John Stackhouse Presents: A necessary evil. Do we truly want a world without evil?

 

We live in times wherA Necessary Evil 150509 Web-Graphice world events are frequently described as evil. It is a problem that doesn’t go away. So what about God? Can he really be all powerful and all loving if there is so much hurt? Why does he stand by? Does he care?

John G. Stackhouse Jr will argue that not only does God care, but that the world is like this for a reason. Hear why this would be so in a talk from an award-winning international scholar and public communicator, with an opportunity to put your questions to him.

You can start emailing your question now to adelaide@citybibleforum.org

To register click here 

 

7 sayings, 7 prayers

candlesIn this Lenten journey towards the cross and empty tomb, I continue to be reminded that, whatever else the Gospel is, it is God’s story. That’s important to remember; it is difficult to remain detached from story, since by its very nature story beckons involvement. Eugene Peterson says that theology as story becomes a “verbal [act] of hospitality”,[1] leading us not “to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s.  God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves”.[2]

So in my Lenten meditation I have sought to see my story in God’s through contemplating Jesus’ seven sayings from the cross, and attending to some possible prayers that arise. Perhaps, amidst the pre-Easter flurry, you might also like to come aside and ponder with me.

  1. Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do (Luke 23:34)
    How am I oblivious, Lord, to the ways in which I hurt, betray, dismiss, scoff, judge, malign, belittle, stymie, or show indifference to you? To others? What incarnations of ignorance does your forgiveness need to touch?
  2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43)
    What is your promise of deep fellowship for me? What is the shape of our communion into which you are calling me?
  3. Woman, behold your son. Son, behold your mother (John 19:26–27)
    Who are you giving me to care for, Lord, to become as family? Who have you given as carers for me?
  4. My God, My God, have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46 & Mark 15:34)
    In what ways am I experiencing your absence? Where do I wish you would just show up, God? What am I to do with this sense of abandonment?
  5. I thirst (John 19:28)
    What does your raw humanity, Jesus, mean for me? For my physicality? Whose thirst are you calling me to quench? What am I deeply thirsty for?
  6. It is finished (John 19:29-30)
    What has your cross, Jesus, ‘finished’, moved on, dealt with in my life? What remains ‘unfinished’?
  7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)
    How is your consecration to the Father becoming my own? In what dimensions of my life is your love further wooing my unfettered devotion?

[1] Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2005), 5.

[2] Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2006), 44.

 

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John Goldingay Reflection

Goldingay offers the following reflection based on Genesis 2 and, in particular, his understanding of the nature of “cleaving” which this describes (v. 24).

Jesus inferred from this story that we need to encourage people to keep that commitment rather than encourage them to sit fast and loose to it. Human beings should not tear apart what God put together (e.g., Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation rather than a law, like his other declarations on the imperiling of marriage (see Mt 5:27-32). Merely banning divorce would not fulfill it, and recognizing when marriages have fallen apart and rejoicing for people to start a new marriage would not necessarily resist it. In our own context, people might also want to ask Jesus questions about homosexual practice, polygamy or masturbation, and in response, Jesus might again refer back to Genesis. All these may fit ill with Genesis 1— 2, which implicitly sets sexual expression within the context of a lifelong heterosexual marriage designed to image God in the world. But Jesus might note that, for instance, Western churches tend to be softer on divorce and masturbation than on same-sex partnerships and polygamy, and wonder why that is.

Goldingay, John. Old Testament Theology Series, Volume 1 : Israel’s Gospel. Downers Grove, IL, USA: InterVarsity Press, 2010. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 9 March 2015.

Copyright © 2010. InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.

 

Lenten Refection

candlesFor various reasons I haven’t been writing my usual Lenten series this year and here we are in week 3 of the season. I’m not attempting to make a late start with this message, simply sharing a thought that has been with me this time around: less is more.

For me, Lent is one part of the Christian expression of a beautiful vision of our world, its mystery and enchantment, and our place within it. The central theme of Lent is one of ‘giving something up’ although I have also heard people speak of ‘taking something up’. It seems to me that we need someone or something, some voice, or ritual, or season to help us make choices for the lesser rather than the greater.

Mostly, our lives are crammed with too many tasks, objects, personal development projects, relationships, goals and so on. People now employ specialist consultants to help them to de-clutter, such is the chronic condition of our obsessive compulsion to do, or own or be just one more thing (and then another, oh, and that one too, and yes, look over there … ).

How nice to be part of a faith tradition that encourages us to enter a season of giving something up. Our gestures of sacrifice, at least mine, are fragile and seem the poorest possible shadows of what the great saints of our tradition have gone without in the pursuit and course of the beautiful vision, the truly attractive life. But even a small gesture of resistance against the corporate compulsion for mindless and endless accumulation, ‘growth’ and increase can seem like a wonderful triumph.

Sometimes our bodies need less of something, often it’s our egos that could do with a rest, usually both body and psyche will appreciate the surprising benefits  of the developing discipline of saying ‘no’ to one thing to enable ‘yes’ to another. Space and rest are incubators for the soul, that beautiful, secret part of us that has been infused with the nature of the Divine.

I leave you with one small expression of this in the words of theologian, Karl Rahner:

[our] reality is a picture of heaped-up activities, where the trivial, jostles the less trivial, and the less trivial elbows the important things, and there is no unity of design, nor any intensity of single, concentrated purpose … a [person] may turn from it all; and immediately the noise of his activities sinks to silence as, in a spirit of reverence and love, [she] speaks to God in prayer. With one swift upward glance of the soul, he has got as near as his finite nature will allow … to that sublime fusion of all … activities into one glowing point of heat and of light (Happiness through prayer).

Dr Phil Daughtry

Head of School, Humanities and Social Sciences

 

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