Good Friday, Dragonfruit Smoothie Bowl

After a week of heavy day-time negotiations (at work) and even-tide talking loudly in very noisy coffeeshops (about the Bible), my voice has called it quits and I’m laid up at home on Good Friday with the ‘flu.

In an attempt to get some vitamins into the body, I’ve very sniffily made a poor man’s/budget/frugal acai bowl (but still about S$2 (£1)): marked-down dragonfruit from the wet market blended with discount yoghurt, topped with half a banana, cheap about-to-go-off strawberries and wrinkly blueberries, chia seeds from Mustafa, and homemade gula melaka granola.

Good Friday frugal budget dragonfruit yoghurt smoothie bowl with bananas, bruised strawberries, wrinkled blueberries, homemade gula melaka granola (with cranberries and pecans), chia seeds

Good Friday frugal budget dragonfruit yoghurt smoothie bowl with bananas, bruised strawberries, wrinkled blueberries, homemade gula melaka granola (with cranberries and pecans), chia seedsBeing ill on Good Friday is a good time to consider the frailty of humankind, and our ephemeral impotent existence on this earth.

A Buddhist colleague was asking about Good Friday rituals over lunch yesterday. Her sister, a Catholic, was going on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of the major Catholic churches in Singapore. Would I be doing the same?

I’d tried to explain that the locus of the Christian faith isn’t on the church buildings or church practices (or even on a holy man, the priest) but on the person of Jesus Christ and what he achieved on the cross. No merit is gained, as the Thai Buddhists believe, in visiting “holy” places or doing “good” or saying prayers.

As usual, the wisdom of hindsight kicked in today and I thought how much more could have been said. First, Christians do not belong to a BDSM cult that wallows in the blood and gore of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

But how can one then summarise the vast and multi-dimensional and cosmic work that was achieved by Jesus’ death on the cross?

Good Friday frugal budget dragonfruit yoghurt smoothie bowl with bananas, bruised strawberries, wrinkled blueberries, homemade gula melaka granola (with cranberries and pecans), chia seedsReading the chapter on Christ’s Humiliation in Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics in bed today was not much help in corralling Bible truths:

  • Christ’s death was not an accident of history, nor a ultimately the tragic consequence of the human cunning of his enemies. Jesus was not a human genius who made a great impact in world history. Rather, he was himself a special revelation and on a unique mission from God himself. He was handed over to those who killed him “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23). Jesus came to die.
  • Sacrifice was instituted by God in the Old Testament as atonement – covering for sin by means of shed blood. But the bloods of goats and bulls were incomplete and needed to be endlessly repeated. This anticipated the coming of the Suffering Servant who would make himself an offering for the sins of the people. Jesus fulfils the Old Testament law regarding sacrifices – he is the true covenant sacrifice and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
  • His death was payment, satisfaction of judgement, justification.
  • His death was propitiation of God’s wrath.
  • His death was for the expiation of sins.
  • Christ  is also the priest that makes that sacrifice. He is the perfect mediator between God and man because he is himself true God and true man.
  • Christ’s death was ransom paid.
  • Christ’s death was redemption obtained for us, complete redemption of the whole person, body and soul. The whole renewal of all things is the fruit of his obedience though we now experience it only in part, particularly as deliverance from sin’s guilt and power.
  • By Christ’s death, God showed his love and his justice
  • Christ’s death was also for the healing, reconciliation in our relationship with God.
  • By Christ’s death, we obtained righteousness and eternal life. Christ obtained for us the righteousness and life Adam had to secure by his own obedience. Christ’s obedience returns us not to the beginning but to the end of the road Adam had to walk.
  • By his death, we obtained sonship, confident access to God, gift of the Spirit, second birth and power to become children of God, sanctification, dying to sin, being crucified to the world, walking in the Spirit and in the newness of life, freedom from the curse of the law, deliverance from death and fear of death, victory over the world, resurrection on the last day, ascension and glorification, heavenly inheritance, new heaven and new earth, restoration of all things etc.
  • By Christ’s death, he achieved his own exaltation. (Bavinck: “What Christ acquired by this sacrifice is beyond description.”)

The mind, whether groggy or not, is blown by the magnitude of what happened that Good Friday.

Even the rather rich lyrics of Samuel Crossman’s My Song is Love Unknown seemed insipid in this light (but still rather lovely when sung by King’s College Cambridge to John Ireland’s “Love Unknown” tune):

My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then Crucify! is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

Palm Sunday Songs for Sunday School

We’re working through later chapters of the Gospel of Luke in the lead up to Easter at Sunday School.

Here are the songs we’re doing for Palm Sunday – the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, with the crowds acknowledging him (for now) as king.

Welcome the King

Welcome the King, welcome the King
Welcome the King who comes
In the name of the Lord

Clear the road before him
Open the ancient doors
Let every heart receive him
Welcome the King
Who comes in the name of the Lord

Who is this King, who is this King
Who is this King who comes
In the name of the Lord

He is the King of glory
Crucified and risen
He is the Lord Almighty
Welcome the King
Who comes in the name of the Lord

Graham Kendrick
Copyright © 1996 Make Way Music

We sing Hosanna!
1. Zechariah said:
“Here comes your king,
Riding on a donkey,
Humble as anything.”We sing “Hosanna!”
Jesus is our King!
He’s riding on a donkey,
But He’s the Lord of everything,
The Son of David,
King of Kings!
2. All the city said:
“Who is this man?
Riding on a donkey,
What can be his plan?”

3. Chief priests said:
“What’s going on?
Riding on a donkey,
People singing songs?”

Carols for the Ungodly

Advent in Asia.

Time for imported Norwegian and American pine trees to fill tropical spaces with heavy heady fragrance.

Time to imported mince pies from Australia and Great Britain, to be nibbled in the bright sunlight.
Big Sister (Australia) and Walkers (British) mince pies, Mandura English Breakfast

Time for those beautiful John Rutter carols to remind you that God gives sunlight and gifts to the godly and the ungodly.

A choral treat that slips down the throat like brandy butter eggnog, but could Stuart Townend please write us a good meaty theologically-correct Christmas dinner? The occasion of Jesus’ birth has so much more significance than the humble birth of a great teacher in a manger, or the lovely tenderness of a mother caring for her child.

It was a cosmic birth of the Creator of the entire universe becoming one of his own creatures; it was the coming that the entire world had been waiting for generations upon generations; it was a

For now though, Rutter’s carols for candlelight, angels, shepherd’s pipes, donkeys, stars, nativity…

Candlelight Carol

How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How do you measure the love of a mother
Or how can you write down a baby’s first cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep


Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day


Angels’ Carol

Have you heard the sound of the angel voices ringing out so sweetly, ringing out so clear?
Have you seen the star shining out so brightly as a sign from God that Christ the Lord is here?
Have you heard the news that they bring from heaven to the humble shepherds who have waited long?

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Hear the angels sing their joyful song.

He is come in peace in the winter’s stillness, like a gentle snowfall in the gentle night.
He is come in joy, like the sun at morning, filling all the world with radiance and with light.
He is come in love as the child of Mary. In a simple stable we have seen his birth.

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Hear the angels singing ‘Peace on earth’.

He will bring new light to a world in darkness, like a bright star shining in the skies above.
He will bring new hope to the waiting nations, when he comes to reign in purity and love.
Let the earth rejoice at the Saviour’s coming. Let the heavens answer with a joyful morn:

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Hear the angels singing, ‘Christ is born’.

Shepherd’s Pipe Carol

Going through the hills on a night all starry
On the way to Bethlehem
Far away I heard a shepherd piping
On the way to Bethlehem

Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
Dance and sing for joy that Christ the Newborn King is come to bring us peace on Earth and he’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem

Tell me shepherd boy piping tunes so merrily
On the way to Bethlehem
Who will hear your tunes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem

None may hear my pipes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem;
But a King will hear me play sweet lullabies
When I get to Bethlehem

Angels in the sky came down from on high
Hovered over the manger where the babe was laying
Cradled in the arms of his mother Mary
Sleeping now at Bethlehem

Where is this new King shepherd boy piping merrily
Is he there at Bethlehem
I will find him soon by the star shining brightly
In the sky over Bethlehem

May I come with you shepherd boy piping merrily
Come with you to Bethlehem
Pay my homage too at the new King’s cradle
Is it far to Bethlehem

Donkey Carol

Donkey riding over the bumpy road
Carry Mary holding her heavy load
Follow Joseph, leading you on your way
Until you find a stable, somewhere to rest and stay
Donkey riding over the bumpy road
Carry Mary
holding her heavy
holding her heavy
holding her heavy load

Donkey watching over The Jesus Child,
See The Baby, all with his mother mild!
Hear the Angels singing their song on high!
‘Noel! Noel! Noel! their caroling fills the sky!
Donkey watching over The Jesus Child,
See The Baby,
all with His mother
all with His mother
all with His mother mild

Donkey resting all in a manger stall,
With the oxen worship the Lord of all
Hush, He lies asleep on His bed of hay
While Mary sings so sweetly
‘Lulla, Lulla-lalay.’
Donkey resting all in a manger stall,
With the oxen
Worship The Lord
Worship The Lord
Worship The Lord of all

Donkey skip for joy as you go your way!
Alleluia, Jesus Is Born today!
Hark, The Bells Ring out with their message clear!
Rejoice and sing that
Christ our Savior Divine is here!
Donkey skip for joy as you go your way,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ is Born today!

Jesus Child

Have you heard the story that they’re telling ’bout Bethlehem,
Have you heard the story of the Jesus child?
How he came from heaven and was born in a manger bed?
Mary was his virgin mother pure and mild,

Sing alleluia, brothers, sing alleluia sisters worship the Jesus child and praise his mother mild,
Glory to God on high’ the angel hosts above are singing:
Listen to the story of the Jesus child.

Have you heard the story of the poor humble shepherd men,
Sitting on the hillside with their flocks at night?
Suddenly the angel tells them: hurry to Bethlehem,
Go and find the Jesus child, the world’s new light,


Jesus child, lying at Bethlehem, sleeping safe at Mary’s knee,
Save my soul and bring me to paradise,
Let me join the angels singing glory to thee


Have you heard the story of the kings from the orient,
Following the star that’s shining over his head?
Offering their precious gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense,
Kneeling with the ox and ass before his bed?


Brothers, let us celebrate the birth of the Jesus child,
Sisters, come and welcome him, the newborn King;
Praise the Lord who sent him down from heaven at Christmas time,
Young and old and rich and poor, his praises sing.


Christmas Lullaby

Clear in the darkness a light shines in bethlehem
angels are singing their sound fills the air
Wise men have journeyed to greet their Messiah
But only a mother and baby lie there

Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Hear the soft lullaby
the angel host sing
Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Maiden and Mother
of Jesus our King

Where are his courtiers and who are his people,
why does he bear neither sceptre nor crown
Shepherds his courtiers the poor for his people
With peace as his sceptre and love for his crown


What though your treasures are not gold or incense
lay them before him with hearts full of love
Praise to the Christ child and praise to his mother
who bore us a saviour by grace from above

Lo, how a Rose e’er Blooming

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind;
To show God’s love aright,
She bore to men a Saviour,
When half spent was the night.

O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendour
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.

What Sweeter Music

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

When children would reach for their stockings
And open the presents they found
The lights on the tree would shine bright in their eyes
Reflecting the love all around

He leaned with his head on the window
Watching evergreen bend in the snow
Remembering Christmas the way it had been
So many seasons ago

This year there’s no one to open the gifts
No reason for trimming the tree
And just as a tear made it’s way to the floor
He heard voices outside start to sing

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Carolers sang as he opened the door
Faces of friends in the crowd
And all of the shadows of lonely reminders
Driven away by the sound

Now the heart that for years had been silent
Was suddenly filled with the new King
As he clung to their hands like a child in the night
He found himself this revelling

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Nativity Carol

Born in a stable so bare,
Born so long ago;
Born neath light of star
He who loved us so.

Far away, silent He lay,
Born today, your homage pay,
Christ is born for aye,
Born on Christmas Day.

Cradled by mother so fair,
Tender her lullaby;
Over her son so dear
Angel hosts fill the sky.


Wise men from distant far land,
Shepherds from starry hills
Worship this babe so rare,
Hearts with His warmth He fills.


Love in that stable was born
Into our hearts to flow;
Innocent dreaming babe,
Make me Thy love to know.


I Wonder As I Wander

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

11 Christmas Carols by John Rutter and Clare College Choir Cambridge

Playmax 2015 (PM4: The Game Changer) – 18th and 19th June 2015, St. Andrew’s Cathedral

SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, SingaporeHad the most fun day at Playmax 2015 (facebook), a bi-annual carnival organised by Singapore Youth for Christ at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, City Hall.

"You are in Sectore #21". SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, SingaporeThis was no cheesy funfair, but a life action role playing game (LARPG). Was incredibly impressed by the military-steampunk sets and costumes – built mostly from scrap and cast-offs,

SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
heehee - water closet. SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
the graphics and music and dramatic sequences that moved the narrative along,
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
the seamless game play, and the very fun station games…all done by the staff of SYFC and volunteers, over the course of 2 years.
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, Singapore
Here’s the narrative context:

More than fighting oppressive regimes in a fictional world, trying to change the course and ending of our fictional raider/resistance etc. lives, there’s trying to change the course and ending of our real lives. And this isn’t about fighting whatever happens to be the popular “oppressive regime” of the day – that merely replaces one “oppressive regime” with another – and this isn’t just limited to political oppression but dietary fad oppression, relationship oppression, career dis-satisfaction oppression…

It is realistic to say that we will not be completely happy in this world. There will never be perfect peace, justice, love, relationships…yet our yearning for them suggests that there is some residual knowledge, common to humanity about how things once were – when God first created a world, a perfect world.

What happened? Well, rebellion happened. A wrong rebellion against a God who was perfectly good and perfectly loving, yet accused of being corrupt and oppressive. And so man destroyed the rest of creation. Cue: natural disasters and man-made disasters. A life lived in fear of being killed by accidents and the evil of others. A life hurting from broken relationships, and hurting others in turn.

No good can come from being separated from the God we rebelled against.

But then imagine this God is so good and so loving that he is determined to bridge the gap between evil sinful humanity and his holy self.

SYFC's Playmax 2015, PM4, St. Andrew's Cathedral, SingaporeHow can this be done? By someone taking our rightful punishment (eternal death) on our behalf!

Who could possibly do this? A man so perfectly pure and obedient that he himself isn’t guilty of any sin – God’s only Son, Jesus the Christ.

Through His life on this world, Jesus showed us what the perfect world ought to be: he healed the sick, enabled the blind to see and the lame to walk again. The good news he brought was that someone at last had come to change the course of the world that was only getting more evil all the time.

By Jesus’ death on the cross, he paid the punishment that was meant for us because of our sin. If we accept this, we are brought back into relationship with God!

By Jesus’ resurrection, he proved that he had conquered death and is alive to bring us who trust in him, into a new world that we can look forward to.

This Lou Fellingham song, via Phatfish comes to mind:

There is a day
That all creation’s waiting for,
A day of freedom and liberation for the earth.
And on that day
The Lord will come to meet His bride,
And when we see Him
In an instant we’ll be changed.

The trumpet sounds
And the dead will then be raised
By His power,
Never to perish again.
Once only flesh,
Now clothed with immortality;
Death has now been
Swallowed up in victory.

We will meet Him in the air
And then we will be like Him,
For we will see Him, as He is,
Oh yeah!
Then all hurt and pain will cease,
And we’ll be with Him forever,
And in His glory we will live,
Oh yeah, oh yeah!

So lift your eyes
To the things as yet unseen,
That will remain now
For all eternity.
Though trouble’s hard
It’s only momentary,
And it’s achieving
Our future glory.

Nathan Fellingham
Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music
CCLI Number: 3359080

Playlist of the Day

A late night/early morning Whatsapp exchange led to a sleep saturated with U2 discography. Music is suddenly back in my life, more than a decade after it was an all-consuming passion.

JST’s playlists for work started it off. We then started discussing musical tastes. And then NC sent over a link to Jimmy Fallon x Blur playing Tender, that led inevitably to an exchange on bands from the 1990s.

It’s hard to explain exactly how promiscuous my musical tastes are. “Opera” I’d said to JST, and really meant it. Yet also prog house, polyphonic Gregorian, trance, Bach, trip-hop, “sacred choral”, pop, Beethoven, 1990s alternative, Baroque, The Smiths*, etc etc.

I love how evocative music is; how like a pensieve it is. One of my favourite U2 albums is Achtung Baby and somehow the Edge’s particular use of overdrive, reverb, delay, Whammy… in the album coupled with Bono’s lyrics just has the smell of the early 1990s and straightaway, I am haunted by all the characters that populated my life then.

(Somewhere, there is a blogpost about the theology of U2 and Bono authored under another pseudonym. But where?)

Another thing that’s hard to explain, without sounding pretentious, is that my interest in music is very much to do with it being a socio-cultural phenomenon, a useful artifact for identifying and understanding the zeitgeist.

And still yet, I constantly wonder if we are misusing God’s good gift to mankind, not for the rightful praise of him but for the purposes ranging from completely pointless to deviously man-glorifying instead…

*erm, for pure pop post-punk indulgence, here are The Smiths, The Cure, and Joy Division:

War Memorials and Freedom Monuments in Riga, Latvia. Revelation 1.

London -> Harwich -> Hoek of Holland -> Amsterdam (Holland) -> Copenhagen (Denmark) -> Stockholm (Sweden) -> Riga (Latvia)

I didn’t know what to expect of Latvia. “Oh, an Eastern European country?” said the Western Europeans I’d met so far,”They used to be part of Russian…surely they’re not safe?!”

So I disembark the Tallink ferry with my backpack, delighted to see L waiting outside Riga’s Passenger Terminal beside her mother’s car. We headed to town, passing some Soviet-era statues. Or so I thought.

Photograph The Railway Bridge of Riga across the river Daugava by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Monument commerating the 1905 revolution by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px Near the Railway Bridge of Riga, one of several spanning the river Daugava, was a dramatic monument to the 1905 revolution – the first hint of the common thread of Baltic state history. For the Latvians, the fight was against both Russian and Baltic German occupation.

Photograph Brīvības piemineklis (Freedom Monument), Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

On another side of town, the Brīvības piemineklis (Freedom Monument), that replaced the equestrian station of Russian Emperor Peter the Great, set up to commemorate the Latvian War of Independence (1918 – 1920), was allowed to remain during both German and Soviet control of the now-country. She was re-interpreted of course according to the prevailing political narrative: in Nazi Germany, as the struggle against communism, and for the U.S.S.R., as Mother Russia holding aloft the three Soviet Baltic republics – Latvian S.S.R., Lithuanian S.S.R. and Estonia S.S.R..

Photograph Latvijas Okupācijas muzejs (Museum of the Occupation of Latvia) by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

Photograph Latvijas Okupācijas muzejs (Museum of the Occupation of Latvia) by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

While most countries gloss over the bad times in their history to ease the pain of the past, the Latvians set up the Latvijas Okupācijas muzejs (Museum of the Occupation of Latvia) to remember 51 years of being “successively occupied by the USSR in 1940, then by Nazi Germany in 1941, and then again by the USSR in 1944” – both as a warning and a memorial.

How fragile independence as a nation is. You could build up your defence force and join a multi-national grouping like the European Union. But ultimately, boundaries are respected only as a matter of international law and treaties. If you had desirable resources in your land and unscrupulous powerful neighbours on whom the rest of the world depended too much, your friends might not be motivated to do anything more than slap your invaders on the wrist. For a while, social media might be awash with self-righteous articles on the injustice of it all, but then the next unjust thing happens and you’re yesterday’s outrage. You are at the mercy of the fickleness and self-interested self-preservation of others.

Photograph Street corner, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px Photograph Street corner, Riga, Latvia by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px

And so it is also with non-nationalistic imperialism.

“Apparently, Islamic terrorists will ask you if you are Muslim,”said someone at a dinner-party recently,”So I have memorised certain Arabic phrases to foil them.”

Having just read Revelation 1, I think Christians have a far greater assurance than might come from cribbing the answers to the Islamic terrorists’ spot quiz:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia:

Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash round his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1, ESV)

This Jesus that Christians worship isn’t at all modest about who he really is:

    • he is the ruler of kings on earth and to him be glory and dominion forever. He is described as the Ancient of Days as well as the Son of Man of Daniel 7 – a claim to divinity;
    • to emphasise the point, he says,”I am the first and the last“. He is eternal, no one came before him and no one will come after him;
    • despite being this most powerful man, he loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood;
    • and so we know what we can look forward too, for he is the firstborn of the dead. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”he says. Jesus was the first to rise with a new resurrection body – assurance that believers will too.


      • this Jesus is in charge of the whole world, for all time. This means that there is no one else to answer to but him. This also means he is the only one we can and should fear, not some human person with pathetic guns. “…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28);
      • death in this life means relatively little. The person who loves us controls even death and has promised to raise us to new life in the new heavens and earth.

What assurance this is!

Had this Stuart Townend song on repeat the night before, to drown out a Latvian granny’s nocturnal noisemaking. Very apt:

Singing Hallelujah
Join the song
Of the angels round the throne,
Giving worship to the One
Who lived and died
And lives forever more.
All unite
With the saints who fought the fight,
Resting now in heaven’s light
Where beauty dwells
And suffering is no more,
Now their suffering is no more.

Singing hallelujah,
Glory to the Saviour,
Singing hallelujah to the Lamb.

How I long
For the day when flesh is done,
Fear and hate are overcome
And all the earth
Is freed from grief and pain.
On that day
Every eye will meet his gaze,
Sin and death will flee away
As we behold the glory of the Lord,
We will bow before our God.

Worthy, worthy, worthy,
All the saints adore Thee,
Singing hallelujah to the Lamb.
Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2014 Townend Song

Song for a Moonlit Night

Photograph going west by parentheticalpilgrim on 500px As we sat in a grass field under a full moon, talking about all manner of messy relationships, DDP started to sing:

“Unconscious uncoupling/Platitudinous dissembling
Biological disunity/Futility in creativity”

He sang it so it segued into the chorus of Pet Shop Boys’ Go West (complete with puffed chest and pointing authoritatively to what might be the west, and canned seagulls).

The West isn’t the answer to a peaceful life, of course, but there is so much irreparable irretrievable hurt and pain and suffering even in ordinary marriages and family life and in interactions with friends that we yearn for a place where:

“[God] will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)