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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Life is unpredictable...

I've always liked Henri Nouwen's writing and this quote seems well worth hearing again because life is unpredictable - as I have personally discovered once again this past week.
Nouwen on a skateboard seemed to fit the theme somehow! 

(I copied this quote from the Prodigal Kiwi Blog  which I follow - lots of good stuff!) 

Life is unpredictable.  We can be happy one day and sad the next, healthy one day and sick the next, rich one day and poor the next, alive one day and dead the next.  So who is there to hold on to?  Who is there to feel secure with?  Who is there to trust at all times?  Only Jesus, the Christ.  He is our Lord, our shepherd, our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, our brother, our guide, and our friend.  He came from God to be with us.  He died for us, he was raised from the dead to open for us the way to God, and he is seated at God's right hand to welcome us home.  With Paul, we must be certain that "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord"  (Romans 8:38-39).
Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pithy and pointed!

Thanks to World Vision daily Lenten reflections for this:

If I hate myself
Underrate myself
Undercut myself
And head-butt myself
Should I still
Love my neighbour as myself?
Cameron Semmens
(from "Give A Man A Fish: making a difference and being the difference", Cameron Semmens, published by World Vision Australia, 2010.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Being an apprentice

Since my last Blog I have started reading Michael Hardin's book. I'm only halfway so I'll probably add more quotes and comments as I go. Hardin dives into some pretty big arenas. He says: "I have simply tried in this book to reframe orthodoxy in its most generous fashion (to paraphrase Brian McLaren). It seems to me that conversations in both Mainline and Emergent communities require this. Christianity is changing and there is nothing we can do to stop it. it is changing because it is finally being recognized that some theological paradigms handed down to us for centuries and millennia don't really work and are being given up." (Italics mine.)

At first the title of the book really irritated me because I tend to resist exhortations to be "driven" (as in The Purpose Driven Life). But as it turns out I was irritated for the same reason Hardin chose to use this title! He says: "I deliberately played off Pastor Warren's title because I was not satisfied with the assumption that a 'purpose' should push me from behind, as though discipleship was to be a Type-A personality experience. There are certain Augustinian/Calvinist assumptions here worth questioning. I use the word 'Driven' in the more modest sense of traveling with Jesus, journeying through life with him as our chauffeur, if you will. Discipleship seems to me to become a walk of friends side-by-side (John 15:15)."

So having got that straight...! Some thoughts on discipleship as apprenticeship.

"A disciple is more like an apprentice than a modern student. The Master does not expect the the new apprentice to be perfect. A wise Master knows that mistakes will be made. A patient master will watch progress and affirm it. Following Jesus is just like this." Hardin goes on to use Matthew 11:25-30 as a key text for understanding this kind of apprenticeship. This is the well known passage where Jesus invites his followers to "take my yoke upon you... for my yoke is easy...". Hardin says: "The yoke functions to keep the mules from going in directions different than the farmer would have them go. I am told that when a young mule is first learning to plow a field, they team him up with a veteran mule that has plowed the field for many years. This way the younger mule learns how to respond to the farmer's guidance because when the older mule turns, the younger has to go the same way, the yoke making it impossible for him to go another.

In the same way, we are yoked with Jesus who knows the Abba's will. When the Father moves the reins in a certain direction Jesus responds and we respond not by choosing, nor out of our own initiative but simply by submitting to the yoke. The only choice we make is to be yoked with  Jesus. After that it is no longer about choice but about something entirely different. It is about 'trust'."

Putting these images together discipleship can be thought of as:

  • a walk of friends side by side 
  • being the apprentice to a patient and affirming Master 
  • being yoked to the one who knows how to respond to the lightest touch of God's direction
To me this builds a very secure picture  of relaxing and letting Jesus drive!