Monthly Archives: December 2013

Didn’t See That Coming!

Christmas Time again – and what a wonderful time it is, and should be.  We are steeped in the story of the Madonna, Joseph and the child to be born – Jesus.  We celebrate with Christmas productions featuring all the homeliness and cuteness of our children, or, in my case, grandchildren.  ‘Never work with animals or children,’ may be a Hollywood maxim for every other day of the year but not this day – the little ones tend to feature.

To us, used to this story, nothing seems out of the ordinary –  although, it isn’t exactly ordinary is it?

And to the inhabitants of Palestine in the 1st Century AD, it wasn’t very ordinary either.  But to them it was even less so.  Nothing that transpired at the birth of the Saviour was anticipated by those who were meant to know.  They got one thing right –  that he would be born in Bethlehem according to the prophecy.  Otherwise they didn’t see it coming.  Nothing about it fitted the well-worn prophetic contours of the scriptures, It was all there all right, but nobody saw it coming in the manner it did.

A child – not a King (but he was the King).

A manger – not a palace (although the universe was his palace).

A virgin – not a virgin, that’s impossible (and so it is, except where God says it isn’t)!

A young woman – not a Deborah, a Miriam, a Queen (although much more).

Nothing was as anticipated which is exactly the reason they missed it – more than missed it –  they crucified the Lord of Glory.  How we think God is going to do something, and how God actually does something, is two different worlds.  His ways are both above our ways and better than our ways –  but we continue to insist God conforms to us, and not us to him.

Christmas reminds me not only of the birth of the Saviour of mankind, but of the prayer  –  ‘Your Kingdom Come, Your Will be Done.’  Things don’t always go as we’d imagined but God works his will like a weaver of tapestry  –  messy from one view, beautiful from another.

A Very Merry and Revelatory Christmas, and a Prosperous New Year.

Simon and Valerie in London.



What, More Questions??!!

Matthew 24:1-3.   The disciples wandering through Jerusalem, the city of the great King, were in awe of the great building/s that constituted the Temple.“What a building,” they proudly exclaimed – as you would have, had you been an inhabitant of that city, or the land, for that matter.  What came next was out of the blue, and may have made them see red.

Jesus shocks the disciples by saying the temple will be unceremoniously dismantled.  Dismantled is a nice word, smacking of safe work place practises, union officials and big coloured safety vests.  It was obliterated, smashed to pieces with a fury.  The temple had figured largely in their expectations of a coming Kingdom/King and here was Jesus saying it was to be destroyed.  This messed with their deepest expectations and beliefs about the end of the age, and the rule of Israel.  How could this be?  And what of the promises of restoration and the Messiah?  Jesus turned their dreams on its head.  Yet he never thought something unusual was happening, as though God had missed his opportunity, or muffed it once and for all.

Expecting one thing and being given another is disconcerting, to say the least.  It isn’t uncommon for our expectations re. God and his rule and promises to be aberrant or, at least, misguided.  He is not the problem.  We often misunderstand, and misinterpret what God is doing.  We are fixed on things going one way, and they often don’t.  This is no defeat, nor is it a lack of care or the lack of providing an answer – we just have to readjust to see what God is doing.






More Questions

More questions?  Always more questions!  Children ask their parents things easy to explain and things inexplicable.  And we don’t really mind as inquisitiveness is both natural and needed.  If they don’t ask they won’t know.  No parent should ever treat their questions as ‘non-sense’ or ‘never to be asked.’  Unless of course they are questions that are mere nonsense, or questions that should never be asked.

In Matthew 20 Jesus was approached by the mother of John and James, requesting they get places of honour, privilege and power at his right hand in the coming Kingdom.

Same chapter – Jesus was approached by a couple of rowdy beggars wanting desperately to see – being blind.  Strangely, or not so, the same disciples that wanted something from him refused others a chance at getting what they wanted.

Maybe the former (the disciples) should have known better, maybe the latter (the two blind men) didn’t know any better.  The latter had their request fulfilled, the former – maybe? but with caveats that looked as good as a refusal, for all practical purposes.

Questions are loaded.  They come from different sources and motivations.  In this case, the beggars from simple pressing need, but the disciples from a place of the need for power – the very thing Jesus was at pains to explain to them was the last thing they should be asking, besides which, he stated, such requests are the prerogative and private domain of the Father –  in other words, ‘you asked the wrong person’ – precisely because the request was corrupt to start with.

And one last thought.   Questions should be able to be asked.  It is a reasonable right that we can ask.  So we do.  And that is exactly where our problems begin (sometimes).  Why, how?  It appears that the person asking is in many cases wanting and assuming, and therefore not really asking.  If I ask I can be refused. That is the nature of the ask.  But not so for many people.  They can’t take no for an answer and they make the person who gives it feel as if they have just ruined the life of the one asking.  We need to be consistent. We have a right to ask and the person so asked has the right of refusal with out being accosted with petulance and emoted disappointment.  It is a mature soul who can take a NO.

Think before you ask.  You might not ask, or you may.  Just depends.




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