Encourage Each Other To Be Rebellious

This is another thought that arose in my head from the Lapidus conference on Saturday 10th December. It came about when we were asked to give words about what Lapidus was all about but again I felt, like Ubuntu, that is related as much to Christianity as it did to therapeutic writing for well-being.

not_of_this_world__by_kevron2001-d77ytspJesus said we were meant to be “in the world but not of the world” which sort of, to me, means that we are to be rebellious to the things that the world can take for granted – like putting self first, wanting for us, fear, anxiety, etc. I am not going to put down Christians who worry or are anxious because I know way too many who really are amazing followers of Jesus but who do worry, suffer from anxiety and from depression, have to deal with fear on a regular basis. But I also see these many of these people fighting it all the way. They don’t lie down to the fact that they suffer with these things but they work toward it not happening. I also see this in people who are not followers of God too, who will not let these things overwhelm them even if they are bed-bound, taking tablets, struggling. They are rebelling all the way against these things.

We all need to be rebelling against injustices, fears, greed, the negative things that stop 5c021dcf4ca432874eab2b4b8db7efd5others and ourselves from reaching our potential. I suppose it is why I want to encourage others with using words for well-being. I want to show how this can be a tool to help rebel against the world.

I feel like there is a bit of a rebelling against the system going on with the way people are voting at the moment; with this lean to the far right. How should we respond to this rebellion? Not by ignoring it. Not by being fearful of it. Not by being rude to those who vote this way or think this way. To rebel against this we need to be moving in the opposite spirit. We need to be modelling love, acceptance, justice, peace.

So I go back to my first point – as Christians we should be encouraging each other to be rebellious. Too often we don’t. Too often we hide in our churches – whether big or small, loud or quiet – and keep going with the same old same old. I know I am guilty of this. I 6218447need to encourage my fellow Christians, with the tools I have – which is my writing – to think about how they look at others, to be welcoming, to not fear, to be supportive, to be counter-cultural. Sometimes I think there are more people who do not attend church and are not followers of God who are more counter-cultural than Christians. Many are out there feeding people not just over Christmas by all year, are working on ways to support others, to share news openly of the good as well as the bad that goes on, who have time to stop and chat to the old, the lonely, the smelly and the sick.

So I will do my bit over this season. I am hoping that the words we are using in the play I have instigated to be performed at our local church will make people think about how they really view Christmas. It is the bit I can do. And I do hope that I can encourage people to rebel a bit and change the world one little piece at a time with the talents they have. We can’t all invite homeless people to our houses, not just cos not everyone has the space, but some of us just aren’t able to do it because we aren’t made that way. But another way of rebelling, I think, is to not feel condemned that I’m not doing that but to make sure I use the talents I have, the time I have, the situation I am in, to rebel just a bit from the culture I am in.

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It says it CLEARLY in the Bible

bible-promises-smallOh my! How often have I heard that? I have studied Reformation History too so as well as hearing it in churches since I “became a Christian” 24 years ago I have also read it. I did get in to a bit of a discussion about it at a group we meet with on a Thursday evening. What I wanted was a “where does it say this so clearly?” I know I have been totally guilty of it. I still go in repentance to God regarding a relationship I had with a young man who had started seeing a girl. He was a Christian, she was seeking, he wanted to date her, I firmly told him know and clearly showed him passages in the Bible that made this relationship wrong. What happened? He stopped attending the group that I was a leader of. He did start dating the girl. And I do not know what happened from then because he moved away. I now feel that what I said was naive and not properly thought through.

But yesterday it all came to me very clearly how dangerous this can be – using the Bible to clearly tell us things. I had the privilege of being able to pray with a girl who was running prayer-810x250away from being forced into an arranged marriage. As I have shown before I am very good at making presumptions so I had decided she was Muslim, etc. Oh No! She is a Christian. Her parents are Christians. In fact she said her father was a missionary. Her family are from Taiwan though she was brought up in Canada. For her parents the Bible clearly says that they are to choose a bride for their child. In fact she even saw this as correct and proper. What she was running away from was the fact that she did not want to get married to this man and so her family were trying to coerce her into the relationship. I am presuming they could clearly see that it was ok to coerce their daughter into marrying a man of their choosing. Maybe like many of the things I read in the times of the Reformation, they were doing it for what they saw as the right reasons. (And I googled “Christian arranged marriages” and there are a lot of sites out there who are very pro arranged marriage!!)

Often we try as modern “enlightened” Christians to distance ourselves from the Crusades, for the burnings of both Catholic and Protestants during the Reformation, of Christians having slaves, by saying that they did not believe properly or they weren’t proper Christians – whatever that might mean. But actually if one reads the writings of the time these people could quote the Bible and say that ‘the Bible clearly says …’

the-mystery-of-godWe need to beware when we say the Bible clearly says that in fact there are many things in there that it does not clearly say. Much of this is to do with us not have the original texts in front of us, and we never will. Some of it is because words change over time. And some of it, I think, is because God is a mystery, and wants to remain that way. I believe He is seeking relationship with us, which means we must converse with Him. Ok there are some people who have been married a long time who can say “my spouse would clearly say …” but even at times they can be taken by surprise!

Let the mystery of God reign within us and not keep wanting to have clear answers.

Wait!

21132434-coastal-foamy-seawater-surface-after-the-storm-polluted-dredged-from-the-seabed-sand-stock-photoI’ve been pondering this word all week. I believe God has given me a picture of me being like sand on the sea bed after a storm and that I am just to wait until things settle, find peace in who I am and where I am. I love it but …

And here is the big but … for how long? It got me thinking about Jesus’s disciples waiting in the upper room. We all know the rest of the story. We know how long they had to wait and what happened next but they didn’t. Jesus told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit. Yet we also read that when He first appeared to them He breathed the Holy Spirit on to them. I wonder how many of them wondered what they were waiting for! But also I wonder how many of them didn’t wait and just went off and did. You know at this point they know Jesus has upperroom777711risen from the dead and that He says that by following Him they will be connected to God the Father. So … what was there to wait for? Again remember we know the end of the story they didn’t when they went to wait. They did not know that the Holy Spirit that would come then would give them the power to have the courage to go out and defy the authorities, to risk death for what they believed in. It is easy to say that this manifestation of the Holy Spirit helped them heal, etc but when Jesus sent the 77 out whilst he was still alive they came back saying that they had been able to heal and cast out demons. What more did they want? And yet 120 of them waited and …

There is a great deal of waiting in this journey, so much unknowing. There are whole seasons when they feel impatient and confused about why they can’t find the place they are seeking so diligently. Yet it is the very journey through the shadows that is required to make the desired discovery. – From Abbey of the Arts email about Brendan the Navigator – May 15th 2016

The above quote came in Sunday’s email from Abbey of the Arts. It talked about Brendan dancing-brendan-the-navigatorthe Navigator who set off on a peregrinatio, a journey with no direction just trusting that God would lead. In his journey he goes round in circles a lot and realise at the end that he has to let go of self to really see God, and of course sees God in where he is. Yet he sees more. He is hungry in his wanderings and his waitings and his going in circles to wait for what God will reveal.

At the beginning of the year I did a few journallings and blogged on them about the vision and the expectation of things but it feels like there is a waiting for something. It does feel like the journeying through the shadows but for what and for how long. I know this sounds strange when I can say that our room rentals are going amazingly. We have bookings on both rooms through till September. But I know that the room rentals are only a stepping stone to fund this waiting period. I wonder how the disciples funded their waiting period? Who paid for the room they were in? Did they sleep there? Who paid for their food? 120 people is a lot to feed each day! Or did some of them only turn up the day before because it was a celebration time and got the same gift of the Holy Spirit? So many details not told!

So for many this time of Pentecost is a time of excitement, of giving praise for the waiting-for-godbeginnings of the Christian church, for me it has been a time of really looking at these amazing people who were willing to wait and wait for an undetermined time not knowing what would happen next. This waiting is not like waiting for Christmas, or your birthday, or a holiday. Then you know when the date will be. You can count down to it. What would it be like if you didn’t know when something was going to happen and then still waited?

I wonder if the disciples wondered if they would be there forever? I can associate with that. I do wonder if I will be here in this resting/waiting place forever. But then I feel that I have to be willing to accept that as maybe those early disciples did. Maybe they were more than content to just wait because Jesus had told them to?

Friendship – as in Real Friendship

I read this article by Alansi Morissette (Ask Alanis Morissette: since I’ve been ill, I’ve lost contact with many friends) this morning and it brought back memories of a friend who got abandoned by her friends because life was too tough her and they couldn’t cope. It made me cry again and not just her hurt at what she had gone through that they couldn’t cope but my own hurts that I was the only one left standing with her. I did try to tell them that if we stood with our friend together then we could help each other with the crazy stuff she was saying and doing. By standing with her together we could stand with each other together.

aid420832-719px-resume-a-friendship-with-a-long-lost-friend-step-4In the article Alansi says “Your friends aren’t responsible for cheering you up, but they can certainly make dark times more tolerable, even humorous.” I was just going to repost the whole article on FB with the line  “Why can’t we all be true friends to each other?” but there was so much more I felt I had to say.

I know I have written blogs before around the thoughts of  Jesus’ saying “love your neighbour as yourself” but what came to me from this article was – if we can’t be there for our friends can we really be there for ourselves, or do we when we are in pain and hurting hide from ourselves, shut it away in a place and just go. I know of one young man who does that. He’s shut away his pain, won’t talk about it, but is going round causing heartbreak to others. As always I am led back to that place of wondering, of wondering whether those who turn away from the hurt in others, from the sickness in others, actually turn away from it in themselves. I also wonder because this saying of Jesus starts with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength” whether those who turn away really want to love God with all they have? And surely if you love God with all your are, or even with only a part of your heart, mind and strength surely you would be able to stay with someone as they say crazy things, not say anything, just need someone to sit with them?

aid420832-719px-resume-a-friendship-with-a-long-lost-friend-step-3I do struggle now because there are miles between me and a few friends that I have stood with and at times texting or emailing are not enough – not for them or for me. There are times when what is needed is just to sit. Yes that old thing of sitting and being. With my friend I mentioned at the beginning of this piece we would laugh and cry together. It didn’t change what she had to journey through but I’d like to think it made the dark times more tolerable.