Tag Archive: community


or marrying the dreaded?

i am leaving in an hour or so for the airport to head for durban where on sat i will be marrying dreadlocked mike and nancy the twin (just in case there is any confusion about the nicknames i have given these two, mike has dreads and nancy is a twin… smooth.)

and i am so super amped – i have written my marriage licence test but i have yet to get the results and so i am not allowed to do the legal stuff for this wedding [which i am uber happy about cos imagine screwing that up – “hi guys, so by the way, you aren’t really married, i used a blue pen and not a black one, oops”] and this is my second time preaching at a wedding (with another one coming later this year for kleinbigfrans and michelleofprettynormalsize)

my first wedding was a young afrikaans couple who were fairly new to our church and asked me if i would do the preach and the first words out of my mouth were ‘can i preach barefoot’ [i preach at our sun evening enGAGE service barefoot normally and it was more of a joke than a serious question cos it was an afrikaans wedding and all and so i knew there was no way that] and they said yes and i couldn’t believe it, but decided to anyways and worked it into my preach (and they have been commenting very flattering stuff on my facebook statuses this week so i take it it all went pretty well)

and so when dreadlocked mike and nancy the drama student (and twin!) asked me i knew it was just a formality to ask whether i could preach barefoot and so when mike said “no” i was a little perturbed (cos after my first wedding i was ‘right, that’s going to be my thing, i will always preach barefoot at weddings!’) and surprised but they’re my friends and it’s their wedding and preaching with shoes on at their wedding was a thousand times more favourable than being barefoot in cape town while their wedding took place

mike phoned me the other nite to say they’d been discussing things and part of the vibe was they wanted to be them and they wanted me to be me and so i should preach barefoot and when i semi objected cos i really wanted nancy to be happy and have the wedding she always wanted mike almost commanded me to go commando, um i mean barefoot (that’s different hey? commando in the foot department? better.) and so i just might [but if not i will definitely be wearing my marvin the martian cartoon shoes with my black suit]

but the main point is i am so much looking forward to this wedding (yes, the title was just to hook you in to read it and look, here you are) and more importantly this marriage because of everything that it means – because mike and nancy are two of my favourite people in the world and i am really hoping a couple that we will be connected with for a decent period at some point in our lives and i am hoping for soon – and because marriage between the right people (and i really think these two are the right people) is incredible

what an opportunity to celebrate with two friends the start (or continuation) of a most amazing journey and to stand up with a group of friends and family and say “we have you on this. we have your backs. rely on us. use us. call on us. cry on our shoulders. borrow from us. invite us over” because as amazing as marriage is, it is not easy – well, sometimes, a lot of the time in fact, it really is, but you have two people each with their own crap and sin and issues and attitudes and morning or late evening personas and now they are sharing a space together always – and it is important to have a community of people who love you and will commit themselves to speak into the marriage, to leave space for it to grow, to ride shotgun for it when times are rough, to fight for it when those inside are feeling weak and tired or stressed out, to celebrate it regularly, and to draw strength from it…

here’s to mike and nancy and the start of a beautiful marriagetionship…

so i write a weekly email called thort for the week aimed at challenging people to live out what they say they believe and for this week i really felt like John Eliastam’s comments on the Anne Rice note i wrote on Facebook really express well what a lot of Christ followers (and others) could well do with reading:

In fact for this week’s thort let me use my former boss John Eliastam’s response to my note and to someone who replied antagonistically to it because i really think this brings up a lot of important stuff for us to think about [those who know me know that i love the church – i am currently working on a book aimed at people who have ‘walked away from the church’ but still profess to love Jesus – and so just because i understand to some extent where Anne and others may be coming from, i don’t think the solution is to disown church completely, but i do ‘get’ it:

‘I’m hugely sympathetic to Rice. I had a long conversation with an atheist the other day. Most of his objections to the Christian faith were based on his observations of church history from Constantine to TBN. He asked if an impartial observer were to look at Christians, would they find any links (other than spoken words) between their lives and the message of Christ that would make them any different to anyone else. He doesn’t buy the “God sees the heart” thing… said that what’s in your heart is expressed in your priorities/values/actions towards others. I struggled to find words to explain or defend what we call “church” – particularly why there was a need to keep it going exactly the way it was, rather than seek reform and renewal that would give it a “shape” that changed the shape of our lives to be more like Jesus (my thoughts not his). In the end I managed to persuade him that he was really an agnostic rather than an atheist by showing that the arrogant, closed-mindedness of the atheist view as unappealing as his perception of Christians. Next week we’re going to explore the questions of “how we know” more deeply.

Back to Rice though: all over the world the church/institutional christianity/whatever you choose to call it is losing people because they want to follow Jesus more authentically and find “churchianity” an impediment rather than a help. I can’t judge “church”; it’s the way it is because its made up of people like me who are so susceptible to the selfish sinfulness of our hearts and the pulls of our culture. I believe that it’s God’s desire to renew and reform his people, whatever shape they currently find themselves in. My questions to anyone who reads this: are there ways that you can align your life with God’s renewing work rather than with perpetuating the status quo?’

Then later he responds to an antagonistic response to my note:

‘I agree with the “lone ranger” bit completely. We need to be part of a community that isn’t made up of people we choose to be with because we’re comfortable being around them – the miracle of God’s people is that they are old, young, black, white, in-between, rich, poor – all a visible demonstration of God’s reconciling work, especially because in the NT picture, they seem to really share each other’s lives (including possessions), not just a church service. Following Jesus isn’t a solo thing and needs to be done in costly community.

Something I’m exploring is what “church” really means. Most Christians are quite comfortable with the concept of “nominal Christians” – people who would put down “Christian” as their religion on a form…. what about the idea of “nominal churches”? Organisations that call themselves churches, but if they are analysed they bear very little resemblance to the biblical picture of following Jesus. They say all the right things, but in their everyday lives their members lives just like everyone else, with the same priorites and concerns. Jesus himself said that there would be sheep and goats, wheat and tares in the field, that many would claim to be his followers and do great things in his name – even though he says he doesn’t know them. Do we have to surrender unquestioningly to the “authority” of anything that calls itself “church”?

What we call “church” at this point is history has seen things like a clergy/laity split, a whole lot of syncretism with Roman pagan religion, the Enlightenment and the separation of secular/spiritual, a history of splitting whenever we disagree…. Today churches often look a whole lot like a clubs with some kind of loose affiliation to the teachings of Jesus… I long to be part of something deeper….

When the followers of John the Baptist come to Jesus (Matt) and ask if he is the “real deal”, or should they expect something more, Jesus points to some very tangible evidence. The world looks at the church, especially it’s claim to be all about love (I have yet to find someone outside the church who would believe this), and asks, “Are you guys the real deal? Are you really what the whole of creation has been waiting for? Is this as good as it gets?”. What do we point them to to convince them that we are? That we go to services, listen to sermons, sing songs, have a lot of correct information about Jesus in our heads, that we tithe and go to home group? Not sure it’s that convincing for them…’

Really think John is saying some good stuff here and i would say one of the keys is his line:

“He asked if an impartial observer were to look at Christians, would they find any links (other than spoken words) between their lives and the message of Christ that would make them any different to anyone else”

and then his question:

“are there ways that you can align your life with God’s renewing work rather than with perpetuating the status quo?”

Something for us all to ponder on this week perhaps…

God bless you as you live as the church God called us to be
Known by the love we have for each other
Love brett anderson

Excerpt from Erwin McManus ‘an unstoppable force’ (available from Loot – http://www.loot.co.za/refer.html?referrer=85894849355 – for R170)

[continued]

HOW MANY TIMES DOES HE HAVE TO CALL?

Why are there so many levels of Christian calling in our contemporary Christian community? Where are they found in the Biblical text? I have a strange suspicion that the nuances of these “callings” have less to do with theology and more to do with the condition of the church.

Paul seemed to think that there was one calling. He writes to Timothy, “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1.8-9a)

The Scriptures seem to simplify the process of calling. The one call is to lay your life at the feet of Jesus and to do whatever He asks. It is a calling that says “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1.21). It is a calling that declares, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the  body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2.20) It is the calling that challenges us to make ourselves a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, that we may know and do His will.

An honest evaluation of the dramatic number of callings that the church has created would reveal that we have found extraordinary ways of describing the overwhelming amount of Christless living in the church. If we got the first calling right, would any of these other callings be necessary?

Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” He did not say, “Believe in Me so that you can go to heaven.” In fact, He lays down extraordinary criteria. He said, “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me.” He expands by saying, “Unless you hate your father and mother, your brother and sisters, your wife and children, yes even your own life, you cannot be my disciple.” He is emphatic in the condition that unless we deny ourselves, we cannot be His disciples. He describes the response to His calling as the end of ourselves. If we try to save our lives, we will lose them. But if we lose our lives for His sake, we will find life.

LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS

What we now consider to be the highest level of calling in the Christian community was, for Jesus, the basic entry point. It was to the whole church that Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” (Matthew 28.19-20a). It was to the whole church that Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8).

In the process of creating a theology that accommodates apathy, disinterest, compromise, and even rebellion, we have lost the essence of the movement for which Jesus died. We made a mistake of making heroes out of those who were simply living a normal Christian life. There may be no more significant ingredient to the apostolic ethos than establishing a radical minimum standard. The gatekeepers for our culture are not the heroes or supermen, but the common person. The individuals who represent the ideal inspire masses to pursue the values and virtues of their people; but it is the common person within each society who establishes the boundaries that are required to remain a part of the clan. It is not the extraordinary standard but the minimum standard that is the critical boundary in shaping a culture. To unleash an apostolic ethos, it is essential to establish a radical minimum standard.

It’s easy to confuse the minimum with the extraordinary. We do it all the time. In fact, organisations continuously face that crisis. Whenever someone fails to live up to an understood expectation, we are forced to make some kind of re-evaluation. Either our standard should change or our actions have to change.

When we live below a standard, it is simply human nature to redefine the standard as unreasonable and establish standards which that our patterns are already accomplishing. We keep lowering the bar until we clear it…

[to be continued]

so last year sometime the beautiful Valerie and myself decided to take a day out of the week and make it meat-free – and so we chose a Thursday for reasons i can’t remember

[no that doesn’t mean on Thursdays we run down the streets giving away packs of bacon to people altho i can’t see how they wouldn’t appreciate it – the people i mean, not the bacons]

and we encouraged people in our community (our church congregation enGAGE and my weekly thort for the week community) to consider doing likewise

and then after talking about it for a long time we decided to start some recycling as well (and by that i don’t mean we would go out on our bikes somewhere and then repeat the route – oh wait, we don’t have bikes, who were those people?) and so we put some crates outside our place and now have space for glass and tins and cardboard and plastic

then after a while – and big piles of stuff outside our window – we actually discovered where we can take that stuff and so we started actually recycling [altho we are still needing to figure out what to do with the cardboard cos the BP does not have a bin for that] and last nite we told the guy who stays in the flat next to us and he has already started putting his empty bottles with out

and we wrote an email to the complex we stay in and they sounded positive and said they would bring it up at the next meeting and so hopefully it will become an official part of where we stay

my point is that as easy as it is to bury your head in the sand and pretend the situation is so overwhelming (which it seems to be at times) that why bother doing anything… or you can start somewhere – one couple not eating meat and doing a bit of recycling is not going to change the world, but one couple and their next door neighbour man? well who knows?

what are you doing for your planet? and the next generation?

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