Wednesday, 31 December 2008
1) Naked Pastor on the morning after... reality is not always sexy
2) Mark flagged an event below and I want to try and get to one of these. Lets try and get a proper calender on the site so we can put all this stuff in one place with links etc and poss get chance to go to a few things together.
3) Nice quote that echoed with some of my excitement about rediscovering the trinity in 2008 -Once there was a time when the whole creation formed a single dancing chorus looking upward in the harmony of that motion to the... leader of the dance. Gregory of Nyssa 4c from BMC
4) Wonderful quote from JollyBlogger on his observations from marriage counselling - "I think I think that we could improve many marriages if we could treat one another as enemies. In fact, I think that in many cases the relationship could improve immeasurably if Christians could elevate their spouse to that of an enemy.
Biblically, the Christian is called to love his/her enemy. According to Matthew 5 the Christian doesn't retaliate against his enemy, gives twice what the enemy asks, works twice as hard for the enemy as the enemy wants and blesses the one who treats them badly.
I'm thinking that if I weren't a Christian I would want to be the enemy of a Christian, because that's a pretty sweet deal relationally.
I think I think that many Christian marriages could be a little heaven on earth if the partners would quit worrying about what it means to be a "Christian husband" or "Christian wife" and just learn how to relate to one another as enemies". Jolly Blogger
5) Brilliant story of a Pastor who abandoned his church
6) COE Bish's get their mitres dirty at Xmas
Next Engage F2F, 12th Jan - thinking of cooking a meal with a good few courses over at mine and inviting all sorts (even you!) to join in a conversation along the lines of 'Christians are (supposed to be?) better people'- discuss. I want to share a few scripture readings and quotes and also get others views on it all (and poss capture some via twitter? etc). I'll post some more potential prep links/reading etc soon but - How's that sound?
Monday, 29 December 2008
Keynote speaker: Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at Bradford University.
Date: 25th April 2009
Could be a good Engage day out. (?)
For more information, click here.
Thursday, 25 December 2008
And here's to eking out some meaning today.
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him —
Give my heart.
Monday, 22 December 2008
Sunday, 21 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
'Do they know it's Christmas' - Yes... but I guess they are hoping for something different this year
Tendero - if you are out there - what do you think is the most important thing for us to do as we join in the hope of freedom, health and peace for your people?
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I wanted to get away from the some of the abstract ways in which the cross is understood and wanted to express the idea of the cross as it really was - a violent lynching. How do you do that without making people think about violence? But I have tried hard to limit the number violent images and certainly avoided at all costs the kind of gratuitous violence of the Mel Gibson variety - a morbid fascination with violence does not interest me, but an interest in understanding the cross for what it really is, is important to me.
I would like to have used Billie Holliday's version of 'Strange Fruit' because there is nothing quite like the haunting brilliance of her performance, sung by someone who knew first hand what lynching was all about. Unfortunately her style just wouldn't allow me to dub over it. You can see her performance here.
I have dubbed over an interview with James Cone. The full interview is worth listening to. You can see it here.
I am still very much aware of the limitations of my film making skills, so please forgive this.
James Cone has said, “The crucifixion of Jesus was a 1st century lynching and it was very violent. Jesus was lynched. Well, America has a tradition of lynching. America lynched more than 5,000 black people in this land. lf we understand the cross correctly we will see it as Jesus being a victim of lynching, a victim of violence… At the heart of the Christian faith is God taking upon God’s self the suffering of the victim. So, Christians in this society want to understand what the cross was all about they have to see it through the lynching experience… When you see a lynched black body that’s who God is. God is present in that body just like God was present in Jesus’ cross. So the cross is very violent in which God is taking the violence of sin and the world upon God’s self… We have to become identified with lynched black victims. If we can’t do that we can’t be identified with the crucifixion of Jesus…The cross is God taking the side of the victim…If the powerful in our society… want to become Christians they have to give up that power and become identified with the powerless,"
Monday, 15 December 2008
Anyway the med was partly, and totally gratefully, nicked from Iona and the phenomenal Cheryl Lawrie and a bit of me. Get it here and get the audio to play over the top here (thanks ubiquitous Sigur Ros and less so Ulrich Shnauss). Set off audio then launch slide show straight away to sync it.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
Great reflection on 'house church' and its legacy in lives (might be topical!:-))
Advent Conspiracy podcast from the Homebrew crew
Advent reflections from Mars Hill (Rob Bell)
Checkout great sermon called 'beware the dogs' from RB from excellent series on Philippians
http://marshill.org/teaching/index.php (quick - its a 12 week rolling gig)
Monday, 8 December 2008
Theology is looking in a mirror dimly not a 20/20 reflection of myself. Hey if God's just like me we are all in trouble!
Sunday, 7 December 2008
“Those who were Christians [and] held slaves were the hardest masters. A card-player and a drunkard wouldn’t flog you half to death. Well, it is something like this – the Christians will oppress you more.”
Such a comment is certainly sobering. However, there is another side that is not pointed out quite as often about the way the Christian religion has been a force for liberation. I love this quote by a black slave:
“My Uncle, Ben, he could read de Bible and he allus tells us some day us be free. And Massa Henry laugh, “haw, haw, haw.” And he say, “Hell, no, yous never be free. You ain’t got sense ‘nuf to make de living, if yous was free.” Den he takes de Bible ‘way from Uncle Ben and say it put de bad ideas in he head. But Uncle gits ‘nother Bible and hides it, and Massa never finds out.”
If we can use the Bible to liberate or oppress we need to ensure we choose the former rather than the latter.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
'The poor do not want our guilt they want our power to become their power'
Sounds like an important theme for our guilty reflections on our consumer Christmas and our considerations of the incarnation - the power the poor Christ child brought into the world and the way he used it.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
The birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem is remembered because of who Jesus was, what he taught, how he lived, died, and was raised. Jesus himself probably did not grow up in abject poverty, but he certainly heard the cry of the poor throughout his ministry. He saw the results of the Roman occupation and the ways injustice and unabated power create conditions of poverty and its resulting suffering, humiliation, and hopelessness. His mission to the impoverished proclaimed by both word and deed that God stands with the poor and the oppressed against the evils of tyranny, inequity, oppression and greed. Christian, Hebrew, and Muslim scriptures convey the same message. If we neglect the poor and oppressed, if we do not share our wealth, if we turn away from the lost, the least, and the last, we have not truly heard the word of God. It is not just the condition of the poor that is at issue. It is also the condition of our own souls.
The celebration of Christmas at its best is the celebration of hope. There is hope for the poor. There is hope for justice. There is hope for peace. There is hope because Jesus was born as the Word: “The Word was made flesh and dwells among us.” God reached down into human history and declared that nothing, not angels or powers or things past or things to come, nor any creature can separate us from the love of God that was born in Bethlehem as the
embodiment of hope. So let us sort through the piles of crass materialism that contemporary Christmas too often offers, through the piles of meaningless gestures of the holidays, through the piles of denial of the dismal poverty that infects our planet, seeking once again the birth of hope. May our gift giving always include those who live in want. But even more may we give the gift of ourselves to those institutions and structures that seek to address the poverty of Gaza and the West Bank, the poverty of the vast majority of humanity, not with handouts but with political and economic action. Let us hold up the reality of life for our impoverished sisters and brothers to those whose policies create their misery. Let us hold fast to the message of the birth of Jesus which always points to the realm of God in which there are no poor, where justice reigns, and where peace is not a dream but a reality. And on Christmas Eve and whenever
we give and receive gifts, let us give thanks for the ever-present Christmas.
by Robert W. Tobin
Really getting into 'Advent' this year - over and above the cheesy/chocolaty advent calender thing. Even with my CofE background the church I went to was so low we missed out on lots of the wonderful church calender stuff that i am now appreciating much more.
Anyway simple thoughts on 'Advent'
- Advent is from the Latin word adventus, meaning "coming"
- Adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia ("coming, arrival, personal presence")
- Its a period of expectant waiting and preparation
- Advent serves a dual reminder of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians today as they await the second coming of Christ
- These days I see the expectant waiting and preparation as less passive and more proactive
- In fact the bible story invites us to be part of the 'coming'
- The coming of the kingdom of God, a totally different empire than the one that the Xmas stories set themselves up to subvert (Herod 'king of the Jews', Emperor Caeser)
- The coming of Peace, 'Goodwill to all men', grace, love, justice, healing, the transforming power of powerlessness
- God becoming incarnate in humanity in order to save, rescue and redeem humanity
- Advent then seems now to also be about our part in that becoming incarnate / coming of God and his presence and in the reconciling of all things in him
- In Christ God came, in helpless babe
- For those who are now 'In Christ' we are also the helpless babes of his coming who will grow in grace and good deeds as apprentices of Jesus and followers of his way, as instruments of peace, as God's own gift to the world.
Perhaps everyday is an advent calender day when we open the door to the surprise possibilities of Gods coming in and through us.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Aldous Huxley said, "The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human". Hopefully, this goes some way towards correcting that.
Be warned, it is not easy watching:
Also, here are the links for anyone who hasn't managed to take action on Guantanamo yet:
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=536 (write to your MP about Binyam Mohamed)
http://www.amnesty.org.uk/actions_details.asp?ActionID=169 (e-mail Mr Bush)
Also, why not visit YouTube and give my video a good star rating?
Monday, 1 December 2008
Maybe we could do this (or some of it) or similar at our Xmas session 8/12, or maybe someone wants to write one for us?
The old 'morning bell' is doing a great series in advent so make sure you are hooked up here
I recently attended a good and productive meeting that raised my awareness of Guantanamo Bay and the human rights issues related to such detention camps.
A few days later I spent a short time scribbling down some words…
Abused by those who house them
Abused by those who feed them
Abused by those who clothe them
Abused by their “carers”
Abused by their “keepers”
Abused for the satisfaction of others
Abused behind closed doors
No-where to go
No-one to help
Who will intervene?
These words may conjure up all sorts of images and emotions, and you might be surprised to see the line “Utterly innocent” in there. Even at the meeting it was acknowledged that not all the detainees in Guantanamo were “whiter than white”.
But this poem is not about Guantanamo Bay. It is about child cruelty in this country, and it attempts to show the similarity of experience between the detainee in Guantanamo and the child just down your street. The poem is entitled “Guantanamo for kids”.
Please take the time to re-read this poem in light of such child abuse and you must surely agree that “Utterly innocent” is utterly appropriate.
The NSPCC estimates that 1 child is killed by a parent every 10 days in the UK, and that there are over 35,000 children on Child Protection Plans in the UK at the moment (some of those children are yet to be born).
The British Association of Adoption and Fostering say there are another 64, 000 children currently in local authority care.
There are thousands of seriously abused and broken children who have been separated from their families through the courts, and social workers ensure me these children are just the tip of the iceberg.
I was pleased to go to the meeting about Guantanamo Bay, but I feel there is a limit to what I can do. I can raise awareness. I can attempt to apply political pressure. I can pray. But I cannot go in and release the captives. And even then, would my responsibility stop there? Surely we must consider the whole process of physical and emotional restoration for these captives once they are released? Who will be there for them once they are released?
But what about those children in this country, those on the “tip of the iceberg” who have been released from their chains (although some will fall straight back into new chains in our imperfect “in care” system) or those who are still secret and hidden. What about their release? What about their physical and emotional restoration? What about their renewal? Who will consider that? Who will consider them? Can I do more than raise awareness, apply political pressure and pray?
In Isaiah 58, God is rebuking his people for just “going through the motions” when it comes to their seeking of God and their worship of Him. He doesn’t want their unimpressive and duplicitous fasts / acts of worship. God says…
6 “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Worship of God is not just about letting “the oppressed go free” but about bringing “the homeless poor into your house”.
These children need to be bought into a good and caring house, a new house, and all the Adoption Agencies agree with that. This new house is the context for their healing, for their restoration, for their receiving of unconditional love. I hope and pray that providing this house / home / family is what God would have me do for just one of the thousands of those “tip of the iceberg” kids who have been released but now need restoration.
God wants his people to “bring the homeless poor into your house”, and in doing so, God reveals His character through us. After all, this is what God has done for us, isn’t it? Yes, he has “released” us who were captives to sin and death by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But he has not left us there, broken from our experience. He also re-houses, re-families and re-parents us by adopting us into His family and His house for the purpose of true restoration and renewal.
God has done more than release us captives. He has bought us, the homeless poor, into His house, his place for renewal and restoration. What and how is God calling you to bring the homeless poor into your house and what would that look like?
I am becoming more and more convinced that the people of God should do such things for these children. We may not be able to see it, but they are all wearing orange jump suits.