Choices

Posted in Uncategorized on December 17, 2008 by melwiggins

At this time of year in particular, we are faced with a million choices a day.

What to buy, what to wear, where to go, who to see…

I just passed my driving test today (whoo) and I feel like as well as being handed a pass certificate, I have also been given a certificate of freedom to go and do what I want, when I want (as long as my husband doesn’t want the car!), and roam wherever my volkswagen will take me.  No more depending on others for lifts, getting picked up all the time, restricted in visiting with people and nipping out when I feel like it.  My choices are plenty now, a whole new world of freedom has been opened up to me.

It’s ironic that amidst all the choices of our modern life, in our quest to be like Jesus, we read that Mary & Jo didn’t even have a choice of places to rest their head and give birth to the Christ-child, the Messiah…the Saviour of the world!

…they were humble, taking cover in a dirty back room with the animals and livestock.  Jesus seemed to always talk about the freedom that comes in giving up our rights…laying down our desires for the true freedom that comes in living life for Him and for others.

This Christmas I pray for true freedom…not the kind that comes with having your license.  Not the kind that comes from having more money.  Not the kind that comes from having a full fridge of food.

I’m talking about the kind of freedom that comes from choosing others before myself; from denying my desires to try and live a holy life.

May we find it and in the living, encourage others to pursue it.

acceptance vs. disgust

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2008 by Malcolm Rutherford

The picture we have of the first Christmas is probably a lot more acceptable than it would have been in reality. Birth. While it is an amazing thing it is kinda disgusting in parts. Hospital. sterile. doctors. nurses. The birth we know of today is a little different to there being “no room in the inn” and having to give birth in a place where animals lived. But it still aint pretty. I know it goes easy for some mums, but a friend once shared that it was the most traumatic, violating, epic thing she has ever done. And so many people dont want to know that. they want to know that the baby and mum are healthy. the mum has been ripped/cut to bits, and is more exhausted than ever before. the baby is premature, and might survive… but when people ask. we say “things are “ok”.. they’ll turn out alright.

Acceptance is really important. But can we ignore the disgusting bits when we accept somthing. In our faith…do we grapple with the disgusting bits.  Jesus a nice man who taught good things we should follow.. I believe he was also fully God and fully man. This is easy. The same God who is Jesus “bringing the people into the promised land”. Genocide. genocide. genocide. This is a litle more difficult to deal with, but we can’t, and we must not just choose the bits of Christianity we like and dismiss the rest. Sure we check the accuracy of things. we dont just blindly accept things we are unsure of, but lets not have the faith of the sunday school line drawings I grew up with. Joshua fought the battle of jerico and the walls came tubling down….. then Joshua and his army when and slaughtered men women and children…..

I’m not suggesting that we re write kids songs so that kids dont sleep at night.. but lets be real with what Christianity is. lets get our hands dirty in the old testament, and through that we might see the over arching plan God has for us. It might just make us all the more humble next time we take communion or think of jesus dying on the cross for us.

( I write this as a hypocrite who is trying to become less hypocritical… I’ve been getting my hands dirty in the book of Joshua and working through some of this over the last year..)

these dreams…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2008 by loubomber

these dreams
inviting possibilities
whisphering promises
etching ideas upon my mind
a yearning deep within
the distant drumming
of an unsung song
beckons the dance to begin
an ache remains unsatisfied
its time will come
hold on my heart
hold on

these dreams…..

 

‘Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of man’ Goethe
‘Dream BIG dreams….’ Tony Campolo

2nd Advent Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized on December 14, 2008 by fairchristmasfayre
This Sunday we light our second symbolic sparkler and remember the meaning of Advent (the visit of Jesus).We wait and we marinate in:
The remembrance of Israel’s yearning for the coming Messiah, to save, forgive and restore them.
Our hope for the second coming of Jesus where everything will be restored.
The realisation of our own need for Gods grace, through Jesus.
God, stir in our hearts excitement about the visit of your Son. God, help us to anticipate you with every bit of us. Help our waiting to be mindful; for us to catch a glimpse of you as we anticipate you with all of our heart, soul and mind.
sparkler1

The Edge

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2008 by jonfordham

My place at the edge is a platform in the air.

Words I weave are prayers, making stilts

For height above a rushing tide.

No storm will rock my firm foundations,

No drunken sailor plunder the treasure in my vaults.

 

My place at the edge is a palace by the sea.

The world outside my window’s drenched with tears.

I put a message in a bottle to sail it on the water.

The message in the bottle is L-O-V-E.

Christmas Down Under 2

Posted in Uncategorized on December 12, 2008 by malcolmirwin

I’m still playing with the experience/feel/look of Christmas Down-under.  There is more; in fact, the image of Christ(mas) down- under captures magically something of the sneaky politiking involved in the orginal Christmas story, a politiking that is today largely lost in the noise of consumerism and the ho, ho, ho of Santa.  Engage with these excerpts from G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man (The God in a Cave).  Drink deeply, slowly, this is truly subversive stuff:
 
“We all know the story of how Herod, alarmed at some rumor of a mysterious rival, remembered the wild gesture of the capricious despots of Asia and ordered a massacre of suspects of the new generation of the populace. Everyone knows the story; but not everyone has perhaps noted its place in the story of the strange religions of men. Not everybody has seen the significance even of its very contrast with the Corinthian columns and Roman pavement of that conquered and superficially civilized world.
 
Unless we understand the presence of that enemy, we shall not only miss the point of Christianity, but even miss the point of Christmas. Christmas for us in Christendom has become one thing, and in one sense even a simple thing. But like all the truths of that tradition, it is in another sense a very complex thing. Its unique note is the simultaneous striking of many notes; of humility, of gaiety, of gratitude, of mystical fear, but also of vigilance and of drama. It is not only an occasion for the peacemakers any more than for the merry makers; it is not only a Hindu peace conference any more than it is only a Scandinavian winter feast. There is something defiant in it also; something that makes the abrupt bells at midnight sound like the great guns of a battle that has just been won. All this indescribable thing that we call the Christmas atmosphere only bangs in the air as something like a lingering fragrance or fading vapor from the exultant, explosion of that one hour in the Judean hills nearly two thousand years ago. But the savor is still unmistakable, and it is something too subtle or too solitary to be covered by our use of the word peace. By the very nature of the story the rejoicings in the cavern were rejoicings in a fortress or an outlaws den; properly understood it is not unduly flippant to say they were rejoicing in a dug-out. It is not only true that such a subterranean chamber was a hiding-place from enemies; and that the enemies were already scouring the stony plain that lay above it like a sky. It is not only that the very horse-hoofs of Herod might in that sense have passed like thunder over the sunken head of Christ. It is also that there is in that image a true idea of an outpost, of a piercing through the rock and an entrance into an enemy territory. There is in this buried divinity an idea of undermining the world; of shaking the towers and palaces from below; even as Herod the great king felt that earthquake under him and swayed with his swaying palace.
 
That is perhaps the mightiest of the mysteries of the cave. It is already apparent that though men are said to have looked for hell under the earth, in this case it is rather heaven that is under the earth. And there follows in this strange story the idea of an upheaval of heaven. That is the paradox of the whole position; that henceforth the highest thing can only work from below. Royalty can only return to its own by a sort of rebellion Indeed the Church from its beginnings, and perhaps especially in its beginnings, was not so much a principality as a revolution against the prince of the world. This sense that the world had been conquered by the great usurper, and was in his possession, has been much deplored or derided by those optimists who identify enlightenment with case. But it was responsible for all that thrill of defiance and a beautiful danger that made the good news seem to be really both good and new. It was in truth against a huge unconscious usurpation that it raised a revolt, and originally so obscure a revolt. Olympus still occupied the sky like a motionless cloud molded into many mighty forms; philosophy still sat in the high places and even on the thrones of the kings, when Christ was born in the cave and Christianity in the catacombs.

In both cases we may remark the same paradox of revolution; the sense of something despised and of something feared. The cave in one aspect is only a hole or comer into Which the outcasts are swept like rubbish; yet in the other aspect it is a hiding-place of something valuable which the tyrants are seeking like treasure. In one sense they are there because the inn-keeper would not even remember them, and in another because the king can never forget them.
 
It had risen out of the ground to wreck the heaven and earth of heathenism. It did not try to destroy all that creation of gold and marble; but it contemplated a world without it. It dared to look right through it as though the gold and marble had been glass. Those who charged the Christians with burning down Rome with firebrands were slanderers; but they were at least far nearer to the nature of Christianity than those among the moderns who tell us that the Christians were a sort of ethical society, being martyred in a languid fashion for telling men they had a duty to their neighbors, and only mildly disliked because they were meek and mild.”

Hmmm. 
 
The genocidal gore of the horrors of Herod, the “killing fields” of the original Christmas Story, is at great odds with the jolly ho, ho, hos of a smiling fat Santa, isn’t it. Today, this dark image of Christ(mas) down-under echoes on in the ghastly histories of Darfur, the Congo, Cambodia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Iraq, China, North Korea, Mumba, New York…. and despite the horrific losses, the Christmas story counters our “killing fields” with the hope and promise that there is something good, something new is emerging from beneath, something surprising is emergging from down-under the messyness of our own sin. 

See it? 

Subversive, eh.

Something…or Somebody?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 11, 2008 by sal

Christmas in our time seems to be about always looking for Something. We search for the perfect presents, we scrounge the cupboard for the best decorations, we hunt for the ingredients to make the nicest meal, we’re constantly on the look-out for the most value for money, and perhaps secretly we’re looking for the satisfaction that may come from that gift we’re hoping for.

But originally, the search was for Somebody. It was a quest to find the Son of God. The first Christmas seekers were not looking for things, for possessions, for personal gain. And not only were they not looking for ‘stuff’, they actually dropped what they already had in order to find that Somebody.

Mary and Joseph didn’t attach their camper van to the back of the donkey. The shepherds didn’t run home to pick up some essentials or change their clothes. The wise men didn’t pack trinkets for themselves – only offerings for the King they were looking for.

‘Stuff’ doesn’t seem to have a part to play in the Christmas story. 

The original search was for a Person, a Son, a Saviour. As we enjoy all the ‘somethings’ of this season – the festivities, preparations and tins of shortbread, may we remember that Somebody – our Jesus – is who the story is all about, and that He is so worth finding.