Busting the Boundaries – to Build a New Community!

I was once asked to baptise the baby of a South-East Asian migrant family relatively new to the congregation of which I was minister.  I organised to meet them at their home to get to know them and talk about baptism.  I rang the bell and the husband answered.  He looked around surprised and asked where my wife was.  I was unsure why he would think she would be here but sensed there was something I was missing – perhaps something cultural?  I made a gentle excuse to ease over the issue and it was accepted.  I was invited in and offered a seat.  Around the room (I mean literally around the perimeter of the room) were seated several people, predominantly men.  After some brief introductions and general chat I was asked if I would like something to drink or eat.  I indicated, much as I normally would, that I would have a coffee if they were having one but not to go to any trouble.  There was a smile, some words in their native language and much scurrying – predominantly from women.

The host and men who remained talked with me for a while.  Suddenly they stood and brought a small table and placed it before me.  The women brought out plates of food and set them before me.  I was shocked didn’t know what to do.  I sat and waited for some cues but none came.  Finally my host asked if there was something wrong; why wasn’t I eating?  I asked if they were going to join me and was told not until after I began.  So I tentatively ate some of the food – I was not really hungry, having had dinner before I came out.  They were concerned that I didn’t like the food and I had to reassure them it was lovely.  Finally some of the men joined in and began eating but the women watched on.  I asked about that and they indicated that they would eat later after I had left.  Everything was strange and different to me, one of my earliest experiences of a cultural clash.  Somewhere in the evening we did discuss baptism and I got to ask the couple about themselves.  They were highly educated with good jobs and well integrated into Australian society but some things remained firmly grounded in their traditional culture.  The evening ended with them insisting I take some food for my wife – the implication was she would be hungry by now.  I was confused by this experience but recognised that there was the definite possibility of both honouring them or embarrassing and shaming, them.

Until I began to understand how these cultures understood life and relationships I failed to recognise this deeper reality in the words, actions and mission of Jesus.  His world was one where shame and honour were paramount amongst the community.  Honour was a claim to worth along with the social acknowledgement of worth.  It marked one’s social standing within the community and determined how a person interacted with his/her equals, superiors and subordinates in a culture.  Shame refers to the way a person recognises and is sensitive to the things others think, say, and do with regard to their honour.  Shame can be individual or communal.  In Aboriginal Australia there is, by virtue of what colonists did and white culture has maintained, a deep sense of shame.  We have deprived them of honour.  I very nearly did this to the baptismal family at several points through my own ignorance of their cultural expectations and their inability to correct my Anglo behaviour.  I was, as Minister and a white Australian, higher up in the honour standing than they recognised themselves.

It is this very system where the powerful, wealthy, honourable people of the world benefit from the shame and dishonouring of the rest that Jesus refuses to uphold.  He challenges the system at its roots and in his view of God’s Reign as the defining paradigm of life, love and truth, he reverses the social order until everyone can find a place.  In the passage we read this week (Mark 5:21-43), Jesus engages with 2 remarkably different – in fact completely opposite – people.  A man of high standing in the local Jewish community as a leader of the Synagogue came to Jesus.  He had a name, Jairus, and his 12 year old daughter was very ill.  He knelt before Jesus and pleaded for help with this girl who was dying.  Jesus indicated they should go and attend to the girl.  He is surrounded by crowds (representing to poor, the ordinary and the lower rungs of social class and honour) and from within the chaos, a woman with a 12-year bleed that won’t stop, desperately reaches out to touch his cloak in the belief that will be enough to heal her.  Both she and Jesus feel it and he stops and asks who touched him.  The crowd around him scoff for many have touched him but the woman meets his eyes and falls before him confessing.  He lifts her up and says, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace, freed from your affliction.’

This interruption is enough for Jairus to receive news his daughter is dead but Jesus told him to have faith she is only asleep.  They went into her room and he took her hand.  He told her to get up and she opened her eyes, stood and walked around the room.  He ordered them to give her something to eat.

These two stories represent extreme opposites – a woman who is as low as possible:  unclean from the bleed; impoverished because physicians have taken her money but not cured her; alone and excluded from communal life because she is unclean…  The girl has a father who has status and honour and she has lived under protection all the time the woman has been ill.  In Jesus both receive what they need and both are called daughter.  Therefore both now have equal status because they are children of God and God becomes the one who oversees them, offers acceptance, honour, protection and life.

The shaming of an ill woman, leading to her exclusion from communal and religious participation is unjust and contrary to the way, the Reign, of God.  Jesus challenged this and welcomed people of all classes, all levels of honour (or shame), both genders and of ethnic difference into the gracious community of God.

I wonder who the people are that we shame, dishonour, ostracise or demean?  I wonder which people our society rejects and excludes and treats as undeserving or even an enemy or threat?  Where does racism, fear, ignorance, power or conflict  intrude into how we treat people leaving them lost and outcast?  How do we treat (shame or dishonour) those who are poor, marginalised or different?   Who are the people we especially honour and hold up as ‘better’ than the rest?

The news is filled with the stories of shaming and dishonouring people.  Our cultural history is filled with excluding those who we wish to dishonour or whom we shame through ignorance or fear.  What does God invite us to do?  How might Jesus burst through our pretentious, ignorant and unjust shaming of people to include those we reject into the community of God’s people??

By geoffstevenson

Bearing Witness to God’s Love: 38 Years of the Uniting Church

38 years ago next Monday, the Uniting Church in Australia formerly began. It was after a long process in which the Methodist Church and large parts of the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches of Australia united to form one, new, indigenous church. It was and remains a radical act born out of the Biblical witness that we should be one. Over the last 38 years our unity has been challenged as we have wrestled with various issues that are hard questions for church and society. Some have left seeking new homes of faith. Many have remained and many have joined us seeking to live in the place of struggling with the difficult issues of faith and life that confront our world.

The Uniting Church is a diverse church representing many cultures, theologies and life experiences. The journey is sometimes challenging but always interesting as we seek to bring the Good News of God’s Reign, primarily revealed through Jesus’ life and witness, to bear on our world in which we live.

In 1977 the newly formed Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) released a Statement to the Nation that set out something of the broad agenda for this new church. It is an exciting vision that continues to unfold in our life today. In that document the UCA spoke of how we live as people of God and as a church, rather than doctrinal issues. It speaks of living with integrity, compassion and justice and upholding the dignity and rights of each person. It pledges to correct injustices, work to eradicate poverty and racism, to uphold the rights of each person to receive an education, healthcare and to participate in work. This statement also stated that we “will challenge values which emphasise acquisitiveness and greed in disregard of the needs of others and which encourage a higher standard of living for the privileged in the face of the daily widening gap between the rich and poor.

We are concerned with the basic human rights of future generations and will urge the wise use of energy, the protection of the environment and the replenishment of the earth’s resources for their use and enjoyment.

Finally we affirm that the first allegiance of Christians is God, under whose judgment the policies and actions of all nations must pass. We realise that sometimes this allegiance may bring us into conflict with the rulers of our day…

We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere — the family of the One God — the God made known in Jesus of Nazareth the One who gave His life for others.

In the spirit of His self-giving love we seek to go forward.”

These are important values for people of faith but values that are not universally held within or beyond the church. Justice, witness, compassion, service are the hallmarks of Jesus’ life and ministry. They are the values that the Hebrew prophets and New Testament writers speak of time and again.

After 38 years the Uniting Church has grown, changed, matured and engaged in critical ministries of care, justice, service, mission and witness within this nation and beyond. We have carved out a place in the life of this nation such that without the Uniting Church our nation would truly be poorer. We stand at the forefront of caring and social services in the nation. We stand for justice and speak out against the unjust elements of our society, we seek to stand with the poor of the nation and world, in the place where Jesus walked and see his face reflected in theirs.

A report released a couple of years ago by our National Assembly says the following:

“In 2012 Uniting Church agencies are engaged in mission and ministry across an incredibly broad range of areas.

UnitingCare has more than 1300 social services sites nationally – twice as many sites as McDonalds! The agency serves over two million Australians each year.

Today the Uniting Church enjoys close partnership with 36 churches (representing many, many congregations) beyond Australia’s shores and we run Relief and Development, Experience and Church Connections projects with them through UnitingWorld.

UnitingJustice Australia has provided a strong voice for the Church in opposing all forms of discrimination, advocating for human rights, as well as in urging the wise use of energy and the protection of the environment.

Every week worship is offered to God in approximately 40 languages including indigenous languages.

The formation and development of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in 1985 has probably been the most significant development since Union. Congress is the indigenous part of our church offering holistic ministry alongside Aboriginal and Islander people.

One hundred years ago the provision of services in remote areas of Australia was the focus of work of Rev John Flynn’s Australian Inland Mission. Frontier Services continues that work as they celebrate 100 years’ involvement in rural and remote Australia.

In this week’s reflection we recognised that there was fear in crossing over to the other side. There was also danger, uncertainty and the probability of rejection by your own people. So why did Jesus cross the lake? Why would Jesus risk so much to get to the other side, a side that promised only the darkness of humanity, fear and rejection?

He crossed over because that’s what God does! That’s what God is like and in serving the purposes of God, Jesus must cross over. He must break down the barriers and embrace all people into the place of Divine grace and love. This is our example and mission. We seek to bear witness to God’s love and live out God’s justice, hope, peace and grace in this nation and beyond!

By geoffstevenson

The Noxious Weed of God’s Reign

There are a few weeds that I detest and find myself wrenching from the ground whenever they appear in gardens or lawn.  I’m not a great gardener and often fail to notice the various specific elements of the garden, so this is surprising.  Weeds are my frustration.  The weeds that grow through and around the lettuce that I can’t get to without pulling the lettuce as well.  The weeds that come up in paths and between pavers.  The weeds such as clover and bindii and other weeds that seem to take over the lawn when they aren’t pulled, poisoned or ploughed through.

I am amazed at how these weeds seem to just appear out of nowhere.  Yesterday there was no sign but today they are growing furiously and seeking garden domination.  It becomes a fight to the death between me and the weeds.  There are other plants that appear mysteriously out of nowhere, such as tomato plants in the compost heap.  I assume there are tomato seeds dumped there and up they grow, a small green sprout that soon fans out until I notice it and decide it is in the wrong place.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all that consistent with gardens and weeding but if I see something as I walk past, it is gone!

I am also filled with wonder at these plants, after all someone told me that weeds are only ordinary plants in the wrong places.  They grow mysteriously wherever and whenever they can.  They pop up and take full advantage of any favourable conditions to flourish and even dominate the landscape.  Growth in the garden or bushland is a mysterious affair.  Whilst we can recite the science behind it all, it is still mystery and wonder.  Growth occurs without our influence or involvement.  Grass grows through or under walls and other barriers, sometimes for great lengths underground until it emerges into the light and infiltrates the garden.  As much as we like to maintain control and order in the garden, plants have their own way and grow wherever, however, they can.

Where is God in all of this?  Why all this talk of weeds and gardens and plants?  Well Jesus told a couple of simple stories (Mark 4:26-34) to give some images of what God’s Reign (or Kingdom) is like.  The first story was of a person who scatters seed and then goes about life.  The seed mysteriously grows in ways he/she cannot fathom but it happens right there.  When it is ripe and mature the person harvests the crop.  This story seems a little odd.  I’m not sure of anyone who has any capacity for gardening who simply throws seed around.  Usually they are specific and ordered with planting seed, so as not to waste it nor have plants growing all over the place.  Why is the Reign of God like a person throwing seed around willy-nilly?

More strange is the second story where Jesus likens the Reign of God to a mustard seed – a small seed that grows and grows and puts out branches…  This story is strange because the mustard seed is akin to Lantana in Australia.  It is a common, noxious weed that dominates the landscape of the Middle East when let go out of control.  The Reign of God is like Lantana that takes root as a small plant and soon dominates the landscape taking over fertile bushland and pasture.  It is thorny and horrible – a weed that invades, dominates and renders the landscape useless until removed.  So, why is the Reign of God like a noxious weed that gets in and takes over?

When I look at bushland in its native beauty it is beautiful.  Lantana’s small purple flowers are pretty from a distance but its impact is awful and devastating for the status quo, the natural state of what is and should be.  I struggle with Jesus’ metaphor because it twists and changes reality.  He takes that which is noxious, with dangerous takeover properties, and makes it the focus of the parable, representing God’s Reign.  He distorts the way we want things to be and think they ought to be.  We would like to destroy the Lantana and restore the true bush.  We would like to idealise the bushland as the purest form of reality and Lantana the invasive pest – the metaphor of evil or all that is wrong.  Jesus won’t have it – he is shock and confusion.  We have to come to grips with this subversive story that equates God’s Reign with something sinister, subversive and cunning.  We have to come to grips with Jesus metaphor of God’s Reign invading and subverting the dominant reality of our world.

God’s Reign grows mysteriously from small seeds scattered willy-nilly through people who embody the particular ways, words and wisdom of God.  They share bits and pieces here and there, planting seeds within the hearts and minds of those with whom they engage. They plant tiny seeds that sit gently and quietly until conditions are right and off they grow.  A harvest mysteriously grows until it is harvested or it takes over the world like Lantana.  The Kingdom Lantana takes over where it can and subverts the status quo of the world; that which those who benefit from the system see as ‘beautiful’ and good.

This is a deeply discomforting metaphor.  I remember, some years ago, when I was involved in a local bushcare group from our church.  The group patiently explained the nature of weeds and how they were distorting the bush and dominating the native plants.  There was great angst whenever we encountered these weeds, especially those such as Lantana.  There was great passion and immediate action against the invaders.  If we are comfortable with the way of the world, then this way of reading Jesus’ words will leave us cold and angry because we don’t believe anything should change.

If, on the other hand, we feel a sense of discomfort with the way things are, the lack of true justice within the systems of our culture or the fear, uncertainty, conflict and greed that drives our society, we may find a little hope. If we long for a world in which fear and hatred are overwhelmed by love, where conflict and violence give way to peace, then this story provides another way! If we long for a world where poverty and starvation are overcome through the sharing of resources then this passage gives possibility! If, in your imagination, you can conjure images that challenge the status quo and present a different picture of the world, then that is what this story is about.  Can you see some of the signs of God’s Reign present?  Can you see places where this noxious weed is taking over or influencing life with its transformative power?  Then the uncontrollable Reign of God that looks different is infiltrating your life, your world.  Do you long for a Realm that challenges the way things are and promises transformation – the noxious, uncontrollable weed that is the Kingdom of God!  It is here – can you feel it? There is hope – change is possible!  It occurs in mysterious ways when we sow seeds of God’s Reign.

By geoffstevenson

When the Storms Blow and the Seas Rage…

When I was a little kid in primary school we went on an excursion to Manly.  The excitement was going into the big city by train and then by ferry to Manly.  The day started well, sunny and bright, but gradually deteriorated into overcast skies and a windy, wet day.  The crossing to Manly became choppy and set fast in my childhood memory was the reality that the little ferry was being brazenly tossed around in the foaming waters as we crossed the Sydney Heads.  I swear that with the roll of the boat I could see only deep, grey water on one side and grey clouds out the other.  There was, in my small, naïve being, fear.  I thought we were going under at any moment and the relief to arrive safely as Manly was palpable.

Life is a lot like that Manly ferry crossing.  It starts off fine and smooth with good moments and sunny days.  Life can take a quick (or for that matter slow) turn and twist itself into all manner of ugly and painful experiences that take us down into the grey and despairing depths.  The storms of life blast our way and unsettle our equilibrium, undoing the neat reality of our lives.  Winds blows, the rain drives down and the boat of our life rocks on the sea around us.  We feel that we are going down, that the chaos is overwhelming and threatening our being – to destroy us.

More than that, it is often when we enter into a transformed way of encountering the world, of living differently, even swimming against the flow of culture and power, that the storms blow against us.  The wind and rain threaten us and the waves rock our little boat until we feel imperilled, endangered and vulnerable before the powers of the world.  I think of those who take on the unjust and abusive ways in the world or confront the powerful people who defend the status quo.  People like Tim Flannery work hard to enlighten Australian society about the significant impact of climate change and environmental challenges.  As a scientist he has awareness and insight but is constantly belittled and pushed to the fringes.  The Climate Commission, a very significant group of which he was a part, was abolished by the Federal Government.  Powerful forces who uphold the status quo resist and fight against Flannery and others.  This is one example of how the powers threaten truth and those who dare to challenge the way things

I remembered my treacherous Manly crossing when I looked at this week’s gospel reading (Mark 4:35-41).  It is a reasonably well known story of Jesus and the disciples on the Galilee Lake when a severe storm blew up.  Jesus was asleep and as the disciples grew more afraid they woke him in their distress.  Jesus shook the sleep from his eyes and asked why they should be so fearful – did they have no faith?   He stood and commanded the waves and wind to ‘Be Still!’ And it was.  The disciples were filled with even more fear at this reality.  I can understand the initial fear and anxiety of the disciples from my own fearful harbour crossing and the painful events of life that have threatened my being.

Many in the church are content to leave this as a literal story, a piece of history that affirms something about Jesus, and place it on the shelf – because it has no real meaning for us now (except perhaps praise/worship of Jesus?).  I find it a story of great meaning and hope because it describes, by metaphorical means, that in the midst of life’s deepest and most threatening chaos, God is with us!  The little boat that we find ourselves in, whether as individuals, a community or church, is often shaken and thrust about by all manner of forces.  The primordial chaos that existed in the beginning threatens to consume us and overwhelm our little boat.  But God is with us in the boat and will not allow us to go under.  No matter what happens to us, God is with us and holds our pain and struggle in eternal grace and love!

In this story, we are told that Jesus took his disciples across the lake.  It seems innocuous enough until we realise that ‘across the lake’ was the ‘other side’, the side of human existence, of a dark, pagan world.  The other side was not Jewish territory but belonged to the other; those who were different.  Jesus was leaving the place of security, the known and safe place to take the message of God’s grace, love and healing to people who lived in the darkness.  It was a place that no-one else wanted to go.  It was a place that left him alienated from his own people.  It was as he crossed to the other side that he was confronted by a storm that threatened to overwhelm his little boat.  ‘The wind and the sea as obstacles derive from the ancient Semitic mythic personification of cosmic forces of chaos and destruction.’  The disciples and Jesus are opposed by the powers and forces that threaten to overwhelm and derail their purpose in bringing life and peace to the world through justice, inclusion, compassion and mercy.  The story reveals that God will finally silence the powers of opposition and rescue Jesus’ project.

For the community of the church in the author’s time (around 70 AD), the Empire of Rome dominated their lives and the segregation of Jew and Gentile dominated their Jewish origins.  There was fierce opposition to this community who sought to live out the freedom of God within through welcome everyone into this new community of grace.  When they stood alongside those who were marginalised or considered ‘unclean’ they were tarred with the same brush and rejected.  When they welcomed into their fellowship saint and sinner and treated all alike with equal compassion and acceptance, they were derided and persecuted.  When they took a stand against unjust policies, leaders and culture, they were violently dealt with – Christians were fed to lions, crucified along the roadside and blamed for all society’s ills.  The storms raged and the waves grew wild.  Chaos and darkness threatened their very lives and the life of the church.  They held firm in faith that God was with them and nothing the world could do would separate them from God’s love – now or forever!  Nothing the powers did could silence God, who would ultimately prevail.

We are invited into the place where risk and courage will lead us into new places to take a stand against evil and injustice; to pick up the lost and rejected souls, the victims of life and society or those struggling with the poverty of body, mind or spirit that comes through illness, loss, rejection and lack of love, bad decisions or the greed and abuse of more powerful people.  All around us these issues bubble over as we demonise those we don’t like or understand because of sexuality, culture, race, poverty, faith…

Whose side will we choose?  The Powers that be or the way of Jesus?  God’s way that will be rejected and despised or the more comfortable way of the status quo?

By geoffstevenson

When Our Story Finds Life in God’s Story…

Billy was a 6 year old sitting in his Sunday School class.  His teacher was teaching the children about the story of Easter – Jesus dying on the cross, to be more precise.  Billy had heard the story before but something happened in this telling and it became more real, the pain, suffering and death of Jesus at the hands of the world’s powers.  As he listened he suddenly raised his hand but the teacher kept on teaching.  As the story grew more intense, Billy’s desperation to speak became equally intense.  He thrust his hand higher.  He changed arms and back again.  The teacher kept on teaching.  He grew more desperate to speak and both hands went up, then thrust around trying to attract the teacher’s attention.  When she finally finished her story she looked up and noticed Billy, red in the face, frantically waving to her.  She asked him to speak and he finally yelled out:  ‘If Roy Rogers were there those baddies would never have been able to do that!’

I confess that I don’t know a lot about Roy Rogers except that he was a cowboy hero who saved the day in many a tight situation.  I was more enamoured by other heroes – the superheroes with special powers or skills who saved the day and fought the bad guys and girls, dispatching them to the farthest reaches of earth or universe.  The cycle of violence spiralled through the shows and the hero always won the fight – eventually.  I guess Roy Rogers’ stories were similar.

The trouble with Billy’s speculative statement, with all of its certain enthusiasm, is that he mixes two stories and puts Jesus’/God’s story into that of Roy Rogers.  He takes the story of Jesus, a non-violent Rabbi proclaiming a Realm of Peace and Love, who takes on evil with courageous non-violence, and puts it into the story of Roy Rogers.  Roy has only one approach – as do all superheroes – to meet violence with violence and so the situation with Jesus can only be salvaged through more violence to counter the state-sponsored violence of Rome.

Unfortunately, we all mostly do what young Billy does.  We put Jesus’/God’s story into another story from the world and it transforms God’s story.  We take our economic story of materialism and market economy where the strongest (and luckiest?) survive and flourish whilst the poor grow poorer, and we put God into it.  We take our political story or political/philosophical ideology and put God into it.  We write God into the story of Liberal/Labor/Greeens/Christian Democrats… and validate our political ideology.  We take our social story and put God into that to validate what we think and believe about the world.  We put God into any and every story until God is supporting anything and everything – God and God’s story are transformed – not us!

What happens, however, when we take these other stories and put them into God’s story?  It doesn’t always go to well, as we hear in the story of Jesus’ death.  God’s story necessarily changes and transforms the stories of the world.  When we take our economic theories and put them into God’s story we end up with something quite different.  Economics becomes something that lifts the poor up into the place of having enough.  Economics becomes a tool in distributive justice where those with too much give up something so that those who do not have enough can live.  Greed and accumulative affluence are no longer the driving forces.  Political stories placed into God’s story are also transformed such that power becomes the means of justice and compassion, mercy and hope for all people.  Governments would change their behaviour overnight and listen to the voiceless poor or the strugglers of the world over the powerful corporations or wealthy elites.  When our sociological or cultural stories are placed into God’s story we might find that we are more open to cross-cultural relationships, such that racist, sexist, classist… attitudes fade and open acceptance and gracious community prefigure in our society.  Refugees, for example, would be subject to more creative, compassionate responses.  Indigenous peoples across the globe would receive dignity and justice.  Even the earth would receive care, justice and compassion. In other words, when we put our story into God’s story everything changes, but…

But, that will not be acceptable to the status quo – never was, never will be!  The powers that be who benefit from how things are will rise up and strike back.  When the church follows Jesus, puts itself into God’s story, some praise it and others condemn it (when we are condemned in doing the wrong, stupid or culpable thing that is rightly so).  The Richard Dawkins, atheist set will always find ways to condemn us and use absurdities and trivialities to do so, but others will join them.  It has always been such that when true love and compassionate mercy abound, the wider society, led by threatened powers and people strike back.  Jesus was condemned to death for questioning the powers that be in his world.  Martin Luther King jr was attacked demonised and killed, as were Ghandi and Romero and countless others.  Wherever the story of the world had been placed into God’s story and transformed into one of justice and love, retribution and retaliation has abounded.

This week we read one such story from Mark 3:20-35.  After offering release for people trapped in illness and disability, freeing them to re-enter the community and participate in ordinary life, Jesus is condemned by religious leaders.  He has done some of this on the Sabbath day, one set apart as holy in a wholly unholy manner!  It is Jesus’ teaching and actions that confound the elites and threatens their power base and the foundations of their world.  They are genuine and focussed on God’s laws but have lost their way and their power intrudes on their self-awareness and compassion.  Jesus threatens their way, their world-view and opens the way for ordinary, uneducated, poor people to be part of the conversation and decision-making – he proclaims the Realm of God that is just, open, gracious, merciful and compassionate.  They are afraid and angry and they demonise him – literally!  They claim that he is filled with evil forces that mean his words and actions are not of God but evil.  His family and neighbourhood friends are confused and concerned that he has lost the plot.  They hear the powerful voices and believe he has gone mad – or worse.  Jesus is condemned as a madman and treated as such, even though his rhetoric calls his opposition into question.

This is the way it will be when we put our stories into God’s story and they are transformed into love and justice, peace and righteousness.  I wonder how our stories look when we allow God’s story to infuse them with new meaning, purpose and life?  I wonder how we will live and believe differently?  Do we have the courage?

By geoffstevenson