Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday

It was kind of fun preaching on Palm sunday in Tasmania this past week-end. I was over for the final weekend of Graceworks (which was a blessing) and stayed on for the Sunday to preach at a corps and a divisional youth event. Beside Tasmania being filled with great people - it also really reminded me of British Columbia - with lush green colours and bush and hiking and hills... good times.
The Palm sunday was a refreshing lead up to the Easter weekend events coming. I was struck, as I prepared, by the deep meaning of the events.. how political and justice focused Jesus was and for the youth meeting I camped out on Matt 21 when Jesus entered Jerusalem 'everyone was stirred.'
It got me thinking that Jesus does do a lot of stirring and reminded me of Martin Luther King Jr. quote 'peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of Justice'. Catherine Booth has said it herself, 'there is no changing the future without disturbing the present'. I was challenging myself really to be a disturber of 'fake' peace (that Vanilla comfort status quo curse thing)... the events of Easter were (and are still) disturbing things... Jesus going the distance - all the way through the pain of death, and death on a cross to bring about a final victory where love triumphs over all. I wonder if we are willing, like his example, to be the people who stir it up? When you enter a city, a home, a workplace, a school - is the whole place stirred? That's something to aim for...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Grace and Justice

The Graceworks conference was a great celebration and a joy to be a part of.
Part of the highlights for me was sharing a workshop with Melinda Tankard-Reist. Melinda is a tireless crusader for justice in Australia. Work through the Women's Form Australia - she has written some amazing books and articles and gives us the truth about the sexualisation of women and girls in australian society. Check out her blog - and her new website and movement 'Collective Shout'.
The stuff she presents is so important - it's painful to watch and to become aware of - but it's essential for our future.
I think the future of our children are dependant on our getting involved now. Challenging current cultural norms that suggest women are measured by their 'sexiness' instead of their ability to create a better world. What better place than a women's conference to mobalize?
Perhaps Justice, is one of the ways Grace works in the world?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grace explained?

I'm gearing up for the Graceworks conference this weekend in Melbourne (next week in Tasmania).
And I'm amazed again... that's the thing about Grace. It's really difficult to explain. It's like trying to explain beauty or love - ever try that? It's like trying to nail down why you can't wait for your best friend to phone - or why you get tingles down your spine when your lover holds your hand - or why a good book and a hot bath can be like a balm to your soul.
But looking at Grace is essential. Because it's the one ingredient of the Christian recipe that is always needed. Circumstances can change, seasons of life can change, relationships shift, needs and gifts come and go - but Grace. That's the one thing. The true thing. the only thing really - that is always needed. Good thing it's in unlimited supply. I've been thinking of holding a competition to see if it's possible to run out. The truth of it is that I'm a grace hog. I love grace. I need grace. I breath in grace. I relish Grace. My hope is in Grace. My future in Grace. My past in Grace... it's, well, I think I mentioned it's hard to explain? well. there you go.
The real question I suppose is how does it work? I'll save that for Saturday! ;-)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rescued from ourselves

If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
Aboriginal Activists Group, Queensland, 1970s

Thanks to BG for the quote... a very deep reminder of our shared humanity with the rest of the world. Bishop Tutu talks alot about this in his book 'No Future Without Forgiveness' it's the concept of UBUNTU:
"In a real sense we might add that even the supporters of apartheid were victims of the vicious system which they implemented and which they supported so enthusiastically. This is not an example for the morally earnest of ethical indifferentism. No, it flows from our fundamental concept of ubuntu. Our humanity was intertwined. The humanity of the perpetrator of apartheid's atrocities was caught up and bound up in that of his victim whether he liked it or not. In the process of dehumanizing another, in inflicting untold harm and suffering, inexorably the perpetrator was being dehgumanized as well."

This idea rescues us from our best attempts at paternalistic goodwill. Jesus says, 'give and it will be given to you' - even linking our forgiveness with the need to forgive others... we are connected and that connectedness is an amazingly powerful thing. When I'm at my worst - humanity suffers. When I'm at my best - humanity is better. Perhaps that gives even more weight to Gandhi's suggestion, 'be the change you want to see'.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

David Ruis

I was privileged to be part of a gathering of songwriters in Melbourne last week. We were keen to hear from David Ruis - his experience, his theological drive - practical steps etc... David shared ALOT of things - among them was worship being the fragrance of Christ in the world... "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." (2 Corinthians 2:15) he spoke of his experience that it's not just that you write songs with justice in them (words etc...) but that you write them from within a justice seeking community... that's different. It's not just a sexy lyric or a nice thought - but the songs themselves are formed on the justice journey - then they take on a weight, an authority - they have about them the 'smell' of justice. I've been thinking about justice as a fragrance ever since. We often approach justice like it's a to-do list of just more things we have to do or can't do... similar to the way we approach our religion I guess - but the justice God is truly seeking is a fragrance (to some it smells like life and to others death) - it's more of a sweet smell about your life... because it's rooted and is growing - it's living and organic - not rigid and dominated by systems and structures... the other thing about this passage of Scripture brings David to the KEY question about worship. The verse says that we are TO GOD the fragrance of Christ... not to the world but to God. So, he says that we always ask the wrong question about worship - 'are the lost listening? are the people pleased? do they get it? but what we should be asking and caring the most about is: IS GOD LISTENING? because true worship is to be the fragrance of Christ in the world TO GOD... it matters ALOT about whether we worship with God in mind... with God central... with our hearts trying to please Him more than anything else. This will change the way we worship - David suggests that this will change the way we live as well. The two are connected. So, here's to living as the fragrance of Christ in the world.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Local Influence

So Claudio suggests that there is no 'macro' influence that matters. Actually he suggests that to claim to have a 'global vision' is to assume you are 'like God'. Who are we to say we have a global vision? How can we know or even assume to know the whole world? I get what he means. It does appear a bit arrogant to suggest that we know what's best for the world - or that we can somehow get a view that's above local culture.. and we can't. He suggests the best thing we can do is apply ourselves wholly to the local scene. To get involved in our own communities and hunker down and do the small stuff of the kingdom - to live a different way in front of people - to know and love our neighbours - to be life and light to those around us... then, He says, God's kingdom will come... we don't need to concern ourselves with strategic plans, and global visions... we just need to live out the gospel where we are.
He doesn't suggest that we stay where we are but that we follow Jesus into the world and simply do what he says as he says it... the journey of pilgrimage. Interesting. I've been thinking about this on multiple levels - and I get it. The only thing I don't get is the necessity of having to remind ourselves of how the rest of the world lives... the importance of putting ourselves and our world into perspective with the rest of the world. For those of us who are among the richest people on the face of the earth I think that kind of global vision is essential.
Claudio has embarked on an experiment in his local community. He has simply applied himself to being a great neighbour - not telling anyone that he is a Christian and certainly not a minister. He said it only took about a month before people started to ask him to pray with him and for a bible and for some help etc... he lived out Francis' quote, 'preach Christ. If necessary use words.' Of course we use that quote as an excuse to not preach the gospel - but what Francis meant and what Claudio is living is that our lives should so reflect a different life - a different way of living - an outloud version of love in public... that it is enough. Our lives will be the contagious gospel... now, that's a real challenge.
How is your local influence?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

where to start

I've been offline for almost a week.. crazy times actually. But so rich and full that I'm not sure where to start. I've been trying to process a lot of information and thanking God for new and renewed relationships and rejoicing in a lot of truth that was declared over the Surrender weekend. Even the post-weekend events (we hosted a song writers symposium with David Ruis - where I took at least 6 pages of notes as he talked about the biblical models for justice and worship - GOLD) were amazing. Over and over again I am amazed at the witness of the lives of christians who are living radically different lives than the world. Some of them are famous but many of them aren't (at least on earth)... but they are challenging evil and re-shaping the world the way God dreamed it to be - it really is miraculous and encouraging. Anyway, I'll be back with a whole lot of info and feedback - you can catch some of it online at isalvos on the justsalvos LIVE show!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Claudio Oliver

If you have a chance you may want to check out the lecture Claudio Oliver gave at the Southern Australia Training College Social Justice class. It was incredibly interested... when asked what he does he mentioned that he was a conspiracy specialist... and then broke down the Christian meaning of the word conspiracy etc.. it was fascinating. He is a challenging guy - and you can tune in to the lecture at - be prepared to be challenged and inspired. Be warned though - it's not for the fainthearted!
We also had the joy of the company of many current witnesses to the power of incarnation as a gospel strategy... amazing stuff really. What a joy to have some time to share the good news of the gospel with great hearts and warriors as we travel together.
Also, this weekend will feature some Surrender events on isalvos (we will stream them live as we can!). Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Blog read via podcast

Turns out you can just click on the icon on the right side of this blog (odiogo) and have it read to you. Or, you can subscribe to my blog on itunes by simply typing in armybarmyremix in the search on the podcast section and you can download my blog to be read to you by an automated person! it's really fun. Or you can go to this site direct and subscribe at your vehicle of choice... Check it out - it's a brave new world!