highlights of 2008

29 December, 2008

Here’s my answer to my friend Sarah‘s invitation to do a top 5 list for 2008…

ben & zo’s wedding – it was absolutely a complete joy to see two of my friends marry, and the bonus was that the whole thing was a lot of fun!  Once again (and continually, many blessings upon you both)!


the great trip of ’08 – May this year saw me and 2 friends take off for a trip to Europe and the States.  I’m going to cheat a bit on this one do a top 6 moments of the trip.

  • Revisiting Dublin, Ireland & catching up with friends in Northern Ireland. 


  • Paris – absolutely lovely!


 

  • England, reconnecting with family and friends and getting to revisit some much loved locations.

 

  • New York – a big surprise for me, I wasn’t particularly all that excited about the prospect of visiting NY, but I completely and utterly fell in love with the City and will definitely return, one day.

 


 

  • Seattle – This was special!  I had the privilege of meeting up with some very special friends and it was wonderful.  

Thanks again to Barb & Doug and family  for making room for us, and thanks to Sarah, Caz & Dwayne and family, and Gina for making the trip to Seattle.

 

 

  • Los Angeles – and in particular meeting up with my friend Holly and her family.  Thanks again Holls, for having us stay!  

… and of course Disneyland, a place built for kids that definitely brought the little kid out in me!


turning 40 – which wasn’t any where near as bad as I expected it to be, I’m actually really loving being 40!  Thanks to a bunch of family and friends who helped me celebrate the occasion with a bit of a party.

 


bike riding – I’ve had an absolute blast this year getting out and bike riding in and around Melbourne, and really enjoyed a weekend away with my friends Zo & Rach.  I even bought myself a new bike for my 40th, and it’s been so much fun!



getting to know Jesus – this has been an ongoing relational discovery over many years of course, but I think this year has been particularly exciting as I’ve been more deliberate about getting to know the Way Jesus did life with the people around him, and learning that who I am means more to him than what I do and relaxing in that.  It’s been lovely.

Of course there’s no photo that could accurately depict what this is about, although each of the above ‘highlights’ for me have definitely been blessings from my heavenly Father, and so fit this quite nicely!



 

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life together

19 December, 2008

Life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society… but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic, Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles of the whole Church. Every principle of selection, every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to a Christian community. When the way of intellectual or spiritual selection is taken, the human element always insinuates itself and robs the fellowship of its spiritual power and its effectiveness for the Church, and drives it into sectarianism.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer  


christmas

18 December, 2008

I’ve just finished reading the Gospels again and I’ve been thinking about what God did in the incarnation…

hmn… lost my train of thought there for a moment, there’s a Colin Firth movie on telly (now there’s a fine specimen of humanity that needs saving)… *cough*

Right, the incarnation, Christmas…. God becoming man.

It’s struck me over again just what an amazing thing God did in “becoming flesh” and living as one of us. But more than that, he came as a friend of man, not an angry Lord. He drew people to him. They weren’t terrified of him like the Israelites back with the whole burning mountain thing where they backed away and told ol’ Moses to go talk to him for them.

Of course for the most part his friends didn’t really know who he was, I mean, they suspected he was the Messiah, but there was no expectation that the Messiah would be God himself, but rather a man maybe like Moses or David, who acted with God’s favour upon them.

There were moments when some did catch on to his true identity, like Peter, in the boat after the “miraculous catch”, with his declaration of “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”, but then Jesus’ response was “Don’t be afraid”…. lovely.

There was nothing for Pete to fear.

God had become man for a reason, to draw man back into loving relationship with his Creator.

Jesus presented himself as the most lovely person. He cared deeply about the people around him. He understood the human condition. He looked out for the broken and beaten and those who had been ostracised by society. He wept with his friends and he didn’t harbour grudges when they let him down.

And this Jesus, this man, “is the image of the invisible God”.

Just as there was nothing for Pete to fear from Jesus, there is absolutely nothing for us to fear from our God. Nothing.

Jesus showed us that. He told us that if there was something worth fearing, it would be God, but God loves us so completely that there’s absolutely no reason to fear even Him!!

Anyhoo, I guess where this has taken me once again is to the place where I’m reminded that the Creator of all things calls me his friend, and went to amazing lengths to prove it!


but why?

4 December, 2008

The dragons and their riders in their weyrs, and the people in the cave holdings, went about their separate tasks and each developed habits that became custom, which solidified into tradition as incontrovertible as law.

~Anne McCaffrey – Prologue to her Pern books

I’ve always enjoyed asking the question “Why?”  Just ask my parents.  It was a favourite question as I was growing up, especially when I was asked to do something and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out the reasoning behind it.  Of course, and most probably due to exasperation with me, the inevitable answer would come… “Because I said so!”  That was always a cue to stop the questioning and just get on with it.  

But still, it’s a favourite question.  I like to understand the whys and wherefores behind what I do.  I dislike wasting time doing something that I know is pointless, or later discover to have been so.  It bugs me.  Worse still is doing something just because “we’ve always done it this way”.  Oh that bugs me.  Basically all that means is that it once had meaning to someone in the dim past, and that’s where the meaning stayed, in the dim forgotten past, yet the act continues because it’s become a tradition.  New meaning can of course be found in the tradition, and it’s often possible to reconnect with the initial meaning, but, unfortunately, I’m one of those people that find it very difficult to relate to inherited tradition.  I can appreciate it for the sake of others enjoying it, but I rarely get to experience the level of meaning they do.

I’ve been making my way through Anne McCaffrey’s Pern Series again, and the sentence I’ve quoted from her prologue stood out as an excellent explanation as to what often happens in most cultures.  Whether it be within families, government, religion or most other groups that gather and meet over a number of years.

  1. Task
  2. Habit
  3. Custom
  4. Tradition
  5. Incontrovertible Law 

In recent years, I’ve been asking lots of questions about why the church does things the way it does.  Questions such as the infamous and somewhat annoying, but ever so relevant, Why? and others akin to:

  • Are we doing this because it’s a command, or are we doing it because it’s a custom?
  • If it’s a custom, does it still have meaning for me today, or have I just adopted it because “it’s what we’ve always done?
  • If I stop doing it, is their a negative affect on my relationship with God, or does that free me to know Him in a more relational way?
  • Do I impose this on others? 
  • Is it formulaic?  Do I believe that if I do ‘A’ then God will do ‘B’?
  • Does it facilitate relationship with my loving Father, or does it foster the notion of an angry God wanting me to perform for Him?

Oh so many questions.  It’s been a fun couple of years debunking a lot of myths about what God expects of me as his child.  It’s also been a wonderful time of pursuing relationship with the One and only God who wants to be my friend and desires to do life with my 24/7, the One I can’t impress with all my doings and goings because he knows what’s in my heart and that’s what he wants.  I’ve also realised that I now don’t find a great deal of meaning behind a lot of the things that I’ve done for years in a corporate worship environment.  I wonder now if a lot of that wasn’t just inherited meaning and I’d never really connected with it on the personal “I get this” level.  

In all this, I’ve learnt that I can’t adopt other people’s traditions, it’s just not in me to do that. I ask too many questions.  The best way for me to worship my Creator is to take a step back from the formalities of our religion, and be with him in every moment of every day.  

And honestly, life with Him, has never been this good.