ANZAC Day

 

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It’s ANZAC Day here in Aotearoa New Zealand - a day during which we remember the service and sacrifice of others that we may live the lives we live today. For us, it has been a quiet day. I got up early to bake some crusty and tasty pane rustico, drink fresh coffee and spend a little time in thought about how blessed a life I lead.

While I was baking, I listened to former Kiwi soldier and filmmaker David Strong‘s memories of serving as peacekeeper in Bosnia and East Timor, as part of Radio New Zealand National ANZAC Day programming.  Strong recounted how, while acting as an observer watching the sectarian violence play out on the streets of Bosnia, he couldn’t shake U2′s ‘We’re one but we’re not the same‘ lyric from his head.  It struck me that the same applies in many contexts – church, faith, politics, neighbourliness, the workplace – and it is up to each of us to challenge ourselves to bridge the gaps every time we find one. 

Last night, we attended a Compassion/Tear Fund event at the local church to hear the sponsored child-to-child sponsor life story of the delightful and charming Ester Azariah.  Amongst other things, Ester spoke about the poverty that can cripple a family like hers as a result of gender inequality and punitive dowries in India.  This particularly moved me as a colleague has in recent weeks suffered bereavement and family trauma as a result of these very issues.

Ester’s story reinforced how much a comparatively small sum can do to transform the life of a child who has none of the basics, let alone benefits, that we take for granted in the developed world.  We have been blessed to be able to sponsor, through World Vision, a young boy in Uganda for some years so it perhapsunsurprising that we returned home as sponsors of a young girl in the Dominican Republic.

In my web wanderings today, I found, via Fred Clark who found it via Rachel Held Evans, the Two Friars and a Fool’s list of 95 Tweets Against Hell.  For those of an open or at least conservatively curious mind, the tweets and the comments make for an interesting conversation – as does Fred Clark’s post on the same.


On being asked to dry dishes for the second time in an hour

Like many I suspect, I used to wonder what ‘dying to yourself‘ meant when I heard it bandied about in books or conversations about Christian faith and living.  The following helped my understanding when I first read it – and still does.

“I was in San Francisco recently staying at this bed and breakfast place for people who are in the city to do ministry. It was a small house, but there were probably fifteen people living there at the time. The guy who ran the place, Bill, was always making meals or cleaning up after us, and I took note of his incredible patience and kindness. I noticed that not all of us did our dishes after a meal, and very few people thanked him for cooking. One morning, before anybody woke up, Bill and I were drinking coffee at the dining room table. I told him I lived with five guys and that it was very difficult for me because I liked my space and needed my privacy. I asked him how he kept such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness. Bill set down his coffee and looked me in the eye. “Don,” he said. “If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether or not we are really following Jesus.”

—Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz

The passage popped into my head again a short while ago as I headed to the kitchen to dry dishes for the second time in an hour. I hope and pray that I’ll become more like Bill and less like me as time goes on.


Dying and Flying

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In between work and family life, I have had a week of introspection and consideration, spending time considering my priorities in the year ahead. This has meant evaluating, shifting and, in some cases, discarding the big rocks in my world.

Funny then that I should could across a link to Inspiration and Chai, the blog of Australian palliative nurse and singer, Bronnie Ware.  In her most widely quoted post, Regrets of the Dying, she relates the five most common wishes she has heard expressed by those she has cared for in their last days.

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Bronnie offers her comments and perspectives in the full post here.

I reckon that I managed to clock up a little of Nos. 1, 2 and 5 earlier today when Maisie and I headed over to the local domain to fly kites. As well as the new kite I bought for Maisie when we were at the beach a few weeks back, we also flew a Worlds Apart Air Sport 170 CX, a couple of Pocket Parafoils (see above) and a homemade dustbin liner and dowel sled kite.

This we did to the backdrop  of cries of ‘Howzat!’ from the cricket club and the inevitable Westie dad teaching his very young offspring how to annoy others and break local byelaws by riding a mini-motorbike with stabilisers.  My mild but silent annoyance at the kid riding across our kite lines at one point changed to horror when, despite the mad shouting of his father, the tiny kid missed the brake and rode headlong into his mum and a younger sibling in a pushchair.

While I wouldn’t want to be unkind, the kid made a half-decent attempt at getting himself, mum and sibling a Darwin Award.


Christlikeness or correct theology?

Again, I find myself I appreciating guest blogger Scott Miller’s open and frank sharing about his faith on Tony Jones blog. He articulates much that I can empathise with in a clear and simple manner.

If I could talk to my 17-year-old self, I would say that I still believe that God is at work in my life, but maybe not in the same way that a 17-year-old understands. I would tell him that I still experience the authority of scripture, but I don’t find that authority in the words of scripture, but in the Event to whom scripture testifies. And I would say that I have not substituted human reason for revelation, but realize that I can only understand the revelation in human, fallible, finite ways, and that it is a mistake to think that anyone’s theology is every entirely adequate to express the revelation of the Infinite.

But above all, I would tell my gnostic-leaning 17-year-old self, it’s more important to be a true follower of Christ and actually act in Christlike ways than it is to have what you think is the correct theology. Ideas matter, but real, living human beings matter more. Don’t forget Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 13:1-3:

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love I gain nothing.

via Theoblogy


God hates all the same people you do

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“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do”.

- Ann Lamott, quoting her priest friend Tom, in ‘Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life‘.

Reading this a few moments ago pulled me up short; a more succinct reality-check statement would be hard to conceive.  I always appreciate Ann Lamott’s writing; when I read her stuff, it’s like I’m listening to a sister who has seen a lot more and done a lot more than me – and cares enough to share the lessons.

Seeing her quoted always makes me sit up and pay more attention as she invariably polarises folk and provokes debate.  In this case, the quote appeared in a open letter about LGBT and faith issues at play in the current US political race, itself quoted in Scott Miller’s guest post on Donald Miller’s blog.


Christmas

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Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the town of Bethlehem in Judea, the birthplace of King David. Joseph went there because he was a descendant of David. He went to register with Mary, who was promised in marriage to him. She was pregnant, and while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her baby. She gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.

There were some shepherds in that part of the country who were spending the night in the fields, taking care of their flocks. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone over them. They were terribly afraid, but the angel said to them, Don’t be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David’s town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord! And this is what will prove it to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

Suddenly a great army of heaven’s angels appeared with the angel, singing praises to God:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased!

When the angels went away from them back into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us.

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and saw the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw him, they told them what the angel had said about the child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said. Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them. The shepherds went back, singing praises to God for all they had heard and seen; it had been just as the angel had told them.

Luke 2


The Beatbox Nativity

Contemporary yet scriptural, dear reader, I give you TyTe and The Beatbox Nativity.

and, for those who like their greatest story ever told live and unplugged, the Nativity Rap live and on location.

TyTe (aka The Reverend Tyte) is a vicar at Uplyme Church in England and was a professional beatboxer before being ordained seven years ago.

 

 


Achieving spiritual efficiency through prayer macros

Simply arrange with God ahead of time that when you recite the prayer macro, it will be understood as a recitation of the longer prayer in full.”

A great morning coffee splutter from the funny if not quite scriptural Achieving spiritual efficiency through prayer macros.

(Hat tip to Tony Jones.)


Desparately seeking Samaritans

Just heard this story on Rhema news and was disappointed by its timeless similarity to Luke’s story of the Good Samaritan

“It’s not an easy life for a person with an intellectual handicap, particularly if they aren’t severely handicapped, because they realise what is going on, and they realise they are different.  And it’s not easy being a parent or having a sibling that’s intellectually handicapped, because of these incidents that are happening. [...] And what were these people who walked past him thinking? What sort of person would walk past someone sobbing on the street?”

Many with intellectual disabilities do realise what is going on and do realise they are different.  Is it their lot to spend their lives dealing with a society seemingly incapable of bridging the gap and simply meeting them where they are?  Surely we are better than that?

Sad.


A Harvest Of People

For all my friends  - especially those celebrating Thanksgiving today – I’m blessed to know you.

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:

For children who are our second planting, and though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks;

For generous friends…with hearts…and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends, as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’ve had them;

For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you;

For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;

And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter.

For all these we give thanks.

A Harvest Of People by Max Coots

 


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