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Treasure

26 February, 2004 3:21 PM

Tuesday night at Livingroom we continued to work through the Sermon on the Mt - we were up to Mtt 6:19-21. 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures here on earth'.

Well - quite a challenging passage once again which I don't think any of us didn't squirm at least a little bit in as we fleshed out the passage over dinner.

At first we talked a lot about money and possessions, something that none of us have a whole heap of - most of us have made some sort of decision to live simply. But then we began to wonder if 'treasure' might mean other things for us. What do we store up - what captures our attention and thinking - what gives us a sense of worth.

The reality for us was that whilst we might not be hoarding physical riches that all of us struggle with our own treasures - whether they be hoarding knowledge, accumulating skills, thirsting after fun, experiences and novelty.

Of course none of these things are bad, nor is money or owning 'things', I guess the challenge comes when we look a bit deeper at our motivation.

The following verses (22-24) flesh it out a bit further. What is it that captures our 'eyes'. Our eyes are a lamp to our whole body - what we turn our gaze to, the things that consume our thoughts, are indications of what is going on with the rest of us.

The challenge is to 'let go' and raise our eyes from our treasures. Easier said that done - hence the squirming Tuesday night as we spent time honestly sharing our 'treasures'.

The Passion of the Christ

21 February, 2004 2:43 PM

There continues to be a lot of talk about The Passion both in the media and in a lot of conversations I'm involved in. It is released here on Wednesday.

I've just updated my Previous Post on the Passion with 11 reviews, 10 resources (including study guides, photo/video galleries, background info, preparation exercises etc) and a collection of other articles. Hope they are helpful to some.

The Passion of the Christ - A Review

10 February, 2004 11:49 PM

the passion.jpgWell there are loads of previews happening of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ'. Quite a few of my colleagues got invited to previews - unfortunately I didn't manage to get one so I'm relying upon the reports and reviews of others.

Following are a collection of reviews on the Passion of the Christ which are followed by a number of resources on that might be of use in preparing to watch the movie and a list of articles exploring some of the controversy surrounding the movie. I hope that this list of resources is useful, please leave your thoughts in comments and feel free to suggest more resources.

Reviews/Columns/Articles on the Passion
- The Passion of the Christ - a Review
- A Review of the Passion
- The Passion of Christ - An in Depth Review
- Hollywood Jesus - The Passion
- Robert Novak: The Passion - A Review/Column
- Movies.com - The Passion
- Lifeway - Review
- The Passion - a review by Terry Inman
- Christian Spotlight - The Passion of the Christ
- Mel Gibson - Feminist
- The Passion - A review by Keith A. Fournier
- A Review by Lisa Bevill


- Hype vs Hope
- An obscene portrayal of Christ's Passion
- Dr James Dobson on the Passion
- 'Passion of the Christ' is a graphic profession of Mel Gibson's faith
- The Passion of the Christ' will leave its mark on viewers
- Gibson's 'Passion' leaves this critic uninspired
- Critics crucify Gibson's Passion
- Good and Evil Locked in Violent Showdown
- Brutality of 'Passion' is draining
- 'Sickening' Passion slammed
- Hating Mel
- Film focuses on suffering
- The most controversial story ever told? Questions of truth and consequences
- Graphic Gospel
- Jewelry Maker Sells Out 'Passion' Wares
- Violent film lovers suddenly sensitive - Critics who praised decapitations in 'Gladiator' blast Gibson movie
- When sacred goes cinematic, passions flare
- 'The Passion' offers a teachable moment
- The Passion inspires Questions
- Denver pastor posts sign that reads "Jews Killed Our Lord"
- Jesus Christ makes the headlines
- Christ Moves Movie Goers
- Jews, Christians Upset Over Pastor's Sign
- Even 'Passion' has product tie-ins
- Ash Wednesday opening of 'Passion' draws crowds, but violence keeps some away
- Passion Watcher Dies
- The Passion Inflames the Web
- Reaction To 'Passion' Shows Media's Disdain For Religion
- A great list of Bloggers Reviews of the Passion

Resources
- The Passion of the Christ - Official Site
- The Passion of the Christ - Musical Score
- The Passion - Unofficial Site
- The Passion - Photo Gallery
- The Passion Outreach
- A Reflection Guide to the Movie �The Passion of the Christ�
- Passion FAQs
- Facts, Faith, and Film-Making: Jesus� Passion and Its Portrayal - A Study Guide for Viewers and Reviewers
- Discuss the Passion - Discussion Forums
- Christ's real passion was life
- A Worship Leaders Resource to the Passion
- Gibson's "Passion": Some Need-to-Know Background
- Black Theology and the Passion
- Passion Sermon Ideas
- Scholarly Smackdown: The Theology of the Passion (two New Testament scholars analyse the theology of the Passion
- Is the Passion Biblical?
- The Passion of Christ - Quotes and Video Clips
- The Passion and Preteens - Advice
- Censor stands by Rating
- Filmgoers flock to the Passion
- The Passion - Discussion Page
- Scholars say few details known about crucifixion
- The Reason for the Passion

Is the Passion of the Christ Anti Semitic?
- 3 views on the passion side by side - Protestant, Catholic and Jewish
- Jewish groups left out of Passion
- Who Killed Christ?
- "Passion": A Step Back for Jews and Christians
- An interview with Cardinal Dar�o Castrill�n Hoyos about the Passion of the Christ
- BBC: Religious Battle over the Passion
- Gibson Reworks 'Passion' to Mute Anti-Semitism
- Gibson's right to his 'Passion': Overreaction will cause more anti-Semitism than movie itself
- A Jewish View of the Passion
- The Passion: Christians and Jews
- Rabbi, Christian preacher, voice concerns over Gibson film

In addition to those here is a review that was emailed to me this afternoon. Written by a couple of guys called Paul Harvey and David Limbaugh (whom I do not know - if anyone knows of any links to these reviews I'd be happy to post them).

-------------------------------------------------- the passion 2.jpgI really did not know what to expect. I was thrilled to have been invited to a private viewing of Mel Gibson's film "The Passion," but I had also read all the cautious articles and spin. I grew up in a Jewish town and owe much of my own faith journey to the influence. I have a life long, deeply held aversion to anything that might even indirectly encourage any form of anti-Semitic thought, language or actions. I arrived at the private viewing for "The Passion", held in Washington DC and greeted some familiar faces. The environment was typically Washingtonian, with people greeting you with a smile but seeming to look beyond you, having an agenda beyond the words. The film was very briefly introduced, without fanfare, and then the room darkened. From the gripping opening scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the very human and tender portrayal of the earthly ministry of Jesus, through the betrayal, the arrest, the scourging, the way of the cross, the encounter with the thieves, the surrender on the Cross, until the final scene in the empty tomb, this was not simply a movie; it was anencounter, unlike anything I have ever experienced. In addition to being a masterpiece of film-making and an artistic triumph, "The Passion" evoked more deep reflection, sorrow and emotional reaction within me than anything since my wedding, my ordination or the birth of my children. Frankly, I will never be the same. When the film concluded, this "invitation only" gathering of "movers and shakers" in Washington, DC were shaking indeed, but this time from sobbing. I am not sure there was a dry eye in the place. The crowd that had been glad-handing before the film was now eerily silent. No one could speak because words were woefully inadequate. We had experienced a kind of art that is a rarity in life, the kind that makes heaven touch earth. passion 3.jpgOne scene in the film has now been forever etched in my mind. A brutalized, wounded Jesus was soon to fall again under the weight of the cross. His mother had made her way along the Via Della Rosa. As she ran to him, she flashed back to a memory of Jesus as a child, falling in the dirt road outside of their home. Just as she reached to protect him from the fall, she was now reaching to touch his wounded adult face. Jesus looked at her with intensely probing and passionately loving eyes (and at all of us through the screen) and said "Behold I make all things new." These are words taken from the last Book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelations.

Suddenly, the purpose of the pain was so clear and the wounds, that earlier
in the film had been so difficult to see in His face, His back, indeed all over His body, became intensely beautiful. They had been borne voluntarily for love.

At the end of the film, after we had all had a chance to recover, a question and answer period ensued. The unanimous praise for the film, from a rather diverse crowd, was as astounding as the compliments were effusive. The questions included the one question that seems to follow this film, even though it has not yet even been released. "Why is this film considered by some to be "anti-Semitic?" Frankly, having now experienced (you do not "view" this film) "the Passion" it is a question that is impossible to answer. A law professor whom I admire sat in front of me. He raised his hand and responded "After watching this film, I do not understand how anyone can insinuate that it even remotely presents that the Jews killed Jesus. It doesn't." He continued "It made me realize that my sins killed Jesus" I agree. There is not a scintilla of anti-Semitism to be found anywhere in this powerful film. If there were, I would be among the first to decry it. It faithfully tells the Gospel story in a dramatically beautiful, sensitive and profoundly engaging way.

Those who are alleging otherwise have either not seen the film or have another agenda behind their protestations. This is not a "Christian" film, in the sense that it will appeal only to those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ. It is a deeply human, beautiful story that will deeply touch all men and women. It is a profound work of art. Yes, its producer is a Catholic Christian and thankfully has remained faithful to the Gospel text; if that is no longer acceptable behavior than we are all in trouble. History demands that we remain faithful to the story and Christians have a right to tell it. After all, we believe that it is the greatest story ever told and that its message is for all men and women. The greatest right is the right to hear the truth.

We would all be well advised to remember that the Gospel narratives to which "The Passion" is so faithful were written by Jewish men who followed a Jewish Rabbi whose life and teaching have forever changed the history of the world. The problem is not the message but those who have distorted it and used it for hate rather than love. The solution is not to censor the message, but rather to promote the kind of gift of love that is Mel Gibson's filmmaking masterpiece, "The Passion."

It should be seen by as many people as possible. I intend to do everything I can to make sure that is the case. I am passionate about "The Passion." You will be as well. Don't miss it!

---------------------------------

passion 4.jpgThis is a commentary by DAVID LIMBAUGH about Mel Gibson's very controversial movie regarding Christ's crucifixion. It, too, is well worth reading. MEL GIBSON'S passion for "THE PASSION"

How ironic that when a movie producer takes artistic license with historical events, he is lionized as artistic, creative and brilliant, but when another takes special care to be true to the real-life story, he is vilified. Actor-producer Mel Gibson is discovering these truths the hard way as he is having difficulty finding a United States studio or distributor for his upcoming film, "The Passion," which depicts the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus Christ.

Gibson co-wrote the script and financed, directed and produced the movie.
For the script, he and his co-author relied on the New Testament Gospels of
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as the diaries of St. Anne Catherine
Emmerich (1774-1824) and Mary of Agreda's "The City of God."

Gibson doesn't want this to be like other sterilized religious epics. "I'm trying to access the story on a very personal level and trying to be very real about it." So committed to realistically portraying what many would consider the most important half-day in the history of the universe, Gibson even shot the film in the Aramaic language of the period. In response to objections that viewers will not be able to understand that language, Gibson said, "Hopefully, I'll be able to transcend the language barriers with my visual storytelling; if I fail, I fail, but at least it'll be a monumental failure."

To further insure the accuracy of the work, Gibson has enlisted the counsel of pastors and theologians, and has received rave reviews. Don Hodel, president of Focus on the Family, said, "I was very impressed. The movie is historically and theologically accurate." Ted Haggard, pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo., and president of the National Evangelical Association, glowed: "It conveys, more accurately than any other film, who Jesus was."

passion 5.jpgDuring the filming, Gibson, a devout Catholic, attended Mass every morning
because "we had to be squeaky clean just working on this." From Gibson's perspective, this movie is not about Mel Gibson. It's bigger than he is. "I'm not a preacher, and I'm not a pastor," he said. "But I really feel my career was leading me to make this. The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelize."

Even before the release of the movie, scheduled for February 25, 2004, Gibson is getting his wish. "Everyone who worked on this movie was changed. There were agnostics and Muslims on set converting to Christianity...[and] people being healed of diseases." Gibson wants people to understand through the movie, if they don't already, the incalculable influence Christ has had on the world. And he grasps that Christ is controversial precisely because of WHO HE IS - GOD incarnate. "And that's the point of my film really, to show all that turmoil around him politically and with religious leaders and the people, all because He is Who He is."

Gibson is beginning to experience first hand just how controversial Christ is. Critics have not only speciously challenged the movie's authenticity, but have charged that it is disparaging to Jews, which Gibson vehemently denies "This is not a Christian vs. Jewish thing. '[Jesus] came into the world, and it knew him not.' Looking at Christ's crucifixion, I look first at my own culpability in that." Jesuit Father William J. Fulco, who translated the script into Aramaic and Latin, said he saw no hint of anti-Semitism in the movie. Fulco added, "I would be aghast at any suggestion that Mel Gibson is anti-Semitic." Nevertheless, certain groups and some in the mainstream press have been very critical of Gibson's
"Passion."

The New York Post's Andrea Peyser chided him: "There is still time, Mel, to tell the truth." Boston Globe columnist James Carroll denounced Gibson's literal reading of the biblical accounts. "Even a faithful repetition of the Gospel stories of the death of Jesus can do damage exactly because those sacred texts themselves carry the virus of Jew hatred," wrote Carroll. A group of Jewish and Christian academics has issued an 18-page report slamming all aspects of the film, including its undue emphasis on Christ's passion rather than "a broader vision." The report disapproves of the movie's treatment of Christ's passion as historical fact.

The moral is that if you want the popular culture to laud your work on Christ, make sure it either depicts Him as a homosexual or as an everyday sinner with no particular redeeming value (literally). In our anti-Christian culture, the blasphemous "The Last Temptation of Christ" is celebrated and "The Passion" is condemned. But if this movie continues to affect people the way it is now, no amount of cultural opposition will suppress its force and its positive impact on lives everywhere. Mel Gibson is a model of faith and courage.

Bible RSS feeds

9 February, 2004 12:26 PM

Want to bring RSS technology to your reading of the Bible? Check out Bible RSS Feeds which give you the option of following a feed that gives you a verse per day or that presents you with a reading plan that will get you through the Bible in a year.

I'm sure that this is what Paul was thinking things would end up like when he was writing those letters 2000 years ago.

Counter Cultural

4 February, 2004 9:55 PM

I really enjoyed Livingroom last night. We had three people there for the first time which was nice. They are all interested in joining us in our journey as ongoing members. We spent the first half of the night over dinner (a great Thai curry) getting to know each other and telling the story of the Livingroom so far. It was helpful for me to look back on where we�ve been and to try to put it into words.

After dinner we spent some time doing a Lectio Divina on Matthew 5:38-48.

I found the passage really challenging. Its always interesting to take a deeper look at a passage that you �think� you�re familiar with. Growing up in Sunday School you hear statements like �love your enemy� and �turn the other cheek� all the time.

Last night it struck me how counter cultural these words of Jesus were and are. We are constantly being told to look after self, to get ahead and to not let others walk all over us.

Two questions stood out to me last night:

�If you love only those who love you, what good is that?�

�If you are kind only to your friends how are you different from anyone else?�

The call is to go the extra mile � to step beyond the messages we hear each day. Its not something that you can do half heartedly.

Centering Prayer

3 February, 2004 1:23 PM

Notes from a Truth Seeker - Centering Prayer, Severely Messed With is a great description of the method of 'Centering Prayer'.

Rachelle describes it really well and it seems quite similar to some of the ways I go about prayer. Here is a bit I like:

'I once took a course on prayer with Eugene Peterson. When he came to our small group, I told him that I thought my prayers were just worrying in front of God. (I had read something by Richard Foster which indicated this was a no-no so I was�.worried.) Eugene�s face did this wonderful thing where all of his skin instantaneously gathers upwards towards his temples in an all encompassing smile. Then he said, �Worrying in front of God. I like that. Well, that�s just fine. Just. Fine. But one thing you can also do is ask what the Trinity is already doing for the people you are worrying over. Ask what the three of them are cooking up and see if you can get in on it.� That is a big phrase for Eugene �get in on it.� He�s always encouraging us to pay attention to stories, ours and God�s, and make sure we�re aware of how we�re in on it. Anyway, he suggested I get an icon, Rublev�s , of the Trinity sitting around a table to help me visualize that already on-going conversation of God regarding all those I�m pray-worrying over. So I did.'

Thanks Rachelle.

Balanced Spirituality?

19 January, 2004 10:03 AM

Yesterdays session at Soul Survivor went pretty well. We had a group of about 50 young adults there and they seemed to really enter into the process. The approach I took was to challenge them to do a 'Spiritual Fitness Test' using the 3 Journeys of faith as a framework.

When I do this topic I generally get people to move to different sections of the room (or tent as it was yesterday) to represent which is their strongest and weakest journey. The results have always been the same on each occasion I've done it. The weakest journey is always the 'Outer Journey'. The strongest one is always the 'Inner Journey'. The 'Together Journey' is usually pretty strong. Of course there are usually individuals who are strong in each one, but overall that is the trend I've observed and it was the case again yesterday with 75% identifying the 'Outer Journey' as their weakest link.

I wonder why the 'Outer Journey' of Mission, Service and Justice is one which so many people are uncomfortable in? Are we lazy? Are we paralyzed by fear? Have we forgotten the 'great commission'? Are we too busy? Is it not being preached about? Are we too selfish? Are we too comfortable? Have we lost the skill of talking to the unchurched about faith? Do we have any unchurched friends? Are we too insular?

What is going on? I don't think the church in the west has much of a future unless we ask and answer some of these questions.

Journey Resources

17 January, 2004 10:40 AM

At Soul Survivor tomorrow I'm talking about the 3 Journeys of the Livingroom.

I want to give those attending some starting points and resources for thinking about their faith in these three areas. These are the books and resources I've come up with off the top of my head on each journey. I'll be giving out this link tomorrow at SS.

Please leave your suggested additions (and which journey they fit best into) to the list in comments and I'll add them (NB I'm trying to develop a list that will not only help mature and older Christians but young ones too - anything you can suggest will be very helpful).

Inner Journey - Connecting with God
- Examen of Consciousness - Ancient reflective exercise.
- Lectio Divina - Ancient way of praying through Scripture.
- SOAP Life Journalling - A more modern way of meditating upon Scripture.
- The Spirit of the Disciplines - By Dallas Willard - is good on all three journeys.
- Streams of Living Water - a good book on holistic spirituality which picks up on all three journeys.
- Prayer by Richard Foster
- Imitation of Christ - by Thomas Kempis
- Labyrinth Australia - Labrynth UK - Good for all journeys
- Cultivating a Heart for God - Neil Cole

Outer Journey - Connecting with the World
- Ignition - a 12 week missional exploration of Acts for small groups.
- The Shaping of Things to Come by Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost. How to grow missional communities.
- Eyes Wide Open - Michael Frost
- Say to this Mountain - by Ched Meyers

Together Journey - Connecting with one another
- Renovare - small groups meeting together for prayer, sharing and accountability.
- Connecting by Larry Crabb
- Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction - by David G. Benner, Larry Crab - Spiritual Direction together. Picks up all three journeys. (suggested by Hamo
- Finding a Spiritual Friend - by Timothy Jones- How Friends and Mentors Can Make Your Faith Grow. (suggested by Paul
- Soulcraft - by Douglas Webster - How God Shapes Us Through Relationships. (suggested by Paul
- The Wisdom of Each Other - by Eugene Peterson

Soul Survivor

15 January, 2004 7:45 AM

I'm going to Soul Survivor today with Steve from Forge. He is speaking this afternoon and I am doing a session on Sunday so I thought I'd go check it out. Should be interesting — he's going to be talking about different models of church that he's seeing spring up around Melbourne. On Sunday I'll be talking about 'Holistic Spirituality' which should be fun.

Update: Steve's session went really well. We spent the day catching up with people, enjoying the sun and making new contacts.

I'm looking forward to sharing my session on Sunday. Originally I was going to be sharing on the topic using the Holistic Spirituality Model that I've previously shared about here on this blog. But in the last few days I've decided to share using the Living Room's Core Values as a framework. I like both models but find our core values a little simpler and I guess more relevant because we are constantly working on them in our week to week interactions with each other. Looking forward to Sunday's session.

He Speaketh

13 January, 2004 10:32 AM

ioocmudcake01.gifLast night I had the opportunity to go speak at the opening night of a Salvation Army creative arts youth conference. I spoke about Mudcake Spirituality (or at least that is what I started speaking about).

I really had a great night - it was one of those surreal experiences when you are speaking but you feel like you're having an out of body experience. I felt more like an observer or listener to what I was saying than the one doing the speaking. Not in a bad way mind you. It is hard to explain - except to say that it went really well.

Daily Blogotionals

5 January, 2004 2:44 PM

Andrew Jones has really been getting into the blogging thing of late since his switch to Typepad. He's got comments, a fresh look and seems to be having a lot of fun with it. (We should petition him to write a 'tall skinny blog tip' for the blog tip series because he's a blogging legend). Typepad must suit him because he's just started a new blog, Our Daily Blog.

'He writes: i hope to host a daily devotional site. In 2004 we will be reading through Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a' Kempis. A new reading will appear each morning, and you can use your RSS readers to pick up the feed.
Look forward to your comments and thoughts on the site, and to grow together with you.
'

I toyed with a similar idea a while back but wasn't sure I could keep updating it daily. Glad Andrew has decided to do - I'll be a keen reader!

E-vangelism?

20 December, 2003 9:42 AM

I was just sitting here minding my own business - making a powerpoint reflection for tonight's party when my MSN Messenger beeped at me - someone was initiating a chat.

I opened it up and didn't recognize the person's nickname or email. He was 'Sam'.

Sam: So did you get the minx?
Darren: Did I what?
Sam: Did you get the minx?
Darren: ......
Sam: How did last night go? Did you catch any carp?
Darren: No - I actually went to a Christmas party.
Sam: Ok...
Darren:......
Sam: Hey I wanted to ask you about those tires - are they working out ok?
Darren: Who is this?
Sam: Sam
Darren: Sam who?
Sam: Are you feeling ok mate?
Darren: Who am I?
Sam: Darren
Darren: I think you might have the wrong Darren.

He did. For a while there I thought I'd lost my memory or something.

Anyway - Sam and I ended up talking for about 40 minutes. We started with surfing and motor cross (I greatly disappointed him by knowing virtually nothing about either) - then we talked about the rugby and our common hatred of the English winning the World Cup - he then asked me what I was into - I said photography. He then launched into how I should get into photographing naked women. Ok - getting weird now. I steered the conversation back onto his work and we talked about IT for a while. He then asked what I did. I refused to tell him at first - I sometimes like to do that - gets them curious. I eventually told him

Darren: I help run a church
Sam: Oh...
Sam: Sorry about the photographing women cracks!
Darren: It's ok
Sam: My family is religious - but I never go to church

The conversation then took an interesting turn. Sam proceeded to tell me everything that is wrong with the church. He finished his 'speech' with -

Sam: The church really just needs to get with the times mate - it has become so irrelevant - sorry but that is just the way I see it.

I think I might have freaked him out by saying that I agreed. We then talked about Living Room for a while and the philosophy behind what we're doing. He liked that we didn't sing songs or have 'sermons'. He wanted to come to the party tonight (Wales is just too far away).

He shared a bit about his travels through Tibet and some of the philosophy that he'd picked up there. He found it to be a very 'spiritual' place. He also talked about some personal stuff that he'd learnt and a couple of things he was struggling with. Asked me to pray for him there on MSN. I did.

We finished by saying we'd chat again some time.

What a strange experience, quite freaky really - whilst it felt like I was in the right place at the right time it also felt quite strange to be talking like that with a total stranger on the other side of the world.

Religion Brings Greater Happiness

13 December, 2003 10:32 AM

Just found this interesting article on Religion and Happiness. Here are some extracts

'If pursuit of happiness is really your goal, forget all that. Only spirituality and a sense of purpose bring bliss, says one British researcher....

Joseph's study seeks a recipe for happiness, looking beyond religious faith, which other studies have shown is one ingredient. He looks at self-actualization and purpose in life, too....

"We're not saying that all religious people are happier than non-religious people," Joseph tells WebMD. "It's just that, on average, religious people tend to be happier because they have a greater sense of purpose in life."

Actually, a spiritual path outside of organized religion works in the pursuit of happiness, too. "Religion is only one path to sense of purpose," he says.

Interesting - Read the rest here.

>>Divine Womb

12 December, 2003 6:04 PM

mother child.jpgGod joined with Mary and created
The divine fertilised human
Nestling into her womb, nourished by her blood

God joins with us and creates
A divine planted idea, an inspiration
Which settles in us, and feeds

But after the ecstasy of impregnation
9 months of waiting, hoping, growing
The invisible inside, waiting to be born

And while we wait, difficulties arise
Herods try to destroy
Authorities try to rationalise
Husbands doubt,
While redemption gestates

We are all wombs of the divine
Pregnant with that which God envisions us
How will we feed it?
Who will it most resemble, us or God?
How long are we prepared to be patient?

We wait.
We wait
We wait for the invisible to become visible
For the seed to flourish
For vision to be born

SOURCE: GREYSPACE@VAUX.NET

Fluffy Faith?

11 December, 2003 11:36 AM

I'm sad today. Not because of anything that has happened on a personal level - but because of circumstances and situations that I have heard about in the past 12 hours from friends.

- People who should know better doing stupid things.
- Leaders compromising beliefs through actions.
- Repercussions of poor decisions and actions rippling out through the lives of so many.
- Communities and families being broken apart when they need not be.

I'm surprised by the depth of what I feel about a situation so far removed from my own context. I'm angered by the selfishness of people I've never met, I'm reminded of the brokenness of humanity, I'm saddened as I think about the grief others must be feeling and I'm challenged to consider my own relationships and community.

Whilst I do not know of the specific details of this situation - I'm also left wondering about discipleship again. So often faith is allowed to be fluffy, shallow and infantile. I'm not just talking about new Christians - but especially about those who have been 'disciples' for many seasons. Without strong and growing foundations when the pressure of life mounts its so easy for things to crumble.

My concern is that when Churches are allowed to be shallow and fluffy environments that the crumbling of one key person can actually cause the collapse of many. Its very sad stuff - your prayers would be valued on this one for all involved.

Mosque Revisit

10 December, 2003 7:43 PM

I was just looking back through my archives at what I was doing one year ago from today and found a post about an event that caused a bit of a fuss but which was the first in a series of interactions and dialogue with people of other faiths.

The original post was 'Mosque Visit. (the old comments were deleted in the move to my new domain - probably a good thing as many were not too nice).

Other posts followed including:

- Muslim Blogisphere
- Interviewing Bilal part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
- Ritual, Rhythm and other lessons from other Faiths
- A Muslims Reflection on Easter
- Inter Faith Dialogue
- Muslim Lover
- A lesson from a Buddhist Nun
- Jihad

It has been quite a year of learning, exploration and building relationships.

Advent

2 December, 2003 10:08 AM

I have been thinking a lot about Advent this week. The churches I grew up in did not really taken much notice of the 'Holy Seasons' apart from the normal Christmas and Easter services that 99.9% of Australian churches do. I'm not sure why they largely abandoned the idea of Advent. I think its unfortunate because what I am now learning is really helpful.

So as an 'advent novice' I'd love to hear people's experiences of it. Do you participate in Advent reflections/gatherings/devotions etc in any way? If so how? What resources do you find helpful? What does it mean to you?

In my looking around I've found the following online resources:

- 2003 Advent Reflections - one for each day (it also has some useful explanations of the season and some of the rituals people use during it)
- Steve's reflection on - 'if Jesus was coming to dinner Christmas Christmas eve, what would we be doing?' - a blog entry.
- The History of the Advent Calendar
- Four Themes for Advent (looks good!)
- Reclaim Advent: A creative Exercise
-
Grace Cathedral's Online
Stainglass window Advent Calendar

- I'm an Advent Christian - Article/Personal Reflection
- Preparing for the Holy
- Seeing the Unexpected in Advent
- Advent Fridge Art - Bringing Liturgical Life into the Home - There are some 'interesting' ideas here for helping children connect with the season.
- Advent Calendar
- Close Encounters of the Liturgical Kind
- Praying Advent
- Where did the
Season Advent Come from?
-
An Indian Advent Meditation
- An Advent Address - Based on Mark 13: 24-37 (Blog Entry)

Books
- Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas
- Advent and Christmas With Thomas Merton
- Advent Sourcebook

Quiet Day Reflections

20 November, 2003 3:11 PM

Today's quiet day went really well. We spent the morning alone in silent prayer and then the afternoon sharing our mornings with each other. Thanks to those who prayed for me today that I'd have a rich time - I did.

One of my colleagues started our morning off with a reflection using the metaphor of a 'river' to think about our lives. It launched me into a worthwhile couple of hours of contemplation.

I'm not going to share it all except that I felt led to Psalm 1 and found the imagery of the trees growing on the banks of the river to be a really encouraging and helpful image to think about where I am at and where the Living Room is also.

The passage talks about seasons of bearing fruit. This got me thinking about fruit trees. The amount of time in a year that they actually bear fruit isn't that great. The majority of the year is spent in preparation for the crop.

The sense I got from God today is that this past year has been a time of preparation for me and Living Room. Its been a time of putting down roots, of growing and forming. The fruit hasn't all come at once, but the work that we've been doing has been incredibly important for the season ahead.

A lot of what I sensed God saying today was about plugging into him - preparing for what is to come by building solid foundations etc. I'm not sure what is ahead for me and us as a group - but I am excited by the possibilities.

The Lord of the Rings and Religion

17 November, 2003 11:21 PM

coverWith the upcoming release of Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King I've noticed a few Christians asking questions about the trilogy. Some ask about the religious symbolism in the movie, others are talking about Tolkien's understanding of faith and others are wondering whether Christians should go see it.

Following is a few Lord of the Rings links and books that attempt to answer some of these questions (and more) - enjoy.

Faith Journey Through Fantasy Lands

Lord of the Rings: Christian Myth at Work - At Islam Online

Lord of the Rings: Judeo Christian Ethics and Mythos

Meditations on Middle Earth

"Lord Of The Rings" Based On Christian Beliefs?

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Finding the Lord, in 'Lord of the Rings'

The Gospel of Tolkien

Why The Lord of the Rings Is Dangerous

The Lord of the Rings: Christian or not?

Christian History Corner: The Lord of the Rings: What Harvest? - A reader's guide to the best of epic fantasy

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: A Christian Classic Revisited

Lord of the Rings: Tolkien's Christianity - Lord of the Rings -- A Christian Classic?

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The Lord of the Rings and the Christian Faith

Sacred Texts: Sources of Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy- One Book to Rule Them All (Book)

Does The Lord of the Rings Teach Salvation By Works?

The Lord of the Rings rooted in racism: Academic

Lord of the Rings Two Towers - Spiritual Connections

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: Truth, Myth or Both?

Lord of the Rings - Return of the King Review

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Did Tolkien Intend for Gandalf to Represent Christ?

Lord of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring: Review at Hollywood Jesus

Frodo's Quest Inspires a Search for Allegory

I hope that there is something there that interests you - feel free to suggest your own links or comment on the questions raised in comments.

You may also be interested in a similar collection of links about the Matrix and also Harry Potter

If you have found this entry helpful helpful please consider making a contribution to help keep this site running.

Online Spirituality Focus Group

6 November, 2003 11:32 PM

I took part in a fascinating focus group tonight on the topic of Spirituality. We had a great discussion on the topic and its got me thinking. I thought I'd post the main questions for us to discuss here.

1. How do you define spirituality?

2. How do you 'practice' spirituality?

3. What are some of the ways that help you discover/develop the spiritual aspects of your life?

4. What aspects of spirituality do you find hard to explore?

5. If we were running a 10 week university course on spirituality what would be the core topics you would want to include?

Feel free to answer some or all of these questions in comments below. I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

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