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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 New Year (4)

Friday
Jan012016

Let us all, together, struggle for the New South Africa - Happy new year (2016)

It is a new year. Of course nothing is different from yesterday. However, there is something special about a marker in time, a change of dates; it allows one to reflect, to take stock and to resolve to live more intently, perhaps even differently, beyond that point.

We ushered in the new year with friends. We talked, laughed, prayed, and even argued. I guess that there was hardly a gathering in South Africa that didn't have some conversation about the challenges we face in South Africa - many of which were exposed in 2015. We remain economically unequal. We remain divided by race and class. We remain suspicious and fearful of one another. We long for change.

I said to my family and friends that my commitment in the year ahead would be to work more ardently for the common good of all South Africans, and for South Africa. I am inspired by the following quote from Desmond Tutu's sermon at the funeral service of slain anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko in 1977:

We are experiencing the birth pangs of a new South Africa, a free South Africa, where all of us, Black and White together, will walk tall, where all of us, Black and White together, will hold hands as we stride forth on the Freedom March to usher in the new South Africa where people will matter because they are human beings made in the image of God… for the sake of our children, Black and White together, let us dedicate ourselves anew to the struggle for the liberation of our beloved land, South Africa. Let us all, Black and White together, not be filled with despondency and despair. Let us Blacks not be filled with hatred and bitterness. For all of us, Black and White together, shall overcome, nay, indeed have already overcome.

- Desmond Tutu (at the funeral of Steve Biko in 1977).

The task may be challenging and complex. It will require courage, sacrifice, perhaps even robust engagement, and above all grace and love. But just because it is complex we must not, and should not, shy away from doing what we can do. We should find ways to address what we can see needs to be done. We must move from a modality of blame to a modality of working together for the common good.

Rich blessing to you and your family, your community and our people and land in 2016. May the end of 2016 show that we have laboured well and achieved much.

Hope is hearing the melody of the future. Faith is to dance to it.

- Rubem A. Alves (Brazilian educator and liberation theologian).

Thursday
Dec312015

Do you know the history of the 'Watch Night' service that is celebrated at New Year?

All across the world today (31 December) Christians in their millions will attend 'Watch Night' services to usher in the new year in a community of faith.

I have attended (and arranged) a dozen or so of these services in my life. It is a wonderful way to journey into the new year in faith and commitment, particularly if you worship within a community whose journey you have shared in during the year and they have shared in yours.

As I looked back on my own sermons and liturgies for Watch Night services, and the sermons liturgies of others, I noticed that the theme of many of these services is reflective - taking stock of the year that has passed. Others are anticipatory - looking ahead to the year to come and making some commitments.

It was Socrates who said 'The unexamined life is not worth living [ὁ ... ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ]' (apparently uttered at his before he was executed for corrupting the youth. It is recorded in Plato's 'Apology' (Ap. 35a5-6)). Indeed, it is important to take stock, to stop and reflect, to give thanks, to let go, and to find the courage and faith to move forward in hope.

If you are attending a Watch Night service today I do hope and pray that it is a meaningful and empowering service for your community and for you, and that it adds to making life worth living.

However, do you know what the history is of this particular service? I was reminded of it again today when I was reading my daily devotion Common prayer: A liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (which you can access online daily for free at http://www.commonprayer.net).

Watch Night: Established in African-American communities on December 31, 1862, Watch Night is a gathering to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation becoming law. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 1863, all slaves in the Confederate States were proclaimed free. Since that date 146 years ago, African-Americans have celebrated the good news of freedom in local churches on New Year’s Eve. Like the slaves who first gathered while the Civil War raged on, we proclaim freedom for all captives in Jesus’ name, knowing that for millions, freedom is not a reality. Our celebration is a commitment to join modern-day slaves and undocumented workers in their struggle for justice.

Perhaps this Watch Night we might be encouraged to remember that we live for more than ourselves? Perhaps we can be reminded of the establishment of this tradition and it can spur is on to ask forgiveness for the ways in which we have participated in and perpetuated injustice in our own lives and choices (the work we do, how we spend our money, how infrequently we serve the least of society). Perhaps it can also spur us on to living for freedom, the kind of freedom that comes from truly living not only in Christ, but for Christ and all those people and things that he loves?

May the year ahead be filled with joy, blessing, peace and flourishing for you, your family, your community, and even those who are different and far off.

Monday
Jan022012

Vulnerable, gentle, powerful self-giving love

Happy New year to all of the wonderful readers of this blog!

It is set to be an exciting year for my family and I - we have that wonderful mix of security and change.  It is wonderful to know that we will remain in Somerset West for another year, enjoying our friends, our community, our home and our beautiful surroundings!  Yet at the same time it is a blessing to consider that we have a few new challenges ahead.

As of today my time will be split between three primary work projects and one personal project.  

First, I will continue to serve alongside Graham Power in the Power Group of Companies with chaplaincy responsibilities and opportunities to offer leadership within our two main initiatives, the Global Day of Prayer and Unashamedly Ethical.

Second, I was appointed to a post at the University of Stellenbosch in Ekklesia within the faculty of Theology. Here I will have three primary tasks: oversee two Master of Theology courses in missional leadership and spirituality, to coordinate research outputs and projects for Master, Doctoral and Post-Doctoral students who are in the partnership of Missional Churches. It is such a blessing to be back in an academic post! I am looking forward to a great deal of creative growth this year!

Third, I will be coordinating an international campaign to mobilize 100 million Christians around issues of ethics, justice and poverty.  The Campaign is called Exposed - Shinning a light on corruption (14-20 October 2013). The cost of corruption is staggering, over US$1 Trillion each year! In most instances it is the poorest of the poor who bare the brunt of such abuse. We will never rid the world of systemic poverty until we deal with systemic corruption. As Christians we need to be informed and empowered to deal with corruption in our own lives, and hold persons and institutions who have power accountable for their use of the world's resources.  So please do look in on this blog from time to time to see how this magnificent initiative unfolds in the months to come!

The personal project that I will continue to be involved in is a second PhD.  I was truly fortunate to be awarded a scholarship to do a second Doctorate at the University of Radboud in Nijmegen, Holland.  I have been working on that for a little less than a year now and will continue to do so this year.  I am working under my mentor in New Testament studies, Professor Jan van der Watt.  In short I am developing a new narratological approach to reading John's Gospel using integral (intersubjective) identity theory.

When I think of what lies ahead I get a little anxious!  I frequently feel that I may not have what it takes to do each of these tasks well, least of all to care for my family and honour God in the process.

However, in my devotional time this morning this quote from NT Wright offered me great encouragement:

When God wants to change the world, he doesn’t send in the tanks. He sends in the meek, the mourners, those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice, the peacemakers, and so on. Just as God’s whole style, his chosen way of operating, reflects his generous love, sharing his rule with his human creatures, so the way in which those humans then have to behave if they are to be agents of Jesus’s lordship reflects in its turn the same sense of vulnerable, gentle, but powerful self-giving love.

- N.T. Wright

Please can I ask for your prayers for my family and I?  Please also pray for each of these projects that I am involved in - each one is making such a significant difference in bringing transformation and renewal in the Church and the world.

May you be richly blessed in all that you do this year! Please let me know what your plans are, and if I can pray for you.

Saturday
Jan012011

The Sugar tastes nice because of the spice!

Last night we celebrated the arrival of 2011 with a few friends. Of course it does mean, at very least, that I shall be signing the wrong date on letters and forms for the next few months (it always takes me a little while to catch up to dates). But, it was good to have a chance to reflect on 2010 and look forward to 2011.

2010 is one of those years that will live on in my memory as 'the best of times' and 'the worst of times' (to misquote Charles Dickens)!  The sugar tasted nice because of the spice.

The very best of 2010 is the fact that Courtney is alive and well after being diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor. It is difficult to describe the panic and despair we experienced for those few weeks.  Somehow it seems like a distant memory, perhaps even a bad nightmare.  We thank God for bringing us all through and we anticipate such blessing in the year ahead!  How wonderful it is to know that she is well!

Another great highlight of 2010 was the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization that I had the privilege to be be a participant at, and also to be one of the staff. It was fantastic to see the delegates from all over the world arriving at the Cape Town International Convention Centre after almost three years of work.  The congress itself was an incredible experience in so many ways, not least of which are the many new friends that were made.

The publication of 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' was another very significant event in 2010.  It has changed my life in many ways.  I never expected that this little book (that I was writing this time last year) would do quite as well as it has. As a result of the book's success in South Africa, Asia and America I have had invitations to speak at conferences and events, I will be doing some traveling to Malaysia and America for that reason this year.  The royalties from the sale (which I signed over to the Unashamedly Ethical campaign) have made it possible for values and ethics to spread a little wider in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.  I have received hundreds of encouraging emails, stories of 'transformed lives' and testimonies of how God is using people to make a difference where they are.  I am truly thankful, and humbled, at what that book has achieved.  Of course the book would not have been possible without the incredible example and courageous faith of my friend Graham Power.  His life story is the thread of testimony that runs through the pages of the book allowing me to draw on texts from scripture, insights from Christian history, and practical ideas for ministry in the 'world of work'.

And, what would a reflection on 2010 be without some mention of cycling!?  It was the year of the Wines2Whales that I rode with my friends Greg Long and Philip Collier. In total I have done almost 4000 km's of riding (mostly offroad) on my trust Mongoose Canaan Team mountainbike.  I have had a few falls, but so much fun!  I feel fit and strong at the start of 2011 as a result!

In a few days time I shall be returning to work.  This year has many exciting events planned, quite a lot of travel (in South Africa and abroad).  So do look in here from time to time - perhaps there will be some 'uncommon inspiration' among the posts on this blog...

My life is filled with grace because of God's goodness.  It is filled with hope because of the possibility of doing some small things to make a difference in the world.  It is filled with joy because of my wonderful wife Megan and our children Courtney and Liam.  And, it is filled with excitement because there is so much left to see and do!

May 2011 be a truly blessed year for you and your family!