Well, it’s been quite a week! Our community was on national TV on the Holy Switch programme last Sunday night – and lots of us were left
with really mixed feelings after the show. Quite a few of us feel misrepresented, unfairly treated, frustrated, angry, exhausted, confused – and in some cases all of the above!!
I’m not really going to make much comment on the show itself, or the way it was edited. There is a really interesting conversation on the ABC facebook page and a great interview with Kim which both do a great job of that. They are well worth reading if you haven’t done so yet (and great job those of you who have commented on there already!).
What I do want to do, is reflect a little bit and ask what we can learn through this experience of Holy Switch – of living out our faith in the public sphere and of sharing and explaining what we believe to people who believe very different things? What is Jesus teaching us? And how can we respond?
Here is a video from a talk I gave back in June 2012 in Canberra. I was asked to talk about our ministry and mission in Tasmania. I re-watched this recently, and felt extremely thankful to God at what’s going on in our midst.
(BTW – I’m not responsible for the editing!!! I think a sledgehammer was used!)
God – the one who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine… (Ephesians 3:14-21).
Fair enough, I think, that Paul would say that – his experiences with God were pretty extra-ordinary after all. One-time basher of bible-bashers, cheerleader for rock-throwing murderers of Christians – Paul gets bowled over when Jesus speaks to him audibly and blinds him with bright, white light. From that day on he’s a totally different guy – no wonder he thinks God is mind-blowingly amazing.
But what about us? You? Me? Do we get to experience God in anything like the same way? My answer: we absolutely can experience God to be one who does far more than we can ask or imagine. Firstly because our imaginations and asking are quite limited – but also because God is constantly and consistently out to break into our world in ways we can’t possibly engineer ourselves.
In 1989, the world changed. The frozen relationship between the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe on the one hand, and the United States of America and Western Europe on the other, began to thaw. The Cold War was coming to an end. There was greater openness in the USSR towards the west. Free elections and reform-minded governments came to power in Poland and Hungary, and borders that had been closed for decades opened up between Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria. On 9 November 1989, East German border guards stood by and watched as thousands of cheering, shouting, weeping citizens, armed with pick axes, poles, sledgehammers and sometimes just their bare hands, chipped away at the seventy-kilometre-long concrete wall which had divided the city of Berlin for twenty-eight years.
We have some great trees in our garden. I’m sitting under one now – a great, tall birch tree, with long, drooping branches that reach down almost to the ground, and provide great shade from the sun, and a wonderful, cool place to sit and read.
I often hear God speaking when I’m looking at trees. He reminds me of the importance of having deep roots, like trees – roots which go down deep, and tap in to streams of living water. He reminds me of descriptions of the Kingdom of God being like a tiny mustard seed, which over time grows to become like a tree – one in which the birds can make nests, and perch in its branches.
Well, it’s beginning to feel like the summer holidays are over, as the New Year winds up and I begin to focus on all the fun and exciting things that are coming up this year. Nevertheless, I’ve really enjoyed the summer; the slower pace of life, time to hang out with family and friends, and time to reflect on life, ministry and God.
As a family, we’ve been able to spend some great time hanging out at the beach over the summer – including spending time kayaking across the beautiful ocean, and even being able to look through the clear water and see cool fish swimming underneath.
Life is rubbish if you do it by yourself. There are many reasons for this – not least of which is the fact that we were not made to do life by ourselves. Regardless of whether we are more of an introvert or extrovert by nature, we were not created to do life alone. “No man is an Island“, wrote John Donne – and even though Hugh Grant’s character in ‘About A Boy’ was certain that he was, in fact, “Ibiza” – the rest of that film displays his life improving dramatically as he slowly developed actual, meaningful relationships with other human beings…
Well, having got the ball rolling with the last post, here’s a swipe at the first reason – in my mind – for why it’s worth showing up and being part of church.
First of all – for the record – I am absolutely, totally and definitely in favour of re-thinking and re-imagining what it means to be church. It is great being part of the Anglican Diocese here in Tassie where the encouragement from our bishop is to re-imagine church in whatever ways God leads us to, so as to become God’s missionary people.
I’m not arguing in favour of unquestioningly committing to church as we’ve always known it per se, but I am arguing in favour of deliberately and intentionally giving ourselves to a local expression of church where we really believe we can contribute and serve and make a difference. I am absolutely in favour of committing to church which is doing all that is humanly possible to be church the way God intended it to be…
I’ve spent a bit of time over the last couple of weeks allowing God to speak to me about gathering together as God’s people. I have had quite a few conversations with people, recently and over the last few years, who are pretty apathetic as far as ‘going to church’ is concerned.
Various well-meaning authors and writers have added fuel to this fire, hoping to encourage Christians to think about being and doing church in new ways – but it seems like quite a few of us have managed to move from re-thinking church into just doing our own thing, by ourselves, and sadly often ending up just drifting away from other Christians, from authentic Christian community, and ultimately from God…
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been pulling together all the preparations for a great two day workshop in Tassie in November (12-14th) around the topic of Building a Discipleship Culture.
It will be great!!
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