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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in grace (7)

Monday
May022016

We don't decide who's invited: The Church as inclusive Eucharistic community

 

Is the Church intended to be a closed (exclusive) community, or an open (inclusive) community?
Today I talk about an image of the Church as a Eucharistic community - and I show you some incredible views of the Helderberg mountains!
My views on this were shaped by the theology (and ethics) of the Anglican theologian Sam Wells, who I met first at Cambridge and then at Duke Divinity school when he arrived there in 2005.
The image is that of a the Eucharistic table - many contemporary Churches have structured themselves more like a restaurant table than a Eucharistic table. What do I mean by that? Well, at a restaurant table you decide who sits with you, you expect service and you are the center of the social attention, you pay for what you want, you are a client. I hear people using this language in relation to their Church, 'I don't like that type of person here', or 'The sermon and music were not very good', 'I am not feeling satisfied with my Church, it is not doing much for me'.
The Eucharistic table is very different, however, at the Eucharistic table we are not the hosts - Christ is the Host! We are invited. That means that we don't get to decide who is at the table. Our responsibility, out of love for Christ and those whom He loves and has invited, is to work out how best to love those around the table. They may be very different from who and how we are. But, like us, they have been welcomed in grace.
Watch the video if you can - I'd love to hear your take on this!
Remember, it's not a lecture, just a thought…

 

Tuesday
Apr142015

Think different and Christian living

I am teaching on a three day course on ministry renewal at Stellenbosch University.  The quote that we are using to frame our thoughts with the group of 15 or so ministers, pastors and priests (most of whom have been in ministry for around 15-20 years) is this one:

Jesus said in his society there is a new way for [people] to live:

you show wisdom, by trusting people;
you handle leadership, by serving;
you handle money, by sharing;
you handle enemies, by loving;
and you handle violence, by suffering.

In fact you have a new attitude toward everything, toward everybody. Toward nature, toward the state in which you happen to live, toward women [and men], towards slaves, toward all and every single thing. Because this is a Jesus society and you repent, not by feeling bad, but by thinking different.

- Rudy Wiebe, ‘The blue mountains of China’ (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970:215-216)

I find this quote deeply challenging.  Loving discipleship, focussed on the Lord of Grace, in order to live in a different way, perhaps even a better way.

Sunday
Jan252015

A celebration for no reason

I love a good celebration - a birthday, an anniversary, a holiday or the dawning of a new year.

I wonder how many times I have missed the miracle of today, this ordinary day, because my eyes have been fixed on the future, anticipating something to come?

This beautiful quote reminded me to celebrate this day for no particular reason. After all, it is as special and miraculous, as wonderful and as blessed as any high feast or great milestone - this day is worth celebrating!


Today is a day of celebration for no reason. I cannot think of a better special occasion. Therefore, I invite you to join me in celebrating this arbitrary moment in time, this one day in your life, for no particular reason other than you are here. You are here to see the beauty of the world shine around you. You are here to love someone, laugh with someone, share with someone. You have this day to let your imagination go, to remember the good times, to write another footnote in the story of your life. And all of those are reasons to celebrate for no reason, other than gratitude for another day from the Maker of days. (Bishop Steven Charleston)

My daughter went to Church this evening and we had an hour or so free before we had to collect her again so we decided to go to the beach. We wet our feet, enjoyed the sea and the sun, had an ice cream, chatted and laughed, and had a celebration for no reason! It was great!

So, I invite you to celebrate this day! Don't let the moment pass. Recognize that it is a gift, a moment filled with grace, and give thanks.

Friday
Mar052010

Liam the great and the mystery of undeserved grace

I have often wondered about the nature of God's grace.  I realise that by its very nature grace is something that is a blessing which is not earned or deserved.  This is what makes it grace!

However, it becomes particularly puzzling when it moves from the theoretical to experiential.

Yesterday Megan and I took our little miracle boy, Liam, for his session with the occupational therapist.  It is always an emotional time for me, and I don't mind admitting that I shed a tear.  I did so with a mixture of joy, thankfulness, and also with a little guilt.

You see, when Liam was born he was very ill.  He spent three months in the neonatal ICU.  We prayed for him day and night.  There were many other parents with their children praying in the same ward.  Sadly, some of those children died.  I often struggled to understand why my son lived and their children did not.  Every now and then that nagging feeling returns.

I am so thankful for all that God has blessed us with!  I am thankful for knowing Christ and being known by Him.  I am thankful for the privelage of loving my family and the immeasurable joy of being loved by them.  I am thankful for the challenge and opportunity of my ministry.  I am thankful for the city in which I live - Cape Town is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth!  I am thankful for my health, for the opportunities I have had to travel, for my formal and informal studies... I have so much to be thankful for!

When I am honest I have to admit that none of these things is deserved!  They are all elements of grace.

I found the following quote extremely helpful.  It sums up some of understanding of the mystery of God's grace.

 

I do not at all understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
- Anne Lamott, from her book, Traveling Mercies
So, let me ask you, why am I so blessed when many others are not?  What is it that makes some people's lives better than others?  I would truly appreciate any insights, wether profound or simple, on this matter.  Perhaps you have discovered something on life's journey that can help.  Maybe there is a passage in scripture, or some other aid that can help me as I grapple with grace.
What is certain is that I live in unmerited grace.  It is a mystery to me.  I am thankful to God for all of God's grace.  It has changed me profoundly and continues to do so.  But, I would love to understand it a bit more! 
Wednesday
Oct102007

True humility... I need to learn more of it.

The day is over... Amazingly, this spoilt brat (yup, that's me!) survived the day just fine! No phone, no electricity, no car...

I suppose I need a few more days like this (not only to be reminded how lucky I am to have a car, electricity, and telephones on hand), but also to be reminded of the many who live their lives without these luxuries and commodities!

Thanks to those who read the post and smiled... To the one or two who emailed me their horror stories about Telkom, ESKOM, and various car problems. At least I didn't feel alone.

However, as I sit at home, my children are asleep, Megan and I are catching up on some correspondence, I am at peace.

So, after the rant of this morning I turned to my devotional reading the heading is True humility:

1. Prayer of invocation: Almighty God, you have sent Jesus to show us how to live. Grant me the power of your Holy Spirit so that I may follow him in faithfulness all the days of my life. Amen.

Basically humility is the attitude of one who stands constantly under the judgment of God. It is the attitude of one who is like the soil. Humility comes from the Latin word humus, fertile ground. The fertile ground is there, unnoticed, taken for granted, always there to be trodden upon. It is silent, inconspicuous, dark and yet it is always read to receive any seed, ready to give it substance and life. The more lowly, the more fruitful, because it becomes really fertile when it accepts all the fefuse of the earth. It is so low that nothing can soil it, humiliate it; it has accepted the last place and cannot go any lower. In that position nothing shatter the soul's serenity, its peace and joy.

-- From Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom.

2. Benediction: Live today in Christ's presence, remembering he is near and will sustain you as you serve his name. Amen.

So, God clearly anticipated my mood, and the situations that would expose my need of growth and grace. I thank God for knowing me even better than I know my self. This day has ended well. Thanks be to God.

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Monday
Jul232007

Double speak...

Frere Maternity Ward report.....

Do a google search for the words above... You'll find a remarkable example of 'double speak'. In recent months 43 babies have died in the maternity ward. Our minister of health, the notorious Manto Tshabalala Msimang, suggests that while there are severe staff shortages (at the time of a recent visit, just one nurse and one nurse's assistant on duty to care for 32 babies), and outdated and poor equipment, these DID NOT lead to the deaths of the babies... I seem to remember someone saying, I have come to proclaim healing...

Yes, and Zimababwe has plenty of food, fuel, and the healthiest economy in the world! Who the heck are you fooling!? Whilst your words may say one thing, we can see the truth. Was it not the Christ who said: I have come to preach good news to the poor.

Kliptown... As I watched the news this evening it might as well have been 30 years ago!! What I saw were scenes that reminded me of the kind of oppression we faced under the Apartheid government. Scores of police officers firing tear gas and rubber bullets at civilians who are expressing their dismay at poor service delivery. How quickly the liberator is turning into an oppressor. We have much work to do, and sadly the voice of the Church is silent. Yes, that same Jesus said: I have come to proclaim freedom...

Let us never forget!

Today I also heard double speak from within the Church. A document arrived for me, sent by three of my Methodist colleagues, the document encourages Christians to sign their names in support a view that excludes persons from the hospitality and generosity of God's loving grace. This double speaking document encourages Christians to declare that the Church should choose whom the God of grace wishes to bless... It says that certain persons are not welcomed by the open arms of Christ, that they are not accepted unconditionally. This document encourages Christians to exclude people, and to withhold blessing, in the name of the Christ who died to welcome and bless all people! This is double speak. This kind of ungracious exclusion is just two steps from the hate that led to the rape, torture, and murder of Sizakele and Simone in Soweto, on a Sunday, just two weeks ago... After all, if the Church says they're an abomination, and God doesn't love them, why shouldn't we kill them? Thankfully there is a Lord who said: He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted...

Thankfully there is great hope! Today that hope came from a magnificent and challenging sermon delivered by one of the senior students at our seminary, the Rev Christian Mokone. He reminded us of God's desire for mercy, justice, grace, and our responsibility to honour God through social holiness, before we claim that God is honoured by personal piety... Let your holiness be reflected in the society in which you live. Don't say that you love God, but don't love those whom God loves - that is double speak! Jesus came to:

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor. (Isa 61:1-3)

Surely a Christ follower should actually follow the way of Christ? I pray for US! We are a sinful people, and I am a sinful person who wants to honour God both in what I say, and in what I do, and in how what I say and do helps other to passionately do what Jesus did. I pray that we would have enough love to love the people that Jesus loves... I want to belong to a Church that would much rather bless people, than bless their pets, that would much rather live the values of God's Kingdom than engage in empty words that try to draw lines, exclude, condemn, and limit God's grace.

Could God ever find glory in double speak? Hear what Amos had to say (Amos 8:4-12)

4 Hear this, you who trample the needy
and do away with the poor of the land,

5 saying,
"When will the New Moon be over
that we may sell grain,
and the Sabbath be ended
that we may market wheat?"—
skimping the measure,
boosting the price
and cheating with dishonest scales,

6 buying the poor with silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

7 The LORD has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: "I will never forget anything they have done.

8 "Will not the land tremble for this,
and all who live in it mourn?
The whole land will rise like the Nile;
it will be stirred up and then sink
like the river of Egypt.

9 "In that day," declares the Sovereign LORD,
"I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.

10 I will turn your religious feasts into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

11 "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD,
"when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

12 Men will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it.

Pray, work, love, and have the courage to live as Jesus did. My friends, there can be no greater passion, no greater sacrifice, no witness greater, than living as Jesus did... That's what is means to be a Christ follower!

Saturday
Jun162007

Liam's Baptism 10 June 2007

Sunday the 10th of June was an evening of wonderful celebration for the Forster and Seviour families! It was an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for the miracle of little Liam's life, and to commit ourselves to caring for him, and raising him, in a manner that is fitting of a Christian household.

Christopher Harrison, the senior minister of the Bryanston Methodist Church, where Megie, Courts, Liam and I are members, did the baptism. He was wonderful! After leading us through the liturgy of commitment he baptised Liam and said a beautiful prayer. I need to get the exact words from him since I would love to use it myself in years to come.

However, it went something like:

I touch your heart so that it may be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ.
I touch your eyes that they may see the beauty and glory of God's creation.
I touch your lips that they may come to speak of the majesty of your creator.
I touch your hands that they may loving do God's will.
I touch your feet that they may walk in the path of God's grace and mercy. Amen.
We did not take any photographs during the service. However, we did take a few photos at Gwen and Rhys' house (Megie's sister).

So, here they are. Isn't our boy looking great! I rejoice at God's goodness, mercy, and care for us as a family! I pray that out of the abundance of that grace we may be able to bless, support, and care for others who are in need of that same gracious love!

Liam and Mom giving each other a kiss!


And here's a picture of Courts holding her little brother. Courtney is such a wonderful blessing to us. She stood up front in the Church as we made our promises. It was not only an opportunity to baptise Liam, but also to remember the promises that we made when Courtney was baptised in 2000.


So, once again, thank you to everyone who prays for us as a family. Your prayer, support, and care is a great encouragement and blessing! We cherish and value the wonder of being part of a loving, caring, Christian community. It was for that reason that we requested that Liam should be baptised in the evening service, since this is the service at which I preach, and the service at which we feel most at home as a family.