Monday, January 30, 2012

Moosing on things religious . . .

Christian, or disciple of Jesus? A lot of people claim to be, even want to be, Christians. However, very few desire to "take up their cross" and follow Jesus." (I include myself here, as I'm often a "reluctant religious".) Of course that's good for "professional" clergy whose churches are full of the former. (The latter are to be continually found out in the streets and byways, and only occasionally in churches.)

This world is so tragically full of lost young people. And graceless Christians, or the just plain crazy ones, aren't helping them.

Surrender & submission lead to the "light burden" & "easy yoke", a blessed contrary to the "world's ways".

Honestly, would we even know one if we saw one?! A true disciple of Jesus Christ. A lot of people in Calcutta probably thought Mother Teresa was just a really nice old lady who loved to take care of the "down & out"?

Man! Something's gotta give here! Maybe we should all have to do a short or long term mission in a destitute country. Then perhaps we might actually make a difference back home?

Honestly, can it be that hard? This following, this disciple thing? Maybe just simply and lovingly start with what (or who) we wake up to?! Life, spouse, children, neighbors, coworkers . . . Let's start there and see what God does. ;-)

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Missionary or Missio Dei?

When Jesus sent out the disciples the term He would likely have used is “missio” (to send), and of course in His case it would have been Missio Dei (mission of God or sending by God). And of course, the Good News of the Kingdom would have been the message carried, couched in love, grace and humility and reflecting the Christ.

Sadly, as with the church’s chequered history, missionaries too often tended toward harshness in their zeal to convert other cultures. Especially sad when we consider that being a messenger was the task, not converting or transforming people (Christ’s work via the Holy Spirit alone.)

Often the self-assigned task (or from the missionary group sending) was too annihilate the existing “pagan” cultures while inculcating the “accepted” norms of the missionary’s own culture. Some people, both secular and Christian, have called this “genocide of the mind”, possibly not too harsh a term for some of the destruction wrought on innocent people by “well-meaning” missionaries.

Fortunately, somewhere along the line folks realized that “success” in mission Dei could only be accomplished in an attitude of humility, love and acceptance. Jesuits, especially those in the late 1800’s and continuing into this century, have sought to validate cultures where appropriate and seek common ground in the stories of their respective cultures. By doing so, they have helped various people groups “see” God and His Christ in their own stories and culture. They have led people “farther up and farther in,” (to steal the phrase from C.S. Lewis in The Last Battle.)

So it is in our time (post-modern, post-Christian 21st century) that Jesus followers from various backgrounds, denominations and churches have recaptured the essence of Christ’s original greatest commandment and commission; to love God, love one another and to go and spread the Good News. So it is that the “Body of Christ” is once not found in buildings, programs and budget meetings, BUT out in the streets and neighborhoods; in coffee houses and pubs with Christ’s (God’s) children, meeting them “where they’re at” and imitating the Savior, even occasionally using His words of love, forgiveness and peace.

Things may begin to look very different, things already are. Status quo is no longer acceptable to Jesus’ followers, pastor/autocrat-driven churches are passing into obsolescence, and the “priesthood of all believers” is becoming a reality again, even as God makes all things new under heaven and on earth. It’s time people, wherever you’re at, whatever you’re doing . . . “will they know we are Christians by our love?”

1 John 4:7-21 . . . (check it out)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

authentic availability and vulnerability to spread good news

It is not so much our ability He has need of, but our availability.

I see a Man like a Son of God walking by the seashore, whistling gently to the waves of those who will come to restore the ruined places and bind up the broken-hearted.

As John the Baptist did so many years ago, we are to “prepare the way” even now . . . prepare the way for the Lord. We do so as disciples rather than prophets, for He has come and is coming. Proclaim this “Good News”, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, by loving one another and using words when necessary. By always seeking and asking to be more like Him; humble, compassionate, forgiving, filled with His love to overflowing . . . a refreshing spring of living water.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

religion or relationship –

I’ve come more and more to realize that I care not necessarily if my children “go to church”, but I care deeply that they know God and His love for them. And, that is actually what I desire for everyone I meet along the road. Corporate worship and fellowship may come, but to know of God and His love, and then, to KNOW God personally, that is it, what matters most. I want my children to turn to God in all things and times, whether good or bad. To find their strength and guidance from Him, and to become more like Jesus every day; loving, compassionate, humble, forgiving . . . to live “abundant lives” as He promised.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Lord have mercy, may my actions and life reflect you more truly and deeply than my feeble words. Amen.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

the forgiving Father parable . . . in song

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.[a] And by him we cry, “Abba,[b] Father.” Romans 8:15

These verses may be sung to any of the tunes used for 'When I survey the wondrous cross', and are brought to us by Wild Goose of lona.

When trouble strikes and fear takes root and dreams are dry and sense unsound when hope becomes a barren waste, then doubts like mountains soar around.

Our wandering minds believe the worst and ask, as faith and fervour fade, 'Has God now turned His back on us, forsaking those He loved and made?'

God says, 'See how a woman cares, can she forget the child she bore? Even if she did, I shan't forget. Though feeling lost, I love you more.'

'My dearest daughter, fondest son, My weary folk in every land, your souls are cradled in My heart, your names are written on My hand.'

Then praise the Lord through faith and fear, in holy and in hopeless place, for height and depth and heaven and hell can't keep us far from His embrace.

[From Celtic Daily Prayer, Aidan readings for January 3&4]