Monday, 23 February 2009

The Big Picture

I was fortunate to be asked to share a talk with Newport Church on Saturday (nervous first time and I'm not sure why me, but I took up the challenge :). I've never aspired to be a preacher, but for some reason I was happy for a chance to study over the last few weeks and be able to share a positive message. Instead of just sitting in the background it was exciting to be up front and finally put aside ideas of not being good enough, a fear that has always held me back.
About the talk, well I babbled on for too long, with too many ideas in my head, but hopefully some people got a thread of the message (at least I think they got past me wearing a big painted t-shirt and comfy white trainers in church, a mini victory :).

By providing some link surfing I'm going to try to give a clearer picture of the ideas I tried getting across through this post. I'm not an expert on anything, just a guy trying to offer something useful, so please don't think that everything I say is truth, I'm just trying to point to a greater truth.

1.Wonder at Yann Arthus-Bertrand's aerial photography, then check out this pdf of the facts (updated link to a sample of teacher's resources).
With facts like '$53.7 billion spent on public aid for development compared to $798 billion on the world's military' and '50,000 species become extinct every year' despite its beauty this is a broken world. Broken systems and ecology.
Don't all these seemingly insurmountable problems worry you?

2. Read what Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34 
"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?"
How can we not be worried about the bad news that surrounds us every day?

3. John 3:16-21, this is why. Jesus, the 'Liberator' came to save everyone. Save us so we don't have to follow the same patterns of self-harm and destruction, to instead live a love filled life. A life where every person is preciously important.   

In Matt Krick's essay 'The Theology of Ecology' he starts by putting Jesus, The Word, into perspective.
"The story of God does not begin with sin. It is not his invention, and he calls us to remember that this is not the way it is supposed to be. We live in God's good earth. Creation began good and remains good, broken as it may be."
He was there at the start and came into the world to lead us back to the way the world should be. The lessons Jesus taught and example he led show us what love is and how to live. Love everyone as yourself sums it up. The beauty is in the teachings simplicity but this doesn't make it easy. Many Christians seem to forget that Jesus promised to return to fix the world for good. We're part of a creation story where we have the hope of a happy ending. Until then there's no way that people will listen to the message unless Christians (Jesus Liberation movementfollow Jesus by living love filled lives where the tragedies of our world cannot be accepted and actions of love flow naturally. "Preaching the Gospel to all the world, in some cases using words" - people only listen to those who are genuine.
5. The brilliant Martin Luther King Jr. in his 1964 Nobel lecture summed up the state of world:
"... in spite of (these) spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."
Spoken at the time of the Cold War, this seems even more true now. How can we bring peace to this world? Where wars are started over water and half of humanity lives on less than $2 a day.
King Jr. goes on to say:
"We will not build a peaceful world by following a negative path. It is not enough to say "We must not wage war." It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it. We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace."

6. So lets focus on the 'positive affirmation of peace'. Thanks must go to the Nobel Peace Prize for going against the grain of merely congratulating diplomats. In recent years they have given recognition to people who's organisations are bringing peace into the world through amazingly simple actions. Let's shout for joy and join or support them and others who fight against the injustices in the world.
People like Wangari Maathai whose Green Belt Movement by the simple act of planting trees are empowering people in Kenya to save their environment and in turn themselves.
And Muhammad Yunus and the Grameem Bank for giving hope to millions of poor people in Bangladesh and now the world. Through micro-lending a world movement is building aimed at eradicating poverty.

"We must see that peace represents a sweeter music, a cosmic melody that is far superior to the discords of war."
(You've gotta love King Jr.'s wonderful language :)

7. And finally, see the big picture in 'The 2 Minute Bible' *
(a poem by the Welsh author and performer Rob Lacey, who sadly passed away 3 years ago)
"The sequel:
'With God in us
We can bring heaven on earth
Bit By Bit'
All ending up with Jonno's general memo
On how things are going to get
Wrapped up:
The snake gets bbQd
The Jesus liberation movement get limitless life
Heaven on earth

(P.s. If this post hasn't been clear, I hope you gain something from the links. I'm obviously not a brilliant writer but thank you for taking the time to consider this.)
*Sadly the link to the original source has been removed but you can find out a little about Rob Lacey here)

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