Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Light in the Darkness

My sermon yesterday: preached at the Rusthof Methodist Church.
Christmas 2012
Joh 1:1 – 14

  Text: Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Intro: I want to take us to Christmas day nearly 2 000 years ago. It is 100 years after Jesus was born, and a group of Christians have met to celebrate his birthday – but they did not feel like there was much to celebrate. In the first 100 years it felt like everything had gone wrong:
1.     They had experienced two insane Emperors:
          Caligula – who was assassinated by his Roman guard.
          Nero – who killed his own mother, and probably burned Rome to get rid of shacks that blocked his palace entrance.
2.    70 AD a huge Roman army conquered Jerusalem. Their commander was Titus, the son of the Emperor, who killed one million residents, and took another 97 000 captive as slaves.   
3.    79 AD: Mount Vesuvius explodes, completely destroying the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the deaths of at least 20 000 people.
4.    89 AD : Titus the Emperor dies, and his brother Domitian begins a reign of terror.
And so the World is in Chaos:
Ø  Corrupt Emperors who reign by terror
Ø  Jerusalem is gone – no place to worship
Ø  And the Christians are thought to be remnants of the rebellion in Jerusalem.
A very gloomy Christmas gathering of Christians: Their teacher gets them together and says to them: let me remind us about Jesus:Their teacher’s name is John.And John says that Jesus came for a time such as this: Jesus comes to bring light into darkness.

When John begins talking about Jesus his story opens with the words “In the beginning”. Let us note that this Gospel starts in the beginning: this is not with Mary and Joseph (as in Matthew and Luke) or with John the Baptizer (as in Mark);John takes us to a time before creation! This is a deliberate link with Creation accounts of Genesis:
Gen 1:1  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
Gen 1:2  the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep
This appeals to the fear that Jewish people had of water. When the world began it was wild and chaotic – and then God stepped in! The breath of God moved over the face of the waters and brought order from chaos.

This Gospel of John is written at a time when the world seemed to be in chaos. And it is in this context that John writes to the first Christian Church: “Remember how in the beginning God brought order from chaos? Well God has done it again”.
  Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Joh 1:2  He was in the beginning with God. Joh 1:3  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being Joh 1:4  in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. Joh 1:5  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

John is saying: Do not be afraid if you see chaos around you – God will bring order; Do not be afraid of the darkness – God will bring light; Do not be afraid if you see death around you – God will bring life. And how will he do it? He will do it in the same way as he did in the beginning:
He will speak a Word.
God said “Let there be light …. And there was light”
God said “Let there be dry land … and there was dry land”
God said “Let there be plants, and animals, and people … and they came into being”


God said “Let there be love … and there was Jesus”
When there is chaos – God speaks a word and brings his order.
Let us hear the invitation: to discover the links with our own lives.
We also can be overwhelmed by the darkness:
·         Internationally: Children killed at a preschool in USA /
·         We still have corruption: Emperors / businesses / officials.
·         We have death on our roads: Since 1 December an average of 34 people a day have died on our roads.

Perhaps personal darkness:
Ø  Sadness at the dinner table when you see an open place…. A beloved member of the family has died.
Ø  Illness has struck you down – and this Christmas feels dark
Ø  The year ended badly and you feel like 2013 is dark?
Ø   My personal darkness: my youngest daughter is not here for Christmas: Amy is working in Japan – and a bit of light is missing for Christmas.

 We have darkness around us the question arises: “Who will speak the Word of God?”
Who will speak light into darkness …?
And my question is:
Will you speak the light of Jesus to someone else?

A choice for today:
Either go to lunch and speak about the darkness – complain about everything that is wrong in your life ..Price of food / corruption / your mother-in-law
Or you can speak of the light. Tell stories of how Jesus has helped you through this past year;

I want to challenge you to go from here to:

1.     Celebrate:  This is claiming light even when it feels like darkness.

2.    Light a light for someone else today..

 So am offering you a reminder – a candle. (Stewards to hand out candles)
Light this before your meal and pray a prayer where you claim the light of Jesus for your family, and where you speak with your family of a way in which you can light the darkness of someone else..

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Catching Up

I have not written here for a while.

I have not had the energy to write anything extra - mostly because I have been frantically finishing revisions to my Phd thesis. My thesis examines the life and thought of Rev. William Shaw, a Methodist Minister who accompanied a party of settlers from England to South Africa in 1820. Once his party (the Sephton Party) was settled in their new home, he moved on to become a missionary to the amaXhosa. My interest is not so much on what he did – rather than on what he thought.  I set out the theology that formed him in England, and speculated at how this shaped his actions when he arrived in South Africa.

No sooner than this was finished than I had to set end of year examinations. I have taught a course on the History of the Christian Church in South Africa, and a course on Preaching. I then helped my classes finish off their academic year, and prepared them for exams. The good news is that I have just finished marking! This is really the worst part of teaching – 30 answers to the same question ...many times over ...wearies the brain! My best answer? "The Muslims bought slaves on the flee (sic) market".

And the other good news is that I submitted my thesis – and it has been accepted. My graduation is on 15 December at the University of Cape Town. So December promised to be a good month: first there is the wedding of my nephew Ryan; then graduation, then Christmas with the family.

And for those who are wondering: yes I am still running. Below is a table of my running this year. I have run 269 days of 2012. My goal is to run 300 days of this year – so I have 31 days left.  If you have not heard, I am running for a charity that cares for street children. I hope for one Rand for every day that I run – you can donate as follows: You can donate safely online through the BackaBuddy site:

269 Activities
1,987.78 km
254:26:40 h:m:s
Elevation Gain:
25,349 m
Avg Speed:
7.5 km/h
Avg HR:
Avg Run Cadence:
Avg Bike Cadence:
167,366 C










Saturday, September 29, 2012

Good News in Paul Roux

Paul Roux is a small Free State town that was established in 1909 by Dutch Reformed dominee Paul Roux on the farm Palmietfontein. According to local legend there was dispute as to the name of the new town, with the decision being reached by the roll of a boulder from the koppie above the town. The boulder landed face up displaying the name of the town as we encountered it today.

We have often driven past this Free State dorp without much thought. But today curiosity got the better of us and we decided to turn off the N5 and explore it.

Having driven down the main road (in this case 'up the road'), around the Dutch Reformed Church, and past the undertakers, we found the Pink Tricycle coffee shop. Take it from me - this is a good spot to stop! Its delightful owner hails from George, and bragged that she is "the only Coloured in this town". To add to this, she is also married to a local Afrikaans Boer. And if this was not enough of a challenge, he is 38years her senior! She speaks of her contentment with her life. She owns the coffee shop and the adjacent B&B. He owns a shopping centre in Bethlehem. She reassured us that their respective families have survived the shock, that the ooms and tannies of this town love her, and that there is no obstacle in her life that good humour and perseverance cannot solve.

In the midst of so many 'bad news' stories, this one gives me hope. And we will return to visit this place of inspiration.
Sent via my BlackBerry

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Presiding Bishops Conference 2012 Address | The Methodist Church of Southern Africa

The Methodist Church of Southern Africa encompasses six countries in southern Africa. The Annual Conference (senior leadership) of the church is meeting in Swaziland. Here is the opening address of the Presiding Bishop of the church:

Presiding Bishops Conference 2012 Address | The Methodist Church of Southern Africa

Monday, September 17, 2012

Graduates jet off to Japan

My daughter is now in Japan - here is a link to an interview with her just before she left:

Graduates jet off to Japan: Amy Grassow, 21, is off to a new life in Japan after being selected as one of 31 postgraduate students to teach English.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Dr Khoza Mgojo

I am at the funeral of a great man. Thousands of people have arrived, packing the Ugu Sports and Leisure Centre in with the colourful black, red and white of the South African Methodist Church.
On arriving at this stadium just outside Port Shepstone we - Peter Storey and myself - joined the queue of cars waiting to enter the grounds. The hearse accompanied by police vehicles swept past us and entered the grounds, where they were engulfed by a police honour guard. After finally getting a parking, we joined the crowd that jostled to get through the security barriers. Clearly there were some serious VIPs here. Glancing through the programme I saw the names of Bishop Siwa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Dr Dandala, and a string of national Methodist leaders (past and present).  His community awards and honours are numerous. But for me, I remember him in my formative years:Khoza Mgojo was my seminary teacher. When I first arrived at the seminary I tried to avoid him.... because he was insisting that I study both Greek and Hebrew. He had gained his PhD from Harvard University in Biblical languages, and could not understand why anyone would try to avoid these languages. When he finally cornered me he threw this question at me :"So you don't want to speak the language of Jesus!". It is thanks to him I now have two years of Greek and a year of Hebrew under my belt. I do not regret this.  So here I am peacefully typing my own tribute on my BlackBerry while tributes are given by family and friends - when we are interrupted by two military helicopters landing on the sports field next to us. Clearly another VIP has arrived ... a "Very VIP" because Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, has just arrived. I watch the procession as it winds its way to the podium, and wonder at the appropriateness of the military weapons displayed by those accompanying him. This has just ceased to be a funeral of a Methodist Minister. I fear that it now becomes an opportunity to gain votes for the forthcoming elections for the leader of the ruling political party. Eish! I think I will leave soon.

Sent via my BlackBerry

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cape Town-rugby

Emily joined us for the opening match of the season: Western Province vs Natal Sharks. We are helping her understand the finer points of shouting "kill him" and "Proooovince".
Sent via my BlackBerry

Friday, August 10, 2012

Visiting UCT

Today I dropped off my PhD thesis at UCT. This is a revision on my original submission at the end of last year. I had three external examiners - two passed me and one asked for further revision. However, my life at the beginning of this year was complicated by the death of Ross Olivier, the president of the seminary I teach at. Because of the consequent added responsibilities, I was not able to do the revisions. I finally got to them in June and July, and am pictured here handing the revised thesis in to Birgit, the amazingly efficient administrator at the Department of Religious Studies. Now the wait to hear from that (anonymous) examiner.
Sent via my BlackBerry

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Coyote Café

It is called the Coyote Café.
A shop, restaurant, fuel stop and general place to take a break for travellers on the road between Bergville and Harrismith in the northern Drakensberg. It offers a great view, and good food. The number of travellers stopping here has dropped drastically because of what one travel writer describes as a "moribund road". This picturesque pass has been allowed to decay to a point where it is now dangerous to drive.

There was an attempt in 2011 to try to repair the road. The road was dug up, stop/go signs erected, and flags issued to workers to direct traffic along a one-way stretch of road under repair. Then the workers lost momentum - and left. For awhile the flag wavers did their duty and waved cars around the unrepaired road. But they too gave up and went home. So now the road stands unrepaired,but available to any who wish to brave it.....leaving the Coyote Café as the last outpost before the wilderness.
Sent via my BlackBerry

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Walking in Tugela Gorge.

Spotted this little fellow on our walk today.

We are staying in the Drakensberg at Mont Aux Sources with our good friends Eric and Angela, and when we woke this morning we knew that it was a perfect day for a walk. So Tugela Gorge was the walk we all agreed on.

We parked just below Tendele campsite, signed the book, and set off up Royal Natal's Tugela Gorge. It was a beautiful day - a crisp (Jenny would say cold) breeze, and a fantastic gorge to explore. We stopped often so that Jenny & Eric could take photographs. They had lots of fun experimenting with lenses and light settings. We concluded our walk with a picnic at the dam - watched by a troop of baboons, who kept their distance.

I am grateful for a lovely day in the mountains.
Sent via my BlackBerry

Monday, June 25, 2012

Power and Service

 Mar 10:42-45  So Jesus called them and said to them, "You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.  But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Mark Chapters 8-10 are not as easy: they reveal an uncomfortable image of Jesus. Mark tells us about Jesus the Servant … Mark tells us that the Disciples struggled with this because they wanted Jesus to be a conquering Emperor – and not a servant. They wanted him to be this powerful figure because this would make them important too. In fact they reached a point where they began to argue about who was the most important disciple: until Jesus sat them down and straightened them all out:
Mar 9:35  He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."

And just when he thought that they understood it James and John take him aside:
Mar 10:37  And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."
To paraphrase this: “Jesus – when you come as a glorious Emperor – can we sit right next to you and be your very important special advisors.”
I suspect that this is the moment that Jesus probably swore. I certainly would have!
What is it in human beings that make it so hard for us to give our lives in service? Why do we want to look important, and have fancy offices, and drive in large cars (surrounded by cars with blue flashing lights) and be called important names…….
But we are so reluctant to serve?
·         Why does the Minister of Education have all the trappings of power – but there are no books in the classrooms
·         Why do we have Police Chiefs who wear the uniform of power – but are corrupt
·         Why do people take important office in our municipality – but the garbage is not collected, and the power is faulty and there are potholes in the streets 
Because like James and John we want to sit at the right and left hand side of power  - but  are reluctant to serve.
Ø  I have seen people who throw tantrums when things do not work out for them.
Ø  I have seen people walk out of meetings when the meeting does not agree with them
Ø  I have seen people leave a church when they do not get their own way.
Because like James and John we want to sit at the right and left hand side of power  - but  are reluctant to serve
Ø  I have seen men shove women aside in order to be more important
Ø  I have seen rich people send poor people to the back of the queue
Ø  I have seen white people make black people feel second class
Ø  I have seen gay people shoved aside by those who want to walk all over them
Ø  I have seen grown-ups shove children aside in their need for status
Because like James and John we want to sit at the right and left hand side of power  - but  are reluctant to serve
And so I take us back to the word of Jesus:
Mar 10:14 &15 Jesus … said to them, "Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it."

Let us invite the Spirit of Jesus into our lives
Let us learn to serve rather than demanding service
Let us learn to give rather than demanding our share

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Indians in Natal

Emanuel Gabriel presented a paper on the establishment of the Christian church amongst Indian people in Natal.

1868-1920 saw Indian people trapped in indentured labour. They were simply 'tools of labour'. Many of these people were Christians, who assumed that the cordial relationship they had with the English Christian Churches in India would be replicated in Natal.

Expecting to be welcomed into the local churches they found this not to be the case. They were set apart: in the Anglican Cathedral they sat in their own row; the Methodists arranged for Rev Scott, who was Tamil speaking, and organised separate Indian church services; and the Baptists, who arranged for family units to come from India, and as a consequence created closed Indian Christian communities
The Indian Christian people were thus separated from other Christians from their first arrival.
Sent via my BlackBerry

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Educating for Mission

This morning I sat in a session led by Steven Hayes, a Greek Orthodox deacon, who is participating in the Joint Conference of Academic Societies in the Field of Religion and Theology. He raised the difficult question of ministry to migrant workers. These are people who are desperate for Christian community, and for Christian teaching - but there are very few trained leaders/priests/ministers available where the poorest of the poor work. He urged us to find ways of training people for mission that does not first require an expensive academic education to accredit that person for ministry.

"Book-learning" is not necessarily the best model for illiterate or badly educated communities. Asking a person to get a Seminary/Bible College/University education before exercising ministry creates a ministry only for those from backgrounds with money and education.

This opens up space to think about different kinds of ministry, with differently trained people. I hope to continue this discussion.

Sent via my BlackBerry

Monday, May 14, 2012

Jesus came for the unwell

Jesus wants to hang out with imperfect people. The first two chapters of Mark’s Gospel make this clear. Chapter One introduces Jesus:
  • Vs 1: “Jesus Christ – the Son of God”
  • Vs 12: “the Beloved Son”
  • Vs 24: “the Holy One of God”
Here is God’s man – one who is special to God – one who is recognized as being holy. We would logically expect that a holy man should spend his time in the synagogues of the villages and the Temple in Jerusalem… basically hanging out with the religious people. But Mark springs the surprise: Jesus does not go to the religious people:
Mar 1:40  “A leper came to him begging him…” This is a man who was thought to be under God’s curse, but Jesus embraces him with love.
Mark 2 vs 1 tells of a paralyzed man lying on his bed being brought to Jesus … another cursed man who is loved by Jesus.
Mark 2: 14 introduces Levi the Tax collector into Jesus’s circle of friends. This was someone who by collecting the Roman taxes from his own people was considered a traitor to the nation. Here is one cast out of the community of faith, but befriended by Jesus!
Finally Mark 2 vs 23 tells how the four men who were with Jesus (Peter, Andrew, James and John) refused to fast and broke the Sabbath Laws. Jesus friends were irreligious unbelievers and men without the rituals of faith.  
To sum up, it would seem that Jesus spent his time with:
Ø  People who seemed cursed by God
Ø        People who were cast out of their community
Ø  People who had no faith
Which makes me feel a whole lot better!
Mark’s Gospel offers me hope, because I have moments when I am not perfect:
Ø I have moments when I am like the man on the mat – I feel sick and tired, and other people need to get me to Jesus because I am paralyzed by the pressures of life.
Ø I have moments when I am like Levi – I am distracted by the play-things of life, and I betray the values of Jesus.
Ø I have moments when I do not get all my religious rituals right:
It is good news to know that Jesus will still hang out with me!
At the same time I am challenged to offer the same courtesy to other people. There is often the temptation to write off people because they do not fit into my religious expectations:
My most recent experience of this is to be found with my friend Ross Olivier, who committed suicide 10 days ago. A number of people have suggested that he must have lost his faith / or that he had betrayed his faith / and that he would be cursed by God.
And as I read the actions of Jesus in Mark I am able to answer: “Well it seems like this is the kind of person that Jesus hung out with”. You see, Jesus intentionally chose to be with those who are paralyzed by life, or who seem to have betrayed their faith, or seem to feel cursed by God and society. I am convinced that God was with Ross in those black moments when he could no longer cope with life: and that God’s embrace held him in his desperate flight from life. And that God welcomed him the other side of death.

Allow me to ask whether there are outcasts of society that we might know? And allow me to challenge us to offer them the same unconditional love and acceptance that Jesus did … this is called Grace.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

100 days - 100 runs

"Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow."
These words from Henry David Thoreau, American author, poet, and  philosopher, sum up the past 100 days.  Every morning at 5 am I join Mark, my running partner, on our morning run. We have set ourselves the goal of running six out of seven days of the week for a year (2012).

In the wisdom Thoreau, Mark and I get on the road – and we talk. Our conversations range from the deeply serious to the hilariously irreverent.  There have been moments when we have addressed the problems of the word - we have solutions for corruption, for Microsoft, for Toyota and for coping with ageing.  There have also been moments when we have laughed our way through conversations on bee-stings, sprinting the last 100 meters of the Comrades, and King Henry Vlll’s attempts to find a wife.     
Thoreau was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change and natural decay. Well we have faced it all. While the past 100 days have been the summer days of the year – so most mornings have been a cool prelude to hot days – of late we have become aware of the mornings gradually growing darker and the air getting crisper. We have moved from a simple T-shirt to a more recent introduction of gloves and a “chill-cheater”. I expect that shortly we will replace our caps with “beanies” to keep our heads warm. The one great exception in this gradual cooling off was the Two Oceans Marathon, where we ran through six hours of pouring rain.  

Natural decay is the other great challenge: the human body is our greatest challenge! Both Mark and I have had to deal with injuries, fevers and the constant inclination to “just plain laziness”.  We both readily admit that if it was not for the other person we would not get up in the morning. We also have had to run through various aches and pains, nursing sore muscles and joints until they improve. We are committed to running at least 300 days of this year – so we are not afraid to have moments on the run when self-preservation for the long haul demands a spot of walking. Our one golden rule is, however, “we run downhills”. 

To sum up the past 100 days: In the words of running writer John Bingham “we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate."

If you want to follow us then go to

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fools for Christ

Palm Sunday Sermon: 1 April 2012
Wesley Methodist Church

Text: 1Co 4:10  We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ.

Jesus was a fool. In fact the story of Palm Sunday tells of a moment when it looks like He completely missed the moment… Let me explain: The first 11 Chapters of Mark tells us that Jesus spent his time in the rural areas.
The children of Israel were mostly rural peasants living in the Roman Province of Judea : they were under Roman authority. There were two capital cities: Jerusalem and Caesarea.
Caesarea was a Roman city: a playground for the wealthy, and the garrison for the Roman soldiers – keeping the Jewish people subservient.
Jerusalem was the administrative capital: made the laws and controlled the population through the temple leaders.
The rest were small scattered villages – and Jesus grew up in the hill country of Nazareth, on the fringe of society, and at the age of 30 began his career as a wandering rabbi / teacher. Matthew Mark and Luke tell us that he lived in the rural areas for most of his ministry: travelled around the Sea of Galilee, and then moved further north to Tyre and Sidon, and then went to Decapolis – all outside of the Holy City of Jerusalem

Then comes a moment when we see Jesus choose to leave the edges and travel to the Capital City:
Luk 9:51  When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Mark 10:32  They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem,
This is a deliberate decision to confront the centre of power:

The Disciples knew that he had changed direction, and the Crowds knew that something had changed. Jesus began to move south to Jerusalem…. Through Samaria, to Jericho where he healed two blind men and confronted Zacchaeus: We can sense a kind of gathering momentum: with meticulous planning –

Jesus planned to arrive at Jerusalem in time for the Passover. This is the moment when people are reminded of the way they resisted Pharaoh in Egypt. They come to Jerusalem to celebrate a time when they were set free – and to dream of a time when this might become possible again. Estimates are that a million pilgrims travelled to the city for Passover. This is perfect timing for the people to throw out the foreign rulers and take control of their own destiny. And it seems that Jesus had prepared for this moment: this was not just some random / spur of the moment activity. Jesus had clearly arranged for a donkey to be ready and waiting…. We cannot seriously think that he stole the donkey… or that someone would just let strangers walk off with their donkey.

So why did Jesus use a donkey?

Because it had deep revolutionary symbolism:

·        1 Kgs 1:33-44 tells of King Solomon riding to his coronation on his father’s donkey: riding David’s donkey was a clear sign of claiming authority as a son of the King. And here is Jesus riding a donkey – in the tradition of King David!

·        2 Kgs 9:11-10:28 tells of King Jehu who rode a donkey rode into Samaria over the garments of his followers in order to destroy the temple of the false god Baal. Here is Jesus deliberately choosing to use this image as he rides into Jerusalem to confront the leaders of the temple.

·        Finally the prophet Zechariah wrote: "Behold, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious. He is humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal of an ass." (Zech 9:9)  Here is Jesus deliberately identifying with the prophesy of Zechariah.

 People knew that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem. He was not just another random traveler… there was preparation … news was out that something special was to happen…all the scriptural signs were in place. And so they poured out into the streets to welcome the man who would make everything right.
Mar 11:9  Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Mar 11:10  Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
And just when Jesus has everything right – he loses the plot: did you spot it?
Mar 11:11  Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve

This is a complete anticlimax…… This is a classic case of “How to fail as a revolutionary” In fact at first glance it would seem that everything went downhill from here on:
-      Jesus goes to the temple the next day – and instead of taking control of the temple council … he begins preaching
-      Instead of action he tells stories
It seems like his revolution is losing steam – so much so that in Mark 13 the disciples begin to panic:
Mar 13:3  When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,
Mar 13:4  "Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?"
And then disillusionment sets in with everyone else – and by Friday the crowds who had cheered for Jesus now reject him.
Even his own disciples have lost faith in him: Judas betrays him, Peter denies ever knowing him, and the other 10 simply run away.
And then he is crucified and people mock him:
Mar 15:31  In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, "He saved others; he cannot save himself

Jesus was a fool…. And it is appropriate that we use this language today: because today is April Fool’s Day!
In fact this is not my language – it is the language of St Paul.
In 1Co 1:18  Paul says that the message about the cross appears to be foolishness.

But Jesus persevered – even when it made him look foolish.
He persevered - even when everyone around him told him it was stupid
He persevered - even when people called him an April fool.
You see: Jesus had a bigger dream:
·        He resisted the political gain of a regional ruler – and instead dreamed of a world-changing faith.
·        He gave up the temporary satisfaction of a change of rulers so that the whole world could experience the life-transforming rule of God.
Jesus was ready to look foolish – in order to obey the will of God.

And here is the essential challenge of our foolish faith:
How often don’t I think I know better?

·        I see Jesus on the messianic donkey and think I know how he ought to solve my problems. And instead he chooses to do something else altogether.

·        I invite Jesus into my life – and I tell him how to save me: “Hosanna Jesus” I cry: only to find Jesus taking me off in an entirely new direction.
And how often is this not the moment when I get angry
How often is this not the moment when I shake my fist at heaven and tell God he has got it wrong
How often is this not the moment that I tell God he is foolish for not doing it my way

Here is the truth for today: there are moments when we human beings think we know everything – but God knows better:

St Paul says it like this:
1Co 1:25  For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.

My question for today:
-      are we willing to risk living our life God’s way
-      are we willing to live God’s way, even when the people around us think it is stupid
-      are we willing to become God’s April fools?
Allow me to challenge us to trust God’s way of living – risk becoming become April fools for God – and May fools and June fools!.

1Co 4:10  We are fools for the sake of Christ, but you are wise in Christ.