Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tin roof, rusted!

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Verily, verily I say unto thee, Tin roof, rusted!

Ok, I admit it, this week’s sign is a little obscure – but if you are of a certain age and listened to the radio you will know what it’s all about, if you have no idea I suggest you watch this (or look up b52s Love Shack on google) before reading any more.

So you’re back – that’s 4:19 secs of your life you’ll never see again but you’ve come out of it as a wiser person. (In one of two ways; either you’ll never click on another link I offer you or you now know what this blog is all about!) But if this blog does nothing else, it has put a happy tune in your head that will be going round there for quite a while – admit it, go on, your singing it to yourself right now.

So for the big news – I’m going to rename the church – THE LOVE SHACK.

Cool isn’t it? I’m so hip, trendy and with it, and the first person to point out to me that the song was released over 20 years ago will be subject to my version of excommunication. (I have literally no idea how I will back up that threat.)

THE LOVE SHACK – will be open for worship on Sunday.

But seriously, think about it – parts of the song could be written about what the church should be.

“The love shack is a little old place where we can get together.” It’s the church – read the line again… it’s what we should be all about – relationships, love, community. The church should be a place where people can get together, it should be a place packed with love – for God, for others – whoever they are.

“Love rules at the love shack,” Again, isn’t that the most spot on line to describe the church – and if we’re not a community where love rules then we are doing the most basic things wrong. Remember what Jesus said, (strategically placed Bible quote ahead), “Love The Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself.” The rule of love is, and should be, at the very heart of the church. It is central to the work, the message and the life of the church and if it isn’t we should seriously re-examine what we think the Church should be.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that not all the lyrics of Love Shack fit the Church –

“Folks lining up outside just to get down” is not a line that sums up most church buildings or church communities, but we can hope and pray that the love we spread around reaps results, and that others will see Jesus in what we do and follow in his footsteps (or should that be dance steps).

“Glitter on the highway, glitter on the front porch.” We had confetti canons at Christmas and the care taker went nuts cleaning up the mess – glitter may be going too far, even for me!

“Huggin’ and a kissin’, dancin’ and a lovin’; wearing next to nothing ’cause it’s as hot as an oven.” Is wrong on so many levels as an analogy of the church and yet (like that terrible Batman and Robin film with George Clooney ) it’s so wrong it’s almost right. Notice the word ‘almost’ there. It’s terribly important – that line is almost right. Without wishing to offend most people within our church community,Ii would like to (strongly) point out that if it gets that hot that you want to wear “next to nothing” please go and stand under the air conditioners before undressing and I promise to grant you the same courtesy. I do like the “dancin’ and a lovin'” bit though. The Church could do with more dancing and since love is what we are about, you can never have enough!

The Love Shack is a little old place where we can get together…. Welcome to Church. A place of love, acceptance, tolerance and not enough dancing.

Oh and be careful where you stand…why?

Three words…

Tin roof, rusted!

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Faith and actions

Faith and actions….

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“Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behaviour does.”

Take a snapshot from the media over the past few days and you will see that there are terrible things happening in our world – around 30 people were killed when an American aircraft mistakenly bombed a wedding in Afghanistan; 3 killed and hundreds injured in the bombing in Boston; an earthquake effecting areas of Iran and Pakistan. These are just some of the stories to have hit the news – dig a little deeper and we find stories of Afghan troops being killed by members of the Taliban; 3 teenagers sentenced to jail for killing a homeless man in the U.K.; estimates showing that up to 50% of asylum seekers in Australia are hospitalised, with 25% of that number being for ‘preventable mental health reasons.’

Terrible stories that have affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Yet they are still shocking enough to make the news and in some bizarre way that is a good thing. It is good that we, as humans, still have the capacity to be shocked by what we can do to each other, that we haven’t become so used to all the killing and suffering that we are prepared to ignore it. We can still be moved by the suffering of others – we are not all hard-hearted monsters.

Yet there is so much that goes on that we choose to ignore or don’t even know is happening –

47% of Swedish women have been the victims of domestic violence and that figure is probably mirrored in most of Western society.

Somewhere in the world someone starves to death every 3.6 seconds, and 75 percent of those are children under the age of five.

Private security contractors (mercenaries) have become the fastest-growing sector of the global economy during the last decade.

Major international companies like Starbucks and Amazon are (allegedly) avoiding paying massive tax bills by clever accounting.

And these are just four provable facts, out of hundreds that most of us are unaware of.

We as individual Christians and together as the Church have a duty to stand up against these things. If we follow Christ we are supposed to be the radical people of our age, as he was in his. We are quick to cry out against bombs and to send help for earthquakes yet we say and do very little about the massive poverty in our world, or the safety of nearly half our population in their homes or the amassing of huge wealth by a microscopic percentage of the people (according to the U.N. about 40% of the world’s wealth is held by about 1% of its population).

Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t tend to throw around Bible quotes – too many ‘church leaders’ use Bible quotes to justify all sorts of bigotry and evil by taking Scripture quotes out of context. (My personal favourite is the great theological thinker who had the whole of Leviticus 18 v 22 tattooed on his arm. He obviously hasn’t read Leviticus 19 v 28 which says, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD.” You can’t pick and choose the verses you use, but obviously nobody has told him that.)

As I was saying I don’t bandy Bible verses about, but today I want to give you a couple to read –
James chapter 2 v 17 – 18 ( the whole of the chapter is a good one, about not showing favouritism and showing your faith by what you do. You can read it here.) These two verses go a long way to explain what I think faith should mean –

‘In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.’

Faith is shown by the actions we take. Christ didn’t just tell nice stories and feed a few thousand people with a couple of fish and some stuff from Baker’s Delight – he went and got his hands dirty – healing lepers, talking to the poor and the marginalised, hanging out with those who society had rejected. His faith was so visible in what he did. Follow his disciples through the New Testament and we see a very similar pattern – faith being lived as well as being preached.

Somewhere through history this pattern has slued – yes the Church still does great work and individual Christians are still living faith out by what they do but it seems that action centred faith is not at the heart of what Church is about anymore. We are more worried about bums on seats, notes in the collection and making sure that we are condemning and hating the people we should than we are about the poor on our streets, the welfare of the marginalised and the needs of those around us.

THIS MUST CHANGE AND IT MUST START WITH ME AND YOU!

How often do we see ‘Christian’ people who don’t live what they believe and then again how often do we see ‘Non – Christian’ people who live what they don’t believe?

During the horrors of the Boston bombings this week the thing that struck me most was the way that runners, tired and horrified though they were, ran (after already running 46km) to the the four major Boston hospitals to give blood because the roads were blocked and there was no other way through- Christianity in action – faith lived out by many who wouldn’t claim any faith at all!

So let us remember that our beliefs do not make us better people – our behaviour does.

Our faith may be enough to move whole mountain ranges but of what value is it if it isn’t showing others the grace of Jesus in what we do. Let us live our faith so that others can see Jesus at work in what we do. Let us demonstrate the love we have been so freely given by the love that we freely give – to ALL people, everyone, no matter WHO they are or WHERE they come from.

It doesn’t take much for us to take a stand – it doesn’t take much for us to make a difference, it doesn’t take much for us to show our faith by our actions. It starts with the decision to live our faith outside of the walls of our church – to do the little things that make such a big difference. We can change the world one life at a time beginning with yours!

Start with a smile and a dollar to the homeless guy down the street; walking that little bit further than Starbucks to get a fair trade coffee or even better two with one suspended (see this link); the phone call to that person you’ve been meaning to phone for weeks; the visit you’ve been putting off; adding a few minutes to your prayers to concentrate on the needs of others; setting time aside to help those who need it; asking your minister what your church is doing and volunteering to help; demanding your church does more and joining in when it does. And these things will grow, you’ll find more to do and more that needs doing – your faith will be seen more and more, lived more and more, used more and more and the benefits will be huge – people will be helped, your faith will be more real and Jesus will be glorified and there is one word to sum all that up – RESULT!

For your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behaviour does or to put it another way I will show you my faith by what I do.

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JC – AOK

JC DOA

JC AWOL

OMG

JC AOK

EASTER in 19 letters. (I cannot claim credit for thinking this up, I saw it on Twitter but it’s so good I had to use it.)

The whole of the Easter story summed up in simple terms. It’s like when the lawyer asked Jesus to sum up the 10 commandments and Jesus did it in two lines –

Love The Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength &
Love your neighbour as yourself.

Going straight to the heart of the issue – and here, in simple terms, this sign is doing the same thing to the story of Easter.

For those of you who have trouble with text speak let me enlighten you…

JC DOA – Jesus Christ Dead on Arrival

JC AWOL – Jesus Christ Absent without leave

OMG – Oh my God

JC AOK – Jesus Christ A-Okay

(I wanted to put JC – BRB at the start (Jesus Christ -be right back) but somehow it doesn’t quite fit in.)

What else does it need? We have the crucifixion and death of Jesus (DOA); we have the loneliness of his scattered followers on that first Easter Saturday (AWOL); we have the absolute wonder of those who went at the empty tomb, those who walked the Emmaus road, the statement of belief from Thomas (OMG); and we have the joy of the disciples and all his followers at the resurrection of Jesus (AOK).

Easter in 19, social media friendly, letters.

Don’t keep it to yourself – share it with everyone you can, for it is indeed Good News.

Jesus Christ IS risen!
He is risen indeed!

Have a blessed Easter.

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