The Well Worn Path

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 06 May 2012.

There are some parts of God’s Word that we tend to read more than others; we know John better than Judges, Mark better than Micah. This of course means that we are depriving ourselves of good things, but it isn’t always obvious how that is so.

Missing out on or even just tending away from Scripture is one thing, and we tend to be aware of it. It’s something we can address, if we put our minds to it. And it’s something that we try to keep an eye on at church, balancing our diet as far as what portions of the Bible are read and preached on over the years.

a-well-worn-foot-path-through-green-woodsThe greater danger is the one that lies hidden: our familiarity with those passages and books we know well. I’m not suggesting that it’s bad to know and love God’s Word! And yet, if we do not guard ourselves, we can fall prey to an arrogance that presumes that we’ve grasped a passage in all its fullness. Indeed, we can so love a chapter for the many great treasures that God has revealed in it that we may value it only for what we’ve found there, and beyond them it has no other use.

When we tread the well worn path through the Scriptures, we must do so in humility and confidence: honoured that we are again permitted to look into God’s heart, and eager to see what ‘new treasures as well as old’ we will find in his storeroom (Matt. 13:52). Think you know Genesis? It may be time to think again!

 

Matchless Creativity

Written by Anthony Douglas on Saturday, 05 May 2012.

The model of a galleon below was constructed entirely of toothpicks and wood glue by one Scott Weaver, a native of San Francisco. There’s no string, no dowel, no fabric - just toothpicks. Scott’s been building sculptures out of toothpicks since he was eight years old, and as you can see, over forty years of practice can make you pretty good at something.

galleon

He’s understandably quite proud of his work. This galleon is not his most complex construction; his magnum opus is a 9 foot tall abstract sculpture of his home town, through which it is possible to roll a ping pong ball along four distinct routes, to ‘tour’ the city. It took 100,000 toothpicks, around 3000 hours (he works fast), over a period spanning 34 years (or perhaps not).

But the measure of this creator’s love and pride is not the hours, nor the expense, nor the size: it is simply that he values what he creates. God took six days, used nothing more than his breath and some dirt, and created a universe. The thing that matters, though, is that he loves what he has made, so much so that he was prepared to die for it.

And no wood glue either: ‘in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:17) I’m glad he decided to stick with us even after we turned our backs on him!

Chosen At Random

Written by Anthony Douglas on Sunday, 22 April 2012.

There’s plenty of fun to be had playing with oxymorons: pretty ugly, military intelligence, old news, Microsoft Works. The list goes on, and on, and on - from absolute possibility to zero deficit. Ain’t English grand?

But the headline above the last paragraph wasn’t what it says it was. I spend a little time each week on this front page, attempting to write something that’s interesting, edifying, and stimulating. I choose my words carefully, or I try to.

I don’t get together a committee, a panel of experts, or a theological faculty. And I’m therefore not disappointed that these bulletins likely help keep our recyclers in business once their usefulness is done.

All my labours are as nothing, though, compared to what brought us our creeds. Some, we know, were hammered out by scores of theologians, weighing each word, debating meaning, with their lives literally on the line. Others have their origins hidden in a gap in history. All, however, have stood the acid test of the passage of time, and that is due both to the providence of God and the power of their well-chosen words.coins

Take ‘the Father Almighty’. To the cynic, an oxymoron; to the believer, a profound statement of the compatibility of love and distance, power and service, otherness and connection. Such coins have two sides for a reason, and they are doubly precious.

Climb Every Mountain

Written by Anthony Douglas on Friday, 28 January 2011.

Workboots
Fifty years ago, Tony Bennett and Shirley Bassey were both making money from a tune from a new Rodgers and Hammerstein musical called The Sound of Music. ‘Climb Every Mountain’ was written as the climax to the first act of the show, as an exhortation to young Maria to face up to her future. It’s a time of challenge and change, but Maria is to ‘climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow’ until she finds her dream.

Here at St Peter’s, we have a mountain (Coolangatta), a stream (the Shoalhaven), and … if not a rainbow, then the promise and command of God to serve him where we are, and he will be with us. Our ‘dream’ is to stand as a beacon, shining the light of the gospel into the hearts and minds of the people of this town, and this year is indeed the start of Act II for our church, now that we have become our own parish.

It will be a year of both challenge and change, but one that we are glad to face together. So, come on, strap on the hiking boots, and let’s get going!

Leakage

Written by Anthony Douglas on Saturday, 11 December 2010.

Julian AssangeThe story of the moment in our news is undoubtedly Wikileaks – not only does it make good copy, but we can claim its founder, Julian Assange, as one of our own…and we do love to see Aussies succeed on the world stage, don’t we?

Among the more alarming parts of the story has been the way some public figures in the US have responded to the most recent leaks: “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands.” “We should treat Mr. Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets.” “Mr. Assange should be put on the same list” – a list of those that can be killed without trial. “He should be treated as an enemy combatant.”


Strong words – stronger even than those used against Wikileaks’ likely source. What caught my eye, however, was how personalised the attacks have been. It has definitely been Assange, not Wikileaks, that has borne the brunt of the vitriol. Assange does not operate alone, however, so that raises the question: why are the critics not focusing on the organisation instead of its figurehead?

The answer, I think, is that we like to individualise blame. When BP flooded the Gulf of Mexico with oil, it was the CEO who copped the flak. When Black Saturday bushfires caused so much destruction, it was Christine Nixon, the police commissioner, who was criticised for her failures – not the fire, nor even the chief of the fire brigade! We like to move any guilt far from us, so if we can blame a faceless corporation, that’s good. And if we can blame a particular individual within that organisation, even better. There’s no chance of the blame leaking back to us.

Wrong? Certainly. But also, just a little bit, right. Perhaps there is here just the faintest echo of a hunch that we can’t afford to be found guilty. As we’re reminded again today from God’s Word, the blame we deserve has been individualised, laid upon Jesus, and led to his death. And there’s no leakage back.

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