Thursday 27 December 2012

Midwives, Truman and Christmas

Over the Chritmas period I have been reflecting on what it means for us to be like Mary, giving birth to the Christ again and again in our own lives. What point was the birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago if we do not continue to birth the love, joy and peace that Jesus brought in our own lives today? After all, isn't the emphasis in Christianity about new life and transformation?

If our calling as Christians is to continually give birth to Christ, then we are also called to be midwives. We live in community and our role as companions on the journey is to assist each other in giving birth. Often, however, I don't think the church gets this. Last night, one of my favourite movies was on television - The Truman Show. I can't say it is the clever camera work, the music or the exceptional acting that put this movie on my top ten list, but more the close parallels I have drawn with the church and the world of Truman. 

Truman was born, grew up and now lives inside a TV show that airs 24 hours a day. He is the main character, oblivious to the fact that the whole world is watching his every move. All of the people in his life are actors, creating and manipulating his life around him. The movie shows Truman's struggle with gradually coming to the realization that he is trapped. He wants to break free, find more to life than his existence and explore the world.

I find the themes and the yearning ofTruman very powerful. I have known some of his struggle growing up in the church. There are boundaries, lines that cannot be crossed and places that are filled with fear where one must not go. Yes, there is a place for protection and keeping people safe, but when this is done creating a relationship with God out of fear it is stifling to the birthing process. 

My experience of midwives is that they allay the fears of the unknown, gently encourage us to have hope in the future and walk with us through the pain and struggle. They stand by you until the birth is complete. In the church we need to do the same. Instead of cutting people loose when they dare to tread outside the boundaries, we need to journey with them in search of their birthing place. 

My opinion is that many of us are afraid of giving birth in the spiritual sense. It is a place of vulnerability and fragility. Many people have never experienced the birthing process themselves and are quite content to remain in the protection of their safe, little church world. But, where is the growth? Where is the adventure? Where is the life in that? The egg must crack open if new life is to emerge. As we await the coming of the new year in a few days let us commit ourselves to giving birth once again to the Christ in our lives and being midwives in the birthing process of others.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Blue Christmas

Last night we held a Blue Christmas service in Augusta. This was the first of its kind for this town and I wasn't sure what the response would be. The idea of this service is to acknowledge that Christmas can be a difficult time for some people. We are surrounded by the media telling us how we should be full of joy during this season, but that is not always easy. If this is the first Christmas since a loved one died, or it has been a difficult year emotionally, or there are broken relationships to deal with - Christmas can be a time of dread and sorrow. 

During the service we read from Scripture, sang some of the more reflective carols and heard how Emmanuel - God with us - came into this world for the lost, the marginalised and the lonely. The members of the congregation were given an opportunity to light a candle for someone or a situation. They were also invited to take a blue bauble or a star from the church Christmas tree to hang on their own at home to acknowledge the pain or remember someone dear to them.

As the congregation gathered, I met people from the community for the first time. Our regular members had invited friends and family and some had seen the posters around town. It was very much the case that those who were meant to be there were. There were tears throughout the service, and that was okay. I encouraged people to allow the song of their heart to be sung. This was not a place for pretending or putting on a brave face. This was a safe place to be vulnerable and to be real.

As a leader, this was one of the most meaningful worship experiences with this congregation this year. New seeds have been planted and new doors have been opened. Last night was living proof that the Spirit does not only move in large packed auditoriums of loud music, but also in the intimate quiet of a few hurting souls that gather in a small country church.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

A New House!

Well, we have officially moved into our new house. Our lives seem surrounded by boxes of varying sizes and shapes with mysterious contents. Gradually, we are tackling one box at a time and finding a new home for the contents. You would think that the process would be easy. This box came from the dining room, so it gets put in the dining room in the new place. The trouble is, our new house has a completely different configuration of rooms with different storage capabilities to our old place. In many ways, unpacking the boxes is like developing a whole new filing system. Where is going to be the most effective place for these items to be kept in light of this whole new context we are living in? 

During my training for ministry, a high priority was put on theological reflection. Some people found the process tiresome or difficult, but it always came quite naturally to me. I guess this blog is like a continuous theological reflection on life. In theological reflection we are encouraged to reflect on events of our own life in light of the bigger story. New insights and understandings can emerge from these reflections which need to be integrated into our own story. I find it sad that some people have amazing experiences in life, but they are not challenged to change or be transformed as a result. 

I have moved house physically a few times now. I seem to be more experienced at moving spiritual home, however. There is still rearranging to be done. There are still boxes that need to be packed and unpacked. Sometimes items find new homes. Sometimes things need to be thrown out. Moving spiritual home is not a physically demanding, but can be just as stressful and time consuming. 

We currently don't have internet or phone connections at our new place. In many ways this is a blessing. When we have those times of transition in our spiritual journey it is also helpful to disconnect the phone. We wouldn't dream of moving house without taking some time to allow this to happen. Why would we do anything less when making a spiritual shift?

I wonder how many "spiritual" boxes you have lying around your home. Maybe this Advent and Christmas time might be a good time to open some of the lids and reflect on where the contents might fit. Happy unpacking!!

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Time to Register

The end of the year is fast approaching. Most people are just trying to make it to Christmas and have not even thought about 2013 yet. I want to put out a challenge that goes against the grain. Why not decide now to do something for yourself and your own spiritual health next year. 

Often we put ourselves last in our priorities, especially when it comes to our spiritual journey. Well, here's a simple way to make sure this doesn't happen next year. Why not register to be involved in "A Mandala a Month". The first registrations are already coming in for both the online and in person options. My kids have even asked me to sign them up, which I am very excited about. Give yourself a Christmas gift that will last all of next year!!

If you want to find out more have a look here. Please feel free to email me at if you have any questions or concerns. I would love to hear from you.

Monday 3 December 2012

It's Moving Week!!

You could say life is little chaotic right now. I am sitting in my lounge room that has boxes half packed all around me, trying to remain calm. We are now in Advent, a very busy time of the year for those who have chosen my vocation. Carols services, Christmas services, Advent study series and activities winding up for the year all need my attention. My kids have dance concerts, Christmas parties, presentation days, swimming carnivals and homework to finish. In some ways, there could not be a more crazy time to move house. 

In many ways, however, it could not be more fitting. As a family, we are about to cross another threshold together. We are starting another chapter in our new home. There are rooms to paint, vege patches to grow, and many projects to get started on. We are about to start creating our new home together. It will be a place where memories are made and much will be shared.

Advent is a time of expectation, hope and anticipation. Unfortunately, with children, this anticipation is often surrounding the much awaited presents of Christmas Day. I am grateful that this year there is a distraction. The anticipation is about our new chapter in our life. The hope is about what this will mean for our family and the expectation is of many special time ahead. It will be a time that is life giving and transformational. This is what many people live in anticipation of - the life giving change that the coming of Christ can be bring.

I'm not sure how many reflections I will manage to put on the blog over the next week. It could be a crazy time, but there will be many stories to tell once I am sitting in the lounge of our new place surrounded by half packed boxes.