Teach us how to see (on Mary at the feet of Christ)

Teach us how to see (on Mary at the feet of Christ)

Mary stands in as symbol of all who sit at the feet of the Lord, all who follow as his disciples - all who seek to look to Christ for the one thing needed. All of us are invited to see much more than appears - all of us are encouraged to wait expectantly for something to burst forth from our Messiah, shedding new light on the landscape. And so we all look to Christ to see into the depths of reality, to glimpse the light and life of the world, to experience the fullness of God dwelling in man, to see the Lord of time who bridges the past into the now and makes possible our future, to see the one who at the consummation of the age will bring all out of their graves and wipe away all the tears of old as we enter the new heaven and new earth. By being present (attentive and expectant) in our relationship with Christ, we find ourselves where he is: in the depths of the non-intermittent, dependable, loving relationship of the Triune God; “the heart of discipleship is bound up with the life of the Trinity” (Williams). 


But we also find ourselves where Jesus is in another way. By looking to the face of Christ we are also taught to become aware of where and who he is with. The attentiveness we pay to Jesus, like Mary sitting at his feet, is not just a kind of aesthetic attitude while the important work takes place in the backrooms. Like walking out of a gallery we will be moved to find ourselves in the corners and circles of the world where Christ is pleased to be Emmanuel. Looking to Jesus teaches us to see him in our world today - sitting on street corners asking for change, stranded on Manus waiting on mercy, frightened in a youth detention centre isolated and abused. 

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All The Things I've Tried that Failed

All The Things I've Tried that Failed

If I were writing a book about my work as a chaplain it could be suitably titled All The Things I've Tried That Failed. In this post I search for a different way of measuring my (our) participation in the mission of God. Exploring Moses, who the Lord knew face to face; Paul, who came in gentleness; and Christ, who set the bar at love - there's a way of 'measuring' the Christian life that subverts and redeems all manner of downward slanting graphs.

To love God and love neighbour is to be drawn beyond ourselves and our own interests – it is, first, to seek fully and forever after a God who is both entirely beyond and within. It is to praisefully devote ourselves to the hidden and invisible God who we can know intimately. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be transformed by the Spirit of fire, without being consumed, without forfeiting agency. It is, second, to seek fully and forever after the interests of our neighbours who cannot be contained, controlled, or categorised. It is to joyfully commit ourselves to their flourishing and liberation, affirming their humanity as made in the image and likeness of God. It is to experience and allow ourselves to be converted by these encounters, without ever losing the confidence that who we are, as fearfully and wonderfully made, is, when coming to rest in God, enough. 
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The Gospel and Black Power: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power: "The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, & Black Power"

The Gospel and Black Power: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power: "The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, & Black Power"

The 4th post in the series on the writings of James Cone. Here I reflect on Cone's response to questions such as what is the gospel of Jesus Christ, what is the righteousness/justice of God, and whether Christian love is compatible with Black Power.

Therefore violence may be the only way to express Christian love to the white oppressor, as it is the only way to confront the white oppressor as a thou, to remain a thou in the face of the threat of nonbeing, to remain true to the worth, value, and humanity that God has bestowed through the initiating agape love, the only way to embody love as righting the wrongs of humanity because they are inconsistent with God’s purpose.

 

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We are, indeed, worthy

We are, indeed, worthy

Worship songs which stress our unworthiness not only miss the story of Scripture, but are also a danger for those struggling with depression and feelings of worthlessness. Painting by Heather Miller

"Jesus’ preferential option for the poor seems much more concerned with lifting the worth of an individual (not only societally, but in their own view of themselves in relation to God) than in ascertaining whether the appropriate belittling has already taken place."
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Faith, Love, Hope - Characteristic Postmodern Virtues

Faith, Love, Hope - Characteristic Postmodern Virtues

Notes from a workshop I ran as part of a series on the relationship/interplay between Deconstruction and Christianity for my work with the Chaplaincy at Mac Uni. This was the opening session, introducing a number of the concepts and exploring faith, hope, and love as "unconditional" (undeconstructable) compared to their "conditioned" (constructed) counterparts belief, expectation, reciprocity.

"That is a hope I hold, but that hope might be dashed, it might not be realised – that is why it is hope and not expectation, I’m hoping in a possibility… and I believe that this is the kind of hope that we as Christians are called to have..."
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The Incompleteness of Christianity

The Incompleteness of Christianity

Despite our desire to be in control, to experience things with a sense of completion (of being all tied off, done and dusted, sorted and settled) Christianity is a way of being in the world that promotes and indeed requires things to be incomplete. Faith, hope, love, forgiveness, hospitality; these Christian virtues all operate by disturbing cycles/economies of completion... leaving things to lie unfinished and incomplete.

"Christianity revels in incompleteness. In disturbing, disrupting, and breaking cycles of completion. In refusing to let cycles continue on ad infinitum. The characteristically Christian virtues not only promote, they require, things remaining incomplete."
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