Bible as Economics text book

Sexist marathon rules forbid women to compete —
until this feminist put her foot down!

Karen Switzer—the first woman to enter the 1967 Boston Marathon—being assaulted by a man who tried unsuccessfully to tear the number off her shirt and remove her from the race.

Women were only permitted in 1972 to enter this marathon. This year—the 50th year since her first entry—Karen (aged 70) ran the Marathon once again!

Image: Paul Connell/The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Grace and peace to you and through you

The bible is first and foremost an economics text book. Economics, in the true sense of the word, means management of the household. Thus the bible documents a people’s growing understanding of what God desires for God’s house (the world) and how it is to be managed. In short: God longs for God’s house to be managed with justice and mercy for everyone living under God’s sky. In our own homes we know what happens when fairness is not present! It’s war! Fairness alone is what will establish peace. This is equally true in our country which is ablaze in so many corners for the long lack of fairness. And what is more, there will not be enough rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to prevent the flames from burning ever higher. Justice is the only thing that will cool the heat.

I think we know this but we stand paralysed in the face of this truth. We know the answer is justice, but it’s as if this answer is buried in a tomb that is impossible to open and we don’t believe it will ever be unlocked, partly because somewhere deep down some of us know that we benefit from the injustice and love the benefits more than we despise the injustice. So we declare with resignation: “The poor will always be with us”.

Not surprisingly it was only after the disciples experienced Jesus as resurrected Lord that they began to practice justice and mercy in relationship with one another and with all those in need. Resurrection – God’s power over that which overpowers us – is what facilitated their new depths of faithfulness. Only in the light of the resurrection did they come to trust that nothing (not even justice long-thought-dead-and-buried) is beyond the transformative reach of God to unlock. It was only after their ultimate fear of death was overcome that they could overcome their fear of sharing what they owned with those in need. It was only after they were flooded with a rush of abundant life that they were convinced that their economics should be in the service of life for all rather than profit for a few.

It seems to me if we are going to live out radical economic transformation (in the deepest and most biblical sense of those words) which is so desperately needed in our country and world – we will need to knock, seek and ask for resurrection light and life to overwhelm us. Only the power to bring back the dead to life will be enough to free us to die to ourselves in seeking life for others, and this is at the very heart of radical economic transformation.

The Gospel promise of course is that whenever we die to ourselves to bring life to others then our lives are given back to us … new, full and fresh … as if we were born all over again.

In hope and in trust,

Embrace Vulnerability

Eastern Cape Pensioners looking for justice from Parliament.
Photograph: Rebecca Davis

Grace and peace to you …

Many of us have grown up hearing the words “Almighty God …” spoken by one leading a congregation in prayer. The following beautiful prayer is an example:

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known
and from whom no secrets are hid:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy Name;
through Christ our Lord. Amen

In recent years I have struggled to connect with God as Almighty. I am more inclined to relate to an “All-Vulnerable God”. I see “All-Vulnerable-ness more clearly than “Almighty-ness” in Jesus. And didn’t Jesus say: “The Father and I are one” [John 10:30]?

Brené Brown, who has become famous for her work on vulnerability says the following:

“Waking up every day and loving someone who may or may not love us back, whose safety we can’t ensure, who may stay in our lives or may leave without a moment’s notice, who may be loyal to the day they die or betray us tomorrow – that’s vulnerability.”

Doesn’t this sound like Jesus to you? Doesn’t this sound like God to you? Doesn’t this sound like Love to you – the real nitty-gritty-ness of love? Love by definition is vulnerable. God is Love therefore God is vulnerable.

Sadly too often we mistake vulnerability for weakness. Yet it is just the opposite. Vulnerability is the fiery furnace that gives love its enduring steeliness.

Followers of Jesus must learn to embrace vulnerability.

Or as Brown puts it another way:

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”

Trying to get on to the path, Alan

This week CMM has had the privilege to offer hospitality at night to pensioners from the Eastern Cape who have been protesting outside of Parliament.

An article: “Desperation, Inc: Eastern Cape pensioners looking for justice outside Parliament” (click on link) written by Rebecca Davis (published on Daily Maverick) speaks to this matter in a forthright manner.

“The more I love, the deeper I love,
the more I see what that love is,
the more I can become love.
The more intimacy I allow,
the more I give and share and open my heart,
the more vulnerable I am,
the more I experience the sacred in me.
The more I am able to love.
The more I learn where I hold back,
where I struggle, where my pain is,
where I can’t receive.
I love because of what you allow me
to be in loving you.
No such thing as altruism.
But like a candle that lights another it loses
nothing in giving away its light.”

~ Anonymous