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Unstoppable reversals.

Notes from a sermon preached at Magdalen Road Church, Oxford.

Sunday 25 April 2010 – Peter Comont – Unstoppable Reversals (Matthew 8:1-16)

Today, society is a hostile place for Christianity. And yet, it was into this kind of society that Christianity was born. Hostility is a place where true Christianity flourishes.

Matthew 8-9 contains accounts of three miracles about Jesus’ authority, each followed by a section on discipleship.

8:1-4: unstoppable cleansing.
It’s hard to comprehend the contempt with which the leper would have been regarded. Which makes the following choice of language all the more striking: “And behold, a leper came and knelt before Jesus, saying ‘Lord…’”.

The leper comes with an irreversible condition.

Nobody would touch a leper for fear of being contaminated; uncleanness spreads. And yet when people come to Jesus, they catch his cleanness. Imagine a dirty, oily hand being cleaned by the touch of a clean hand; this just doesn’t happen.

8:5-13: unstoppable inclusion.
The centurion is an insider in society, but a religious outsider. Centurions typically looked down on Jews. “You are a centurion, and you want this itinerant Jewish peasant to come and heal your servant?!”

This proud centurion, perhaps the equivalent of a disciple of Richard Dawkins, a Muslim Imam, a parliamentary candidate… “I want to know about this Jesus.”

Leper: “I need your touch…” – the physical touch of Jesus is important.
Centurion: “Just say the word…!” – the faith we must exercise in this age.

8:14-17: unstoppable forgiveness.
These miracles are pictures of the fundamental thing that Jesus is doing, taking the punishment of our sins on his shoulders, bringing us freedom.

We belong to an unstoppable Jesus. He is still doing this today. It feels like the Christians are powerless, and yet in every generation, even now, Jesus is at work and will work powerfully.

Will you come and express the centurion’s faith?

Brain thinking.

“The brain stops at the skull, but the mind doesn’t. Scientists are appreciating that the brain is a hub in a bigger system of information exchange, with loops extending spatially beyond the body, and temporally into the past and future. Neuroscience is not enough: we need a better understanding of the person.”

Nicholas Humphrey
Emeritus Professor, London School of Economics

ff1 update: china

Here’s the latest update from the FF1 league, and the final part of the asia-pacific leg. It sounds as though most teams have made it all (or at least some part) of the way home after the ash-cloud problems, so hopefully the exciting racing will continue in Europe!

1 Chris Illingworth Four Wheels 476
2 ↑ 3 John Rhodes The Pheasant’s Revolt 436
3 ↑ 1 Ruth Moore Moore’s Movers 430
4 ↑ 2 Andy Moore Mooresport 411
5 ↑ 5 Gaynor Bingham No Hope 404
6 ↑ 2 Tracy Forster Penelope Pitstop 402
7 ↓ 4 Josh Rodden Creme Egg 398
8 ↓ 6 Scott Boyes Scott Racing 397
9 ↑ 5 Jackie Moore Shiny Happy Speedy 385
10 ↑ 2 Oscar Leitheiser F1 Circus Clowns 373
11 ↓ 4 Dave Coyle Aotearoa GP 372
12 ↓ 3 Simon Rodden Last Minute 370
13 ↓ 2 Lynne Rodden The Gherkins 360
14 ↓ 1 Andy Showell-Rogers Eat My Dust 351
15 ↑ 1 Al Briggs Alabama GP 328
15 Ron Jones Win Or Bust 328
17 Peter Jones No Driver Aids 268
18 David Holland Green2Cheques 254

ff1 update: malaysia

So, the rain never came on race day, and I wonder what difference it would have made to our leaderboard.

The three non-movers after Malaysia are Chris Illingworth, Scott Boyes and Andy Showell-Rogers – with Chris and Scott possibly happier with that news than Andy. The ‘prize’ for the biggest improvement goes to Simon Rodden, moving up 8 places to 9th.

1 Chris Illingworth Four Wheels 355
2 Scott Boyes Scott Racing 326
3 ↑ 7 Josh Rodden Creme Egg 323
4 ↓ 1 Ruth Moore Moore’s Movers 317
5 ↑ 2 John Rhodes The Pheasant’s Revolt 316
6 ↓ 2 Andy Moore Mooresport 311
7 ↑ 1 Dave Coyle Aotearoa GP 304
8 ↓ 2 Tracy Forster Penelope Pitstop 301
9 ↑ 8 Simon Rodden Last Minute 297
10 ↓ 5 Gaynor Bingham No Hope 286
11 ↑ 3 Lynne Rodden The Gherkins 278
12 ↓ 3 Oscar Leitheiser F1 Circus Clowns 274
13 Andy Showell-Rogers Eat My Dust 273
14 ↓ 3 Jackie Moore Shiny Happy Speedy 263
15 ↓ 3 Ron Jones Win Or Bust 262
16 ↓ 1 Al Briggs Alabama GP 236
17 ↑ 1 Peter Jones No Driver Aids 226
18 ↓ 2 David Holland Green2Cheques 209

Despite the poor calls of some of the major teams on Saturday (Ferrari and McLaren with both cars effectively out in Q1), how did you find the race on Sunday? Better than Bahrain, but as awesome as Australia? And what are your race predictions for China?