Saturday, June 22, 2024

Everything's an effort

Thank you to friends who have checked in about our covid recovery.  Having tested negative a week ago we have now entered the 'everything's an effort' stage. Energy bursts turn out to be trickles. Surges of activity (born out of half glass full optimism) are followed by fading and jading. Several times Carol and I have felt we have turned a corner to discover there's another corner backwards round the corner.

Frustratingly appointments have had to be cancelled and I wonder when I can go firmly with my next commitments.  In particular I am concerned about my next preach on June 30th.  I have the task of preaching on Jude in the Bluntisham series on Overlooked Books of the Bible.  It's not an easy task. Read it through and you realize why it's overlooked! Working out who Jude was requires some guess work and when you see some of his words, quoting books not included in the Old Testament there is much that is odd. Like the story (verse 9) about archangel Michael disputing with the devil over Moses' body  (in a book called the Assumption of Moses). Or his references to Enoch (verses 14,15) from the Book of Enoch.  In verse 18 he quotes the apostles though there is no record of them saying that.  So, why give over time to preach on Jude?   

I saw a headline two weeks ago: THE AGE OF JUDE.  Inside there was a double page spread about Jude Bellingham. A dense biography of this 20 year old footballer as he makes impact in the Euros. (As I write, not as much impact as the nation hoped...but there's time!) There was so much detail about his life - perhaps more than I needed. The thing about the NT book of Jude is that we only have one sentence. One sentence as a clue to who he might be.  And frankly it raises questions, involving a great deal of guesswork. 1 sentence only: v1 Jude. A servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.  

A servant of Jesus Christ opens up wide possibilities. Someone who belongs body, mind and soul in the service of Jesus. The servant word is close to slave.  But what about the second part? That is more specific: a brother of James. James was a popular name but there is one James more than any other who becomes leader of the church in Jerusalem and is the key figure in the early church. See  his role in Acts 15. We have his letter which is not one of the overlooked books of the Bible. Later he's known as James the Just. And what is the most distinctive thing about this James?  He is brother of Jesus. When Paul visits Jerusalem to meet Peter he describes how he met one apostle: Gal 1:19  James the Lord’s brother.  And that means that if Jude is a brother of James he also is a brother of Jesus. Now most early readers would know of James. So it makes sense for Jude to describe himself like this.

But being a brother to Jesus - WOW.  I guess this is why they had to include this letter in the canon. 


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