Immanence

Bub #2 is due this Sunday.

Chances of this child arriving at this time? Slim to none, I’d say…. #1 was induced late & this little tacker doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in a hurry!

I’ll definitely be blogging more regularly when I have some new pictures to put up…

One day my conviction that blogging is healthy for my imagination will overwrite that part of me that says these days “blogging takes time and you don’t have any!” There’s always time.

Love

A Kiss

So, I’ve survived three weddings in 8 days!

Of course, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time thinking about love & how you express what it really means. I thought I’d share and expand on some of what I talked about to Heidi & Ross when I got to officiate at their wedding last week…

What does love look like?

On a wedding day, we all have a clear & powerful idea, exactly what it looks like! Love is a beautiful white dress, and a guy who may not look entirely comfortable in the tux he’s wearing. Love is a slow walk, it’s a long gaze, it’s a bomb-proof smile, and after the words “I will” are uttered in turn, love is a simple kiss, very public, yet at the same time, a truly intimate experience!

But what does love look like only a week later? That wedding day is over, the honeymoon’s in swing & it all has a different flavour. Love is hot sand, a cold drink, a good book and an empty diary! Love is sleeping late, eating big and laughing lots.

But honeymoons don’t last forever, what does love look like three years later? Love changes as we grow older! In three years love could be an cup of tea while she is breastfeeding, it might be a vacuumed house for a tired spouse, or love could simply be a hand that wanders into the grasp of hers as you both try and unwind infront of an episode of “Escape to the Country” or some other equally banal yet comforting programme.

Fifteen years on, love changes again. It’s the phone call, 11pm Friday night asking that you pick them up because they’re now fighting with last week’s BFF. It’s 4 hours the next day travelling to, watching then returning from a sport whose only redeeming feature is that your progeny play it. It’s a thousand small sacrifices made and maybe never acknowledged.

Who really knows on their wedding day what route their love will take?

We know it changes, so it’s only natural that we go looking for paradigms of love, but which ones really deliver?

Well the media sells us a paradigm of love that, like a store bought apple, can appear glossy on the surface, but is often sour and bitter inside. Media driven love says “I am always fire, passion & fulfillment. My cup always runs over, my eyes never cease to glitter and my kiss is always sweet.” But of course, such love always expects what it says it gives. When the fire dims, the cup’s level drops & the glitter fades, this love flees & looks to begin again.

If this is the love we long for as our paradigm at the start of marriage, we’ll soon come to a trial or tribulation & words like “for worse, for poorer, in sickness” will prove hollow, because this love needs better, richer and health to flourish!

What does the Apostle Paul say about love? In our first reading, he said this:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Look at the words & see the paradigm shift from the saccharine sweet siren call of the world. Patience, lack of envy, not self-seeking, not easily angered, no record of wrongs? This is a very different picture of love! It’s a love that looks beyond MY interests & toward THY interests. It’s a love that says “as I pledge my troth to you this day, I commit to looking beyond myself to how I might honour you, because your joy is my joy.”

This is the love that that yearns for fulfillment, but understands that focussing on your own needs as the start and finish of things will always starve the other of their needs. It’s a love that recognises and values the fires of passion, but looks beyond to a deeper, thermal heat that is steady despite the changing seasons.

But how do we learn to love in such a way? Where is our paradigm that shows us how this works? Well we see this kind of love expressed in the the love the God of all the Universe has for us, in all our frailty and confusion. A word from 1 John 4:10:

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

At our least loveable, God acted in the most loving way to us. Giving up that which he treasured most, to pay the cost for our willful acts of defiance against him. God’s love for his people is so powerful because it’s not contingent on us looking as pretty as the day he met us, or on our being a great person to live with, an awesome mother or father, or any of these things. God’s love for us is an act which he makes freely with no strings attached, asking only that we put our trust in Christ’s work on the cross for us, and put our trust in him.

I hope many things for all three couples that I have seen married over the last 8 days. I hope that every day they find their spouses more beautiful than the day before, that each week they find a new thing to marvel at, and that the years will whiz by in sea of laughter and joy. But more than all of this, I pray that their relationship will be marked by a sincere commitment to build the other up, to find the deepest joy in the happiness of their spouses, allowing them to look beyond mistakes that might be made, looks that will fade, and times that will be tough.

And I hope they will find the strength to do this by finding the deepest and greatest love in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the one who saves us from our sins, and shows us how to truly love each other.

I thought I’d finish with a question. Always a good way to find out if anyone a)reads my blog & b)if they ever read anything to the end.
What is that little thing, that others might see as inconsequential but you see as the answer to “love is” when thinking of your significant other?

What's doing?

Reading: Dostoyevsky’s “The Gambler” and so far enjoying it quite a bit. I think I’ll finish it a lot faster than I did “The Brothers Karamazov.” I’m also reading Tim Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods” which is enjoyable too. I think he is a very easy to read author, and also a good reader of contemporary culture.

Listening: I’m back on a bit of a “Supertones” kick at the moment. Thoughtful lyrics, and rocking tunes! What is is that makes music for you? I’d back good lyrics as the valuable asset every time, but there is a tipping point where the melody is so bad, that not even the best of lyrics can save a song. I’ll have to see if I can find any great examples.

Preaching: On 1 Timothy 2:1-7. There are 4 “everybody” statements in the passage, focussing on:
1:Our prayers for everybody.
2:God’s interest in everybody.
3: Christ’s ransom for everybody.
4: Paul’s mission to everybody.
Maybe I’ll post some notes on it later.

Preparing: For my cousin’t wedding that I’ll officiate over Saturday-week. Very exciting. Looking forward to the chance to see lots of family, to be a part of such an exciting event, and to preach Christ crucified!

Anticipating: a Powderfinger concert on Saturday evening. First proper concert I’ve been to in years! Sad to see them retire…

Wary about: How I’ll feel preaching on Sunday morning, having gotten home at about 1am… This is why “Mother” is my friend…

One in 4 million?

Like 4 million other Aussies, I was glued to my screen on Sunday evening as Adam (who, may I brag, I picked as my winner about a month ago) came up trumps against Callum. Most often I like to pretend that I am above this popular stuff. After all, I must be cool enough to watch shows that haven’t even been created yet, right? This series I have been hook-line-sinker.
Last year I couldn’t watch the final. It felt a little too contrived & I get particularly frustrated by the sophmoric ways they try & build tension through endless repetition & the competitors commentating on their own actions, like they are somehow living the moment & watching the moment at the same time, but this year I thought the final was well weighted, different enough to keep me interested & (despite my early prediction) had enough “real” tension for me to ignore the way channel 10 insulted me with their child-like production.

Today though, I thought I heard an interesting question while listening to ABC radio. Richard Glover asked “do you really think the show will change food habits, or is this just the perfect thing for people to watch while eating fast food?”

I have to admit, I’ve eaten large servings of ice cream while watching “The Biggest Loser“, and on more than one occasion, I have eaten dodgy comfort food (though, mum, if you’re reading, you’ll be happy to hear we rarely if ever eat fast food these days) while watching Masterchef. Have I attempted any of these high-falutin’ recipies? No. Has it changed my attitude to food? Yes, I still think it has. It is exciting to see how far things can be taken. It’s great to see people with basic ingredients delivering amazing meals. It’s a nice challenge to make me ask whether I am being more thoughtful with my food? And who knows, maybe one day I will even have a decent crack at a recipe or two.

What do you think? Has Masterchef changed the way you look at food?

(To my American friends, particularly foodies like Megan, if you still read my blog, you can follow the link to Masterchef & watch full episodes online. Not only would it be fun to watch Australian TV, but man, there is some great food in this show!)

Movies

OK, so here is my theory.

“Movies” are those things that run for about two hours. Their chief purpose is to make lots of money for the people who make them. At the same time, they hope that they might manage to tell some kind of worthwhile story.

“Cinema” are those pieces of art that run for about two hours. When someone makes a piece of cinematic art, their intention is usually to share a story. At the same time, they are usually hoping that their piece of cinema also makes some money. (Of course, in a modern world where everything has to be economically rationalised, this kind of cinema is becoming rarer. Usually it is only the talented, famous, or established who have the chance to go for “cinematic art” because they are likely to have an “economic guarantee” because of their name. )

Do you have examples of each? What movies do you think manage to achieve being both?

Discuss!

what it's all about

G-squared

I went & photographed Shannyn & the Gheevatron’s wedding on Saturday (Geeve doesn’t even have an “H” in it, but it “Gheevatron” just looks better). It was my first wedding in a while, I was solo & I really felt the pressure.

I wont post any more pictures, cause I feel like they should look at them first. This is usually my fave of any wedding anyway. All the dresses, suits, cars, bomboniere, flittering people and impressive speeches melt away next to a simple gesture as two people join together and become one. Everything else is a bit foreign on the day. We’ve all seen weddings but (hopefully) this is the first time we’re in one. Yet in all that is so different, what a lovely thing to see two hands together & feel a sense of familiarity that transcends it all!

Well there you go.

Anniversary

So, there seems to be a general freeze in the blogosphere, so I figured now’s the time to fire something off myself.

Three year!

It certainly has gone quickly.

I guess it’s only Four years since we met, so that’s not a huge amount of time in the scheme of things.
But they have been the best years of my life.

A beautiful wife, a lovely daughter, another on the way… it doesn’t get much better.

We got to celebrate by heading into the city for a night by ourselves for the first time since “Pumpkin” was born. I can’t say enough nice things about the Shangri-la. The view from our room was awesome, the room itself was comfy, the cocktail bar (a free cocktail was included with our stay! Woo Hoo!) was awesome, and it was close to all the fun stuff in the city!

So, sanctity of our marriage, I’ll avoid posting pics of my beloved without permission, but I will include some of the the sights & sounds of the evening.

The Harbour

Harbour Bridge

We loved the view from our room. It was pretty during the day & stunning at night!!

A Pear of sidecars

This little puppy is called “A Pear of Sidecars” and was awesome. It felt sophisticated to start the evening with a complimentary cocktail. Even better, the non-alcoholic one that Shona got was just as tasty as mine! That’s always a good sign.

Meat Tasting Board

Oh man, [Red Oak](http://www.redoak.com.au/) in the city was the most awesome surprise of the evening! I’d heard of this micro-brewery, but this was the first time I had been there. What you see above is a meat tasting plate. From top to bottom it is

  1. Prosciutto, bocconcini and baby rocquette salad accompanied by a tasting size of their award winning bitter
  2. Chicken and shitake mushroom croquette with tomato confit accompanied by organic pale ale.
  3. Pork, duck and walnut terrine with pickled eggplant accompanied by Irish red ale, and finally
  4. Baltic Porter and Swiss brown mushroom moussakka accompanied by an oatmeal stout, possibly the nicest stout I’ve ever had.

For mains we shared a Chicken with a parsley & bacon farce braised baby cos lettuce, crushed potato preserved lemon and a spinach and pear relish, as well as Limestone Coast Lamb Sausages, with Oatmeal Stout, garlic, black pepper and parsley, served on a herb mashed potato with Oatmeal Stout jus.

The dessert was the thing I was waiting for, keen to try icecream or chocolates made with beer, but we were so full that I had to hold off!

FRAMBOISE FROMENT

The “Fraimboise Froment” Raspberry beer was pretty darn amazing too.

We decided to walk off some of our food, cruising down to the harbour. Of course, by the time we had walked for a bit, we found ourselves ready for dessert & the Guylian store.

Guylian Chocolate & Passionfruit

The Passionfruit & chocolate torte was TDF!

So there we go. It was great to have a little time off & even better to have a food & foto night! Good times had by all!

Personal Integrity

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this over the years, I may have even blogged about it before, but while I was reading an article in [The Briefing](http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/briefing/) the other day I was encouraged again & challenged about how I see my ministry unfolding.

In the article Bruce hall says (I hate that I can’t get quotes to work properly on this blog)

> It is more important to have someone on a team whose character is above reproach and who models Christlikeness than any abilities he might have.

It made me think about those things that I value in myself and others when it comes to ministry.

What is it that I want to spur my parishioners on to? Surely it’s a deep and abiding knowledge of God, which is expressed through their growing more like Christ.

How is it that I seek to bring people to this place? Accepting, that it is the Holy Spirit that is going to do this work, still my responsibility is to preach the gospel winsomely.

But does my focus on this sometimes cloud the fact that the best way to call people to a certain life is to model that life in the way that I live?

OK, this blog is a little too “stream of consciousness” for my liking, so I’m going to try & synthesise.

I can get away with maybe 20 minutes for a sermon on a Sunday morning. Surely I ought to consider how to preach the gospel more effectively in the 23 hours 40 minutes when I’m not at the pulpit?

More thoughts on personal integrity to come, including how a Quarter Pounder might reflect one’s relationship with God.

ANZAC

I arrived at about 5:15 in the am. The sub-branch president of the [RSL](http://www.rsl.org.au/) had invited me to come and speak to those who assembled to commemorate [ANZAC](http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac_tradition.asp) day (It’s interesting how people talk about “celebrating” ANZAC day rather than “Commemorating” it. I think I’ll react to that a little in this post. Oh, for the internationals, you might want to click on the ANZAC link to get a feel for what I’m talking about)

I was a little surprised by the crowd. It’s pre-dawn, pouring rain & quite cool, yet gathered in the RSL are maybe 300 people who have come for the dawn service.

Sombreness, quiet, contemplative, respectful.

The names of the war dead from the region were read, and I was invited to speak. I spoke, only for a couple of minutes, about the statement “lest we forget,” noting how the drive and focus of our lives changes when we make sure to hold in our minds the sacrifices that have been made to secure the freedoms we might otherwise take for granted. Of course, this is a theme that reflects the ANZAC sacrifice, and even more-so that made by Christ on the cross, securing for us the freedom to call God our Father. It was a sedate (but I hope challenging) message, followed by a reading of “[The Ode of Remembrance”](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ode_of_Remembrance) and the end of the service.

I left almost straight after, having to rush home before heading out to a morning of church services.

My entry at 2pm was quite a different one!

I wasn’t even at the doors before I heard the excited yells. Having navigated the crowded entry way, the first room to the left was crowded with men (and women who were particularly game) surrounding a ring of ground, where a couple of men stood, tossing coins in the air, while everyone bet on the result. The great Australian gambling institution of “[two up](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-up),” legal only on this day, was being played. The rest of the pub was full of people having fun, drinking beer & watching footy!

At 2:45 I headed outside to the cenotaph where there was quiet for another service & I had the chance to speak again.

I’ll be honest, I had expected this experience, so I was prepared, ready to talk about how we make sense of these seemingly contradictory experiences.

I think a lot of people wonder how we have such a party atmosphere through so much of this day. Isn’t it a time for commemoration, for solemn consideration?

Yet in the celebration we see a reflection of what it was that so many ANZACS died for. In their loftier moments, maybe when they were being interviewed for a paper, they may have spoken of the greater virtues for which they fought, the grand philosophical ideals, but the truth, I think, is that most men fought to protect that basic, day to day freedoms that we all enjoy. It was for the chance to play some games with your mates & enjoy a cold beer, the chance to enjoy a barbie & chew the fat (literally and figuratively) that these men fought & died.
What they were about was not just the grand & majestic, but the whole of life!

Do we fail to apply this principle to our understanding of God?

Have we built a philosophical “ivory tower” with starched collars, organ music, brass crosses & uncomfortable pews, where a God of frowns & consternation lives?

I’m thankful that the God that I know is a God who is interested in the whole of life. Dare I say it, he’s more interested in my Monday to Saturday than he is in my Sunday morning.

Jesus didn’t spend the lion’s share of his time with religious leaders & wowsers, but with tradesmen, the poor & the “authentic” people of the world. And his death, on our behalf, was made to redeem ALL of our lives, both the majestic & the mundane.

We’d do well to reflect on the sacrifices that our forefathers made on our behalf, when we enjoy so many things that billions in this world don’t have access to. And we’d do even better to remember that God offers EVERYONE a chance at even greater things if they put their faith & trust in Jesus.