Thursday, June 28, 2007

by Daniel Walter
Thursday, Aug 18, 2005

The hour comes, the performance starts,
And all of us here are playing a part.
Another Sunday morning, and here we all sit,
And I try to see God through all of this sh**.

“Worship time” is a concert, it feels like a joke,
It’s hard to worship God through the lights and the smoke.
A “Worship Experience,” so meticulously planned,
But whose plan is it, is it God’s, or is it man’s?

We have all the tools, We’re so hip and so trendy,
And we have such plans, bigger buildings, more spending.
The sound system, the lights, sermons on Power-point,
Is it just me, or are we missing the point?

Week after week, it's always the same,
And it's starting to feel, well, phony and lame.
These people that I’m supposed to call my “Faith Family,”
Most of them are strangers, few really know me.

We’re told : “Look around beside you, look at all the empty seats,
Now go out and invite the people you meet.
There are people out there who need to be here,
‘cause we have a message that they need to hear.”

“Bring people to Jesus” ? Don’t you mean bring them in?
“Equip them for ministry” ? You just want them “plugged in.”
Often I wonder, Can this really be serious,
Are the answers really in another four-part sermon series?

We’re so convinced that we’ve got it right,
But there’s a beam in our eyes that’s blocking our sight.
Isn’t church more than filling the seats?
Would anyone notice if I wasn’t here next week?

Is this worth my time? Lately there’s been a doubt,
And my thoughts have been turning to leaving, getting out.
God, are you here? It’s so hard to know,
I’m having trouble seeing you through all of this “show."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Galatians 3: 23-29

I am growing more and more concerned that we have lost the RADICAL SUBVERSIVENESS of God’s Word and the above passage is a prime example.

When I talk about God’s Word – I mean the message of Christ – the Gospel (Good News) – John 1 talks about Jesus as The Word – Jesus is the embodiment of the Word of God.

Everything in the OT points forward to Christ

Everything in the NT points back to Christ

“Christ is in the old concealed
Christ is in the new revealed”
– Rex Mathie

Somehow we have become so focussed on the container that we’ve missed the contents (or as Martin Luther said – so focussed on the cradle we miss the baby lying in it).

The bible contains the Word of God (Christ) – somehow we’ve come to believe that the bible is Christ => it’s all about Jesus!!! We’ve missed the content.

Now, I know this sounds radical but think about it – do you think Jesus was treated like he was by the religious leaders of the day because his message was a comfort to them. No, his message made them uncomfortable. He was accused over and over again of blasphemy and eventually crucified for blasphemy.

In the passage we read it appears as if Paul is effectively saying that you can leave out a large part of the bible – many people would have believed he was compromising the Word of God – watering it down – sound familiar?

2000 years later nothing has changed – those who attempt to interpret the Bible through Christ are accused of compromising God’s Word. Those who believe that the bible (and especially The Law) only finds it’s meaning in Christ are accused of watering the bible down or worse of being heretics.

Paul argues that he is, in fact, taking scripture seriously. Abraham is his example (3:6-9). Abraham found favour with God before there was any such Law. The promise to Abraham was not just for the nation of Israel but for all the world. Gentiles come to favour with God not on the basis of keeping the Law, but simply as Abraham does: by faith.

Paul the goes on to explain the purpose of the Law:

His explanation is quite negative. The Law was designed to expose people's need of God by showing how they fail (3:10-14, 19-22). Even though given by God, it played a very indirect role. It was not set up to offer an alternative to Abraham's way of responding to God. Its function was to drive people to the point where they saw Abraham's way of responding to God as the only way forward.

The Law, he suggests, puts a curse on us and traps us in guilt and failure. For Paul, the death of Jesus was an act whereby he took the curse on himself in our place and released us from it.

God treats us the way he treated Abraham and expects from us only what he expected from Abraham.

The Law is not meant to enslave us or to create superior/inferior people – it’s there to show us our need for God. To show us that nothing we can do can win us favour with God – God has done it all through Christ and we rely on that by faith.

For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it. (Eph 2:8-9)

So, in Christ, (through our faith in him) we are all the same (in terms of our status with God) but we remain unique individuals.

We put Christ on like a coat (v. 27) but we don’t lose our identity.

We become one with Christ. We enter the sphere of his power and influence, especially understood as love.

As God's love flowed in Christ, so that river continues to flow and in baptism we celebrate our new relationship with him by diving into the river, as it were (or by placing our infants in that stream where it is flowing in the community of faith)

We don’t have to all be the same. We don’t have to all agree. We mustn’t try to force others to conform to our standards.

God is at work in all of us transforming all of us so that we can begin to bear the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5: 22). The problem is that when I look at the Church I very often don’t see this fruit but the opposite – condemnation, conflict, intolerance, judgmentalism, etc.

Let’s focus on producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and let’s stop judging the lives of others – we can leave that to God.

With acknowledgement to William Loader for some of his thoughts that I borrowed

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bono in conversation.

Harry Belafonte is one of my great heroes. He's an old-school leftist and holds on to certain principles like others hold on to their life. He told me this story about Bobby Kennedy, which changed my life indeed, pointed me in the direction I am going now politically. Harry remembered a meeting with Martin Luther King when the civil rights movement had hit a wall in the early sixties: [impersonating croaky voice of Belafonte ] "I tell you it was a depressing moment when Bobby Kennedy was made attorney general. It was a very bad day for the civil rights movement." And I said: "Why was that?" He said: "Oh, you see, you forget. Bobby Kennedy was Irish. Those Irish were real racists; they didn't like the black man. They were just one step above the black man on the social ladder, and they made us feel it. They were all the police, they were the people who broke our balls on a daily basis. Bobby at that time was famously not interested in the civil rights movement. We knew we were in deep trouble. We were crestfallen, in despair, talking to Martin, moaning and groaning about the turn of events, when Dr. King slammed his hand down and ordered us to stop the bitchin': "Enough of this;' he said. "Is there nobody here who's got something good to say about Bobby Kennedy?" We said: "Martin, that's what we're telling ya! There is no one. There is nothing good to say about him. The guy's an Irish Catholic conservative badass, he's bad news." To which Martin replied: "Well, then, let's call this meeting to a close. We will re-adjourn when somebody has found one thing redeeming to say about Bobby Kennedy, because that, my friends, is the door through which our movement will pass." So he stopped the meeting and he made them all go home. He wouldn't hear any more negativ­ity about Bobby Kennedy. He knew there must be something positive. And if it was there, somebody could find it.

Well, it turned out that Bobby was very close with his bishop. So they befriended the one man who could get through to Bobby's soul and turned him into their Trojan horse. They sort of ganged up on this bishop, the civil rights religious people, and got the bishop to speak to Bobby. Harry became emotional at the end of this tale: "When Bobby Kennedy lay dead on a Los Angeles pavement, there was no greater friend to the civil rights movement. There was no one we owed more of our progress to than that man;' which is what I always thought. I mean, Bobby Kennedy is still an inspiration to me. And whether he was exaggerating or not, that was a great lesson for me, because what Dr. King was saying was: Don't respond to caricature-the Left, the Right, the Progressives, the Reactionary. Don't take people on rumor. Find the light in them, because that will further your cause. And I've held on to that very tightly, that lesson. And so, don't think that I don't understand. I know what I'm up against. I just sometimes do not appear to.

From: Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas p.86

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

By Meister Eckhart. (13th century)

What good is it to me
if Mary gave birth to Jesus 1400 years ago,
if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture…

What is the test that you have indeed undergone this holy birth?
Listen carefully.
If this birth has truly taken place within you,
then every single creature points you toward God…

God is creating the entire universe fully and totally in this present now.
Everything God created in the beginning –
and even previous to that…

God creates now all at once.