Did any of you see the recent movie Argo,
directed by and starring Ben Affleck? It’s about a secret operation to
extract six U.S. diplomatic personnel who escaped from the U.S. Embassy
at the beginning of the Iran Hostage Crisis. That historical event
happened in 1980.
In May of that year, Mount St. Helens
erupted, hurling steam and ash 60,000 feet into the sky. The November
1980 election put Ronald Reagan in the White House, replacing Jimmy
Carter. That December, Beatle John Lennon was shot to death outside his
New York City apartment. Oh yes, that’s right, most of us think. But old news is just that—old news—we don’t think about it much.
Not to the Christians living in Jerusalem in the year A.D. 66. Roughly 32 years earlier Jesus had prophesied:
you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know that its
destruction is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the
mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country
not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment
of all that has been written.”
(Luke 21:20-24, the Olivet Discourse)
the late summer of 66 A.D., 32 years after Jesus spoke those words, a
Roman force of 40,000 soldiers came from Galilee to quell a riot in
Jerusalem. Would you believe that huge army was not only resisted, but
in their triumph, the jubilant Jewish defenders began promoting the
cause of complete independence from Rome. In the spring of AD. 67 the
Romans began their retaliation under the ruthless leadership of Titus,
the son of the Emperor Vespasian. He led the 50,000 troops that had
gathered on the Mediterranean Coast toward Jerusalem to lay siege to
remembering the words of Jesus spoken three decades earlier, began
leaving in large numbers, settling in Pella, on the west side of the
Jordan River and north of Jerusalem.
70 Jerusalem fell into Roman hands. According to Josephus, 1 million
were casualties of war or of starvation. Some 100,000 were led away to
work the Egyptian mines; others were distributed to amphitheaters to be
slaughtered in spectacles. As predicted by Jesus, “they were taken prisoners to all the nations.” The temple and the city were completely leveled.
The assigned text for Advent Sunday 1 also relates to prophecy, about the end of times:
will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be
in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People
will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world,
for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the
Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these
things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because
your redemption is drawing near. ... Be always on the watch, and pray
that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that
you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
What things? Here’s a compilation from the same discourse as found in the first three Gospels:
• Famines • Earthquakes • Roaring of the seas • Pestilence
• Israel highlighted among the nations of the world
• Persecutions and killings of Christians
• The Gospel being preached in all nations as well as many turning away from Christ
• False Christs • Signs in the heavens
we moderns need to pay attention to the words of Jesus the Christ,
whose warnings from centuries back are eerily apropos to our times.
word “Advent” means “coming” and the season, which begins in December
and marks the beginning of the new church calendar, is about both the
original and the yet-to-take-place coming of Jesus into our world. It
is my opinion that Christians need to spend more time considering the
Second Coming of Christ. We need to pay attention to Christ’s words to “be always on the watch.”
We need to look at the news media through the grid of the above list.
What do we think of Hurricane Sandy or of global warming seen through
the lens of Christ’s warnings?
doesn’t just go on forever. Scripture teaches about a final showdown
between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, God and Satan.
And it’s a winner-takes-all clash.
The early Church
took seriously what Jesus said in His discourse on the Mount of Olives.
They believed that He knew what He was talking about. Acting on His
words, they saved their lives. My contention is that we also should
trust what Jesus has to say. Our generation needs to “be always on the watch.”
let us welcome Christ this Christmas and remember His First Coming, but
let us also seriously consider his words of warning about the events
surrounding His Second Coming. Let us dedicate ourselves to thinking
intentionally about what that reality will impose upon the way we live
our lives this coming year, 2013.
Nigeria Post-Trip Report From David
prayers for me and the crew were felt during the Nigeria film project
for Medical Ambassadors International. We captured the footage we
needed, worked together in harmony, love and laughter, and walked among
some Africans who surely must be God’s “princes of the earth.” The Boko
Haram extremist group has been increasing its attacks on Christians to
almost daily slaughters. Pray for our Christian brothers and sisters
and particularly for Dayo Obaweya, Medical Ambassador International’s
Regional Coordinator, who oversees some 174 West African countries. He
is a “marked” man.
Lord, We pray for angelic hosts to surround this brother and his
family. Protect them from the evil one. We plead over him the blood of
Christ. Make his witness strong in these perilous times. Give him grace
David With Elders of a Nigerian Village
Listening to the Messiah
A personal tradition I like to follow is to listen to a recording of Handel’s Messiah
from start to finish with the scorebook in my hand so that I can follow
the music in a more tactile and tangible way than one would experience
at a concert (although a good listener could bring the score along and
heighten the listening experience).
of course, is not just about Christ’s birth, but involves a compilation
of Old Testament prophecies that tell about His coming and the reason
for His life on Earth. We’ve included this exercise as a meditation
tool in the last few 24-Hour Advent Retreats of Silence. (I was glad to
see that the tradition was continued again this year—I know, since
Sibyl Towner borrowed my five scorebooks.)
If you have never
carved out this opportunity, I highly recommend it. The rooms of my
hall, the very walls just seem filled with glory and I find myself
singing many of the lyrics and melodies all through the Advent and
Writers' Memoir-Writing Course
Souls will be offering another 8-month memoir-writing course, conducted
via conference call and e-mail, beginning March 2013. (This is a change
from the previous announcement, due to Karen Mains’ extended 2013
travel and freelance assignments, including film projects overseas). We
have built this curriculum for adult students over the last two years.
You must have a sample memoir piece written for purposes of submission
when you register. We will have two conference calls a month, and an
editorial team, headed by Karen Mains, will evaluate your submissions.
Unlike past years, this memoir-writing course will include a section on
digital publishing, blog-writing, self-publishing, etc. The cost to the
members of the Hungry Souls list will be $600, including a $150 fee
with your registration (the course will be advertised on the Internet
for a fee of $800; that’s $100 a month). If you are interested and want
to plan to make a deposit, we must have $300 by the end of February as
a token of your sincere interest in joining, doing the work and
attending the conference calls. Funds can be written as a check to
Karen Mains, Hungry Souls and sent to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187. We
will also set up a Internet registration process and a PayPal payment
plan. However, there is only room for 8 paying participants and 2
Registration will open in January.
Global Bag Project Year-End Gift Possibilities
fulfilling an order for some 500 bags, the store closet shelves in the
sewing room are empty of product! Since we are still operating on thin
margins, we wonder if some of you would like to do some vicarious
shopping for fabrics (via a year-end gift) so the Global Bag Project
seamstresses will be able to keep sewing without a break in their work
schedules (no work means no pay means straightened circumstances for
our Kenyan friends).
Here are some gift ideas:
1. Gifts that total $1000 to begin re-supplying the fabric storage closets. No fabric supply means no work.
2. Sewing machines for $300. These are dual-power treadle machines.
3. GBP is moving into the training phases for our Kenyan model. We have been training other would-be seamstresses and can use funds to pay for a sewing teacher for around $300.
In addition, we are beginning business training with micro-loans for
those women who want to move their locus of business from the sewing
room to their own homes (many of them walk miles to the campus of
African International University).
If you order ASAP, there is actually time to choose bag colors and sizes from our Web site, www.GlobalBagProject.org.
We have enough supply to fulfill orders and mail them out next week.
Think bottle bags, think medium-sized shopping bags, think book bags,
PC computer and iPod sleeves, think patchwork aprons.
Knowing how ruinous plastic bags are to our ecology, why are you still carrying plastic bags? Remember that the purchase of a GBP bag feeds a family AND helps to preserve the planet.
can send a check in the mail (information above) or you can donate over
the GBP Web site by clicking the Donate button to use PayPal.
Karen's Blogs for Next Week
Link is http://blog.karenmains.com/blog/thoughts-by-karen-mains.
Titles for next week include “Too Many Dishes,” “Early-Morning
Meditation on the Cross,” “Farm-Girl Morning” and “The New Roof That
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web
site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
“The early Church took
seriously what Jesus said in His discourse on the Mount of Olives. They
believed that He knew what He was talking about. Acting on His words,
they saved their lives. My contention is that we also should trust what
Jesus has to say. Our generation needs to 'be always on the watch.'”
OF GODS AND MEN
have been thinking about David’s sermon for Advent Sunday One these
last two weeks. The point for me in watching and being ready for the
events Christ predicted would surround His Second Coming is not to run
for the hills but to be available to all those around me who have not
yet come to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. In hard times,
under distressful circumstances, what can we do for our neighbors? I
will be writing about these thoughts in 2013.
There are two
activities that I think are ideal to put ourselves in the mood for
watching and being prepared. One movie, with its somber tone and tragic
ending and its deep spiritual impact is more fitting for the mood of
Christmas, I believe, than much of the hoopla that surrounds us. I
would like to recommend Of Gods and Men. I’m guessing that few of you have seen it.
the movie-review-aggregation Web site, notes that the film has a
“Tomatometer” (aggregate approval rating) of 93%, based on reviews from
98 critics. Rotten Tomatoes also succinctly catches the tone of this film with the blurb: “Patient and restrained, Of Gods and Men asks deep, profound questions that will linger in the audience’s mind long after the movie.”
of the Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film for 2011 as well as
the Grand Prize Cannes Film Festival, this is a movie that is
surprisingly profound in its statements of faith. Film critic Ann
Hornaday writes: “Set in a Cistercian [Catholic] monastery in Algeria
in the 1990s, director Xavier Beauvois’s haunting, exquisitely crafted
film achieves a flawless balance between taut, truth-based contemporary
drama and the timeless question of spiritual commitment and obedience.”
on a true story of a group of monks from the monastery of Tibhirine,
Algeria, this film doesn’t specifically identify the local, except we
know that the monks are French (as its film-master), the story is
specifically and perhaps for some unremittingly spiritual and the black
and white photography is stunning, in the filmic masterpiece category.
Critic Philip Martin catches this aptly in his description, “But you
can’t really argue with Beauvois; methods, the way he composes with
faces and the blocking of movements. There is a deep and fluid
intelligence working in every scene, and every slant of light is tuned
not just for beauty, but for effect. Of Gods and Men combines a documentary-style naturalism with the rigor of classicism—any frame from the film might stand as a work of art.
I love about the message of the film is it clearly deals with the
agonizing conflict of what it means to be called to be a light in the
world, particularly a world that is treacherous and filled with
ambiguity, asking questions like, “Who really is the enemy?” This is
not an easy film to watch, and the ending is powerful, but it deals
more really than most holiday films with the meaning of Christ’s coming
into our lives that must be lived out in this real world.
Martin concludes, “It is a movie that made me sad and proud to be
human, to belong to a species capable of such cruelty and such
kindness, and possessed of the power to choose to love those who hate
us, and to die with peace in our hearts as the world burns down.”
I’ve ordered a copy of the DVD for our personal film library.
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