Saturday, July 29, 2006

I Am

I am a servant
Of God Most Glorious
Source of all being
Eternal Word
And Holy Spirit
Who loved us into being
And in Love brings us into life
In Love God gave all
Became nothing
Poor naked helpless
Arms outstretched
Begging Mary’s breast
Blood soaked embrace
In this is love breathed

My God and my all
I am nothing
In the face of such love
A lesser brother
Rendered poor and naked
By one in whom there is only love
I am nothing
I am the object of that love
I am
In that love
I struggle to be

Friday, July 28, 2006

the middle east

I feel so helpless and angry about all this. I do nto support Hizzbolloh and their rocket attackes on Israeli's. I do not support the kidnapping of teenage soldiers. But nor do I support a state that uses terrorism to acheive its aims. I wonder who will pay for teh amazinf amount of destruction wrought on Gaza and Lebanon once this is all over? Will Israel? I doubt it! Then who?

There will be no peace until both sides talk and find just ways forward. Civilians will suffer the most in this war. And it is now a war.

What saddens me is that nations who cound bring pressure to bear only add to the madness. Is there any hope? what can I do?

The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East: Bishop Riah, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, on the current crisis in the Middle East

Dear Friends,

For the past forty years we have been largely alone on this desert fighting a predator that not only has robbed us of all but a small piece of our historic homeland, but threatens the traditions and holy sites of Christianity. We are tired, weary, sick, and wounded. We need your help.

We have seen and we have been the recipients of the generosity of ourAmerican and British friends. We cherish the support of everyone throughout the world who stands with us in solidarity. Daily, I hear from many of them who express outrage at the arrogant and aggressive positions of President Bush, Secretary Rice, Senator Clinton, and Prime Minister Blair. I am saddened to realise just how much the deserved prestige of the United States and Britain has declined as a result of politicians who seem to devalue human life and suffering. And, I am disturbed that the Zionist Christian community is damaging America's image as never before.

Little more than a week ago, we were focused on the plight of the Palestinian people. In Gaza, four and five generations have been victims of Israeli racism, hate crimes, terror, violence, and murder. Garbage and sewage have created a likely outbreak of cholera as Israeli strategies create the collapse of infrastructures. There is no milk. Drinking water, food, and medicine are in serious short supply. Innocents are being killed and dying from lack of available emergency care. Children are paying the ultimate price. Even for those whose lives are spared, many of them are traumatised and will not grow to live useful lives. Commerce between the West Bank and Gaza has been halted and humanitarian aid barely trickles into some of the neediest in the world. Movement of residents of the West Bank is difficult or impossible as"security measures" are heightened to break the backs of the Palestinian people and cut them off from their place of work, schools, hospitals, and families. It is family and community that has sustained these people during these hopeless times. For some, it is all that they had, but that too has been taken away with the continued building of the wall and check points. The strategy of ethnic cleansing on the part of the State of Israel continues.

This week, war broke out on the Lebanon-Israeli border (near Banyaswhere Jesus gave St. Peter the keys to heaven and earth). The Israeli government's disproportionate reaction to provocation was consistent with their opportunistic responses in which they destroy their perceived enemy.

In her recent article, "The Insane Brutality of the State of Israel,"American, Kathleen Christison, a former CIA analyst says, "The state lashes out in a crazed effort, lacking any sense of proportion, to reassure itself of its strength." She continues, "A society that can brush off as unimportant an army officer's brutal murder of a thirteen year old girl on the claim that she threatened soldiers at a military post (one of nearly seven hundred Palestinian children murdered byIsraelis since the Intifada began) is not a society with a conscience."The "situation" as it has come to be called, has deteriorated into a war without boundaries or limitations. It is a war with deadly potential beyond the imaginations of most civilized people.

As I write to you, I am preparing to leave with other bishops for Nabluswith medical and other emergency supplies for five hundred families, anda pledge for one thousand families more.

On Saturday we will attempt to enter Gaza with medical aid for doctors and nurses in our hospital there who struggle to serve the injured, the sick, and the dying.My plan is that I will be able to go to Lebanon next week - where we are presently without a resident priest - to bury the dead, and comfort the victims of war.

Perhaps as others have you will ask, "What can I do?"Certainly we encourage and appreciate your prayers. That is important, but it is not enough. If you find that you can no longer look away, take up your cross. It takes courage as we were promised. Write every elected official you know. Write to your news media. Speak to your congregation, friends, and colleagues about injustice and the threat of global war. If Syria, Iran, the United States, Great Britain, China and others enter into this war - the consequence is incalculable. Participate in rallies and forums. Find ways that you and your churches can participate in humanitarian relief efforts for the region. Contactus and let us know if you stand with us. I urge you not to be like a disciple watching from afar.

2 Corinthians 6.11" We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians, our heart is wide open toyou. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return - I speak as to children - open wide your hearts also."

In, with, and through Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Riah H. Abu El-Assal
Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

Friday, July 21, 2006

U2 r Coming

My life is complete
U2 have anounced their new date....November 24 in Auckland. It is probably 18 years since I last saw them. They have sung such sweet poetry that has resonated with my own musings. This will be a spiriutal experince.

Life is good! God is good!
Amen and amen

Israel and Hizballah

I can’t say how I feel any better than this great leader:

The Archbishop of Canterbury condemns the escalating violence in the Middle East

Writing to the Heads of Churches in the Lebanon, Dr Williams said

"I have been alarmed at the spiral of violence, the vicious circle of attack and retaliation, that has developed over the last few days. My prayers and sympathy are with the principal victims, the innocent civilians on both sides of the border, who now live in terror and are powerless to prevent the collective suffering at the hands of at the hands of Hizballah and the Israeli military.

"The distress felt at the destruction not only of life but also the infrastructure so painstakingly rebuilt after years of conflict will, I know, be acute and reinforce the sense of helplessness at being caught up in a wider regional struggle. My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal."

The full text of the letter is below.

To Our beloved Brothers in the Lord
The Heads of Churches in Lebanon

Grace and Peace from the Lord Jesus Christ at this traumatic time for you and the people of Lebanon.

Today, as thousands of foreign passport-holders are evacuated from Beirut, I am only too conscious of the plight of those, from all communities, who have no place of refuge from the violence that has been unleashed. It pains us all greatly to see again the ancient Christian communities of the Middle East fleeing the land where they have borne witness for two millennia and to contemplate the hardships that will be
faced by those who stay.

I have been alarmed at the spiral of violence, the vicious circle of attack and retaliation, that has developed over the last few days. My prayers and sympathy are with the principal victims, the innocent civilians on both sides of the border, who now live in terror and are powerless to prevent the collective suffering at the hands of at the hands of Hizballah and the Israeli military. The distress felt at the destruction not only of life but also the infrastructure so painstakingly rebuilt after years of conflict will, I know, be acute and reinforce the sense of helplessness at being caught up in a wider regional struggle. My condemnation of this resort to violence is unequivocal. I offer you every support in your efforts to bring it to an end and allow Lebanon to be, once again, a living message of co-existence and solidarity between different religious communities.

Remembering the times we have met, even recently, I look forward to the chance to do so again in calmer times - either here or in Lebanon.
Although our Christian message may seem, in these dark days, a small voice in a terrible wilderness of suffering it is delivered in the confidence that God's purposes for us and his people will prevail and that purpose is one of peace, harmony and reconciliation.

May our Lord Jesus Christ give you, as chief pastors of his flock, every strength and blessing in your ministry.

++ Rowan Cantuar

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A simple (simplistic) way to keep the Anglican Communion Together

A Franciscan Collegue of mine sent me this in an email. In a way it is very simplistic. And yet, it is how Francis worked, and he was renouned as a peace maker. I wonder???

I'm reminded of the response that Francis gave when asked why his brothers did not carry books and keep libraries. He replied that the first and greatest commandment was to love God with all his heart, mind and strength. Since he hadn't even begun to accomplish that, he didn't concern himself with other more perplexing questions and debates about theological issues. We should use every opportunity to share with others in our community that we each have a far way to go in living out our Principles and Rule. That should be our primary goal and focus. Peace..........

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

As it is in Heaven

I went to see "As it is in Heaven" on Monday afternoon. It is a wonderful "foreign film" made in Sweden. It has some really interesting themes around the power of love.

It is about a famous conductor who for health reasons retires and returns to the village he grew up in till be was 9. No-one knows he was from there.

He wanted to remain a recluse, but is persuaded to help with the local church choir. In the process he learns about love, and his choir learn to love through music, with life changing consequences.

As I watched it I was reminded of the early theologians I read for my Masters course last semester. God as Love was one of the dominant images fro Athanasius, Augustine and Julian. In fact Julian said that in God there is only love. And I was then reminded of the statement from the Anglican Bishops of the Global South who, in response to the session the Archbishop of Canterbury led them in, came very close to rejecting as adequate God as love, and instead focussed on the God of Wrath who is most concerned with sex. This standpoint is represented by the parish pastor in the movie.

As I watched this movie, and saw people being transformed by Love, I could not help contrast how people walked away from the pastor and his God of wrath who hated all things sexual, and instead found lives of integrity and moral value through love.

What worried me most about the splits within Anglicanism is that it is a debate between those who seek to follow God who is love, and those who seek to follow God of worth, who wish us to live our lives in fear. In this place and in this time, inviting people to live their lives in fear of a God of Wrath is a missiological disaster. It is the God of love who will transform us as individuals and as a people, transform us to be more compassionate and passionate. This is not moral free or permissive, as the movie showed Love is the end transforms morally.

Ah well, I have gone further here than I intended. If nothing else, go se the film.

May you be anchored deeply in Love, in the God who is Love and who Love compassionately and passionately.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why is there a lack of Anglicans wanting to be youth workers?

Ideas from a discussion of the Professional Diocesan youth Staff (PADYS) and others at forum 2006;
This is not a New Zealand problem. Michael’s observation is that it is a world wide cross denominational problem
UK and USA are all struggling to find people
What insight does Lloyd Martin's research published in “Real Work” offer in terms of working conditions and stress of the position of youth worker?
No one is being trained in Anglican youth ministry. So we have to steal from other churches
Also a question of what is happening to people who are going through our current youth ministries? Why do none of them want to work with young people?
Often the positions are not sustainable, so there is a high turn over. Because of the pay levels and the lack of role models of people doing it as a long term ministry it is not considered a career
As a consequence we do not have people who are trained or qualified or who have the experience or maturity
We do have school leavers applying for positions but they do not have the maturity or support and do not last long term.
There are very few beyo9nd the first tier
Youth workers tend to be on the fringe of the church institution, (yet at the centre of mission – my comment)
Lack of Anglican training
Lack of tiered positions that allow young people to enter into this ministry and acquire the training and experience they need
Lack of communication with current youth ministry trainers, although there is a question of whether people who have done their courses would want to or be able to work in traditional Anglican parishes.
Poor pastoral care of youth workers
Unrealistic expectations of youth workers – often expected to do the youth work rather than manage the parish’s youth work, working with teams of parishioners who are involved.
What should we do?
Help parishes and employers develop realistic expectations and pay models
Provide clergy training in Missiology
Work on what Anglican youth ministry would look like!