Archives For April 2014

Be Like a Seed…

April 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

 RISE UP

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despite the cynical.

Easter Sunday is an anticipation of Pentecost.

Karl Barth writes of the human response being one of ‘unconditional gratitude…because baptism of the Holy Spirit is the active and actualising grace of God. This is because humanity is now ‘free for decision. A decision that conforms to our liberation’ which has come about in the gift of reorientation handed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Barth, C.D IV.4.1, pp.33-3).

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Out and about today, traversing through back roads.

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We had a solid ride, this time around adding a few extra people.

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Not one of the standard Good Fridays, but it was worth taking the team out to fellowship with those God has brought us alongside.

Before we embarked I read out this word from Bonheoffer:

‘Good Friday and Easter – the days of God’s overpowering acts in history, acts in which God’s judgement and grace were revealed to all the world – are just around the corner. Judgement in those hours in which Jesus Christ, our Lord, hung on the cross; grace in that hour in which death was swallowed up in victory. It was not human beings who accomplished anything here; no God alone did it. He came to human beings in infinite love. He judged what is human. And he granted grace beyond any merit.’

– (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sermon in Barcelona 11th March 1928. God on is on the cross 2012:87)

 

 

I’ve heard a few quality covers of this classic protest song from Neil Young over the years (e.g.: Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam). Outside the original version, not a lot beats the energy Peter Furler and Third Day put into the tune by applying conviction {read: not just using it as a crowd pleasing filler} and their own distinct sound.

Since summer the idea of reclaiming a small landscape in our backyard, not only to rejuvenate it, but also to plant some food to help my family eat better, has been of huge interest to me.

So for the past three and half months we have been carefully planning the better use of our space.

There are limitations to this that have been beyond our control. So, we’ve walked alongside them to the best of our ability in order to achieve something of value, sustainability and usability. Part of doing this has included implementing ideas which helped to identify and then redefine the use of areas that seemed too small, or were just under organised.

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In truth in a lot of ways it has matured into a homeschool science project. For example: the outcomes of this project, not only directly assists our approach to homeschooling. It also provides an environment where our homeschoolers can study and experience nature, the importance of horticulture and experiment with some of the basic elements within agriculture.

Yesterday we arrived at the final part of that work. Accompanying this was the realisation that, now, it is going to be a matter of letting it grow.

Unfortunately, like most well programmed retail managers I inherited the struggle between active and passive participation i.e: I sometimes wrestle with patience and people pleasing, particularly when positive results are slow to materialise even if an objective has been achieved.

Thankfully, this kind of internal conflict  finds a resolution when I acknowledge the value of stepping back and ‘standing firm’ (Eph.6:13).

Stepping back does not mean losing ground or “letting go” or “taking a back-seat”.

To “let it go” implies “abdicating responsibility” or worse, it suggests dropping any duty of care assigned to me.

Nor does stepping back mean that I “release the garden”, or find some woefully poor excuse “under grace” to ignore my commitment to it.

After all, the garden still needs watering, weeding and pruning.

By taking a step back, I am re-evaluating and observing. This prudently precedes firmly standing on a pre-emptive movement towards, not away from further engagement.

Like transforming a garden and small, apparently unusable areas around our house, transforming space becomes a witness to the process of transformative grace.

If I take a perfectionist stand, the process is compromised; the foundation is weak. If I retain my right to do what I want at the insane pace at which I demand, or am pushed to go, the process is sabotaged; the foundation is weakened further. If I deny grace by refusing to recognise God’s role here then the attempt to reach for the objective ends in utter failure; the foundation is abandoned.

Instead, if I exercise an already present grace by inhaling God’s costly claim on my life, I find myself summoned to ‘stand firm’, only after I have done the best I can with what I have already received.

Out of this flows a response to grace. In other words an actualising of gratitude, and in due course joy, contentment and peace.

A  garden of abundance, tended, loved, redefined, reconciled, redeemed –  life deemed worthy of life, by the giver of life.

‘He knows he must deny himself for the man he needs to be…the burden here is sweet compared to Calvary’

–  (Marie Bellet, via Mrs C )

8th March 2017 079

‘Be the children of God. Let your walk and activity be the walk and activity of those who are thankful.’
– (Karl Barth, CD I.II:413)

The intriguing thing throughout this chapter is Barth’s focus on the importance of gratitude.Not a big quote from Barth, but one that expresses a lot.

In the second part of this statement Barth issues this caveat:

‘Not to do this, not to desire it, to hold back is to deny the position in which we are put, to deny our love to God and therefore
the fact that we are loved by Him, to deny in fact our very status as children.’ {note, this is to be distinguished from a Love for God}
(Ibid, 1938:413,414)

I haven’t exactly found my reading of ‘3. The Praise of God’ as comfortable as I have other chapters. The primary reason for this, I think, has been Barth’s use of repetition to reinforce his sometimes complex arguments against Natural theology.

Barth is careful to address issues surrounding the manipulation of scripture to serve the ideology of the day. For example: Love for our neighbour cannot be equated with love for God, as blurring Jesus’ commandments to love God and others would mean that our neighbour becomes god. A big reason for this is that there would no longer be a ‘qualitative distinction’ (S.Kierkegaard) between the infinite and the finite. According to Barth, we must remember that love to God cannot exist without love for our neighbour.

We ‘love our neighbour (who is our beneficiary and someone who is also afflicted) within the freedom of the Divine order, that our praise may be obedience’ (Ibid, 1938:432). As surprising as it is, Barth is still extremely relevant. For instance: we are experiencing a struggle against a totalitarian double standard. Seen in the practical application of absolute tolerance, and then at the same time a suppression of free speech. This also includes the exaltation of minorities not just for equality, but as a proclamation of power over against a larger majority. Often going beyond the fight for equality to then demand inclusion from a majority who has already made concessions that recognise at least the humanity associated within both groups.

Which brings me to one of Barth’s major points: In loving our neighbour we must not deify our neighbour.

We can only praise God first with words and deeds grounded on gratitude, and secondly in our actions towards our neighbour.

To and from whom we chose to either give or receive.

Blogga-versary

April 9, 2014 — 6 Comments

I almost missed posting something about it being one year since I started writing a blog about theology, art, politics, ministry…life. This blog is an extension of my reach to be part of a greater academic conversation about people like Karl Barth, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Political theology, theologically interesting poetry and a range of other areas I consider relevant to Christians in ministry. Whether that ministry is homeschooling, preaching etc.anniversary-1x

In total honesty I battle from time to time with the issue of even keeping this blog. I guess I can put that down to a ton of negative life experiences, issues with anxiety and the ever present struggle to answer lies with truth and allow Jesus Christ’s; i.e.: God’s grace to disrupt and dispel the darkness. Hence the title of this blog: Gratia Veritas Lumen – Grace, gratitude, truth and light.

what I call the ‘noise of social media’ and wonder if I am, hypocritically, contributing to that noise rather than pushing through it to communicate something of value. Don’t get me wrong here, I read a lot of blogs. I like a lot of what I read and also comment when I find something of significant worth that I think can add or hand out some encouragement towards the author.

All that points to this: I’m not going to blow my own trumpet about how many posts have received ‘x’ amount of views, or brag about what has trended the most on other social media sites.

Instead, I’ve chosen to mark the one year anniversary by simply saying thanks to all those encouragers who stopped by to read, comment, and or like what I have posted so far.