What does heaven look like for you?
For some of the group this brought to mind the book The Lovely Bones. There was the idea that you would see all of those you knew on earth… And there would be overlap with those that they knew. How… However, would that leave those who had had a miserable life on earth? This then raised the question (from Bex, as it’s been all over Twitter) re Rob Bell and his ‘universalist’ views – that all may be there? Then onto some discussion of Martin Bashir’s interview, as he used to be ‘a local’.
Discussion then moved on, that it wasn’t the same as earth… And that now, the relationship with the earth feels concrete, and that with God feels ethereal – but in heaven this will be turned on it’s head. Having recently looked back over last week’s notes, an idea came into Bex’s head that maybe it was like The Faraway Tree, a land of fun/play/colour/harmony… Maybe bait like the Barclays slide advert added another member of the group!!
The point was then raised that we tend to use the appreciative ‘oh, that’s heaven’ for forms of guilt-ridden excess, e.g. Chocolate … The word use has changed.
The Video: We wondered about those with attention deficit disorder … Is 4 minutes still too long? The video is quite a challenge… But as as this is intended as a discipleship course (with the Seeker Study available separately), this is appropriate as just platitudes would be pointless. It reminded one of the group of the theme of the Sunday morning sermon.
The Reading: The story of the banquet reminded one member of songs they’d sung at school. We commented that it was a slightly odd combination as Tom Wright had focused on the parable of the tenants in the vineyard, whilst the reading focused on invitations to the wedding… Can see how it ties into the idea of God’s purpose.
The biggest discussion point was triggered off by the idea that someone who had been invited off the street, was thrown out for wearing inappropriate clothing. What about all the big questions of ‘only those chosen’, there will clearly those who will have decided not to come (aka refuse the invitation to the Christian life)… But what do those clothes represent? The wedding represents repentance, but why would he throw out those who didn’t expect to come? Tom Wright’s book pp88-89 gives help here, it’s God’s party so we want to ‘look our best’ for him… Led to A LOT of discussion….
The quote ‘gnashing of teeth’ – made a note that we see so many phrases that are still in use everyday (was noted half from the Bible and half from Shakespeare… Although Shakespeare took a lot of his lines from the Bible! In thinking of different contexts can make people giggle!!
The suggestion came here that it would be great to have a hyperlinked Bible. Bex mentioned that she’d looked at doing a Wiki Bible, but they’ve been tried before… But no, he meant more like a Bible commentary where sections are hyperlinked to more information on a person/the history of a particular book, etc. So not editable by others.
Reflection: we discussed the way that we got chosen at school – how teachers are so much more aware (point teams a/b etc), but playtime can be more difficult to manage. Always happy not to be the last if chosen this way – but someone had to be. Is this effectively bullying?
Back to the question of being dressed properly…, and we raised the question that for some is is like behaving/sinning more in the hope that grace therefore increases. For some, they are so far gone – it may be ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ if going to get punished anyway. It’s not how it should be but some have nothing left to lose – e.g. Like Institutionalised prisoners who can’t cope in the ‘real’ world.
The idea of being chosen/for a purpose – what about those who are never chosen? Is it better not to tell them? In the modern day how is it possible that people don’t know. Well, that was the cat amongst the pigeons again! There are plenty who don’t know… If not grown up as a part of the church family, why would you feel the need to pursue the topic? But God can speak through 1-2 words (it’s not about what we do), so e.g. 1-2 weeks of RE lessons may be enough. Are there different ages at which interest may be expressed? … What about the recognition of ‘difference’ once you become a Christian… One of the group became a Christian by spotting something different about some new friends.
Looking at Psalm 130, one of the group remembers from school and can recite it.
The question of mental health? Most churches don’t any longer relate health to sin? What ‘knowledge’ is already ingrained? Why do so many give a ‘cheerful response’ to mental illness… People want to say something positive about illness… And can find it hard to know what go say?!
‘Not nice story…’ Not following God because we want to get away from things? Why don’t we break the law – because we fear the consequences? Do we follow God for the positive things we can get from it – is that right – too consumerist? Do less mature Christians demonstrate more fear? When parents deal with their kids – are they usually encouraging them so that kids will do things to please their parents, or because they are are scared that they may get into trouble? For kids it’s usually a mix, do as you’re told otherwise you’ll be in trouble… But what about as they get older?! Is there too much much of a fashion (to our discredit) to be ‘nice’ as Christians – with some promoting that ‘Life is great and it’s even better if you’re a Christian’… Which is not necessarily as we’d experience it… But we know that God is there with us in the tough times.
One of the group noted that if TV ever did a series re a vicar, the expectation was that he would be ‘rather wet’. He’d not see Rev! The rest of the group noted how impressed friends who were ‘real vicars’ had been by the series, but there are plenty of other poor examples of TV vicars!
The question ‘what would a life transformed’ look like? 2Life transformed. Completely different from now?! We moved fairly quickly… Was this because it was an uncomfortable question and we should therefore encourage people to stick with the most difficult (no, we were short on time… And we want groups to have options… Some weeks we’ll be up for big discussions, other weeks we’ll be tired and want to do something more relaxed!)
A number of the group do art so were quite keen on some of that, with regards to prayer we thought that the big topics for prayer were North Africa, Japan, Bahrain and the Yemen. .. With the Arab League Support being crucial.
People recognised the typical picture of Jesus as a bridge, but found it helpful to thimk of some other depictions – e.g. God with a fly swat, squashing us, with Jesus standing in the way (taking the hits?)Picture Jesus … Jesus gets in the way, stands up for us…
After Dinner Chocs
Still not doing too well with the after dinner chocs, but on looking at the lost 2 members of the group said that they’d look around a Stately Home and see what it made them think of, whilst a couple of the group decided to look at Acts435, and learn more about the charity. Just 2 more weeks to go for us…