Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Changing Horses mid~stream.

I often find myself at odds with Christian communities.  In Australia @ least, many people take a laissez faire approach to their religion, a *She'll be right, mate,* approach as they throw another snag on the barbie. Few people are passionate about their beliefs, possibly because a convict heritage cultivated a lack of trust in any form of organised authority [including the church], or possibly because the dominant religions were Irish Catholic & Anglican, both of which discouraged any overt expression of love of God while encouraging adherence to the practices of Mother Church. The charismatic is still viewed with suspicion in many quarters, the messianic almost unheard of.

I bite my tongue a lot ~ or @ least I try! Like my mother announcing out of the blue that the bible is not meant to be taken literally. Well, that depends who you're reading, what you're reading & where you're reading it.  A little understanding of Middle Eastern literary forms clears much of that up quite quickly so that what is left is actually meant to be taken literally ~ including all the things that make my mother uncomfortable.

Anyway, what I discovered when I began to deliberately listen for the voice of the Lord, was that the Holy Spirit wanted to share some quite surprising things with me. He began with the obvious: Jesus was an orthodox practicing Jew. Duh! However, knowing next to nothing about Judaism I had never made the obvious connection between belief & practice. As the Holy Spirit revealed the connections the New Testament sprang into vivid life. Everything from Jesus baptism to how the woman with the issue of blood was healed had roots in the Old Testament & it was hugely exciting & immensely satisfying   to discover the connections.

However, one of the things the Lord began to show me was the importance of the Festivals. I was shown very quickly there was an Old Testament application with a New Testament revelation & a prophetic understanding to each & every one of the major festivals, the one's God initiated for memoriam ~ & @ least one minor one, Hanukkah

Everyone who knows me knows I have trouble with practical applications. The doing comes hard; the knowledge is easy. So I began with Passover which has direct parallels & can be @ least just a one day celebration.  I never initially meant it to be more than a one of thing with the girls, the only ones still @ home but it sort of grew & now our church celebrates it each year & everyone looks forward to it because God knows how to teach in a fun way! The girls, who thought they knew & understood the Pesach story, learnt so much. Occasionally one of the boys finds the lamb bone hidden in the depths of the freezer & wants to know why that old thing, meatless & dried out, is residing in our freezer.

TI was the child who was home the first time we did Hanukkah, the 2nd festival we experienced, though I worked my way into it by teaching about it before actually doing it. I did find it difficult to sustain my enthusiasm for a whole 8 days because let's face it, Christmas is only one day of madness & you're all done & dusted for another year. Hanukah goes against the flow of the culture for a whole 8 days.

As a Church we mark Sukkot each year & are gradually working into the other festivals as well but for the most part I thought it was just God indulging one of the quirkier quirks of my nature. That our church was fascinated & intrigued by the Festivals I sort of wrote off so it has taken me a while to grasp that the Lord is actually doing a work in all this.

You see TI got married & has spent the last 2 Christmases in S.A with his wife's family.  I know he was hoping to be on the island last year to go fishing & crabbing over his short break.  What I didn't realise was how much he was looking forward to doing Hanukkah again.

As I have said I find the doing difficult. By day 8 that first year I was distressed. I thought I had ruined the holiday season to no purpose.  I couldn't think what I had been thinking to try & change horses mid stream when all our lives we had celebrated Christmas.  I was over the cooking & the leading & the organising.  Sadly, in our house I am the learner, researcher, teacher.  Anyone who wants to know something asks me first in the hope I will know & they won't have to struggle with Google. And I was tired.  So come the final day I was just going to let things slide but TI had other ideas.  As the sun set he lit the candles, in their correct order, from the shamash & recalled each & every covenant we remember. I was blown away.

He has remembered.  As he celebrated Christmas down south with his wife's family this year he explained Hanukkah to them & how we celebrated it, remembering the covenant journey God has made with mankind from the fall in the Garden to the resurrection of the Messiah. They were blown away. They expressed a desire to celebrate with us.  Why? Because it was God centric.

I'm sure that Hanukkah, just like Christmas, can be celebrated in secular fashion with little regard to it's spiritual implications but many Christians, distressed by the secularization & commercialization of Christmas, & looking for more authentic ways to mark Holy Days, have turned to the Moed for inspiration.  In my case I have so little idea of what I'm doing I stick like glue to the prophetic revelations.  I look for Jesus.  He is there: in the symbols; in the scriptures; in the revelation. And because we are the wild olive tree grafted into the root that is Israel He is to be found & it is a very wonderful thing.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Bitter & the Sweet.

January is the bitter/sweet month. We have just come through 2 anniversaries &  are about to land on a 3rd when I pack my bags & head north to my mother.

Because numbers really do not exist I survive the anniversaries quite well.  I am unlikely to remember this is the day I got the phone call @ 5am to tell me my youngest brother was dead or this was the day I saw my father lying still warm but very dead under a hospital sheet.  My mind does not work that way.  Days are just days but a light aircraft droning overhead can send my heart palpitating suddenly with visions of metal falling from the sky while grey haired old men of a certain age & height can cause me to suddenly burst into tears distressing everyone around me.  Deary, deary. Life can be a terribly uncomfortable thing.

Why, asks the ODD, do all my relatives die @ Christmas? They don't, of course.  It just seems that way. Still January is when I try to be with my mother as the 3rd anniversary approaches because we spent so many Januaries with them celebrating my father's birthday & he always said his birthday went for the whole month & took every excuse to purchase something sweet to celebrate!

I expected, as I got older & the demands of my children grew fewer, that it would be easier to get away to spend time with my mother.  It has not happened.  Instead it has become more difficult. There are the cats, the church & 2 businesses ~ all of which apparently need me. There is the garden & bible study & a host of other things & of course my mother continues to get older. She is finally starting to slow down, distressed as year by year the circle of family & friends grows ever smaller.

So ODD collected me & drove me north & for a week I didn't do much of anything.  I ate.  I slept.  I read. I listened to the stories of my mother's life ~ again ~ & I didn't begrudge it. We all know tomorrow is not vouchsafed us.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

And so it begins...

As we move through January life is beginning to settle once more.  Much as I love my children they bring an inordinate amount of chaos into my life. The yard stinks. Whatever the lads used for fishing has been dumped summarily somewhere I have yet to find but the smell is wafting... The CG has returned to Chile & we are not a family that does well with goodbyes. I will now get random phone calls until she has transversed the globe & landed back in Santiago.

Just when we were most emotionally vulnerable our little church came under serious attack. I did not realise how strong our *little, old, grey haired, ladies were*.  They refused to lay down & die. Rather they rose up as they have been trained to do, stood on the Word of God, declared we already had the victory in Jesus Christ & were champing at the bit. The victory is ours.  I am so very grateful.

In a few weeks we will tear out our old kitchen & revamp the whole thing.  I am not looking forward to the chaos & mess but I will very much enjoy having a working kitchen again so it will be worth it in the long run.

Meanwhile the wildlife continues to parade through our yard.  The curlews have a new chick & there is a stray egg laying about that no~one seems to want to claim. The little wallabies & paddymelons are continually being spotted foraging along the foreshore & one week our bible study were astonished witnesses to sharks herding mullet into shallow water then partially beaching themselves to feed before wriggling back into deep water.  I knew killer whales did this but had no idea about sharks. It was astonishing, terrifying & totally mesmerizing.

As usual CG abandoned anything that would not fit in her suitcases so I have a mishmash of her things lying about. She barely made her weight restrictions as it was so obviously nothing else was returning with her. As I dislike housework it will be some weeks before I have pulled my house back into some semblance of order. This is not helped by running 2 messy businesses out of our home & preparing to instal the new kitchen ~ obviously none of this will take precedence this week as this is my preaching week & that takes priority ~ not something it is hard to convince me of.  Research I do like.  Writing is tolerable.  Housework makes me want to curl up in a ball & go to bed.  Sometimes I do. Happy New Year!