Friday, April 30, 2010

U.N. = Unbelievable

The United Nations has long entered the self-parodying phase of it's existence when governments with such stellar human rights records such as China and Saudi Arabia were allowed on the Commission for Human Rights which was then transformed into the Human Rights Council, and it looks as though they intend to stay there. I read last night that Iran has been elected to the Commission on the Status of Women, with no objection from the U.S. I might add.  Read here for a list of laws against women in Iran.  Here are just a few.
  • Must have husband's permission to obtain a passport.
  • Will receive 74 strokes of the lash for appearing in public without an Islamic hejab.
  • Cannot leave home without husband's permission.
  • Can be divorced for any reason without recourse or prior knowledge.
This picture is of an Iranian girl being prepared for stoning.  The government that condones this now sits on the Commission on the Status of Women.  Travesty is not too strong a word.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Today I purchased C.S. Lewis' book, Boxen, which he wrote with his elder brother Warnie when they were children. Normally, I would have put off the splurge, and in fact this book is in my 'to buy' list at Amazon, but there it was in real, tangible life, and I didn't resist. I didn't even try.

Lewis' childhood literary influences were E. Nesbitt, Arthur Conan Doyle and Mark Twain, but his most loved was Beatrix Potter, where he found beauty.

He writes of how he began writing in Surprised by Joy:
What drove me to write was the extreme manual clumsiness from which I have always suffered. I attribute it to a physical defect which my brother and I both inherit from our father; we have only one joint in the thumb....As a last resource, as a pis aller, I was driven to write stories instead; little dreaming to what a world of happiness I was being admitted. You can do more with a castle in a story than with the best cardboard castle that ever stood on a nursery table.
I soon staked out a claim to one of the attics and made it "my study." Pictures, of my won making or cut from the brightly coloured Christmas numbers of magazines, were nailed on the walls. There I kept my pen and inkpot and writing books and paintbox; and there

                                    What more felicity can fall to creature
                                    Than to enjoy delight with liberty?

Here my first stories were written, and illustrated, with enormous satisfaction. They were an attempt to combine my two chief literary pleasures-"dressed animals" and "knights in armour."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Simpson's Show Of Solidarity

N.T. Wright To Retire

Wow!  N.T. Wright will retire as Bishop of Durham this August.  I've been amazed at his ability to fulfill this role with his abundance of writing and his speaking schedule, and he says it has become increasingly difficult.   I can't help but think this will leave a huge hole in the leadership of the Anglican church, but Wright will continue writing and teaching, so the while the Anglican Church will lose a leader, the world at large will still benefit from his great mind and heart for Christ.

His new position will be Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Caving In To Totalitarians

Ross Douthat, writing in Sunday's New York Times,  examines the cowardice of western European and North American societies in their caving to Islamists threats.  Here's a portion of his article.
In a way, the muzzling of “South Park” is no more disquieting than any other example of Western institutions’ cowering before the threat of Islamist violence. It’s no worse than the German opera house that temporarily suspended performances of Mozart’s opera “Idomeneo” because it included a scene featuring Muhammad’s severed head. Or Random House’s decision to cancel the publication of a novel about the prophet’s third wife. Or Yale University Press’s refusal to publish the controversial Danish cartoons ... in a book about the Danish cartoon crisis. Or the fact that various Western journalists, intellectuals and politicians — the list includes Oriana Fallaci in Italy, Michel Houellebecq in France, Mark Steyn in Canada and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands — have been hauled before courts and “human rights” tribunals, in supposedly liberal societies, for daring to give offense to Islam.
But there’s still a sense in which the “South Park” case is particularly illuminating. Not because it tells us anything new about the lines that writers and entertainers suddenly aren’t allowed to cross. But because it’s a reminder that Islam is just about the only place where we draw any lines at all.
Across 14 on-air years, there’s no icon “South Park” hasn’t trampled, no vein of shock-comedy (sexual, scatalogical, blasphemous) it hasn’t mined. In a less jaded era, its creators would have been the rightful heirs of Oscar Wilde or Lenny Bruce — taking frequent risks to fillet the culture’s sacred cows.
In ours, though, even Parker’s and Stone’s wildest outrages often just blur into the scenery. In a country where the latest hit movie, “Kick-Ass,” features an 11-year-old girl spitting obscenities and gutting bad guys while dressed in pedophile-bait outfits, there isn’t much room for real transgression. Our culture has few taboos that can’t be violated, and our establishment has largely given up on setting standards in the first place.
Except where Islam is concerned. There, the standards are established under threat of violence, and accepted out of a mix of self-preservation and self-loathing.
This is what decadence looks like: a frantic coarseness that “bravely” trashes its own values and traditions, and then knuckles under swiftly to totalitarianism and brute force.
How very "brave" are our culture makers until a foreign, "other" culture  makes threats. They don't self regulate in the interest of good taste, honor, or the respect of another.   Is this an example of familiarity breeding contempt?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Signs Of Spring

This spring, a house finch and her mate have decided to take up residence in our front door wreath. We're having a great time observing all their comings and goings.  Here are some pictures taken at Easter.

 Here's the mama finch getting settled.

Here she is all nestled in.

Three eggs as of Easter, she has laid three more since.

At night the daddy finch rests on top of the wreath warding off dangers.

*Pictures taken by Emma Hawkins.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Christianity And Culture: Living In The Image Of God Part 2

As we think about how to evaluate and understand culture, let's take a closer look at idolatry.

There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.   C.S. Lewis

I would suggest that this first consequence of the fall, being inclined toward idolatry, is the greatest of the consequences, and is the root of all other consequences.

Evil consists not in being created but in the rebellious idolatry by which humans worship and honor elements of the natural world rather than the God who made them. The result is that the cosmos is out of joint. Instead of humans being God’s vice-regents over creation, they ignore the creator and try to worship something less demanding, something that will give them a short-term fix of power or pleasure. N.T. Wright


1. Is anything that is put in place of God - We use idols to avoid God and his holiness.

For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything. G.K. Chesterton

2. Comes in pairs - Dominion and trust are replaced with domination and overdependence. The nearby god results from the need of dominion corrupted into domination and the faraway god results from the need for trust corrupted into overdependence. Jeremiah 23:23-24
Examples of nearby gods are technique, expertise, money, health, and law/legalism.
Examples of faraway gods are chance, fate, self-esteem, financial security, and our own idea of God.

3. Deceives - Enslaves and overpowers us. Tolkien’s literary portrayal of Smeagol being transformed into Gollum is an excellent image of what happens to us when we turn to idols. He can no longer say “I” and can only say,“we”. It is the psychology of damnation. Whatever we worship, we become. 

 Psalm 115:4-8
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.

A man is in bondage to whatever he cannot part with that is less than himself.  George MacDonald

4. Fails us,  which we see happen to Baal's prophets in I Kings 18:20-29.
20 So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal's prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.
You can’t get second things by putting them first; you get the second things only by putting first things first.  C.S. Lewis, First Things, in God in the Dock
The scriptures teach that idolatry is taken into the heart by the learned (Ezekiel 14:1-5), associated with sexual immorality and covetousness (Ephesians 5:5), associated with sexual immorality , impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. (Colossians 3:5), and participation with demons (I Corinthians 10:14-33).

In the temptations of Jesus  in Matthew 4:1-11, the first temptation is to put trust in the nearby god of physical security, the second temptation is to put trust in a god of a different character than Yahweh and the third temptation is to put trust in the nearby god of personal dominion/domination.  All the temptations are to go about attaining the Kingdom without the cross, and giving in to them would be idolatrous.  (See my earlier post, Stones To Bread, for more thoughts on Christ's temptations.)

Sacrifice as much as you please, cajole and flatter as you please, beat your disobedient idol with a big stick if you please-the thing still won't give you what you want. In consequence, all idolatrous cultures tend to get nastier and nastier. If a small bribe doesn't succeed, they offer more. The idol will not respond to a dance of virgins with flowers? Very well, let's try a dance of warriors mutilating themselves with knives. You have cut off a lock of your hair and laid it before the idol, yet life is still dark? Try cutting your first-born's throat and offering him. Nor does the idol's continued silence teach you better sense, if you're a natural-born idolater. For if Mumbo-Jumbo is so bard to please, what a very great Mumbo-Jumbo he must be !
Joy Davidman from Smoke on the Mountain.

What kind of idols does our society worship?  What sacrifices do these idols demand?  What kind of culture does this create?

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm Happy To

This was my conversation tonight with Olivia as I was preparing dinner.

Olivia:  If I wash my hands, can I help with dinner?
Me:  Sure sweetheart.  You can tear the ham into pieces for the casserole.

Later, as she's helping.

Me:  Thank you for helping.
Olivia:  Oh, I'm happy to.

If only I were always so happy to be helpful. 

Antony Flew, R.I.P.

I found out today that Antony Flew died on April 8.  Flew created a few waves in 2004 when he publicly announced that after years of atheism, the scientific evidence, particularly in the area of biology, led him to believe in a creator of some kind.  This led to overreactions by atheists who claimed that he had become senile, but one can see from these videos of a forum held at Westminster Chapel with Flew, N.T. Wright and Gary Habermas that his mind was still sharp and full of good humor. Rest in peace, Dr. Flew.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Christianity And Culture: Living In The Image Of God Part 1

This is from a series on Christianity and culture which I developed and taught last summer.

What is culture?

Culture is all around us. It’s the books we read, the type of food we eat and how we produce it, the songs we sing and listen to, the clothes we wear, the entertainment in which we partake, educational institutions, the technology we use, governing systems, the economy, the philosophies we believe, religion and faith, the words we speak, not to mention art and architecture. None of these exist in a vacuum from the other, nor can we exist in a vacuum from culture.

Here are a few definitions of culture:

1. The totality of socially transmitted behaviour patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought.

2. The act of, or any labor or means employed for, training, disciplining, or refining the moral and intellectual nature of man; as, the culture of the mind.

3. Comes from the word cultivate. (Think of the garden in Genesis 2)

4. James Davison Hunter defines it as; “The power to name reality”. The idea behind this is that when we name something, it defines that something and determines how we think about that something.

Culture is important for it is the nature of our humanity to create and participate in culture because God creates and we are made in His image. It helps shape our thoughts, attractions, morals and behaviours, even as we help to shape it.  As Dorothy Day said, A good society is one that makes it easy to be good.

We can evaluate culture by asking if it corresponds to what is true, good and beautiful and whether it is being made or used to the glory of God or as a substitute for God.

Before we look any closer at culture, lets look at what it means to be human, and why it is important?  Let's begin at the beginning.

Genesis 1
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, “Let there be an expanse  in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made  the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven.  And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,  and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants  yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,  and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds  fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man  in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
In Genesis 1: 1, 21, 27, the Hebrew word bara is used for create. It means to create something totally new, something which does not flow out of what came before and is only attributable to God. Bara is used three times in reference to man, underscoring his uniqueness.

In Genesis 1:26 we have the first hint of the Trinity. The complete Godhead was involved in the creation of man, adam (male and female).

We are made in the image and likeness of God. Imago Dei.  This is what it means to be human.

An image is a  material representation, as in a statue or on a coin, or a likeness or similarity, pattern, picture, semblance.  Humans are commanded to have no graven images because we are the icons/eikons.  To worship anything else leads us to become less than what we were made to be.

Note also, in Genesis 1:10,18,21and 25, God describes creation as good. In vs 31, after man has been created, God describes His creation as very good. 
As Augustine noted, whatever is, must be good. (God is the ultimate being, The Great I Am.) Thus, whatever loses it’s goodness loses it’s being. Whenever we fail to conform to the image of Christ we fail to become fully human.  We lose our I am-ness.

The significance of being made in the image of God is:

1. We are made to be in personal, obedient relationship with God.
2. We are made to be in personal, cooperative relationship with man.
3. We are given moral freedom
4. We have the ability to think, reason, communicate through language
5. We are given dominion over the earth, plants and animals.
6. We are to be fruitful and to recreate.

The consequences of the fall on our humanity are:

1. We are alienated from God, man being inclined toward idolatry.
2. Our relationships with fellow man is strained and inclined toward brokenness.
3. We no longer use our moral freedom rightly being inclined to sin.
4. We lose integrity. Reason, thought, communication are broken.
5. Ineffective dominion, often resorting to domination and misuse.
6. View children as burdens, sometimes less than human.

Adam and Eve turned from God, fearing Him and no longer trusting in His love for them. They then turned their focus and trust on themselves.  While still made in the image of God, now we are twisted, distorted and broken. Once created good, we now through the sin of adam, choose death over life, fear over love as explained in the epistle to the Romans.

Romans 1:21-25
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Here is a passage from, True Heroism in a World of Celebrity Counterfeits,  by Dick Keyes.  It helps to explain the true extent of not living in the image of God.
Sin is not only violating moral rules. It is described by the apostle Paul as falling “short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Note that he does not say falling short of the “law” of God but of the “glory” of God–that is, short of the excellence of God in every area of his existence. It is certainly moral failure, but God’s moral excellence does not exhaust his nature. The seriousness of our sin is that we use our God-imaging capabilities to think, say and do things that oppose, defy and misrepresent God himself. As we misrepresent God’s image, we also misrepresent the selves we were created to be.
In Christ, however, the image is restored.  Christ emptied himself, kenosis, to make us like him.

Philippians 2:5-11
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
See also, Romans 8:3-4

He is the true image of God.

Colossians 1:15-23
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by  him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation  under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
See also, II Corinthians 4:3-6

Christ transforms us into his image and restores creation.

Romans 8:12-30
12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
 18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

It is in Christ that we become truly human.

Friday, April 16, 2010


I didn't see Firefly when it was first broadcast.  I have Netflix to thank for catching it on dvd.  What a great television show, (space cowboys, essentially), and at the end a good movie to tie up the loose ends.  While I lament it only lasting one season, so much better that than for it to die out with weak writing and characters.

Here's a fun quiz about the show.  I didn't do too badly for having seen it only once, but I partly attribute that to the show being so good itself, that the story and characters kept my attention.

Your result for The Firefly / Serenity Test...

Nicely Done!!!

You scored 86%!
Here's a link to the quiz.

Monday, April 12, 2010

She Has Done A Beautiful Thing To Me

A few weeks ago I taught a Sunday school class while the scheduled teacher was out of town.  One of the passages of scripture I covered was Mark 14:3-9.
 3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4There were some who said to themselves indignantly, "Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor." And they scolded her. 6But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
 While I was preparing for the class, verse six caught my attention.  So many times  the emphasis is placed on how costly the nard was - a whole year's wages and how extravagant was the act.  One can easily begin to sympathize with the disciples for their consternation.  Notice though, Jesus says what she has done is beautiful.  One of the elements of beauty is proportion, to have harmonious relationships of parts within a whole, to have balance and symmetry.  In reality, in the Kingdom of God, what this woman did was not extravagant at all.  It was in perfect proportion, both in time and space, for she was preparing the Messiah's body for burial and anointing her king.  How carefully she must have listened to her rabbi!

Another aspect of beauty is that it points to the good and what is good points to what is true.  The Greek word used in verse six for beautiful is καλὸν, which means beautiful, commendable and good.  What the woman has done is not only in proportion, but is commendable, so much so that we continue to  praise her act to this day,  just as Jesus said we would.

I pray that God gives me a heart to see what is truly beautiful.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Witness Of Luke

I've always loved that we have four Gospels, four witnesses who tell of the life of our Lord from their perspectives. I love that the Holy Spirit in guiding them did not take away their personalities or points of view. The witness whom I most appreciate is Luke. The details which he shares seem so tender and compassionate, like Mary's Magnificat, the angels and the shepherds, twelve year old Jesus sitting among the teachers at the temple, Mary choosing the better, Zacchaeus's repentance, and many more. During Holy week, one detail stands out particularly to me. It is in Luke 22, specifically vs. 43.
39 And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

As Jesus prayed in agony, an angel was sent to strengthen him. We don't hear about this very often in sermons, books, etc.   It is such a compassionate scene and is good to know. When Jesus was praying for the cup to be removed, when his friends had failed him, the Father did not abandon him, he gave him the strength to follow through.

There is so much of Christ's death that is a mystery, that theologians will argue about until Christ returns. (Let's hope they end the arguing there!), but there seem to be some things that are clear. That the Father and the Son are one and before the world was created, they knew this day would come. (It's very hard to talk about the actions of God, knowing he is the creator of time and not bound by it!) Mankind did not shock God when it sinned; God did not have to go to plan B with the law of Moses or plan C when the law could not be kept. God worked his plan in time leading to the perfect time when he would reconcile to world to himself.  This self sacrificial love is God's nature. As he transforms us into his likeness, it is also becoming ours.

I am so thankful to Luke, for reminding us that the Father loves the Son and did not abandon him in his weakness and grief.

There is a hymn which first clued me in to this part of the story. In fact, until I determined at some point in my childhood to see if the fourth stanza was even scriptural, I had thought it may have simply been made up. I'm very glad I was wrong. Here are the lyrics.
'Tis midnight, and on Olive's brow
The star is dimmed that lately shone;
'Tis midnight in the garden now,
The suff'ring Savior prays alone.

'Tis midnight, and from all removed,
The Savior wrestles lone with fears-
E'en that disciple whom He loved
Heeds not his Master's grief and tears.

'Tis midnight, and for other's guilt
The Man of Sorrows weeps in blood;
Yet He that hath in anguish knelt
Is not forsaken by His God.

'Tis midnight, and from ether-plains
Is borne the song that angels know
Unheard by mortals are the strains
That sweetly soothe the Savior's woe.