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York Course ... Jesus Re-discovered

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Jesus Re-discovered is one of the older courses but seems to fit our needs at this stage of our journey as a church.  An outline of the course is below followed by the text from the CD. We will be posting the text of each of the five parts as we get to them.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE VENUES AND DATES AT THIS LINK


Jesus Rediscovered Course Booklet

      5 sessions:

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         1. Jesus' Life and Teaching
         2. Following Jesus
         3. Jesus: Saviour of the World
         4. Jesus is Lord
         5. Jesus and the Church

You can think you know someone and then they do or say something that makes you wonder whether you really do.

This is something that happens again and again to those who study the Bible, in particular the New Testament. And nowhere do these surprises hit you more than in reading the life and teaching of Jesus.

So Jesus Rediscovered is truly about re-discovering who Jesus was, what he taught, and what that means for his followers today. Prepare to be surprised, even shocked - but every generation of Christians has to do this rediscovering for themselves.

Also included in the booklet and on the audio material a number of present day Christians share what Jesus means to them.

Jesus Rediscovered deals with issues of interest to all Christians, but might be especially appropriate to those who feel this is the time to refresh their vision with a bit of a challenge.

The course booklet, written by Canon John Young, includes questions aimed at provoking wide-ranging discussion  . In addition many groups find the transcript invaluable;  SO FOLLOW IT BELOW as we do the course.


CD Track [1]


Welcome to Jesus Rediscovered. We’re delighted to have the former Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, to introduce the course.

David: For Christians, Jesus Christ is the centre of life and faith whatever the date. But in this millennium year we rightly pay particular attention to the Gospels, and to the Gospel or Good News. This course is intended to help us in that holy and exciting endeavour. Its title Jesus Rediscovered reminds us that no matter how familiar we may be with the Christian story, each one of us has more - much more - to learn about the significance of Jesus Christ for our lives and our world. It’s remarkable to be able to sit at the feet of several such fine teachers, in the comfort of our homes. And it’s good to have the opportunity of learning from one another through shared insights and lively discussion. We won’t always agree with one another - but that just adds to the fun. If past York Courses are a guide, tens of thousands will participate in this course, from a wide range of Churches and traditions. I pray that whether you listen to the tape on your own, or join a group, that you will rediscover Jesus for yourself, finding in him inspiration, challenge, comfort, forgiveness and strength.

 

SESSION ONE  Life and Teaching of Jesus

Hello, I’m Simon Stanley and I’m your host for these five sessions. I shall be joined by a star-studded cast of five main contributors whose credentials are given in the booklet that accompanies this CD. Several others will join them in answering the question, ‘What does Jesus mean to me?’ You’ll find them at the very end of the CD, after Session 5.

 

CD Track [2]

Jesus’ ministry began with two dramatic events, both of which raise problems. First there’s his baptism. The New Testament tells us that Jesus was baptised by his cousin, John; it also tells us that John’s baptism signified repentance for sin, and that Jesus was sinless. So Jesus was the one person who didn’t to be baptised. We turn to Sister Lavinia Byrne to help us sort that out.

Lavinia: Jesus was baptised because he was committing himself  to  the  next  stage  of  his  journey.  He  was sinless so he didn’t need baptism in the sense that we need baptism. But he was taking on the sign value of a commitment, publicly. And I think that’s why the baptism narrative is written up with that extraordinary account of the descent of the Spirit, who says, “This is my beloved son and I am well pleased in him”. Now, I was once at church in Kentish Town in London and the parish priest used to go up and down asking questions, saying to the children, you know, “what did you learn  today?” And he stopped in front of this lovely little girl, who had curls and curls of hair, and he said to her, “what did God the Father say to Jesus as he came out of the water?” And the little girl said, “you are my beloved daughter and I love you very much.” And it seems to me she had understood what that baptism was about.

[3] Sister Lavinia went on to talk not about the baptism of Jesus but about the meaning of our baptism.

Lavinia: I was once on an Israeli tourist bus. And as we came back down the river Jordan, we stopped at a place where the tour guide said to us, “if you’re a Christian, you might like to know that this is where Jesus was baptised, and if you haven’t been baptised, and you’d like to be baptised, baptise yourself!” And I thought this is wonderful, she knows baptism is important but she doesn’t know the messages it bears about becoming a Christian, becoming a follower of Jesus, being cleansed from one way of life and being prepared for another way of life. But I’ve loved that expression, “baptise yourself”. You know - assume your baptism. Take it on board. Accept the fact that you’re baptised. I thought that was rather wonderful really.

[4] Mark tells us that after his baptism the Holy Spirit thrust Jesus out into the wilderness, where he fasted and was tempted. And that’s our second puzzle: was Jesus tempted? If so, what does that tell us about him - and about us? This time we invite Paul Boateng to help us solve this puzzle.

Paul: At the heart of our humanity is our vulnerability. And so if this Jesus is uniquely important, God manifesting himself to us in this unique way, then you have to buy the whole package. And therefore you have to buy the fact that he would have been subjected to the same temptations that affect us all. And what we learn, surely, is that God with us can help us overcome those temptations. But even in our vulnerability, there he is, the power of the love of God to make us whole again.

In what way does that help us in daily life?

Paul: Jesus helps me in every aspect of my life. But we are as human beings very, very vulnerable. We fail. Our lives are all too often a battleground. And we have to make something of it. We have to be constantly striving, we who are trying to be Christians. That’s why, you know, I always think about my faith as an attempt to be a Christian. I am very, very wary of those who have all the answers, who have complete and utter certainty. I am not certain of anything - except the love of God. And I am absolutely certain about that. And I feel buoyed up and embraced by that, every moment of every day of my life. That’s the certainty for me.

[5] Joel Edwards picks up a different theme from the temptation narratives.

Joel: I suspect that the most profound things which happen to us don’t happen to us in crowded places. Like Moses, like Jesus, they happen to us very often in isolation. Who was it? - it was one of the great - Sangster, I think it was who said, “if you are alone, so much the better, there is more room for God.” And I think that’s what Jesus was experiencing here. That’s how God often operates; he sometimes gets us to himself to get our attention and to do something quite radical with us.

[6] Following his baptism and temptation, Jesus spent a night in prayer before calling that mixed bunch of twelve disciples. Then he set out on his ministry of teaching, preaching and healing. What were the main elements of his teaching? We ask Joel Edwards again.

Joel: The Kingdom has come, is the number one thing; forgiveness; the need of love; a consciousness about community and human relationships. Central to all of that is suffering - the way of suffering; the cross; his resurrection. Certainly the New Testament Gospels are replete with the theme of his love and cross. And I think running through all of that the Beatitudes - for example, Sermon on the Mount, right attitudes, has to be at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. So it runs right the way from human relationships, relationship with God in the Kingdom and our attitude, which are sustained in all of them. So he is actually re-asserting the priorities of the Kingdom, the priorities of God, which have been there all along, but which may now have been communicated  in  a  new,  vibrant,  rigorous,  maybe even shocking way, but is the same old truth re- presented to his audience.

[7] If they’re some of the main themes of his teaching, what about its style? Why did Jesus use parables? Joel Edwards again, followed by Sister Lavinia Byrne.

Joel: Isn’t that funny that he did that. And that some of the most profound questions, which he may have answered for my benefit two thousand years later, he refused to answer like, ‘what is truth?’. I would have loved him to answer that - because we could do some very good sermons on that. And there does seem to be an ability of Jesus to put around his sermons, around some of his teachings, a shroud of mystery, which rather than alienates the true disciple, pulls them closer in for a clearer, more intimate, audience. And I think the mystery of some of Jesus’ teaching is probably one way in which he separates the crowd from the disciples. Disciples press in and they will ask ‘why’ - the crowd may not want to do that.

Lavinia: I think any good teacher teaches in parables, because any good teacher knows how important it is to paint pictures; to create sounds; to focus light on the narrative that you are telling. If you tell a story, it’s memorable, and something memorable is going to be carried by your imagination in ways that go far beyond the sheer scope of words. It’s quite significant, isn’t it, that Jesus doesn’t feel the need to explain what he has taught in a parable. It’s as though it’s a very precious stone, which is thrown into the lake of your imagination. And the real work then begins, because the ripples begin to go out from the centre. And the ripples go far and wide throughout your life and that’s where they gain their meaning.

[8] What about Jesus’ use of exaggeration? ‘Hate your parents’, ‘leave your dead’, ‘cut off your arm’- it’s clear that he didn’t mean any of these things!

Lavinia: I sometimes think we forget that Jesus was Jewish - that he liked a good joke. Apparently lots of the sheep parables, if you look at them again, turn out to be real jokes about thick shepherds and thick sheep, and sheep that do this, that and the other. So he had humour in his parables, and some of them we should read with a smile on our faces. But others are

- bits of his teaching sound quite fierce, because he uses hyperbole, he exaggerates, he goes over the top, he tells a story that will really impact with you. But actually it’s quite scary and that’s why they’re so memorable - that’s why they got written down. And that’s our legacy: that Jesus was a Jew and we have to deal with that.

[9] The Gospels tell us that Jesus was a teacher, preacher and healer. Did he really perform miracles? Dr Tom Wright.

Tom: We know for sure that people accused Jesus of being in league with dark forces, with Satan or whatever. Because that’s in the Gospels and we can be quite sure that the early Church didn’t make that up. We then have to say, people don’t say that about somebody who’s simply going around helping lame dogs over stiles and being nice to old ladies. They only say that about somebody who is doing shocking, startling, dramatic things that have no other explanation. But who they dare not believe is from God, because if they believe that, they would have to change pretty radically themselves. So it really does look historically - and interestingly almost all first century historians would now agree with this I think - that Jesus did radically what we could loosely call ‘miraculous healings’ and so on, because otherwise we simply can’t explain the reaction.

[10] We are able to consider the life and teaching of Jesus at leisure because we have key moments recorded for us in the Gospels. But what about Jesus himself - was he aware of his own significance? Christians believe that, among other things, he was the long awaited Jewish Messiah, or to use the Greek word which translates the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’, he was Jesus ‘the Christ’. Did Jesus understand himself in this way during his ministry? Tom Wright again.

Tom: I think he did. But it was a very odd sort of Messiah because many people in those days would have thought that Messiah was to be a warrior king of some sort and someone who would lead Israel to victory over the pagan hordes, particularly the Romans. And there’s lots of evidence that Jews of that time – or some Jews of that time - thought like that. And Jesus seems to have done things, particularly his action in the temple and his riding in on the donkey, and various other things like that, which were symbolic actions, which said in symbol, ‘I am the Messiah’, but he didn’t walk around saying, ‘hey guys, I’m the Messiah’, because that’s not what Messiahs do. And as often in Jesus’ life, his actions spoke much louder than his words. And when we look at those actions in the context of Judaism in the first century they clearly say this man thinks it is God’s vocation to him that he should be the Messiah.

[11] Time to draw to a close. To sum up we have Dr David Hope, Archbishop of York.

David: ‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, look upon a little child’. Parts of the New Testament give substance to this Victorian verse. ‘Come to me all who labour and are heavy-laden and I will refresh you’. To those whose lives were bruised and to those on the edges of society, Jesus offered healing, peace and a gentle welcome. But there’s another aspect to the portrait of Jesus painted in the Gospels. Put him in contact with hypocrisy, humbug and exploitation and he was very fierce indeed. Jesus was not crucified for being nice. His miracles underlined his words; some of these can be seen as a full frontal attack upon the forces of darkness. He demonstrated the importance of faith, and the power of prayer in reducing chaos to order and bringing hope out of despair. Achieving this balance, what Martin Luther King called ‘a tough mind and tender heart’, is very difficult. In this, as in most other regards, the example of Jesus is hard to copy and his teaching is tough to follow. But with unfailing patience he offers us forgiveness when we fail and strength to pick ourselves up and try again. And he draws alongside us in our struggles, not only as Lord and Saviour, but as our brother too. As the letter to the Hebrews puts it so encouragingly, ‘therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are, yet without sin.’


 




York Courses

imageThe York Courses from the Diocese of York are a valuable resource for churches and ideal for small groups and individuals to get involved with.  They comprise a course booklet, a CD to go alongside it and numerous well-known and respected people to help provide insight into the course content and to get us thinking and talking.


Jesus Re-discovered is one of their older courses and seems to fit our needs at this stage of our journey as a church.  An outline of the course is below and we will be posting the text of each of the five parts as we get to them.

We have two groups, one in Les Arcs at David and Pauline Sinclair's home meeting on Mondays at 10.30am and one in Jim and Stella's home on Tuesday evenings at 5.00pm.  We will not be meeting every week but will notify you shortly by email and on the website of the exact dates.  Directions to both venues are below.

Jesus Rediscovered Course Booklet

      5 sessions:

image

         1. Jesus' Life and Teaching
         2. Following Jesus
         3. Jesus: Saviour of the World
         4. Jesus is Lord
         5. Jesus and the Church

You can think you know someone and then they do or say something that makes you wonder whether you really do.

This is something that happens again and again to those who study the Bible, in particular the New Testament. And nowhere do these surprises hit you more than in reading the life and teaching of Jesus.

So Jesus Rediscovered is truly about re-discovering who Jesus was, what he taught, and what that means for his followers today. Prepare to be surprised, even shocked - but every generation of Christians has to do this rediscovering for themselves.

Also included in the booklet and on the audio material a number of present day Christians share what Jesus means to them.

Jesus Rediscovered deals with issues of interest to all Christians, but might be especially appropriate to those who feel this is the time to refresh their vision with a bit of a challenge.

The course booklet, written by Canon John Young, includes questions aimed at provoking wide-ranging discussion.

Each group needs 1 CD or audiotape, plus a course booklet for each member. In addition many groups find the transcript invaluable.




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