Thursday, October 30, 2008

Educating Squirrels

How much will a squirrel learn in order to get nuts. Quite a lot! I found this 1957 movie clip via Boing Boing and it had my kids and myself intrigued. I can't get the imbed to work, but here is the link.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Here's another thought, inspired by Trevor Hudson, but from the well-known story of Jesus washing his disciples feet. I was trying to recontextualise the idea for me, here and now. Foot-washing, while a good experience is not part of our culture and doesn't really achieve what Jesus was trying to get us to understand. How in our society do we truly serve others? And it can be silly things like making a cup of tea or doing the dishes. Even those we can sometimes invest with some significance as 'acts of service' to be admired. How do we truly serve in humility?
But I got sidetracked onto thinking - what would have happened at the next passover? Would the disciples have expected Jesus to wash their feet again? Would they scramble to do it? Because the reality is, in our lives today, that if you humble yourself to an act of service one day that is not the end. That will probably be expected of you from then on. Unless you have awesome authority like Jesus did. So we lay ourselves open to be trampled on - or if you resist, you are viewed as ungracious and unwilling to help. Perhaps this is from my perspective as a woman.
But there is a difference between a once-off act of humility and a life of humility. And there is a difference between a humble life and a trampled life. I need to struggle with this a bit!

Monday, October 27, 2008


I'm getting old. I don't remember what I know or have read. Is a thought new or did I read it the other day? Trevor Hudson's book 'Questions God Asks Us' (which in my opinion is brilliant) reminded me that everything started in a garden (Eden) and finished in a garden (the garden tomb). It struck me that the Garden of Gethsemane is also there at the end. Jesus prays and wrestles with God and his conscience and ends by saying 'not my will, but yours be done'. There we have the absolute reversal of that which Adam and Eve did in the first garden. In that place, without too much wrestling, they came to the conclusion, 'my will, not yours, be done'. Their choice - which seemed so insignificant - brought death. Jesus' choice - to lay down his life - brought life.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Getting Something Done

I have achieved something. I have submitted the first draft of the first chapter of my masters to my supervisor. It's actually chapter 3 (which I have completed first), but could constitute about a quarter of the the thesis (36 pages at the moment). I am not finding it easy to work on my masters. I get too focussed on it and then need to emerge to realise that life is carrying on around me. So then I put it aside completely. I somehow need to learn to operate with more 'focuses' in my life. And to work on the thing when I have time (like now!).
I wish that I could count on time next year, then I could work at a fairly relaxed pace, but I suspect that I will have too much on my plate with phase one probation. Which is also cool.
My thesis, in colloquial terms, is about how to make Christian community 'sticky'. It has a strong Biblical component because technically it is a Masters of Theology in the field of Biblical Studies, in the area of Practical Theology. I'm not sure, really, how that all fits together. Chapter 3 deals with worldviews encountered in South Africa and how these affect the expectations that people have of any form of community.
The word 'sticky' might make one think 'attractional' rather than 'missional', but that is not a foregone conclusion in the thesis!
I am not a natural academic, although I enjoy it very much. So I am pottering around in the dark, and I hope I actually get somewhere in the end!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last Time!

Last night I played my last hockey game for the year. Some sadness, because it may be my last game ever! There may well be Masters hockey in the Grahamstown area, but I suspect that I will not be able to commit to a team, from a time point of view. I have really enjoyed playing hockey for the last two years and it has been good for me. I guess God will lead me somewhere new next year.
Anyway, it was a good game. We won. I scored a goal. Not a spectacular one, but it counts towards the score! I wish I played hockey better - and this time I can't say, 'I'll do better next time'.
So, some sadness, but still looking forward to the challenges - and the opportunities to serve next year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two Good Men

Contrasts are interesting. Especially when they reveal to us what is actually the same. I guess that sounds odd. I went to two funerals this weekend. Both of old (black African) Christian men who I have known for some time, although not very, very well. Both dedicated to the church. Both with immense humility. Both with wonderful welcoming smiles.

S. was buried from a 600 seat church in Sandton. The church and foyer were packed with people. All sorts of people. Old, young, black, white, smart, casual. There was a sense of dignity. Of loss, but also of peaceful passing.

J was buried from his shack in an informal settlement. A tent was erected adjoining the one room building. It was packed. People streamed in from the community and from the church. All sorts of people. Such different surroundings, yet also that immense sense of dignity. Of loss, but of peaceful passing.

The illustration in this is that - we can be God's people in whatever situation. For S humility would have been much harder, perhaps, than for J. Yet he was a humble man. J might have found it harder to smile sometimes, yet he was always cheerful.

I was impressed that there was so much the same in such different funerals. God is awesome.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Getting Clerical

I went this morning and bought some 'clerical shirts'. I have been avoiding doing anything like that - I guess this could be called the first step out of denial! I really can't believe that I am going to be a 'reverend' and be expected to wear a collar. For some people, I have come to realise, there is a lot of romance in this situation. For me, I would a hundred times rather work 'underground'. There is still going to be some serious ironing out of quirks in my personality. It is at times like this that I have to know that God is calling me and that he will look after me. Because I want to run a mile. I trust that he will use me - and direct my sometimes non-conforming instincts to meaningful places and help me to conform where it is most necessary to do so.
I look so serious in a black shirt with a dog collar that I almost take myself seriously!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Is Google Making Us Stupid

I asked in an earlier post whether Google could rule the world. An article in the latest SA issue of Popular Mechanics asks a similar question. There is a introduction to the article here. The article really deals with the difference the internet has made to the way we think. Are will still able to read and digest long articles in books? To take the time to do book research? It is so much easier to 'google' a topic and get all the info we need in a few minutes. The author says that we lose the ability to read contemplatively. There is no going back, and not many of would want to - but it certainly is a good reminder that we run the danger of only being able to understand predigested material (like baby food) and losing the ability to do our own digestion.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


"Old Man John" passed away on Wednesday. He was over 80 years old - really fitting the description 'old and full of years'. He was one of the founding members of our congregation at Hlalanathi Methodist Preaching Place. I knew him from when he was part of the Lanseria Preaching Place, before the community was moved to its current location.
In the early days of this little church, I arrived more than once to find no one there for the service - except John. He would walk all the way from his shack with his walking stick in his hand - slow, but sure. He was very quiet. He said he came from Malawi and he did not speak much English. But he believed in church and in what church means. I like to pray for anyone who needs prayer as the closing part of the Sunday service. John always came forward - increasingly for pains in his chest. I knew he was going to go. I have very mixed feelings - I'm glad he didn't suffer and fade away slowly. I know people can't live forever here. But he was a real character and a 'good guy'.
I was privileged in those times when church was just him, me and the Lord. When we shared with each other briefly and I prayed for him.
I will meet him again one day.