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

One@11

In the last few months I’ve been trying to build a new Church.

A church which tells old stories in new and imaginative ways.

A church which is open and welcoming to everyone, at any stage of their journey through life.

Open, encouraging and inclusive.

Meeting at The Peacock Bar, 25 North Parade, means we are not bound by any rules of ‘normal’ churches.

The following is a write up of our first ever meeting….

If you’re wondering what we actually did at the first of these events I’ll give you a quick walk through…

We watched some music videos with me suggesting some ways that they link to the story of the woman at the well. While we did that we used a plastic cup to think about water, drinks and being thirsty. At one point we discovered the cups we had couldn’t be fully filled because they all had something in them already. Each cup had a piece of a dissolvable sterilising tablet inside which we decided to get rid of so we could fill our cups with new things. We tipped the tablets into a large, clear vase of water and watched them disappear. After listening to the story from Johns gospel of ‘The Woman At The Well’ we started to think about what we’d like to fill our cups with. As we watched a music video for the song ‘There is hope’ we thought about people we might try and help (including ourselves) Everyone was then invited to receive communion, if they wanted to, pouring wine into their empty cups as a sign that wanted to receive a blessing.

Some people joined in every part of the service, others didn’t and no one was made to do anything that they didn’t want to.

The whole service was designed to try and help us all think a little deeper about life, love and faith but it was up to each person there to decide what the words, pictures and actions meant to them.

We’ve met again a couple of times since then, we’ve looked at other stories together.

After every service you’re very welcome to stay for a drink (and some bread and cheese) and ask any questions or tell me your story.

It would be wonderful to see you there, whoever you are.

We meet again tomorrow (29th March) at 11am

You can follow our events on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/events/285065488666253/?event_time_id=285065501999585?ti=icl

2. The Woman at the Well – Coins in a Fountain

John 4:5-42 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%204:5-42

When Jesus chooses to talk to the Samaritan women she reacts with shock. Jesus is breaking all social convention a Jew, a man on his own talking to a lone Samaritan women. In this one simple act Jesus destroys generations of division and prejudice.

As the story continues we learn more of the gift of Jesus Christ to this world. He sees through the words of the woman, demonstrating that he already knows who she is and her supposed misdemeanours and unworthiness and yet he still offers her ‘living water’.

Nothing this woman has done, nor anything about who is or where she comes from can separate her from the new life that Jesus offers to her. He wants her and all who know her to understand who he is and what God has to give.

Fear is always dark. Fear of others keeps us in our ignorance and separation. We always have far more in common with our fellow human beings, than we do things which separate us.

Choose not to dwell in the dark of fear. Step out into the light. Sing a song of love during this time of Lent. Sing until your throat is sore.

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Fear is dark but my love is a lantern
Shining up like coins in a fountain
Hope is a tree sitting on a mountain where the grass don’t grow
There’s a sad old sea but my love is an island
Wild and free like the hills in the highlands
Hope is a breeze that brings me back to dry land
Where the flowers grow
Love is a baby born
Love is the last unicorn
Love is the only song I’ll sing
Hate is a poison
Love is a remedy
Singing out like the sweetest of melodies
Hope is a ghost in the deepest of memories
Stronger than ten of me
Fear is the enemy
In the dark and it creeps like a shark
In the coldest sea
In the deepest part but
Hope is the beat in the oldest heart
A hand in a hand and a brand new start
Love is a fireside
Warm on the coldest of nights
Love is the only song I’ll sing, oh
Love is the truest of words and
Love is the last winter bird and
Love is the only song I’ll sing
Oh I’ll sing
‘Til I can’t sing no more
Oh I’ll sing
Til my throat is sore
Songwriters: Michael David Rosenberg
Coins In A Fountain lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

1. Nicodemus – Somebody’s Love

John 3:1-15 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%203:1-15

Deciding to follow someone or something isn’t a passive thing to do. When we decide to ‘follow’ we enter into a relationship. If that relationship is to be something meaningful and worthwhile it will take time, effort and a certain amount of sacrifice. If, like me, you were to choose to follow a football team who only ever seem to have to a limited amount of success the following can be quite painful at times!

In this song Passenger sets out before us some of the difficulties of being in a relationship and of being on our own. Of course, here the song is talking about a romantic relationship but there are certain echoes that resound with our spiritual relationship. Choosing to follow Christ demands a great deal from us and there is great potential for us to be burned in may ways as a part of that relationship. Christ himself says to Nicodemus we need to be ‘born again’, letting go of our old life and being reborn in the Spirit of God. I believe that being a Christian is not something that is meant to be safe, or easy but I also believe that dwelling within God’s love for us opens our hearts to live a full life in Christ. A life rich with light and colour.

As we journey through the period of Lent we are called to a closer examination of our walk with God. To ensure that we are giving to God the time, effort and sacrifice that his love for us deserves. We also know that however dark and painful our wilderness experiences may be we always have the hope of Easter to look forward to and we always have ‘Somebody’s love to fall into.’

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Oh when the winds they blow
You’re gonna need somebody to know you
You’re gonna need somebody’s love to fall into
Oh when the leaves they fall
You’re gonna need somebody to call you
You’re gonna need somebody’s arms to crawl into
To crawl into
Go and get yourself lost
Like you always do
Sail into the blue
With nobody next to you
Oh but when you wanna get yourself found
There may be no one around
You sink without a sound
You know it’s true
Oh when the winds they blow
You’re gonna need somebody to know you
You’re gonna need somebody’s love to fall into
Oh when the leaves they fall
You’re gonna need somebody to call you
You’re gonna need somebody’s arms to crawl into
What you’re saying is true
You ain’t no fool you ain’t no liar
You’re never gonna get yourself burnt
If you don’t start no fires
But with no fire there is no light
With no light you’ll never see
All the colors in the world
And all the love that’s inside me
When the winds they blow
You’re gonna need somebody to know you
You’re gonna need somebody’s love to fall into
Oh when the leaves they fall
You’re gonna need somebody to call you
You’re gonna need somebody’s arms to crawl into
Oh to crawl into
And oh when the winds they blow
You’re gonna need somebody to know
You’re gonna need somebody’s love to fall into
And oh when the leaves they fall
You’re gonna need somebody to call
You’re gonna need somebody’s arms to crawl into
To crawl into
Songwriters: Michael David Rosenberg
Somebody’s Love lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Passenger through Lent

A few Years ago I wrote a series of reflections on songs by The Streets to use at various services through the season of Lent, you can read them here and in the posts that follow that link.

This year I’ve been listening to a lot of music by Passenger. Michael David Rosenberg (read about him here) makes music that connects with me. So I thought that through this years season of Lent I would use some of his songs to help me to reflect on some Lenten themes. His music often touches on the deep things of life and love while maintaining a deeply ironic sense of humour that appeals to me.

I hope you enjoy reflecting on faith and being challenged by God with me this Lent

Waitrose Weekend

St Arnold’s was featured in the Waitrose Weekend magazine this week…

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You can pick up a copy in their stores or download their app

It does seem to have created some interest and quite a few questions!

If you’d like to know more please follow me on twitter @starnolds or email me at starnoldsbradford@gmail.com

Thanks!

Fairies 

Trinity Sunday is one of my favourite Sunday’s to preach on. I know others dread it but I love standing in mystery and trying not to explain something unexplainable. I always feel it deepens my faith…

Shhh I can catch fairies

They sneak out late at night
So I sneak up behind them
I don’t want them to take flight

Shhh I can catch fairies

I take a jar to scoop them up
And a lid to trap them inside
The lids important don’t use a cup!

Shhh I can catch fairies

At least that’s what I tell them all
I like it when they think I’m magic
Even though I’m really not at all

Shhh I can’t really catch fairies

It’s really just all a trick
I use those fluorescent bracelet things
Cut off the bottom of them in a jar and flick

Shhh I can’t really catch fairies

But please don’t tell my kids!