Thursday, November 26, 2009

THE WORLD NEEDS PATIENT PEOPLE...!"

if Jesus had not used the metaphor of Gehenna to call upon to describe the antithesis of fullness of life he surely would have used Southwark's Parking shop to make his point..

She looked at me bemused if not a little affected. I looked around at the now silent room caught momentarily within the eye of the storm I had caused. People backed away from me in the 'I wonder if he has multi personality' kind of way. There was no two ways about it I had caused a drama.

An hour before I walked into 264 Old Kent Road and if Jesus had not the metaphor of Gehenna to call upon to describe the antithesis of fullness of life, he surely would have used Southwark's Parking shop to make his point. The atmosphere was tense, fraught as individuals paid their parking fines at one window with an incessant tirade of abuse to the girls on the other side of bullet proof glass. Individuals caught for all kinds of traffic offences vented, screamed, cried, wailed before paying anything up to £180 to get their vehicles back. The rest of us sat waiting to pay for our residents parking permits not really knowing who was next.

I sat in my uniform aware that in addition I had a fluorescent safety jacket with THE SALVATION ARMY across my back, I knew that I needed to me the model of patience! After nearly an hour I was beckoned to the window with an aggressive and bureaucratic "next...!". My form was correct, my proof of identification in place, I was getting out as soon as my permit was ready at the printer.

It was then that hysteria hit the lady behind me in the queue. "That's it ... I've had it ... I can not do this anymore, I've been patient up to now but I can not do it any more...!" her voice getting quicker, her breathing shorter her panic spread through the room like wild fire.

OK I may not have done this if my defences were not down -amazing what a bit of man flu can do for you really, I turned around and I found myself saying:

"Yes you have been patient and you are such a better person for it... aren't you ....well?"

I then heard my volume increase above all the shouting and cursing in the room.

"... in fact we would ALL BE BETTER PEOPLE IF WE WERE MORE PATIENT... THE WORLD NEEDS PATIENT PEOPLE...!"

In the silence of the moment I had caused I turn to the attendant who seemed to be reaching for a panic button, you need a chaplain in this place! She didn't even look up but said "Yeah problem being they would get beaten up as well!!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Debbie Green...

Every church or institution needs people who are able to disarm inflated ego. Every church needs someone who is able to laugh at pomposity and all that points to that which is ridiculous. Every church needs someone who is able to uphold that which essential yet gently undermine any unnecessary distraction. Every church needs those equipped with holy disdain for all that is nonsense.

Add to that someone who was an example of bravery, tenacity; someone whose laugh rippled out bringing smiles to anyone caught in its wake. Someone who selflessly refused to think herself worse off than anyone, who dodged misplaced sympathy and you have some one who will be missed but will always be remembered with warmth and a smile.

Debbie will be remembered.

Personally I'll remember her for the way she took on the patronisation of a male dominated Winchester Cathedral ministerial fraternal with an extraordinary 'pah!' I'll remember her tumour induced frustration of not being able to get the right words out except to be able to ask for 'lots and lots of chocolate'. I'll remember her refusal to give in. I'll remember her lipstick and nails!

Debbie Green was a friend, neighbour, colleague and someone who will always remain an example of how to live and die.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lost Lyrics - The world overcoming by limitless grace

Song 640 v.4 caught my eye through its fusion of mission, holiness and realised eschatology!

The world overcoming by limitless grace,
I worship the Lord in the light of his face;
So with him communing, like him I shall grow,
And life everlasting enjoy here below.

Charles Coller (1863-1935)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [6]

The last stage within Fowler's analysis of the development faith is what he calls universalising, Jamieson goes with 'The Saint'.

It is acknowledged that this is the most difficult stage to tie down, perhaps in that faith of this kind is very rare. Faith culminates into a relationship marked by selflessness with God and His creation. Fowler calls this a 'decentration from self', Jamieson talks about self being removed from the centre or the focus of an individuals life. Reflecting Gethsemane, a shift in motivation away from the usual obsessions of life results from a deep and nuanced acceptance of the ultimate authority of God and is often embodied to commitment to higher Kingdom causes as seen in the lives of of such people as Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Jamieson points out that perhaps this stage is better described through poetry, he could be right Anna Laetitia Waring in song 485 could be right too.

In service which thy love appoints
There are no bonds for me;
My secret heart is taught the truth
That makes thy children free:
A life of self-renouncing love
Is one of liberty.

Anna Laetitia Waring (1823-1910)


Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [1]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [2]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [3]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [4]
Faith Development c/o Alan Jamieson... [5]

Jamieson, A. (2002). A Churchless Faith. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lost Themes of Mission - New Creation...

It has taken an unrelenting NT Wright to point that this great theme, which brings a framework of meaning and purpose, is present throughout scripture both in poetry and song and rich and dense theology but more significantly embodied by Jesus himself.

"There is a remarkable image in the closing pages of Scripture that has become a touchstone for the way my colleagues and I think about faith and culture..." writes Miroslav Volf in an article (The Church's great malfunction).

Amid its descriptions of the New Jerusalem, Revelation includes "the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:2). The tree holds out hope that whole cultures will be healed and mended, becoming places where people can flourish. And it sets an agenda for faith as a way of life that contributes to that flourishing, in anticipation, here and now.

Brueggemann (Brueggemann. (2007: 161ff). Hope for the World. Louisville: Westminster)makes sense of the church's purpose to witness to God's intention through making sense of God's purpose of bringing the 'whole creation to well-being'. He points to the simple but effective premise that "Mission is Missio Dei; The action is God's action in mending creation; The hope is God's hope for a new creation". Brueggemann challenges the capacity of the people of God in mission to practice a hope that is rooted solely in God's own hope.

It has taken an unrelenting NT Wright to point out within contemporary theology that the theme of New Creation has routinely been ignored or at best marginalised. It has taken an unrelenting NT Wright to point that this great theme, which brings a framework of meaning and purpose, is present throughout scripture both in poetry and song and rich and dense theology but more significantly embodied by Jesus himself.

Back to Volf who points out that:

Karl Marx famously noted that religion—Christian faith, he primarily meant—is the "opiate of the people," a "downer" or depressant insulating them from reality and consoling them with a dream world of heavenly bliss. Marx missed the point that religion can often be an "upper," a stimulant that energizes people for tasks at hand. But the truth is that when Christian faith functions only as a soothing or performance-enhancing drug, that faith is, in fact, malfunctioning.

'I am a new creation' we used to sing with much gusto and natty guitar chords but now I discover that it represents one of those areas in scripture where the NIV lets its readers down with a bump. TNIV has corrected the error "if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come" has a very different emphasis to "if anyone is in Christ - he is a new creation". New Creation impacts our understanding of mission and invites the church, rather than malfunction, to take up its responsibility beyond introspection, as a 'counteractor of hope in every dimension of life', in doing so liberating creation from its bondage to decay (Romans 8:21) through showing God's abundance, justice, fruitfulness and God's vision of unity.

Monday, November 02, 2009

praxis of doing what is right...

While religion ever slides to the right and to the embrace of conservative ethics and politics, the bible remains a dangerous book calling us to ongoing conversation. That conversion is not simply the call to abandon our own pathetic and pitiful personal wrongdoing, but also involves a conversion from the social deformities that inhabit our soulscape. The idolatries of our time - control, consumerism, exploitation, militarism, narcissism - need to be expelled from our ways of thinking and acting, as much as the personal wrongdoing of greed, pride, lust and deception.

Because the themes of Scripture are cast in the framework of a God who loves generously, redeems holistically and seeks to transform us totally, we area called not only to stop doing certain wrongs, but are called to the praxis of doing what is right. Which then draws us into the purposes of the reign of God.

Ringma, C. R. (2003:122). Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton: Reflections on Identity, Community and Transformative Action. London: Spck Publishing.