Because You Are

Because You Are

This is a re-post of a project I did for Essentials Blue online worship course.  Should the above YouTube link not work for the video go directly here to view it.

I have been really challenged about how word-based our expressions of worship can be. I have been very aware of some people in our community who are unable to read well, and have been considering how to find ways to engage their different options for expression. There’s also been a challenge for me personally, as someone who loves words…to live with restraint at times. This piece also symbolizes my personal reminder and pursuit to live in simplicity and restraint.

I’m also a first timer in using media like this, so forgive me in it’s clumsiness!

Themes: God as Creator, Humans as Sub-Creators; Creation Theology; God’s redemptive story.

Lyrics:  because-you-are

Credits:

1. Music and Lyrics by Because You Are, Simon Carter. Simon is one of the worship leaders at Soul Survivor Melbourne, so if you’re interested in checking out more of his music go here.

2. Epilogue The Prayer of the Trinity by Tom Wright

 (Originally published in New Tasks for a Renewed Church, 1992, London: Hodder.  Also published as Bringing the Church to the World, 1992, Bethany House, U.S.A., 209-15.)

3. Emerging Grace Posters  (HT to Grace)

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Dreamin’ Big

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It’s so inspiring hanging out with people who are following God and are discovering new opportunities opening before them in ways they could never have anticipated. They have walked into their dreams. Yet they would never boast. They would never talk arrogantly. They simply know that God has opened doors they could never have imagined.

Over the last two days, I have found myself in numerous conversations (‘aha’ moments!) as people share their discoveries and new adventures.  They have been ‘on the road’  over the years, and all of sudden each one of these people find themselves in the middle of a big adventure. There’s a common thread of humility and a joy in these conversations. These people are in amazing places of influencing many, many people.

They all used the phrase “can you believe it?’ And I say yes, I believe it.

They are local people who I know, and who I have had the privilege of watching over the years as they faithfully love God, love their family and beyond.

I could spell out the details, but you’ll have to ask me next time you see me! It’s very cool…people moving into whole new spheres of opportunity and they are humbly taking God’s redeeming love with them.

In His Image

Over the years, there have been times when I’ve found God initiating further discovery on how He sees women (theological, cultural and practical issues etc). Once again I’m re-visiting the ‘arena’ as I’ve been delving through the Scriptures again, and seeing beautiful things with new eyes. Sometimes God has to over-emphasise things for me to ‘get it’. So I warn you that I might be in that frame of mind.

You see, I’m convinced that my ‘neighbourhood’ where I live and work, in all of it’s fractured relationships, need to see both men and women reach their full potential. I’m convinced that we need to keep pursuing and extending our views of living in God’s fullest expression of being human.

There’s such a gratefulness to the many other voices have also spoken into that journey. I have recently been quite encouraged by the perspective that comes through voices like the Sophia network. I like this forum because it is bringing a healthy addition to the dialogue.

This article brings some perspectives highlighting how much interpretation of ‘life’ still seems primarily filtered through male eyes.  This is not to undermine the rich input that we receive regularly from men who are serving God this way. I just want us to keep seeking balance. (For example, I have taught in schools where there were so many females on staff that we had to seek  out healthy balance in opportunities for males.) I’ve been aware of some of the ‘messages’ that are often unconsciously carried when there’s not that balance.

Here’s another current example from one of our classroom discussions for Essentials Blue, we are looking at what it means to be fully human, to glorify God by being fully alive. One girl’s discussion post spoke of us being made in the image of God. She was challenged by the belief that God made females in ‘His’ image. We always refer to Him in the language of the male, and she was acknowledging it makes her feel at times, that God is a bit removed from where she is at as a female. She was verbalising much of what this article expands as it addresses questions about the message females receive about their value and affirmation.

I am fortunate to be part of a staff team, and a movement of churches who honour women and offers freedom for all to express their gifts.  Yet, there are also times when I long for more balance in the ‘voices’.  It still seems, as much as we try, that a great deal of the mainstream of interpretation is coming through male perspective.

For example, next week we have a pastors conference for the Aussie Vineyard movement. I wonder if there’ll be signs of the strong, healthy partnership that God created between men and women revealed fully – reflected in our churches, our families, our businesses, our schools, and in every area of life. I hope so.

Practially what might that look like?

What do you think about this list below?

So what does that partnership look like in practice? It will be different for each person, but here are some suggestions for you to think about:

  • challenging stereotypes, sexist attitudes, degrading humour and exclusive language that damage women and/or men when you encounter it in your church, your work and your relationships.
  • if women are under-represented then proactively looking for gifted women when you need someone to speak, train, lead, write about, write for you, use as an illustration, preach about and so on, instead of immediately opting for the more obvious male candidates. At the same time, working to avoid any kind of tokenism or setting people up to fail.
  • creating opportunities for women to learn, to be stretched, to do new things so that they grow in skills and confidence and the body of Christ is enriched – even if that means taking some risks.
  • taking responsibility for your own integrity and accountability so that working relationships with the opposite sex are an opportunity for growth and not a threat to be avoided.
  • recognising the wonderful and creative diversity that exists within both sexes, allowing people to be who God calls them to be and not expecting them to fit into neatly defined boxes.
  • recognising the impact that the organisation of private life has on the public sphere, and, where appropriate, sharing domestic duties with the people that you live with.
  • working towards an appropriate mix of men and women actively involved in any project that you participate in, or in any network that you belong to.
  • consider using an inclusive language version of the Bible for your own study and in public contexts, and making sure worship songs and liturgy don’t exclude.
  • wrestling with theology and understanding of biblical texts that relate to gender to discover what they say to us as men and women today.
  • helping young men and young women to relate healthily to each other, realising that they are brothers and sisters in Christ rather than aliens from another planet.

HT

An echo of wonder

On Sunday I used this joyous visual to start a sermon at church, and many of you have been asking where to find the clip. So enjoy!

There is no denying that it beautifully captures, stirs  and evokes a response in us (and I’m told from a very reliable source that it “moves us to tears”, no matter how many times we’ve seen it!)

I’m so glad for visual images such as this, which point us to things of wonder and sheer joy.

Wonder is natural and spontaneous to us all.  Children tumble through their day, joyfully bumbling along tasting, touching, smelling everything that is new and in their reach.  

Eugene Peterson says, “But gradually a sense of wonder gets squeezed out of us. There are many reasons, but mostly the lessening of wonder takes place as we develop competence and gain mastery over ourselves and our environment.” 1

How can wonder be cultivated rather than diminished?

1. Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places

This is a side thought from: The Institute Of Contemporary And Emerging Worship Studies, St. Stephen’s University, Essentials Blue Online Worship History Course with Dan Wilt I am on week 2 of Essentials Blue Online Worship History Course.

Vineyard USA

I see that last week was the Vineyard USA National Leader’s Conference.

They already have some of the audio sessions up and available to listen to on their website.

Out of respect

Marysville- before

Marysville- before

Marysville - after

Marysville - after

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been grateful to many of my friends from around the globe asking how things are following the fires that hit Victoria in February.

Out of respect for those who are continuing to walk through the process of Fire recovery, I have not been able to write much about Fire Relief in recent weeks. The process people are moving through is so fragile and ever-changing.

For example, we heard on the news that Marysville was re-open to residents to return to view their properties last Saturday. For good reasons, there were many layers to the process to enter the town. But imagine how many things are unfamiliar and foreign in having to be prepared for that moment.

Imagine having to show proof of identity to get back into the town where you live.

Imagine then being given masks and protective clothing, before you can enter.

Imagine then moving quietly through a town that literally looks like a bomb has gone off.

Imagine your street, the mystery of seeing where one shop you used to frequently visit is totally demolished and yet then another right next to it is completely untouched.

Imagine driving past all the homes you are so familiar with, where you have visited your friends, where you know each resident in the close-knit community, only to see homes are flattened piles of rubble.

Imagine not even knowing if those people survived or not, because there’s still no access to an official list of survivors.

Imagine the relief when you catch sight of someone who you had not yet seen, and you realise they have survived.

Imagine facing the weekly choice of which memorial services you attend.

I can’t even imagine, and I’m glad that so many layers of this tragedy are not in the public domain, out of respect.

Experience Uganda

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Last night, I was at Experience Uganda. It was a full night of live music and videos, including hearing from YVV‘ers who had recently returned from Uganda. Emily Comans – an Aussie living at Care4Kids also spoke.

 

It was great to see pathways of hope that are being built through different groups there.

 Andrew, a young guy from Uganda spoke. He is over here doing some computer training to take back to his village. He pointed out his amazement towards some things he had seen in Australia so far, including funny stories like trying three times to get on a moving escalator.
He commented on how strange it was that our church services were so short, that we had ‘tea’ in the middle and also he couldn’t understand that when we sang praises to God we stood still! 

 

So while we wre hearing reflections from Aussies on the things they had learnt from his culture, Andrew was also offering his observations about ours. The passion and compassion in that room was tangible. For me, it was a night of celebration and of huge contrasts.

 

As I sat with the crowd of about 170 people, I had a very tall man sitting in front of me. Everything that was presented came to me as I peeked over his head, or bent to see around him. This man and his family had recently moved from Sudan. We welcome his family, (and some of their friends from Sudan) at YVV every Sunday. They have built a strong connection with some kind people in our church.  At one point, as we were viewing a video of the orphans in Uganda, he hunched over and began telling a story to his Australian friend. She listened intently, compassionately shaking her head with great empathy in her eyes towards him.

 

It was his story. I could tell it was a sad story. I can’t imagine what the night was like through his eyes.

 

Where I was sitting last night, compelled me to view the Uganda Experience in a way that caught me by surprise. Hearing the huge needs and opportunities presented from the returning teams, yet obviously in front of me were the needs that are on my very own doorstep.

 

I am glad that I am in a community that pushes me to respond to both the ‘close’ and the ‘far’ mission of extending God’s love to those around us.

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