Honest Christianity – unexploded bomb

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This week here in Birmingham, during redevelopment an unexploded WWII bomb was found in Aston. Lives, homes and businesses were under threat, it was chaos, people moved out of their homes, roads closed, businesses made inaccessible while the bomb was made as safe as possible and a controlled explosion prepared for and carried out. We were only marginally inconvenienced, my journey,15 mins usually, was 2.5 hours on Tuesday morning.

It got me thinking and reflecting, what unexploded bombs do we have in our lives? Or even have we dropped into others lives? What harm and damage which has been done or said to us has or did lay dormant? Things just sit there and then suddenly something happens to bring it to the surface. Can we help people do a controlled explosion in pastoral or therapeutic care? What about the guy in the digger who first found it? How do you know when to stop digging?

Originally, the intentionality of the bomb was to harm and cause damage but then became indiscriminate as to where it actually was dropped. Systemic oppression still exists and can do physical and emotional harm. We may still be getting caught in the fallout – sometimes we are at the wrong place at the wrong time. There are individual, family, community, national, international, global bombs – there are bombs that will come back and impact us. we felt the blast a mile away .
Theologically, some things will not heal this side of eternity. Peter lived the rest of life knowing that he denied Jesus. The wounds of Jesus were still apparent in his risen body – wounds shouldn’t be vanished away. In our Christian hope – cross and crown are both significant.

Just because weapons of harm have been dormant for many years, does not mean they are not dangerous. Let’s be gracious with ourselves and others and be prepared for when the churning of life brings new things to the surface. They may need to explode, but let’s offer and help create a safe environment for them to be dealt with.

Honest Christianity – what a great slogan

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This picture could describe the mandate of being a Christian, a positive self image, because we are a child of the King and the fruit of the Holy Spirit should pour out of us, especially when cut. I saw this is in a shop in
Malvern. It is not quite the beatitudes, but it is a good stab at contextualizing. I encourage students that you can theologically reflect on anything so a pineapple is as good as anything.

Today we had our annual memorial service and the member of our team who was preaching, Margaret, stressed to the families that how they were an inspiration to us because of how they sought to find a hope and trust in God in the light of what had happened to them. Amen Margaret, well said. Over 300 of them representing 60 plus families came to remember, cry and celebrate the gift and love of their children and they’re still sweet in the middle. We honour them as they come to honour their children.

Honest Christianity – when lives don’t conveniently follow the church calendar

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Many years ago at Spring Harvest, the preacher, Tony Campolo, taught on the phrase that has become almost
Easter folk law, It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming. The sermon was full of hope in the light of current difficulties or circumstances. What do we do when we don’t experience resurrection?

Most of us are personally and or personally know people that are still living in crucifixion Friday rather than resurrection Sunday. Life for them is full of sadness and loss; grief in relationships, careers, health, church etc.
the promises of new life, is still that, a hopeful promise, even still a far off one. Even today as I was dressing to get ready to go and lead an Easter Sunday Morning service at the Children’s Hospital, I was called in before I had even got there to support a family with a very poorly child. It might be Sunday but it feels like Friday. Their hope of resurrection is a literal immediate one. “He is risen, indeed, hallelujah” is a muted chant alongside the cry of lament. It is a needed truth and promise but not our only song in a strange land.

Hope is still needed today as much as it was Friday or any other day. We need compassion and patience for those whose lives don’t follow the seasons of the church. It is many times multi reasoned and complex why life is so full of desolation. We live in the hope of resurrection for ours and others circumstances but in today’s celebrations, let’s be mindful, it may not be today.

Honest Christianity – we need an advocate – mine was Mum

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One of my teenage memories of my mum is a strong one. This is some of the history, the back story that you need to know. Because my birthday is bang on the first of September, when I was at junior school it was realised I had started school a year early. The education systems solution to this was to insist I did an extra year at junior school or secondary school. I chose to do the extra year at the end of secondary school, my reasons I vaguely recall was that I did not want all my friends to leave me behind and more powerfully, they might forget or change their minds in 5 years time. They did not!

So after I was half way through year 5 (11 in today’s money) again, I applied to catering College. Even though I knew this is what I wanted to do the year before, I was told I could not apply until the year I would start. So when I applied the next year I was told the course was full and there was no room for me! I was very upset as cooking was the only thing I enjoyed and had done poorly academically at everything else (my dyslexia had not even been considered and I was just perceived as being not that bright naturally or the consequences of a council estate one parent family) . My mum had a different response, she went loopy, hit the ceiling, came down and then went up again. She went straight on the phone to the college and demanded that I had an interview . I think she must have frightened the course director and I was offered an interview, to which my mum came. The outcome was that I was exactly the type of student the course wanted and they offered me a place!

Two years later I was awarded top student of my course, runner up top student for the whole college and had been offered a job as a chef at the Savoy Hotel in London. Where and how might I have ended up had my mum not done that for me? To have intervened, advocated in the light of unfortunate circumstances or unfairness? Who knows? So let’s be thankful to all those people in our lives who have offered this type of support and intervention. Maybe it has been a parent , youth worker, pastor, partner, friend, professional… And let’s continue to model and imitate this advocacy for those who need a voice, an intervention, it’s what my mum would do!

Honest Christianity – learning from children

blog4This morning one of our newer hospital chaplaincy team members, Ruth, led our early morning Psalm Communion breakfast discussion. She read and shared from Psalm 8:
from the lips of children you have ordained praise
you have taught children and infants to tell of your strength.

This verse has been an encouragement for me in my chaplaincy work and while I was watching a recommended video on you tube, I came across this. Enjoy and be nourished from the lips of a child

Honest Christianity – how would we define healthy spirituality?

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Healthy spirituality is life-giving – I read this short definition in a book called Transforming Spirituality.

This is helpful I think. It should lift our spirits, soothe our heart pain. It should be good for our physical, mental and emotional health. It would seem many of us find similar activities life giving , being in and around nature , the presence of friends. This suggests that there are common spiritual needs such as being connected, meaning making, finding purpose.

But I wonder if this is sharp enough. Can something be life giving to me but oppressive to someone else? Is this ok? Agreed we do not need to find life in the same things, but my individual rights must be held in tension. My life giving spirituality cannot be 1ife sapping to others and be fully valid.

The authors were quoting a colleague in the short defintion but then went on to suggest that health conducive forms of spirituality are:
intentionally embodied
developmentally generative
relationally connected
justice enhancing
narratively coherent (Shults and Sandage 2006 p210).
This is something to think about further for my work and life.

Honest Christianity – what would we wait to go to heaven for?

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It depends how Godly I am feeling, I am in no rush, I enjoy my life especially my wife and opportunities of service. I am willing to hang around for a few more achievements and enjoyments, especially if one or two of them were a trike and small boat!

As regular readers will know we use a different annual daily reading notes book. This year we are using “Life with Lucas”. Jeff is a much known and loved writer and speaker whose ministry we have appreciated for many years since meeting him when working for YFC. This book is in six 2 monthly sections and the first 2 months ofthe year has been around relationships . Jeff’s reflection this weekend has been around the apostle Paul being ready for Heaven but being willing to stay for the sake of his committed relationships to people like Timothy.

I wonder outside of our families, if this would be true for the majority of us? I love being around people, relating, serving, supporting but Jeff is proposing Paul has a different perspective. Time to reassess the purpose of life, yet again!