Death and Hope

A reflection on Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

Death (read top to bottom)

I am dying for nothing

And I refuse to believe that

Grace will find a way

I realize this may be a shock, but

The Father has a plan

Is a lie

This is all we can ever be

In time people will realise

I am right

Fear

Is more important than

Love

I will tell you this:

In the beginning

I had a hope for all of you

But this will no longer be the truth

You are worth no more than dust

Ancient Scholars say

Death and destruction will follow

I conclude

This is the last hour of great beauty

In the future,

None will be saved

No longer can it be said that

You are God’s people

It will be evident that

You are alone

It is foolish to presume that

You have a Saviour.

Hope (read bottom to top)

Holy Week Photography Project 2019 *Post Updated*

For our journey through Holy Week and into Easter day next year, 2019, the Bradford South Methodist Circuit would like to invite local photographers to capture a series of images. We hope that these images will show the broad themes of death and Resurrection which permeate our thoughts throughout this season by photographing places and situations around the City of Bradford. The Following document sets out the suggested inspiration for each of the photographs throughout the series.

It is the intention of The Bradford South Methodist Circuit that these photographs will form an exhibition in a gallery upstairs at The Peacock Bar on North Parade through Holy Week and Easter. The cost of publishing the images for display will be met by the Circuit.

There will be an opening night exhibition on the evening on Palm Sunday, 14th April (the Sunday which proceeds Holy Week) this exhibition will be open for viewing during The Peacock bar’s opening hours during Holy Week and the final ‘Resurrection’ photos will be unveiled during our Easter ‘Beer and Hymns’ at 7:30pm on Easter Day.

All contributors will be asked to provide a short biography and self portrait which will be printed in a program given to those who visit the exhibition.

The following passages should serve as inspiration for each of the images.

Monday Photograph 1- Jesus in the Garden

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’

He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’

 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’

Tuesday Photograph 2 – Jesus is betrayed

 

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus replied, ‘Do what you came for, friend.’[d]

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. ‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’ In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Wednesday Photograph 3 – Jesus is denied by Peter

 

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said. But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant-girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’

He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.’

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’

Immediately a cock crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the cock crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Thursday Photograph 4 – Crowned with Thorns

 

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers round him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said. They spat on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

Friday Photograph 5 – Jesus Dies

From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eli, Eli,[c] lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’).[d]

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, ‘He’s calling Elijah.’ Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, ‘Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.’

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Easter day and beyond – Resurrection – 5 Photographs showing the life and rebirth of Bradford

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

 

Photographers wishing to take part in this project are invited to submit their photograph for the first of the series to starnoldsbradford@gmail.com as soon as possible.

All photographs you would like to be considered for the exhibition will need to be submitted before Sunday 3rd March in order to allow time for the exhibition to be curated and the images prepared for display.

Thank you

Good Friday

We need to talk about Easter eggs…

No, not chocolate eggs. It’s still a few days too early for that. I mean the Easter eggs you find in films, the little ‘in jokes’ that only fans or those really paying attention would catch. These little gifts from directors pop up quite regularly and often point to another place in the story. I love films that tell good stories and tell them well. Some of the best films are those where the director has already given you clues to the ending all the way through the film but those clues have been hidden well enough that they all come to together in a great moment of realisation. It’s the moment when you realise Bruce Willis hasn’t spoken to anyone else but the kid and was always wearing the same shirt or when you understand why Norman’s mother is as ‘harmless as one of those stuffed birds’.

The foreshadowing used in these instances enriches the stories and often makes us desperate to rewatch the films with our greater understanding, appreciating the fact that the truth was always there barely concealed before us.

Today is the Friday that we followers of Christ call ‘Good’. A day when we remember the death of Christ with all its sorrow and love. It’s a story which stirs up a full range emotion which has its beginning at the dawn of creation. Throughout human history God has constantly sought a relationship with his people. In the Old Testament this covenant relationship is renewed time and again through sacrifice and blood.

It’s the details that I want to highlight today.

When Moses makes a sacrifice and splashes blood on the alter to seal the covenant between God and the children of Israel we are told he uses a branch of the hyssop tree. At the last supper, Jesus links wine and blood as he calls on his disciples to remember him whenever they drink. Later in John’s gospel we are told Jesus is offered wine at the final moment of his sacrifice. Wine held up to him on a sponge, a sponge held on the end of a branch of hyssop.

In that moment we are transported through generations, we are shown the full picture of God’s enduring love and grace for his people.

The truth, always there, barely concealed before us.

‘This post was written while sitting in the cozy environment of The Record Cafe enjoying a 1/3 of ‘I played Bass on that’ from Verdant Brewery’

A Poppy

We exist in a constant cycle, renewed by God and his grace to each of us through the resurrection. Life continues because of the life he grants to us…

For my daughter

A Poppy

Mia picked a poppy
She liked its bright red bloom
She brought it in
And took it up, to brighten up her room

As days went past
The petals dropped, red upon the sill
but Mia smiled, she never stopped
It held a secret still

The flower dead
It’s beauty gone, a seed stands in its place
So life endures, it carries on
Like the smile on Mia’s face

When my petals long have dropped
And time is on its way
My smile will stay upon my face
In her, my life will stay

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Lazarus – Everything is Borrowed

  

John 11 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2011

The title track from The Streets fourth album ‘Everything is Borrowed’ contains the wonderful repeated line ‘I came to this world with nothing and I leave with nothing but love.

Everything else is just borrowed’. Throughout the track there is a sense of the temporary nature of life and a call to make the most of the time we have. Unfortunately it would seem that Skinner is still to realise that this life is not all we have. There is certainly truth to be found in his assertion on memories but his ‘tomorrow’ fails to recognise the eternal tomorrow we claim as followers of Christ.
  
This is my hour, I’m never going to bed. 

The sky is still black, but begs to be red. 

I just put my book down, but it begs to be read 

I’m not nod, I’m not napper, never rest my head. 

Some days I feel I’m getting smaller and smaller, 

But some nights, I seem to grow taller and taller. 

And we keep shrinkin’ and shrinkin’ but this will not finish. 

You’re never nothing, if you didn’t disappear. 

Just when I discovered the meaning of life, they change it. 

Just when I’m loving life, it seems to start raining. 

I pulled the sail safe switch, sea sail and I’m into the stars. 

I love the rain out my skies. The sky’s now red, my eyes reflect jets. 

Smiling at this blessing, this life is the best.
I came to this world with nothing 

And I leave with nothing but love 

Everything else is just borrowed 
I want to notice chances I’ve passed without notice 

I want to see details previously veiled. 

I want to grab that chance, carry it home 

So I can marry and know 

That I noticed every chance 

That I could have passed without notice 

I saw details that to all were veiled. 

And I grabbed those chances, carried them home 

And then I’ll have had it with roaming 
I came to this world with nothing 

And I leave with nothing but love 

Everything else is just borrowed 
I want to speak every cliche but tweak if i’ve seen change 

In new way it could be said. 
If it’s bleak, or if the week’s leaking down the street 

Or if any days wasted I want to face facts. 

My time on this earth is my only penny, 

Wise is the gent counting every moment spent. 

I don’t want to explain things, don’t wanna fill in the gaps, 

I want to look at my friends and in that minute be at : 
Memories are times we borrow 

For spending tomorrow. 

Memories are times we borrow 

For spending tomorrow. 
I came to this world with nothing 

And I leave with nothing but love 

Everything else is just borrowed 
If spit like luck, you can only seem, 

To borrow it, you can’t keep it. 

When the wind of change whistles into play 

Will I blink or flinch away? 

The wind of change won’t whistle me away 

If I spin my tails and sail. 

And sail away, let yesterday become today.
I came to this world with nothing 

And i leave with nothing but love 

Everything else is just borrowed 
As time will say, nothing but 

I told you so 
Memories are times we borrow 

For spending tomorrow.

1. The Wilderness – Never Went to Church


Matthew 4:1-11

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%204:1-11

Perhaps Mike Skinner’s most poignant and heart breaking song features on his third studio album with The Streets. ‘Never Went to Church’ is the stand out track on an album otherwise dedicated to Skinners rise to fame and fortune. In a clear clash of moods with the other album tracks it tells the story of the death of Mike’s dad from cancer and the way in which he responded from his initial anger and grief to his realisation that he continues in his fathers steps.

“Never Went To Church”

Two great European narcotics,

Alcohol and Christianity,

I know which one I prefer

We never went to church,

Just get on with work and sometimes things’ll hurt,

But it’s hit me since you left us,

And it’s so hard not to search.
If you were still about,

I’d ask you what I’m supposed to do now,

I just get a bit scared,

Every now,

Hope I made you proud.

On your birthday when mom passed the forks and spoons,

I put my head on the table I was so distraught with you,

You tidied your things into the bin,

The more poorly you grew,

So there’s nothing of yours to hold or to talk to.

Put your hand up and interrupt the conversation with a, but..

People say I interrupt people with the same look.

Sometimes I think so hard I can’t remember how your face looked,

Started reading about dreams in your favourite book.

Panic and pace when I can’t see the right thing to do.

You’d be scratching your head through the best advice you knew.

And I feel sad I can’t hear you reciting it through,

I miss you dad but I’ve got nothing to remind me of you

[Chorus]

I needed a break when your book about dreams was taken,

I needed to pray or see a priest that day,

I needed to leave this trade and just heave it away.

But I cleaned up my place like you so I could see things straight.

I never cared about God when life was sailin’ in the calm,

So I said I’d get my head down and I’d deal with the ache in my heart,

And for that if God exists I’d reckon he’d pay me regard,

Mom says me and you are the same from the start.

I guess than you did leave me something to remind me of you,

Everytime I interrupt someone like you used to,

When I do something like you you’ll be on my mind or through,

‘Cause I forgot you left me behind to remind me of you.

[Chorus x2]

But you you still tell me how you didn’t know what to do even now,

And then I’m not so scared somehow,

‘Cause I know that you’d be proud.

I got a good one for you dad,

I’m gonna see a priest, a Rabbi and a Protestant clergyman,

You always said I should hedge my bets.

One Wedding and No Funeral

The Royal wedding happened then. As if it was possible to miss it! Now I’m no royalist, as the sarcasm in that opening comment probably gave away, but I do think it was wonderful to see so many people celebrating together. On that occasion at least.

Of course every wedding should be a wonderful celebration. I certainly hope that the ones I’m involved in leading feel like they are. In each and everyone of them I would hope that we are able to celebrate the amazing gift of human love. To delight in seeing a couple who long for their worlds to become inter-twined in a new and exciting way and to do so knowing that the love they are proclaiming mirrors the love of God in all our lives. I believe that no matter what happens in the months and years that follow, God celebrates with us at a wedding.

I am even more sure that the same can not be said of the bigger event that happened the following day. I can never believe that God would delight and celebrate in the death of a human being. There is no space within my understanding of a God who loves us to allow that conclusion.

I am still struggling with my own feelings regarding the killing of Osama Bin Laden. It seems to have left so many questions that in all probability I will never know the answers to. Yet I know that when I saw others celebrating the death of another human being I felt sickened. That’s not to say that I didn’t understand that there was a strong possibility that Osama needed to be killed in order to save others. Or even that I could not understand the feelings of those who thought that for the atrocities he had committed he deserved death. Indeed my Favourite theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer struggled with those same themes when turning aside from his staunch pacifist stance to become part of 1944 bomb plot to assassinate Hitler reasoning that if he remained silent he would find that he, too, would feel implicated in Hitler’s atrocities.

Rather I felt sickened because I cannot believe that God would delight in anyone’s death. Will the world be a safer place now? I don’t know. Will those who have suffered in New York and London feel that justice has been served? Again I don’t know.

I do know however, that I will continue to celebrate love and mourn death wherever and however I encounter them. I think that’s what God would want of me