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Jesus, pizza and community- Part 1

When I moved to Potters Bar one of the first  things I did was join a gym.

It was too cold to play basket ball, I don’t know anything about football, so the gym felt like the most logical thing really. The fact is I’d been eating a lot of food since getting here.

As a church community we had been asking ourselves – what is Jesus telling us about how we should live. We weren’t interested in all the theological noise that sometimes fills our heads with numbers and times- leaving us all  nervous and shattered in our beds clutching a calculator in one hand and a flashlight  in the other- waiting for the impending doom.

We knew that somewhere -Jesus was shouting out an answer that was so much better; So incredibly real and natural and with a grand sense of community. One day over dinner, Peter- an Aussie, a juggernaut of a wizard in all things, shared something with me that has totally overtaken my understanding of Jesus. I will now share this with you in my own simple Joelian way…

Jesus had  this thing he did…..
It was like his three step chat up line
He used it a lot in his dealings with people
What I love about this philosophy was how incredibly easy it was.

In Luke 10- Jesus sends out his messengers on a mission of peace. At that time about everyone hated everyone. No one loved the government. There was constant disagreements amongst neighbours and so Jesus sends these people out with a mission of peace saying..

“When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep!’

Step one: Eat with people – their food; Listen to their story…

Stories is such a favourite of mine. As a child my memories of life were’t always happy ones, but what made it wonderful was mealtime. My sister Jermaine was the sort of girl who loved to tease. Our mother would cook the most delicious lunches’- and I remember always eating it very slowly  never wanting it to end. And after the plates had been cleared  something mysterious would then happen. Jermaine having hid a slice of pie in a napkin would wait patiently for us to be done with ours to finally whip her slice out. Then in absolute playful torture Jermaine would then start to eat that slice of pie……. very……..very…… slowly……. in our faces as we looked on.

Practical joker. But those mealtimes was always excellent for creating amazing memories and listening to the million things that had happened that day in the lives of my sisters.

Many years later, I’ve come to this place where I understand one simple thing. When Jesus said Eat with people – their food;  I get this sense that he understood …… he knew that – Eating is all about listening. If he didn’t listen to people’s stories then it would’ve been hard to really know someone. People like Matthew for instance – a man who was probably well acquainted with eating on his own. In the bible he is described as being hated by his community a social outcast Yet…….Jesus took the opportunity to go to his house, recline, share a meal and listen to his story.

I don’t want to be the sort of person that arrives at a place where life is no longer interested in being a place of creation, friendship, memories of moments spent together and shared stories. Sadly, today , the sharing of stories seem to be in danger of being washed out by the invasion of screen reflections and status updates. Our desire to share appear deeply tinted in half truths and colourful rendering that tells a version of the real story. But this life we live was not created just so that we can be alone. Family and community have always been virtues that flowed from Gods heart.

So consider this advice. Sit, break bread,  listen to the stories that are all around us. And as you eat, Heal. We’ll talk more about that next week.

You can also see the video for this blog here.  Jesus, Pizza and Community

The most awesome Christmas message ever

Can you believe it? Another year is almost gone. Wow!

It’s at this time of year that I sometimes feel particularly ancient. Life gets really crazy when you get to a certain age. Questions flood into your mind at ridiculous speeds. They’d be the sort of questions that really grate on you because they’ve been put on hold for years with a queue of other more important things in front of them.

So I would say to myself, “All the other stuff can wait”.

I’ve got the time.
I’ve got the time to love.

And I’m not talking about the weak xxx we sometimes lazily put at the end of messages that somehow telepathically imbue onto the receiver all the love in the world that can be had in one moment. What I mean is the kind of love that is tangible. The patient love. The sort of love that slows… down… enough… Love that forgets the time love.

It destroys me every time I think about it, but there is a problem. Everyday it seems like perhaps the universe has forgotten this simple concept of love. We’ve forgotten about this love because in many instances we’ve replaced it with hate. It’s a cruel and uncertain world.

Sometimes we think that this type of terror only exists in far away places, in war-torn cities, when the truth is that this poisonous love exists right here in our communities. This love seems happiest when being obscene and destructive.

It loves anger.
It loves the idea of hurting others.
It pursues the elevation and affection of one’s own ideas.
It loves the wobble of its own swagger.
It is so drunk off its own vapour that this love is blind and angered by everything that shouts difference.
So it seems that we just can’t seem to slow down enough to Love.

As this year comes to an end, I am reminded of my time with friends. Those I haven’t said “I love you” to. I think to myself, “Have I slowed down enough to see you?” Am I content on only showing love that is:

Hypothetical
Convenient
Time limited
A love that only shows up in eulogies or heart-felt messages on the inside of Christmas cards?

Or am I able to love by preserving my friendships, by protecting those who cannot protect themselves, by trusting enough?

There is so little time. So I’ve decided that I’d rather spend these moments lighting this dark world with hope and slow down enough to really enjoy it, feel it, experience it, share it, with YOU…

Massive Love everyone

Joel 

7 things I’ve learnt- An open letter to Joel Duntin

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Last night my wife and I had a good ole chin wag about everything and nothing. The topic on this particular occasion was, “people born in 1992?” Hmmmm! What was I doing in 1992!? Well you’d be delighted to know that my beard stroking moment became the end of a perfectly fine evening. After that point, things very quickly got way out of hand. Short of rolling on the floor with my thumb in my mouth I have to say I wasn’t a pretty sight for 2 minutes or thereabouts (Sallee would possibly suggest that  it was significantly  longer than that).  Many things crossed my mind while I was writhing on the floor in mental anguish, including:

Maybe the time had come for me to invest early – invest right now –  in a walking stick.

Maybe the time had come for a man to accept that “the ancient one” shall be my new name.

Well, a good nights sleep sorted out all that malarkey. But it did give me some food for thought.  So today, as Gandalf in training I decided that I’d share with you 7 of the most exciting and occasionally dark things Iv’e learnt since 1992.

1. Christian people are sometimes cruel:

I am always surprised at how much venom there is in churches. VENOM. I remember as a teenager passionately loving my church, and wanting to serve out of sheer love for young people and God . The problem was that in order to do this,  I always had to wrestle with some old guy who valued power more than anything else. On one occasion the frustration got so difficult for one leader that he went Kung Fu on me. Now seriously. When I was younger , I have to admit, I was a bit ridiculous sometimes, but is that a reason to bring out the nunchucks? I think the world in general could do with less of this. Actually it is imperative.

2. Friendships are hard. I have lost a few: 

There are a truck load of people I wish I had invested more into. I have lost friends for ridiculous reasons. Then one day all the guilt tripping changed. You see, I was the guy who always felt like I was letting people down if I didn’t stay in touch. One day, after eating an omelette…. I remember it well. It was a tuesday. I think there was cheese involved….; I thought these people aren’t thinking of me right now. So STOP running them down and trying to please them. That’s what I did. That decision opened wonderful opportunities for new experiences and people to come into my life.

3. I love my wife:

That’s right you heard me Sallee! Sigh! I remember when I first met my wife. That lady I am convinced was sent for ME. Before her I was ridiculous at relationships and would certainly be classed as “a suspicious fella.”  God’s such a romantic.

 4. Christian extremists:

Do these people have anything else better to do than send me emails about the end of the world, what symbols Beyonce used in her last concert, or post and endorse on Facebook totally inappropriate posts of homosexuals being attacked in different parts of the world. Sigh! Some of the most warm, loving people I have ever met in the world are atheists, lesbians, chronic swearers, ‘erb smoking Rastafarians. I love them. I still love Jesus. Deal with it!

 5. Smile a little more:

Sallee keeps reminding me of this. Damn those frown lines. Crap! I said Damn. Oh no! I said crap. It’s all going down hill from there…

6. LOVE:

I simply love my family. I love my friends. I love the new people I meet . I love hearing their stories. I love this church that we are building, I love that we don’t always have the answers. I love the ideas that we are dreaming. I  love that Jesus is forefront of everything that we do and that it doesn’t mean that we have to turn into another type of person to do it. I love our christian extremists and our venomous friends. They make me realise so much about the character of Jesus.

Inspired by : Matthew 22:35-39