Monday, November 21, 2005

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shores of oblivion by gilad

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
If you are transparent and vulnerable people will call you superficial and you will get hurt.
Be transparent and vulnerable anyway.

I know not everyone needs to love me, I know not everyone will like me.It's a fact of life on this cursed terrain and I came to terms with that, was forced to comes to terms with that, long ago. Friends have joked, and I have sarcastically said a few times, that no one could possibly hate me, but I have been made more than aware of people who, in their hearts or in their actions towards me, words said about me, unwillingness to understand me, have hated me.
What I do have trouble wrapping my mind around are people who, not only present themselves as my friend but also present themselves as a friend and follower of Jesus, hate me. I saw it years ago, when a girl pretended to be chummy with me when really in her heart she hated me because of something that wasn't my fault, something that I had no control over. But she was never a close friend of mine, while it felt slightly unjustified that someone would judge me as she did, it wasn't as much of a slap in the face as the friend who has been hating me behind my back now.
Someone who I have been friends with for years, someone who consistantly uplifts me in compliments of a good heart and a wise mind, someone who I had no indication that they were displeased with me in the least, has been bitterly talking about me behind my back. On more than one occasion saying that I am superficial and shallow. Now I could say, or you could say, well that's life, it happens, you can't care what anyone else thinks, you just need to accept that life is full of raw deals and you need to just move on. But I'm not going to lie that I am incredibly disappointed and slightly hurt. And I know that someone can love sinner without loving the... perceived... sin, but to harbour as much bitterness towards me as he does and make no indication of it, seems ironic.
Well anyhow, thanks for listening... I mean reading...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

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faith variation by gilad

Where does that put Him?
picking up where we left off

He was a man of high stature. He was moral, righteous, well-respected. He had a comfortable home, and a comfortable place in society. He was the right kind of man to be seen with, the right kind of man to have dinner with. Living a successful life, an empty, successful life, for he had money, power and respect.

She was a prostitute. She was used, undeserving and disrespected. She did what she had to in order to get by. Sell what she had to offer in order to make it through another day. Living a despairing life, an empty, despairing life; for she had no love, no respect, and no hope.

He had heard of Jesus. A man who he had heard performed miracles. A man he heard had great insight. A man who he heard had come to visit and should be invited over to dinner to a respectable mans' home. A man who he knew would look good at a man of high stature's table.

She had also heard of Jesus. A man she heard had the power to heal and guide. A man she heard had come and would be eating at the well-respected man's table. A man who caused her to long for something better, caused her to follow after him, to weep mournfully at his feet, and to give all that she earned in year to buy perfume to pour onto his feet.

He scoffed. He was disgusted. He was disappointed. He thought, "If this man was the prophet I thought he was, he would have known what kind of woman this is who is falling all over him."

She submitted. She was broken. She was defended. Jesus spoke, "Simon, I have something to tell you."

He feigned interest. He gave a cordial smile. It hid the disdain he held for the woman who entered his home and the man who associated with her, who did not dismiss her, "Tell me, teacher."

Jesus asked him, "If two men were in debt to a banker--one owing five hundred silver pieces and the other fifty which neither of them could pay--and the banker canceled both debts, which of the two would be more grateful?"

He was confused. He wasn't sure why the prophet was asking him this; maybe to test his wisdom. He looked around to see if anyone else thought this odd, and then answered, "I suppose the one who was forgiven the most."

She sat at his feet. Jesus looked at her, "Do you see this woman? She rained tears on my feet when you would not provide water. She has not stopped kissing my feet when did not even give me a greeting. She has poured perfume on my feet when you did not provide any means of freshening myself up. She was forgiven many sins, and so is very grateful. But he who has been forgiven little has very little gratitude."

adapted from Luke 7:36-47

Is it as it seems? If we are stuck steeped in a cultural mindset of deservedness and self-sufficiency; if we are living in a wealthy society and have segregated ourselves in individualism to the point where the only thing that holds bonded to one another is our emotional connection. Or can we rightly choose to be there, the ultimate romantic ideal to choose or be chosen. What does that reflect on how we are connected to God? If we don't need each other, if we really think we can survive on our own, then really how much do we need God?

Maybe I am only preaching to the choir, to people who recognize their need for God. Who know that they need to be connected to God in more than emotions, more than choice. But for awhile now in North America even the choir has been singing their own solos. We've begun to notice it, we've begun to try to correct the things that are missing, we realize things aren't right. We talk about standing as a body, but still have our own personal lives away from the Church. I'm not claiming to have some indepth knowledge that no one has noticed before, maybe I'm just trying to comprehend it, work through it.

What has the Church done? We like others around us are seeing problems in this culture, and are making desperate attempts at fixing what we see going wrong. But I wonder if maybe we need to just put down our sheet music and think about the tune we've been singing. Maybe we need to admit that the Church like the rest of our culture got caught up in the idealism of individualism, admit that we've done enough to contribute to the problem.

Have you ever noticed that the times when we most full-heartedly turn to God, when we become most faithful in following Him, is after we've fallen the hardest on our asses? When we've come face to face with rotten circumstances, whether we've chosen them, or they've chosen us. I wonder if in our 'blessed' circumstances, in our height of technology and freedom, in our depth of wealth, if we have become more depraved than ever before. I wonder if we've got so much that we missing what we need. I wonder in who's opinion that the prostitutes sins were more than the pharisee, or maybe she could just see the depravity she was being saved from better than the man who thought he owed little to anyone, needed to be saved from little by anyone.

Where is God in the life of the Pharisee? Where is He in the life of the Prostitute? Where is He in the life of North America?

Monday, November 07, 2005

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dancing on a sunny day by ciril

why are you my friend?
A brief interlude in the previous flow of thought

For most of this semester I've been slightly off kilter.
I know I've noted a lot about this,
and I know I've told you that I'm put back together.
I am, I really am,
but despite the fact that my heart has been put back into place
and the uncomfortable confusion is fading away,
I still have questions and thoughts,
and God still has a great deal that he wants to work out in me;
I'm still not quite myself because he is making me something more.

But as I go through this,
I experience a lot of things that I don't understand
why or how I'm letting it be a problem.
Don't understand why I'm frusterated, upset or jaded.
When I've been fine, been strong in the past.
But it is clear that things just aren't as they seem
and (maybe) what it is that I'm trying to work through
is deeper and bigger than the situation that I'm experiencing
that they exist to help me identify what needs to be worked out in me.

And while I work through this gammut of insanity,
my friends sit by and listen to me rant.
They watch me struggle
through confusion, through frusteration, even bitterness at points.
Watch me in a broken state, listening to me in my weakness;
Patiently loving me
as I try to break through these layers God wants to pull off of me.
Still being my friend, as I strangely attempt to walk through all of this.
Why are you my friend?

You listen,
you reply
you share with me your thoughts
things you've learned
the perspectives you see
and you pray for me.
You love me,
even though I'm foolish.
Love me
though I'm mistaken
and faulted
and most certainly a strange girl.

As we strive so hard to make sense of life
and all it's surprises that greet us,
as our brains do mental gymnasitics
to see logical reasons for what goes on around us,
it occurs to me that the most beautiful things of life
simply offend reason.
Although I've always known it
I'll forever know it again and over again.
I may not understand it
but I cherish it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

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Here we are

Some time ago I spent a long evening with a friend, we had dinner, watched some stand-up comedy, and then had a conversation that lasted about 3 hours. It had been quite a long time since I had spent that much time with one person. Quite often when I see people outside of work and school related interactions, it consists of short interludes; we watch a movie, go grocery shopping, or to town for some other reason, when we do go out for coffee it usually only lasts 45 min before we've run out of things to talk about or have things that we need to go and do. We're so busy doing, so many things on the go, and going on.

As we sat in my living room and talked of life and questions and ponderings my friend and I discussed how our lives have been guided. He, like I, had been questioning his acuracy in hearing God's voice and knowing His will, and wondering if what God had led us into in the past was really His will or our own desires. Both feeling wounded from some previous experiences, we had to wonder that there must be some better way of going about life than the patterns that our culture has set, we had to wonder if there's something we're doing wrong.

It has been well noticed about North American culture that we've become steeped in individuality, we've begun to feel the seperation and are working hard to try and fill the gap. The wealth that I spoke of earlier has not only freed us to chase whatever our heart desires, but has also freed us from each other. We no longer need one another to survive from day to day like we once did. We don't our husbands and wives to make ends meet, we don't need children to contribute to and carry on for us, we don't need our parents to teach us all that will get us through life. With that tie of dependence gone what is left to hold us together except what our wealthy society has afforded us; whatever our heart desires.

People have begun to realize that this isn't working, they've begun to realize that trying to hold together on emotions and desires is about as bonding as holding two objects together with sticky tac; it'll hold for awhile but is easily pulled apart, easily torn. We keep trying to manufacture alternatives to make up for that which has slipped into extinction since we've segregated our responsibilities and ourselves, but we can't manufacture the need, the dependence that once existed among us. So when our desires fade, or flippantly change, when our emotions bottom out on us, what's going to hold us together?

What can we possibly do to help our lonely and isolated culture? What if we've fixed enough things (such as fixing ourselves into this state) and we are only ever correcting problems only to have our solutions lead to other problems? Maybe deeper problems? And in a society that is very comfortable with the way things are what can be done? Should anything be done? Or should we just accept that something is always going to be wrong and continue on as we are?