Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another author to have coffee with

The books I have been reading lately have blown me away.  "The restless heart" by Ronald Rolheiser is another such enlightenment.  I suppose it is my fascination with how the human works that draws me to these writers.  The book lends itself to a deep look at the human condition of loneliness that is unpacked and explained so carefully. There are great differences between what we term, loneliness, alienation and solitude.  I cannot do this book justice by skirting its content but if you are concerned about the spiritual heart then do yourself a favour and step into the pages of this Roman Catholic priests mind.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What we learn when visiting…

I went visiting a few days ago and a lady complained that I was not there at her time of crisis when her husband died. It was a Monday (My day off) and she phoned the manse to get an answering machine.  She left a message that I only picked up the next day. I did ask her why she did not contact the number and person I left for emergencies on the answering machine and they would have got hold of me. She could have contacted any one of the Society Stewards of the church. She could have contacted the leader of her Fellowship Group who lives a stone throw away in the same complex but she didn't.  Instead she begrudged the fact that she could not get the minister immediately and it comes out months after her husband's death. 

I have thought it through and I am convinced I did everything to attend to her need the moment I was informed about it.  The concern for me was that she did not think anybody could help her but the minister.  This highlights for me one of the greatest dilemmas of the mainline church.  The understanding that the minister is the minister and the congregation are the ones to be 'ministered upon'.  Michael Cassidy reminded me this week at a breakfast hosted by African Enterprise that the greatest problem with us 'mainliners' is that our people do not know that they are the troops and unless we get this right nothing much will change.   

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Compassion Resurrected

“If we do our grieving deep and well, we become participants in a communal uprising, a resurrection in which the dead live on in the commitment of the survivors.” Parker J. Palmer

Without the thoroughness of loss we cannot experience the transition into resurrection. The log in the fire is transformed utterly into energy, heat and ash. Those who have died are energy if we gather around our loss of them and experience the fire of their lives. This pertains especially to the loss of those who have died through injustice. When we gather around their graves and mourn we are lifted up by their transcendent resurrection energy, our compassion grows and their hope becomes ours. The reverse is no doubt true when we avoid our grief and thus miss out on the resurrection fire. (Thoughts inspired by Parker J. Palmer & Latin American poem – ‘They have threatened us with resurrection’)

The truth is that our grieving with others attaches us with their cause, their lot, suffering and condition in a profound way. Teach me how to grieve God that compassion may flow abundantly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Myth 1: Not Enough Food to Go Around

There are two worldviews, the one is that there are not enough resources to go around and another is there is an abundance of resource. 

The scarcity option drives the competitive nature of survival of the fittest and we land up with a few who have the art of survival and the rest suffer the consequences.  This option keeps the wider community at hands length and the individual building their stockpiles. 

The abundance option breeds community and sharing. If there is a sense that there is enough for all it is easier for us to share what we have.  Within the generous community the gifts of all multiply to abundance and we are satisfied.

The Stop Hunger Now organization deals with the number one myth:

Myth 1: Not Enough Food to Go Around

Reality: Enough wheat, rice and other grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,500 calories a day. That doesn't count other foods including vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. Enough food is available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day worldwide.  

The problem then lies somewhere else. It lies in the psyche of the fearful soul that is threatened by its survival.  God has provided – we need to share.  

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Struggling to keep a stone a stone?

In an examination of 'Christian work'  we are often tempted from the destiny we are intended to follow. 
Those more studious than I suggest that the first temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was around the issues of his identity - "If you are the Christ - turn this stone into bread"  It is the temptation to become what your role expects you to do. If you are the Messiah then do this and this and this as we think you ought. The other aspect to this temptation (again from those more studious than I) is the temptation to work with that which fulfills immediate expectations - "You look hungry - come on - turn this stone into bread."  It is the temptation of the Christian struggling to fulfill the work of God.  The struggle not to limit ones call to others expectations but only to the expectation of what you are really meant to be doing in your life. Then to make sure you are not too busy with meeting urgent needs at the expense of your greater destiny.  

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing" Dostoyevski

From one quote to another. 
"When God's love for the world pierces our armour of fear... it is an awesome experience of calling and accountability." Parker J. Palmer

I hear many Christians clamouring to be filled with the Holy Spirit and less so being filled with the love and compassion of God. 
The reason is no doubt in our fear that it will demand more from us and it certainly will. But, this is what makes the Christian life - real life. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Real living means something else

Matthew 16:25 (New International Version)

"25For whoever wants to save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."

This verse of scripture always niggles somewhere at the back of my mind.  I suppose the reason is it just doesn't make any sense in the normal run of things.  It is a call to live outside of the current paradigm of 'success & failure', where success is rewarded and failure is ignored or frowned upon.  My experience is that the more we live for the successes in life we quickly drop in the in-between times to being disappointed until we reach the next success story.  We are programmed to move upward towards greatness but the opposite may be called for when encountering Christ. This would mean embracing our failures and in doing so embrace the reality of the human lot.  To learn from the 'downs' in our life and enter into the reality of the human race as weak, broken and in need of healing we tell the real story. To 'find life' is about the real things of life, the way we walk with others, hear each other and to live in the light of the greatest 'failure' story - the lonely Christ who identified with human weakness.