When I was training to be a minister they made me do something that they called ‘theological reflection’. Each week I had to choose an experience I’d had in the last seven days and write a short reflection on it. I had to ponder over what had happened, how I’d responded, whether I’d do anything different and so on. Part of this process involved thinking through what the event and my responses revealed about God, the Bible, human nature and the like. I didn’t look forward to this enforced weekly introspection. It’s an odd way to live, having something major happen in your life and be thinking, “Oh good! I’ll have something to write about this week.” But, like many unpleasant disciplines, it achieved its purpose. After a couple of years, the habit became ingrained. Now I couldn’t stop theologically reflecting on stuff even if I wanted to.
After a few years of living in Australia, I returned briefly to the UK for a winter pilgrimage of sorts. I did a whistle-stop tour of most of the places that I had lived, or had been significant in some way, and took the time to stop, listen and reflect. At each location I asked myself a question: “What did I learn about God while I was here, and how did I experience Him during this stage of my life?” It was an excellent use of a plane ticket.
I’m telling you this because I am an advocate for reflection, in whatever form it takes. Reflect on your day-to-day life; reflect on significant, epoch-shaking moments; reflect on how you live and what it says about your faith; reflect, and make a habit of reflecting. ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’, and all that jazz.
And a final word to a few of you – you will know who you are. After 27 years, the Canowindra campus of Cornerstone is closing down. On the 18th November the community there is setting apart some time to share stories, reflect and say goodbye. If you had a significant experience at Canowindra, and if you’re able to go, then take advantage of the opportunity. It can be hard to grab time for pilgrimage and reflection, but it’s good for you.
I didn’t ever meet Dianne, but that didn’t matter. She didn’t even reach sixty, but that didn’t matter either. A lot of things about Dianne didn’t seem to matter. The fact that she was plagued with crippling health problems and constant pain – that didn’t matter either. She had a lot to bitter about, but she didn’t let those things matter. Read more
I’ve spent a long time this week working on a blog post about popularity, but I’ve decided that I don’t want to post it. It might have been profound, but it was also quite negative. Being the melancholy sort that I am, I have a tendency to go full Old Testament Prophet sometimes, and it’s not good for me, you or the Kingdom of God if all I do is complain. After all, there’s a reason why we commemorate architects and not demolitions experts. What’s the point of being a follower of Jesus if you can’t lose yourself in laughter every now and then? Read more
My post last week got me thinking about some of my own experiences in leadership. Sometimes a leader needs to be a good negotiator, a good speaker, a good manager, or a good accountant. Sometimes there are things that can only be done by a good person. Read more
I’ve recently been thinking about Ruth’s motives. No, not my Ruth – the Old Testament Ruth. What was it that motivated her to commit to her mother-in-law, leave her country and start all over again in a strange land? The conclusion that I came to is that perhaps it doesn’t matter what her motives were. The important thing was that she put herself at God’s mercy – why she did it might not be important. Read more
A friend of mine once told me about a small group of young people from his church that had gone and done some praiseworthy good deed. Local television sent a news crew to ask what had motivated them to do such a noble thing. Most of the group gave safe answers, but one girl talked about how her actions were an expression of her faith in Christ. I’ll let you guess which was the one piece of footage that they didn’t use when they ran the story. Read more
I was discussing with someone who suggested that, as an atheist, he at least was ‘…thinking for himself’. I pointed out that, unless he had invented atheism, he actually wasn’t. None of us really think for ourselves, I told him. There are thousands of years of history and debate and experience behind each of us, and all we can ever do is just pick a side. Read more