Faithorama Archives

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Mission and Easter

17 April, 2003 1:57 PM

Hiya all. As Darren flagged yesterday I am going to fill in while he and "V" cruise around tassie. He is brave handing this over to me. I hope I am able to create some lively conversation.

As part of some study I am doing, I was reading an article by Harriet Hill who critiques the missionary idealist in her article �Incarnational ministry: a critical examination�. The thrust of her paper is that the demands of incarnation are not realistic and often not appreciated by the recipient culture.

Our Living Room �Easter� reflection on Tues night (see Darren's entries below) on the humanity of Jesus got me thinking anew about this and left me convinced her thesis is a depressing justification for compromise when measured against the Easter story.

In the night before his death in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus is grappling with how realistic is it for him to fully identify with us. Will I take this on and so separate ultimately from my past, my eternal presence with the Father?

No bugger em' it is just too much....

What if appreciation was his measure of decision? He would have packed it up right then and there. The kind of values Jesus employed in identification were not up for grabs. They were part of his very core and way of relating to us.

If there is no acclaim I am out of here...

Easter gets me pondering Mission. How far am I willing to go in terms of incarnation. Are my principles up for grabs because of the seductive messages of my culture urging me to sell my soul to the material, to self and to lifestyle? Am I after acclaim or am I a follower of Jesus?

The People of the Boxes

12 April, 2003 10:38 AM

I'm off to Camp. I don't think I'll be posting til Monday night. Have a good weekend all!

I'll leave you with the beginning of this beautiful little piece that veiled4allah posted:

The People of the Boxes

By Dawud Wharnsby Ali:

There were once some people who all saw their lives like empty boxes
They looked around the world collecting up the things they liked
They filled their lives in boxes with the goodies that they gathered
And they all felt in control, content and they all felt all right
They climbed inside their boxes, they settled with their trinkets
They neither looked nor learnt much more and closed their lids up tight
Once they fastened up their boxes they smiled there inside
And they all thought in their darkness that the world was clear and bright...

The rest is here

Camp

11 April, 2003 5:51 PM

Tomorrow I'm off to speak at a camp and will be away from the blog for a few days. Today has been a day of polishing up some of the studies that we'll be doing. I've been given the theme of 'Get Real' which gives a fair bit of scope.

The first study will be looking at 'Masks' - getting real with ourselves and each other.

The second study is about getting real with God - I'm using my Mudcake story to talk about being like a child.

The third study is about getting real with our World - focusing on some of the 'faith without works is no faith at all' ideas in James.

I've gots lots of hands on stuff for them to do - should be fun times!

Hope my blog taster will keep you entertained while I'm away!!!

A bible study with George Bush, Mother Theresa, a refugee and Bill Gates.

9 April, 2003 10:46 PM

Graham at Organic Church has been talking about Fuzzy Thinking lately.

It got me thinking about a fun bible study that I've run a few times now. The idea originally came from Mark at Phuture - we called it a 'fuzzy logic bible study'. Its an exercise which can be used with virtually any passage of Scripture. All you need is a few recent magazines, newspapers and a group willing to think outside the box.

Before the group meets - go through the magazines and newspapers and cut out a variety of pictures of people's faces. Try to get a wide variety - get a few famous faces, perhaps a politician, a movie star, a sporting hero, a humanitarian. Also include some 'nameless' faces of different ages, racial back grounds and religions. Put these pictures in a hat (or a bucket, bag etc).

When the group comes together let each person choose a picture at random from the hat. The picture they've chosen is the person that they will 'become' for the bible study. They must put themselves in the shoes of this person and attempt to speak their words as they discuss the passage. If the picture is a 'nameless face' let them come up with a bio for the person.

Pick a passage that would generate a lively discussion from a variety of people. For instance the beatitudes would be a passage that might be interesting for a group such as Bill Gates, Mother Theresa, a Middle eastern refugee, Tom Cruise, a single mother and George W Bush. After the discussion while still in character, debrief the group on how it felt to look at Scripture through another persons eyes.

It's an exercise that takes a certain type of group to make it successful — but each time I've done it we've ended up having some very surprising and rich conversations. For me it was personally challenging to attempt to put aside my own cultural background and take a second look at some familiar passages.

If you try it — let me know how it goes.

Inter Faith Dialogue

9 April, 2003 7:59 PM

Today I had a number of very encouraging emails from Muslim bloggers who linked into Living Room through links to my previous posts on Jihad. There were a couple of comments left also on the last site which were really great. Thanks to my new friends for your words and for dropping by. You're always welcome here - your presence is valued by me and I look forward to learning more about you and your beliefs.

On a related topic - I'm wondering if anyone knows of any blogs dedicated to interfaith dialogue conversations? Not blogs that try to convert people of other faiths, but rather blogs dedicated to understanding, communicating and building relationships. If there is no such blog would anyone be interested in participating in one? Just an idea.

Lastly - I finished my tutorial paper on Jihad this afternoon. I'm not sure if I will post it here yet - I have to present it to class tomorrow so I'll see how it goes over there first. If anyone really wants a preview shoot me an email.

Jihad

6 April, 2003 12:07 PM

Does anyone know much about Jihad?

I have to write an paper on "What is Jihad?" this week and am interested to hear and see a variety of perspectives if any of you have thought about it or done any investigation and research on the topic.

The more I read the more I realise how many perspectives there are and also how far away from the original meaning many interpretations floating around in the media are. I'm finding it very difficult to sort through the agendas of the authors of the articles I'm reading to get to the heart of the topic.

Leave your comments and ideas here or email me if you have any constructive personal thoughts or articles that you have found.

A lesson from a Buddhist Nun

3 April, 2003 2:27 PM

Today our 'multi faith' class at college visited a Tibetan Buddhist temple where we spent 3 hours talking with a Buddhist Nun. She talked for a while about meditation and led us in some of their meditations (which I found very beautiful and creative) but also let us ask her questions on pretty much anything.

The conversation eventually came around to the topic of war - as it does so often in these times we live in - and she responded by talking about PEACE. I found her words very insightful.

At the crux of her words was the question, 'do we really understand what peace is?' She made the comment that she sees alot of people demonstrating, waving signs, shouting slogans, calling for peace - but she wonders if those calling for it actually have 'known and experienced' peace for themselves....within themselves.

The dialogue continued around this theme for a little while. When asked what our response should be to this war - she hinted that there was a place for political calls for peace on a global level - but the main challenge was for us to look at our individual situations and ask how we could bring peace there in our own circle of influence. (my words) This starts with our own individual sense of peace and confronting the areas within ourselves that are 'at war'. Once we are able to work through some of this we can begin to raise out eyes and look wider at our relationships and seek peace in them.

When we do this we are in a better place to seek peace on a global level. We shall be more effective, we will have greater credibility and more influence on a global level if we are first at peace with ourselves. If we don't know what peace is and practice it in our own lives how can we hope to bring it to our world?!

This made me think of the words of Jesus - 'love your neighbour as yourself'. If we take these words seriously we need to learn how to 'love ourselves' - otherwise we shall never be in a position to truly love those around us - and in the wider scheme of things, to love our world.

A Question cont.

1 April, 2003 4:08 PM

Spent a great morning with Steve, Mark and Kel from Forge/Dreamland. We spent a fair bit of the time working through the question I asked here on the blog last week about the core values or aspects of 'what is church'.

It was great to really get back to basics again and talk this one through. We came up with some similar conclusions to some of the comments that were left on the previous post.

Whilst we wern't too tight with our definitions and thoughts there were a number of recurring themes that our discussion floated around including : Christ Centredness....Community and Relational focus....Outward/Mission focus....Worship/Prayer/Inner Transformation....Scripture

Still interested in others thoughts.....we're talking through this topic more tonight at Living Room.

A question

25 March, 2003 3:36 PM

A question for you my friends - What are the 5 most important, non-negotiable, aspects of faith and discipleship for you? If you had to boil it down - you had to get to the crux of it all - what would your core values, your DNA, be when it came to your faith. (It doesn't have to be five - it can be less or more if you wish - but start with a few at least)

This is part of the process we're going through at Living Room at the moment - we're dialoguing on it as a community. Its a question we're initially asking of each other and answering as individuals as we try to make some sense of who we are corporately as a community of faith.

Another question that taps into the same topic that a wise friend often asks is - What makes a Church unique from any other group of people, whether they be the local football club or a local Mosque?

I'd be very interested to hear the 'blogging community's' (what ever that is) response to either or both of these questions. Responses invited - discussion will be highly valued!!!

Interview with God

25 March, 2003 7:33 AM

Take a look at this Interview With God Little Corny - but a nice idea.

Thanks to Presurfer (again) for the link.

A childs prayer for Iraq

23 March, 2003 7:43 PM

This morning I worshipped at one of the Living Rooms Parent churches. It was a very liturgical gathering with a time set aside for anyone to come forward and light a candle for any issue that they wanted us to pray for. The process was to come forward - light the taper - and share a prayer. At the end of the prayer we would all say the words, Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

A number of people came forward and prayed for the Iraq situation in a variety of ways. It struck me though that most of us didn't really know how to pray about such a complex situation. Our prayers either gave away that we were feeling either numb, angry or confused.

Lucy (who is 6 or 7) came to light a candle after others had prayed. She had a bit of trouble keeping it alight but eventually did. She stuck it in the sand and paused for a few seconds before saying...

I wish this dumb war would stop

She then sat down as us adults echoed the words - Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Lucy in that moment was able to cut through alot of the crud that many of us were feeling and was able to express in a very profound way her own cry for peace. One might look at her prayer as being overly simplistic or not understanding the full situation but I was inspired by her childlike faith and was able to finally put words to some of the feelings I've been having. I think I'll be praying Lucy's prayer from now on.

I wish this dumb war would stop

Pictures of Hope - Isaiah 35

21 March, 2003 12:57 PM

Last night I was asked via email by one of the young people that I worked with a year or two back 'why is God allowing such violence to happen?' She is deeply affected by what she is seeing on the news 24/7 and is trying to make sense of it all, trying to 'find God' in the senseless violence she is witnessing.

The passage I read today in Isaiah 35 is a hopeful picture of flowers, singing joy, site for the blind, hearing for the deaf, leaping for the lame and words for the mute. There is water in the desert and a highway of holiness.

Restoration is at the heart of our God - however this is not the case in the passages around this one. Instead there is mass destruction and chaos which results from the selfishness, violence and greed of the people.

I suspect this is applyable to what we're seeing in our world today.

There are no easy answers to the questions of my young friend. All I could say to her was that restoration, wholeness, justice and peace are central to God's purposes. Without telling her what stance to take politically I encouraged her to hold onto these same purposes in a personal sense. As his people we must continue to pray for and practically work towards peace and justice in whatever ways we can.

Do as I say, not as I do

20 March, 2003 8:45 AM

Yesterday my chaplaincy class visited one of Melbourne's leading private schools. It was a nice change to get out of the normal lecture theatre to hear a lecture from the schools chaplain.

The session was held in the schools newly constructed chapel — a modern and innovatively designed space, complete with all the latest audio visual gear, beautifully crafted pews and the latest in architectural design. One of the main points of the lecture was that the chaplain had been experimenting with the cutting edge audio visual equipment in communicating the story of Jesus. He seemed quite proud of the fact that the school had invested over $1,000,000 in his new facility. It was a nice space but I came away from the time there feeling somewhat distressed.

It was not the content of the lecture that got to me, he did have some good things to say, rather I was again struck by the contrast between the gospel message that was spoken in that place to students and the surrounds that they were said in.

The chaplain was asked about Jesus relationship with the poor and responded that they did share that that was an important part of Jesus message to the students. Also when pushed he said that they also talked to the students about consumerism and how they should consider how they thought about money. Call me cynical if you wish, but I couldn't help but wonder what impact those messages would have as they were conveyed on the big screen in surround sound in such a place.

Study in contrasts - Isaiah 25-26

17 March, 2003 3:06 PM

Isaiah 25:1-5 is a great study in contrasts of Gods ways towards different groups.

God turns mighty cities into ruins, strong walled cities into rubble, beautiful palaces disappear.

On the other hand the poor find a refuge in the storm in God, the needy in distress are sheltered in the rain and heat.

I love the imagery of Isaiah 25:6-10 also where we see a 'wonderful feast for everyone around the world' depicted.

What a picture of hope it is - what an inspiration at the type of life we should be aiming to live and usher in for those around us. 'elicious and good food, well aged wine, choice beef. Death swallowed up forever, all tears wiped away, no more insults and mockery.'

Its no wonder that the people will sing the song of Isaiah 26!

HANDS on Wedding.

15 March, 2003 4:49 PM

Weddings are always so fun! V and I are just home from another one - we've had 5 or 6 in the past few months. As I blogged a couple of days ago I officiated at this one - something I really enjoy doing. I finally did come up with a talk 'with a difference'. I talked about the happy couples HANDS. I won't go into great detail except that I talked about three qualities of HANDS and how I think they relate to LOVE. It was quite a fun talk and people seemed to engage with it. I spoke about how hands speak to me of 'intimacy', 'individuality' and 'action' all things that in my opinion are essential ingredients to love.

After the ceremony at the reception V and I were seated at a table with two other couples, neither of whom we had met or known of before. The next four hours was an amazing time. As we ate some great food and drank some beautiful wine they quizzed me solidly about my job as a minister, about my training, about our planting of the Living Room and about my views on 'church' and its relevance today in society. None of those on the table were 'church attendees' but all said they were intrigued by my 'Hands talk' and surprised that they actually related to what a minister had said!

I am always staggered by the interest and eagerness of many people I meet to know more about church. As we talked today I got the sense that these four people were genuinely hungering for a church in their area who would accept and connect with them relevantly. Unfortunately their experiences with churches and life had led them to reject the institution and view it as largely irrelevant to their lives. It struck me that it wasn't for a lack of trying on their part - but in most circumstances it was from a lack of understanding and warmth from the churches they had previously had contact with.

I came away from this wedding both deeply encouraged by the searching of many in our communities but also deeply saddened and disturbed by the way that we often get it so wrong as church.

A Message About... - Isaiah 13-24

14 March, 2003 3:08 PM

Have spent the last couple of days struggling through this chunk of Scripture, Isaiah 13-24. I group it all together because just about every section is titled (in my NRSV) 'A message about....(insert place here)' Following is then a description of a different place, from Assyria to Moab to Jerusalem to Earth. The reading is pretty heavy, not overly uplifting. Its filled with ruins, destruction, war, floods, drought, corruption, pain, famine, death and ultimately the destruction of the Earth.

What can we make of such a section? Can't say I've heard too many sermons preached out of this section?

Question - if Isaiah were to write 'A message about...Earth' in the year 2003 - what do you think it would contain?

wedding bells

13 March, 2003 4:25 PM

Am marrying a couple on Saturday and am looking for any creative ideas people might have on some words of encouragement for them in the ceremony. I have a number of different wedding talks - however at this wedding am looking for something fresh. Any thought appreciated.

Selective Faith

13 March, 2003 2:51 PM

I had a conversation with a class mate yesterday which continues to have me thinking today. She had been at a Christian Youth Festival over the weekend here in Melbourne. One of the speakers was presenting a topic to the teens and young adults assembled — her message was a familiar one (I'll be paraphrasing here) — the thrust of her talk was for the young people not to smoke, drink, swear or have sex. The message was being lapped up by the young people assembled at this meeting.

My class mate reacted very strongly against this message. She made the observation that the speakers message seemed empty in comparison to her observations of the way the speaker looked and acted.

There she stood making some sweeping statements on personal morality yet she was dressed in an outfit which my friend estimated would have costed in excess of $550. Is this another example of how the Church often is selective in what it speaks about?

Would it not have been just as beneficial (if not more) for these young people to hear about a faith that not only impacts ones decisions about whether to drink, swear or smoke or how to express ones sexuality — but also a faith that impacts ones decisions about how to spend money, what career path to take, where to live etc?

As I've said before - in my reading of the gospel - Jesus speaks a whole heap more about money than he does about some of these other issues.

What I learned at the porn show

12 March, 2003 1:27 PM

WHAT I LEARNED AT THE PORN SHOW is a really interesting article written buy a guy who went to a porn convention to hand out bibles. He writes:

'Allow me to share some recent discoveries I've made about God, life and people in an very unlikely place - at the AVN Adult-Expo in Las Vegas. This is the largest porn convention in the world that attracts over 75,000 people and the heavy hitters in the adult entertainment industry.'

Isaiah 10-12

12 March, 2003 9:56 AM

Got a little carried away this morning and read Isaiah 10-12 rather than just the one chapter.

I find it fascinating to observe the imagery that is used in this writing. Particularly in Isaiah 11 where there is a description of the coming of the Messiah. Its an amazing picture.

Some 'highlights' from the description include:

- He will never judge by appearance, false evidence or hearsay.
- He will defend the poor and the exploited.
- He will rule against the wicked and destroy them with the breath of his mouth.
- In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard and the goat will be at peace.
- Babies will crawl safely among poisonous snakes.

What an amazing picture of wholeness - what a fantastic image to hold onto heading into today.

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