Monday, May 21, 2018

Living in the Empire | Lessons from Daniel’s life

Babylon was the centre of learning, commerce, wealth, and religion. Devoted to materialism, extravagance, luxury, and the pursuit of pleasure, it was a privileged society. 

But, there was also injustice, poverty, and cruel oppression. It was the great and ancient capital city, the the centre of the universe. 

And there, young Daniel and his friends found themselves. Shell-shocked exiles, reeling from the defeat of Yahweh’s people by the ruthless dictator, Nebuchadnezzar. How would they learn to live ‘another way’ so far from the land of their faith, in a powerful, seductive pagan world? 

And here we find ourselves in Western society. Consumer capitalism, a never-ending cycle of working and buying, a sea of choices produced with little regard to life or resources, societal violence, marginalised and excluded people, a world headed toward climactic calamity. 

How do we live ‘another way’ in the midst of an all-pervasive empire? We’re going to look over Daniels’ shoulders and learn what the bible teaches us about living with integrity God’s way far from the safety of of a Christendom world that has long vanished? 

Come join us Sundays either 9:30am or 6:00pm Sunday evenings at Diamond Valley Baptist Church. There is usually a free meal Sunday 5:30pm before we gather - you're welcome to join us at table!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Grittiness of Community!

Perhaps few spiritual disciplines are as misunderstood as community. We envision community as folks standing around a campfire holding hands and singing. While there may be moments of warm feelings, community as a discipline is about loving even those you prefer to ignore. It's about including people the church doesn't (seem to) need or even the disgruntled folks you secretly think the church would be better off without.

(1Cor 12:12-27) underscores the grittiness of Christian community. Individuals who have nothing in common talk and work alongside each other until some of their sharp edges are rounded off. Eventually you treasure this person who could not be more different from you. Christ insists that we need each other. And we do - the viewpoint of the other person helps us climb out of our narrow world and learn what it means to love another person just a little bit.

When CS Lewis became a Christian; he initially resisted being a part of a church. For example, he disliked the hymns, which he regarded as "fifth-rate poems." Eventually, however, Lewis began to understand that the church is not a human organization but the "Body of Christ where people share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences." That happens as we submit to God, trusting that we really do need all these odd people, and to submit to them as well.

We often confuse Christian community with special friendships, which have different kinds of benefits and qualities. When have you experienced Christian community as described below?

Christian Community
Special Friendships
You disagree but still listen to each other
You know what the other is thinking.
You're committed to listening to God's call on each other's life.
You agree on almost everything
You're committed to praying for each other.
You say just what the other needs to hear.
Side by side with others, you give gifts of service.
You give each other special gifts.
When you're angered you walk away, process it with God and consider how God is using that person in your life.
You get upset with each other but work it out.
You have many differences with this person.
You have few differences and many similarities.
You may have no interests in common.
You love to do the same activities.
You're astounded at how God uses such ordinary relationships in your life.
You're astounded at what good friends you are.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018


It’s not the friendliest of villages, Emmaus,

the people parochial, as desert people are,
bound up in the herding and bartering of beasts,
the vines on its terraces encumbered with thorns,
the children in the market roasting a sparrow,
hardly the place to expect revelation,
if revelation’s the word – I leave that to you.

Not that we’d never believed, my partner and I,
not that, but leaving Jerusalem on business,
with news of the death, or perhaps I should say
the absence among us of someone like a God,
we felt at a loss, and not a little diminished,
and talk as we may, of covenants and creeds,
our thoughts came round to the prices of wool,
the bundles of raisins and dates in our panniers.

The Servant-Girl at Emmaus

“The Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus” by Diego Valázquez c.1620. The poet Denise Levertov was inspired by this painting to tell the story of the Servan Girl at Emmaus. 

The Servant-Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Valázquez)
A Poem by Denise Levertov

She listens, listens, holding her breath. 
Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once, 
across the crowd, as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her? 
Had spoken as if to her?

Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face—?

The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning, 

Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen, 
absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.

Denise Levertov