St George’s Flemington
Taize in Flemington
Thursdays at 7.30pm
23rd of February
1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of March
Seeking God in Silence and Song
A regular time of prayer in the weeks leading to Easter
St George’s Flemington
Thursdays at 7.30pm
23rd of February
1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th of March
Seeking God in Silence and Song
A regular time of prayer in the weeks leading to Easter
Take Up Beer for Lent, 2011, Lent 5, John 11:1-53
I love Nick Cave’s edgy, intuitive hunches on biblical stories and Dig Lazarus Dig is a beaut one to ‘read’ alongside the ancient text….Nick and John both do ‘death’ so well!
Well, New York City, man
San Francisco, L.A., I don’t know
But Larry grew increasing neurotic and obscene
I mean, he, he never asked to be raised up from the tomb
I mean, no one ever actually asked him to forsake his dreams
He ended up like so many of ‘em do
Back in the streets of New York City
In a soup queue, a dope fiend, a slave
Then prison, then the mad house
Then the grave, oh, poor Larry
But what do we really know of the dead
And who actually cares?
Well, I don’t know what it is
But there’s definitely something going on upstairs
The following notes are drawn largely from Wes Howard Brook’s work on John ‘Becoming Children of God’.
Ch.10 Good Shepherd as critique of Leadership, Chanukah Temple Debates, Flees death threats by withdrawal beyond Galilee
Structure As with Samaritan Woman Ch.4 & Man Born Blind Ch.9
In this passage we see all the various attitudes human beings bring to their experience of the presence of death. The passage presents us with the seductions of false securities in the face of the threat of death and our darkest fears and internal doubts about following in the way of Jesus.
Responses to Death:
1. Help prepare the one about to die for the journey (v.2 Mary…see Ch13)
2. Avoid risks that may arouse opposition (Disciples v.7-8)
3. Denial (Disciples v.12)
4. Faithful commitment or is it sarcastic fatalism or is it bravery??? (Thomas v.16)
5. Death as business. A chance to ‘make a living’ (Judean Mourners v.31-32)
6. Hope of avoidance / prevention (Sisters v.21,32, Judeans 37)
7. Jesus weeps (v.33-35 untranslatable = horse snorting?) sympathy or anger at lack of faith? Note John’s Judeans are usually wrong! (v.36)
8. Trust God’s Presence (v.42)
9. Come out/ Unbind …(v.44)
10. Death Mongering (Utilitarian Conspiracy v.49)
How does news reports about the recent crack down on dissidents in China mirror the secrecy, tension and the threat of danger and death in the ebb and flow of this text?
Note the geographical movement of characters in the text: How does each characters ‘starting point’ prepare them to encounter death?
What might ‘unbinding Lazarus and setting him free’ look like in your world?
Which ‘attitudes to death’ presented in the story are most prominent in your personal experience, the dominant culture, the church?
Consider what it would feel like to live without the fear of death. Share stories of people of faith, both historic and from your own experience, who have lived in this way. ( eg. Joan of Arc, MKL, Romero, )
Brainstorm a list of consequences for particpation in ‘unauthorised’ healing or life-giving activity in our world. Tell a story of an alternative healing experience.
What attitude do I bring to the death of those closest to me? How would you respond to Jesus’ response to Martha about being the “Resurrection and the Life”?
What ‘death threats’ or fears keep me from travelling to contested places in order to ‘unbind and set free’ those who are dying? Tell a story of a time you had to cross Galilee and enter the dangerous ‘Judeas’ in order bring healing?
Take Up Beer for Lent, 2011
Our journey in Home Brew and Bible Study continued this week as we bottled our Celtic Red which has been brewing since Week 1. Thankfully we had time to taste some samples and also pick up the reading from Lent 3 about Jesus’ encounter with aSamarian Woman at the Well from John 4.
Stories from our World:
We started by reading The Aboriginal Woman at the Spring which was my contemporary re-mix of this passage for Seeds for Lent 2002. As a piece of writing it is somewhat awkward as I tried to stay as true to the original text of John 4, whilst making parallels to contemporary issues. Whilst it doesn’t quite work in terms of ‘voice’ and naming contemporary issues as clearly as it might, I think it is still worth reading as a useful way to expose some of the dynamics that aren’t immediately apparent to us about the ancient text.
We discussed that the themes of this piece are made all the more striking by view of the recent Federal Government ‘intervention’ in remote communities and across Australia’s Northern Territory.
Ancient Story: John 4: 1- 42
Most of the discussion centered on whether the primary liberation of ‘Spirit and Truth’ was ‘spiritual/religious’ or ‘political’ in nature… we thought both were pretty important in the end!
For me the traditional emphasis of the woman as a ‘painted woman’ of moral disrepute had been trumped by seeing her five ‘husbands ‘as the traditional colonising tribes of Samaria listed in 2 Kings 17.
(Another example of the rich metaphorical links between marriage, nationalism, wells and ‘living water’ can be found in Jeremiah 2)
In response to Jesus the woman shows no shame about supposed moral indiscretion, she simply recognises Jesus as a ‘prophet’ and continues on with the debate about disputed markers of national and cultural identity. Wes Howard Brook suggests “The one that you have now is not your own” is a reference to Roman occupation which is supported by the Samaritan’s proclamation at the end of the passage that Jesus is ‘Saviour of the Word’ (a direct title for Caesar).
We also harked back to the previous week and compared the characterisation of Nicodemus and The Woman at the Well in terms of Gender: Name: Geography/Location: Role: Time of Encounter: Response:
In coming back to the original discussion I was profoundly moved by the Surrender11 Conference.
Like the Samaritan woman there were some powerful indigenous voices present at Surrender11, none less that that of Elverina Johnson.
Elverina is a Kunganji Woman of Yarrabah, a community of 4000 people in north Queensland, and her parents are from the Murgha and Fourmile families. A writer, artist, curator and researcher, Elverina is currently President of the P&C for the Yarrabah School and also volunteers as a Liaison Officer for the Dirringhi Aboriginal Corporation, which she co-founded, and specialises in developing arts and education activities within schools.
With a quiet but steely resolve she spoke powerfully on the Sunday Morning of the conference (Lent 3!) about the fear she experienced when the military trucks rolled in for the ‘intervention’ and of the deep sense of shame she feels each time she is forced to produce her green ‘Basics’ card in order to purchase bread and milk and other essential items from the store. She also spoke of the difficult economics of travel to approved shops in order to purchase such necessities.
The connections for me with her cry and the questioning voice of the Samaritan Woman at the Well seeking “living water’ were powerfully obvious.
As with the Samaritan women though her ‘testimony’ and leadership did not end there. (In John’s gospel the Samaritan Woman is given the honour of one who ‘testifies’ to Jesus ala John the Baptist, and unlike the disciples!) Elverina led us in binding the crippling spiritual forces in her life and in her community by inviting us to pray. Whilst we did so she instructed the worship leader to blow the digeridoo seven times in a nod to the ‘wall breaking’ trumpeting actions of another ancient, tribal, wilderness people!
“You might not see it now but it is bound in the spiritual realm and freedom is on it’s way.”
Talk about worshiping in ‘Spirit and Truth’! You can give me some of that ‘Living Water’ anytime!
The indigenous cultural elements at the conference were very powerful including a beautiful Weclome to Country that went for over an hour.
Over the course of the conference Rev. Graeme Paulson had said;
“My Aboriginal spirituality in-forms my Christianity and my Christianity trans-forms my indigenous spirituality”.
He had spoken over the course of the weekend about being in Central Australia at the time of the Vesty’s walk off in the 60′s-70′s and how its leader, Vincent Lingiari had told him how he had felt led by God, independent of any white missionary influence to initiate such an action. Graeme had been involved in numerous baptisms at Wadi Creek through the course of that time which eventually became the birth place of the Land Rights movement for our nation.
He also made other powerful statements such as:
“The Aboriginal gift to Australia is spirituality”
“My challenge to the indigenous church is to save Christianity from Western culture!”
This felt a bit like a Samaritan Woman leaving her ‘water jug’ behind (connection to Wedding at Cana in John 2 and it’s implicit critique of the exclusive cultural captivity of the relgion of his day) to ‘find’ it in a fulfilment of another cultural form.
As we read the final passage about the Samaritans celebrating I recalled the striking image of Uncle Rex Japanangka Granites, an elder with a streak of long white hair spontaneously dancing up the front of the auditorium during the final worship session of Surrender11.
I haven’t seen a whole lot of elders from ANY cultures dancing in public and so it was not lost on me that this was an elder who has played important roles on ATSIC and Central Land Council’s etc. who felt compelled to dance and celebrate at a Christian worship service. Clearly here was someone who saw in the way of Jesus a liberation and a path of ‘Spirit and Truth’ that was both profoundly spiritual as well as politically liberating… for us all!
Take Up Beer For Lent, 2011, Week 2
We used the following cartoons in order to gain momentum by interpreting texts close to home and our current experience by asking the questions below:
Lots of our discussion was based around what sort of character was Nicodemus?
Nicodemus is characterised as a Pharisee, ‘Judean’ (Jewish Authorities), One who comes at night.
Lent, Beer, Power, Temptation & Rites of Passage
“Beer… Now there’s a temporary solution.” – Homer Simpson
In a world of unsustainable solutions, quick fixes and with much ‘band- aiding’ of symptoms, the temptation narrative of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 invites us to the alternative. It is an invitation to go to the roots of our deepest problems but also to the sources of our true identity.
Jesus enters the story as a man who has just experienced a powerful affirmation of his identity at the outset of his ministry. At his baptism in the previous passage, the heavens are ‘ripped asunder’ and a dove descends upon him with the voice, “This is my beloved”.
I don’t know if you have ever experienced this kind of affirmation of your own identity? I think of it as being like a ‘Lion King’ moment where Simba has an experience of hearing from the Spirit of his Father in the midst of doubt and uncertainty and is reminded that he is indeed a King. To have an experience of knowing who one is and what one is meant to be can be a powerful animating force for both change and direction in ones’ life.
I’ll be honest. My first thought behind ‘Take up Beer for Lent’ was for some blokes I know who I thought might show up at a bible study if it also included beer. Then I was really honest with myself. I knew that the ‘some blokes’ really meant ‘myself’.
I am very interested in male rights of passage, identity and the place of men in church culture in particular. I came to realize however that my constant thinking about ‘blokes and beer’ in this instance was excluding lots of women I know who also enjoy beer, and the bible, as much as me.
Years ago as part of the Common Rule, a Christian discipleship group, a few of us decided to meet and try and deepen our understanding of housing and the real estate industry. It was a daunting time for me as I was considering housing options with the pressure of starting a family and prices were soaring in a complex, ever-changing, real estate market bubble.
The simple task of meeting with a group and asking questions that each would then go away and work on about the present situation and how it related to both the past and the future was significant. Even with a modest amount of research, comparing notes and learning together proved empowering and helped me greatly in clarifying my values and my next decisions in relation to my faith and the dominant economy in which I had previously felt rather powerless.
The emphasis of Christian Lenten practice is often seen to be about ‘giving up’ things. Over previous years under the Seeds banner we have sought not just to give things up for the sake of personal piety but instead to embrace the discipline of ‘taking things up’ as a group, as we did with the housing issue. In subsequent years we took up Chocolate and Water for Lent. Not just in our consumption or fasting from such, but in our prayerful consciousness and through practical, shared work.
Both the Chocolate and Water for Lent series proved to be important and did much to prepare me for understanding the subsequent, and at times dramatic changes that were to take place in the global economy of both chocolate and water. In an inter-connected world, committing to understanding the deeper truth about one issue can take you anywhere and everywhere…history, culture, economics politics, spirituality…etc.
At these events I found that coming back to the traditional Lenten Bible readings of the Christian Church, provided an interesting frame with which to consider an issue. Likewise the contemporary issue we chose often helped to frame the way we approached or found meaning in the ancient text.
With that in mind I wanted to consider the reading for the first week of Lent. The Matthew 4:1-11 passage where, immediately after his baptism, Jesus is tempted in the wilderness before the outset of his ministry.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” ’
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”,
and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.” ’
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Beer and Temptation
If something is clearly bad or evil there is little temptation. It’s not a temptation if it isn’t perceived as a desirable thing or at least more ‘good’ than ‘bad’. The Greek word for ‘the devil’ in this passage is ‘diabolos’, from where we get English translations and meanings like ‘confusion’. A temptation is usually something of inherent good that has been distorted or misappropriated in some way.
“Ah beer, the cause of and solution to all life’s problems.”
Perhaps the great beer drinker, Homer Simpson is archetypal of a certain cultural confusion when it comes to the truth about alcohol.
Homer speaks a part truth in the same way that the devil speaks truth to Jesus. The bible points to Jesus as being a provider of bread, a protected wonder worker and a king, all the things the ‘confuser’ asks Jesus to do or be, and, which later in his ministry Jesus embraces. The ‘confuser’ speaks biblical truth, God’s truth to Jesus at his time of vulnerability. And yet as Sarah Dylan Breuer (nice surname) points out…
“For Jesus, it’s not just about God’s truth; it’s also about God’s time, God’s call, and most of all about God’s love.”
Homer Simpsons simplistic extreme’s are reflected in the contest over alcohol in Christian tradition. Alcohol can be either “Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” (Benjamin Franklin on wine) or “demon drink”. From pioneering brew techniques to ushering in temperance and prohibition, individual Christian’s and Christian traditions have contributed powerfully across the extremes.
In our first ‘Beer for Lent’ meeting this last week a number of people shared that they had experiences of ancestors who were alcoholics who had become teetotal because of the redemptive power of religion. Others told stories of forebears whose response to repressive religion was to hit the bottle and literally piss their families’ inheritance on the back fence. The nature of temptation involves power, truth and how we deal with it for good or for ill.
Like Homer, in my own experience love and I hate beer and religion. I can connect them with some of my most powerful bondingmoments (the word religio means ‘to bind’) as well as with some of my lowest and most shameful experiences of being human. The goodness of each has a power that both enables but when distorted, destroys much that is good in our culture.
I want to ‘Take up Beer for Lent’ because as a beer loving bloke I want to explore this power within me and within our culture.
If Lent is a time for self examination and reflection I want to learn more about its power. How it is made, its history, its economics. To taste and know it better and value it more so that, like my experience with real estate, chocolate, water and the bible, I may be em-powered and not a victim to its destructive distortions.
Sarah Dylan Breuer says
Like Jesus we are called to wait, and watch, and listen deeply, so that we can enter as fully as we can into the story before us in these forty days, and in the dramatic week coming after that.
This is the nature of the gospel and the Easter event. The good news that enables us to understand more about power, what is true and how to balance such with the demands of love for our own time and place.
Why I’am taking up Beer for Lent – Part 2: On Temptation, Beer, Wilderness, Homer Simpson etc…
…embracing the spiritual joys of home brew & bible reading through the beer lens!
Lent is a Christian Festival running for 40 days pre-Easter. Traditionally it is a time of wilderness, self examination and fasting. This Lent we are taking our inspiration from the ancient wilderness dwelling Hebrews who drank from the Well of Beer (Numbers 21:6).
Over 6 weeks we will explore some home brew techniques, taste test, read traditional lenten stories and consider various Christian drinking traditions in exploring the joys and temptations of brewing things in our lives and in our broader society.
Paul Minty said;
Choosing to brew is a choice for something deeper. Home brewing is not a quick fix, it’s not a visible status symbol, there’s a risk the brew won’t work out. Buying a fancy beer from the shops is probably a more obvious choice. As we do the brewer’s journey over Lent, I hope that we can reflect on making similar choices in the rest of our life.
6 Monday evenings in Lent.
March 14, 21, 28, April 4, 11, 18 (come to one, some or all)
7:30pm to 9:30pm
Solace: 751 Heidelberg Rd, Alphington, Vic.
Facebook & RSVP link here
hosted by Marcus Curnow & Paul Minty for…
Chocolate Seeds for Lent 2005Week 2, The Den, led by Marcus Curnow
Biblical Text: John 3:1-17 Growing up and the Process of Change
World Texts: “Chocolat” The Movie
Revised Common Lectionary: Year A, Second Sunday in Lent
Loosley based on Christ and the Choclaterie: A Lent Course, Hilary Brand, (Darton Longman Todd, London, 2002)_
Chocolate as a Relisious Experience!
Chocolat The Movie
Mix together for a mouth watering, soul quenching feast.
Meeting each Tuesday during Lent at The Den,116 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 7pm – 9pm, RSVP 96630699 or…
If you cant make it read and reflect on the journey via the webchat on this blog at http://www.urbanseed.org.
The Latin name for the cacao plant is Theobroma Cacao: literally “the food of the gods.”
Chocolate production began in South America and was frequently used in Aztec and Mayan religious rituals and banquets. It was mixed into a liquid used to ‘baptise’ young boys and girls and to toast at weddings.
No fewer than seven popes have made pronouncements on chocolate, all agreeing that it does not break the Lenten fast!
In the 1650’s the Society of Jesus issued an act prohibiting Jesuits from drinking chocolate. Embarrassingly they had to rescind as many students started leaving in protest.
Quaker families Fry’s of Bristol, Cadbury’s of Birmingham, and Rowntrees of York pioneered modern chocolate production in the 1800’s.
Seeds for Lent Meetings and Readings 2005
(Readings follow previous Sunday readings of Revised Common Lectionary)
Feb 8: Shrove Tuesday: Pancakes and Movie Chocolat
Feb. 15: Chocolate Tempters: Matthew 4:1-11 (Temptation in the Wild)
Feb22:The Secret Chocolate Lover: John 3:1-17 (Nicodemus)
March 1:The Quest for Tim Tams that Never Run Out: John 4:5-42 (Woman at the Well)
March 8: Mud Cake Surprise: John 9:1-41 (Blind Man Healed)
March 15: Death By Chocolate: John 11:1-45 (Death of Lazarus)
March 22 Holy Week: How to Host a Last Supper
Chocolate Seeds for Lent is an activity of Urban Seed:Church
A Centre for Resourcing Christian Spirituality
Jesus Heals Blind Humanity
Resistance is Fertile: Seeds for Lent 2002
Resisting Blindness, Week 4, Credo Cafe, led by David Fagg and Marcus Curnow
Biblical Text: John 9:
World Texts: “Chroming: Whose fault?” The Age Newspaper, 2002
Revised Common Lectionary: Year A, Forth Sunday in Lent