As I was reflecting on the impact of the economic crisis and its implications for us as we await the coming of Christ during this Advent season, this quote from Brian McLaren’s book Everything Must Change, came to mind.
A right understanding of God and faith can train people to hold their heads hig, to doubt the lies of a dysfunctional society and to work for its transformation. But a misguided understanding can be an opiate that keeps their heads down in submission or desperation so they continue to serve the societal system that is destroying them, believings its lies, performing according to its self destructive script. (Everything Must Change p29)
I think that this is a wonderful time for all of us to reflect on the transformation that God wants to bring about not just in our personal lives but in our society too. Can we imagine a society in which everyone receives a just and equitable wage for their labours, a world in which the hungry are fed and those that now hoard their resources share generously and joyously with those who need them. Can we imagine a world in which all are provided for and all are treated as image bearers of the living God. If we cannot imagine such a world at this time when we await the coming of Christ then we will never learn to live into it and we will never see the economic systems of greed and avarice which have precipitated this crisis change.
I have been yawning too much and my brain is frozen so thought that I would just share a couple of interesting news items from CNN
First there are more weird and wonderful things out there in our world than we ever imagined.
A rat believed to be extinct for 11 million years, a spider with a foot-long legspan, and a hot pink cyanide-producing “dragon millipede” are among the thousand newly discovered species in the largely unexplored Mekong Delta region. Read more
Second something more than a face lift with a purpose.
This was just too interesting to pass up especially when the outside temperature is well below freezing and I am yawning and longing for a nap. Evidently the primary purpose of yawning is to cool your brain. Read more
I am sitting here at our dining room table looking out on a cold crisp Seattle morning. The Olympics are covered with snow, the sun ois shining and I have a pot of soup cooking on the stove. What more could one ask for on a beautiful winter’s day like this.
For some reason the beautiful morning reminded me of the Christmas carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold;
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.
Here are a couple of You Tube renditions of the carol that give very different but equally moving images –
one of ancient images from the life of Christ,played by Leigh Nash and Sixpence None Richer
the other with modern images taken from Grey’s Anatomy.
To be honest, maybe because I am a doctor by training, I found the images from Grey’s anatomy far more compelling. Anyway both of these videos really gave me a sense of the Advent of Christ this morning
Is bailing out the automobile industry really the right thing to do? I know there are thousands if not millions of people whose livelihoods are tied to the industry but are we just setting ourselves up for a worse mess in a few years time? Here is a thought provoking article by the New York Times foreign affairs columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner, Thomas Friedman
someone in the mobility business in Denmark and Tel Aviv is already developing a real-world alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if this alternative to gasoline-powered cars will work, but I do know that it can be done — and Detroit isn’t doing it. And therefore it will be done, and eventually, I bet, it will be done profitably. And when it is, our bailout of Detroit will be remembered as the equivalent of pouring billions of dollars of taxpayer money into the mail-order-catalogue business on the eve of the birth of eBay.
Here at the Mustard Seed House we do morning and evening prayers together 8:30 am and 9 pm each day except Saturday. I thought that some of you might be interested in joining us. We change these prayers with each season of the year. You can download the prayers here for Advent. We use them in conjunction with the daily scripture readings from the book of Common Prayer. Download here
Some of you may have noticed that I have been rather silent over the last few days. That is because Tom and I along with our golden retriever Bonnie have been away on retreat. This is something that we try to do each year during Advent. We book into a doggie friendly motel up at Anacortes and spend 2 days reflecting, listening to God and refocusing. We look back over our journals for the last few months, read scripture and spend time in quiet reflection and contemplation interspersed with times of sharing and listening to each other.
This has been a very good retreat for both of us and I personally have returned with a renewed sense of commitment to God’s call on my life and renewed zeal to live into God’s kingdom ways. Particularly during these turbulent times in which we live, I find that this discipline more than anything renews my trust in God and confidence in God’s love and compassion.
As I spent time in peace and quiet I realized how easy it is for me to become inwardly focused and disconnect from the insecurities and fears of those around me. This is a time for me to engage the world not ignore it. It is a time to live into God’s love and not allow the fears of this world to overcome me. It is a time to encourage others to live out of God’s generosity not out of the world’s scarsity.
As I read back over my journals I was reminded of NT Wright’s assertion that the language of God’s new world is the language of love and as Jean Vanier explains
“To love is a way of looking, of touching, of listening to all.” (Jean Vanier: Essential Writings, p44).
And that of course brings me to John 13:35
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Surely this is what our faith should be about. Maybe then those outside the faith would sit up and take notice.
My plan for the rest of Advent is to continue reflecting on practical ways in which I can be God’s compassionate response in this challenging time and then get out and get involved. What are the practical ways in which you are being God’s compassionate response to others at this time?