Thursday, 29 April 2010

The other side of "Thou shalt not lie"

by Peter Lockhart
Miroslav Volf in his book The End of Memory suggests "we fulfil the prohibition against bearing false witness when we love our neighbours (including our adversaries) as ourselves by speaking well of them." So often when we think of the Christian faith it is easily interpreted as a whole pile of rules and regulations - "thou shalt not", but what happens when we look deeper into the intent of the commandments. Are they not an invitation t live positively? "Thou shalt"! Martin Luther suggested that the 9th commandment was not simply a manner of speech which was to harm no one but a manner that "benefits everyone, reconciles the discordant, excuses and defends the maligned." This means that thinking about how I communicate with others is not simply abut avoiding lying but speaking in ways which can transform their lives by the gracious words which I choose to speak. This is no small challenge but certainly something worth reflecting on. So the question we should be asking ourselves is not what we are not allowed to do but what maybe we should be doing!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

I don't want volunteers in my congregation! by Peter Lockhart

I continually strike the language of volunteers in the church. It usually runs alongside the differentiation between those 'paid' to do ministry and those who 'volunteer'. If we put aside the whole notion of what a stipend is actually meant to be there is a huge problem with talking about volunteers in the church.

Literally a volunteer is an 'unpaid helper'. It is the underlying definition of what it means to be a human being that is particularly disconcerting. So often when use the word volunteer we risk reducing human beings to commodities, as is done in our Western society.  Moreover, to speak of the idea that 'time is money' elevates the dollar over the a life well lived.  If we view people who give time to the church as volunteers, as noble as this may sound to some, we are reducing the church to an insitution and the value of gifts to how much money is given.

When Jesus invited people to follow him he was looking for disciples not volunteers. Morevover, when we are baptised we are drawn into Jesus Christ's ascended life and transformed to be his body in the world.

This means that as we engage in our 'works' for the church, our engagement is as people living out our baptism in the power of the Holy Spirit, not as volunteers doing work for nothing.

The prevalence of the idea that church members volunteer is yet another sign of the subordination of the gospel and following Jesus to our Western culture. Is it not time to recapture something of what it means to be baptised people not volunteers!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

What do you want...

by Peter Lockhart

The beginning of Psalm 23 challenges the very core of our Western culture. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." Yet wanting things drives our Western consumerist culture, and dare I say even the Church in the West. We are consumers par excellence and we are taught to want, we are goaded into coveting, and without our continued consumption our economy is headed for disaster.

How do we as Christians live with this tension of wanting so much and finding that our true contentment and peace comes as a gift from God? How do we consider our wanting in terms of the issue that so much that we consume is produced by people who live in abject poverty? How do we understand our not wanting in relationship to the Lord being our Shepherd?

Hear Peter's sermon on Psalm 23 on 'Family Worship' on the Brisbane Family Radio Station 96.5 FM Sunday 11 April at 9am.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

What do Easter Eggs stand for?

by Peter Lockhart

Traditionally Easter eggs have been seen as a sign of new life and hope for Christians at Easter time but I am beginning to wonder if they are beginning to represent something a little darker.

It was reported that this year $230 million dollars would be spent by Australians and New Zealanders on Easter Eggs, bunnies etc. Walking around the shops just before Easter it's not hard to see why - with mega eggs and bunnies enticing us to engage in what could only be seen as unhealthy over-eating.

If we add to this that at least a proportion of the chocolate we eat in the West comes from cocoa beans picked by children who are treated like slaves (see the World Vision 'Don't Trade Lives' campaign) then our Easter binge on chocolates seems to be coming to represent something quite distrubing: greed and gluttony!

It is not wrong to want to celebrate Easter or to use symbols which promote and express our hope in Jesus resurrection. But when those symbols become distorted by the commericalism of the West, maybe we as the church need to take a step back and ask again, how can we share the message of the good news of Jesus in symbols that give life, not take it away?

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Easter Day Services

Celebrating the crucified and risen Lord!

Wavell Heights 8am
Hamilton 8:15 am
Toombul District 8:15 am
Clayfield 10 am
Geebung 10 am

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Don't rush ahead!

We in the West live in an impatient culture, a culture in which we can have anything and have it now. Why wait for the hot cross buns, they have been in the shops for months? Why delay on the Easter eggs, its only chocolate after all?

This weekend it would be easy to want to rush ahead like the disciple who leaves Peter in his wake on Easter morning but to do so we may be left wondering what to do with the empty tomb when we get there.

The services of Easter weekend invite us to swim againist the stream of our culture and take the time to reflect deeply on who this God is who would share in a human life and allow that life to be taken away, just as ours ends. What kind of God is this whose power and glory are seen in a condemned man hanging on a cross?

Rather than rush ahead and skip Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday enter in to this time to know the fullness of God's grace.