Monday, 31 October 2011

the 'grace' thang...

The phone has just rung: was I interested in the completely free double-glazing of all my windows being offered?
Ah... an offer to good to refuse.
And so, naturally, I politely refused and wished the chap on the other end of the line a nice day.

'There's no such thing as a free lunch...', nor, I feel, free windows.
However the brief conversational interlude seems apt to think a little on the nature of grace.

In the church, we bang on about the grace of God - a free, unmerited gift - and at times, politely refuse to accept the gift, or ignore it quietly.
Conditions are placed on it: you get the grace thang when you do x or y.
We get the grace thang.
Full Stop.

And because it is freely given, it is oft-times politely and not-so-politely refused.  As if we just can't believe it.
By extension, it is then easy to point fingers, to refuse to act in grace, to be ungracious.
We, as this rag-tag broken body of Christ, differ on opinions so vehemently at times that lack of grace blinds us to the fact that regardless of opinion, we are all of us created in the image of God, and loved utterly.

Grace is a paradox:
Grace is free,
Grace is costly.

Look where grace got Jesus....
It is a kenotic - self-giving - thing that, taken to the limit goes beyond our limits.

And grace, though freely given, is constantly challenging.
Grace challenges me to see the face of God even in - especially in - the one who calls me an 'abomination';
to look beyond the words and see a beloved brother or sister in Christ who is probably as full of contradictions and mess as I am. 
Grace challenges me to avoid retaliating through the use of dehumanising language borne out of hurt and frustration.

Grace, then, is that free gift which challenges me to meet others in, and with, that same grace given to me, and yet, even as I do so, it is grace that holds me up, gives me strength, causes me to laugh out loud at times... and keeps me going.  And even should I choose to refuse that challenge, grace remains.

I came across the following from the blog-site 
'christians tired of being misrepresented' and thought it worth chewing over... 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

'ooooh heaven is a place on earth'

St Deniol's Library
In the words of the old Belinda Carlisle song: 'ooooh heaven is a place on earth'.
Or in this case, academic nerdy geek heaven, at least. 
I write this on a Virgin train heading to 'Paradise'... St Deniol's Library in Hawarden, just inside the Welsh border and a mere 6 miles away from the loveliness that is Chester.
St Deniol's, or to give it its new name as of 2010 'Gladstone's Library', is the UK's only residential library, and was created and given to the nation by that most impressive of Victorian statesmen William Gladstone.  Gladstone, an avid book lover, had collected about 32 000 books over the course of his rather long life and the library has considerably more these days.

My secondary thesis supervisor and I were having lunch yesterday and she described St D's as a type of 'academic boot camp'.
And so I'm off to boot camp to craft and polish the current chapter I've been working on... living in a library filled with over 200 000 books.
Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! :)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

'where's the hole in the polo?'

I do enjoy the vagaries of academia sometimes: today's random snippet:

Conversation with academic supervisor:
She, searching for gaps in the thesis plan: 'hmmm, where's the hole in the polo?' which I responded:
'Ah, I grew up calling them "lifesavers!"

Later, as I was sending my supervision memo off, I recalled lifesavers, so idly google-imaged.  Behold: butterscotch lifesavers.  The cross-cultural image straight from 1950's non-decimalised Oz [before my time, I hasten to add!!].
The ad tag-line I remember, however, was 'get a hole lot more out of life'

Re. previous blog-post: vision now restored and copious thanks to several techie pals.  And given I was fiddling aboot, thought a change of template might also be a good thing.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

techie friends, help ...?

I appear to have lost all the pics uploaded over the life of this blog.  I do not understand. 
There's a mystery dying to be solved.
I have a chapter to write of the thesis before I completely disembowelled...

Heeeelp meeeeee.....

Saturday, 8 October 2011

mud wrestling in the Christian community

Gazillions of years ago, as a fresh-faced wee Christian, I went off for a couple of years to what was then known as the Bible College of Queensland.  Being from a more middle-of-the-road style denomination, the Uniting Church in Australia, I confess there was certainly some culture shock upon entering a more...conservative environment.

Initially, a strange new language comprised of odd acronymns, which, I realised later, were actually forms of shorthand for such things as missionary societies or various theological dogmas: PSA - penal substitutionary atonement; TULIP, which was not, as I thought, a reference to pretty spring flowers, but Calvinist points of reference....  And then, odd cultural differences: on inviting a friend to come to a dance, she observed that she didn't dance.  Blithely I piped up to say that it was alright, as it was very informal and the band taught and called the dance steps.  Ah, no.  Not that she couldn't dance, but rather she wouldn't dance. 

But why this little trip down memory lane?  Ah, who said teachers aren't influential?  I believe it was in a course entitled 'Principles of Christian Living', taught by a chap named Ivan Bowden, that I first encountered this week's lectionary readings, Philippians 4:1-13.  It was a discussion on unity/ harmony/ living peacefully with one another...and in the reading, we encountered two women who rejoiced in the names of Euodia and Syntyche.  Suffice to say that there had been a little friction and disharmony between said women: the writer of the epistle noting that the behaviour brought discredit not only upon them but upon the community.  Mr Bowden, to illustrate a point imagined a dialogue between 'you're odious' and 'so touchy'.  Of course, every time I happen upon this reading, these two poor women are now forever cursed to go through life with the variant names. 

Here, too, is a place where at times it is truly unhelpful to be a visual thinker: the two also end up in my head in an ongoing mud-wrestling situation....  Although, given the various disputes that arise in church and threaten to cause disunity, there's sommat to be said for mud wrestling as the way forward with regard to dispute settlement, as well as a useful way of getting the congregation to focus on the one thing... as well as a potential source of income for the roof fund.  

Yeah, I wonder how that might preach...?!