A few insights from Pokemon Go!


The exhortations in the picture sounded like Jesus. It seemed like the divine, to which nothing is a limitation, was bursting forth through the game screen. It was foolish of me to attempt the game on 2G but that’s what turned my attention to the message on the screen that had the plausible resemblance to a Bible message. Another look at the screen made it seem straightout of the Book of Revelation, which gave me a smile. Pokémon Go was now kindling my imagination.

Alas! Three Bible verses popped up in my head as I stared at the note on the screen: 

Luke 12:46a The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 

1 Peter  5:8 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
The first talks about the return of Christ of which we know nothing of the day and the hour. We are simply asked to be prepared. There simply is no time to mess around and we have no business doing so! Keeping our act together, living according to the guidance of God through the Word, worship and fellowship, was paramount, lest we fall into the clutches of sin and darkness.The  second verse warns us from taking things lightly all the time, making us aware of the dangers we could fall into. We are hearing reports of people who endangered their lives chasing Pokemons and even crossing international borders, gravely violating rules without realizing. 

The third verse that came to me was :

Matthew 26:10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

How beautiful! Jesus was aware of the deepest longings of the woman who was anointing him. He saw through the daring of a potentially shameless woman who was being despised for being present too near him;  for crossing the Jewish line of etiquette and  socio-spatial gender boundaries. Why would she do that?

Let’s consult ourselves first. We chase Pokemon for fun, right? Are you sure? What’s in a game that seeks to catch creatures that are not there physically yet exist on the screens and the technology mediated world of virtual reality? Surely, it’s more than fun. There’s a sense of achievement. The Pokemon we caught which others haven’t  enhances our sense of uniqueness.  Everyone wants to feel special – and appreciated. We all want our moment when we are accepted, acknowledged and asked for. 

In gathering together at the gyms and other public places, defending our Pokemon’s, we seek community. We all want to know that we are not alone. If we are too proud to ask the company of others, we can form communities (that may or may not last),” accidentally, through these defensive alliances. Yes, we want relationship. We are a different person,without them. We seek proximity and interaction, we seek protection and care. And we go after Pokemon. We live, move and have our being in a broken world that chases after… Pokémons. 

Jesus is aware of what we seek. He asks us to be aware of what our neighbour seeks. Just as he was. Aware of her  deepest longings, Jesus tells speaks on behalf of her, calling her act, beautiful. Despite her brokenness, the woman knew where to go. Do we know where to go with our brokeness? Which way do we guide the broken people around us, especially the ones who come our way?

So the two injunctions that appear as Pokémon Go loads have deep meaning for anyone who seeks a meaningful life – one that we can truly call LIFE. In short, the Truth – that which is real, which is actual. No floss. 

And there is one who said “I am … the Truth.” Leonard Sweet tells us that in Christian faith the Truth is not a statement, law or method; it is a person.

If Pokémon symbolizes that ultimate thing we are searching for inorder to satisfy us, then, Jesus is the ultimate Pokémon. May our search for Pokémon lead us to the Truth who is none but Jesus.

He is waiting to embrace you when you find him.

Good enough to divine

(I wrote this on my facebook page and thought it should be part of my blog as well.)

The message that we are ‘never good enough’ floods our minds through the media, advertisements as well as work/peer/popular culture. It’s so powerful  that it’s a constant battle within oneself to accept and acknowledge that one is created with perfection, potential and for a special purpose; that one is capable of making one’s own as wells as others’ life meaningful.

Even pastors go through this struggle and find themselves in the presence of God with these thoughts.

We need to resist all the negativity, starting from ourselves. We must strip away the plastered walls of our hearts and minds of external powers  surrounding us as they attempt to
label us, to contain us, to disfigure our conscience, to maim our limbs of agency, to push us, into depression and hopelessness.

We need to place ourselves in a different story than the negative, market- engineered, media hyped, ad-varnished, seemingly permanent ones told to us by the world around us. That’s not our story, as real as it looks.

We are part of a divine, more human story. We matter. We are special. We are capable of helping people realise that they are special. We are rescuers of those whose “specialness” is tarnished by the world around us. We have a purpose. Yes, we make mistakes, but we can turn around correct them and resolve not to repeat. We are not meant to break down, but to hold one another close, in each other’s ups and downs. You are not just good enough, you can be … divine.

Mat,
Feast of Ascension.

Keep writing

For the first time I received an email by someone who read my blog. It was wonderful to hear that the person had been moved to ask me some questions.

One of the things I learnt last year in ministry is to avoid evaluating oneself with tangible results. One must not chase tangible results, it can be very disappointing.

Moreover you never know whose life you touched. Sometimes you get to know later, most of the time you just don’t. The most important thing is to do faithfully what God has entrusted you with.

Of course, the moment you hear from someone who was blessed by what you shared, spoke, sang, sketched,
rapped, forwarded or wrote, is indeed a sweet one. It encourages you to continue.

But just don’t depend on it. You do what you have got to do. Let God do what He will, and just trust Him.

Thanks for writing in friend!

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A necklace of Easter thoughts: “He is not here.” (Matthew 28:6

A necklace of Easter thoughts:

“He is not here.” (Matthew 28:6)

 

Last Christmas, we visited Abhaya Bhavan, a home for the destitute and sick, run by the Missionaries of Charity. As we entered the Home, I glanced past the beautiful crib they had prepared. Tinsel covered the roof, and on the inside you could see colourful lights that blinked.I looked closer in  surprise, a couple of decorating material and colour hangings and gift wrappers lay there, rolled together, in the middle of the manger, but no Jesus! It was Christmas and Jesus was no longer there in the crib.

 

For years, everyone had tried to tie baby Jesus down in a decorated manger. But he had left the manger because he was not meant to stay there, forever as a helpless baby; instead he was meant to become someone who exerted great impact on the whole world, which was more inconvenient to our lives than a pretty baby.

Following his crucifixion, the High Priests and other leaders tried to tie Jesus down to the tomb. But the mighty God, who became man was too powerful for them. Who imagined that someone would defeat death? They tried to keep the Good News in the tomb. But the news was too Good to be contained.

 

Easter is a story of transformation. In fact it is a story of the greatest transformation which changed the stories of many.

 

When the earliest rays of the to-be-Easter day were reaching Jerusalem, Mary Magdalene and the “other” Mary were nearing the tomb of Jesus. They would anoint Jesus’ body, a procedure that was part of a decent burial. After all he was dead. He had said he would rise on the third day, but now that he was dead, however disappointing that was, he deserved a decent funeral. May be some day, his tomb might become a great memorial monument where people come to remember the life of that good man.

 

What they saw at the tomb added fear to their already disappointed hearts. It  made them doubly vulnerable. An earthquake and a supernatural encounter later, they were so afraid. This was too much to ask for when your teacher, who had good intentions, were dead and when they wanted to have good memories of him.

 

“He is not here”: Divine incapacitation giving new meaning to life.

Verse 2 picturizes the coming of the supernatural – heralded by an earthquake, followed by an angel who descends and sits on top of the stone which he rolls away from the mouth of the tomb. It stands for God’s power doing its thing in contrast to the feeble human efforts to keep him dead – as the High Priest and Inc. and the Marys tried. The soldiers who were meant to guard the tomb are said to have “For fear of him. . .  shook and became like dead men” (verse 4). They wore uniforms of the Imperial army of Rome. Perhaps, they had the medals. They fought valiantly. They were brave, able men. But the able men were incapacitated by the Divine (read God). That is because the Divine had different plans.

 

As a result of the Divine revelation the Marys were so afraid too but the angel had sweet words of assurance,

“Do not be afraid.”

 

Both are incapacitated but the women are then told some-things that hadn’t been in their minds that Sunday morning: Jesus had been raised and he would go to Galilee and they would meet him there.

 

Now that gave them a whole new perspective on life – that their Rabbi was still alive and that they would meet him! Life had more to it, if this meant that Friday was not the climax. The incapacitation due to a fear inducing revelation from God, now led to a new perspective on life itself.

 

Have you felt incapacitated? That your plans were not working the way you thought were best? That you made plans and nothing of it has borne fruit and you simply can’t go ahead? Has something paralyzed your ability and determination to go forward? Easter tells us of God’s straight encounter that stops short-sighted human plans. If you were seeking Jesus, like the Marys, then you will receive a new perspective on his plans, even if that means you need a bit of correction in what you sought! But if you were trying to keep him away from involving in your life, like the soldiers, you are alive, yet “like dead”(verse 4). When you have the fullness of life bursting open in front of you, will you remain still or receive it?

 

“He is not here”: Drawing attention to the imperatives

In the Bible, we see that God often spoke through prophets and angels. And when they spoke, we had better listen, or we would be missing out on the most important matters of life. So when they say “He is not here,” then what is?

 

The Angel’s first imperative statement, “do not be afraid,” is reminiscent of angel Gabriel’s assurance to Mary – she could bank on it for she was covered by God’s grace (Luke 1:30). So could the Marys, in our portion.

 

The second imperative is, “Come and see the place where he lay,” (Verse 6). In the Greek original of the New Testament, deute (“come!”) is the same word used by Jesus when he calls his disciples in Matthew 4.19 and Mark 1.17. So the angel was a calling, on behalf of God, to a renewed witness!

 

To witness what?  They are called to witness ton topon hopou ekeito (the place where he was laid). The root word of ekeito means to store, to be laid permanently, etc. They are invited to see the place where people thought he was laid permanently, so that they were done with his ‘I am the Messiah’ nuisance. It was an invitation that would change their life because what they saw and experienced (including the unexpected Divine encounter) filled them with fear and great joy (verse 8) that they couldn’t walk anymore; they were running to tell the news to the rest of the disciples, as commanded by the angel!

 

Notice the emotions: fear and great joy. Earlier, they were a disappointed duo who were hurt further by fear of the Divine encounter, but the imperative of Easter has now given them great joy, that they run. The joy is increased evermore when Jesus meets them and says ‘Greetings!’ the Greek of which is, “Rejoice!” Isn’t that the most wonderful first utterance from a risen Lord, who defeated evil and its consequence, death?

 

When God thwarts or stills your plans, do not be apprehensive or anxious about the future. Do not be afraid, comes the voice from God, for He has risen so that you may have a new purposeful and meaningful life which comes from realizing the significance of Jesus’ cross and resurrection for our lives and living in obedience to His words. In him, it is going to be a hopeful life so believe Him when he says “Rejoice!” They believed, and they immediately held his feet and worshipped him. What else would we do when the Divine Joy of Easter descends upon us?

 

“He is not here”: The Signal of a transformed and transformational beginning.

Following his joyful greeting, Jesus repeats the words of the angel. We could say the angel had spoken for him and now Jesus confirms his words by repeating them.

 

In verse 6, the angel said, “he is not here,” and after the imperative to go tell the disciples of the resurrection, indicated that Jesus was going to Galilee! (verse 7)

 

Of all places, Galilee?

That is where he grew up (Nazareth of Galilee); that is where he began his ministry; that is where he called his first disciples (Matt 4 :18-22). His disciples had fled right after his fellowship meal the previous night of his crucifixion. But he still had plans for them. He would go exactly where he had started his ministry, exactly where he had called them and “there they will see me”(verse 10). The Greek word for ‘see’ here, orao indicates not just regular seeing – orao means to perceive in an experiential way, to recognize… They would all meet at Galilee and they would experience him – the risen Jesus. This time they will recognize who he is and perceive the deep significance of all that he said in the past three and half years he had been with them. And he would send them again, in the name of the Triune God, with love and with authority, assuring them of his ever-abiding presence.

It was going to be a transformational seeing, leading to yet another beginning – the beginning of a renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated ministry. It became a transformed beginning which in turn, would be the beginning of transformation in the lives of many, sourced from the renewing personal experience of Easter.

 

And this time on “they would follow him whithersoever he might lead- even to a cross if need be, counting it now their highest privilege whereas it had been their most terrifying fear”(quote by Herbert Stevenson,  Road to the Cross).

 

The risen Lord goes to the very beginning. Where you began and where you failed.  He can transform you and give you a new start. Going by the narrative in the gospel, that seems to be the sole purpose for which he came – to transform people, give them a new beginning and make them transformational communities that continue his work of restoring the image of God in them. He is the beginning, he is the end.

 

Let us submit ourselves before the risen Lord,

experience him afresh,

Allowing him to still our plans.

Obeying his word.

Let us be set afire by his plans and purposes,

transforming us inside out, Only to transform lives, that are “like dead,” into

ones so confident

that they will not die, for

He has risen, abolishing the sting of evil and death,

and gifting us:

eternal life . . .

 

Happy Easter.

Mathews George, Easter 2013

Bass to bass: a short conversation with Chandybass

In reply to my mail asking a review on an article:

My take on that is that church has becomes a community of performance rather than the community of grace that it IS. It’s Jesus body after all isn’t it. And let’s be honest, we aren’t honest. we all give facades of who we are. and the basic gospel of weakness and foolishness that Paul preached gets lost in all the war cries of faith. It’s the hardest part of the Christian faith that Jesus’ glorification is on the cross in his weakest abandoned state. I don’t fully get it. And honestly I don’t fully like it.

But something of that is part and parcel of christian life. I’ll stop before I continue rambling.

take care

Sunil

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Sir,

Thanks for the reply.

So many of these things lying around that it’s so difficult to believe it’s even the same Jesus we’re talking about. Everyone has their own stuff to talk about and we all can’t agree on even basic points. Mission work looks like Sambar in the middle of this. We have this and that but it’s the same curry.

Mathews.

——————————————-v——————————–

Jesus is huge Mathews. God is enlargening your vision. Everytime that happens everything blurs. Then you’ll see better and bigger and more beautiful. Remember the healing that Jesus did and the ex blind man first said that all people were trees?

and good sambar has got a few good ingredients. and everyone knows it’s sambar. It’s not kaachimoru. and the good ingredients are our basic points.

Sunil

Sunil Chandy blogs at www.chandybass.blogspot.com