Monday, 20 April 2015

3 Sentence Bio Challenge

Today at work, I had to write a bio about myself to go in a brochure for a conference I'm speaking at. It was an interesting but difficult exercise; managing to get all the relevant information in concisely whilst trying to avoid sounding either arrogant or incompetent. It got me thinking, do those few sentences really reflect who I am? Am I simply defined by the work I do or don't do? If not, then what does define me?  Is it even possible to describe a whole person so succinctly? Or is who we are simply one thing so fundamental that 3 sentences is excessive?

We are given all kinds of ways to explain 'who we are' to others; most commonly by what we do, who we know or where we're from. Maybe if we're slightly less clinical about it, we'd go down the lines of our likes/dislikes, appearance, personality traits or perhaps our opinions on certain matters. But are you actually any the wiser about who I fundamentally am if you discover that I prefer yoghurt to milk on my cereal, am about 5'3" with brown hair, I'm fairly extroverted and I boycott certain companies because of their unethical reputations? I'm not sure, you tell me.  

I'm aware of all the textbook Christian answers to this question; I'm a child of God, made in His image, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb etc etc etc. But I don't want to just reproduce 'Christianese' jargon, that I struggle to relate to, let alone anyone hearing it from me. 

So this post deliberately has no answer, to give you the reader the chance to respond with how you would better define a) yourself or b) me - I'm bracing myself for anything here! Go crazy, be creative, dig deeper. I look forward to reading what you come up with.*

*If you're interested, my work bio went like this: 
'Bethan joined PRA Health Sciences in Swansea, through their Clinical Programming Academy program in 2011 as a graduate of Mathematics. Having worked as a support programmer on trials of various indications and phases, she has gained experience of SAS programming and industry standards. Bethan began taking on lead responsibilities for studies in 2013 and will be presenting based mainly on her experience of leading a series of Phase II trials from study start-up through to final TFLs.' 
Thrilling right?

Friday, 3 April 2015

Good Friday 2015 - It is finished

I don't know about you, but I live my life in a constant state of busyness. I'm not complaining, I actually like being busy, mostly... I can't cope with being bored, and I kind of like the thrill of riding that busy wave. Consequently, rarely a day goes by without a physical or mental to-do list being written, amended, ticked off, added to etc. etc. etc.

Today is Good Friday, and although it has been busy (just for a little insight I've squeezed in church, service planning, making table cloths, DIY, washing, booking a holiday for 12, learning words to songs, and probably more that I've forgotten), there has still been opportunity for reflection on the magnitude of Jesus' work on the cross. This year, the phrase that has really struck me is Jesus' final words, "It is finished." Other translations might say, "It is accomplished." Essentially it's over, done, complete, sorted, dealt with - you get the picture. 

Before even thinking about what exactly is supposed to be finished that's a pretty incredible thought. When was the last time you completely finished something - no tweaking or updating required, nothing more left on your list, no follow-up project required; absolutely, totally, 100% finished everything you needed to do? Let's just say, I don't want to answer that question. But Jesus, the Son of God, who literally had 'save the world' on his figurative to-do list, was able to say, 'It is finished.' The preacher this morning put it like this, 'Everything done, nothing left to do.' Wow.

John 19:28-30
'Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled,Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.'

So what was finished? Well, that was asked last week in Sunday School, and I'm pretty sure the answer given wasn't the intended interpretation but it was a cracker of an answer. One of the children responded, 'The vinegar?' Great answer, but I think the truth goes a lot deeper. As Jesus suffered physical agony, emotional anguish and spiritual torment, innocently and willingly, I believe he was fighting a very great battle. The final battle in a war which began soon after human life existed. He was fighting for those He loves who are trapped in the brokenness of our world. He became sin, who knew no sin. He became the very thing which separates us from our Heavenly Father, so that nothing need ever separate us again. Yes, guilt, loneliness, fear and death are finished. Sure they still exist in our world until Jesus comes again, but there is no need for them, freedom is ours for the taking. Christ has already done everything to achieve it. It is finished.