Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas is coming, ready or not!

   I did it. I have pulled my head out of the sand and faced the fact. Christmas is nearly here.
It's not that I don't like Christmas. I'm not ready. They must be scheduling it twice a year now. It was only the other day that I pulled the tree down and stored it in the shed. Now there are voices everywhere demanding its return to my living room.
   Santa arrived at our local Westfield store about two weeks ago. I know that because my granddaughters were two of the elves that escorted him, along with a strange mix of animals, into the centre. I can understand Santa wanting to escape from his exile at the North Pole, but his timing is affecting all of us.
   My gift cupboard isn't ready for Christmas. Nor is my pantry. My daughter-in-law has been asking where we are gathering for the celebrations. I have been  plugging my fingers in my ears and singing, 'lalal alala,' very loudly.

   However, yesterday I was briefly inspired. I pulled down my book display and replaced it with Christmas decorations. I even added three pieces of tinsel to the house. The plan is to add a little bit more each day so that I ease into the season gently.
   Today I placed my little nativity figurines in front of my fireplace. Even though baby Jesus is already in the feeding trough, but I began thinking about Mary walking to Bethlehem carrying her unborn baby. And as a grandmother, I've been thinking about Mary's Mum and Joseph's Mum. I wonder how those grandmas were feeling as they waited for the pending birth. I sympathise with them. My guess is the community of Nazareth didn't buy the angel story. I can hear the women outside the synagogue whispering now. 
   'That's the worst excuse I've ever heard for turning up at your wedding, large with child! I hear she says its God's son. Blasphemy! She should have been stoned! I don't know what Joseph is thinking! He should have demanded her punishment  Oh! Don't give me that story about an angel in a dream. God stopped speaking four hundred years ago. Disgusting it is...'
    Being a grandma is a wonderful experience, unless the baby is out of timing, or something goes wrong. This whole episode must have seemed like a nightmare to these Grandmothers who were part of the earthly family chosen as to raise the Son of God. I wonder did they understand, or were they so consumed by the sorrow surrounding the illegitimate child they couldn't hear the story their children were telling?
   There would have been many who judged Mary and Joseph, not knowing, or being willing to accept the truth. I'm sure our Lord's family suffered gossip and rejection for years.
    Today, as I place my little Mary and Joseph beside the crib, I'm challenged again. How often do I judge others without understanding their full story?What if I poured contempt on someone when, in truth, it was God doing something unusual in an unexpected way? 
    Pausing, I realise I'm closer to the Christmas spirit than I thought. Maybe I'll go and play, 'Joy to the World.'

Friday, 23 November 2012

Tiny Aerodynamic Flying Machines

   Flicking my clean white sheets over my guest bed I noticed something dark. A feather had attached itself to my washing. Picking it off, I dropped it in the waste paper basket. Simple, right? No! First it didn't want to leave my finger and then instead of dropping into the bin it decided to float down. Gently, slowly and indirectly. It eventually hit the floor but missed the bin.
   Fascinating. The aerodynamics of one single feather. No wonder a bird flies so effortlessly. Each spread wing is covered with hundreds of these little flying machines, who individually want to float and never touch the ground.
   Have you ever watched a feather fall from the sky, a bird-less sky, and wonder where it came from? Well now we know! The bird, after discarded its feather, has flown a kilometre while the little feather has floated and danced its way towards the ground.
   Recently, while walking, I observed a spinning top falling to the road in front of me. Well, it looked like a spinning top. It had a pointy end and was turning quickly as it dropped from the sky. Yes, it was a feather. Not one of the soft fluffy ones, but a strong, slender one. It dropped, shaft first, and turned on its own axis as it fell. Then another fell right in front of me.
   Again I stand in awe at the wonder of creation, and its creator. Each bird created with different styled and shaped aerodynamic feathers covering their whole body!
    And the colours! I've picked up so many that have a dab of blue here and then a slash of pink, or a spot of brown, or even bright aqua. Then there are the soft fluffy bits at the end of each feather that keep the bird's body cool and dry, like waterproof pyjamas incorporated into the flying suit. Ah, yes. Did I say that my God is exceedingly clever!
   So today I worship Him, for I, too am fearfully and wonderfully made, even if I can't fly! What makes you stop in awe, as we delight in this wonderful world we live in?

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Who is accountable in Child Sexual Abuse debacle.

   I welcome Julia Gillard's decision to have a Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse within institutions in our nation. Child sexual abuse is disgraceful, disgusting, devastating and a blot on any society. It has also been part of our society since 'Adam was a boy.' It entered the world when Adam and Eve opened the door to 'knowledge.' 

   After eating the fruit that promised them the knowledge of good and evil, one of their first understandings was shame. "Oh, My Goodness! I'm naked. Adam stop looking at me like that!' When evil enters, sexual perversion follows. Fact.

   Our society constantly opens the door to evil. It dominates our television screens, it screams at us from bill boards, it leers at us from news-stands and parades down our streets. Sex is used to sell anything and everything. It lures our young men and women from the screen in their palm. It is socially acceptable in society between any consenting adults, regardless of gender or marital status. Masturbation is considered normal. Partner swapping, group sex and nameless other activities abound. 

   Why, then, are we surprised to discover sexual perversion has an appetite for children. If you let the colt out of a paddock, it is very hard to reign him in and bring him back under control. As a society we have relinquished control of explicit sexual viewing. informs me 

"Every second,28,258 people access pornography, and 70% of adult men visit porn sites every month. Of all porn uses, one in three are women."

   Even our children are increasingly exposed to pornography, which in its self is a form of child sexual abuse.

   "Children in Australia have extensive exposure to pornography. Just under three-quarters (73 per cent) of boys and 11 per cent of girls report that they have watched an X-rated video. Eighty-four per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls say they have been exposed accidentally to sex sites on the Internet and two in five boys deliberately use the Internet to see sexually explicit material, with four to five per cent doing so frequently."
(Clive Hamilton & Michael Flood in the Australia Institute's 2003 Regulating Youth Access to Pornography study (PDF) and Youth and Pornography in Australia) 

   Evil is ravenous, narcissistic, and self serving. It has no regard for age, standing or gender. Maybe the best known example of evil in modern times is Hitler's regime. Babies, the elderly, male and female were all victims of barbarism in Germany. As long as evil is allowed to rule, our little ones will suffer.

Yes, this Royal Commission will undercover horror stories and there will be consequences for perpetrators and for those who have chosen to protect the guilty. But, as that happens, lets ask ourselves a question. What has been my part in allowing such sexual degradation to enter our society? What can I do to fight the flood of evil that parades into our living rooms and mobile devices every second of every day?

Friday, 9 November 2012

Different forms of New Life

   New life does something to stir our souls. Whether its a clutch of day old chicks, a baby foal or a new baby.  
For me, its been a week of new beginnings. Two of my friends welcomed tiny granddaughters this week and one of my friends began a new life - life in heaven.
   Through tears, we sat in a church and celebrated her earthly life, while in heaven, she celebrated her final transition. She has grasped the new life - no longer restricted by a dragging, fleshly body, but now clothed in immortality. No longer held down by gravity, but free to fly throughout the spiritual world.
   As we understand life, it begins when sperm meets egg, or does it? Our physical bodies come from dust and to dust will return, says the Good book. But our souls? Where did they originate? Did they have life before they were confined to a foetus which was restricted within a womb? Jesus did. He chose to be 'confined to a span, incomprehensibly made man.'
   When a foetus bursts forth into the world, we call it a 'new life,' as if it wasn't alive before. The baby grows effortlessly, naturally. It morphs and changes, year after year until, finally, its span is finished. Discarding the worn out restrictions of flesh, life continues in a glorious, if mysterious, dimension.
   In a way, our earthly span is similar to what we know as high school. It is a training ground for the rest of eternal life. As the decisions we make in our high school years determine our course for the remainder of our earthly span, so our decisions made in our physical life affect our eternal destiny.
   As we farewelled my friend, Barb the church was filled with the lasting evidence of her decisions. Decisions to take colour and blend them into works of art. Decisions to raise godly sons. Decisions to worship God and love him forever. Her decision to accept Jesus' sacrifice for her wrongs.
Vibrant display of Barb's love of colour and creativity
at her farewell service
   So it was with great confidence we celebrated her new life today. There are no question marks hanging over her future like the unknowns that hang over a new born baby. What will their life be like? Will they be healthy and strong? Will they make good decisions?
   No! As Barb enters her new life we know with confidence that she's finding her spiritual feet in her corner of heaven and rearranging the colours and hues. How will her creativity manifest in heaven? I don't know as I am still anticipating this section of my life. But this much I'm sure of. Barb will be worshipping in wonderful harmony and vivid colour. Ah, yes! New life. I love it.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Love makes the World go Around. But what is it?

   I have a few questions for you about an important topic!
   For the last few weeks, I've been pondering the meaning behind the overused, misunderstood, little word 'love'. Love is important to me. I need it to survive and, like food, I seem to crave lots of it!
  Being fortunate among women, I live with a man that loves me, constantly, unwaveringly, and for ever. I know he does, even if he's too tired to talk, forgets to tell me things and appears to be more interested in the television than my sparkling wit and scintillating conversation. Is our love measured by the attention he pours out on me, my numberless faults he overlooks, or is it my decision to let him enjoy his show in peace and find something else to do?
   Grandchildren are wonderful for love, when they're in the mood. Arriving at my daughter's house early in the morning, Miss Nearly Five, looked at me from under her sheets  and yelled, 'No kisses!' 
I walked on to the kitchen startling Miss eleven who was still half asleep. 'Why are you here?' 
   It was lucky I wan't relying on grand kids to fill my love tank that day! Is love measured on their reactions to me or by my responses to them?
   Saint John tells us 'God is love.' There's a clue. Does that mean the essence of God is love? His very being is concentrated love - whatever that is? Does that mean that Jesus was love in skin, walking the streets of earth, defining love, as it were? 
   So what is the opposite of love? I asked my Facebook readers. They leaned toward 'indifference' and searches on the world wide web shows most people agree with them.

Romanian born American writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1986, Elie Wiesel, writes, “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.”
   The whole thing leaves me feeling a little... indifferent! What about you? I guess the opposite of indifference is passion. Ah! We are close to love again.
   What is the opposite of God? If God is love, the opposite of love must be the opposite of God. In the theatre of life, the Devil plays opposite God. He is pride and all things self centred. The sweetener he offered Eve was, 'You will know...just as God does.' In other words, grab what you can for yourself. Self is more important than God's guidelines. His love is restrictive. love an outward flowing force that focuses on the good of others, while the inward pull of caring firstly about ourselves is the opposite?

   As, I said...just a few questions! I'd love to hear what you think.