Category Archives: 2008

why new hope church?


OK. I need some help for next week Sunday’s message. As I mentioned at church this morning, I want to know why you find a connection with New Hope Church (assumming you do). What is it about this church that makes it relevant to you? Why are you a part of this community? If you could just post your response as a comment (or email it to me), it would be greatly appreciated.
Listen John’s message here

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 11:57 AM PST
I’ve been to lots of churches over the years. I was born into the Anglican tradition. I’ve been to the Vineyard, and a nondenominational church that tried to bridge the gap between Christianity and the New Age movement. All of these communities had a different focus and flavour, and they were all good for me for a season. I believe that God creates communities and places for people within communities. For this season I believe God has created a place for me here – at New Hope. He has something for me to do here, and something for me to learn here. I’ve never been one of those people who worries too much about the denomination of a church. As Bono once told Oprah – “I don’t care whose name is on the house, as long as God is in the house.” (Or something like that). God is in the house here!
I’ve been working on this theory over the past few years that I like to call “Practical Mysticism”. My personal version is still full of holes, but the gist of it is that God manifests himself through people. We pray for the world to be a better place. God tells us to get up off our knees and give money to help out Inn From the Cold or Thandana or Ubuntu. He tells us to sign up as a volunteer, or stop to talk to that person who looks down, or be nice when you’re out driving on the winter roads. We somehow participate in making the world a better place. There is some sort of balance between experiencing God in that indescribable, vertical, mystical thinness, and living God as we interact with the world around us. New Hope is all about finding God and living God in everything we do – in short – ‘Practical Mysticism’.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 01:15 PM PST
Initially I came because my kids really liked it. Now I come because the vision here is what I think the vision of a church should be, it fits with who I am and how I think. I also stay because of the people, there are some amazing people here, thinkers, doers, encouragers, lovers – all giving the gifts and talents they have.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 02:03 PM PST
i love that families are working together at new hope – serving others and making church happen. kids handing out programs with their parents, stacking chairs, passing the collection baskets and helping out with kids younger than they are. awesome.

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, December 30 2008 @ 03:32 PM PST
As I’ve attended NHC my uderstanding of God has continued to grow. The idea of God being always present, always active in my life has awakened me to a whole new perspective of my daily routine. God cares about my job, family, even my hockey team…He not only cares but I sense his presence on those tough days, or whispering in my ear when decisions have to be made. You see, when I opened myself up to the possibility of God “doing stuff” all around me, every day of the week, it seems as though that not a week goes by where I don’t trip over God revealing himself in a way I never thought of before. It is not just a Sunday morning thing where I learn more about God any more. It is because of Sunday morning that I learn more about God and what he is doing in my life and life all around me every hour and every day of the week. And this is just my little, navel gazing life, my imagination is too small to take on what God does in this world fully and completely. So this is why New Hope is my church, to unlock more of the mystery, and to do this in a community of people who care and serve. C

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, December 31 2008 @ 07:36 AM PST
When I attend New Hope, I’m always excited to hear what Pastor John has to say. His inspirational words always lift my spirit and give me the hope that I need to get through another week of my life. Pastor John relates all things going on in the current world to God and gives me a new perspective on them. A pastor is a very important part of a church for me, as I crave encouragement and enlightenment and Pastor John always delivers. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 03 2009 @ 05:53 PM PST
Why NHC for me?
It is a place to see and feel and know and love and experience and believe in God without borders and without the requisite shame that came with the God of my youth. It is a place to be real about who I am …about what I think or feel or believe or wear. It is a safe place to wonder..to worship, to be disillusioned even. It is a place on a journey…like all of us…a little messed up like all of us…
It is (usually) a place I like to be. ;)

why new hope church?
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, January 03 2009 @ 09:36 PM PST
It was march of last year that I attended the baptism of my friend and her children at New Hope Church. In addition during this time I was going through some emotional turmoil in trying to understand and grieve the death of my father. I really enjoyed the service and found New Hope a welcoming environment. I found comfort and a hopefulness for peace in understanding that death happens for a reason; to believe in a higher power. It helps that I do have friends attending this very church and attending feels “right” for me and my family. My family enjoys that Pastor John brings real life matters and relates it back to the scripture and what it means to believe in God. This church environment is not one that we have previously experienced and enjoy what New Hope has to offer. Thank You!

feeling my face

I’m glad no one walked into the room as I was feeling my face. I’d just read a surgeon’s words regarding our world’s newest face transplant patient, “I must tell you how happy she was when, with both her hands, she could go over her face and feel that she has a nose, feel that she has a jaw.” I found the description so beautiful…

And so I just sat there thinking; with my hands feeling my face, sensing it’s contours and texture, contemplating its various parts and functions, taking stock of the fact that everything is working, everything is there. The flared edge of a nostril… the unshaven protrusion of a chin… soft skinned cheekbones… healthy pain free teeth… and lips to kiss my wife and kids with.

Most of the time (when I think about it) I complain about my face; too fat, too much skin, too wrinkled and discoloured, too long a forehead. I don’t re-call ever feeling thankful for my nose. I’ve never expressed gratitude for my jaw.

This woman who’d received the new face had apparently suffered a catastrophic accident, losing 80% of her face as a result. Can you imagine living with the horror of that reality? And then to be given this miraculous second chance; how redemptive is that?

How can I ever be a facial ingrate again?

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feeling my face
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 03:19 PM PST
Beautiful. It’s always wonderful when we are reminded to be thankful for
EVERYTHING, from the smallest things to the large things to the things we take
for granted.

weaselhead redux

 After a huge unexpected snowstorm the silence in the Weaselhead this morning was stunning. The sense of peace palpable. Not a soul to be seen (except the birds) anywhere. Each tree held the snow in a unique way.

a celestial visit

A couple of nights ago Venus and Jupiter visited the moon. At first I thought they were just bright stars, but they seemed too bright for that dusky time of day. They must be planets. And they were. I had to pause and take a picture. How cool is that; a moment where God smiles down on us…

This morning’s paper had a story on the rare celestial event. It was interesting to note the varying interpretations. Astronomers didn’t see this as much of a big deal. Those planets are out there, orbiting, all the time. Other mere earthlings got a bit more excited. Seeing with the naked eye what star-gazers can only perceive through their telescopes was quite an other-worldly experience. Some saw this heavenly vista as a brief respite from all of the economic ills we’re currently facing here on the planet. Others (from their latitude) saw the moon’s crescent shape forming a smile below two planetary eyes; like a divine face or something (how we tend to humanize our gods!) In New York city the face changed, however, forming a frown.

According to the news story, some even posit that it was this kind of heavenly event that occurred in 2 BC when the Magi saw the Bethlehem star. A sign from God… that he’s still there… that he’s always been there… keeping it all in orbit… holding his universe in his hand.

Royal Wood and John Knox


Friday night I was sitting in Knox United Church listening to an up and coming singer named Royal Wood. His music was mystical, thoughtful, and spiritually provoking. At one point in his concert he referenced the fact that we were in a church. Later, after making a barely off-colour comment, he said, “Sorry about that Lord.” In the middle of his set – during that quiet more contemplative part of all sets – I started to look around and take in the sacred setting; this majestic stone sanctuary, tall stained glass windows, and a great sandstone arch framing the musician’s stage – the pulpit.

As Royal Wood’s voice narrated the story of that space I thought about the United Church; in particular, about it’s de-deifying of Christ. A few years back the church’s moderator (its big kahuna) publicly stated that he didn’t belief Jesus was God. The church let him keep his job, and this mainline denomination has been slipping ever since.

So it was with sadness that I looked around that darkened sanctuary.

But then an encouraging thought hit me. Having just finished a month of sermons on God and music – the idea of Christ’s Spirit still speaking through contemporary songs still fresh in my mind – I felt hope. While the sermons preached from the pulpits of several United Churches may not speak of a Jesus who is Lord, perhaps the songs being sung by these singers do. Wouldn’t it be just like Jesus to continue to leave his mark is this more subltle, commonly gracious way?

Listening to the singer sing, I felt this strong sense of, “I’ve not left this place yet.” And I just paused, smiled and listened. There was something intriguing in this music. At one point, during one song, Royal Wood had the entire congregation sing along with him. Strange feeling; all of us joining in the chorus sitting in our pews.

During the break I bought his newest CD and yesterday I had a good listen to it. The last song on the album seemed to me a doxology; a prayer.

Silently
Surely it won’t come to this
Surely there’s a way
If on my knees I ask of thee
Silently
And holy love don’t pass my way
Shine your glory brightly
Realign the stars to say
Silently
Silently
Silently
Well oh love
Holy love
Don’t turn your back on me now
Well old love
Holy dove
Don’t turn your back on me now
For no one has a heart for breaking
No one has a soul for taking
No one needs a love worth faking
Yes no one has a heart for breaking
Well oh love
Holy dove
Don’t turn your back on me now
Well old love
Holy dove
Don’t turn your back on me now
For no one has a heart for breaking
No one has a soul for taking
No one needs a love worth faking
Yes no one has a heart for breaking
Silent
Silent
Silently

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Royal Wood and John Knox
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2008 @ 06:07 PM PST
Great thoughts. It is sad when church becomes a place that is no longer about
Christ. But I think you’re right when you say He hasn’t left them. Cool.

Coldplay and Viva la Vida

Ok, next Sunday my sermon text (among others) is gonna be Coldplay’s, Viva la Vida. The question I’m bringing to the text is this, “What might the Holy Spirit be saying to us through this song?” What truths might God be speaking/singing here? I’d like some help searching out the answers. If you want be part of the research team, then here’s your assignment…

Read the lyrics below and then listen to the song, and then listen again. Meditate on the text. Chew it over. Let it chew you over.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44xirQ55IgA

And then ask yourself the questions. What’s going on here? What response does this tune evoke in me? When I close my eyes what do I see? Get your imagination going. Like you did when you were a little kid listening to someone reading you a story.

And try read up on the French Revolution a bit and see how that story influences this song. Check out the graphics on the album cover. Think about how the idea of revolution relates to the life and story of Jesus Christ.

Listen.

Hear.

And then post your thoughts as a comment to this blog.

“Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can
fathom.” The prophet Isaiah 40:28

Viva La Vida
Coldplay

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sweep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own”

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy’s eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
“Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!”

One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me

And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt, and pillars of sand”

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain
Once you go there was never, never an honest word
That was when I ruled the world

It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become
Revolutionaries Wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?

I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter won’t call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

(Ooooh Oooh Oooh)

Hear Jerusalem bells are ringing
Roman Calvary choirs are singing
Be my mirror my sword and shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can’t explain
I know Saint Peter will call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world

Full version via blip.tv

The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 03 2008 @ 09:09 AM PST
Does he really sing “I know St. Peter WILL call my name” the second time? That’s intereisting. I thought it was “won’t”

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 03 2008 @ 02:08 PM PST
it sounds like “won’t” in the video on you tube, but some lyric sites do have it as “will”

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 03 2008 @ 07:04 PM PST
Good catch. As much as I would like to beleive that the lyrics are “I know St. Peter WILL call my name” in the second chorus, I think they are the same as in the first chorus: “”I know St. Peter WON’T call my name”. The reason I would like to beleive that the lyrics are “I know St. Peter WILL call my name” is becuase I think this song is fundamentally about change. Call it revolution, if you will, but it is still a derivative of change. In fact, the lyrics of the enitre album seem to transition from confusion/lostness to discovery, then to revolution, and ultimately to peace/nirvana/heaven. Check out the lyrics of the last song, “The Escapist”, a hidden track on the album. They are very short, but sweet and final: “And in the end/We lie awake/And we dream/We’ll make an escape” The imagery that comes to mind for me is a person that has declined from fame and fortune to a vast emptiness and loneliness, one that he now struggles to come to terms with on his deathbed. Maybe he was once a great leader, an entertainer, a wealthy businessman, a king…who knows. It seems that now, he has lost everything that once defined him as a person and “in the end” he ‘lies awake” and “dreams he’ll make an escape [from this Earth to a Heaven that will wash him of his sins and accept him with loving and open arms]. But I digress. We are not talking about the last song on the album, this thread is supposed to focus on Viva la Vida…

Viva la Vida. I think that translates from Spanish to something like “Live the Life”. Perhaps the message is to live life to it’s fullest potential, and that ‘full potential’ is not necessarily defined by fame, fortune, conquests or power. Instead of defining ourselves as by what we have GOTTEN from life/others/God, we may realize ‘in the end’ that we wish our eulogy to list what we have GIVEN to life/others/God. The song has many biblical references as well:

“I know Saint Peter won’t call my name” – he beleives St. Peter will not allow him into heaven after he dies, becomes of the sins he committed in his life. Or, maybe he beleives he is untouchable and only he will decide when he is ready to be ‘called to heaven’. Not sure.

“Revolutionaries wait/For my head on a silver plate/Just a puppet on a lonely string/Oh who would ever wanna be king?”-This could be a reference to John the Baptist. His head was brought to King Herod on a Silver Platter. Even though Herod regretted this decision, saving his pride and promise to his temptress got in the way.

In reference to revolution…

“I discovered that my castles stand/Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.” – during the FrenchRevolution, the entire rule of government was crumbling, becasue the foundations upon which it had been built (feudalism, aristocracy) were fundamentally flawed, unjust and unsustainable. And so it is with us: if we choose to build our lives with unstable ingredients, we will ultimately crumble into a pile of rubble.

RA

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 04 2008 @ 08:41 AM PST
Hidden track!?! How did I miss hearing that?

Just listened to it… very cool. One commenter at youtube said, “I love this so much. It makes your mind wonder about things unknown.” I agree.

Reading your thoughts RA I found myself resonating at several points.

1. Where you speak of a, “person that has declined from fame and fortune to a vast emptiness and loneliness,” I envision the kenosis of Christ (Jesus putting aside his god-ness in coming to humanity… willfully doing this… out of love lowering himself)

2. Where you comment on revolution being a subset of change, I remember the words I scratched on a piece of paper yesterday in regard to the places where that change occurs; in those moments when we say to ourselves, ‘I’m not taking this any more’; or when we undergo a conversion experience; or when a person repents (changes direction); when we revolt and rise up against the status quo; or when we do something as simple as ‘realizing’ or ‘recognizing’ or even ‘seeing’ for the first time.

The spirit of revolution includes all of these things.

3. “I know St. Peter won’t call my name.” Obviously this image connotes that pearly gates scene, but for me I also envision St. Peter’s denial of Christ. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, “I don’t know the man… I don’t know the man.” Matthew 26:70ff

One more comment… what about that other huge biblical connection in the lyrics, the one that ties into Matthew 28:18-20?

JVS

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 04 2008 @ 11:51 AM PST
John – I love that. Jesus and Peter’s denial. I NEVER thought of thinking of
it that way, but it puts a whole new spin on it. That’s what I adore about
music – it means something different to everyone and only by sharing do we
gain a deeper understanding. Okay here’s a bit more than my two-bits:

I will start by saying I first closed my eyes and imagined. Then I watched the
video. So the first bit is what I saw, the next bit is about the video, and then
I go off on some thoughts. It’s long.

The whole song seems to be looking over a life lived.

I see a man sweeping and looking about him with a light in his eyes –
shining as he remembers how he used to be on top. I picture him lonely and
watching, almost with longing, the people who are now in his place.

He had power, and enjoyed his ability to control other people. I see the
same man at a table in Vegas rolling the dice and brining in the big payouts
and enjoying the defeat of his enemies. He laughed and had a wicked glint
in his eyes. But even then he had a taste of the fleeting position he was in –
“now the old king is dead, long live the king!”

Next I see him sitting alone, possibly in a hotel room in that same Vegas
casino just desolate and lost. He has discovered that though he could win
approval on an earthly level, it doesn’t last. The “kingdom” he built crashed
down because it stood “on pillars of sand”. He is weeping and wondering
why this has happened to him.
(This also brings to mind that story of the men building their houses on the
rock or on the sand, but it brings it alive to me in a new way – in a very
vibrant and feeling way)

I see the man looking up and seeing some idea of a better way, hearing the
call to live for God. Perhaps he remembers being taught as a boy the true
way to a worthwhile life, but he can’t yet accept that. He feels that it is all
wasted, that he won’t be included. He has gone too far and the world is too
corrupt and lost. “There was never an honest word, that was when I ruled
the world.” He has been to the top; he knows how fake it is, so he can’t
believe in anything better.

The next verse has me seeing this “wicked and wild wind” as the Holy Spirit –
forceful and commanding in its entrance – just taking over the scene. An
almost Pentecostal vision. If the man is still in his hotel the windows are
smashed and he hears the great beating of the drums from on high
convicting him. “People couldn’t believe what I’d become” I take two ways:
one – the fact that someone so powerful in human terms could sink to the
bottom or two – the fact that this man made a turn around in his life.

Revolutionaries wait for my head on a silver plate – every time I hear this line
I am reminded of John’s head being brought to the king. A way to silence
those we do not want to hear.

Just a puppet on a lonely string oh who would ever want to be king? – This
makes me thing that the man may be looking back and seeing through the
false idea of being on top being the best and realizing really you have no
control, you are alone, you are used – like a puppet on a string. Who would
want this, when there is so much better?

The next chorus sounds to me as a calling. A calling to the man – he can
hear the choirs, he can hear the bells, but somehow he is still unsure if he
can claim it for his own – if he can really be called into glory. For some
reason I can’t explain I know St. Peter won’t call my name – a place perhaps
we’ve all been where we can not seem to believe that any love could save us.
We just know we aren’t good enough.
The string component really makes this song sound holy – angelic. It’s
gorgeous and has a driving urgency to it. The whole song is urgent and full
of soul. The strings alone, without the lyrics bring a bittersweet feeling and
cause my soul to soar at times and at others fall with extreme sorrow.

The whole section with the slow, melodic “oohs” makes me picture a church
choir in a great cathedral, giving the whole song a new perspective. It is
almost as if this whole song is really a song of worship about life itself. It
has mystery and it is personal, but it is a truthful picture given up to God.

The fact that it transitions seamlessly into Violet Hill makes me wonder. I
can’t be sure, but to me these two songs are intertwined and related in a way
that makes each song hold more meaning. “If you love me, won’t you let me
know” is a plea we all have, and it seems to almost echo the cry of “I know
St. Peter won’t call my name.”

There is also a bit of reference to revolution in Violet Hill itself which fits in
with the reference to revolution in Viva La Vida “Priests clutched onto bibles,
hollowed out to fit their rifles and the cross was held aloft.”

I think someone else here said that Viva La Vida meant, “live the life” – and
on reflection as I said this song seems to be a remembrance of a life lived.
But it is also a reflection on how to really live the life.

Watching the video I noticed distinctly the colour of red. And it struck me
that if this is about revolution that revolution normally involves blood. Red.
The background uses images from the cover of the CD and each band
member has an armband or some sort of form of red on them. The French
Revolution certainly was bloody, and their armbands do have a sort of
military feel to them, but I must confess that I see that reference to be more
symbolical than really about the song (the beauty of the music is that others
will see it in there clearly where I don’t.)

But if you are asking about the Revolution of Christ in our lives it certainly
was bloody, and that is what I think of when I see the video. Red. Blood.
Pointing to change, to a better way. There was violence in the revolution of
Christ, the shedding of blood and there is certainly violence in this song with
the crashes of drums and the striking of bells. The lyrics talk of beating
drums and broken glass and waiting for a head on a silver plate. Violence.
Blood. Red. I find it fascinating.

In the video I also see a change toward the middle – the wind picks up, the
clouds swirl, and the Holy Spirit moves for a change. I can’t really describe it
because it was more of a feeling – watching those clouds swirl it was like
watching the winds of change. Revolution. That Christ can move in a life –
the wild and wicked wind. Wicked here not meaning evil, but forceful,
commanding.

The beginning of the song starts with the opening of the flower, and at the
end each band member is blown away into flower petals. I am not sure
exactly what this is supposed to symbolize, but I did like it a lot. Flowers are
a symbol of beauty, but also a way to mark the graves of those we love. Red
flowers. Perhaps a beauty within the violence? The ending sequence is
uplifting – it almost seems as if the band members are being whisked away to
something better as they float away against the soothing melodies. Freedom
is what I think. Freedom gained through the blood of another.

This is long, I realize, and I could probably blab on and on because every
time I listen or watch I hear/feel/realize something new. Which is the beauty
of music – it meets us where we are and it opens the doors. Whatever this
song was intended for, I think it is clear that it resonates something bigger to
everyone – it is a top hit – and its not because it speaks of sex or money or
having it all. It speaks of what truly matters in the end. It directs us towards
a change, and it makes us think. That is really beautiful to me, the ability
that this song has to make people think and evaluate their lives. It’s a call,
gentle, probing, and yet as urgent as the throbbing strings pulsing and
pushing the song along. Almost a whisper of the urgency of Revelations –
the time is coming, the end is nearing – or of Christ who will return like a
thief in the night. An urgent call to Revolution.

Okay, before I go off on ANOTHER direction I’ll stop.

Kayleigh S

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 04 2008 @ 01:24 PM PST
OK Kayleigh… aren’t you just a holy imaginative soul!

Great thoughts, and well articulated!

Reading them I had many aha moments… I’m gonna wait for a day or so before responding though… let someone else talk first!

JVS

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 04 2008 @ 01:41 PM PST
As a P.S. to my last note -

It suddenly hit me, as I am still thinking of this, that this song is a story – a
parable. And that Jesus still uses parables to reach us. I’m done now! Honest!

Kayleigh

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 05 2008 @ 06:31 AM PST
Kayleigh, what John means is he doesn’t have time to respond because he has to watch his man, Barack, win the presidency.

G

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, November 05 2008 @ 08:19 AM PST
(Chuckles to herself) Good point.
Kayleigh

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 06 2008 @ 07:38 PM PST
OK, I just reread your words K… and again, they’re very insightful. Not a lot to add except that I really resonate with the pentecostal feel of that ‘wicked and wild wind.’ As for the phrase, ‘people couldn’t believe what I’d become,’ I imagine this kind of incredulous reaction happening in Christ’s disciples, who knew him in a (sort of) limited way when he was incarnate among them, but then got re-introduced to this totally mind blowing Spirit reality at Pentecost. I can just see their awestruck faces!

Reading your words I was reminded of what I said last Sunday re: God’s truth coming to us through music as being like light hitting a prism and then heading off in all kinds of different directions in all sorts of unique colours. When first contemplating this weeks message I thought I’d re-interpret the song visually for the end of the sermon… but now I’ve changed my mind. Maybe I’ll just play it… without any visuals… and let the Spirit do its wicked and wild work.

JVS

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 06 2008 @ 07:52 PM PST
Sounds awesome. I love this idea of yours John. I love the prism idea too -
and it really is amazing the way God created so many minds and imaginations.
This is a great way to see a little part of that – having everyone just throw in a
thought or two. Very cool.
Kayleigh

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, November 06 2008 @ 09:13 PM PST
what i love about this song is the way the lamenting tone of the lyrics is juxtaposed against the hopeful, redemptive tone of the music itself. even though the words are despairing, the music moves you beyond that. read only the lyrics and it sounds like a voice of despair, listen only to the music and one would never guess the dark nature of the lyrics, but together…amazing!

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 07 2008 @ 07:47 AM PST
I hear you on this point.

Makes me wonder what “God moving in redemption” sounds like. A lamenting heart – grieved at the brokeness of it all, crying over creation lost, wanting so much more for us – along with a joyful love driving the act of making it all new. Strings over top of tears. Bells ringing hope even as he encounters our suffering.

JVS

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 07 2008 @ 09:09 AM PST
Great way of wording that. I love that point as well – the music/lyric combo. It
is what I often find in music and what I love. Thanks for putting it down in
such plain language!
K

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, November 09 2008 @ 11:59 AM PST
I have actually done our homework this week! WOW.

Our family purchased the new Coldplay album a couple of weeks ago, which has given us some time to “marinade”.

For me; I was see sawing between the poignant words in “Viva La Vida” and Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables”, written of course about the French revolution.

I love the description a critique gave Hugo, on his book:

“a narrator who can best be described as God masquerading as a law-abiding bourgeois….”

The book is one of my all time favourites. On each page the reader is faced with decisions which haunt, “Good vs. Bad” ~ “right vs. wrong”, “moral vs. immoral” and on and on.

(Below a brief backdrop to the book.. borrowed from the net*)

The title itself is a moral test…. Originally, a miserable was simply a pauper (misere means ‘destitution’ as well as ‘misfortune’). Since the Revolution, and especially since the advent of Napoleon III, a miserable had become a ‘dreg’, a sore on the shining face of the Second Empire. The new sense would dictate a translation like Scum of the Earth. Hugo’s sense would dictate The Wretched.

In overlaying these two powerful means of communication; I sensed such polarity ~ and found parallel struggles.

“It was the wicked and wild wind
Blew down the doors to let me in.
Shattered windows and the sound of drums
People couldn’t believe what I’d become
Revolutionaries Wait
For my head on a silver plate
Just a puppet on a lonely string
Oh who would ever want to be king?”

The same struggle occurred daily for Jean Valjean. He eventually had means, money, friendships even a child.. yet he felt it wasn’t enough ~ he just wanted peace. He was desperate for contentment.

“Does Jesus not toil for the same? He offers us Grace, peace, eternal life, yet more often than not ~ He is thrown to the proverbial curb. He still waits, loves and hopes.”

D.

Coldplay and Viva la Vida
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, November 11 2008 @ 10:04 AM PST
OK.

Once last observation from me (JVS).

When I got home on Sunday and talked with my wife Fran about the service, she said she really was moved by the message, but didn’t hear the words of the song as the direct voice of the Spirit (as I had inferred in the sermon).

At first I was a bit taken aback by her words. “How could those words not be, the whole message was premised on this assumption?” I asked. She responded by saying, “I heard the lyrics as being those of some past revolutionary… as opposed to the words of Christ.” What she meant was that Christ’s revolutionary vision and experience was far greater and more authoritative that the lyricists. The song lyrics reminded her of the greater revolutionary vision; the greatest. I sensed she had this kind of, “Yeah, but in Christ there’s more” lens through which she looked/listened.

I, of course agree with that, and yet still hold onto the idea of the Holy Spirit speaking truth, in part, through the song itself. (Which doesn’t make the the whole song truth, but it does claim it’s truthful components as Gods).

Anyway, what hit me in processing this matter was the old idea of thesis and anti-thesis. Abraham Kuyper was an old Dutch theologian who first coined the dichotomy. Yes God speaks through common grace, authoring truth in the world, even through those outside of the faith, but right along side this reality is sin’s evil presence distorting, limiting, polutting and muting that truth. Both thesis and anti-thesis present in the same reality… in the same song… at the same time.

Need to process this a bit more. :)

finding humility


I desperately need to be humbled. Yesterday I read that bible story about the time King David got haughty about his success (by taking a census of his troop strength just to see how strong he was). This faithless act was hugely offensive to God. By counting David seemed to be taking credit. In measuring he was gloating, or perhaps putting his trust in mere military strength. Either way, he took his eye of the ball, and all the king’s people ended up paying the price…

Reading the story reminded me of all of my fears and propensities in this regard. I know that I’ve matured in some areas but others still haunt me. I check our web page sermon download stats way too often. I imagine my book (“my”) enjoying great sales success. I read the news with past sermons in mind; hoping that what I’d preached ends up coming true (re: Obama and the Credit Crisis). Sometimes I’ll quote myself; which is so pathetic if you think about it. There’s a big difference between re-stating something and quoting yourself having written something before. I’m still offended that a local newspaper won’t publish my editorial submissions like they used to. And the one they recently did express interest in (and haven’t published yet) drive me nuts. When I get the paper, the first thing I do is turn to the back page. When I send a note to a Globe and Mail reporter about another news matter and she responds to me, I’m elated. I often catch myself being more willing to answer my cell when the media calls.

I count all the time.

And a few minutes ago it really hit me; just how wrong this is. I was in tears thinking that my behaviour might somehow be limiting God’s work in our faith community. I know that God works his will in spite of me all the time, but in this matter I really feel like I’m the problem. I have this deep sense that I need to get past this, but how?

I want nothing more than for God’s message through this church to get out there into the world. I want it to get out there in compelling, creative and unimaginable ways. And I don’t want my ego to stand in the way. But I don’t know how to change myself. I can’t. And yet, the feeling of remorse I feel, the sense of the gravity of this matter is weighing heavily on me.

My prayer is that this feeling is the first step to moving on; getting over myself.

I hope so.

grocery cart epiphany


Walking the other day, I was, once again, thinking about how to better wake up to my life. I don’t want it to pass by in a blur. I want each day, each moment to be alive; to be filled with eternity. Nearing my home, I saw an older Filipina woman struggling across the street…

She was trying to pull a fully loaded grocery pull cart up over a curb. (You know those carts that people sometimes use. I used one when I delivered newspapers as a kid. Looking back I was pretty good at manipulating my overloaded charge).

Anyway I notice this lady struggling, and my conscience whispers, “Help her.” A day earlier I’d attended a university lecture where a Cambridge professor spoke of how God’s Spirit impresses an “imperceptible persuasion on our wills.” Sometimes the voice of conscience and the Holy Spirit’s whispers seem synonymous. Whenever this happens my first reaction is to squelch that voice; ignore it. Slowly I’m learning how not to do this. So I crossed the street and offered to help.

Her groceries weighed a ton. Her load was way beyond her axle limit. No sooner had I gone half a block, two of the cart’s four wheels disintegrated. The woman looked at me and said, “That’s what I was worried about. They were starting to go.” I tilted the cart on an angle and pulled it the rest of the way home. “She’d never have been able to do this,” I thought.

Walking that last block we talked a bit (as much as she was willing to talk with a total stranger). Within two minutes she’d told me about her ongoing breast cancer treatments. The cancer had come back and moved into her lymph nodes, now disabling her right arm. Only then did I notice that her arm was in a sling underneath her coat.

Deeply moved, all I could think was, “What if I didn’t come over?”

Within a few minutes I’d lifted the cart up into the foyer of her modest townhome. “Do you have someone to care for you,” I asked. She said she had a couple of children (they were at work at the moment). Then she thanked me and I headed home; shaken… fully awake.

I’m still wondering if I should buy her a new cart. I keep imagining one with big all-terrain wheels and a heavy duty axle.