Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

sabbath

Posted: August 21, 2007 in reflections

The story from the gospel of Luke this week sees Jesus getting in trouble with the religious authorities. Why – because he healed a woman on the Sabbath, the day which is holy. It seems peculiar, perhaps even absurd for us to think about this story and not simply side with Jesus. As if can we would condemn a person for curing a woman who has been afflicted with an ailment for 18 years, just because the ‘work’ was done on the 7th day – the day of rest.

 Although, perhaps another more realistic and perplexing question is raised for us from this passage… does ‘Sabbath’ exist in our lives? When I mean Sabbath I don’t mean do you protect Sunday, or actually Saturday in the Jewish time of Jesus, and not work/shop, etc. I actually mean do you take time out as holy. That is do you seek to create a balance with those things in your life which are most consuming.

Sabbath asks questions of us – like:

  • what are the things in life which are most likely to be all consuming?
  • does the need to consume and the cycle of consumption ever get broken?
  • whats sustainable living look like in our homes and communities
  • what does it mean to rest

all these questions will have different answers for each of us – but hopefully they suggest a bigger picture of living somewhat counter to the dominiance in our culture of consumption, immediacy and individualism. How often do you come across the answer I’m really busyto the question ‘how are you going?’ its almost become a title of worth.. how is it that our world finds its significance in allowing people to run themselves into the ground – and use that as a measure of success?

Do you create a time each week to just be, to remember, to ponder, to relax? The whole concept of this ancient idea is to remember that we need perspective in our living… we need to remember to honor that which gives life, and to critique the pace of this world around us and its need for us to consume.

 Be still… stop… hear the wisdom offered in Psalm 64…

“be still and know that I am God”

whats ths idea of sabbath mean to you and how do you try to create balance? leave a comment!

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reading the signs

Posted: August 14, 2007 in reflections

“When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? [from luke 12]

 

does the world happen to you – or do you happen to the world? is it that simple, or is there a constant fusion of action & reaction?

i wonder how it is we read and interpret whats going on around us – the ‘signs’ as such. or perhaps we should ask how is it that we receive and understand messages. emotionally, physically, cognitively, intuitively? through touch, image, smell, music, story, poetry or other senses?

if we are to be spiritual people with some level of authenticity we need to interpret and read whats going on around us. We also need to understand how it is we receive and give messages.

Its one thing to look at the cloud blowing in over Mt Keira and think ‘its gonna rain’ – its another to be perceptive enough to be life giving to yourself and those around you. when a friend of mine is confronted with hostility or negativity instead of taking it personally he often asks a question like: what might be going on in their life for them to react that way?

 

We are bombarded with 1000’s of messages and signs everyday? which ones are important – which ones do you chose to absorb, which ones do you block?

which ones are life giving?

 

 

seeing god as a cow?

Posted: July 24, 2007 in reflections

Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow and to love him as they love their cow – they love their cow for the milk and cheese and profit it makes them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God when they love him for their own advantage.

Indeed, I tell you the truth, any object you have on your mind, however good, will be a barrier between you and the inmost truth.

 

Meister Eckhart, the 14th century mystic

neighbours part 2

Posted: July 11, 2007 in reflections

when i was writing the previous post i had in the back of my mind the current aust. governments immediate & heavy-handed approach to tackle social issues within indigenous communities in the NT. i was skeptical when i first heard of the move, particularly because the howard government hasn’t only decided to deem whats best for indigenous communities in the NT, but they have also taken the power off the NT government to govern in order to push their own agenda. No where else in Aust could this have happened [except the ACT] because as far as i’m aware the federal government has no jurisdiction to impose legislation like this within the states – only within the territories of australia. everywhere else in the country the states are left to resource, support, and implement policy. So why does howard and brough want to get their hands in on indigenous affairs so urgently – to the point that they’d use their federal power to override the authority and determination of the Northern Territory? one might suspect its a proactive attempt to demonstrate their leadership in the leadup to the election, another hot contender wonders what could possibly link the welfare or sexual abuse of indigenous children to the Aboriginal Land permit system.

when announcing their intentions, John Howard stated that this is our Katrina, creating a link to the hurricane disaster and the obvious social implications and issues that were exposed in southern usa in its aftermath. I was confused by such a statement – Howard wanted to tell us that this is of national interest, and so deemed it a national emergency – therefore giving him the power to act as he wished – but he did this by comparing it to a weather event?

On monday a MP from the Maori Party in New Zealand labeled Howard a ‘racist bastard’ for his intervention in the NT. Hone Harawira’s words were blunt and i doubt he would have got airplay in Australia if he hadn’t used them. but what he then went on to offer as a member of a first nation peoples is certainly insightful. Harawira picked up on Howards use of Katrina, and offered that perhaps his governments actions were far more interventionist like Iraq. He went on to say that this would not happen in NZ because such action would illicit violence. What a sad indictment on the indigenous people of australia that they are too peaceful.

so our neighbour across the tasman sounds the alarm bells. our actions here in australia haven’t gone unnoticed. in many debates about indigenous issues, status and place in australia we as a country often fall into us & them – one opinion piece in the age on sunday unfortunately highlights this too well. Terry Lane writes: “we may be as sentimental as we like about indigenous culture, but it is simply incompatible with real life and must change or be changed….Realistically there is no alternative to assimilation”. If Terry Lane had any idea about aboriginal culture he would understand that for example football – both league and afl have become for many as intricatly woven into its fabric as many other traditional elements. the point is that indigenous culture has been evolving for 1000’s of years, and kept doing so post 1788. Lisa Hall, a school teacher in central australia wrote a response to the age over Lane’s words, you can read it here. Clearly all we who understand ‘real life’ are the ‘us’, and those aboriginal people are the ‘them’. What nonsense!

i could write more, and more and more – and include the piece i heard on monday about Mal brough’s intentions to claim land in this affair. i could wonder why this has popped up now after indigenous communities rejected the 70 odd million dollors promised to them some months ago over a 99 yr lease.

if you want to read some more check out:

this piece in the smh

lateline transcript from 2 weeks ago

Monday’s westaustralian report on NT govt.

or NZ MP Harawira’s comments – or just google ‘howard racist bastard’!

neighbours

Posted: July 10, 2007 in reflections

whats a neighbour? who do you consider your neighbours? i remember once hearing a speaker of a forum offer great wisdom in defining ‘the neighbour’. essentially he said that the significance of a neighbour comes with the reality that we rarely get to choose who they are.

in this weeks lectionary reading jesus confirms a man’s belief that to gain life is to love god with your whole being and to love your neighbour as yourself.

the Dalai Lama during his recent visit to australia stated:

The concept of ‘us and them’ should now be deemed irrelevant. In ancient times ‘us and them’ was a reality because the destruction of our enemy was in our best interests for our survival. Today however according to the new reality, destruction of our neighbors means destruction of ourselves.

the neighbour can not be the target of our fear. the other – as ‘them’ – is redundant. no longer can the other be isolated from us, for when we do, we risk seeking scapegoats for our own fears and prejudices.

so who is the other? ultimately the other is the one we name as god. but also, the other is all of humanity bound up and united in the image of this god in human form – jesus. seeing ourselves in the bigger picture, as sharing our humanity and existence with billons of others around this diverse globe, begs us to look beyond ourselves, to shed our ego, and be motivated by humility and love.

so loving god, loving ourselves, and loving the other is essentially the same task, goal and process… it is the way we find meaning, develop compassion and grow in wisdom & understanding… it is the way we find life.

have you ever thought a solution to be to easy?

there’s a story about a leader of the army of the kingdom of aram named naaman. he was seen to be a good man, successful in his leadership, except one thing threatened him and especially his position & status. he suffered from leprosy.

now naaman’s wife was served by a slave from the kingdom of israel, and she said to naaman if only you would go to my country you would be healed. so the king of aram sent naaman to israel with extravagant gifts of gold, sliver and expensive garments. upon arrival the king of israel was threatened by the idea – not knowing how he could possibly find a cure for naaman, especially with the gifts bestowed to him. He feared the king of aram was setting him up for failure, and would thus seek to war against him.

enter a prophet named elisha. elisha told his king to be at ease for he had the solution. elisha sent a message to naaman telling him to wash in the jordon river 7 times. naaman was outraged – ‘what sort of prophet is this?’ he thought, why wont he even come see me? isn’t he going to call on the name of his god, touch my skin and heal me?’ naaman thought the rivers of his own country were at least as clean & fresh as the jordon, and dipping in it 7 times was surely nonsensical – he could have stayed at home. yet his servants said to him ‘naaman, if the prophet had told you to do something difficult you would have lept at it, why then don’t you just follow this simple command?’

so begrudgingly naaman dipped in the jordan 7 times…

 

i wonder how often we seek big solutions to our problems or the issues that confront us. we might seek a miricle fix rather than acknowledging that often we can be active in the process of healing, fixing, solving, & moving on in our own lives. we live in a world of professionalism, where the latest gadgets and hype of new technology or a new guru can overshadow our own intuition and the still small voice leading us to reconcile our own needs. perhaps sometimes the simplist option is just the best, and the plain advice is just the voice we should listen for.

so did naaman get healed? yep – you can check out the book of 2 kings chpt. 5

the demons we face:

Posted: June 19, 2007 in reflections

An idea: Lk 8

Have you ever read the reading from Luke about a guy who is demon possessed called Legion? Basically the story tells of this guy in absolute mayhem, Jesus calls the demons out of him and into a swine of pigs who then run and jump off a cliff into the sea… It got me thinking about 2 questions:

1) what are the demons that we and society face today?
Mental health; broken relationships; isolation; the need to ‘be right’; our egos; learnt & nurtured behaviours that we all know we have but are so difficult to rid ourselves of??? I’m sure we could all name more! I wonder what they look like more specifically to you.

2) what would you want to cast off the cliff?
What For me, at my worst I seem to need to justify myself, and rely on my ego – for some reason I need to get my point across, I feel I need to be right… I have some good ideas at why I’m like this and what I need to regularly do to try to limit it. So for me, today I’m wanting to throw my need for justification and my ego off that cliff – for they are my demons!