Sunday, 26 August 2018

Truth and lies

An increasingly depressive thing in current Australia is that very few are able to tell a truth. We only need to look to our leadership in parliament over the last week to determine the veracity of this statement. Even if current leadership of the Australian people claim a link to the Christian faith the basic principles of that faith have clearly not made it past the facade of attending a service. I have no insider knowledge of parliamentary shenanigans as anyone else but we have undoubtedly heard the saying that the truth lies somewhere in the middle. In the midst of such turmoil within the political system what is or should our response be as Christians and how does that effect our own mission? Christ states the truth of his presence in John's gospel (Jn. 6.56 ff) and it is the first thing that is proclaimed as the armour of God (Eph. 6.15) but as can be seen in John's gospel and in our own lives truth is a perception created from our own viewpoint. Indeed, Pilate is famous for asking "What is truth?" in the Johanine version of Jesus' trial.

If, truth is as labile as it appears to be, how do we as Christian's respond when it comes to our own lives and the way we interact with our fellow citizens and companions. If we all have our own versions of what truth is how can we even begin to behave as Christ and bring the light of God to the citizens of the world? Perhaps our advantage is that we are able to form a community or rather take companionship along the margins of our society. Make no mistake, we as Christians are on the margins and not in the public square. Those that are in the public square are unable to voice the truth. If we are to form community and companionship on the margins then we must realise that it is only through fellowship that truth arises. This then is the truth of the Christian message, a truth that we can proclaim to all. The gospel is a Gospel (truth) of accepting the other and changing with the other to form the companionship and peace that is borne out of Christ's presence.

A change in our perspective allows us to meet the other in the limnal space

Stephen Pickard suggests that we are a verandah people worshipping a verandah God. For us to be Christians in the truest sense we need to be people of hospitality and the other. It is in the acceptance of the other that we become truth bearers and truth formers. The limnal space of the verandah between the outside and the inside is where we meet and commune. Each space that acts as a meeting place becomes a place of acceptance of the other; a place for the Christian fellowship to meet and become. In accepting the other we accept the bread of life and blood of salvation given to us in the life of Christ, who was forever accepting the stranger on the fringes. It is when our spaces become the verandahs of social interaction and the companionship of Christ's presence that we become truth purveyors. We begin companionship with acceptance of the other which means that our version of truth becomes changed to include the other's version of truth. In doing this we come closer to THE truth that is God's presence in our lives.

Only when we have encompassed the other will we come to the truth of Christ's presence and not be bound by our individual truths. Only when we partake in companionship, fellowship and community do we partake of the bread of life and the cup of salvation. This is what is rejected by the scribes, the pharisees and Christ's disciples the ability to accept the other and the truth of each persons life. We do this only because of our discomfort in the alternate of Christ's discomforting words and the rejection of the others perspective in our search for truth.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Challenging politics

We are undoubtedly political animals when we get down to the nitty gritty. Everything that we think and do revolves around our own petty political selves. We just have to look at the political analysis of this week to see that the only model that we have for good political behaviour is how to get away with slanging and sledging or knock over the tall poppies. Irrespective of our political, religious, sexual bent we only follow what is presented to us as being meaningful political behaviour - "Get the B**** before they get me". This does not leave much for us to ponder or wonder greatly how the world managed to wind up in the mess that it is in currently. It seems fairly straightforward when you look at it. Of course that is at the National and International level... well it is not much different when we consider ourselves and our families and our groups because where do we think the ideas came from in the first place?

Once we understand that the world we live in is the world we have created we may be able to do something about it. If we look at the first verse of the reading from Ephesians (Eph 4.25) that is allocated for today we can see the start of our actual Christian lives. There is no lily livered lies here it is a simple truth that we keep on forgetting as we play politics with the lives of those around us in our communities. The Gospel is about truth. Christ is about truth. Our lives are about politics which amounts to falsehood. There is absolutely no need for us to play the game of politics unless we are on our own power trip and are looking for our own little kingdom to rule with an iron fist. In telling it like it is we are often condemned and shunned. The political propaganda machine goes into overdrive to convince everyone around us that we are making it all up. Of course what do we do? We lap it all up and convict the person telling the truth. All we have to do is look at how we approach climate change, border control and our own internal prejudices. What does it take for us to truly accept Christ in our lives because the moment we start being political we deny Christ.

Only when we look into the other's eye can we see love

I heard somebody say the other day that whoever voted for a certain political leader to the left of centre was a fool. However, like Christ I would say that whoever votes for a political party is an idiot because you are not voting for the truth. We have been reminded over the past three weekends that Christ is the bread of life and it is only through Christ that we come to see God. John 6.41-51 is no different, we need Christ's presence in our lives so that we can speak the truth. It is only when we truly love as Christ loved that we can form community in a manner that respects each person. Only when we entertain the notion of truth speaking in our lives, the truth of the Gospel, the truth of the power of love, the truth of God's presence will we begin and I repeat, begin the life that Christ proclaims. How can we approach a person with a disease as if they are a number or a bed? How can we see each other if we only see a street number, telephone number or snap chat address? I have heard it "Go and see the old girl that lives at number 3". Who? Do you follow a snapchat address or do you interact with a person? To do the latter we have to speak the truth to do the former we can hide behind our persona created for the internet.

God calls us to love and to tell each other the truth that is in our lives. We cannot do that solely by referencing a phone or a computer or other device. If anyone has seen 'Ready Player One' knows this as bonds are formed when we look into the eyes of the person not the eyes of fantasy.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The changing taste of food

During our childhood we have a number of distinctive likes and dislikes when it comes to our choice of food. Some of these carry through into our adult years. I am still somewhat leery of aubergines / eggplant or whatever name you know it by. Imagine if you will trying to eat boiled aubergine, the best description is perhaps (pardon the graphic) "swallowing glutinous snot". This I imagine would put most people off the vegetable for life. We are also aware or should be that taste changes as we mature and even as a result of hormonal change within the body. I know this because I have had to manage the consequences on a monthly basis. Our taste and our ability to digest a meal is often determined by our experience, our age, our hormonal status, etc. If this is the case then what does the bread of life taste like to you?

In scripture we are given to understand that the bread of life is the word of God and the presence of Christ within our midst. The author of the letter to the Ephesians, Paul or a disciple, is clear what the taste of life is when played out in the world (Eph. 4.2-3). Yet, it is also clear that the author is of the opinion that the recipients of this letter are no longer children and have grown into adulthood within the faith journey (Eph. 4.14). However, as we have seen our taste and our ability to consume, digest and even utilise food is determined by our physical and hormonal and emotional disposition. No matter how hard I try I am always somewhat averse to eating aubergine because of my early interaction with this food. I suspect that we are also coloured in our preferred digestion of the food of life by those who have come before us. Occasionally we have to revisit our understandings in order to ensure that what we have been fed is the true food and is lining us up to function as a whole as a community. How are we to know what is good to eat?

Do we really know what the bread of life tastes like or have we seasoned it too much?

Usually we are taught by our parents and by those who are older than us. No matter what culture we come from the food that we eat is prevalent in that culture and we soon know what is good and what is not. Our tastes change as we know but we often come back to what our families and parents gave to us. In our faith journey we are only as good as the food that we have been given in the past and the actions of those around us. If we have seen true love and neighbourliness being given then we are likely to mirror this in our own lives. But what happens if the food for our faith journey has shown us a different aspect one that does not increase love but rather one that ensures bitterness and division as normality within the Church family.  Our immediate reaction is to say no way not possible. Then if that is the case why have we not got those who are younger present worshipping God in places of worship? Is it perhaps that they have seen fallacy in action rather than love, have they heard words that have enticed without actions to form reality?

If we are conformed to Christ we will taste those things which are good, we will be drawn to those things that sustain. To often the food that we have had in the past colours our palates and if that food has been rich and misleading in flavour we may not recognise the simplicity of God's message. We may find that the food that has been disguised by the flavours of the server are not the simple flavours that come with God's love. Is it any wonder that we do not go for food when we have previously been poisoned? How do we recover from food poisoning? We go back to the simple foods of the nurturing family that we came from and begin again. We take each step slowly. Expanding our tastes so that we retain the simple flavours of Christ's loving presence as we engage with others around us.