One Man's Web

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John 9 is a deep meditation upon a story of Jesus meeting a blind man. The man is described as born blind and blind from birth. We are told his eyes are opened; his sight is received; he had formerly been blind. (See here) The meditation is not about physical healing, but about seeing.

It is hard to see clearly, and difficult to see life for ourselves. As John 9 says, "Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind." (John 9:32)

There are always people who wish to define what we see.  The story of the man who had been born blind leads us into John Chapter 10. For his story is a story of Jesus' argument with the gatekeepers of the faith. Those careful keepers of rules we call Pharisees tend also to be arbiters of people's faith. They are gatekeepers of people's access to God. They define what it means to be in relationship with God, or not.... Read on >>>>

In our church today, the congregations meet together, and we will sing in Bahasa and English. Then it will be quiet, and we will listen to the whole passion narrative, read in a mixture of both languages. We will act out some of the story using a variation on Dorothy MCrae's wonderful liturgy. I get to introduce this part of the service.

I am
I don’t have a lot to say about Good Friday.

Jesus' death was a tragedy. He was an innocent man who was killed by the mob. He was the best of all people, who showed us how to be human, who showed us how to live fully. And he was killed— murdered in a most inhumane way.

What can we say about this that is adequate? What can we say which won't domesticate it and hide the horror under a heap of words?

Feel this in your heart    rather than filling your mind   with words which can do it no justice.

Earlier in the Gospel of John, (Chapter 8) before our readings today, some people were arguing with Jesus. They said that they were God's people because they were Abraham's children. And Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Which is a little Jewish joke about a great and wonderful love… because… I am is the name for God. (Exodus 3)

John is teaching us that God is saying to us   that in Jesus… I am.

God is saying to us   that when Jesus is on the cross… I am.

When we suffer, when we are lost, when we have no hope,  God says… I am…
I  am here; I know what it is to suffer and to be lost.

Listen to the story today.

Hear the sadness, and the tragedy, and the futility. Remember your own suffering and grief.

God knows. God is in it with us.

Don't spend today looking to work out how all this Good Friday stuff works; you've got the rest of your life to do that—

Hear the story. Feel the pain. Be appalled… and remember that God says, I am.
I am here.
I am yours.
You are mine. Amen

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I've just put on a new set of tyres. My tyres of choice are Shwalbe Marathon Plus, 700 x 32. In the photo you can see the new front tyre with the two I have just taken off. These two gave me 12,000km with no punctures. They're not exactly bald, but I'm doing a long trip and want the insurance of new casings... Read on >>>>

Please bear with me for a few paragraphs…

What will happen when I die? My heart will stop beating. Oxygen will no longer be carried to the brain and autonomous nervous system, and my body will begin to decay. Am I more than a body-brain? No one actually knows. What we do know is that the stream of consciousness we all call 'Andrew,' is something with which we can no longer communicate, when he dies. Whether 'Andrew' will stop, or cease to be, we do not know.

We know there will be no 'Andrew' we can talk to, or measure. And if he is limited only to the biological processes of the body; if that stream of consciousness we call 'Andrew' is just a chemical by-product of the processes of the body, then the death of the body would seem to imply the end of 'Andrew.' But is that all 'Andrew' is; just chemistry? We don't know.

We know we can observe some of 'Andrew's' emotions light up predictable bits of his brain. But he does not experience "Area C" light up. He knows love, or anger. He feels he is more than just meat. Is he, in some way, independent of the meat? If he is, the decay of the meat might not mean the decay of 'Andrew,' when he dies.

The answers to questions about such things are not obvious. We simply do not know, and this side of death, cannot know, what happens when our body dies. It is extraordinarily difficult for me to say who 'Andrew' is when I am alive, let alone imagine what happens when I die.

What I am trying to say here is that definitive statements about what happens when we die have no basis in scientific fact, or in lived experience. We simply don't know, and cannot know. And if we preach simplistic Easter sermons, even though some who want to be easily comforted may be comforted, there are others who will conclude we have nothing to say... Read on >>>

Long rides are different. The effects of fatigue, sun, cold, and rain, are magnified. But endurance rides mean we don’t have the option to stop and camp until things improve. We need a survival plan if things go wrong. Just riding to the next town may mean another 100km, so on an all-night ride we need to carry something which will let us stop and stay warm.  That means more gear that we’d carry for a day ride. But food and gear means more weight, which chews up energy. Panniers add wind resistance. There are brilliant lightweight bivvy bags and frame bags for biking, but they are not cheap.

Each long ride has its own issues that need to be covered, depending on the distance and season, etc.

This is my game plan for an upcoming long ride from Adelaide to Melbourne. I hope to get away with only a short 90 minute sleep, mid ride.... Read on >>>

This odd piece of kit is a strip of weld mesh, suitably cut and rounded off with a grinder.

It's purpose is to lie across the top of a rack and extend its length to hold up the end of a sports bag.  I made it up for the purposes of endurance rides of a day or two where I need to carry some kit, but don't want the drag of panniers.... Read on >>>>







You can listen to this sermon draft here.

Have you seen those big military parades in Russia and North Korea, and other places, that sometimes show up on the TV news— all the people stand and watch the might of the military going past? These are not just propaganda parades to tell the West how tough that country is. They tell the country's own people that resistance is useless. They keep the population in line.

Biblical scholars believe that each year there was a parade like that in Jerusalem. The Roman Army would march in from the west, with a big contingent, to make sure there was no trouble at Passover. The Festival of Passover celebrated the escape of Israel from Egypt, and Rome knew there would always be people there who wanted to begin the escape of Israel from Rome. So Rome had lots of troops on hand to make sure nobody caused any trouble. Resistance was useless.

Just before the Passover Matthew's Gospel writes about, Jesus had his own parade into town, from the east, from the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Olives was the place the prophet Zechariah had said the Lord would stand and begin the last battle to free Jerusalem from its oppressors. (Zechariah 14) We've just had the story of that parade read to us. It sounds very much like Jesus is doing some kind of street theatre that is giving the finger to the Roman Parade that happened at the same time on the other side of the city…

 … especially when we hear that Jesus was riding on, not one, but on two donkeys, at once... Read on >>>>

Sunday was the Coast to Coast for this year, and since it was a weekend off, I decided to use it as a test run for a rack top bag, and as a training run for a longer ride later in the month.... Read on >>>>

There's a Bizarro Comic which has the Buddha and Jesus sitting in the clouds. "I should have made one of those nobody-can-depict-me rules," says Buddha. "They always make me fat."

"Tell me about it. I've been a blond white dude for, like, 2,000 years, Jesus replies.

We always see Jesus through the eyes of our culture.

This is inevitable; from where else can we begin to understand him? The question is how much we will let ourselves be challenged by the gospel stories, and how much we will seek to use them, and him, to reinforce what we want life to be for us.

Matthew tries to break into our imagination. He even has Jesus riding two animals at once!... Read on >>>>

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