Archives for the month of: March, 2013

Happy Easter! This morning I sent out a group text to friends with an Easter message. And what a revelation! When I went to put in the word ‘Jesus’, I found that ‘Jesus’ was not the first possibility that my auto-guess-the-word function drummed up – it was ‘jests’. I was shocked to realise how little I must use our Lord’s name in texts. Sure, ‘God’ comes up the first time, but not his beloved Son. Then as I was listening to the Easter readings I heard this charge leveled at Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Peter, Jesus’ most staunch defendant, was now denying that he ever knew him. But no matter what he said, it was something else about him that alerted the sceptics. His accent. OK, he was from Galilee, the same area as Jesus, but was it something else in the way he spoke that connected the two? Is there something in our own accents that points to who ultimately claims us? Do people hear Jesus speak when they hear me, do they see Jesus at work when they see me, do they know Jesus in their hearts when they understand me – and all without mentioning His name? I think I need to teach my auto-guess-the-word function some language, but also to allow my language to be unmistakably accented like Christ’s.

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Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I spoke at a beautiful event in Roxby Downs, organised by courageous strong women who weren’t in for men-bashing. Likewise, in this post, I don’t want to set up gender against gender. Even saying men and women is too limiting; gender is much broader and more subtle than that. Not that there isn’t so much horrible violence done to those in the minority genders (women, transgender, etc.) Jesus was on about the person first, and St Paul caught on exactly: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Gal 3:28

The other day I was shocked to read in Friedrich Neitschke’s 1880s book ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’: “Man should be trained for war and women for the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly.” That mindset is limiting for people of all genders.

However, in the last week, I have been surprised over and over by small kindness I have noticed of men towards children, which certainly defeats the stereotype of the unfeeling male warrior. There have been little things – a father holding his child’s hand escorting him to school; a father of a newborn playing with his one-year-old to keep his mother free for breastfeeding; and a man playing father to 4 young children, racing them on a trolley to their sheer delight! But the most moving was a scene that played out at a short distance from our kitchen window. I looked on with a friend with the protagonist never suspecting he had an audience. It was a young father with a son of maybe 2 or 3 years. They climbed together up from the sanddune with hats, backpacks and hands filled with each other’s. When they reached the top they stopped for a break in the shade and the father squatted down, took off his backpack and found the drink of water. After they had both been refreshed, he replaced the backpack and, hand-in-hand they walked off. It was such a simple scene, yet so touching. Would that all children could grow up with fathers like this – then the Our Father prayer would really make sense!

[Of course, it goes without saying that our images of God include mother, rock, friend, lover, shepherd, hen, etc. too. Different images speak in different ways to different people, but Jesus’ prayer is hard to hear by those who have not had good experiences of fathers.]