Unity and uniqueness

It’s good to stand together, prefer one another, consider others better, bear one another’s burdens, weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh. Re-digging the ancient wells of your father. It’s good to follow the narrow path, hear the call of God, use the gifts you have, make the most of the […]

I finished a novel and didn’t notice

I’ve been stealing moments to write my first novel for so long now that when I wrote the last scene I was caught unawares.

Tidying up some spelling and rushed typing I saved the file and then noticed that the pressure to go on, to finish, had gone.

Then I realised. That was it. The place I had always planned to end had been reached. It was over.

So I immediately began re-reading and re-writing….

While the breadth of the novel is complete, the depth and dimension no doubt will require some work.

And in the end, who knows if anyone but me will read it.

Not to worry, I don’t care.

Still, I did submit it to a publisher today.

If you are interested to know more, leave a comment, I could be enticed to share a few details from my secret life of writing.

I’d say 100 comments might be enticing enough….

Good Anzac

While leaders erred their courage held
Bloodied birth waters for a young nation
Anzac Day.
Not so far from there a crowd yelled
Bloody minded in their mob betrayal
Good Friday.

Quiet days that soar still on our modern calendars
Far places weighing on our clever consciences
Calvary and Anzac Cove say, ‘Not my will, lest we forget’.
Great defeats born with blood, borne by love
Teaching us still decades, centuries, eternally
That winning is not always won in victory
But sometimes by the brave, in loss.

The good die young, die in sand and mud, die in their thousands
And we remember them, more than ever, more than mostMoved and strangely weeping.
But listen, echoing along with shuffling feet on dawn’s street
The sound of metal striking metal
Wood giving way, and flesh
And the cry of an only Son
Who dies on a tree, dies with scorn, dies alone
Not my will, lest we forget.

Peter Hallett

Love over information

It’s the information age and big data is going to save us and the more we know the higher we will rise, don’t you know?

Or perhaps it’s just that we want to prove we know more than the next guy, that we are in the know, in style, across the game, up with the Joneses, not missing out.

And maybe when we hear what’s going on we can’t resist contributing our superior knowledge and experience, looking down by enlightening.

But verses today put paid to all of that, put the lie to our culture’s view that it’s all about knowing, all about filling our heads with headlines and computers with a million files or leaking someone else’s files to the world.

And of course information, data, knowledge is a tradeable power on earth, but not in heaven.

Oh, and the verses:

‘Those who think the know something do not know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.’ 1 Corinthians 2,3

In other words, what ever you think you know is at best partly or minority known. But when ever you love you are competely and utterly known by the only One that knows everything.

Being known is what we all desire, at the heart of things. Love brings that, not knowledge. And just as well, or else all of us who know nothing would miss out.

Love over information.

Robert Kennedy, fighting into positive territory, letter to daughter

Fighting back into positive territory

Fighting back into positive territory is a cliche associated, most commonly, with the share market where it describes stocks, or indeed the whole market, moving from loss into gain.

Of course shares and markets are not personal beings that can fight back into anything and so it is a pity this phrase is so often wasted on the endless statistical variations of markets.

Where it is truly significant is in the story of human beings all over our planet who, against the odds, deliberatley and intentionally, fight back into positive territory.

An example I heard tonight was Senator Robert Kennedy, who shortly after the assassination of his brother, President John F Kennedy, wrote to his 12-year-old daughter:

‘Dear Kathleen, You seem to understand that Jack died and was buried today. As the oldest of the grandchildren, you have a special responsibility. Be kind to others and work hard for our country. Love, Daddy.’

‘Be kind to others and work hard for our country…’ – fighting back into positive territory.

This is one example among millions where people – confronted with loss, disability, disaster, sickness, suffering and tragedy – doggedly fight back into positive territory in their lives by choosing well on what to focus, on the words they speak, and the memories they entertain, or the perspective they maintain.

These are courageous, redemptive acts, all of them, and follow the great Redemeer at work in the world.

Keep fighting.

Decisions, decisions…

 

Everything flows from decision.
You can’t fail to decide because even that is a decision.
Decisions are like seeds, they usually contain more than you imagine.
Decisions can be unmade but their consequences tend to have a life of their own.
At some point we should accept the consequences and get on with making new – and perhaps better – decisions.

 

This Anzac Day, we have 23 million redemptive opportunities

Anzac Day 2013, Anzacs, redemption, Australia, Australian, 23 millionIn discussing the amazing opportunity that lies before the 23rd million Australian who joined us last night, Michael Pascoe says that perhaps the most significant thing about being Australian is redemption.

‘…it came down to redemption, to giving people a second chance.’

Pascoe says that while he hoped baby 23 million would make the most of its first chance at a lucky life, he agreed with John Menadue that being Australian is all about the great second chance. Here’s some of what Menadue wrote at Australia Day:

‘…whether Australian born, migrants or refugees an equal opportunity in life, a second chance. That ethos of redemption is a core part of our history…. A friend of mine, Ian McAuley, said that whilst the British sent the puritans to America, they sent convicts to Australia and that we got the better of the deal. The underprivileged and the outcasts in Australia got a second chance.’

We see redemption also in Anzac Day and perhaps this is why it has become such a powerful national symbol. Young Australians caught up in a military mistake, a tactical disaster and a human tragedy find a way to redeem this hopelessness through courage, self-sacrifice, comradery and humour. We may have lost the battle and many thousands of sons, but we bought at great price a sense of national identity and pride.

If that is true, if as Pascoe, Menadue and McAuley seem to agree – redemption is at the core of who we are – then there is great hope because national redemption is still needed.Read More »

Rev Bob Hammond,

Lord’s Prayer reveals divine priorities

Searching for ‘tweets’ in the writings of iconic Australian social reformer and evangelist Rev Robert Hammond, this comment stuck in my thinking:

‘The Lord’s Prayer does say: “And forgive us our debts,” but first it says “Give us this day our daily bread.”‘

In context, Hammond was suggesting before we worry about someone’s sin (wrongdoing), we should see to their daily needs of survival, in keeping with his commitment to practical Christianity.

This morning I woke early, and was thinking, among other things, of what other divine prioritisation we might see in a form of praying that came directly from Jesus. Whatever you think of Jesus, you would have to agree, understanding how he ordered his view of the world is worth considering.

Here’s a few early morning thoughts.

Our Father in Heaven: Not just God first, but relating to God so intimately that it transcends all of life and reaches to where God exists.

Hallowed (praised) be your name: Our choice to honour God’s identity, character, presence.

Your kingdom come, your will be done: His explanation of how to live purposely and perfectly now.

On earth as in heaven: Completing the circle – intimate relationship that honours the character and ways of God leads to a heaven on earth potential.

Give us this day: Not just ‘forever’ but living for today.

Our daily bread: Be practical about our (individual and communal) whole and healthy life

And forgive our sins: Be accountable for your own choices before God.

As we forgive others: Having the humility to acknowledge our own shortcomings means we might be able to release others from theirs.

Lead us not into temptation: Prepare for what choices we will face today by relying on God’s goodness.

Deliver us from evil: Prepare for the choices of others and the randomness of a broken world by relying on God’s goodness.

Your’s is the kingdom, power and glory forever: Come what may, be wrapped up in God’s completeness.

Amen: So be it.

The Lord’s Prayer, as it is commonly known to Protestant Christians, or the Pater Noster (Our Father) to many Catholics, is not so much a prayer, but a way of praying.

And as we have seen, it is also a way of living and seeing, today and forever.

PH

PS You can follow RBS Hammond on Twitter here.

Good Friday Fashion

Pockets of unbelief
Some bulging overcoat-size, fit the world in here Doctor Who style
Others faux, stitched, finger-blocking and smug, for appearance
Many inside jackets, back of jeans, silently or savagely stashed

Superior, mildly scornful, more dismissive, of my
Happy Easter greeting, not returned.

Broad swathes of just-believing cloth
But blowing in the wind, somewhat faded, trouser leg
Or sensible dress, unbuttoned sleeve, residual with faith’s fragrances
Pinched and creased and stained by paedophiles and penchants and pus

Didn’t even mention, neither for or against
Unobtrusive, benign, begrudging, slightly bitter? God, it’s Easter.

Collars, cuffs and hidden hems of belief
Heady justification, muddy footslog trailing threads and quick cuffs
Plunged diabolically or deliberately into pockets stirring
Or dipped in sweat of need or heartfelt hidden, hemmed in at home

Not just another day, more than a holiday
The core of my being, nothing more or less, forgive me Easter.

Good Friday fashion eternally of choice and destination
One garment disdained, gambled and divided and sworn
Another devotedly wrapped and wrapped and tears
And what will we wear world, garment of praise, garment of the age?

Lying still, pause for breath if nothing else
It’s a day that defies the pace and my mind turns to, strangely
Good Friday Fashion

…they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
…took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth

PH

sunrise, sky, colours, beauty

Walking forwards backwards or being really alive

Working on a project last week, I read a quote from an amazing Australian social reformer who should be better known to us than he is. Hopefully I can have a part in changing that shortly.

Anyway, he wrote that “most people move forward backwards”. The reason is that the future is “dark” in the sense that we cannot see one minute into the future (although we can imagine or project our ideas of what the future might be). On the other hand, the past is like a “blazing light” – we can see its details clearly and so although we may well feel we are moving forward, we do so with our eyes towards the “light” of the past.

But, he says, there are some people who move forward looking forward, watching carefully to see and embrace what emerges from the “dark” of the future. Something like watching the world take shape as night gives way to dawn.

These people, moving forward and looking forward, are those that are “truly alive”, he concludes.

I think we can convince and comfort ourselves we are moving forward when really in life there’s not much choice, as time and our beings go relentlessy where they haven’t been before, whether we like it or not. But are we looking forward.

It’s easy to step into the next thing life offers but have a good measure of our heart and at least one eye on something of the past that shines particularly brightly, even if it is the glistening of tears, or the rich glimmer of a golden time, or the sparkle of youthful innocence.

Move forward looking forward and save your best for what is and is to be. The past will take care of itself – which could be what Jesus meant when he gave the call to follow and said, ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’

I’m not saying it’s easy, or that I’m any good at it. But it makes sense, I reckon.

Spammer’s nice try

Spam comments often take the form of praise towards the unsuspecting blogger.

The goal is to have the comment published so that readers might follow the link to a sales website.

I thought this was a particularly flattering attempt (until the last sentence) although it was posted on Utterance’s report on Bear Gryll’s Christian faith so not sure what ‘problem’ is being ‘brought to light’.

‘Can I simply say what a comfort to uncover a person that truly knows what they’re talking about online. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people must check this out and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you’re not more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.’

I’m hoping this feedback leads to even stronger expressions of heartfelt admiration….

At six minutes and 14 seconds into the new year…

Sydney, New Year's Eve, Fireworks, 2013, Leichhardt, photo, time, new year

At six minutes and 14 seconds past midnight on January 1, 2013 I took this photo.

I didn’t know this at the time, but my phone did, on which I captured the image.

At the same moment a person in front raised their hand also to take a photo so that it appears they are balancing an explosion on their fist.

Here we all are, leaning forward toward the new year, counting down the solidity of year with the stuff of split-seconds.

We have so much information at our fingertips without trying, down to the unconscious moment of tapping for a photo… and yet faced with a new year we know nothing at all, not even today, not even tomorrow.

If the psalmist David was among the crowd on this balmy Sydney night, passing through the crowd with reflective gaze, he may have strolled back up the hill in his shorts, thongs and a Tigers t-shirt, typing as he walked:

“The life of mortals is like fireworks,
they flourish like a sparkle in the night.” *

And at the same time, sensing Someone eternal, walking alongside.

* Psalm 103:15-17 – The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

 

 

The complexity of command, conscience and covenant: new year reflection

The Christian life is a complex interplay of command, conscience and covenant – and none of these words are particularly popular or well understood in our culture or, perhaps, by many in the church.

traffic, conscience, right, wrong, covenant, maturity, choice, freedomFrom time to time debates rage in one corner of Christendom or another as to what Christians should or shouldn’t do and rarely is a mature understanding of these coexistent realities displayed.

Simplistically we could draw understanding from the humble traffic light. Red and green are commands and amber is more or less a matter of personal decision or conscience. Red does not ask you if you feel you should stop, it tells you that you must. Amber however allows you some measure of consideration. And green, like red, is a command to go and if you are in doubt about that you have not experienced missing a green light in Sydney traffic.

The context for the command and conscience of the traffic light is the covenant we all have with each other that we will obey the traffic rules, including traffic lights, and likewise drive safely and responsibly. When we as a community balance command, conscience and covenant well, there is relative safety and amenity on our roads. When these three are out of shape – frustration, damage and even death can result.

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