early mornings

Even as I’m struggling to find the hours to spend asleep; hours that I know will help me function better with the next day, and all it may throw in my general direction, there’s something great about watching the sky change colour in the mornings.

A friend and I – who used to live in the same suburb and so walk together – manage an irregular catch-up by phone early on a Saturday morning. With the cold weather, I’ve taken to starting out by driving somewhere, then walking in a different location to the familiar path we used to tread together.

Early morning joggers and walkers – having themselves given in to the siren song of technology – don’t even bat an eyelid as I walk along talking into my Airpods and continuing a wide-ranging conversation.

It’s a practice that fits my continued tendency toward multi-tasking. It’s not enough just to walk and take in nature, there needs to be some other additional task mixed in to redeem the time somehow.

Multitasking has already been a long-term pursuit: when I check Overcast, it tells me that “Smart Speed” (functionality to skip automatically over any silences in that podcast I’m already playing back at double speed or more) has saved me an extra 387 hours beyond speed adjustments alone.

Am I missing out on something valuable by going so fast? Perhaps. Is the goal to experience each podcast at the speed it was recorded? To take in some more of the world’s vast store of information? to stay current on a broad range of topics? To make better decisions by having more information?

Or is this whole obsession with extra information just a distraction from what’s important?

The real change that I’m looking for – how I’m hoping to leverage the benefits of this extra time spent sleeping – is greater concentration on the people to whom I’m talking and listening.

It’s the conversations with people – two eternal creatures spending a slice of their finite earth-bound time together – where I want to make a difference, and not be dragged back to the endless hum of the social media machine, or the roar of the inbox, or the short-term adrenaline rush of the to-do list.

Buy now and pay later – Whitlams 25th anniversary tour

Whitlams at the Metro Theatre

It had been a long time since I’d seen any live music outside a church or camp/conference context, so it was a trip down memory lane to be back at the Metro theatre in the Sydney CBD. An acute reminder of how old I am now, though. Doors opened at 7:30pm, then we were watching the first support act – Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier, from 8pm. Powerful voice, great bluegrass musical stylings, and lots to think about in the lyrics. Then at 9pm, Alex Lloyd was on stage, playing a great set, seated the whole time and playing an acoustic guitar: there was even a bit of audience participation.

So it wasn’t until 10pm that the Whitlams were on stage. The lighting was really great, the atmosphere electric – a room full of people wanting to see a band that was important to them sometime in the last 25 years, and a lot of people singing along to a lot of songs. There was even one song – Charlie #2 – where the audience did the singing, and (vocalist and piano player) Tim Freedman sang the harmony.

A few reflections on watching the band play.

  • It’s been so long since the songs came out that the demographics have changed. “She was one in a million, so there’s 5 more just in New South Wales” (it’s now 7.5 million)
  • Even with so many familiar songs, there were other Whitlams songs among my favourites that weren’t played!
  • As much as “blow up the pokies” is a great, catchy song, it has made no difference to the sad state of gambling in Australia
  • There’s a gap in the lives of non-churchgoing people for public singing; even with no lyrics up, there was huge participation in the room
  • Listening back to the songs of my university days – the time when my thoughts were occupied with the hope of being married one day – but now out at a concert with my wife; it was a prompt to be grateful, and reconfigured that song in my memory for gratitude.
  • Even in his 50’s, Tim Freedman is angry about what has changed about the nightlife of Sydney; encouraging concert-goers at the end of the night to take the train to Badgerys Creek and fly to Melbourne, where they could still find a place that was open.

Perhaps I’m too old now for concerts in the city, but as much as I enjoyed the concert, and I did, it was just too late at night for me.

hyperlinking from one idea to another

I’ve just finished up a uni subject so I have a little more time to devote to the backlog of other projects that have been too quiet.

One of my uni friends referred me to the already gangbusters This is America music video. There are a bunch of reasons you wouldn’t want a child or teenager to watch this one, but with that caveat, it makes a number of points in a profound way that makes the most of the medium.

Having watched the video, I immediately wanted to read everything I could about it, to try and understand the underlying messages and references. And I wanted to share it with Kel. Somehow I managed to share it without explaining that it was a music video, and so she was trying to process it as a movie trailer, which made the visuals even harder to follow.

While at the time I was reading articles to try and understand things, increasingly the way to explain something is to turn to a video explanation instead.

One article I saw this evening was from (American Christian periodical) Relevant Magazine – Why Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’ Is a Prophetic Message We Can’t Ignore, but I was pulled out of that article (spending time explaining why saying something is prophetic doesn’t mean you agree with it) because of something I’ve never seen before in a Christian publication.

I understand that times are tough for publishing houses, but if you’re going to make a pull-quote that’s a Bible verse, or a series of them, do you really want to embed ads in there? Here’s a screen grab (I first saw it on mobile, but it’s on the desktop layout as well… it looks like it’s only for particularly long quotes.

Bible verses with built-in display ad

So that’s me going from a conversation with my uni friends to a music video to a commentary about the music video to a Bible verse to a display ad. Quite a journey, but not such a long way to go in our hyperlinked life!

The great strength of the internet is the ability to link from one idea to another, and to treat all types of content as equal, but do we still have the capacity to recognise where that is becoming a problem?

Moore St General, Austinmer

Single O coffee. 38 Moore St, Austinmer. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a new place in Austinmer, but I’m glad I made the journey. On Tuesdays, this place is closed, and it’s worth going the extra distance to Thirroul and visiting Buck Hamblin (and in fact I did – about a 20 min walk), but when they’re open, you can get excellent coffee in this place. You need to get up pretty early to see the place this empty:

Moore St General, Austinmer

Inside, it reminds me of At All and Sundry – the furniture is from a different era to the staff, but is homey and comfortable.

Moore St General, Austinmer

Lots of reclaimed timber, a big kitchen and coffee area, and fresh muffins if you’re early enough!

Moore St General, Austinmer

The espresso comes out in one of these single-O handmade cups (on sale at the counter).

Moore St General, Austinmer

When I decide to split the avocado toast with my son, they offer me an extra piece (three instead of 2), and we end up sharing 50-50.

Moore St General, Austinmer

But it’s when I order a pour-over that their work really shines. They take their coffee seriously, and it comes across in the product.

Moore St General, Austinmer

And their logo. It’s a beautiful (if hard to photograph) gilded likeness of their store.

Moore St General, Austinmer

Looking forward to my next visit!

get behind me!

I hesitate to even use the word “get” in a title, after years of being told that it’s not a good word to use in English. Today, we would use “get behind me” to talk about a show of support, but it works a little bit differently in first century language: it’s more like “depart or go away”.  The expression is the same in Matthew and in Mark, and is entirely missing from Luke, who has chosen to leave out that particular rebuke of Peter from his version of events.

Here are the three gospels that each have three incidences of Jesus predicting his own death to his disciples. They seem upset, but confused about it: in fact they all seem blindsided by it when it finally happens.

See what you think: it’s pretty clear from the different stories that Jesus  was expecting to die, but that his followers were unable to form that idea in their heads! In Luke, there even seems to be an expectation that there will be suffering for people who want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

 

MATTHEW

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 16:21–23.

 

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 17:22–23.

 

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

17 And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, 18 “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death 19 and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mt 20:17–19.

MARK

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 8:31–33.

 

Jesus Again Foretells Death, Resurrection

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him. 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 9:30–32.

 

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

32 And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 10:32–34.

 

– 

LUKE

Jesus Foretells His Death

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” 

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Jesus

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 9:21–27.

 

43 And all were astonished at the majesty of God. 

Jesus Again Foretells His Death

But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, 44 “Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” 45 But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying. 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 9:43–45.

 

Jesus Foretells His Death a Third Time

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. 

 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Lk 18:31–34.

walking on water

If you’ve ever heard the expression “walks on water”, it has something to do with being able to accomplish amazing feats that no-one else could do (though not with the miraculous, just with a high level of talent).

This miracle appears in three out of four gospels, and seems to be about demonstrating Jesus’ power over nature. There are some different details (Bethsaida and Capernaum are both near the edge of the Sea of Galilee). 

 

Matthew 14:22-32 – Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mt 14:22–32.

 

Mark 6:45-52 – Jesus Walks on the Water

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened. 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mk 6:45–52.

 

John 6:16-21 – Jesus Walks on Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going. 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Jn 6:16–21.

 

In Matthew, Peter walks out on the water with Jesus, but in the other two, this detail is not present. Are all three records talking about the same event, and emphasising different things? Or did something similar happen multiple times?

The disciples, who were already familiar with Jesus and what he taught, were terrified. What do we make of someone who has this kind of power?

lost freight, Mount Wellington (Tasmania)

Lost Frieght, Hobart

Zimmah Coffee. Pinnacle Rd, Hobart, Tasmania. As you drive up to the top of Mount Wellington from Hobart, you can’t miss it. There’s parking, and even a short bush track to explore. This wood-clad shipping container has only been open this year – they are serving coffee out of a shipping container, but in a beautiful and elegant way. 

Lost Frieght, Hobart

Even their logo is well thought-out.

Lost Frieght, Hobart

 Their commitment to low-environmental-income is on display even from the side of the ordering window, with these planter boxes.

Lost Frieght, Hobart

If you want to sit inside, it’s a beautiful space, though really, if you’ve made the journey, you’re probably looking to see the outdoors, so there are a couple of picnic tables to sit at.

Lost Frieght, Hobart

The espresso machine has pride of place in the kitchen and order-taking space (though you generally have to order from outside) .

Lost Frieght, Hobart

 But the best thing is that the coffee is good! Make sure you visit when you’re next touring in Hobart.

Website: lostfreight.com.au

feeding the 5000

The figure of speech here is “loaves and fishes” – by some miracle stretching out a small resource to accomplish a lot.

And it dates back to a couple of events in the midst of Jesus’ ministry: the main one is called “the feeding of the 5000”.

This is such a famous miracle that it appears in all four gospels, reported in different ways. See what you think: here’s Mark’s gospel, usually the most brief in its coverage, but here setting some context. The disciples are tired after a busy mission trip, and Jesus takes them away for a break, when a crowd visits.

Mark 6:30-44 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

30 jThe apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 

35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mk 6:30–44. 

Matthew – a former tax collector – writes this up differently. There’s less detail in the background story. 

Matt 14:13-21 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mt 14:13–21.

In Luke’s gospel, which is more concerned with both historical detail, and the plight of the poor and powerless, there’s still a lot of similarity: we have a named location, and the characteristic summarising of teaching.

Luke 9:10-17 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces. 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version

 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Lk 9:10–17.

And then John’s gospel, written years later, is a bit more reflective. We have a location, a time of year (near Passover), more detail about the crowd, and we answer the question: why does a group of 12 disciples have only 5 loaves and two fish? There is a boy who brought some food. The disciples hadn’t, it seems, even planned as far as dinner for themselves!

John 6:1-14 – Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

1After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 

 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Jn 6:1–14.

 

It’s this clue of the Passover in John 6:4 that reminds us of why this miracle is a big deal – it links to the time that Israel spent in wandering in the desert, and saw God provide them with food (manna, if you recall, but that’s a bit out of scope for looking at the gospels). When Jesus shows his power in feeding a group of people by a miracle, he’s showing that the power comes from God, and is associated with the history of God feeding his people. This is such a clear insight into who Jesus is that it makes it into all four gospels.

What do you make of this story about this miracle?