Real people living real lives. Real people struggling with real pain. Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, classmates and friends. Struggling to the point of believing that they can’t do it anymore. To the point of believing that it’s too late for change or hope or healing.

It’s never too late.

Please stay alive.

We need you. Your story matters. It’s not over yet.

And there is no magic formula. It’s long nights and coffee, cigarettes and counsellors. It’s people to walk beside you, bring you coffee, sit in the darkness. It’s vulnerability when you can’t take another step. The road to recovery is not easy. But it is real. And worth it.

Hope is real. Rescue is possible.

Distinctive Marks of a Peculiar People

“Jubilee and Sabbath are a couple of the distinctive marks of God’s peculiar people. Not only do they know how to work, but they also know how to party (Jubilee)… and they know how to rest (Sabbath).”

[Shane Claiborne]

I planned to take photographs of Thanksgiving celebrations yesterday… but then I just got too caught up in cooking and enjoying long conversations with friends, so you’ll just have to trust me that it was excellent!

I really hope that we (I) learn to throw better parties, and take better care of ourselves.

Distracting Church

“Some of us wear our brokenness on the inside, others on the outside.

But we’re all broken.

We’re all un-cool.

We’re all in need of a Savior.

So let’s cut the crap, pull the plug, and have us some distracting church services… the kind where Jesus would fit right in.”

I strongly suggest you read this bitingly honest critique of ‘cool’ church from Rachel Held Evans.

I find myself torn when I think about these issues.

There’s a part of me that recognises we live in a media-saturated world where image and brand matters, and we owe it to Jesus to do everything we can to be the best, to strive for excellence in all we do.

There’s a part of me that depends on a salary from communications/ design daily for a living.

There’s a part of me that winces when the music is off-key and badly mixed.

There’s a part of me that knows design matters. Typography matters. Not using 10 different swirling and dissolving and sliding transitions in a slideshow matters.

And there’s a part of me that knows it doesn’t matter at all.

That Jesus never attended a brand strategy meeting.

There’s a part of me that remembers that Jesus was “nothing special to look at”, that very few people recognised him when he came to earth… and that that was his plan. (It wouldn’t have been my plan).

There’s a part of me that loves to hear kids making noise in the back of the service, knowing that they add to my experience of God and I to theres. That I see God in them.

There’s a part of me that loves it when everyone gets a chance to play, to bring their songs as an offering to God even if it’s not the most musically talented person.

I’ve been wrestling with this for a while now, and especially after one particular conversation with a friend I love and respect. Does everything we do (in churches, in Christian organisations) have to be “professional”? Are we losing something of Jesus in our search for professionalism? We are called to be distinctive, to strive for excellence – but to do it in a manner that honours God, reflects his values. What values are we reflecting in our quest for professionalism?

It seems to me that Jesus taught us that the way we do things matters as much as what we do.

Discontinuity and Contradiction

“Art is about discontinuity and contradiction, which is how grace is experienced in the world, as an alien intrusion into a world that deceives us into believing that we are defined by what we do, not by what Christ has done. And so we are compelled to prove ourselves, to make something that justifies our existence. But art is not just doing and making, it is also receiving, and hearing. It is not just an achievement; it is a gift. It is devoting one’s life to something so futile, inefficient, and in many ways useless, that it becomes a means of grace. Cities, with their concentration of doers and achievers, full of those obsessed with going from good to great, can pose challenges to cultivating a passivity that is absolutely necessary for art.”

[Mako Fujimura, in Christianity Today]