Monday, March 30, 2009

It was on the Sunday

It was on the Sunday that he took on the city.

Religious freaks usually appear in the desert urging folk to come into
the open air and find God through getting back to nature.
God, you see, doesn't live in the city.
He prefers the smell of a garden to that of a gutter.
He likes to see children jumping creeks, not raking through garbage bins.
And far better in his eyes are lovers lounging in the long grass than
cramped up in a single bed.

The city is for sin. God doesn't go there.

The Lord is my Shepherd,
not my social worker.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures,
not shrinks' couches.
He leads me beside still waters,
not trickles of urine from a drunk's bladder.
And on the mountains are the peace messenger's feet beautiful,
not in the middle of the road.

It was on the Sunday that he took on the city.

From: Stages on the Way

Just a note: this is not meant to be read literally - it is irony reflecting how Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem and how he turns our religiosity on it's head.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pushing against the rock

I've posted this story before, but today I was reminded of it in the context of prayer:

There was a man who was asleep one night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Saviour appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock pushing with all his might. Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain.

Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man's mind such as; "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it? Etc." Thus, giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man even more. "Why kill myself over this?" he thought. "I'll just put in my time, giving just the minimum of effort and that will be good enough."

And that he planned to do until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord. "Lord" he said, "I have laboured long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimetre. What is wrong? Why am I failing?"

To this the Lord responded compassionately, "My friend, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled; your hands are callused from constant pressure; your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in my wisdom. This you have done. I, my friend, will now move the rock."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bad news? Good news? Who knows?

There once was a simple farmer who lived and struggled alongside his neighbours and friends, trying to exist and fulfil a peaceful life. One day news arrived from far away, that his old loving father had died. His neighbours gathered to grieve, but the farmer simply said, "Bad news? Good news? Who knows?"

In time relatives brought a very fine horse of great cost and fine breeding, left to the farmer by his father. All the villagers and neighbours gathered in delight with him to celebrate his good fortune, but he just said, "Bad news? Good news? Who knows?"

One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer's neighbours sympathized with the old man over his bad news, the farmer replied, "Bad news? Good news? Who knows?"

A week later the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good news. His reply was, "Good news? Bad news? Who knows?"

Then, when the farmer's son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off its back and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad news. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, "Bad news? Good news? Who knows?"

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer's son with his broken leg they let him off. Now was that good news? Bad news? Who knows?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Listening to Life

Within the Christian tradition life is lived as though human beings are continually being addressed or called to in one way or another. The process of nature, the flux of history, all that happens to each individual every twenty-four hours is a ‘mighty sum of things forever speaking’.
J. Neville Ward, Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy, p. 3