Friday, January 29, 2010

L’chaim – to life

We lift our glasses to celebrate community life. We raise our glasses around the simplest pot of stew to the toast we lift for the new bride and groom. The gesture is taken for granted and is something we often just do. As we clink glasses together we declare we will live this in concert, together, this experience - this cup of life.Life is scarce at times, the resources are few, but as we raise those glasses we toast to life and together we give it its due.

“Thus as we lift up our cup in a fearless gesture, proclaiming that we will support each other in our common journey, we create community.” Henri Nouwen “Can you drink the cup"

Why art work? I just like it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The full picture of friendship

Some folk who I have spent prayerful time with have complained that they are lonely and unloved. Nine times out of ten the problem does not lie with other people but with the person themselves. Too often the attempts of making friends have been futile because they have made sure others only see their photogenic side. In doing so we are thwarting friendship by holding unfinished portraits of ourselves before others. Nobody is a fool. We know the vicissitudes of our own soul. We are fearful of those who cannot accept the darker sides of themselves lest they don’t accept the darker side in us.

“We have to be willing to let others know us if we want them to celebrate life with us.” Henri Nouwen “Can you drink the cup”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Biblical trivia – the curse of spiritual growth

Working with small groups in the church I have come to realize how seldom we reflect adequately on our lives with the intention of spiritual growth. For many the Christian gathering is about the accumulation of biblical data that is used either as a means to impress the neophyte or control the discussion. The traditional bible study has become just that, a study, not of the soul but of biblical trivia that brings on a yawn. The art of the small group leader is to help others find the intersect between the gospel light and the dark recessed fears of our human experience. Helping the good news wind pop open the contorted vacuum-sealed parts of the soul.

“… just living life is not enough. We must know what we are living. A life that is not reflected upon isn’t worth living. It belongs to the essence of being human that we contemplate our life, think about it, discuss it, evaluate it, and form opinions about it. Half of living is reflecting on what is being lived. Is it worth it? Is it good? Is it bad? Is it old? Is it new? What is it all about? … Reflection is essential for growth, development, and change. It is the unique power of the human being.” Henri Nouwen,"Can you drink the cup?"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Here's to a cup worth drinking

What can one add to the words and spiritual thoughts of Henri Nouwen?
I re-read his book “Can you drink the cup?” yesterday and I was moved deeply by his spiritual perception and knowledge of he human soul. What I appreciated most was the call to drink our life’s sorrows and joys to the bottom of the cup. Through inner reflection to decipher our identity, through fellowship with those we trust with our deepest life issues and the ability to act out our call and nothing else we drink life to the full. This book will make an excellent Lent series for congregations based around the question Jesus asked – “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Matt 20:20-23.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shattered glass heals a heart

I have been up in Johannesburg this last week to help with the
training of Methodist ministers in Southern Africa. With some
colleagues I had a chance to sneak out for some 'caffeine' one
morning and we went to the coffee shop at Northfield Methodist
Church. To all Methodists in Southern Africa take note – Northfield
know what real coffee is about. Ok, moving on… we went to the youth
hall (twice the size of Hilton Methodist main hall) and they have on
the one wall a mirror that is broken up into at least twenty pieces.
The moment I saw myself broken up in these reflective fragments the
message was clear. "You, yes you long one, how many pieces are you
broken into?" Well it took no prophet, no poet, nor any fire
breathing preacher to convince me that my life is in parts, pieces
and many pretences. I was reminded in that split second that the
purpose of God in Christ is integrity of the soul. Salvation brings
wholeness and reconciliation between all the 'push me pull you'
energies in life. The way one thinks with the way one acts, the way
one is and the way one ought to be, the self we hate and the self we
love, the hope we profess with the doubt we fear. Those glass
fragments shattered the words – Integrity in all you do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Devil worship to the swirl of organ music

Eugene H. Peterson writes in "Under the unpredictable plant" 

"The commonest forms of devil-inspired worship do not take place furtively at black masses with decapitated cats but flourish under the bright lights of acclaim and glory, in a swirl of organ worship." 

Oh boy! Beneath the veneer of Christian charity, nice smiles, and good behaviour may lie the ever subtle vice of pride, prestige and vanity that rule the roost. I suppose an honest motive check may do us all a world of good.  

Caution - Skypilot is online again

I have missed the online community and their varied and inspirational thoughts. So here goes again. I hope to review books that I have read and share whatever I have found helpful and empowering for anybody interested in listening to the movements of God in their world. Here goes…