There is a "strangeness" when we study church history. Especially when it comes to the early monks that reacted against the environment of their times starting the 3-4th century. Whether as individuals like Anthony of Egpyt or as monastic communities initiated by Pachomius, they took the passage about the Rich Young Ruler much more literally and to heart then many of us would. They are examples of how Christians refuse to let "Wealth" imprison them. Their simple lifestyle is "strange" in our eyes, their strict discipline challenges our lack of focus, their obedience unwavering … But beyond the surface and beyond the reaction to their surroundings where now Christians are no longer the persecuted and powerless, it is a response of love towards God and a practical way of answering the questions, "How can I be freed so I can find the balance?" – "How can I more faithfully share my wealth with those in need?" –> and deeper "How can I more graciously share more of myself with those around me?"
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I was delighted to have a change to show a video which combined clips of Mother Teresa’s work and quotes with U2’s beautiful song "Grace" (cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMBu_ZpHuMY) last Sunday as a closing for the Mother’s Day message. Whenever I hit against a wall or feel like giving up, I look for people who keep going no matter what.
We live in such a short term society. Projects are easily aborted prematurely. It’s tempting to give up easily when confronted with odds against us. It’s a long road to many ideals we look forward to – freedom, justice, peace, harmony, wholeness. The World often is full of more cynicism and hope, more disillusionment than discernment, more frustrations than faith … so, keeping focused that we will keep walking forward is no easy task. So, as we bite our teeth and press on whether it’s teaching our children how to read, or praying for the the victims of tragic natural disasters of cyclone and earthquake, whether it’s struggling to grow as people and families to battling with corruption and injustice, whether it’s simply disappointment with self and others as well as … the list goes on, the Mother Teresas around us point us back to the One who gives us the strength we need, and draws us to himself before he sends us out again.
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I’m not a very "Pet"-sensitive or "I-must-have-a-pet" kind of person. My limited experience of pets were my first gold fish I won at a fun fair, whom I named Simon who died within a week. Then of course, who could forget Michael and Jackson my two tortoises "redeemed" from Pasar Malam (i.e. Night market) when I was a teenager. One got accidently flushed down the toilet by mom, and the other probably now swimming in Lake Gardens. The closest ever we had a dog was more of "forced" upon us when "Guiness" gave birth to a bunch of puppies at our door step. Many who were given away or sent to SPCA. So, after all is said and done, our experiences with Pets and God’s creatures in close range was more accidental then intentional. Some of us would be more comfortable in the realm of books or plants.
What’s important today is beyond books, plants or animals … it’s about eyes of faith which are willing to discover the clues of God’s presence in daily life. Hints of his nature, and signs of his guidance (or at least reminders) of what is important. And with these eyes of faith we are able to perceive insights which surprises us whether it’s the loyalty of our pet, or the motherly care shown to puppies, the vulnerability of a gold fish, the different paths of life shown from my tortoises .. and so on. There are many ways we can view God’s creation and creatures … some very dry and scientific, others soppy and over sentimentalized, or …. windows into God’s life and purposes for the whole of creation and how all of us fit into his big puzzle of new creation!
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These harmonics vibrated from May 12 – May 14, 2008