Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking for the Bread of Life

Below in italics is a reflection of mine from Dec 28th.  The thoughts were prompted by two major events.  1) A colleague told the story of a house-cleaner she employs taking food from the trash that my colleague thought was ruined because it was a bit over-cooked.  2) The next day I was sitting at a Indian restaurant with another Western colleague's family and their small son said, "I'm starving".  Like my Dad would say to me many a time when I was small and I said similar things (okay, let's be honest, in college also when I'd say such things), I responded: "Have you not eaten in four days?" to which the child said "Yes."   I almost laughed, because that's the kind of response I would have crossly given my Dad in my highschool and college years (under my breath in my highschool years).

I’m beginning to think we Xristians in and of the West tend to be like the child who’s never really been hungry because almost everyday he has had a meal, but at mealtime he says: "I’m starving!"  We sit down to a spiritual meal and say "I’m starving," while countless others have never had a taste of the meat of the gospel.   We allow the gospel to be taken from our dregs, our throway food that we think can’t really be eaten, the crumbs of bread.  Even among those on living on m'ssion, and I include myself, we sometimes find it hard to sit down with people and eat physical meals with them and [then] tell them the truth of Jesus’ peace with God offered to them and the forgiveness of sins made available through His work.  We have a hard time giving of the meat and wine of the gospel which Jesus makes available to all.   Yes, many multitudes will turn down this strange food.  But even among those who turn down the spiritual food at one time will eventually feel their hunger and swallow their pride and partake.  Let us not be selfish or afraid to offer it to them.-- December 28, 2009

Rereading my reflection, I'm struck that spiritually, the child's cross reply is still likely to come from me when I want spiritual food and fellowship, and someone [like G-d or a messenger of his]  reminds me that yet others are spiritually starving for the first bite of the bread of life.  Of course, there is nothing wrong and everything right with us getting spiritual fellowship and spiritual bread.   The moral of the reflection isn't that it's wrong to take care of ourselves.  Far from it.  The ethic that I find that I struggle sometimes to embed in my own life is that it is good and right to take care of not only myself and but also others, by offering them also the bread and water of life- not only physical life but also spiritual life..  

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Augustine's Vision

I've enjoyed my Christmas and I'm just kicking back and resting for now.   But I thought I'd recycle a quote that I put on my Notes in Facebook here.   It reminds me that God is always there for us to wake up to Him and follow Him.   It also reminds me that many people have to catch sight of God more than once before they become followers and even though we may not think that they have heard our confessions of the truth we know, they may already be on the path to life eternal. :-)

Here's a most intriguing quote from Augustine's _Confessions_:
"I examined my thoughts, why it was that I admired the natural beauty of things in the heavens and on earth. What standard helped me accurately judge the changing things of creation and declare, 'This is reasonable ; that is not'? What was it that made me judge, because I obviously did judge? I had found an unchangeable eteranla truth that existed apart from my changeable mind. By degrees, I passed from my awareness of external bodies through the bodily sense to the soul. What I learned from the senses I analyzed with my inward faculties which can internalize facts about external things. Animals can do that much. The reasoning faculty receives what is learned from the senses and makes judgments. I found reason itself to be in me a variable thing.
But my understanding was able to raise itslef to a higher understanding when it pulled badck from thoughts that originate in habit. Withdrawing from the troops of contradictory chimera thoughts, my mind can seek a clearer light and be enlightened without being filled with doubt. The mind cries that the unchageable is to be preferred over the changeable. It knows that an unchangeable does exist . If it did not know, it would not have been so dissatisfied with the changeable.
And thus with a flash of one trembling glance, my mind arrived at 'That Which Is'. In that moment of clarity, I saw Your invisible htings that that can be discerned from seeing what You have made. I could not yet fix my gaze on those things, for my fallen slef struck back. I fell back into old habits of thought, but from that vision of truth I carried away a memory and longing to see more. I had caught a whiff of truth, but I was not yet able to feed on it."
The Confessions of Saint Augustine: Modern English Version, Baker Book House: Grand Rapids Michigan (2005) 121-122.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sabbath Rest

Just enjoying a sabbath-like rest today.   I've barely walked more than 100 yards today, and that was to supper at Ujwal's and back.   Saturdays generally have been like this here in India for me.  I've used the days mostly to just kick back and rest and _do nothing_.   A wonderful concept of rest that I fear Westerners have nearly forgotten.  No work means doing nothing, or as close to nothing as possible.  Certainly, there are exceptions and the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath.   And I probably don't do enough reading of Scripture and meditating on it and on G-d and praying to Him as I ought on my sabbath.  But I do try to take some rest of doing very little on these days.  It helps keep me from burning myself out.  :-)  And a measured rest now and then is often needed I think to help with culture shock!  and I seem to need it about every seven days or so.   Thank you L'rd for resting on the seventh day, reviewing the good work you had done,  and giving us an example to follow! 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Meditation on Midpoint of Stay in S. Asia

It's December and I'm a little more than half-way through my stay of about 2 years in India. Just thinking of the things past and things to come. I've come a long ways in learning Kannada, reaching novice high and I'm working towards intermediate high. It's been an interesting experience working here and seeing the culture.
The latest festivals of India celebrated: Ramadan, Dipawali, and Children's Day (a natl holiday). No more major festivals, though probably several minor festivals, before New Years.
Also the one holiday which is most peculiar to America has past. Thanksgiving. This is the day Americans think about Providence, G-d's blessings, the (last) harvest feast before winter, Pilgrims and Indians (native Americans), freedom of the consciene, or at least Turkeyday, Family, and Football.
Just got back from a 4-day visit to Delhi and Agra. Thinking ahead to Christmas and New Years. Much work still to do. Library work, language work, and much else.
Well, I'm closing for now. My desire and wish is that G-d's grace, peace, and restoration come to peoples everywhere!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Now in Bangalore

I'm now in Bangalore. It's been interesting couple of weeks. I'm now in a place where I can get settled in. Met a Sikh guy who's into computers and international travelling and education on the plane here. Very fluent in English. Also met briefly a young Indian mother with a child on her lap in the plane. Didn't get to talk to her much though. Found it interesting that she sang in English to her child and sang the song "if you're happy and you know it, clap your hands."
Wow! I guess English is well-known in this part of the world, even if it isn't generally the heart language of the people.