Category Archives: Gospel Vibes

The Vibe of the Lord’s Prayer

For those unsure of what to put into a prayer and what to keep out, the vibe of the Lord’s Prayer is a good place to start. The prayer is suggested by Jesus during an open air sermon on a mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee and is short, simple and to the point. The first line, ‘Our Father in Heaven’ gets God’s attention while acknowledging that he is the heavenly father of the person praying – as creator of people God is seen by believers as the father of everyone in the world. ‘Hallowed be your name’ suggests that God’s name is holy and shouldn’t be used in vain – those who shreik ‘OMG!’ when they win a radio phone-in, beware. ‘Your kingdom come’ is not so much as a demand for the End Times to get a move on, it shows a hankering for a more heavenly way of life here on Earth. ‘Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’ is pretty straightforward – the believer’s job is to do what God wants them to, rather than push on regardless with their own plans. ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ is another simple vibe – we just need enough food to sustain us for a day: tomorrow’s prayer can take care of tomorrow. ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us’ is not about ignoring KEEP OUT signs, it’s about not holding grudges and accepting that people are sorry for the wrong things they have done that have hurt us. ‘Lead us not into temptation’ is an honest acceptance that we are easily led astray. Anything from chocolate éclairs to pretty girls and lottery jackpots sets our minds wandering and a daily dose of Lord’s Prayer ensures that believers at least try and stay on the straight and narrow. ‘Deliver us from evil’ may sound like something out of The Exorcist but really is a request for protection from anything that might harm us physically, mentally or spiritually. The prayer, which is also known by its Latin name, the Paternoster, was an instant hit with Jesus’ followers and is still recited regularly by around two billion Christians around the planet.

General vibe of the Lord’s Prayer: Pray this way

Factvibe: the addition of ‘For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, for ever and ever, Amen’ was first added to the Lords Prayer in the second century AD.

bread

Bread. Worth praying for long before it came sliced and wrapped in polythene.

The Vibe of the Cross

The cross, aka the tree, is the instrument of death which the Romans believe is appropriate to use in order to execute Jesus. No one today is one hundred per cent sure of what this cross looks like, or whether it is even shaped like a cross. Some believe that, as wood is scarce in first century Judea, the cross will have been a single upright post. Some believe this upright post has a T-bar across it. Others believe the cross is Y shaped, or shaped like an X. Historians can’t agree on whether criminals are nailed or roped to their crosses, or whether they have a small ledge to rest their feet. No one is entirely sure if the victim is attached first to a crossbar which is then hung on an upright beam or whether the whole shenanigans is in place before the crucifixion begins. One thing is certain, the cross is a brutal instrument of torture and the last place anyone would want to take their final breaths. Death comes from (among other vibes) suffocation, blood loss and heart failure and if it is too long in coming, it is sped up by smashing the victim’s legs with large hammers. The gruesomeness of the Crucifixion combined with the innocence of Jesus only helps emphasize the power and generosity of the gesture: not only is Jesus punished for every wrongdoing ever done by his followers (plus any that will ever be done), he does it by going through one of the most painful and drawn out executions devised by one of the most brutal regimes ever to come to power. As for the cross itself, it is such an unpleasant vibe for the earliest followers of Jesus that they prefer not to look at anything that reminds them of it. In fact the first crosses to appear as a Christian symbol surface around two hundred years after the crucifixion. A gruesome vibe, despite no one being entirely sure what it looked like or how it worked.

General vibe of the cross: Execution by torture

Factvibe: The Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t fans the cross as they believe it constitutes worshipping an idol

original_silver-cross-pendant

Roman instrument of death, available at most good jewellers

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The Vibe of Cornelius

A leader of an occupying military force makes for an improbable ‘good guy’ but the vibe of Cornelius proves again that it’s the unlikeliest people who become heroes in the Bible. An Italian soldier based in Caesarea, the capital city of the Roman province of Judea, Cornelius is a centurion; an officer in charge of at least eighty men and perhaps as many as five hundred. His vibe comes to life shortly after the death of Jesus. Jesus’ right hand man, Peter is in the town of Lydda, just south of modern day Tel Aviv and a stone’s throw from Caesarea. Here, his prayers have just brought a dead woman, Tabitha, back to life – an event that wins the Christians many new followers. Despite not sharing an ounce of Jewish blood between them, Cornelius and his family have also recently converted to Christianity and God decides that it’s time for the family to meet the man who has spent three years by Jesus’ side. In a vision, an angel congratulates Cornelius for all his good works and tells him where he can find Peter. The next day, Peter has a vision of his own where he is shown a menu of delicious food that is forbidden for Jews to eat. In the vision, God tells him that if an animal is made by God, then eating it is godly. The vision repeats itself another couple of times and just after the third screening, Cornelius’ men arrive inviting Peter to meet their leader. Peter accepts the invite but is clearly uncomfortable entering a gentile home. Still, he goes with the vibe and finds himself in the middle of a large gathering pulled together by Cornelius. The centurion explains his vision and Peter realizes that God sees no boundaries nor does he pick favourites – his message is for everyone. Peter then tells everyone about Jesus and the vibe is so powerful that the Holy Spirit makes an appearance and people who had never heard about God start to feel the vibe in a big way. Baptisms follow and for the first time, Jesus is no longer a Jewish Messiah, the cat is properly out of the bag and his vibe begins to spread throughout the whole world.

General vibe of Cornelius: Gateway to the gentiles

Factvibe: Cornelius is the first recorded gentile convert

DCF 1.0

The vibe of Cornelius, as a plastic figurine

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The Vibe of the Star of Bethlehem

Cosmic events are afoot in Bethlehem and the world needs to know about them. Seven hundred years before the Chinese invented fireworks, the only practical way of doing this is to arrange for a brand new and very bright star to appear in the skies above Bethlehem. Some argue that the star might have been a planetary alignment of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars in 6BC while others suggest that God, being God, can invent any star he wants to. Boffins agree that the star is actually a comet, a slow moving ball of rock dust, ice and gas that appears to hang in the sky, its vapour trail acting as a gigantic arrow pointing to the small Galilean town as if to say ‘Something big is happening here’. The comet is first spotted by Chinese astronomers in 5BC, adding credibility to it being ‘a star from the east’ – given that many think that the Magi came from Babylon and China is to the east of Babylon the star certainly seems to have an eastern origin. The star ‘goes ahead’ of the Magi, suggesting again that its vibe is very similar to that of a comet which travels slowly through the night skies. Like a solar powered satnav, the star guides the wise men directly to their Bethlehem Stable destination. It’s job done, the star slash comet moves off into the heavens and out of the narrative of the Bible.

General vibe of the Star of Bethlehem: He’s down here!

Factvibe: Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the star is satanic as it first leads the Magi to Herod who then plans to kill Jesus

Star

It’s work done, the Star of Bethlehem now earns its keep as a Christmas tree decoration.

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The Vibe of the Shepherds

Despite shepherds being a pretty consistent vibe throughout the Bible (they appear over 200 times) and despite Jesus himself likening himself to a good shepherd, this vibe belongs to a very special bunch of herdsmen – the shepherds tending their sheep on the outskirts of Bethlehem on the night that Jesus is born. These men are not the obvious candidates to be the first on the scene to witness cosmic events unfolding, and given that it is census time, Bethlehem is full of every kind of priest and dignitary you could possibly wish for. Still, God loves an underdog and these chaps are such underdogs that they live on the outskirts of society and keep antisocial hours while surrounding themselves with livestock. The shepherds’ life changing moment is also a world changing one – a choir of angels announces that the Messiah has been born. However, the vibe is brought quickly down to earth when the shepherds learn that the saviour of mankind can be found in a nearby stable. They hurry into the town, find Mary and Joseph and pass on everything that the angels have told them. The couple is no less surprised than the shepherds, particularly given their somewhat rustic surroundings. From then on, the shepherds disappear from the story but their vibe lives on in Christmas Carols and Renaissance paintings, despite no one actually knowing any of their names, or how many of them showed up.

General vibe of the Shepherds: Bunch of nobodies gate crash a birthday

Factvibe: Given that the weather was nice enough for sheep to stay out all night, the Nativity was probably in late summer or early autumn.

Shepherd

Despite no records existing, everyone is 100% agreed that this is exactly how a Nativity shepherd would have looked

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The Vibe of the Woman Caught in Adultery

This vibe concerns a lady who has broken Commandment Seven: thou shalt not commit adultery. It is not clear whether the woman is married to someone else, or if the man she has been caught in flagrante with is married already, or if neither of them are married. Whichever way you slice it, they are not married to each other and the woman is dragged into the Temple by angry Jews who want Jesus to unleash righteous fury upon her, and join in with them in stoning her to death. Jesus sees the show for what it is, a crass attempt to catch him out. He knows that the Jews are not outraged by the woman and her bedroom antics; if they were, why would they not have captured her before? They clearly knew where she could be found. This is simply an attempt to trap Jesus into saying something that goes against the law that every Jew holds dear. How can he not condemn the woman? After all, adultery is so hated by God that he placed it in the list given to Moses who had it inscribed onto stone tablets. However, instead of siding with the Jews, Jesus draws in the sand, possibly to divert the eyes of the crowd from the woman who, doubtless, is in a state of undress. He then asks for anyone in the crowd who has never done anything wrong to throw a rock at the woman. It is a masterstroke. In one simple act, Jesus is acknowledging both the sin of adultery and its correct punishment, yet at the same time he is challenging everyone present to take a long hard look at themselves before they judge someone else. The oldies are the first to let the rocks fall from their hands and the youngsters follow suit until the crowd has dispersed and Jesus is left with the woman who no doubt cannot believe that she is still alive. Jesus tells her to change her ways and she runs off to get dressed and make some less dangerous and better-informed life choices.

General vibe of the Woman Caught in Adultery: Judge yourself before you judge others.

Factvibe: This is the only episode in the Bible where Jesus is seen writing

mirror

A mirror. Ultimatley, this vibe suggests we all take long hard look in one.

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The Vibe of Stephen

When the Disciples hear the vibe that the local Jewish converts are getting treated better than the Greek ones, they decide to pick seven trustworthy and honourable Greek speakers to make sure the love is shared around more fairly. These men are responsible for the practical administration and running of the fledgling church while the Disciples get on with the business of spreading the news about Jesus. One of these pillars of the community, or deacons, as they become known, is Stephen. Unashamed to speak his mind about Jesus, Stephen begins to get some Jewish backs up and before long, some phony claims that he has been badmouthing both Moses and God see him brought up before the supreme council of the Jews in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. Once in front of the Sanhedrin, Stephen launches into a sermon that pretty much tracks the story of the Jews from Abraham to Solomon and ends with an angry tirade where the Jews are accused of consistently failing to recognise a prophet when one is staring them in the face. When Stephen accuses the gathered Jewish elite of murdering the Messiah, the Sanhedrin erupts in fury. Undeterred, Stephen looks up to the heavens where he claims to see Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is too much for the Jews and they drag Stephen out of the city where they throw rocks at him until he is dead. A fanatical young Jew called Saul is asked to mind peoples’ coats while they are busy stoning Stephen but, fortunately for Christianity, Saul later becomes one of the strongest advocates for the vibe of Jesus, changes his name to Paul and almost single-handedly jump starts the churches that many of us are familiar with today.

General vibe of Stephen: Faithful and fearless

Factvibe: Stephen is the first Christian martyr.

It may have killed Stephen, but it couldn't kill the vibe.

It may have killed Stephen, but it couldn’t kill the vibe.

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The Vibe of the Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan Woman begins her story with the vibe of the town tramp. No doubt ostracised by the other local women who fetch water early in the morning, she heads to the well in the heat of the day. When she arrives, she finds Jesus having a rest on his way home to Galilee. Jesus asks the woman for a drink and she is shocked that he is even talking to her – the Jews consider the Samaritans impure and dirty. Jesus then speaks in riddles to the woman, explaining to her that he can offer her water that will mean she will never be thirsty again. When she asks for some of this miracle water, Jesus asks her to go and fetch her husband and she has to admit that she doesn’t have one. When Jesus tells her that he knows all about her, that she has no husband and that she has already been married five times, she realises he is no ordinary thirsty traveller. And when he finally tells her that he is the Messiah, she hurries off to tell the rest of the town, many of whom become followers of Jesus. The Samaritan Woman is yet another in a long line of seriously flawed people who God picks out to spread his message. And it’s a clear one: Christianity isn’t a faith for the religious leaders or the establishment, it is for the people. Triumphant vibes with a full bucket of water attached.

General vibe of the Samaritan Woman: Ordinary woman meets God at a well

Factvibe: The well can still be found near the site of the ancient Canaanite city, Tell Balata on the Palestinian West Bank

A bucket of water. But not any old water. This, friends, is the water of life

A bucket of water. But not any old water. This, friends, is the water of life

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The Vibe of the Samaritans

The Samaritans vibe begins for real in 722BC when the Northern Kingdom of Israel falls to the enemy Assyrians. The northern Jews intermarry with the Assyrians and any other waifs and strays who settle there and are forever seen as impure by their southern cousins. In fact, the Samaritans are among the spoilers who don’t want Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem after the Jews come home from their exile in Babylon. In New Testament times, the Samaritans are properly despised by the Jews and are seen as an enemy state. Samaria debuts in a story told by Luke where Jesus heals ten lepers on the border of Samaria and Galilee. The lepers have no doubt been pushed away to the very edge of Israel because, in the eyes of their fellow Jews, they are almost as dirty as their Samaritan neighbours. The story of the Good Samaritan is shocking to the followers of Jesus simply because it is a hated Samaritan who saves the day. Samaria is midway between Galilee and Jerusalem and although most Jews make a detour, Jesus sees all people as equal and is happy to pass through. On one trip, he meets a woman at a well and introduces himself as the Messiah whilst telling her secrets about herself that he couldn’t possibly know. The woman hurries off to spread the news amongst her fellow Samaritans and Jesus’ work is done.

General vibe of the Samaritans: Those dirty people next door

Factvibe: The first Samaritans hotline opened in St Stephen Walbrook Church in London in 1953

The early Samaritans didn't wait for one of these to ring. They were too busy making a nuisance of themselves.

The early Samaritans didn’t wait for one of these to ring. They were too busy making a nuisance of themselves.

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The Vibe of Nicodemus

Nicodemus has a head to one side, quizzical eyed ‘are you kidding me?’ vibe. As a Pharisee, he is a member of the local Jewish middle classes, probably a businessman, and enjoys a seat on the local council known as the Sanhedrin. Despite the Pharisees opposing Jesus and seeing him as a threat to their vibe, Nicodemus senses that Jesus might be special. Not wanting his fellow Pharisees to see him, he visits Jesus under cover of darkness and quizzes him. Jesus appears to answer in riddles and tells the curious Pharisee that, in order to experience the Kingdom of God, he needs to be born again. Nicodemus assumes that Jesus has lost the plot – how can a grown man crawl back inside his mother and be born again? Jesus explains that being born again has nothing to do with gynaecology but is instead a spiritual transformation. Obviously impressed with his tête-à-tête with Jesus, Nicodemus later stands up for him when the vibe among the other Pharisees begins to turn nasty. Nicodemus’ final role in the story of Jesus is a sadder one. After the Pharisees have got their way and Jesus has been executed, Nicodemus helps another wealthy believer, Joseph of Arimathea, to bury his body in a tomb owned by Joseph. He brings with him 35 kilos of perfume and spices, clear evidence of the value, respect and love he has for the dead man, and evidence too that, despite being a Pharisee, he believes that Jesus might actually be the Son of God. An ‘is he, isn’t he?’ vibe followed by an emphatic ‘he is’.

General vibe of Nicodemus: Conversion

Factvibe: The famous verse John 3:16 is spoken by Jesus to Nicodemus

Birth - a vibe which Nicodemus wrongly assumes he has to go through again.

Birth – a vibe which Nicodemus wrongly assumes he has to go through again.