Saturday, 26 February 2011

“Every one will see him coming in the clouds…”

By Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga

When Tele-evangelist Dr Paul Linton, president of Kingdom Broadcasting Network [KBN] received an unexpected code-note with the word “Parousia” from his friend Professor Ezra Horowitz, he immediately knew what it meant: the young researcher from the University of Jerusalem had finally decoded the most important event of human history, the second coming of Jesus Christ. Paul Linton has dreamed of broadcasting “live and exclusive” the second coming of Christ to the whole world. He now sees this as a real possibility as never before. Seeking support for this costly venture he summons his trustees to persuade them to invest in this project, without realising that this meeting will trigger a furious and violent race to try to obtain the Parousia date from the Professor.

Dr Linton’s son Tim, in Jerusalem to acquire the disc with the information from Professor Horowitz, finds that the Professor is missing and that his family has been murdered. He and Liz Roth, a minister and trustee of KBN, embark on a search for the Professor and from that moment find themselves involved in a web of intrigue, facing ruthless people prepared to do anything to get hold of the information.

Meanwhile, Professor Ezra Horowitz has found protection with a mysterious Palestinian man called Melquizedec. This encounter will change his ideas about what he is doing, and will strengthen his determination to fulfil his destiny.

Tim and Liz, tipped off about where to find Professor Horowitz, have been spied upon by Mossad agents on behalf of a powerful patron, also eager to obtain the Parousia date. When they finally meet Professor Horowitz, they realise they are not the only ones who have found him; there is no room for negotiation and no way out. As the last resort, Professor Horowitz threatens to destroy the disc if Tim and Liz are not allowed to leave safely, and when it seems that the information of the Parousia date is about to be destroyed, there is a dramatic twist in events.

Parousia is a graphic religious thriller, inspired by the furore of religious speculation regarding the second coming of Christ and the sometimes absurd world of religious broadcasting, with the backdrop of the current political events in the Holy Land.
See a preview click the link

Friday, 25 February 2011

Do you remember seeing a guy, who was sitting in a crowd and holding up a sign that read, ‘John 3:16’? Millions of people who switch on their TV’s to watch the World Cup, the Super Bowl, the Olympic Games or any big sporting occasion must surely have seen this guy sitting in the crowds with a sign that did not say, ‘Hello Mum’, as is quite popular, but one that read, ‘John 3:16’. That was clever. He took full advantage of global broadcasting to maximise exposure of his message...for free! Very imaginative.
Yes, it is true millions saw this sign but, the question is how many people got the message? How many people knew what John 3:16 means? Probably not many. I fear this guy, despite all his good intentions and imagination, made the assumption that millions of people around the world will understand the meaning and significance of a sign that read, ‘John 3:16’.
This story is a poignant parable for the church today because sadly quite often we make the same assumption that un-churched people understand our biblical jargon. The reality is that for many people the language we use, the images we use, the metaphors we use to communicate the Good News of Christ are not accessible. Most people simply don’t understand what we are talking about. As we become more secular and our Christian heritage is disappearing from its public place, the biblical stories and themes have become alien to many people. Today, signs that read, ‘John 3:16’ are incomprehensible, obscure, esoteric; un-accessible... They need decoding.
The Gospel reading this morning was John 3:1-17, which tells us about the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus. In this passage we see the emerging ways to explain spiritual truth (Jesus) and the inability of institutional religion (Nicodemus) to grasp the simple and profound wisdom of the emerging spirituality. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." But, Nicodemus didn’t understand. “How can a man be born when he is old?" he asked, "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
The problem was not Jesus, the problem was Nicodemus.
Nicodemus was a very religious man, he was a Pharisee. A learned man, knowledgeable on theological matters, and deeply rooted in the study of Scriptures and Jewish tradition, but despite all this he was unable to understand a very simple spiritual metaphor, you have to be ‘born again’.
The encounter enables Jesus to expose what is fundamentally flawed about institutional religion, which is its inability to move with the times...with the Spirit. In many ways the institutional church is like Nicodemus.
We are so absorbed by our own religious culture and our reductionist world view. We are so wrapped up with our own ecclesiastic traditions, so busy entertaining ourselves (and we call it worship). We are so occupied amusing ourselves (and we call it signs and wonders). We have become so inward-looking, insular and dangerously arrogant; intolerant, ignoring and dismissing, a priori, different ways to explain spiritual experiences and awareness of God by spiritual seekers. We hadn’t listened; even worse, we still make the assumption, like the guy with his sign in the crowds that our institutional language will reach out to spiritual seekers, that they will understand the message of God. Very soon we could become irrelevant, redundant, being something that many un-churched people do not understand, like a sign in the crowds that reads, ‘John 3:16’...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Star Walkers
The Nazca Lines are one of the most amazing man-made marvels of the world. They are a series of huge pre-Columbian figures drawn into the dusty desert floor of Peru. One of the mysteries of these lines is that they can only be seen from the air. I have flown over the lines a couple of times; the last time was with Marie who, despite the dizziness, sickness, and worry because of the care-free, Top Gun style of the pilot [one hand on map the other pointing to the lines!] managed to really enjoy the experience with me.

Many have attempted to explain the raison d'ĂȘtre of these mysterious lines with all sorts of theories and sometimes eccentric explanations. But, there is something that is certain: these figures [geometrical lines, humming bird, spider, dog, monkey, alien, etc.] were all made by people of faith and imagination, seeking to engage the gods in desperate times of environmental disorder. It is also certain that the lines were guided by the stars as they were in alignment with the heavens. Local archaeologists have come with a most likely theory about the lines. They have suggested that the Nazca Lines where used for religious rituals, in the same way ancient Christians used the labyrinth, Nazca people used the lines to walk as they prayed and chanted to the gods, led by their priest. Because the Lines were in alignment with the stars of the sky these people were not just walking a dusty labyrinth in the desert; in their mind they were, in fact, walking in the celestial heavens in the stars... they were cosmic pilgrims!

That thought touches me deeply, in a very emotional way. It reminds me of our own relationship with the cosmic order... The words Jesus spoke to Peter come to mind, too:

"And that's not all. You will have complete and free access to God's kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven."

Matthew 16:19 (The Message)

If only we could have the same awareness the Nazca people had, our journey in this life would be travelled in deep cosmic awareness where there are “no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven”, and we would all be walking those very same stars in heaven too.