Monday, 29 December 2008

rejected?

I identify with the people in Luke’s gospel. They have flocked to Jesus from all over Galilee and Judea, to hear and to be healed. They have travelled with him to Jerusalem and he has been teaching them in the temple. They come early, listening, hanging on his words. His enemies cannot touch him for fear of them… until Judas provides a time and a place away from them and He is arrested. What will the people do? They, who hung on his every word? They cry out, ‘AWAY WITH HIM!’ They shout, ‘CRUCIFY HIM!’

One day they marvel, the next they mock. Sunday morning worship becomes Monday morning weariness. Can you see yourself in the crowd? What can we learn from them?

Read the rest here

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

another test

For those who receive this by email....

if you click here, do you go to the online commenting page?

shortened advent: three days to go

Luke 1:26-38

In this reading we heard about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary. He tells her that she will bear a child who will be the Son of the Most High, who will be Christ the Lord, who will sit on the throne of his Father David. We remembered the words of Isaiah. This is the one they have been waiting for!

Monday, 22 December 2008

this is a test

If you click here, do you go to the commenting page for this post?

In Jerusalem: and he was numbered with the transgressors (Luke 20:1-24:53)

Last week, we read about Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. We heard Jesus speak clearly about who would enter the Kingdom of God. It will not be the righteous, not the Pharisees or the teachers of the law, not the ‘blessed’ rich. But it will be the sinner, the outcast, the lame, the oppressed, the lost. For,
‘He who exalts himself, will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (14:11; 18:14).
It is the sinner who throws himself upon the mercy of God, not the ‘righteous’ who thinks he does not need a saviour; this one shall be welcomed by the Son of Man.


Now we turn to the final chapters of Luke’s gospel where a heavy, dramatic atmosphere prevails. There is a showdown in the temple, talk of the destruction of Jerusalem; anguished prayer. They are exhausted from sorrow. Darkness. He is betrayed. There are swords and clubs. They weep bitterly, and mock and beat and shout and mourn and wail. Darkness. And he breathes his last and there is beating of breasts. There are perfumes, spices and… rest, and then, finally, joy.

The narrative speeds up but time slows down....

Read the rest here.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

shortened advent: four days to go

Luke 1:5-25

Tonight we read about the visit of the angel, Gabriel, to Zechariah.


We heard that Zechariah's wife, Elizabeth, will bear a child in her old age. We heard that he will be the one to turn the hearts of the Fathers to their children, the one who will prepare a people for the LORD, the one fulfilling the prophecy we read about in Malachi.

Tonight, at my mother's request, we sang a carol as well. There's something about carols that really makes it feel like Christmas!

eleven years

We celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

shortened advent: five days to go

Today there were no decorations for the tree. There was no reading. This was to symbolise the time of waiting between the old and new testaments. The people had the promises of God and they are waiting in faith for him to fulfill his promises. They are waiting for the Messiah.

Friday, 19 December 2008

shortened advent: six days to go

Our shortened advent began today.

Today we remember the words of the prophets. We heard from Abraham (not technically a prophet), Isaiah, Daniel and Malachi. We heard about the promised one; the King, the servant, the one like the son of Man. We heard of the one who prepare the people for his coming and we heard of the blessing that will come not just to Israel, but to all nations.

You can our prophets in the picture holding their messages, which we read to each other and then the children hung the decorations on our tree.


These are the passages they were holding:
Abraham: Genesis 12:1-3
Isaiah: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7; 11:1-4; 49:6; 53:4-5, 10-12; 61:1-2
Daniel: Daniel 7:13-14
Malachi: Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6

It would have been much better to have spaced these out over four days (one prophet for each day), and maybe not read so many from Isaiah. Next year...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

A shortened advent

As suggested here, I have been thinking about how we might celebrate christmas this year in a manner that is Christ focused. This year more than any other it will be important for us as Sophie has been overwhelmed with Santa Claus at school these last three weeks. To my shame, it has taken until now for me to work out what we will do.

We will be reading through Luke's narrative, with a little of Matthew (I couldn't bear to leave out the Magi). We begin tomorrow, the 19th, and end on the 27th. Each day we will have a reading from the Bible and decorations based on the readings and inspired by these.

Heavenly Treasure (Luke 12:22-32)

I wonder what the Rich Fool would have stored up in the barn had he been a woman? Or, what is it that you are working hard to acquire now so that your life will be easy later, your future secure? A larger house? A new washing machine? A second car? A better education? I would really like a few more solar panels. Then life would be easy…
Read the rest here.

Angel Christmas Cards

Sophie made some Christmas Cards to give out to the children her class at school. They are simple to make, but time consuming. We sat down together and all helped with the cutting out, but she did all the putting together and all the writing.

We cut out angel wings from a sheet of A4 vellum paper. We scanned a simple drawing and made a template of 12 on an A4 sheet.  We printed onto the vellum, which was a mistake with an ink-jet printer, as the ink ran. But after they were cut out it was barely noticeable. I would recommended printing the templates onto paper and tracing them onto the vellum. Or if you have a laser printer, you can print straight onto the vellum.

Then we folded up the wings, as you can see in the first picture, and put a small piece of double-sided sticky tape on the 'wrong' side in the middle, between the wings, and stuck them onto the card. We bought 6-pack sets of plain cards with envelopes.

We used gold cardboard for the angel's body. We bought A4 sheets and printed the template (again, we made a template of 12 from scanning a simple diagram) onto the reverse side. We cut out the angels and put two pieces of double-sided foam mounting tape on the reverse side, one behind the 'neck' and one on the 'dress hem'.

Then we placed the angel on top of the wings, as shown. We also put a 'merry christmas' sticker underneath the angel.

For the inside, we printed, cut out and glued the message the angel proclaimed about the saviour (Luke 2:11).

To make 24 cards, we purchased (from a shop that supplies stuff for scrap-booking; I'm sure it'd be much cheaper somewhere else!):
  • 2 sheets A4 gold cardboard
  • 2 A4 vellum sheets
  • 1 sheet gold "merry christmas stikers
  • 4 packs of 6 plain cards with envelopes
We also used:
  • double-sided foam mounting tape
  • double-sided sticky tape
  • paper for the message on the inside
  • scissors and glue

Matthew-isms

Matthew's vocabulary is growing. Here's a sample:
His name for all women: Mum.

His name for all men: Daddy.

His word for a fan:
go-round.

His word for a phone: hello.

His word for a hair-elastic: ow.

He's an observant little chap.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

wheels

Each time we come back to Australia for Christmas, Mum and Dad seem to pull out another toy that once belonged to my siblings and me. This year it was our lego. Hours and hours of fun then, and it has been hours and hours of fun now. Even Matthew joins in. After a good play this afternoon, this was Matthew's collection of bits he had found (he didn't make any, they were like that already). Notice anything?


Matthew 'wheels' Connor strikes again.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Bethany's song

Bethany sang this impromptu song today, in the car.

You are the powerful God. (x3)
I believe in you. (x3)
You died on the cross
to save my sins. (x3)
You made me.
You made everything. (x6)
You are the powerful God.
I believe in you.
Amen.

the thoughts of the heart

As I was reading through Luke recently I was struck by the number of references to the heart.

For us, the heart is the place of emotions and feelings, particularly the place of love. We are "led by the heart" if we make decisions based on our emotions over and against what our minds and thoughts are telling us. We "wear our heart on our sleeve" if we let everyone know who we love, "guard our hearts" when being careful about whom we love and our "hearts break" when that love is not returned.

This is not the way Luke speaks of the heart. Yes, the heart loves, for we are to 'love the Lord your God with all your heart' (10:27). But this is not the full story. You see, the verse actually says to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Love is something that belongs to our whole being, not just our heart. Our minds love as much as our hearts do.

As I read over the places where the heart was mentioned, I found that it was the place of thought (1:51, 66; 2:19, 35; 3:15; 9:47; 21:14; 24:38). Now, this is so different to the way we think about the heart that the greek word for heart, kardia, is sometimes translated "mind" (NIV 1:51, 66; 21:14; 24:38; ESV 12:45; 21:14). Conceptually it just doesn't make sense to us for the heart to 'think'.

The heart is also the place for storing what has been heard, or for memories (1:65-66; 2:51; 8:15). It is the place of belief (24:25), perhaps the inner self which only God sees (16:15), the place where decisions are made (21:14) and we talk to ourselves (12:45).

I found all this very interesting because it is not the way I usually think about the heart. It is different to our modern romantic notion of the heart. Perhaps it is just a conceptual difference in the languages... perhaps, but without doing an huge study on both languages and looking at the range of meanings associated with different words for mind and heart and soul I could not answer that question. And there are things we can learn without such a study...

1. Our hearts are not in conflict with our minds. They are not opposing authorities within us. We often think of our hearts as free and liberating but our minds as somehow chained and burdened to a priggish old school-ma'am named 'right'. We fall in love with someone we ought not to and we say things like 'I know I shouldn't, but my heart just says yes'. Perhaps we ought to admit to sinful desires coming just as much from our minds as our hearts. Yes we might have conflicting desires, but they don't come from different places within us, one from the mind and the other from the heart.

2. Feeling, thinking and believing all take place in the heart. It's not as if we think rationally with our minds but believe the irrational with our hearts. This is not the way it works. That's a distinction that is not present in scripture and is not helpful. We believe because we can think.

3. We need to be careful when reading scripture that we don't important modern romantic notions of the 'heart' onto scripture.

4. The best way I can summarise what heart or 'kardia' means in Luke is this: It is our inmost being, our true selves. The place of thoughts and memories and decisions that others cannot witness. Only Jesus percieves and knows our inmost self. Only God truly knows our hearts.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Orientation

Bethany had her Orientation Day for school today. Like Sophie, she'll be doing correspondence with the Sydney Distance Education Primary School.

We've been really impressed with the school this year and are confident that Bethany, while still quite young, will enjoy her learning experience. I'm really looking forward to the first six weeks of Kindy, which, if I recall correctly, were lots of fun.

Sophie will be in year one. They will be in the same class and will have two teachers who will be team-teaching. Children in the same family are often in the same class. This usually makes it much simpler for the parent-supervisor, only having to communicate with one teacher. It also means that for subjects like science, the social sciences, PE and the creative and performing arts, they will do much of their work together. The more I think about the year, the more I look forward to it and the more I am convinced that I am really going to have to be organised next year.

I think Bethany's ready, don't you...









And check out the SDEPS photo gallery to see if you can find the photo of Sophie!

To Jerusalem: He who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 9:51-19:48)

Last week, as we read about what Jesus did in Galilee, I encouraged you to think about who Jesus is. We were reminded that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. He is the Servant promised in Isaiah, as his work also demonstrates. Significantly, Jesus never uses these terms to describe himself, instead referring to himself as the Son of Man. I wonder what else you discovered about Him? Remember, all this may be clear to us, but at the time, some were confused.

At the end of the last section we read that the time of Jesus’ departure is about to be fulfilled (
9:31), and so now he heads to Jerusalem (9:51). He knows that his work will find its fulfilment in Jerusalem and so he goes there; his arrival recorded at the end of chapter 19. While there is mention of his journey throughout this section, it is not primarily about the journey but about what Jesus taught on the way.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Some links

I thought I would draw your attention to this article.  I only mention it because I have found one-to-one ministry so encouraging; in Vanuatu as much as in Australia.  Give it a go!

And this is what I was getting at here.

Stuck

I said here that I seem to have slotted right back into life in Australia without missing a beat. On further reflection, I think that statement needs modifying to:
I have become accustomed to what I can manage so that I no longer feel out of my depth.
Let me tell you what happened last night.

My sister was here for dinner. About ten-ish, I drove her home (she lives quite close). She lives on a road that runs parallel to the railway in the Blue Mountains. On the other side of the railway is the highway. I pulled into her driveway to let her out, apologised for not taking her right up the driveway because I immensely dislike reversing back down and waited for her to go inside. Then I waited for a break in the traffic before reversing back onto the road.

Now, those familiar with the Blue Mountains at about ten at night, will be very surprised at this, for there is rarely need to wait for traffic at that time of night. It turns out there had been an accident on the highway and all the highway traffic was being diverted along this road. Constant, fast traffic. It was dark and it was raining. And there was no way I was going to reverse out into that traffic. There were wheely bins on either side of the driveway so I couldn't reverse onto the council strip either.

My sister's property has a fence along the front with one gate for the driveway and another at the far side. I had a brainwave and decided to go up the driveway, around on the grass and out the other gate. I surveyed the front yard and decided it would be possible. However, as I turned off the driveway, I noticed in the beam of the headlights, a small Grevillea bush between too larger bushes. Just enough room to squeeze between the bottle brush and the Grevillea, I thought, and if worse comes to worse, I'll have to go over the Grevillea and buy them a new one.

The front wheels fit between the Grevillea and the larger bush fine. But as I swung around to go around and out the other gate, all of a sudden I was stuck. The car had swung around and over the Grevillea bush and become stuck upon it. What had appeared to be small, young bush in the head-lights was actually a small, very old bush with a hefty stump. The car, Mum and Dad's car, was stuck.

We (by now my sister had come outside to see what on earth was going on) couldn't reverse, we couldn't go forward, we couldn't pull out the bush and we couldn't find a saw.

The car was soon freed in the morning by my brother-in-law and Father. To my great relief we didn't have to involve the NRMA and there was only slight scratching on the underside of the car.

If only I wasn't quite so intimated by traffic...

Friday, 12 December 2008

A meme: what have you learnt?

A while ago, Erin tagged me to do this meme: what are six things you have learnt this year? I thought now might be a good time to sit down and think about this.

Here goes.

1. I really need a nap in the afternoons.

2. It's difficult being Mum and Teacher. It's difficult relationally; Sophie can't treat me differently or respond differently or suddenly be more obedient just because she has school work in front of her. It's difficult because it's tiring. It's difficult because it's isolating.

3. Christians are sinners. I had this epiphany earlier in the year in relation to my husband. Furthermore, it has become clear this year that while we live in a "christian community" it is still full of sinners, myself included.

4. I learnt (and am still learning) to rejoice that my name is written in heaven and not in the things that I do, no matter how good or how successful they are (or aren't). See Luke 10:20.

5. Blogging is great in moderation. It's been a great way to keep in touch with people and it's also a great way to waste time.

6. God is faithful and His word is refreshing.

I tag Nicole and Jean and Cathy, because I'd really like to read about what they think are the six most important things they have learnt this year.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

A story of love...

I love the story of the incident at Simon’s house.

I love the raw emotion of it, the way it shakes me from my academic and theoretical analysis and makes it personal, the way it forces me to ask myself, ‘do I love him?’

I love the way it reveals my sinful, self-righteous heart. I see the woman, her hair uncovered, kissing his feet and I respond as Simon does. I am embarrassed, squirming in my seat. I don’t know where to look! Like Simon, I have become a judge with evil thoughts, judging not just the woman but also the one who will not send her away...


Read the rest here.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

when sinners say I do

If you've read this post, you will be aware that I don't read theological books very well.  I am only marginally better at reading pastoral books and earlier this year I read only the first few chapters of When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey.

Can I say that what I read there was incredibly liberating? If I never read the rest of the book, it was worth whatever we paid for it.

What was so liberating? This was: I married a sinner. Yes, believe it or not, Glen is a sinner. Can you believe it? Or can you believe I never worked that out before?

I knew it theoretically but the practical implications had never dawned on me.

This has totally revolutionised tension and conflict for me. When he says something that hurts, or he is being, well, a little wee bit selfish, I think to myself, 'yep, he's a sinner', smile to myself, pray for him, remind myself that I'm a sinner too and ask God to help us work things out. Before, I just used to feel confused and angry.

I really think I should read the rest of that book.

Friends from Talua

Our friends from Talua are having a more restful time this week after an intense week at SPRTE and on mission with Springwood Anglican Church.

But it hasn't been all play!  They've had a chance to meet and chat with Ray Galea from MBM, David and Cathi Cohen of Moringa Associates, and some returned missionaries who spent many years in Vanuatu. These have been helpful times and have given them (and us!) plenty to think and pray about.

We said farewell to two of our number this morning as they travelled out to Wee Waa for some time in the North West.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

lots of good

Sophie: There's one bad thing and lots of good things about me going to school.

Me: Oh? What's the bad thing?

Sophie: Bethany misses me.

Me: And the good things?

Sophie: Well, I like it. I have a good teacher. I can make lots of good friends, and I have. And I can learn things.

I'm not sure what this means about what she learnt the rest of the year, but it's comforting to know it isn't a harrowing experience for her.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Friends from Talua

As I mentioned here, Glen went to SPRTE with some students and graduates from Talua. The post-conference mission finished this morning. And now, our friends from Talua have two weeks ahead of them visiting churches and meeting various people around Sydney. We'll also do a little sight-seeing.

In Galilee: the year of the Lord’s Favour (Luke 3:1-9:50)

This is our second week reading Luke over at EQUIP Bookclub. Join in!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Mermaid Sophie


We had fun this weekend preparing for and attending a birthday party. It was an under-the-sea party. We ducked out to Vinnie's yesterday morning and found a sparkling skirt which we took in and shaped like a fish-tail. We used the triangular shaped off-cuts to make the fins on the end of the tail. These went on the feet like socks. We also found a bodice at Vinnie's which we thought would be more modest than the usual bikini top. We thought she looked just like a mermaid!!

She had a great time at the party. The whole class had been invited. I was impressed, too. It was well run. Nothing over the top. Self-catered, simple food and most of it very healthy.

It was a great opportunity for me too, to meet the children and their parents. I look forward to meeting some familiar faces at school tomorrow morning!

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Christmas Shopping

Well been back for five days. I used to take much longer than this to adjust to the enormous differences in our cultures. I would take a few days just to recover from the shock and confusion of stepping off the plane into a luxury shopping mall. Where are my bags? But now it doesn't bother me so much. I think I've become de-sensitized to it. This worries me, because I think it should bother me.

I've found it extraordinarily easy this time around to slide back into life in Australia without missing a beat. The cars, the food, the clothing, the fast internet. All mine. Perhaps it was all a dream?

Mind you, I haven't attempted Christmas shopping yet. That really frightens me and I'd like not to have to do to worry about it at all. Perhaps I can put it in the too hard basket and opt out claiming culture shock. What do you think?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Second Day


Here is Sophie ready for her second day of school. Her first day was mufti.

laughing and crying

I followed a link on a friend's blog and did this quiz.

It suggested that...


I am a
Snapdragon


What Flower
Are You?



and came with the comment...
"Mischief is your middle name, but your first is friend. You are quite the prankster that loves to make other people laugh."

I haven't laughed so much in ages.

Which is just as well, as this one made me cry.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

First Day of School

Well today was Sophie's first day of mainstream school.

How did it go?
Good.

What did you do?
Oh, nothing much.

Well, did you meet any people?
Yeah, but I don't know their names.

With a little more probing we found out a little more.  But not much.  There was a trip to the library and reading with help from some Mothers.  There was news, which she couldn't hear because the children were too quiet (and because of recovering from an ear infection), a birthday invitation for the weekend, and although there was overwhelming presence of Santa in the classroom, they had been read the story of the birth of Jesus.

And how does the mother feel?
A little disappointed, but not surprised, that it was all so easy.  No tears.  No clinging to my skirts.  Nothing.  She lined up and went in and didn't look back.  She came out again at the end of the day with a great big smile.  She was fine, said the teacher.  At that was that.  Oh, and I was glad she remembered to shut the toilet door.  I was worried about that.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Reading Luke

We start reading Luke together over at EQUIP BOOKCLUB today.

Read along with us, and don't be shy about joining the discussion.

Here's how it starts....

Christmas. It comes around so quickly now. But remember when the wait was so long. Remember your anticipation as the tree went up, as presents appeared, as your Mum baked… You knew what was coming and you looked forward to the joy of its arrival. Well, imagine a four hundred year wait. Imagine one thousand years. And then, an angel appears… and then another… and then the barren is with child… and the virgin… and you know what is coming. 

Wait. Anticipation. Joy. This is the atmosphere of these first two chapters of Luke; the very first Christmas.

Luke is careful to show that God is working in the events of this first Christmas in order to accomplish what he had promised.


Read the rest here.

Culture Shock

Walking through the Airport Carpark...

Bethany: What's this Mum? Is it a Zebra Crossing? Wow!

And a number of times in the car, speaking of things she could see...

Bethany: It's so big, huge.

Later we pull up at traffic lights...

Sophie: Oh no! A traffic jam!

Later again at traffic lights...

Sophie: So many red lights.

Bethany: (Sigh) What do they all mean?

Me: Well those traffic lights tell cars to stop. Those ones over there tell people not to cross the road. Those ones on the cars tell us the brakes are on and those other ones on the cars are just there so we know where the back of the car is.

Bethany: Wow.

After hearing that we're having chicken for dinner...

Bethany: Wow, is Granny going to catch a chicken?

We made it.

We're safe and sound in the Blue Mountains. No hiccoughs, no hassles. Praise God.