Tag Archives: theology

frustration (+beauty=?)

Last November I enrolled to do my final subject of my graduate degree (in missions).  I enrolled with great excitement knowing this symbolised the beginning of the end of a long slog of part-time study, most of which I have loved, but honestly, am now quite ready to have finished.  So imagine my intense frustration at finding out that I have already done the class I’ve enrolled in (they changed the name and no one picked up on the fact I had done it under the previous heading) and my only option is to do a basic theology class.  I want/need to finish this semester and am unwilling to drag this thing out any further.  So I am stuck doing a first year class. I have nothing against the class per sea, apart from the fact that the text book could actually have been written by Mickey Mouse (och!) and the point of studying (for me) is to challenge myself and push myself – a basic class won’t do that.  Even the Librarian laughed at me when I told him what text books I needed and told me it was okay, I could catch up on sleep during lectures!

I know this sounds very self-involved and that I am suffering from an extreme superiority complex – I promise you – I’m not.  In the last few years I have been lucky enough to study Urban Missions, Pauline Theology, Creation Care, the History of Mission – all very focused, specific and involved subjects, which is what you want at a Graduate level.  ‘Biblical Studies’ (my new class) is ‘a basic overview of the Old and New Testaments’.   Who knows, maybe getting back to some of the foundational stuff will be good for the soul.  And perhaps it will cause me to push harder and go deeper because that’s what I’m use to.  I think part of my frustration is that I had hoped to finish on a bit of high – doing a big, chunky subject I could really sink my teeth into.  It is going to be an interesting semester!

To balance out my frustration, I have been flipping through this beautiful blog called House of Turquoise,and I feel much better!

(Note to self: in the presence of frustration, taking the time to recognise/acknowledge/value that which is beautiful brings a degree of balance and peace…hmmm).


high’s and low’s

It has been a strange week.  A week of highs and lows in the extreme.  I hesitate to spend time talking about the ‘lows’ …except to say that life is like that, droughts and storms, pain and joy. 

So instead let me tell you about one of the ‘high’s’…my darling daughter turned 4 this week.  It is hard to believe that my ‘little girl’ is 4.  She is beyond beautiful and her ability to state the truth and observe grace is astounding.  Celebrating her and her life is a joy and privilege.  It is also a lot of fun. We gave her a keyboard for her birthday and ever since we have been graced by concerts and performances (partnered by a 2-year-old dancing).   It also explains the birthday cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have also noticed this last week or so that when things are confusing and painful, quickly followed by hilarious and fun, that I tend to gravitate to those things around me that are solid and familiar (even more so than normal).   Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ is getting serious air time, old books are being dusted off and re-read, Amelie is getting worn out and old friends are receiving late night text messages (sorry!).  While life is about the highs and lows, it is also about the things which bring comfort and consolation. 

I have been trawling through the bible looking for some answer, some insight, some of this comfort and consolation, and am yet to find anything concrete…apart from this… Who I am, what I feel and what I experience does nothing to change the fact that Jesus is Lord.  His Lordship is not dependent on my beliefs or my recognition. He simply is Lord.  I am beginning to understand that Christ’s Lordship is both static and dynamic–- it simply is, and that it also moves, twists and turns to influence every part of life, and part of life is committing to finding it.  It is not simple, nor is it a complete answer…but it is a start.                

 

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the centre of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. (Ephesians 1:20-23, The Message)

 


mum

I was told, before I was a mother, that to be a mother, was to spend your life on your children. That life revolves around them, through them, for them. That being a mum is a ministry of the highest form. That when you have kids your job, ministry, life and all becomes about raising them.

My experience of being a mum is more varied, more emotional, more painful, and more brilliant than I expected. My girls are two of are the funniest, wittiest, creative, beautiful people I know. They make me laugh more than anyone else and they make me cry more than any other anyone else. I love being a mum.

But I have struggled with the idea that my primary and majority role/identity/meaning for life, is as ‘mum’. In one of my lectures this weekend the lecturer talked about the idea that not only is it possible, but even Biblical, to find a healthy balance between raising children and being involved with a ministry. While I had seen this modelled, I had never heard anyone teach this specifically, particularly in reference to being a woman.

This taps into so many issues: women in leadership, identity, priorities, social and personal expectations.

There is a lot to think about.

This concept did two things for me: it whispered freedom and shouted confusion.

The idea that I can be a mum, a good mum, and also find a way to respond to the things in my heart that I believe God has birthed and grown, is startling and revolutionary. To a large degree I had resigned myself to being on the periphery at my most involved. But what if there was more?

For so long my identity was tied up in ministry and what I did in under the banner of ‘serving the church’. And I have spent a long time and travelled a lengthy distance to discover who I am apart from what I ‘do’. And now all of this needs to be addressed in light of the idea that pursuing the ‘God things’ in balance with the stage of life I find myself in (ie. being a mum) is possible and ok.

This, I am sure, is going to be an ongoing dialogue…. (and now back to listening to my lecturer…!)


essay (again)

IMG_5553I have to admit, study is a struggle this semester, primarily because there is just so much going on at the moment.  Between now and Christmas we have an interstate wedding, a 4 year old’s birthday, in-laws move to the country, sister moves back to Vic (from the NT), a family camp, kinder duties and activities, a dance concert, book club, church, and… and… and… ! And study!  I really just need to focus and as a dear friend says, ‘suck it up’ and get on with it.  My major essay this semester will look at the following question:

This essay will explore both the Reformation and the post Reformation experience of mission in the light of the new paradigm that came with the Reformation.

Hmm…if anyone has any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to comment!


Llull

I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that I may have actually evolved a little in regards to study.  This semester we have to post one of our essays on-line for the rest of the class and open it up for discussion/thoughts/questions/ideas.  Previously I would have dreaded this, felt nauseated by the concept and avoided it to the last possible moment.  However I posted an essay on Friday (The Life and Ministry of Ramon Llull) and am actually quite disappointed that only 1 classmate has responded (as yet).  I am quite keen to hear people’s thoughts and am looking forward to their input. 

Why the change in attitude? I am still self-conscious about how and what I write and get quite anxious when people read my work.  So why the change?

I am not sure exactly why but I think part of it lies in the essay topic, and part of it lies in realising the wealth of experience and knowledge the people I study with have.   

I had not heard of Ramon Llull up until I had to write this essay, he is quite the enigma in Christian history.  Researching his life and ministry was fascinating.  Llull was a prolific writer whose abilities stretched to many genres.  There is no complete catalogue of Llull’s writing however there is over 280 titles recorded ranging from poetry, songs, autobiographies, doctrinal thesis, books and letters.  Llull’s most renowned work was a method he developed called Ars generalis ultima, The Ultimate General Art, which was essentially a debating tool to be used for converting Muslims to Christianity.  The document was a theological reference by which a reader could introduce an argument or question about the Christian faith and then be directed to the appropriate page to find the answer.  Llull’s methodology and style was revolutionary as it developed the notion of applying logic to science or philosophy, or any number of other disciplines, to demonstrate the truth of the Christian God.  I think I am excited to share a little bit of Ramon Llull’s life with people and am keen to hear how, or if, they found him as interesting as I did (I hope so!).

Once again I also find myself in a class full of interesting and intelligent people who I am growing in respect for.  It is lovely to journey with a group of people who are committed to the process and to learning.  Slightly intimidating, but mostly lovely!


notes

I spoke at church (Ranges Community Church) this morning about a topic I am attempting to learn more about and integrate into my life – care of creation.  Particularly apt because today was National Tree Planting Day.  The following is some of my sermon notes (requested by Scott).  Somehow I also managed to find a way to use a Dora the Explorer DVD – that’s what happens when you spend most of your time with a 2 year old and a 3 year old!

The prevailing understanding of biblical texts and Christian traditions has been defined by its concentration on the relationship between humanity and God.  As a result there has been little attention to the environment in which this relationship takes place.  A close look at Scripture reveals that the natural world is also in relationship with God and must be included in a discussion of discipleship and God’s salvation purposes.

We need to think of the earth as God sees the earth.

It becomes increasingly clear that the Scriptures demonstrate God as being intimately involved in the natural world.

All of God’s creation is important to Him, down to the last sparrow and blade of grass.  The story of mankind in the bible begins in a garden and ends in a restored garden.  The first commission to God’s people is found in the opening chapters of Genesis to be caretakers of creation. 

There are lots of moments when God commits and recommits himself to creation and the redemption of creation and caring for the environment.

The Green Bible.  There are 490 references to heaven and 530 references to love in Scripture.  There is, however, over 1000 that refer to earth or creation.

Within the covenant found in Genesis 9 and because of this covenant we realise that God thinks that creation is important.  We realise how precious God considers life to be – all life – and how much God treasures his creation of earth. 

There can be no doubt that God is concerned with, involved with, and places value on creation.  All living creatures have inherent value for they have been created by God.

The bible clearly teaches that non-human creation has intrinsic value simply because it was created by God, not due to its usability or subservience to humans.  God loves the world (John 3:16). 

The non-human elements have value because the Creator of the cosmos deems them necessary for life.  God’s concern embraces not only individual men, women and children, but also the physical and biological environment which sustain their lives, and the social, economic, political and intellectual structures that shape the forms of their existence.

Creation care, in practical terms, includes making lifestyle decisions that do not put unnecessary demands on the environment and working towards renewing and respecting the earth.  Creation care theology recognises that Christ’s redemption reaches to all of creation and that God is intimately involved in the earth.

Finished by looking at my ‘Personal Theology of Care of Creation’ that I had to write for a class last semester which can be found here https://measuredwords2.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/oops/.


toothfairy

The ridiculous tooth has gone and that’s really all I wish to say about that, but I did have an interesting moment while waiting for the dentist to pull the thing out. 

The dentist put the injection’s in to deaden my gum and he had to use quite a bit.    In fact so much that I actually felt the anesthetic moving through my face and into my eye which resulted in loosing the sight in my right eye.  

I had a little panic.   

The dentist sat me up in the chair and explained that the injections deaden the nerves and can sometimes reach the eye – but not to worry, my eye sight would return in 20 minutes or so (!).  He said he would be back in a minute when the anesthetic had worked, and he left me alone for a while. 

So while I was sitting there, by myself, waiting for my eyesight to return and for the dentist to return to pull out my tooth, having a little panic, I started to pray.  And the prayer sounded something like this…’Please give me peace, please let the tooth come out easily, please let this be quick….’ and repeat. 

…And then I thought, ‘why does this get to be easier for me than anyone else?  God doesn’t love me more than anyone else.’   

My assumption was that because I am a Christian that I should have it a bit easier and that Jesus would come and make the process less painful.  …because I am a Christian… 

I may acknowledge the Lordship of Christ and choose to align myself with him, but that doesn’t mean he loves me more than someone who doesn’t.  And if in the process of aligning myself with Christ means that I give a degree of authority to the Gospels than I am left with no doubts that Christ’s face is forever facing those who don’t know him.  As is his love. 

There seems to be a very fine balance in Scripture between God’s blessing for those who acknowledge him and the responsibility that comes with that relationship.  And there is an inordinate number of Scriptures which proclaims God’s focus on the lost, the broken, those who don’t know him.  I don’t want my faith to be about pressing a button (ie. saying the right words) and expecting a big old bucket of blessing (or peace, or grace, or painlessness) to come down from on high.  It has to be more than that. 

The prayer that followed, while still waiting for the dentist, was something like this, ‘This sucks, lets get it over with, I know You’re here’.