Saturday, April 7, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Today I went on my own to the movies. And when I get there I was running late by ten minutes.
I asked at the ticket counter if there were shorts first or did the movie start right at the beginning hoping I hadn't missed the start.
Well they said they were running late and it hadn't even started yet. What a pleasant surprise. Then I heard the lady tell the projectionist he could run the movie. I was told to go straight in and it would start shortly.
So buying a nut and chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cone I headed in to find a seat.
Well I was the only one so I sat at the back in the middle and put my feet up on the seat in front!!!

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 

I had read this book a couple of years ago and was quite intrigued to see how close to the book the movie was going to be. The novel  was written by Jonathan Safran Foer and certainly left a mark on me as too did the movie. I will try and buy to add to my collection of good movies, books.

Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name, "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close", by Jonathan Safran Foer, is the story that unfolds from inside the mind of one young boy and the journey from heart breaking loss to the healing power of self-discovery, set against the backdrop of the tragic events of September 11. Nine-year-old Oskar Schell is an exceptional child: amateur inventor, Francophile, pacifist. And after finding a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11, he embarks on an exceptional journey--an urgent, secret search through the five boroughs of New York. As Oskar roams the city, he encounters a motley assortment of humanity, who are all survivors in their own ways. Ultimately, Oskar's journey ends where it began, but with the solace of that most human experience: love.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is narrated by young Oskar Schell (newcomer Thomas Horn), a precocious boy who is trying to cope with the loss of his father and whose thirst for exploring and learning about the world is encouraged by his kindly father, a jeweler, Thomas (Tom Hanks). Thomas was at a meeting on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center in New York City on the tragic day of September 11, 2001 when the twin towers collapse, leaving his son and wife (Sandra Bullock) emotionally-shattered and unable to connect with one another.

Oskar hears his father's final answer machine messages, left on that fateful day, which he conceals from his mother. A year later, on what Oskar calls "The Worst Day," he discovers a key in his father's belongings and, as he used to do with his father, sets out on a quest to find the lock that matches the key embarking on a scavenger hunt to find the matching lock. He is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears. The journey crosses the five New York boroughs and is not only one that leads him to encounter many a lost soul in New York City, but one which could possibly provide some closure for Oskar and his grieving mother. He encounters an eclectic assortment of people along the way and he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him, documenting his journey in a scrapbook. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Laying Down of Your Cloak

It was Palm Sunday again last week and I preached at the 8.00am service of our parish. The following is the message.

In the gospels we read the story of the first Palm Sunday.
Jesus was in Bethany with Lazarus and His sisters Martha and Mary. Mary had anointed Jesus' feet with expensive perfume wiping them with her hair.
Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem for the Passover.
As He came to the Mount of Olives He sent two of His disciples to the village Bethphage ahead of them. Bethphage is a suburb of Jerusalem.

Mark 11:1-6 
The Triumphal Entry 
1 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 3 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’” 4 They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, 5 some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” 6 They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. 

Jesus probably has friends in many, many towns where He has stayed before, who have told Him, "If you need anything -- anything! -- just let me know!" Jesus is not telling His disciples to engage in "grand theft donkey," but is taking up a friend on His long-standing offer.
Notice that once the disciples say, "The Lord needs it," there is no further argument. The owners are happy to have the Lord use their possessions for his work.

How small is a colt? He would have had to ride it with his legs sticking straight out in front or curled up behind Him so they didn’t drag on the ground.
Hardly a way a King would ride but in Biblical times royalty would ride on a donkey during periods of peace rather than a horse which was associated with war. Jesus' instructions are clear that the donkey must be one that has never been ridden. It is set apart, consecrated for a specific use -- for the Master's use.
He is initiating a public, kingly act. He is revealing openly that He is the Messiah.
He fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that a king would come in peace and humility to Jerusalem.

Zechariah 9:9-10 
The Coming of Zion’s King 
 9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. 

In Zechariah's prophecy the gentle king that comes into Jerusalem riding a young donkey is the same one who will defeat chariots and war-horses and bring peace to the nations.
The irony may have been lost on the people at the time, the way it is lost on most of us today, but Jesus’ “triumphal entry” was not that of a General or a warrior.
No, such men ride stallions.
Jesus rode in on a donkey. This symbolized that Jesus came on a mission of peace. The donkey revealed Jesus to be a humble peasant on a peace mission, not a military warrior.
Note that it was a donkey that had carried Jesus and Mary at the beginning of His life just before He was born as they rode into Bethlehem. And now a donkey carries Him into Jerusalem just before His death. Jesus shows us that, that which we think has no value, has tremendous value in God’s eyes.

 Mark 11:7 
7 When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. 

They use their cloaks as a makeshift saddle.
In 2 Kings 9 we read the prophet Elisha summoned a young man, a prophet, to go and anoint Jehu in Ramoth Gilead. When he got there he told Jehu he had a message for him so Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the LORD’s people Israel’ “. When the prophet had left and Jehu told the people what had happened, they hurried and took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, “Jehu is king!”

Spreading clothing to carpet one's pathway was a way to honour the person.

Mark 11:8
 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.

The words translated "cloaks"or "garments" can refer generally to any garment, "clothing, apparel," or specifically to outer clothing, "cloak, robe."
The cloak of bible times was a distinctive outer garment made of two pieces of thick woolen material sewn together, with slits rather than sleeves for the arms. A typical Hebrew slept on the floor with his cloak used as a covering to keep him warm. This was especially true for travelers, shepherds or poor people, so a person’s cloak was not to be kept as collateral for a loan.

 Exodus 22:26-27 
26 If you take your neighbour’s cloak as a pledge, return it to him by sunset, 27 because his cloak is the only covering he has for his body. What else will he sleep in? When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. 

Deuteronomy 24:12-13 
12. If the man is poor, do not go to sleep with his pledge in your possession. 13 Return his cloak to him by sunset so that he may sleep in it. Then he will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the LORD your God. 

We read earlier in the gospels of the significance of Jesus cloak. The story of the woman who had suffered bleeding for 12 years.

Mark 5:25-34 
25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. 

And then the power of healing

 Matthew 14:35-36 
35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. 

Acts 5:12-16
The Apostles Heal Many 
12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed. 

 We must not think the clothes on our backs to dear to part with for the service of Christ.

Mark 10:46-53
Blind Bartimaeus Receives His Sight 
49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road. 

This prompts the question: Why did the model disciple, Bartimaeus, throw his cloak away while Jesus' followers throw theirs at Jesus' feet?
Bartimaeus was throwing off the "cloak" of royal and hierarchical power. Jesus had condemned such power in Mark 10:42: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them." Bartimaeus is throwing off the way of power-striving and following "on the way" of Jesus which is opposed to hierarchical power.
The crowd, by strewing cloaks onto His path, is treating the humble, donkey-riding, Jesus as true royalty.
Those that take Christ for their King must lay their all under His feet.

Is there something in your life or possession that you hold very dearly to?
Do you want Jesus to use you for His work?
We must take what we hold onto and throw it to the ground and allow the King – Jesus to pass over it.
It may be a possession; a talent; an area in your life that you struggle with even.
We must be ready and willing for Jesus to claim use of our possessions and positions. Since He is our Master, they don't belong to us, but to Him.
When He sends a message, "The Lord has need of it," we must relinquish our control willingly and immediately.
Let the power of the spirit rest on it so that we can take it up again to be used for the glory of God.
Then we too can call out…

Mark 11:9-10
 9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” 10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” 

Lord, please help me to be willing to obey your instructions, even when I don't understand all the details or their importance. Thank you for the immense privilege you grant to me and to my brothers and sisters to be participants in your mission, to play important parts in what you are doing. Help me to rejoice in you and praise you with an open heart, not resist because of my pain or from the wound of a doubting or distrustful heart. In your holy name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 118:25-29
25 O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success.
26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light shine upon us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.