Archives For March 2015

Three pierced.

Wrists. Feet. Side.

Three days.

Bruised, whip-shredded. Dead. Crucified.

Three words.

Jesus is alive!

Holy Week_three nails_RL2015_2

‘For God so loved the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him…This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil…But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
– (John 3:16-21, ESV)

Or, as summarised astutely by Karl Barth in C.D. II:1, page 274:

‘God does not will to be God without us, and He does not will that we should be without Him’

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{My original haiku, before I had the idea of pushing myself to only use 16 words, can be read over on my instagram page: here}

 

 …

 

Enveloping condensation, are you up for conversation?
Past the trees, through the green.
Emblazoned forests.
Embracing fog. [ii]

Emblazoned Forests_RL2015_GVL

Connected reflection:

Dietrech Bonhoeffer, 3rd Tuesday of Lent, 1929:

‘When we have fully renounced making something of ourselves, we fall completely into God’s arms and what I call this-worldliness, namely, living in an abundance of tasks, questions, successes and failures, experiences, and helplessness.
We then take seriously no longer our own suffering, but the suffering of God in the world. We watch with Christ in Gethsemane. This, I think, is faith.
One thing remains clear or at least sensed; doubt and temptation about the meaningfulness of being cast to and fro, of being at the mercy of things, will not cease as long as we remain focused on ourselves, as long as in one form or another “the Other” does not step into our lives’  [ii]

With the way things have been for me and my family lately I haven’t had a whole lot of time to keep up with my Bonhoeffer readings for Lent. I’ve also been focusing a lot on taking our home schoolers through the gospel of Luke for home-school, hoping to complete the journey by the end of term one. So, believe it or not, I kind of landed on this third-Tuesday-of-Lent reflection perfectly.

I like a lot of what Bonhoeffer has to say here.

He is pushing through the worthlessness of things that we seem to take our worth from. Encouraging us to look towards the “Other”. Loving neighbour, not as another god, but loving through God. The latter who, through his constant covenants and promises, emboldens us in His revelation emblazoned in Jesus Christ. Here God proves His worthiness (not that He too, but chooses as Barth says, ‘decisively’ to do so) and thus becomes the only true living source of worth and worthiness for us.

 


[i] RL2015

[ii] Bonhoeffer, D. Third Tuesday of Lent in Reiss, J. (Ed.) 2012 God is on the Cross Westminster John Knox Press, (pp.46-47)

 

‘There is no safety if we venture an inch over the boundary line; indeed, little allowances are more dangerous than greater compliances, since conscience does not receive a wound. Yet we are undone, and fall little by little.’
– (Charles H. Spurgeon, 1883) [i]

Slippery Slope

 

 


Source:

[i]Spurgeon, C.H. 1883, ‘Flowers from  Puritan’s Garden:Augustine’s Story’ p.68

Image credit: Photo is mine. It is of a river walk nearby.

Five Two

March 20, 2015 — 5 Comments

Fish photo_RLampard2015Two weeks ago my father passed away. He was not an easy man to connect with. So, we weren’t close.

Anything I write about it will inevitably fail to convey the reality of what would be justifiably labelled as a “failed” relationship.

No words I choose to use can adequately describe what kind of person he was. Nor can they fairly present the two-sides of the damaged legacy that informed and followed a lot of the choices he made.

I’ve looked for ways to write about it and have nothing. Hence the simple reflective posts over the past month.

My words seem to stubbornly sit in a void. It’s not like I have nothing to say, it’s just that there isn’t a lot that could be said.

Then there’s the added complication of a what should be said, but needs to be said carefully, at the right time and to the right people.

What I can say is that although grace redefined our relationship as father and son, one-sided relationships are hard to maintain. As a result it never was what it should, or could have been. I lament that. What I see, however, and am thankful for is how grace moved through forgiveness to empower me to work with what I could do instead of what he or others expected and demanded that I should do.

Subsequently, we were able to connect in a healthy way, establishing and asserting boundaries; speaking on the phone almost every month for the past ten years, interacting with him online, sending him care packages, driving to speak and pray with him the week that he died.

As much as I would like to take the credit for this. With the dysfunction that existed there, such contact was and remains an act of God.

It’s what recently attracted me to an event that Luke mentions.

The people who had come out to hear Jesus preach needed to eat and the disciples were getting antsy. Jesus steps up and works with what he has. No magic. No fairy dust. Just an incomprehensible act of grace that apprehends us.

Challenging us to see and understand that He can make possible that which otherwise seems to be impossible.

‘Jesus directed the disciples saying, ”Sit them down in groups of about fifty.” They did what he said, and soon had everyone seated. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread and fish to the disciples to hand out to the crowd.’
– (Luke 9:14-17, The Message)

Photo credit: Mine. It is cropped from a larger photo that features a sculpture tucked away into a wall near the Manning River in Taree, NSW.

Niebuhr’s Caveat

March 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

Reinhold Niebuhr’s warning, given in 1945 is encased in his discussion about the necessary dialectic of mercy and justice; the peace of God, authentic Christian forgiveness and not confusing inner peace with stoic detachment. He also lays out in some detail the importance of recognising that we cannot fully comprehend God, but are fully apprehended by Him in Jesus Christ.

Iron Cannon

As far as this ”warning” (which is really more a caveat because ”warning” can wrongly imply that the prophetic is involved here) goes, it is certainly closer to Orwell’s ‘1984’, than P.D James’ brilliant ‘Children of Men’. However, it is fairly evident to me that modern Western culture is already moving over into this ‘sea of relativity; into complete anarchy’ with the totalitarian rule of chaos that is able to deceive so many by creating and inciting the mob to revolt. Despite whether or not the mob understands why and what they are revolting against. Critical thinking, just democratic representation and fair debate are sidelined.

Such is the result of ideological movements based the false promise of absolute freedom; or as Karl Barth (Freedom in Limitation; Church Dogmatics) or Albert Camus (The Rebel) critique it: freedom without necessary limitation is not true freedom.

It is important to point out that Niebuhr is cautious in who and what the ‘canons of righteousness’ are to be. He understands this to be a problem because everyone has an agenda – self-interest plays a part, but Niebuhr presupposes a framework for ‘canons of righteousness’ to be one grounded on, guided by and founded in Jesus Christ, and informed as such by Christian forgiveness, mercy and justice.

‘If there were no canons of righteousness by which conflicting ideas and values could be judged, human society would be a sea of relativity, a complete anarchy of values and interests.’ [i]

 


Source:

Niebuhr, R. 1945, Discerning the Signs of the Times, Kindle Ed.

Image is mine: Inside the barrel of an Iron Cannon located at Fort Scratchley, Newcastle.

Christ Jesus, protect us from all that sets out to destroy us.

(St. Patrick’s ‘Breastplate’ partially summarised in twelve words)

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Related posts/links: Christian, Pray. St. Patrick’s Breastplate

Partial Shadow

March 16, 2015 — Leave a comment

Without light, nothing.

 

‘Because we only see through a glass darkly, does not mean that we can claim to see nothing at all.’
– (Reinhold Niebuhr, talking about the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, ‘Mystery and Meaning’, 1945)

 

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Source:

[i] Niebuhr, R. 1945 Mystery & Meaning in Discerning the Signs of the Times: Sermon Essays, Kindle Ed.

Image is mine. Photo is of the waterfront lamps along the Manning River, Taree