Saturday, 29 June 2013

Mission will mean getting upset

This week I have done the Live Below the Line challenge: £1 per person per day for food & drink for 5 days.  I did it partly for my own education, partly because I challenged my congregation to do it, but mostly to identify in some small way with the over 1 billion people who do not have the choice in the matter.

The day after, my system getting back to normal, I watched this film about the IF campaign - also on the subject of world hunger. At the end I found myself emotionally fatigued and crying. Not just because of the issue of world hunger, but also because of the broken people I had directly worked with and prayed for in the week.

That is the risk of identifying with people, and getting in amongst them (being incarnational, to use the technical jargon): we will get upset. God's mission cannot be done in a safe detached bubble - it gets alongside, it exposes, it shares the anguish.

Jesus did no less: Philippians 2:6f Jesus came among us, got alongside, exposed himself to the risks, shared the anguish (Jesus wept, longed for Jerusalem etc.). Mission will mean getting upset.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Mums are important too

Its easy to read the Old Testament as purely patriarchal: its about the blokes, who perform most of the action, and take just about all the key roles. I've even heard people cite the female leaders as 'unexplained exceptions' to an otherwise male-only rule.

Yes, there is lots of 'son of X', 'father of Y' kind of language throughout. The genealogies are basically male-lineage based - though look carefully and various women are mentioned even in these listings.

Read 2 Chronicles. From Rehoboam onwards just about each king has his mother's name specifically mentioned - in most cases part of the introductory formula used to usher in the next part of the story.

In other words the mums are important too. Yes Jewish reckoning goes by the male line, but for the dynasty of king David the female lineage must also be factored in.

God created male and female. Paul recognised the inter-dependence (see 1 Cor 11:11-12). The Old Testament bears this out.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The Effort is in the Waiting

Most of us know the story of the fall of Jericho (Joshua 6). The marching round for 7 days, and 7 times on the seventh day. Then a big shout, loads of noise, and the walls come down. The city is destroyed, victory is won, the obstacle of Jericho is removed.

A great military victory.

But where was the real effort put in? In the attack, in rushing in to destroy?

None of these: instead it went in to the quiet waiting (relatively - a few trumpets at the head of the procession) and marching around in circles. First for 6 days, and then on the seventh day (when anticipation must have been at bursting point) another 6 times of just plain and simple round and round walks.

Few of us want to do this waiting business - it feels like we are just going round in circles, not achieving anything. For us it takes effort!

Yet the effort is worth it. After waiting patiently on God the time to make a noise and to head towards your goal does come. God prepares the way, crumbling away the blocks that stood in the way, and His purposes can be achieved. Yes at that moment physical effort will be put in (no doubt fighting with swords etc.) ... but the real effort was in waiting on God in the first place.