Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why no young people at Holy Week services?

Not sure whether it is my imagination but in conversation with younger folk in the church there is an aversion in attending the services of Holy Week. One person was quite frank about the Good Friday service when he noticed we were using “Listening at Golgotha” by Peter Storey as the theme. He said: “Is that one of those heavy services again. I cannot attend those, they are too much for me.” There seems to be a trend in contemporary worship that denies grief, sorrow and mourning an expression in the liturgy of our worship. The Holy Week services intentionally examine the cost of unconditional love and the price of living in God’s will. It reminds us of God’s embrace of our common human suffering. It is invaluable that at times we examine the depths of our faith and what it really means to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It is not a shining set of drums and how high we can raise our voices but how we intentionally wrestle through our Gethsemane and fulfill the love sacrifice despite of the loss incurred.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Everyday resurrection meals

“Our Sunday worship is important. The bible studies we attend are important. The retreats we make are important. But over a lifetime, the unnoticed and unrecognized presence of the risen Christ at our meals may be more formative of the life in Christ in us.” E. Peterson (Living the Resurrection).

It is important to note that some of the most critical spiritual moments of teaching and spiritual experience happen around meals – the Passover meal, the Emmaus meal, the beach in Galilee. It raises all kinds of questions as to how we go about our Eucharist meal and how we ought to meet more often around the common daily meal in Christian Fellowship. It also asks the question – how often we meet around the table as a family and recognize in our discussions that Christ has been with us in our daily recap stories and in our laughter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A child's part in spiritual formation

“Children are our first defense against the deadening and flattening effects of disconnecting God and life.” E. Peterson

This was something to digest, having a one year old in my house seems as if my spiritual formation is at an end! Isaiah said: “And a little child shall lead them” (11:6) and we know Christ’s attitude to children (Matt 18). What children do is they break the divisions between private and public and the temptation to make my prayer life a separate, quite, secluded part of my life. A relationship with a child is all encompassing and everything happens in the moment. Only later do they learn to differentiate and compartmentalize their lives. Children break us out of the secluded routines and help us as the psalmist says: “…walk before God in the light of life.” (Ps. 56:13b) But, I be honest, a child’s screaming tests my ‘harmony’ in a big way – maybe it is helping me live my faith in the raw of the emotional day?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

“We can’t master spiritual formation” Eugene Peterson

In a small book released in March this year called: “Living the Resurrection” are a few lecture notes E. Peterson gave at Regent College, Vancouver.

The events of the resurrection found in all our Gospels lead Peterson to the conclusion that meeting with the Resurrected Christ is something that we cannot easily put into tight, easy compartments of spiritual progress. We are quick to formalize and strategize our spiritual awakening into programmes that help us feel a sense of achievement and puts us in control of its making. Meeting with the resurrected Christ may change this altogether when like the early disciples meeting the empty tomb face to face experienced the wonder of things out of their control but regardless, a spiritual awakening.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A memorial service for change

“People do not fear change as much as they fear loss, the letting go of comfortable and familiar patterns, behaviours, and attitudes.” Robert Schnase

We often go on about the pains of change and transformation and I have never really considered the pain of loss in all of this. The truth of the matter is that we don’t like to say goodbye to things that keep us in equilibrium. We have an organic instinct to create environments of stability, ‘homeostasis’ if I remember from school days studying biology and chemistry. I suppose as we help people embrace the new things we ought to be having memorial services for those things that are passing away.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Radical hospitality witnessed

It was sighted above Hilton around five o’clock yesterday afternoon and faded almost exactly at nine thirty in the evening. On the side of the metallic hull were the letters RH and the warm glow of the engines was felt by the humans gathered below. It is alien to see hospitality that goes out of its way to connect with strangers but it was happening before our eyes. The junior youth were gathering to play volleyball and the coals of the braais (barbeques) were glowing as church leaders mingled with nervous parents unaccustomed to the church grounds. Later on that very evening another crowd gathered around multi coloured desserts and cups of coffee to welcome new members to the church whilst their riotous children played outside. The warmth of this mother ship Radical Hospitality is welcome anytime and if its captain can hear me, please come back another time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

“The Christ in one’s own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of a brother or sister.”

“The Christ in one’s own heart is weaker than the Christ in the word of a brother or sister.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together.

This was quoted in Schnase’s book that I referred to in my previous entry. Somehow in the presence of others we are greater. We struggle to do it alone. In matters of importance we will only be able to go so far without the company of others. Their role in our lives is to encourage us when we are slacking, prompt us when we are being insightful and raise our hopes that we will achieve far more than we expected when we began. Gaining willing company in the various activities of our lives will show ourselves to be the people we were ought to be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Robert Schnase - 5 Fruitful practices of congregations

I am thoroughly enjoying Robert Schnase's book and I am pleased to see there is a whole ministry around it (website) . As a Methodist in South Africa, with all our cultural differences I can identify with most of what he shares. Although I have not finished the book, it is one of the books that I would like all me leaders and as many of my congregation members to read. It can be bought at .

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My first book on "Kindle" - Yippee

Ok, I admit I don't have an actual kindle but Amazon have now opened their kindle up to 60 or so countries and we are one. I downloaded my kindle application for the iphone (& itouch) and there it was, my first book downloaded and ready to read. It will never be the same as a real book as real books are easy to loan to others. On kindle you can share your book with 6 max kindle registered devices on your account. But, think of it this way... I purchased the book "Five practices of fruitful congregations" by Robert Schnase and it was in my hands in less than 10 seconds. For the "" addicts it was also cheaper. I think I like!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A 'family church' can be exclusive

"It is not "family churches" but "church families" that the world needs." Peter Storey, Listening at Golgotha

In preparing for Good Friday I am reading Peter Storey's book on the last seven words of Jesus on the cross. He makes the above statement that makes the subtle difference between the fashionable 'family church' that stresses the family unit above else. The danger with this strategy is that those not in a family unit feel left out. Those who chose not to marry feel left out. Those who could never get married feel left out. Those who could not have children feel left out. The true definition is to say that we are a 'church family' in that everybody sees themselves as a child in the family of God the church.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Moving toward greater things

“We simply must come to a place in our lives where we agree to give up old securities which bind us, or painful memories which harm us, or dashed dreams which discourage us, or heartaching wounds which prevent us from discovering new dreams and from coming into fuller life.” Joyce Rupp

Letting go and moving on is the most difficult thing for many of us to do. I don’t believe there is ever a time in our lives when we ought not be moving away from something and moving into something greater. It might be my Methodist root system at work here, the belief that God calls us towards Christian perfection. There are always stagnant, dead, decaying, ungrateful, self-absorbed quagmires within us, and the church that need new skies, new country to leap around in.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Loss & the need for poetry

I visited a man this morning who had lost his speech and other faculties due to a stroke. I was there with his wife when she shaved him with an electric razor, wiped the drool from his mouth and with her hand combed his white hair. I was deeply moved by the experience and felt the incredible sense of loss as he wept whilst I prayed.
Coming home I wrote the following poem. I am no poet so don’t judge me too harshly. It is just sometimes words in straight sentences just don’t make sense.


Deep within traversing soul
The pain of loss will leave its trail
A sense that all will pass away
Tomorrow is never like this day

The very one I love this hour
Eventually burns to fading sense
Together vowed in dreams now drenched
A fear of two ships or a plaque bench

I know myself in kind this hour
But the mirror tells a common tale
An autumn glance a golden pale
The next a blur and drooling frail

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"God-be-with-ye" the real Goodbye

No, I am not saying goodbye! But, I had never actually appreciated the meaning of the word. Joyce Rupp has opened my eyes to the depth of the Christian goodbye whether that be at the airport, bus stop, or pouring tears over a casket. When we say goodbye, the Christian is declaring that although we will miss those we love we acknowledge that God will be with them and they will have the loving presence of God to help them through loneliness. I think we also need to be saying a "God-be-with-me" as we also affirm that God remains with us who grieve the loss of those we love.

"The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deut 31:8