Friday, April 30, 2010

Asking the impossible...

When Jesus commands us to love one another "Just as I have loved you." he is not talking about the feigned affection that often passes for love within the faith community. Jesus is demanding the genuine article, that is the love that he has always shown for us. Is this even possible???

If I attempt this on the basis of purely human strength then the obvious answer is "NO!"

So that leaves me with the only source of real love being God himself. The love demonstrated and made flesh in Jesus. The love given to me as a fruit of the Holy Spirit who resides with me and equips and empowers me to live as a child of God.
Even then the task seems daunting.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Are you listening???

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. John 10:27

Hearing and listening are not the same. We hear sounds all the time, unless we are deaf. Everything from the sound of a siren to the slam of a door to a conversation in another room. Sometimes we hear the wind or the rain. At times it is the sound of birds. If you are affected with an inner disorder such as tinnitus then you are constantly hearing a ringing sound or buzzing noise inside your head. But hearing is not listening. All the sounds I have mentioned can fill the background of our day. We may not even be conscious of them they are so much a part of our daily routine.

Listening on the other hand requires us to pay attention. We have to hear the sound, take it in, process it and then act on it. So a conversation in another room is nothing, but if you are home alone and suddenly hear voices in another room of the house you begin to listen and listening can create all sorts of reactions. The sound of wind and rain may simply be part of the background, but if you start to listen and you note that the wind is fairly strong or that the rain is coming down quite hard then suddenly it affects your decisions and choices.

So it is with God. When Jesus talks about his sheep 'listening' to him and following him, John, the gospel writer, is asking us, the readers, a question. Quite simply...are you listening to Jesus?

It's a good I listening to him or am I simply hearing what he has to say and going my own way???

Friday, April 16, 2010

Everything old is new again....

Simon Peter said to the others, "I am going fishing."
"We will come with you," they told him. So they went out in a boat, but all that night they did not catch a thing. John 21:3

I find it interesting that despite the amazing events surrounding Easter...darkened sky, earth quake, dead being raised and then ultimately Jesus' resurrection from the dead and his personal appearances...the disciples go fishing. It is almost as if everything got to be too much for them so they went back to what was
Often I do this when things get too much. Go do something safe. Something familiar. It is like a buffer that protects me from asking too many questions or reflecting on how events are impacting on my life.
So along comes Jesus and once again disturbs the disciples routines. After catching no fish all night, Jesus suggests that they put the net down on the 'right side' of the boat. Suddenly the net is full and they can't pull it in.
There are a couple of things at work here. The disciple's effort produced no results, but fishing by the command of Jesus brings a rich catch. Is this a reminder that what we endeavour to do in our strength is bound to fail and that only in the strength of the Lord are we truly effective? Or is this a reminder that life, like a lake, is deep and beyond our control? If we are dissatisfied and empty with life then maybe we have let our net down in the wrong place. Listening to God will help us to find the 'right' place and there the net of our life will be full and rich.
Just a thought.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

There are times you wonder...

I think I am in the right frame of mind for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Betrayal...ignorance...fear...loss...death...doubt. So the sermons should be spot on if I let them come from the heart. Easter could be interesting though. In some ways it is harder to make the transition through the story without there being a physical death and resurrection to witness. What we have is just the story. But if I look within myself I find all the elements of the story being lived out. The constant compromise that leads to betrayal of faith, of self, and of Jesus. The ignorance that allows me to remain complacent and uncommitted. The fear of rejection or of the unknown which makes me cling to habitual behaviours and lifestyle. The loss of hopes, dreams, purpose, love. The death...well my own death is coming soon enough...but the stories of death all around the world...Haiti, Chile, Russia, US, Australia. And doubt?? Doubt! A doubt big enough to be evidence that somewhere in there lives a faith. Just right the disciples...I am wondering just what is going on!!! So what is new?