Friday, June 26, 2009

Derek's Lucazade...

It's funny what relationships at Faith House do to you.

Last time I was at Faith House I stood outside with Derek as he drunkenly smoked his roll up, we chatted. I liked being on the door when at youth club in Poplar, it was where discussions happened. This felt the same as we talked about what it is to be a minister, a Christian, and '**dy cyclists'! Derek got to know me a little more and I got to know Derek that little more. We shared something of each other.

I saw his lucozade bottle tucked inside his jacket, it is always there, ready. His supposed life line. He caught me looking at the bottle. I laughed, "Derek I love Lucozade..."

"You wouldn't like this Lucozade..."
his reply sharp.

"It's a different colour to what I remember, is it new?".

Derek looks up and says "No...!",

"...perhaps I could have a sip",

"NO - you wouldn't like THIS Lucozade..!"

I snigger and he knows I'm pulling his leg, we share laughter. Later that evening Derek tells us all that he was glad when he was 'in here' with us because he wasn't 'out there' with them.

Tonight Derek was cold stone sober, quiet, distant, something was up - but he wouldn't say. As I left I saw the Lucozade bottle tucked inside his jacket. Tonight as I cycled home and thought through the evening, I was both pleased he was sober but also worried that Derek wasn't himself, worried that his Lucozade would be too available.

Relationships are funny at Faith House! People quickly become a big part of your life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Henri Nouwen on Mission's False Dichotomy...

It's been a while since I last posted something on the blind spot of mission. Interesting insight of Nouwen as to what evangelism as an alternative lifestyle should be.

"To be a witness for God is to be a living sign of God's presence in the world. What we live is more important than what we say, because the right way of living always leads to the right way of speaking....When our words come too soon and we are not yet living what we are saying, we easily give double messages. Giving double messages - one with our words and another with our actions - makes us hypocrites."
Nouwen, H. J. (1996:20). Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith. New York: Harperone.

Fullness of Life...shalom and salvation
Sham Compassion...Absurd Activism...Trendy Past Time
Evangelism Gone Entrepreneurial... a disappointing read!
Newbigin on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Kraybill on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Murray on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Wallis on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Guder on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Morisy on Mission's False Dichotomy...
Brueggemann on the False Dichotomy of mission...
GS Railton on Missions False Dichotomy
NT Wright on Mission's False Dichotomy...
William Booth on Mission's False Dichotomy...

Monday, June 22, 2009

The arrogant bravado of intercession...!

I am sure He is really grateful with our jogging of His fading memory as He listens to our petitions. "I'm glad you mentioned Aunt Gladys, thanks for your insight I'll make a note of that one ... Iran you say, well I never...!" .

It is funny how we approach God in prayer as if He is some poor old dear, hard of hearing and clearly in need of us to tell him what He needs to do, as if speaking to a great aunt who really does not understand. I sometimes wonder what we have done to intercession as we approach the creator of all things seen and unseen with our little prayer lists; what we have done as we 'beseech' the Sovereign of all with our anxious thoughts for others. We remind Him that he is King of Kings and Lord of Lords but precede with the mindset of giving every precise detail that He clearly doesn't know.

I am sure He is really grateful with our jogging of His fading memory as He listens to our petitions. "I'm glad you mentioned Aunt Gladys, thanks for your insight I'll make a note of that one ... Iran you say, well I never...!"

It sometimes feels as though we are in the power seat and it is us that is pulling the levers. Omnipresent, Omniscient of course, but Lord let me just bring to attention that I could do with a parking space in a minute!

Unthinking intercession? Before any accusations fly that I have rubbished what for many is a key part of their prayer life let me clarify. I am all for it! I just think that it is all too easy to allow the framework of intercession to look more like a shopping list we write and pass on than rather than a real means of changing lives.

Walter Wink captures this when he points out:

"All this about our role as intercessors in creating history is arrogant bravado unless we recognize that it is God rather than ourselves who initiates prayer, and that it is god's power, not ours , that answers the world's needs. We are always preceded in intercession. God is always praying within us. When we turn to pray it is always the second step of prayer. We join with God in a prayer already going on in us and in the world."

Intercession should never be allowed to become a passing of the buck, I wonder what would happen if we made part of our intercession the caveat "and show me how I can be part of the answer...?"As we breathe our heartfelt prayers of intercession how do they change us and align us to God's agenda?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

From selfish genes in to selfless people...

"Faith is the ability to see ourselves as joined to others by God's love... religion the miracle of religion which turns selfish genes in to selfless people".

Søren Kierkegaard captures something of selflessness - "To love one's neighbour means ... essentially to will to exist equally for every human being without exception."

I enjoyed reading an article in the Times recently where Jonathan Sacks makes an interesting point. There is an irony that while disciples of Darwin are anti religious, that whether he knew it or not, Darwin put forward what Sacks calls one of the great arguments for religion. Darwin observed a paradox at the heart of his system - that society values altruism and self sacrifice, which does not make sense in the light of natural selection and the struggle to survive.

While selfishness may be advantageous to individuals it fragments communities. Sacks draws attention to the choice that faces us all; self -regard or concern for others, egoism or altruism, yet it is only in community that we can survive at all.

Sacks reminds us:
"God is the voice of the other within the self. It is God who taught us to love our neighbours as ourselves, to welcome the stranger, care for the poor, the widow and the orphan, heed the unheeded, feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, and temper justice with compassion."
There is a third way of getting 'individuals to act in a way beneficial to the group'. Helping people to capture the freedom of seeing the welfare of others succeeds to overcome selfishness where power and wealth fails. The paradox that 'selfishness is good for me and my genes but bad for us and therefore bad for my descendants' did not escape Darwin. No system captures the essence of selflessness more effectively than religion - "Faith is the ability to see ourselves as joined to others by God's love... religion the miracle of religion which turns selfish genes in to selfless people".

Jonathan Sacks Times March 28 2009

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Covent Garden...

Eryn's ballet means a weekly trip to Covent Garden. While Kate and I take turns, I really enjoy this week on week off excursion. I've to come see it as a parcel of time, a gift to read, drink coffee, meet friends while Eryn has her class at the Opera House.

Yesterday, Covent Garden in the sun was superb. Sat listening to the buskers, watching people, reading, even a slight snooze in the sun was great.

Even being glad to move on when the time came was a good feeling. There is only so much you can take of the Chinese pipes and their unrelenting pentatonic scale - particularly when you have a large woman doing a floaty twinkle toes dance to the music around you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Son of man

Son of Man is an interesting depiction of Jesus' life and ministry, set in a fictional modern day South African state. English subtitles on an iPod was a challenge! the bulk of the film is in Xhosa.

The question inherent throughout is what would happen if someone in Africa emerged with the same message as Jesus. Jesus' teaching is set against the oppression of a occupying force. Power games, collusion and collaboration is what Jesus stands against with a message of non- violent rebellion against injustice, inequality and inequity.

His message of inclusion and reconciliation within a framework of what it is to be truly free can be seen in the familiar cameos of Jesus' life albeit in a different guise. The power of the resurrection is seen in his message of non violent resistance to oppression coming to life and coursing through his followers as they stand up against the tyranny of the state.

Good film.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Head and Shoulders...

Marsha snapped this pic of me head and shoulders above those around me.

This was in Rome and suddenly I was surrounded by a Japanese tour party.

While very wet it made me smile!

Monday, June 08, 2009

One Conference at WBC... Don't forget to book

I'm really looking forward to hearing Ann Morisy again. She is a great author and communicator.

Bothered and Bewildered is the title of her new book due to be launched that evening.

If you are interested in coming get in touch.

Can't be bad for a freebie!

16 June 2009

The Joy of doubt...

"...honest questioning doubt from a desire to believe, may have more to do with the deepening of our faith, than a unquestioning blind faith..."

I've begun an unintentional habit of reading the most profound articles in the most unusual of places. It makes going to the hairdressers and the Chinese take away a little more interesting. Last month it was an article about recapturing the emotion of awe and how a lack of awe affects our well-being .... fascinating. Saturday while waiting for numbers 18, 24, 32, 34 and 37 in the Ho Hing I ruffled through the usual freebie papers and magazines to find the Psychologies magazine and an article by Emma Cook called the 'Joy of Doubt'.

"Doubt is an inescapable aspect of human nature, and yet how many of us wish it were not?"

"Make peace with doubt -When you doubt, rather than automatically criticising yourself for being indecisive, remember that doubt is a healthy process by which you can discover your true beliefs..."

"We should feel proud of the fact that we see and struggle with the contradictions of the world. That is a very noble situation to be in . The opposite is to be a fundamentalist - unwilling to engage with or appreciate any position but your own..."

"Doubt is the beginning, not the end of wisdom..." (George Iles).

An interesting thought might be that honest questioning doubt from a desire to believe, may have more to do with the deepening of our faith, than a unquestioning undynamic blind faith that refuses to move beyond anything more than the cosmetics of mere acceptance.

"Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Devon/Cornwall 2009...

Camping went well - amazingly, not much rain! We managed to eat outside every night! I have to say that the coastline around Plymouth was pretty much outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed discovering some of it.

It was as always good to spend time together as a family with friends, it was great having a whole day to myself with Bethan and to go out for a meal, even if when I went to pay I didn't have my wallet!

A day on the beach was a novelty at Wembury. The viaduct at Calstock was impressive as was the walk up to the house and gardens of Cotehele House. Polperro still makes me giggle but I guess you need to know Paul Pirie to get the joke (not so much a joke really!)

Other highlights were being able to finish Yoder's mind bendingly difficult Politics of Jesus, getting to watch Entertaining Angels- the story of Dorothy Day and The Son of Man which was a great depiction and interpretation of the Story of Jesus from a South African perspective.

There is no easy way to say this - but the problem with catching spider crabs is knowing how to cook them in a pan far too small. You might be glad to know that I didn't catch the crab, nor did I cook it, nor was I ill having eaten some of it!

I really enjoyed and needed this break and would highly recommend the area for visit.

Then to finish it all off by watching Chelsea win the FA Cup - perfick!