From Gavin’s Desk

Readings: Hebrews 7: 11-28, 1 John 1: 14, Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Psalm 34: 1-8, Luke 18: 35-42

The world of art is such an incredible world. The ability of those who can study a piece of art and know whether any given piece is an imitation of the work or if it is the real thing is beyond me. Clearly I do not look at the art with the same diligence or interest or passion that the experts do. I do not follow any particular artist enough that I would know their work let alone follow them to the degree that I would know how they worked or what materials they used to create the paint they needed to paint with. I would barely know if they used water based paint or oil based paint or some other concoction that they put together out of the petals of the flowers that they found growing in their garden. I wouldn’t know if I am holding a million rand investment in my hands or a twenty rand knock off of the original that was mass produced in order to turn a profit and help those who couldn’t afford the original appreciate the work of the artist in their own space.

Although the imitation is not the real, it doesn’t mean that we are not able to experience some of the emotion and appreciation that the artist had for whatever they were painting. The imitation does help us see into the heart and mind of the painter; it still helps us see their joy or their sadness or their playfulness. The imitation does help us engage with our eyes even though we do miss out on the details, like the texture or the smell or according to the experts a whole lot of extra detail.

All of the law, all of the traditions and rituals, all of the celebrations in the Old Testament are used by the Hebrews to help them understand who God is; and who they should be by virtue of the fact that they are God’s people. Everything in the Old Testament is an imitation of Christ who is the real. Everything that we did not understand or could not make sense of makes sense in Christ. The sacrifices, the high priests, the Holy of Holies all come together in Jesus because in Christ we come to experience fully all that we have understood in part. As we fall deeper in love with God by spending time in His presence; as we grow in our appreciation of the original so we begin to recognize how the Master worked and what materials He used to create the work of His hands. Whether we are analyzing technique and tools or simply just sitting and enjoying the beauty and wonder of the work, we are drawn into the heart and the mind of the one who put it together. We are led to wonder what made God create all of this. We are led to ask why Christ redeemed all of this. And in our questions we find the answer comes in the peace that fills us as we dwell in His presence and marvel at His work. We look into the face of Christ and we know that we are loved and that there is nothing more to it. Everything else helps us define that love, but the experience of love is found in the real, the experience of love is found in the beauty of the God upon whose face we can gaze in Christ Jesus.

Gavin

From Gavin’s Desk

Readings: Genesis 14: 18-20, Psalm 24, John 10: 10-18, Hebrews 5: 1-10

Is Bigger better? If it is better, then who is it better for? How does Bigger affect the personhood of the one eking out an existence trying to keep their family alive and hoping that something will change in the near future so that at least those who come after them will also have a piece of the Bigger pie? How does Bigger affect the dignity of those who do not share in the fiscal side of the business; Big business, Big church, Big portions, Big political ideologies (Socialism, Capitalism, Communism, any ism by any other name), Big profit (for someone, not for everyone – it can never be for everyone).

How does Bigger affect the relationships that are meant to exist amongst the people of God – it may draw us together as we complain about how expensive everything is getting; but then we only create a Bigger darkness than the darkness that already exists. It is when we are pitted against an enemy we cannot defeat (because they are Big) that we either give up or we fight against the system in ways that we can. It is normally those who are coming into this system just out of the idealism of youth who fight (because they still have the energy to fight). We fight against each other, we steal from each other and in small ways we emulate the methods of those who do it in the name of provision for all; we do Big business on a small scale.

A farming conglomerate who would mass produce a vegetable and flood the market with their goods destroys the little farmers who were a part of the community and helping the community be subsistent; who were helping ensure that there is dignity for all because everyone still has a name and that name is not Consumer. Big business prevents people from being producers and converts them all into users; and then baptises them all with the name Consumer in the name of the market and of the coin and of the cheque (the promise). This system stops us from being useful and helpful and caring because we are too busy surviving. In a village, we do not survive; we live. Bigger turns the villages into a part of the whole in order to milk the whole.

Any system that turns us from a person into an unknown entity, from a people into the masses is a system that is bigger than us and any system that is bigger than us and has control over our thoughts and our natural instinct to care for each other is a system we have turned into a god.

God came to decentralise the market. He came to restore dignity to each individual, because every single person who has been born and will be born, every single individual who makes up the masses is worthy of a name. Every single person who takes a breath is worthy of making a significant difference with that breath. Jesus has experienced our life and has experienced the struggle between comfort and love, He has experienced the conflict between the community and the institution; He has experienced the pain between the ordained of God and the self-ordained. This is how we know that He helps us in our struggle as we wrestle with what is truly important (friendship) and what is only self-importance.

God is BIG, but God does not get lost in the Big. God is about each one of us. One at a time. God is outside of time and so He does not have to teach many at one time because He can afford to help each one of us learn how to love and care and be useful. One at a time. God is about each one of us because Godly community can only be build by God’s people. Thank you Jesus for interceding on our behalf.

Gavin

From Gavin’s Desk

Readings: Hebrews 4: 1-16, Psalm 95, Matthew 11: 1-6, 28-30

What does rest mean for you? Does rest mean that you spend an extra couple of hours in bed after you have turned off the alarm clock? Does rest mean that you vegetate out in front of the TV? Does rest mean that you get to spend a whole lot of time in the garden, either enjoying nature or helping God clean it up a little (many people enjoy garden work – some enjoy doing it and others enjoy watching it being done)? Does rest mean that you have to go away from your house and either take a drive or sit on the beach or climb a mountain? Does rest mean that you surround yourself with many people or does it mean that you shut yourself off to the outside world so that you can immerse yourself in a little bit of silence? Does rest mean that you get to do your work without interruptions or do you find the interruptions help you to rest from your work? What would your ideal form of rest be in this moment (because it may change at different times of our lives)?

When you rest in the way that you imagine resting should be done, do you feel refreshed after your rest, ready to take on the world of challenges that awaits us like a lion prowling at the door or do you feel tired but happy? Rest may not always leave us feeling refreshed. We may feel motivated or encouraged or inspired but sometimes we can be inspired and tired. A change might be as good as a holiday, but that doesn’t mean that we are no longer tired and in need of some time to allow our body to recover and heal from the way that we abuse it. It also doesn’t mean that we have had an opportunity to de-clutter our minds by spending some quality time with our thoughts as we reflect deeply on the issues we have bouncing around in our heads and never actually thinking through.

God invites us into a different kind of rest. It is a rest that can be experienced in whatever way we experience rest. It is a rest that can be experienced in whatever we are doing. It is a rest that will give us peace of heart and clarity of mind. It is a rest that will help us discern when to start and when to stop, when to rise and when to sleep, when to listen to our bodies and when to listen to the cries for compassion; when to be busy and when to be still. It is a rest that comes as a consequence of opening our hearts to receive the conviction of the Spirit that we are loved by God and the discernment that is a part of our being led by the Spirit. This rest comes when we sit in the presence of God and allow ourselves to be embraced by His beauty and wonder and glory, It is a rest that comes from opening our imaginations up to the big picture that is found in Christ because that helps us work out what is important and what is not, what is necessary and what is not, what is a priority and what is not. It is a rest that helps us work out what to take up and what to leave. It is the rest that comes from becoming a partner with God in His work of redemption and re-creation. It is a rest that comes from being still before God and allowing Him to gently speak His peace into our lives and allowing Him to clearly sound the call to justice and mercy. It is a rest that comes from being still before God and knowing that He is God.

Gavin