Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unholy perfection

“But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” At the heart of the story (Luke 7, 36-50) that highlights this maxim, the God man is showing up the one who knows they have erred and appreciates the forgiveness compared to the one who knows little of their wrong doing and only their goodness. This creates a tension in the spiritual growth of the Christian. Yes, we are forgiven, we appreciate the forgiveness and then we sin no more as expected and we rejoice in our freedom. The issue is resolved so we think, but how do we continue to love much when the sense of forgiveness has past, the tears have dried up. Does it mean we must continue to remind ourselves of the sinfulness of the past so we can remind ourselves of the forgiveness that brings us to love again? Ought sin be the precondition of our worship and admiration of God? I suppose the essence of Christ’s teaching is that we never reach a place that we say we have made it. The sanctifying road is one of continually recognizing the depravity of our heart, finding freedom, loving much, recognizing it again in other areas of our life, finding freedom, loving much until we reach perfection. But, be warned, if we think we are perfect we cannot love much!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A wide neighbourhood

Anne Robertson writes a devotion this week that shares her experience with her immediate neighbours. The problems she encounters are ones of noisy, bad behaved, incalcitrant folk who ride noisy off-road bikes past her quite lakefront home and disturb the peace. I don’t know what her neighbourhood looks like on the whole, but I wish my neighbourhood was as homogenous and clear cut. Living in South Africa our neighbourhood includes the starkest of contrasts. Neighbourliness means mingling with many who cannot speak ones language, with those who celebrate when they can get a loaf of bread to eat, with those who live in sprawling mansions fenced shut from the outside world, with those who beg for your last cents, with those dressed in khaki and those in red T-shirts, and those transfixed at boxed sports shrines on weekends. To love ones neighbour in South Africa requires nerves of steel, hearts of gold, and minds that are expansive in there quest to be inclusive.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Hilton Arts Festival

We enjoyed the Hilton Arts Festival for the first time this year. It has been running for the past 15 years at Hilton College. The grounds of this school make it a magnificent venue with the age old Cape Dutch architecture and sprawling lawns for people to roam and for the vendors to sell their bits and pieces. The Grahamstown festival is its mother but the greatest difference is that all South Africans do not get a chance to belong to its Arts and Culture. We saw a production put on by some American students that was so avant-garde we could not make head or tale of it - “Freedom and the sticky end of make believe.” If anybody saw this and they understood and could shed some light please let me know. It no doubt spoke truths into the Iraqi scenario and some truth into the ideals of freedom and institutional life, but the rest was above and beyond. Makes one think how complex a story ought to be? We in the Christian world are so used to parables that take an everyday occurrence to tell a story so that we can understand it. Although Jesus did claim that he used parables so that certain others would not understand? It is terrible to be the certain others.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Another vision

I am from what they call a ‘cusper’ generation which is neither here nor there in the definition of the main generational bands, between the ‘boomers’ and ‘generation x’. I fall on the generation x side, born in 1967. Thus I am officially confused! Yes, vision statements, mission statements, and objectives a strong characteristic of the optimistic boomers is somehow part of me, but the ‘whatever’ who cares anyway generation x also throws a spanner in the works. I don’t like labels, one of my pet hates is to be branded as a this or a that. It is fun to be an enigma. I have also got progressively allergic to vision statements as my years increase. Kennon Callahan’s book on Small Congregations has breathed enormous amounts of grace back into my understanding of ministry. The one suggestion is that instead of the popular Vision/Mission statement or Purpose driven statement, why don’t we instead have a Compassion statement? Isn’t that the core ingredient and motivation for faith? That God so loved the world and not as Callahan puts it, that God was so committed to the ‘vision statement’ of the world.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The indescribable described?

Have you seen indescribable? I was asked this numerous times until I eventually got to watching it. If you want to know who the presenter is check out his bio. on Wikipedia, click here. If you want to watch it on the internet click here. I enjoyed the pictures from the Hubble telescope and I enjoyed much of his enthusiasm for ‘astronomical grace.’ The only problem I have was the way in which he ties up this picture you see on the blog with the omnipresence of God. This picture is some distant image in a galaxy very far from us and just because it shows up in a cross we are to get excited about it? Come on, that is like the Christian finding the face of Mother Teresa in the cinnamon rings of a Chelsea bun. That kind of thing cannot get me excited, what if you viewed it from another angle, would it still look like a cross? And if God is indescribable, then lets stop describing God. If God is so indescribable then lets stop calling God “He” all the time. I also could not help but think how I would feel if I was a Muslim watching this show. I would feel unloved and cut off from God’s love. The astronomical grace of God could be understood in that God is beyond all our human preconceptions. Understanding how small we are might actually get us to understand how petty our differences are. It could open up channels of Interfaith dialogue but instead he describes and leaves others cold.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shoal of Christ

Thoughts have swum around in isolated fashion each flashing a side of light and brilliance. The vision is the shoal of fast moving collective thoughts, this way and that. Watching them twitch together is miraculous as if they are all connected with one string. The shoal bursts to the left and then to the right, the last and first in symphony. A synergy that defies logical determinism. A run that shines glorious when hearts in worship talk mission. The shoal of Christ in unison.