travel permit?
Is it labelled a fundamentalist, a terrorist?
Or is it weeping over Abraham’s’ children?
Where is that light that shines in the darkness?
Is it hidden by a wall of indifference?
It is trapped behind self-interest and greed?
Is it labelled a victim, of famine, natural disasters and war?
Or is it crying out for justice, truth and compassion?
Where is that light that shines in the darkness?
Is it hidden by a mothers arms?
Is it trapped; a refugee, a displaced person?
Is it labelled as the illegitimate child of a teenage mother?
Or does it come creeping into our midst?
Where is that light that shines in the darkness?
Is it hidden by the lens I see through?
Is it trapped by my self-image?
Is it labelled by my prejudice and mistrust?
Or is it slowly coming into view.
You hear people at this time of year stressing the ordinariness of the birth of Christ... but it always strikes me that there was nothing ordinary in his birth... it was special, but not by being "better" rather by being in the midst of more difficult circumstances than the ordinary birth... even then there would have been support, rituals, preparations; wise women, experienced grandparents, care taken about the environment etc. probably some would seem alien to us, just as ours would to them... but they would have had their ordinary procedures.
A birth less ordinary
No ordinary start to a life on earth,
No preparations, no ante-natal rituals, no gradual build-up,
No getting things in order, bag packed, hospital number by the phone,
No nursery decorated, no teddy waiting in the Cot,
No family around, no friends sending flowers,
No midwife popping in, no reassuring experts,
No people who’ve been there, no experience to help,
No warm ward, no birthing suite,
No pool, no gas, no epidural,
No hot water, no towels, no Surgeon on hand,
No sterile safe place,
No friendly face, no familiar place,
No ordinary birth,
No ordinary baby.
Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus' sake.
We're reflecting at the moment on 4 groups within the Nativity Story and their feelings on the 'news' of the anticipated birth... on being caught up in a story that is beyond their control...
Mary & Joseph - feeling in the midst of a story that is happening around them, that they are in the middle of, that they have no control over... yet, somehow in the hands of God... mixed with the nervous anticipation any young couple experience as the birth of their first born draws closer... the hassle of trying to organise a journey and all that goes with it... all the human feelings... but, all the normal expectations of a young family just don't apply, all the things they expected to happen as their family began out of the window, for now... life ahead is exciting but frightening!
The Magi - searching, hoping that their calculations and the old stories are correct, that this won't be a wasted journey... excitement at the possibilities of the continuing journey - from their first studies, the realisation of understanding, to setting out in hope... with the constant "What if we are wrong?" itching Pilgrims of story, history and hope.
The Shepherds - in the midst of the everyday routine of life... life suddenly becomes something wildly alien... a real "what the...!" moment probably followed quickly by "Why us?"... Shock in the extreme!
Herod - feeling threatened in a way he was not used too... easy to fight off a political challenge, but one that may well be divine is a bit different! A challenge not easily shrugged off! Suddenly all he had schemed for, worked for, fought for, his personal aims, are under threat.
How might these reactions mirror some of our instinctive reactions to a God incarnate? And... how do we react to the call to be a part of the incarnation? Do we feel scared, excited, blind, uncertain, hopeful, hassled, our preferred lifestyle threatened, lost in an alien world, caught in a future impossible to map out, our goals in life suddenly meaningless? Who do we associate with, and why? Can we embrace these feelings and continue to be a part of the story... as a community and as individuals?
No doubt this has been circling the net for ages... but I just read it on the AFC Telford Utd forum... posted by our Stadium Announcer who also happens to be a Vicar... and on a very cold morning it made me smile... One for Pete Rollins to ponder ;-)
The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington Chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well :
Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic absorbs heat)?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.
As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.
The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God."
[Update] This is part of a new series from Baker Academic called Cultural Exegesis already including...
"Everyday Theology: How to Read Cultural Texts and Interpret Trends (Cultural Exegesis)" by Kevin Vanhoozer
"Reframing Theology and Film: New Focus for an Emerging Discipline (Cultural Exegesis)" by Robert K. Johnston
and next year they will be joined by...
"Into the Dark: Seeing the Sacred in the Top Films of the 21st Century (Cultural Exegesis)" by Craig Detweiler due out in July 08
"God in the Gallery: Contemporary Art and the Christian Faith (Cultural Exegesis)" by Daniel A. Siedell due out in October 08
The Cultural Exegesis series provides methodological and foundational studies that address the way to engage culture theologically. Each volume works within a specific cultural discipline, illustrating and embodying the theory behind cultural engagement. By providing the appropriate tools, these books equip the reader to engage and interpret the surrounding culture responsibly.
OK a deliberatley provocative title... but that is what happens... The BBC have a new series coming out in the new year...
Pete Owen-Jones, a vicar in a Sussex parish, is dissatisfied with some aspects of his faith and sets off on three extreme pilgrimages to China, India and Egypt to explore Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and ascetic Christianity. Pete feels that the Church of England is too much a faith of the head, and not enough a faith of the soul, the heart or even the body. He now sets off on a quest in search of a more physical and mystical path to enlightment.
Owen-Jones (who presented an excellent series on the History of Christianity in the British Isles) makes three pilgrimages...
to a Shaolin Monastery (where he learns Kung Fu)
to a Hindu Mela (where he smokes Hashish)
to the Egyptian Desert to explore Ascetic Christianity
What I'm looking for is a spirituality that is absent from western Christianity. A spirituality I know exists in the extremes of world religions. I hope to enter worlds where rule book and doctrine are replaced by an individual relationship with God and where the attainment of enlightenment is won by hardship, privation and pain. I have to become an extreme pilgrim.
ht to Ruth Gledhill who asked him about the drugs thing... His answer?
drugs take you to the place of oblivion which, when you are in pain can appear to be quite comforting, but essentially what you experience when you are taking drugs is the death of your own soul.
This forum is a place for conversation, discussion and thinking through what it means to be the church. Is there a place for the Church in this fast-changing world? What should it be like, and what kind of people will belong to it? What new expressions of Church are emerging, and what would it mean to be radically-shaped by mission?