Appeared before the immigration tribunal yesterday as witness for yet another genuine refugee denied permanent residency. Beats me how one can be given temporary protection and then be in danger of being sent back to a place that is now more dangerous than when he left it. Such is the world today, driven by fear and bloody-mindedness rather than fairplay and compassion. These last two terms are almost subversive in the current climate – like the word “do-gooder” hurled as invective at those who don’t buy the “alert but not alarmed” sound-bites of the politicians. What is the alternative? Do-badders? Do nothingers? I know which I’d rather be.
Our one and only received the metaphoric key today. To all intents and purposes that happened three years ago legally and in every other way that counts. But everyone knows it doesn’t really happen until you’re 21. And that leaves his mum and I feeling three times twentyone. How relative time is! Chronos is tricky, but its kairos that counts!
That’s what we’re celebrating this Sunday! Almost evokes a “so?” in this congregation which has not really differentiated ministry along gender lines from its inception. No new thing this – in fact my church would say women’s ministry has been a feature of the Church since Martha and Mary looked after Jesus in their respective manners. However, we are part of a culture of a family of churches that share just over 113 years of history in this state, and as that moment in our epoch required – a particular “Women’s Ministry” was established, complete with sewing circles, Dorcas groups, blessing bags, mite clubs and other sundry mysteries. So I’ll be stepping aside from my accustomed place in the pulpit and turning it over to Lesley Wishart, local historian, researcher and presenter. And I dare say we will honour the ministry of women, so often barred from speaking in some of our churches but happily sent as pioneers to foreign mission fields in what today those same churches would call “apostolic ministry.” Go figure!
The project is now up and running. Did a test run with nine folk the other night, using a little known title – Going Home (2000) – a gentle little drama concerning interrupted careers in relation to aging parents and the dilemmas and confrontations that occur. Our debrief time revealed several triggers for some. To what extent these can be traced to God-encounters depends to a large extent on what occurs with the feedback. This is where individual’s journaling and prayer engagement will be important and some tweaking of the feedback pro forma and follow through interviews critical. Overall a good beginning and I’m now turning attention to selecting the titles of the five films that will be the focus of the study.
Speaking of Jacob’s ladder (the original “Stairway to Heaven”) it comes up in tomorrow’s lectionary. There is some great rabbinic commentary on this episode in Jacob’s enforced flight from home to escape the wrath of Esau whom he diddled of his birthright. Jacob camps out in the open and has a dream – angels travelling up and down a stairway or ramp between heaven and earth. Jacob hears God’s voice reinforcing his role as the heir of Abraham’s blessing. Jacob awakens overcome with awe and marks the place as Bethel (“House of God”). What do the angels mean? The rabbis variously see the angels as representing our choices to move towards or away from God. Sometimes these choices are deliberate, other times they are simply to be recognised as movements within our soul. Whatever, Jacob has a way to go before he is able to appropriate a wounded integrity that makes reconciliation with Esau possible. His dream, however, is worth contemplating when I’m in flight from something I’m trying to avoid.
A little something about a research project of mine. Literature abounds on the meeting place of theology (particularly Christian) and contemporary cinema. As one who is engaged in spiritual direction, I am interested in how a person may encounter the transcendent and immanent in their movie going experience. Has a movie ever been the source of a Jacob’s Ladder event (“Surely God is in this place and I did not know it”)? Has it moved you to a different level of human awareness? Has it been redemptive in some way? Was it a source of either consolation or desolation? Did it affect you vocationally? I’m about to launch into the research phase of the project with some willing guinea pigs. The outcome will hopefully be useful to the spiritual direction community.
Blogging seems to be where it’s at. I have gained much from blogs I have read in recent times. Maybe its time to start giving back.
The monicker “wondering pilgrim” came out of the blue as setup asked me for a blog name, but it seems to be apt. I am wondering where blogging may lead, and my stance to life is that of a pilgrim on a journey of discovery, even at the ripe old age of fifty five. This is not to say that I have not already been greatly enriched by what life has offered and, indeed, what life has enticed me to return.
I will blog mostly from the stance of one who is involved in Christian ministry, using this space as a sounding board to myself and others who are interested enough to walk with me a while. And let’s just see what happens! I’m open to chasing rabbits through paddocks and as far down the burrow as we can go, fishing for red herrings in bottomless buckets, and generally chewing the fat with anyone so inclined. Here endeth the beginning!