jesus and the invisibility cloak

21 09 2014

You know the story about Jesus and the invisibility cloak? Well, technically it wasn’t his. Maybe that’s what confused you. It’s not a well-known artefact in New Testament studies, but then, it’s easy to hide with an invisibility cloak. 

The story begins with a woman, name unknown. This woman is invisible. Or at least, she wears an invisibility cloak. When she walks the streets, nobody sees her. She is still there; they can still bump into her. It’s hard not to bump into someone you can’t see.  She doesn’t like being invisible, but when you wear the cloak, there’s not much you can do about it. 

Except at night. The cloak doesn’t work at night. At night she is seen, especially by men. Men who can pay. They see her… or, they see something in their heads, they definitely touch her, but they still don’t ‘see’ her. And they certainly don’t see her when walking with their wife in the market the following day. But at least she feels she exists at night.

Or that was how she felt. Until she met this man. Not the usual meeting with a man. He was… different. He didn’t take advantage of her, exploit her; he didn’t look straight through her. He looked straight at her. He saw her. Properly saw her. And he saw her yearning to be different, her shame over her lifestyle and her hopelessness about changing it. And he changed it for her. He forgave her. The cloak of invisibility lifted from her. She felt no shame. She felt… alive! 

 She needed to say thank you. She knew this man would be having dinner with a man called Simon that evening. Simon was the opposite to her. He was very visible. When he walked through the market, people didn’t bump into him; they saw him and moved out of the way. She was a sinner; he was righteous. Or so they all thought. So for one last time she put on the cloak, and joined the other invisible people at the edge of the party, hoping for scraps from the table.

It didn’t go to plan. Amazed at Simon’s rudeness to Jesus, the invisible woman took control. She tore off the invisibility cloak, and knelt at Jesus’ feet. She wept on his feet, dried them with her hair and poured perfume on them. The crowd were stunned at such a brazen act. Did this woman not know she was meant to be invisible? Simon waited for Jesus to rebuke her. Instead, he rebuked Simon. The proud man, the righteous man, the visible man. Jesus showed him for what he was. Visible, but hollow. Unlike her, who was invisible but full of love.

Looking at the woman and talking to Simon, Jesus asked: You see this woman? No, thought Simon. The point of women like this is you do not see them. They are invisible. But Jesus went on. He commended the woman for her love, shown in such dramatic fashion. And he rebuked Simon for his rudeness. At this point Simon wished he was invisible. Your sin are forgiven, Jesus said to her. Go in peace.

The woman left with her head held high. And she left the invisibility cloak crumpled on the floor, never to be worn again. 

This is a true story. I may have made up the cloak bit.

If you feel like you are invisible, this story is for you.
If you feel like a sinner unworthy of Jesus’ attention, this story is for you.
If other people have put the cloak on you, this story is for you.
If you have put the cloak on yourself, this story is for you.
If you put the cloak on others, this story is for you.

May we leave our invisibility cloaks behind as we follow him. 

 

 





sacrificing jack

16 09 2011

—caution: plot spoilers!—

He who was immortal became mortal, and it was his mortal blood that was sacrificed for the salvation of the world. Following the offering of blood in sacrificial death, there came resurrection. The man in question… J.. J… Jack. Captain Jack.

the trinity?

So Torchwood ended last night. Epic story telling from Russell T. Davies that we got used to in Doctor Who and that has been sadly lacking in the bite-size adventures of Stephen Moffat’s Doctor. Davies’ Doctor looked outwards with big stories about humanity, salvation and the power of sacrifice; Moffatt’s looks inwards to saving the Doctor and his friends from their Boy’s Own adventures.

Back to Torchwood. Yes, this series was nothing compared to Children of Men; disappointingly Americanised, way too long, too many pointless plot deviations, not enough emotional depth and as Gwen herself said, contained nothing extra-terrestrial. But the last 2 episodes were much better. And the ending at least restored some faith in the Big Story.

Big Story is important. Some call it meta-narrative. Story that helps us find our place, our meaning, that tells us about Big Things. This Torchwood ended as many of Russell T. Davies’ Doctor Who stories ended: stories of personal sacrifice, of salvation, of resurrection. This ending particularly had so many echoes of the sacrificial death of Jesus. In fact, you can’t help but chuckle at Russell T Davies use of religious metaphor as the first words Gwen spoke after Jack’s blood saved the world: “Jesus Christ Almighty”. Then Jesus Jack came back to life. Resurrected.

Then there’s Jack’s words spoken to the most unlikely of characters, Bill Pullman‘s creepy paedophile Oswald Danes. Jack, for all his own moral ambiguity, tells Danes, “you’ve made your life so small.” Maybe in this Big Story, that even tries to find redemption for the paradigm of the most hated figure of our time, there’s an encouragement for us to live bigger lives, looking outside of ourselves and the darkness within  to look outwards and upwards, to the author and perfector of all things. In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life.

What would we sacrifice, and for whom? Because we know real life. That begins before death. A bigger life. That is a real Blessing.





brick

18 05 2010

reclaimed:before

There is a brick.
Old, used, dirty.
From a bathroom, a house, a wall,
Inside, outside, who knows.
But what was once solid, stable, full of purpose
Now, discarded, broken, useless.
Separated.
Forgotten.

Until today.
Today the brick was rediscovered,
Uncovered,
Recovered.

Reclaimed.

Rescued from the skip
From the pile, from the ground.

Reclaimed.

Bricks:reclaiming

Reclaimed and chiselled and cleaned and reshaped.
Reclaimed and re-made.
Reclaimed and chosen and saved and tenderly loved.
A brick?
A humble old brick.

Reclaimed:after

A new brick, for a new wall.
Mis-shapen, chipped, scarred.
A wall with reclaimed old bricks
Is patchy, odd, shabby.
Wonky.
Beautiful.

Reclaimed,
Redeemed,
and re-made.
The old made new.
The old made new.

Bricks:reclaimed (I didn't build this one!)

……………………………..
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doctor who. protest. forget. abdicate.

12 04 2010

[Warning: Doctor Who plot spoiler from 10/04/10]

which doctor

So the Star Whale takes Starship UK on its own back to lead it from danger. A willing sacrifice made to save the human race (well, the UK) (except Scotland) (no change there) from destruction. The human race does not trust though, does not believe, cannot see a selfless act as just that: a selfless act. It captures the whale, forcing it to power the ship, torturing it in order to force it to do their will.

All the adults know this. They know that they have taken the very last Star Whale, and are torturing it to death, slowly, and feeding it with their own flesh and blood. They know, but they cannot live with it. So they are given a choice. They can protest against the treatment, the murder, the Police-state. But protest leads to their own death. The other option is to forget. Memory is erased, everyone carries on as if everything is normal. Fine.

Protest, or forget.

The Queen gets another option. She also knows. She is the highest authority. She can forget, or abdicate. She forgets, everything carries on. If she abdicates, the Star Whale is freed, the ship loses power, and everyone dies. Everyone. Every 10 years, she chooses to forget.

a different kind of queen

This is of course not real life, but Doctor Who: The Beast Below. There are parallels with the red pill/blue pill in The Matrix. And many parallels with life.

Having recently watched BBC Panorama’s Chocolate: the Bitter Truth, is it about the secret that we know most of our chocolate is produced using child slave labour  but we choose to forget. Because if we remembered, we couldn’t live with it. Children, fed to the monster. Protest? And not eat our favourite chocolate? Fat chance. We choose to forget, every time.

forget

Is it about the fact that our economic system, built on debt and gambling and insatiable greed, is unsustainable, rewarding those at the top of the pile for gambling with someone else‘s money and laying off those at the bottom of the pile at the first sign of trouble. We all know, but we all need it, or we wouldn’t have our mortgages, our credit cards, our overdrafts. Protest, we lose easy credit and our greed is unsatisfied and we have to look inside our own heads and see how unfulfilled we are. Or forget, carry on as before, even after the great crash of 2009.We choose to forget, every time.

Or maybe it is about the one and only of his kind, not a Star Whale but the son of god, who took the world on his back and carried it to safety, but was mistrusted, tortured, and left to die. He who when people looked into his eyes, they could never forget, and ended up protesting too much. We try to forget, every time.

Maybe it is about us, we who know what Jesus has done, but cannot handle it, cannot accept it; who instead of accepting his sacrifice tie him up and want him to do our bidding, to do it our way, with us in charge, not accepting selfless love but making him a slave to our bidding. That, or we forget, we ignore it, we allow our relationship to become a habit to become a religion to become a prison and we ignore the Star Whale that powers the ship that leads us through the asteroid belt and to safety before we even asked it to.

Protest, forget, or abdicate? Abdicate. Hand over the power. Leave the world in the hands of the dying whale, and watch everything die with it. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll be surprised that once you hand your power to the whale, the whale chooses life. Your life. Our life. My life.

To gain your life you must lose it. To hold power you must be prepared to give it up. Long live the Star Whale.

who's smiling?

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