The Riddler

It’s been a while since I last posted a newsletter article, perhaps it’s time to do so again!…

There’s a character in Batman called The Riddler, a villain who delights in incorporating riddles and puzzles into his criminal plots for Batman and the authorities to solve, his outfits often incorporating a question mark motif, the same punctuation adorning the top of his walking cane. There’s something about puzzles that lures us in, teasing us with a sense of mystery and appealing to our desire to prove ourselves and come out on top. As a scientist, puzzles were what motivated me – how does something work? What lies behind it? Why does this happen? A similar intrigue was one of the paths of enquiry that led me to faith – why are we the way we are? Why do we exist? What’s the purpose of life?

I’m writing this having just got back from the Christian Union at St. Mary’s High School where rather than trying to solve puzzles we’ve been setting them. Our plan is to create a guerrilla advertising campaign for the group – a set of Easter Teasers around the Passion story with a prize of a chocolate variety for any who get all the questions right. Seven riddles leading to seven letters which make an anagram for them to solve. The answer is a significant word for the season, but I can’t let on what it is, just in case there are spies in the camp…

Creating the questions has reminded me yet again of the mystery of Jesus. In many ways we’re spoilt looking on from this side of Easter Sunday. We know how the story pans out. I wonder however what the disciples really made of Jesus? I wonder if he is the real Riddler! Who did they really think he was? Why did he seem so bent on heading to Jerusalem and provoking the authorities? What did they think he was trying to achieve? What happened on Good Friday? And what on earth did they make of Easter Sunday! Reading the Gospels without knowing the ending and they make puzzling reading. There is definitely a mystery here, a mystery which the rest of the New Testament spends trying to work out. I do wonder sometimes whether we spoil it a little too when we share the good news with others. Sometimes we reduce the mystery and this earth shattering story to a few neat and tidy phrases about Jesus dying in our place, bringing us forgiveness and eternal life. Sometimes I wonder if telling the story is much more powerful and profound. Such a story lures us in with its questions and enigmatic hints, teasing us promises just out of sight, and bringing us to the place where we find not a tidy and convincing argument but the outstretched arms of the one who died for us and longs for relationship rather than intellectual assent.

Church Newsletter 28th February 2016


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