Kirstin Cant

Missional Songs for God’s People

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Songs have power. Their music resonates through our being and when sung with others songs bind us as one. Their words become the story we live, melodious lyrics lingering long after all else is forgotten. So what story do we want to be living?

‘Moving Together’ is a resource full of songs, poems and artwork produced from people within Aotearoa and the Pacific. The songs in this book offer a story that is the size of God’s dreams for our world and for us. Bound together, this book invites you into noticing goodness and possibility, grieving, rejoicing, responding to and moving with the Spirit of God in our world.

Copies of this book are available for $20  and can be ordered through the website tekareongawai.org/movingtogether or by contacting the General Synod office of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (+64 9 521 4439, gensec@anglicanchurch.org.nz). 

A season of mobilisation

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‘Making Mission the Centre.’ That’s what we feel God calling us as NZCMS to focus on in this season. We’re excited when we hear and join with churches, groups and individuals who are discovering more of what it means to make God’s mission central to following Jesus. But this statement, ‘Making Mission the Centre’ also implies one important thing: mission isn’t always at the centre! We’ve been quite stumped when we hear stories of just how far from the centre mission can be.

Recently someone questioned whether ‘being missional’ or ‘cross-cultural mission’ are even phrases young people understand anymore. We’ve known for a long time that ‘mission trips’ are often seen as an ‘optional extra’ for people to ‘go on,’ but when you spend most of your days thinking, speaking, dreaming and praying about God’s mission, you forget that for a lot of people, it can be a peripheral faith ‘activity.’

Though lacking the camel-garments and honey addiction, we resonate with John in being a “voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23). Like John, we’re desperately trying to stay the course and be faithful to the words God puts on our hearts. But we sense that clever strategies won’t change what we’re seeing; what’s needed is a prayer movement petitioning God to raise up people of all ages who are inspired and challenged by God’s mission call on their lives! Will you join with us as we hope and pray for this a new wave of people in mission?

Since When is a Flower a Whole Garden? (Issue 28)

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Let’s imagine I rang up my local builder, telling him about a team of youth coming to NZ from Asia to build houses. He’d have a few questions: Why are they coming? They’re moved by the Auckland housing crisis. Are they qualified tradespeople? Nope. Do they have any building skills? Not that I know of. How long are they coming for? Just two weeks to knock up a few houses and then leave… Oh, and they’ve asked if we can provide a 12-seater van, accommodation and food. Plus a trip up the Sky Tower.

Why’s that sound bizarre? Because there’s no such thing as a ‘short-term builder,’ or a ‘short-term dentist,’ or a ‘short-term counsellor.’ We know those are skills that take years to develop, skills you don’t magically acquire by jumping on a plane for a 2 week trip. Yet, we often act as if the only requirement for someone on a short-term team is that they like the idea of going on a trip! And what’s worse: these trips seem to be shaping the way many of us understand this thing we call mission.

‘Short-term mission trips’ have become more and more centre stage of churches’ involvement in ‘mission.’ That’s not bad in and of itself, but what if these short-term trips are forming our understanding of what mission is? If mission can be ‘short’ and a ‘trip,’ and these words are how we often talk about mission, it shouldn’t surprise us when it becomes the way we start thinking about the totality of mission.

In fact, experts in a variety of areas show how the language we use shapes our culture – it shapes how we understand the world and how we live. That means common phrases like ‘short-term mission trip’ – rather than God’s word – end up shaping our understanding of anything to do with mission! Mission becomes something with a start date… and an end date. It’s something you can finish. It’s something you do for a while during a special season of your life, and then set aside when you return to ‘normal life.’

I’m not saying short-term trips are invalid. It’s just they need to be understood as a very small part of a MUCH bigger picture. It’s like showing a microscopic image of a flower and saying it’s a garden. Not untrue, but not the whole story. It’s not that mission-trips aren’t mission, but what’s the big picture? What’s the ‘garden of mission’ of which these trips are a part?

THE BIGGER QUESTIONS

Perhaps we need to ask other hard questions about the ways we use the word ‘mission.’ How often do our sermons or Bible studies focus on the theme of mission? Should mission be an ‘optional track’ at most Bible colleges? Why are churches needing to have ‘mission-Sundays’? And dare I ask: why do we have to commit to a ‘Decade of Mission’? Does the need for such things show us something about how we view mission: that it’s an optional extra, not something central for the life of each and every follower of Jesus?

Alan Hirsch comments that to say ‘missional church’ is like saying ‘female woman.’ The phrase ‘missional church’ shouldn’t exist, because we should all know that central to following Jesus is following him in his mission! But here we are, needing to awkwardly remind ourselves that to be Christian – to be the church – is to be missional. This all means that ‘short-term mission’ has to happen within a much larger conversation about mission.

SHORT-TERM MISSION TRIPS: A PATHWAY?

Alongside this question of the ‘big-picture,’ we need to consider the pathways we’re creating. If short-term trips are a key pathway to get people engaged in God’s overarching mission, we need to ask: a pathway to what? One of the ongoing struggles for ‘short-termers’ is knowing what engagement in NZ looks like for them post-trip. Can we be bold enough to dream of it being more than a 5-minute power-point slideshow on a Sunday morning? What about a local mission project? What about a longer discipleship programme that includes (but doesn’t only consist of!) an overseas Encounter?

Let’s be a people committed to the Bigness of God’s mission and pursue all things mission with equal passion: short and long term, global and local, ministry and workplace, discipleship and evangelism and social action. Let’s make sure the way we talk about short-term mission is communicating a holistic understanding and practice of mission.

 

For discussion Take time to carefully consider the question: what is God’s big-picture mission revealed throughout the Bible?

Have we been distracted by our ‘flowers’ and forgotten the ‘garden’?

 

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email office@nzcms.org.nz. Intermission articles can also be found online at nzcms.org.nz/intermission.

My 36 Slaves (Issue 26)

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By Kirstin Cant

It was a casual Sunday afternoon. I went to the supermarket. I needed sugar.

I got to the plethora of sugar options on the shelf and stared. And stared.

I picked one up. I put it back. I couldn’t bring myself to buy it.

Why? Not because of all the options before me. It’s because I know that all this sugar in front of me isn’t produced in ways I agree with. Sugar production has historically been an industry made possible through exploitation and slavery, and it continues to be that way today. I’ve known that for a while, but that day in the supermarket it made me unable to purchase sugar. But I needed sugar. What to do? Driving across Auckland to the Trade Aid store to purchase Fairtrade sugar doesn’t seem a great ‘sustainable choice’ either. I went home sugarless. But I knew that soon I’d need sugar and be faced with the same dilemma.

More than anything, what surprised me about this sugar-debacle was myself. I’ve always ‘cared’ about ethical and sustainable consumer choices, but often it becomes merely idealist with an I’ll-buy-fair-trade-coffee-if-it’s-in-front-of-me thrown in on the side.

So what’s changed? I’m not exactly sure, though one thing stands out. I discovered I have 36 slaves working for me – in fact, I probably have more. I learned this through a website, slaveryfootprint.org, that analysed my consumer choices and estimated the number of people in forced labour who produce the products I purchase. That hit hard.

I found out the areas we’re using modern-day slaves to support our consumer lifestyle. I found out not all products labelled ‘free-range’ or ‘fair-trade’ actually are. Many companies have realised there’s money to be made from this ‘fair-trade thing,’ so if they put on the words ‘organic,’ ‘free-range’ or ‘fair-trade’ people feel good and they can hike up the prices – but unless its endorsed by an ethical organisation like Fair Trade (which have standards you have to meet), there’s no guarantees. Not only this, but there are a whole lot more everyday products than I first assumed that perhaps aren’t fairly-traded. Think about it: if you go to a fair-trade store you’ll see all sorts of things other than sugar, coffee, and chocolate. There’s cinnamon, dried papaya, coconut oil, couscous, rice. There’s soap, jewellery, clothing, toys… If these products are fair-trade, it make me wonder: are the products in our supermarkets, clothing stores and toy stores not fair trade and slave-free?

So what does all this mean for me and what does it have to do with my desire to follow God and see his Kingdom come? Deep down I think God’s been doing a bit of stirring – I’m seeing his love for this entire world and creation changing the way I have to live. I’ve found myself unable to ignore this question: “How can I live sustainably and ethically in a way that honours all of God’s creation?”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a weakling who struggles to do this. It doesn’t come naturally or easy. I’m selfish and buy things that are convenient, not fair. I drive to work. I own a smartphone. I don’t always recycle. The other day I tried not to use plastic bags at the supermarket and then ended up with my arms full of groceries (cos I forgot my reusable bags) – I dropped and broke some items on the pavement. And sometimes the whole thing just makes me feel overwhelmed and I don’t want to care at all!

So I’m still on a journey and I’m learning that daily choices matter. With that in mind, and with a dose of grace, I’m trying to:

Get informed about products and let that information change my purchases Make sacrifices of time and effort, choosing inconvenience for me but fairness for others Invite friends to consider their consumer choices and find people who will encourage me to keep trying Allow God to break my heart for those trapped in slavery that he cares so deeply for, which involves reading and hearing things that make me uncomfortable and teary After making selfish choices, get up the next day and try again

For me, it begins with (and ends with) my Father in heaven, whose Kingdom I want to see come on earth. A Kingdom that’s just, fair, full of compassion and abounding in love, where all people are free, a Kingdom where his people know that Jesus is Lord and that he’s prepared to turn over the tables in the marketplace and not allow greed and consumerism to destroy us.

Are you brave enough to find out how many slaves work for you? www.slaveryfootprint.org

For discussion

What does God’s Kingdom of justice – where no one is a slave – mean for you?

In what ways do you already live intentionally fair-trade and consumer conscious? What ways do you struggle or have never thought about before?

Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of Intermission will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. Why not take up the challenge and start using Intermission in your community? For more information or to order copies click here.

Consuming Christmas

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Christmas.

I’ve seen ‘signs’ of it already.

It’s only the beginning of November and already we’re seeing the tinsel go up.  Retail places are blasting totally irrelevant songs about dreaming of a white Christmas, and telling us to start planning our spending (be that money or time).

If you were happily ignoring these signs – forgive me for pointing them out, but stay with me….

All of the above ‘signs’ of Christmas make me cringe at little bit more every year. The consumer-filled, plastic-stuffed, sugary, glittery Christmas Tune we’re meant to dance to makes me want to avoid Christmas for as long as possible!

But I actually love what Christmas is really about: a God who breaks into our world, who ‘moves into the neighbourhood,’ who comes as a baby in human skin and in doing so begins a world-changing process of reconciliation that no-one could have dreamed of. Truly the best gift of all!

The Church has a different way of pointing to the ‘signs’ of this Great Gift: Advent. It’s part of our church calendar that actually helps us build the anticipation and expectation of waiting for the coming Messiah. Some churches do this with candles in a wreath (that’s what I grew up with). Others have extra services, and (sadly) others don’t really do much different in Advent at all. But what I’ve realised this year is that Advent doesn’t have to be something that I hope my church does for me; I can find ways to participate in this advent season in my own life too.

 

So the question that’s facing me in this season is: How can I step into the church’s way of Christmas preparation rather than the culture’s way of preparation?

This question was part inspired by a blog I read last week about life-giving tips for the Christmas build-up. They talk of things like: Reflect. Give. Simplify.

One thing I’m looking forward to using to help me reflect and prepare are the Advent Art Cards produced by the Anglican Church for the Decade of Mission. Artists from around Aotearoa and the Pacific have created art that responds to the Advent texts to stimulate your missional thinking.

 

Which leads me to question number two: How do I respond missionally to Christmas? What’s one small thing I can do?

This question sounds like a tough one, but in actual fact I’ve discovered it’s not that complicated. As I examine what God has given me, (who I am, passions, skills, people etc), I found a surprising idea that was obvious:

What do I care about? Ethical, Slave-free sustainable living (read my other blogs on here and it’s obvious).  Christmas shopping is hardly ever that!

What do I like to do? To be creative and make things.

So this year, my sister and I (always good to have an ally in these things) are hosting an Ethical Christmas Crafternoon. An opportunity to bring a bunch of people together to encourage making alternative Christmas gifts and decorations which is fun for us, good for the environment and isn’t exploiting other people for our own Christmas cheer. From recycled and raw materials we’ll be making our own wrapping paper, Christmas wreaths, Christmas crackers, decorations, and even might try making wooden manger scenes! We hope this will inspire others to consider their consumer choices this Christmas whilst giving them opportunity to find alternative ideas.

Other ideas that I’ve done in previous years for advent include: helping out at a community Christmas Lunch, inviting friends to a church service around Christmas time, organise to send the Shoebox Christmas gifts with friends/church, make a countdown Christmas Chain (we did this growing up as kids!), or find a good advent calendar like this one made by Kiwis with NZ-contextual images of the Christmas Story.

Whatever it might be, the church has a Gift to offer this world, and I hope we can all find a meaningful way of living that Truth this Advent season.

 

 

THE MUSE

How can I step into the church’s way of Christmas preparation rather than the culture’s way of preparation?

 

THE MOVE

What’s God given me passion for that might be one small thing I can do to respond missionally in this Christmas season?

#NZCMS is all about exploring what it means to be God’s missional people in today’s world. Sign up for the emailer by filling in your email at the top of the page or join the discussion at the #NZCMS Facebook Group (and turn on ‘all notifications’ to stay in the loop!) 

What do cheese, toilet paper, milk, steak, shampoo and spinach have in common?

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Before you start on drawing up your spreadsheets and making comparative lists to find the common denominator in this question, let me put your questioning mind at ease: Plastic.

Perhaps it might seem an odd thing to find in common, but it’s nearly impossible to buy these products (and in fact most of our consumables) in New Zealand without purchasing plastic. Think about it. How do you get any form of meat in NZ without it wrapped plastic packaging? Own a farm you say? Well I can tell you that I’ve received farm meat before, and the butcher puts your prized animal in plastic bags.

I dare you to do a normal grocery shop and look at what isn’t wrapped plastic. Look in your rubbish bag before the week’s end.

Why are cheap fruit and veges almost always in plastic?

Why are so many products putting plastic around their cardboard packaging?

I started noticing the amount of plastic in my life, and it disturbed me. Why? Well, if you didn’t know or need convincing about the myriad of environmental and health problems linked to plastic then all me to direct you here, or here, or here, or here. Plus I believe in a God who created a world that was good, and he doesn’t like to see it groaning or people suffering because of the way in which we are destroying eco-systems.

So in an attempt to challenge myself about the plastic in my life, earlier this year I did something:

Not purchase anything in plastic for 3 whole weeks!!

I was doomed to fail.

But, I was determined to do it, or if I failed, prove my point twice-over about our consumerist dependence on a destructive material.

It was a journey. I was surprised how difficult it was and what I found most challenging, but was proud of my amazing plastic-free-finds along the way (like this toilet paper and these toothpaste tablets!). And I achieved my three weeks. But I couldn’t sustainably live plastic free for much longer.

 

What I learned:

Not buying plastic isn’t always the best option. Sometimes the not-plastic alternative is worse for the environment than plastic that is recyclable. As an example, Milk in Tetrapaks rather than the plastic milk bottles is a tricksy one; it looks like cardboard but it’s NOT CARDBOARD, nor recyclable. (I bought milk powder in an aluminium tin.) Any choice to live in a way that is not the easiest and most convenient for us means planning must be our best friend. Being caught ‘unawares’ when you run out of an essential item, or you leave your lunch at home (true story) makes going plastic free very difficult. I had to ask: Am I willing to go without food today for this cause? Going cold-turkey on plastic is tiring and impossible to sustain. I got somewhat fed-up with the battle by the time three weeks was up and was guiltily lazy about some purchases in the following month. Now I’ve had time to reflect, I’ve been able to take a slower more sustainable approach to keep up certain plastic-free purchasing habits and look for the next thing to try and change. People may not get it or call us crazy, others will be intrigued and encourage us along the journey. (Thanks to my hubby who got on board with the whole crazy scheme!) But it made me realise: it’s hard to make life changes big or small on our own. Having friends to journey with on whatever sustainable/ethical change we want to make is soooo encouraging. Plus surrounding yourself with the amazing amount of online support, resources and ideas like these guys was great! The other thing I found really fascinating about the plastic free adventure, is that it was exceptionally hard to do on a budget. I’m coming to the conclusion that organic or ethical shopping choices are a privilege of the wealthy. Hmmmm… Think on that.

 

I came to see that the bigger question behind all of this activity was of course:

Am I willing to change my lifestyle to live in a way that’s more sustainable and less destructive of God’s creation?

What is my responsibility in the global-ethical-sustainable challenges of our world as I seek to live a faithful life following Jesus? How can I make choices and orient my life in such a way that keeps me committed and challenged to living a Christian life – a life concerned less with myself and more with God’s concerns for our world, recognising my consumer choices affect the environment and other people.

How I live in big and small ways (words, deeds, and purchases) is a response to the God who loves me in abundance and leads me to radically consider the world as his world, and my place as a steward within that world.

Yes, I failed to live plastic free forever, but is the posture towards living with a concern for God’s creation more important than achieving the ‘next sustainable thing’?

 

THE MUSE

What might it mean for me to live in a way that’s more sustainable and less destructive for God’s creation?

 

THE MOVE

Identify one new habit you could introduce to live in a way that is less destructive to God’s creation. Make a plan for putting it into place!

11.11am for Haerenga

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You’re probably well aware that our Haerenga Mission Internship isn’t running this year. Initially we were quite disappointed when we reluctantly made the decision to postpone it until 2016, but we’re come to recognize God’s hand at work. He has given us an incredible window of opportunity to review, tweak and re-launch our Internship – something we simply wouldn’t have had time to do had the internship been running this year. So praise God that he really does determine our paths as we trust in him (Proverbs 3:5).

Thus far the review has been a long and prayerful process as we’ve laid Haerenga before the Lord and asked him to lead us and place us where he wants us to be. There have been many conversations, questions, prayers, tears, wonderings and imaginings happening over the past weeks as we consider how to best serve the Church in growing up missional disciples for God’s Kingdom purposes. As we got deeper into the process of reviewing – interviews, surveys, many discussions – it felt as if we were in the midst of a deep fog, not quite sure where we should be going. But, thankfully, that fog is lifting. We are beginning to sense where God is leading us with our Haerenga Internship.

This is where you come in. Over the past few years we have had 11 young people journey with NZCMS as Haerenga interns. Will you join us this week, every day at 11:11am, praying for the future of the Haerenga Mission Internship, for the young people of New Zealand, and for strategies for engaging and equipping young Kiwis for mission?

My 36 Slaves

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It was a casual Sunday afternoon. I went to the supermarket – I needed to buy sugar.

I got to the plethora of sugar options on the shelf and stared.

And stared.

I picked one up. I put it back. I couldn’t bring myself to buy one.

Why? Not because of all the options before me. It’s because I know that all this sugar in front of me isn’t produced in ways I agree with. I’ve known that for a while, but that day it made me unable to purchase sugar. But I needed sugar. What to do? Driving across Auckland to the TradeAid store to purchase sugar doesn’t seem a great ‘sustainable choice’ either. So I went home with no sugar. But I knew that soon I’d need sugar and be faced with the same dilemma. (Let’s not get into the ‘do you really need sugar’ debate in this one, we’ll save that for another day – and luckily I found out that a different supermarket close-by stocks Fairtrade sugar.)

More than anything what surprised me about this sugar-debacle was myself. I’ve always ‘cared’ about ethical and sustainable consumer choices, but often it becomes idealist with an I’ll-buy-fair-trade-coffee-if-it’s-in-front-of-me thrown in on the side (though this is still a great place to start).

So what’s changed? I’m not exactly sure.

I found out I have 36 slaves working for me – in fact, I probably have more. That hit hard. I found out in what areas we are using slaves to support our consumer lifestyle – like in producing the new iPhone 6. I found out not all products labelled ‘free-range’ or ‘fair-trade’ actually are.

Deep down I think God’s been doing a bit of stirring – He’s good at that! Lately I’m seeing God’s love for this entire world and creation changing the way I have to live. I’ve found myself unable to ignore this question: “How can I live sustainably and ethically in a way that honours all of God’s creation?” Practically, I’m being intentional about reading and talking with people who are asking the same questions as me.

But don’t get me wrong friends. I’m such a weakling who struggles to do this. It doesn’t come naturally, or easy. I’m selfish and buy things that are convenient, not fair. I drive to work. I own a smartphone. I don’t always recycle. The other day I tried not to use plastic bags at the supermarket and then ended up with my arms full of groceries (cos I forgot my reusable bags)… I dropped and broke some of my items on the pavement. And sometimes the whole thing just makes me feel overwhelmed and I don’t want to care at all!

So this weakling is learning, learning that daily choices matter. With that in mind, and a dose of grace, I am trying to:

Make a choice to be informed about products, and let that information change my purchases. Make a choice to make sacrifices of my time and effort for sustainability. Choose inconvenience for me but fairness for others. Choose to read things and hear things about slavery and working conditions that make me uncomfortable and teary. Choose to get up the next day and try again after making selfish choices the day before.

Small choices and changes make a difference, firstly to me, and hopefully to others.

What about you? Are you ready to make a choice that may mean you might not be able to just walk up and buy sugar?

 

THE MUSE

Are you aware of the real cost of our consumeristic culture? What ways do you already live intentionally fair-trade and consumer conscious? What ways do you struggle or have never thought about before? What’s your next choice in moving towards this?

THE MOVE

Find out how many slaves work for you and what you can do about it. Find a friend who will challenge you in your consumer choices. Check our the story behind the barcode: www.free2work.org Share on our Facebook group one choice you are making this week to live ethically

 

Join the conversation at our #NZCMS Facebook Group.

Love one an-OTHER?

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His name was Daniel. He wasn’t old, perhaps within 10 years of my age. He spent his days on the couch listening to T.V.

He was blind.

He needed help with every basic human action: walking, to be put in the wheelchair, eating, using the toilet. He relied on the nurses for his daily life. Some-days I would help him eat, help him drink tea. I tipped the enamel cup to his lips, as some dribbled down his chin he would say ‘Thank you’. It didn’t feel like an act worthy of thanks. I didn’t know what to say. Once we talked of New Zealand. Travel. India. He had a brother living in India and wanted to travel there. With a sense of humour, he asked me to take him with me in June.

One day he asked for help to get to the toilet. More than one person was required to lift him – it cannot be done alone. Searching for a nurse the response came ‘Just ignore him, he has a nappy he can go in that.’ The nurse acted like she was in a sterile office job and not dealing with a real person – a person needing help for a basic human need. This Hospice is a place for those rejected and left alone in society because of HIV/AIDS. Where is Daniel’s dignity if one of the only functions his body has left is denied when we do not help him to the toilet? How does he not feel the stigma if he must sit in his own faeces all afternoon? He is dehumanized when he is treated like this.

The first few days I worked at the HIV/AIDS Hospice were great. I could see the kids playing, the green grass and immaculately kept gardens showed vibrancy and life. After a couple of weeks, however, I noticed the cockroaches under the beds, the dirty marks on the lino that never got cleaned, the children fighting from boredom – all physical symbols speaking to the reality that not everyone was experiencing quality life within that place. It was an experience of the rose-coloured glasses coming off. I was shocked and challenged to realize that even within an NGO, and within a church that is proclaiming the love of God there are problems and issues of division and un-loving actions.

This is the ultimate of poverties. As Mother Teresa said “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” It is those we and society name as unwanted, unloved and uncared for that are needing the good news of Jesus -the restoration into a relationship of unconditional, gracious Love.

As Christians, we say Jesus loves all peoples, all faiths, all colours, as equals. Do our lives reflect that? We can easily say we need to stop creating distance between ourselves and others but do we really live that reality? Is it ‘us’ and ‘them’? ‘Helper’ and ‘Helpless’? ‘Giver’ and Receiver’? Even if we know who ‘they’ are in our world, country, town, street, church, we make choices every-day that are acts of unity or division, acts of embracing or dis-engaging.

The truth is, this reality is hard. I’m still learning how easy it is to distance people, to ‘other’ people, to place them in boxes and neglect our common humanity – and shared inheritance and children of God.

We must constantly fight against our ability to ‘other’ people and keep them at a misunderstandable distance. When we find out just who ‘they’ are a remarkable thing happens. ‘They’ are no longer something to fear. ‘They’ cannot be left uncared for when we have built a relationship with them. ‘They’ have something to offer us. ‘They’ becomes Lerato. ‘Other’ becomes Anna. ‘HIV/AIDS’ becomes Busu. ‘Abused’ becomes Thandiwe. ‘Other’ becomes neighbour. ‘Them’ becomes brother/sister and friend.

 

THE MUSE

We love because God loved us first (John 14:19). Dwell here for a while.

THE MOVE

What way are you moving? Towards or away from those ‘different’ from you? Is there a certain person or people group that you may have distanced that God is asking you to take a step towards or embrace? What is one thing you could do this week to make that conscious step?

Limiting stuff

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My husband and I made a big decision last week: We’re moving house. But we’re not only moving from House A to House B, this is move to intentionally re-shape our lives.

Exciting stuff.

This decision comes after months of questions and ponderings of the significance of place, why we need to belong to a community, and asking how to live more intentionally alongside others so that our journey is shaped around life in Christ. (This in itself is another blog post!)

The move is one that comes with significant life-changes: we are moving from being only two of us to living closely with others. We’re moving from having our own stuff, to emptying our lives of many of our possessions.

Getting rid of stuff was the factor that made us think the move was a bad idea. After only being married for 18 months, we’ve been able to set ourselves up quite nicely! Why undo all that hard work?! In some ways this change doesn’t make sense – yet we can’t shake the idea. We’re told to make ourselves independent, build up our lives, and, as a young married couple, we’re told to insulate ourselves from others as we ‘figure out life.’ Well, figuring our life has led us to need more of others and less of stuff. We are limiting the stuff in our lives in the hope this frees us to experience the world in new ways.

I’m not going to say that this new step is a ‘sell your possessions and follow me’ moment. It just feels obvious that this is what Jesus is leading us into. Keeping company with him does stuff like that: making the odd sound like the only option.

It’s with a mixture of excitement and dread that we look at our bookcase… and wardrobe… and kitchen… and music collection… and ornaments… and furniture deciding what are the necessary companions for life’s next season. We want this, heck, we’ve chosen this, but it doesn’t feel like a spiritual thing. It just feels hard: hard to part with things that are also filled with memory. We find ourselves swinging from ruthless indifference to unjustified attachment. Why?

We’re scared.

It’s a vulnerable place before God when you have nothing. Maybe I am learning to know God in the simplicity, the emptiness, the spaces, the pause, and to know that I am loved in the midst of all of these places. And this change won’t bring about a ‘zap’ or instant transformation of ourselves into super-awesome-Christian-beings choosing God before ourselves every minute of every day … but we trust this small step with God who is working with us, in us and through us.

 

THE MUSE:

The opportunities for self-limiting come in all manner of shapes and sizes. Is there something to limit in your own life? In your experience, is limiting something hard? Freeing? Both? (Share below!)

THE MOVE:

Make a self-limiting choice this week that gives you more freedom to see God at work in the nothing, the spaces, the emptiness and simplicity of life. Perhaps it is to limit stuff. Perhaps it is in choosing to limit a commitment to one thing, rather than keeping all the options open. Maybe it’s the unlimited food options we have that need to be explored…

 

Kirstin is just an ordinary girl, seeking to learn how to live rooted in the Great Love of God the Father, Son and Spirit. Kirstin loves conversations over a good coffee about sharing together life, community, brokenness, Jesus, world issues, art, and the weather. She and her husband Rowan enjoy fumbling along with God, finding out what it means to respond to the world’s need and God’s gift of life to them.