Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
My previous statements, which have sustained me since 2001, were:
"So be it!"
Stephen Lawhead, 1989: Arthur; a Lion paperback - Oxford. pg 477
"I have seen a land bright with truth, where a man's word is his pledge and falsehood is banished, where children sleep safe in their mother's arms and never know fear or pain.
"I have seen a land where kings extend their hands in justice rather than reach for the sword; where mercy, kindness, and compassion flow like deep water over land, and men revere virtue, revere truth, revere beauty, above comfort, pleasure or selfish gain. A land where peace reigns in the hearts of men; where faith blazes like a beacon from every hill, and love a fire from every hearth; where the True God is worshiped and his ways acclaimed by all."
Stephen Lawhead, 1989: Arthur; a Lion paperback - Oxford. pg 152/3
Thursday, December 06, 2012
"Find out who has bound you," said the Master.
The disciple returned after a week and said, "No one has bound me."
"Then why ask to be liberated?"
That was a moment of Enlightenment for the disciple, who suddenly became free.
De Mello, Anthony 1988: One Minute Wisdom; Double Day: New York
Friday, July 20, 2012
20 July 2012
Thursday, July 05, 2012
5 July 2012
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The sperm of gods
In rhythmic thrust upon
The heat drenched land
Beyond the darkness
Of the midnight hour
I dream of you
As rain pours down
From moon brushed
Clouds upon the
Its thirst enveloping
The life-force of the Gods
I dream of you beyond
The midnight hour
And cry out in rhythmic
Expectation of your thirst
And gasp in expectation
As thunder echoes
in the clouds
I dream of you
And wake to feel
The heat of expectation
To hear the rain beat down
The coolness of a sated
Earth carried on the
I dream of you
As the gathering storm
The lightening shafts
At the earth
I dream of you
My body awakening
To the memory
Of your thirst
My passion warming
To the thunderous
I dream of you
14 December 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
ecumenical experience – personal
the church’s mission
an ecumenical context
applying the church’s mission to an ecumenical context
Thursday, March 03, 2011
brought into being by desire
a moment of passion
a God-spark of creative energy
a life-time ahead
a life to be lived
nourished in the womb
nurtured and birthed
a form of hope
a touchstone in the darkness
separation and divorce
enfolded in purpose
11 February 2011
Saturday, September 04, 2010
This is why we must never be afraid to speculate - and never, never be afraid of those who urge us to contemplate the seemingly impossible, to examine ancient formulae for new meanings. Believe me, we are more readily betrayed by our certainties than by our doubts and curiosities. I believe that half the heresies and schisms would never have happened if Christians had been willing to listen to each other in patience and charity, and not tried to turn the Divine mysteries into geometric theories ..."
I still agree with West's comment.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
It is a daunting task to distil a long life (97 years!) into a few short words of tribute. There are so many memories, my own and yours. I hope you recognise her in my words.
My earliest childhood memories are of “Langlea”, a home of big spaces and generous love. Listening in the early morning for the tea to be delivered, a sign that I could climb from my bed and join Nanna and Bumpa in their room; playing on the rowing machine while Bumpa shaved and brushed his hair, parting it carefully, brush in each hand; standing beside Nanna at her dressing table, mesmerised by the treasure trove of face-cream, nail-varnish, hair-spray, and her amazing collection of morning instruments, from cuticle-trimmer to a silver-backed hairbrush that had been her mother’s; then rushing off to dress myself for breakfast at 08:00. The rhythm of life: tea at 6; breakfast at 8; tea at 10.30; gin at 12; lunch at 1; tea at 3.30; whisky at 6 and dinner at 7.
Nanna was born in 1912 and grew up in a world very different from today; a slower paced world, where a holiday trip to Port Alfred took two weeks by ox-wagon and another two weeks to get home. Nanna embraced technology and knew how to use the throttle on her bright yellow sports car, and in her 90’s ditched her trade-mark typewriter and embraced the computer and emails.
Nanna sought to control her world. She had a pioneering and reformist spirit, perhaps a product of her youth, embedded as it was in colonialism and the mines. She took on life and sought to beat the chaos out of it. She was known to intimidate Bishops and was not afraid to confront the Nationalist Government policies in her involvement with the “Black Sash”. In the 40’s and 50’s she involved herself in Sophiatown with the likes of Trevor Huddleston and she built the first crèche in the area (in memory of her mother, Ida). Her generosity extended to paying for the education of a number of black clergy children, and through her involvement in the Ekutuleni Anglican Mission touched and influenced the lives of many.
But in the midst of everything, family took centre stage. She sought to protect, to nurture and to shape. And our memories of her are bound deeply to her love and care for us. She lost her mother, Ida, at 19 and spoke in recent years of the deep sense of loss she had carried throughout her life, missing her more and more as the years passed; and so perhaps we know who met Nanna as she stood at death’s open door. As a young teenager I remember her sitting on the side of my bed in the Blue Room one night, sharing the pain of seeing Pop-pops die, and reminiscing on his importance in her life. Bumpa’s death left her bereft and hopeless, and it took Simon moving in as a young Wits student to eventually bounce her back, with YCS students toyi-toying in the Drawing Room and young, black revolutionaries at the dinner table. James’ advent into Langlea was more genteel, but both gave her reason to live. She was remarkable in adapting to the worldview of a younger generation, and without sacrificing her own principles, was able to be accepting; and meals were often a space for sharing life and a good wine. The big family gatherings were always a source of joy to Nanna, and she loved having her children and grandchildren around: the pool, the swing, the “jungle” are all part of my happy memories of uncles and cousins and aunts and relatives; and the food and the laughter. Her great-grandchildren, too, were a source of joy. I only remember her angry with me once, when Simon and I had used the hot-water bottles as trampolines in our beds, and mine had burst ... requiring the bed to be remade!
Most of all, what stands out for me about Nanna is her faith in God and her commitment to prayer. God was never far from my relationship with her, and she was the source of my earliest awareness of the spiritual world. This seems at odds with her ability to hold life-long grudges and to be almost vitriolic in her condemnation of others, and of those we love. She was not unknown to manipulate us with her wealth; and the disparate manner with which she treated sons and daughters, children and spouses was often a mystery. She wasn’t unaware of this side of herself, but it was part of the chaos of her own humanity that she never managed to beat into submission. This more difficult side of her personality showed mainly when she perceived her children to need protection, or was jealous of the time she lost to those we love, or was just afraid that she may be forgotten; or was challenged in her reformist stride; and in recent years by her loss of influence as age took its toll. Underlined in her copy of THE OBLATE RULE C.S.M.V. IN SOUTH AFRICA are the words, “Despise no one, but honour all whom you meet or serve.”
Friday, May 14, 2010
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I share below a response to my sermon last week, from a friend I haven't seen in 30 years, on a far continent. An audio copy of the sermon Transforming Discontinuity is available at http://bit.ly/ad9QlP - please have a listen!
My friend's response:
Well. That was quite the most extraordinary experience!! I recognized your voice from 30 years ago. But I remember a shy, uncertain little fellow behind the voice. Now I hear a mature man speaking out with conviction and confidence. Are you aware of how you have changed?? Apropos your sermon. Just incredible. I would never have believed it.
The content of your sermon was also really thought provoking and inspiring. Inspiring because it made me think of discontinuous change. i.e. that change I experience today is not necessarily linked to what happened yesterday. As a psychologist I know that predictability is of key importance in our lives. And therefore your words make me wonder what affect unpredictable and discontinuous change has on us. I see this at work and your words make me aware of the needs of my colleagues. Their vulnerability and anxiousness about what tomorrow will bring.
Also, your words brought a memory back to me of a particular event I experienced while working in the UN. I was helping 3 children who had lost 4 of their siblings and their parents during the war. We had to extract these three young people because the oldest son was going to testify for the prosecution and their lives were threatened because of that. I took part in the extraction and we fetched them with one hours notice in a UN helicopter. They will never return to their home country and now have new identities living “elsewhere” as we say in the UN.
While I was in contact with them, I was notified by a UN inspector that the remains of their family had been identified in a mass grave through DNA samples. The UN DNA tested the whole of the respective nation for this purpose. Since they were not able to return home, I volunteered on their behalf to visit the mass grave, fetch their family and ensure that they received a proper burial according to the Muslim faith.
While standing in this grave with the remains of a small 4 year old boy in my arms his body wrapped in a blue UN packet, I felt so incredibly alone and bereft. So this is the “end station” of war I thought. Suddenly I was aware of a presence by my side. Saw no one. But the intense feeling that Jesus was standing at my side with me. His support for me and his care for me enabled me to do what I had come to do.
In the UN, every day is full of discontinuous change. And trauma. You mention both repeatedly in your sermon. And I can testify to the fact that the certainty that the Lord in whom I believe is with me always.
Thank you Mark!!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Who will condemn me?” (Isaiah 50:4, 9a TNIV)
Monday, February 22, 2010
A Lent Course
Equipping and Strengthening Families
Turning Houses into Homes
Prepared by the Rev'd Canon Mark R D Long
Week One – IntroductionOpening Prayer:
Read: "Life is no longer about family values but money and material gains. All what we do is more about self. We have adopted the "Western" attitude and culture of individualism and materialism. It is my wish that we change this mind set and think broadly about family – its importance and value. … In the context of African tradition and culture, family is the whole community where each person is not only responsible for his/her family but [for] any other member of the community [as well]. Adults are parents of every child whose upbringing is everyone's responsibility." – Bishop Jo Seoka: The Bishop's Charge, Synod 2008, Diocese of Pretoria.
- In "Buzz Groups" of two's or three's share your response to the above statement.
- In the large group share one thought out of each "Buzz Group".
- Try and sum up the group discussion in one sentence.
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' (Deut 6:5). This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself' (Lev 19:18). All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." – Matthew 22:36-40 TNIV
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4:10-12 TNIV
- 1 John 4:16 says: God is love. What is "Love" in the context of the above two Scripture quotes? Try and provide a working definition.
- Compare your working definition to what the media, especially movies and "TV Soapies", represents love as. Do you see a difference?
- The reading from 1 John, above, refers to sacrifice. What does "sacrifice" mean to you?
- The reading from Matthew defines relationship as focused love, on God and others. How does love impact your relationship with God, with family, with others? Share specific examples.
- Where do you experience love? And where do you share love?
Week Two – The Blessing of Family
Read: "Family time of prayer is today a rare commodity. In fact there is hardly time and space for family togetherness. Very few of us spend quality time with each other as family, eat together, share memories and plan for the future. We have become such busy bees that family values have gone out of the window leaving our children confused and spiritually empty" – Bishop Jo Seoka: The Bishop's Charge, Synod 2008, Diocese of Pretoria.
- What "Blessings" have you experienced personally by being a part of your family?
- Do you agree/disagree with the above quote? Why?
- Transformation is never instantaneous: what one "Blessing" is missing from your experience that you can make a priority to build in? Share this with the group.
- Bishop Jo speaks above of our children being left "confused and spiritually empty" – this is one of the "Woes" of family life today. How can the Church family help us in this regard?
"Look," said Naomi, "your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her." But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her. – Ruth 1:15-18 TNIV
- Remembering that Naomi's husband and two sons have died (Ruth is Naomi's daughter-in-law), what "Family" does Ruth commit herself to?
- Why is Ruth so determined to stay with Naomi? What "Blessings" do you think Ruth was expecting?
- Naomi tries hard to send Ruth back to her own family of origin. Reflect on the emotions Naomi must have experienced at Ruth's refusal.
- Do you think Naomi felt affirmed by Ruth's response? Why, or why not?
- Who in your family circle needs to be affirmed? Plan to write them a note this week to thank them for being a 'Blessing" to you.
Week Three – Belonging to FamilyOpening Prayer:
Read: "Individuals are held within the life of a family from birth to death. Anglicans affirm the place and goal of family life for all, in terms of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Families are part of the family of God as well as part of a larger community" – Lambeth Conference 2008.
"The gospel is all about inclusion, otherwise Jesus would not have asked his followers, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Here we learn about a new kind of family … Jesus turned the family structure into the wider community – connecting the family unit into a network of relations. … It is such relationships that will build the Church instituted by Christ to which all of God's people belong. Families are a given and are not something one chooses, … Each person belongs and is connected to the family … we are part of family at all times and in all places of our lives" – Bishop Jo Seoka: The Bishop's Charge, Synod 2008, Diocese of Pretoria.
- What does it mean to belong? What does it mean to be family?
- What is it that draws you to the Anglican Church? What is it about this community that helps you feel you belong? Do you feel excluded in any way? Why?
- In today's world how can our families be more meaningfully part of the "larger community"? Who/what is our "wider community"?
So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27 TNIV
Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative's house when disaster strikes you—better a neighbour nearby than a relative far away. – Proverbs 27:10 TNIV
- What does it mean to be "created in God's image"?
- How do you respond to the fact that you are made in God's image? And that so are others?
- How do you celebrate this "image of God" in your family life?
- Are you able to ask others (family, friends, and colleagues) for help? Share a situation where you did, and why the other person or group's response was helpful/unhelpful?
- Which relationships in your life need to be strengthened to help you feel more included?
Week Four – Believing in Family
Read: "I am … putting a challenge before you to seek God's guidance … as to how we can be involved in 'Equipping and Strengthening Families: Turning Houses into Homes'. … we can make a profound contribution as a faith community in rebuilding and transforming family life and responsible citizenship. … Our homes must be turned to worship spaces, meals into Eucharistic experiences and conversation to means of bonding and renewal of family love and nurturing" – Bishop Jo Seoka: The Bishop's Charge, Synod 2008, Diocese of Pretoria.
- Describe your picture of a "Home". What makes it different from a "House"?
- Belief has to do with principles, those things we believe to be true. What principles are important for family life?
- A house is a place without principle or relationship. How can we implement these principles to help our own houses become homes?
- Choose a principle that you believe is missing from your family life: share how you plan to implement it? Who will you need to negotiate with? What will you need to change?
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, "Woman, [The Greek for Woman does not denote any disrespect] here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. – John 19:25-27 TNIV
- Share your response to the above reading from the Gospel of John.
- What does Jesus believe about family? Why?
- Share what you value about your own family and experience of family life.
- How do we share this with others? Our own family? Fellow Church members? Society?
Week Five – Family Behaviour
Read: "The need today is much more than ever 'for families to have a rule of life that focuses the family on the centrality of Jesus Christ, with respect for each other as children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus' (Bishop's Charge 2005, pg 5)" – Bishop Jo Seoka: The Bishop's Charge, Synod 2008, Diocese of Pretoria.
- A "Rule of Life" is a covenant that guides the behaviour of a community, and helps individuals know how to behave in relationship to others in the community. It is more than a set of rules; it is a way of living. What two principles (above) are key to a rule for Family Life?
- Are these two principles evident in your family? If so, how do they impact on the behaviour of family members?
- "What would Jesus do?" Is this a question your family asks? If not, how do you think it would change family and individual behaviour if you begin asking it?
- We are all created in God's image: how does this (or could this) impact on family behaviour?
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21 TNIV
- Paul (above) shares the principles he believes should be core to family and community relationships in this wonderful prayer for the Ephesians. Share your response.
- Often we wait for others before we are willing to transform our own behaviour. Commit yourself to a specific positive behaviour change in your family life that you will implement and continue to live out even if no-one else in the family responds. If you have the courage, share this with the group.
- Share what has been valuable to you over the last five weeks in this course.