Monday, May 30, 2005

A Celtic Prayer-Thanks Geoff

Jesus of the road, Jesus of the street
Jesus of the sky, Jesus on the beat
Can I come with you, along your roads today
and see where you are, and what you do and say
and be involved, in some small way?
In Jesus name I pray.
- Amen

Schapelle Corby-Some perspective?

Hamo has written a thought provoking little piece about our priorities as a country, and how they are shaped so intensely by the media. So much of our attention is grabbed by this one girl who may or may not be guilty, yet the stone cold reality of genocide in Darfur goes largely unnoticed. There's no emotive headlines about the children that dies every three seconds from hunger and preventable disease.

I think its a freaking disgrace that she gets 20 years for something that can't be proven (although some of the evidence does raise some eyebrows) yet the Bali bombing dude-Amrozi I think it was, gets two. But thats their judicial system and far be it from me to think I know how to run a legal system. But sometimes we do need to get a bit of perspective thats all.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Effective Ministry?

I was reflecting a little today on what it is that creates an effective schools ministry, and I really just can't go past living in the context of Christian community. I've made friends with heaps of kids at my school, been on camps,excursions and to many birthday parties, I've been a good (I hope!!) role model, but has it been really effective?

The times where I've seen kids lives turned around, seen young people from all walks of life sort themselves out, seen people tune their lives into Jesus, it has been as a result of some form of involvement in Christian community-whether that be a church, youth group, small group or whatever.

I've always reacted pretty strongly against any program driven ministry, as I totally believe that relationships are the shiznit in ministry. Relationships are what ministry is. But where do we go from there? Is it just our results-driven culture that tells us we need to plug people into programs, and is it just our bad experiences of the excessive time and energy needed to run programs that tell us not to? I'm not sure.

I think far too often we can focus on programs as the sum total of our ministry, which if they ever do become so, is not what ministry is about. But if our programs, groups and courses exist to develop and foster Christian community-then that's what its all about.

You can't be serious!

I've just seen this blog's link to a book entitled What Would Jesus Eat? The disturbing thing is these people are either serious, and need a good dose of perspective, or they're out to con money out of stupid fat Americans-the sad part about which is the fact that many of them will buy the book! (I'm not saying all Americans are stupid and fat, but the ones that are will be targetted by this marketing) Just eat a healthy diet-I seriously don't think what Jesus would have eaten has anything to do with our discipleship!

The other one was an ad for a DVD containing ten 3-minute countdowns before you start your youth program. Seriously, somebody has made little countdown timers and is trying to sell them off. So wrong in so many ways! I mean could we succumb to our consumer culture any more? Since when does having a countdown timer make any difference to your youth ministry? What ever happened to just loving kids...

And what does that say about whats important? Hey youth leaders, stopping connecting with kids, the important person up the front is now going to say something, that relationships aren't important, only the program is?? Youth ministry happens incidentally, as a part of life, sometimes as a part of a program, often not. Often the best ministry times are driving kids home, watching their sports game, stopping to say hi in the street-you can't put a countdown clock on real ministry.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

images of Jesus

images of Jesus There's heaps of these 'images of Jesus' sights around, but this is a pretty good one. Would be a great reflection to play Picture of Jesus by Ben Harper alongside some of these images, reflect and ask questions around who Jesus is to you etc.

Marcus Curnow: Shout to the Lord (Angry)

Marcus Curnow: Shout to the Lord (Angry)
I loved this post from Marcus, a dude I've got a lot of respect for with some great perspectives on stuff. I think this more fully expresses a broader range of the Christian expression towards God, rather than just the happy one. I have no problem with happy songs telling God how much we reckon He rocks, but it just frustrtes me when we seem to imply that that is the only way to feel about God. This is a good follow on from some of my recent thoughts on worship.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Orthodox Explained

This post explains in a little more detail a Greek Orthodox service, obviously slightly different to my experience not being Easter, but pretty similar. Seems like an interesting blog too.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A special carpark

I am here and now pledging that if I am ever in ministry at a church with a sign that marks a special parking spot for me, then I will tear that little sign down. I saw one yesterday and cannot begin to explain how many issues I have with that.

Well, actually to start with I just have massive issues with any things that want to prescribe power, status, importance and positional authority on anybody, particularly ministers. There's just no need for it.

The Mighty Pies!

I don't often comment on the footy-but how good were those Pies! Shattered I couldn't see it all, as I was at a way more important game Tyabb v Sorrento. Matt I think the Pies are shaping up well for our Queens Birthday clash...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Gay Simpsons

Once again, the Simpsons proved to be the great source of theological reflection that it always has been, with last nights brilliant episode featuring Marge's sister Patty coming out as a lesbian. The show had been talked about for ages, with much speculation as to which male character it would be-but we didn't expect her. Plus it was an absolutely hilarious episode!

There were some great scenes with Rev Lovejoy ringing the church bells loudly as Marge tried to engage him in meaningful conversation about which parts of the bible forbid homosexuality, and this gem from Marge 'Just because you're a lesbian, doesn't make you any less-of-a-being' and heaps of great discussion starting stuff. I'll definitely use it if I ever decide to tackle the issue in asmall group or church setting.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Anger and Love

Was listening to an interview on TodayToday on JJJ with Henry Rollins before he embarked on his spoken word tour (yes thats the same Henry Rollins-former angry angry lead singer of the Henry Rollins Band!) and it was absolutely fascinating. He's an intriguing and very eloquently spoken man.

He's apparently pretty big into social justice kinda issues, and does a lot of fundraising for a few charitable causes. Nothing new there. But the thing that stood out to me was the way he articulated the source for his passion.

He said 'I'm not some tree-hugging all loving hippy, I just get really pissed off about stuff and want to do something about it'. There's just so much of that I relate to. My passion for the overseas poor is primarily driven by my anger at the injustice that leads to them being in that situation. My passion for working with young people on matters of sexuality is driven mostly by my anger at the over-sexualised culture we live in, and how I've seen that mess so many people up.

For me, my love for people drives my anger at so many things, and my anger drives me to try and be more loving. I think thats part of the reason I love the story of Jesus kicking the tables in the temple over so much.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Sick as a dog

Sorry for no real posts lately guys, been flat out busy and just now recovering from being pretty sick, which hasn't been fun at all. Had to drag myself out of bed to preach at my school this morning, going to their Deb tonight, got VETAMORPHUS and a crap load of meetings tomo, then preaching again at our morning congregation Sunday. So will post something of significance sometime soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Greek Orthodox Easter

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a Greek Orthodox Easter service, at the invitation og my friend from work-who I've blogged about before. (Whilst on the topic of Greek Easter-I was interested to learn that there was no soccer games played last weekend, as the comp is run by the Greeks!)

I arrived a bit late, and I have never seen so mnay people trying to get into a church, there was seriously 3000 people trying to squeeze into this 600 seat church! The streets were all blocked off, cars everywhere, it was huge.

I was standing around for a while, then everything inside the church went black, before people came streaming out with candles, which they then passed to each other, and there was copious kissing on the cheeks all round. I later found out this symbolised the Christ-light overcoming the darkness of the grave etc, and everybody was kissing each other as a celebration.

I think the thing I loved about the whole experience was the rituals and symbolism-something that we're generally pretty devoid of in the Protestant Church.

Things like crossing yourself-something I only ever associated with the Catholic Church, actually has some really cool meanings behind it, but has unfortunately become a bit of a dead tradition to many of the people who practise it.

I then moved into the church for the traditional service, which was all Greek to me-literally! which went for a couple of hours-which is way longer than I'm used to! I struggle when our church gets near an hour and a half! I liked the little tradition of going up and kissing the Bible-a sign of their respect and reverence for the Scriptures.

Communion-or Eucharist as they call it, is a big affair. The priest goes behind the little partition, blesses the bread and wine, which they then believe becomes the literal Body and Blood of Christ. Everybody who has in that week been to Confession, fasted at least once during the week and for twelve hours before church, is able to come up and receive the elements. If you haven't done these things you can't take part. The bread and wine are then mixed together, and placed in the mouths of all those who come up the front to take it with a spoon by the priest. A very different understanding of the Lord's invitation to share a meal at his table and remember Him than mine, but thats cool.

I found it intriguing how they read the Bible out aloud, its half sung half spoken in a melodic lilting tone. The other thing that was the most intriguing weas the interior of the church itself, so many decorations, icons, candles and pictures. It truly is a sight to behold-something that can't be described in words. Which is I think why they decorate theirchurches like that-to try and reveal some parts of God's story which just cannot be described in words-very postmodern :)

All up, it was a fantastic experience, and something I recomment everybody do at least once-I know I'll be going again next year.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - Cartoon resources for your church - Cartoon resources for your church
If anybody out there has the task of putting funny little cartoons in your church newsletter-check out this site-got some good ones.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Prayer Links

Whilst on the topic of prayer-I thought I'd link to a couple of cool sites that are both helpful aides to prayer-and helpful in terms of understandding the needs for different types of prayer.

Sacred Space is really helpful, I don't use it as much as I'd like to unfortunately, and the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project has some great perspectives. I've linked to Clubber's Temple before too, which is pretty cool. Thats about all I can think of at the moment.

Prayer II

Before I got distracted trying to discern my understandings of God, I was writing on prayer.

At the moment, my understanding of the meaning/purpose of prayer is two-fold.

The first is simply divine intervention/revelation/inspiration. I do believe in an external, supernatural God, and as such believe that that God is able to work in and influence our world in ways that we totally don't understand. I have experienced that in my life, and seen it in the lives of others, and despite how little I know about how that interaction actually works, I believe in it.

The second centres around more contemplative, meditative approaches to prayer-which I've totally been getting into heaps more lately. This comes from a couple of sources, one is the Biblical idea that we are all made in the image of God, and can have that Spirit of the Risen Christ within all of us. The other is Jesus' ideas about the kingdom of God being revealed within us all. I believe God lives in all of us, if only we are open to being still and listening. That understanding of prayer is one I'm still shaping, and is far from complete.

Despite this style of prayer being deeply rooted within the Christian tradition, I believe it has resemblances to the more Buddhist concepts of meditation, from which I believe Christians can learn a lot in terms of stillness and centreing ourselves. I'm not prepared to say that all prayer, whichever faith its expressed through, is the same, because its not. But I do believe there is a lot more room for dialogue on the concept of prayer than has traditionally been found in many churches.

Anyways, thats my thoughts on prayer at the moment, hopefully they'll come together soon :)

Thursday, May 05, 2005 > reflection > philip johnson > reflection > philip johnson
Just a short article on the rise of DIY Spirituality-something we so much of in the world around us. The dudes blog is interesting too.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

What is prayer?

Interesting discussion sprung up today about the difference between magic-trying to manipulate God/Spirit/the gods into doing what you want, and true faith-which thecturer said was simply submitting yourself to God. Thay seems pretty counter-cultural-which it is, but thats Jesus for you sometimes hey.

The lecturer was talking about trying to manipulate God, making deals, brokering and doing certain things so that God will do what you want. unfortunately I tthink we've all been guilty of that at some stage.

But that got me thinking-isn't everytime we request something of God trying to manipulate Him/Her? I mean if we really believe that prayer works, that means we must believe in a God that can be swayed by our prayers, a God who's mind changes? I personally have no problem with this, but a few people I've talked to really struggle with this image of God.

If we really believe that God is all-knowing (an interesting topic I can't properly unpack on a blog) then does it really matter if we pray? If he already knows whats on our hearts-which I think it says somewhere in the Bible, why do we need to ask? If God already wants relationship with all of Creation-why do we need to ask God to work in people's lives?

If we believe-as I do, that it is only ever God who changes and transforms people's lives-why do we need to run programs, put on events, spend time with people etc? I would say it is because God needs His human representatives to work through, but its still an interesting question.

Very raw thoughts at the moment, just unpacking a lot of stuff, doesn't make much sense to me at the moment-so hope you can follow!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Intergrity in Evangelism?

The integrity behind 'relational evangelism' is a question that has always troubled me. The basic idea behind the whole concept is that the best way to tell people about Jesus is by showing them, by living your life with them. Its by hanging out with them wherever they are, letting people see you swear or make mistakes, letting them see all of your life-as opposed to preaching a message to them from a pulpit or enrolling them in a course.

Now I totally affirm that, for no other reason than thats pretty much how I see Jesus operating. And looking at the numbers of people in our churches who came to faith that way, it 'works.'

But my question has always been around the idea of being friends with somebody just so that you can share about God with them. I guess i've just seen too many people (and unfortunately I've been guilty of this myself in the past) who hang out with people just so that they can try and share their faith with them. Now that just smells of marketing to me, and I don't like it.

Its like those hot chicks that are employed by alcohol companies to come up to you in a bar, flirt with you in a bar, buy you a few rounds of the drinks they're paid to promote, secretly slipping in a few comments about how nice it is, then leaving.

I know if I knew somebody was only hanging out with me so that they could try and tell me about whatever belief system they adhere to, I'd wanna punch them in the nose.

Anyway, Darrens got some great discussion going on, check it out over here.