The Son of Man will come with Glory

This week I’ve been in a block teaching module called Preaching From the Synoptics. 

It’s been a great, if long and somewhat intense, couple of days looking at some of the background of Matthew, Mark and Luke’s Gospels with a particular eye on how this might influence the decisions which we have to make when we plan a sermon.

At the end of the first afternoon we did a workshop exercise together called ‘Ten to Two’.

The premise was simple.

We would have ten minutes to pick a point from Mark 13 (which we had just been discussing) and plan a two minute reflection on it. However it had to be in keeping with the rest of the chapter. That is, we couldn’t just pick the word ‘temple’ and talk about Churches etc.

This was more than just a creative writing exercise as we then each took it in turns to present our reflections to the group! It was truly fascinating to get a glimpse at the sheer variety of ways that people could engage with the passage and of the wealth of approaches and methods we might take. Some presentations were profound, others inspiring and some were even quite funny. Mine, well I’m not quite sure how I would categorise mine. Perhaps as a mix between the imagery of Mark 13 and the Lord of the Rings?

Let me know what you think in the comments below; either about my reflection or of anything which has stood out for you from mark 13 before.

The Son of Man will come with Glory 

There will be death,
and destruction…

A shadow of despair shall permeate the land.

The temple will fall. Families will breakdown and the sound of singing will become as a forgotten memory – belonging more properly to the legends of old.

“When will this happen?” They asked.

Jesus casts his eyes down at the still standing temple and replies almost wistfully…

Many will come claiming that they are the messiah…

They will walk in the darkness with strips of cloth bound across their eyes.

They will shout loudly, but their voices shall be muffled in the tepid air.

Yet more will come…

Ones with their own vain promises,
others with foolish desires and ambition.

But when the Son of Man comes…

When the Son of Man comes he shall come with great power and glory on the clouds. 

And the dawn shall break forth on a new day; shedding the shadows of Death, dispelling the fears of the hopeless. There will be such a light as has never been seen while the birds start to sing when the Son of Man returns to what is his.


 

Stephen Motyer has written a great book on the return of Christ which actually examines Mark 13 in detail. Read my review if you’re interested to know more. 

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The Sun’s Favourite Moment

A Creative Writing Piece

Let me tell you a little known fact about the Sun. It can be all too easy to see him from our humble perspective, a giant light roaming the sky by day, a constant by whom we live and plan our lives. We can even be tempted to put our thinking hats on, to use our knowledge grown over the centuries to chart his course, to determine his size, to craft telescopes that can not only look closer but also to use thermal imaging to look at the different hot spots which flare across the surface of this orb of burning gas.

But the truth is that just as we can see him, he can see us – and from his perspective, well from his perspective he’s an artist. He crafts the red hues of the dawn. He brings the lakes and oceans of the world to life, causing them to shimmer and sparkle. He gives the glow of life to the green of each leaf and petal of each and every plant and tree in our world. He doesn’t just light up the world, but he casts the shadows which stretch and shrink across it, he pierces through clouds to give us golden beams, throwing his rays through the multitude of raindrops and the spray of waterfalls in order to paint rainbows of hope.

As far as we are concerned, he drifts across the sky to leave us in the night. But he is always there, painting the canvass before him as it spins on its way through the solar system. Yet even in the night, this artist lends his brush to his friend the moon who emulates his work though with a different palette of silvers and blues rather than his golds and reds. The truth is, the Sun delights in his masterpieces which are forever changing, always living and moving.

However, there are moments which even from his throne in the heavens strike him as magical. One of those moments, my friend, you would not believe because we humans from our perspectives have dismissed even the mere possibility of its occurrence. Even if we were to accept the possibility, we wouldn’t dare to believe in its actuality. Yet make no mistake, for it is this unbelieved moment which is the Sun’s favourite – rare as it is.

The Sun chooses his brush and times his particular explosion of a gas spot on his face just so. If we were to watch at that precise moment, it would seem as if a wayward strand of hair had fluttered on his cheek but from that movement, seemingly small though in reality larger than Europe and Africa combined, is unleashed rays which shall stream as solar surf through the ocean of space before crashing against the atmosphere of the earth. The rays bend on impact, redirected to their allotted canvass. They wash through the sky, staining it as clear a blue as you’ve ever seen, and caress a mountain range. The snow capped mountains shine as crowns upon rocky giants dressed in vibrant garments of the finest green forests. The shadows cast by the peaks shroud some of these forests in darker greens, the contrast highlighting the life and fertility of the whole scene. This scene, should we ever see it, would seem to us to be magnificent, but to the Sun it’s simply lovely.

The magic is in the details.

Surveying this scene you may well have overlooked a small clearing, a space in and amidst the trees where the woodland creatures will congregate to drink from the winding stream which shall someday make its way as a tributary to one of the great rainforest rivers offering up the basin’s love to the ocean. With patience, one can watch a variety of deer and mountain goats wander through to the clearing to bow their heads to lap at the cool water as it burbles and trickles down from the mountains. Occasionally you would get to observe wolves coming too, either to drink or to hunt. At the right time of year you may even get to watch the bears appear to playfully paw at the jumping salmon migrating to their traditional spawning pools upstream. Magnificent, we declare, before retreating to civilisation and our lives. We would be sure to tell all our friends of the wonders we had seen and yet for the Sun these scenes are lovely. He smiles upon them, glad that he has painted vistas which will always be remembered.

For the Sun though, his favourite of moments – quite rare, even to his gaze – comes when he has washed the skies with blue, has crowned the rocky giants and painted the forest with his mottled rays and shadows. His treasured moment comes only when his rays are reflected by a gleaming sword entering the clearing. The golden flash arcs along this living blade and as it’s bearer steps into the clearing, the light seems to somehow fill and inhabit each and every sinew of its four legs. It swells up within it chest and shimmers with a radiance proper to a lake on a clear summers day. The Sun delights in painting the golden mane which flutters as a banner down its neck, he highlights every gently swishing hair of its tail. The sorrel hide cloaks the beast which would be too truly a majestic stead even for the greatest heroes of renown. With a gentle nickering chuckle, the unicorn raises his head to the sky to greet his old friend the Sun. Bursting with joy, the Sun enthusiastically bathes the clearing with his purest brush-strokes; revelling in the glory of the flickering firegolds of the horn, whilst using it to sweep the ground beneath his hooves with a javelin shadow. The portrait silhouette melts into the rushing blues of the water as the unicorn lowers his head down to drink, the tip of his horn dipping into the water and seemingly bending in the diffracted light. Tossing his mane back, the Unicorn basks in the loving warmth of the Sun’s rays before strolling out of the clearing. It is this, this moment which is the Sun’s favourite to illuminate and illustrate. With a contented sigh, he draws the shadows of dusk over the mountains, draping the clearing with a final curtain for the day, and turning his gaze to fill the sky with ambers tinged with purple, he cherishes the moment and savours it as a memory to guard until the next time. When the next time will be, he doesn’t know. This is a rare moment even for him after all.

The night falls, and clocks tick along as we humans lay in our beds dreaming of work the following morning. We talk to our friends late into the night using our cleverness and science to send messages vast distances instantaneously, and yet for all our cleverness and knowledge all we can imagine as great or wondrous is only really considered pleasant and pleasing in the eyes of the Sun who anonymously paints our world for us, day by day. You would do well, my friend, to listen to what I have to tell you – the Sun is an artist and if we remember that, then we can start to see glimpses of the beauty of this life of ours all around us. As for the secret of the unicorn in the clearing, that is one scene which we are all to easy to disbelieve. If only we could share in that moment with the Sun, we would see something rare and precious; something truly beautiful and we would share in a joy which burns as bright and enduringly as the Sun himself.


I wrote this for a friend over a year ago and just rediscovered it so I thought I would share – I hope you enjoy it!