Each year the Kennedy Centre in the US honours an artist for their contribution to American culture. Below is one of my favourite performances and artists from that series. John Williams and James Taylor honour the great Celloist Yo Yo Ma.
Whilst most of us live lives of anonymity and obscurity I am often struck by the intimacy with which God shares our life, in Jesus and through the Spirit. Whilst Psalm 139 was written long before the incarnation of Jesus I can’t help but be struck by the idea that God, who knows us so intimately, would want each of us on this earth to feel the sense of worth and honour that Yo Yo Ma must have felt at this moment.
And, in contemplating this, to contemplate that each person is of such worth to be applauded in God’s eyes and presence, surrounded by all the saints.
What would it mean for us to take this seriously to honour others as God might, honouring: children seeking asylum in detention; the people of Israel and Palestine in the Gaza strip; those who have died on flights; the people of Syria and Iraq; indigenous Australians; all peoples everywhere. How would it change our plicies, practices and attitudes?
Maybe, this performance gives us a glimpse of eschatological hope, “Here comes the Sun”… “Here comes the Son”, as we think about our inability to honour people’s lives, as so few are honoured, but to think God might just honour all our lives by being one of us.
In the first chapter of the Bible, after creating humanity, God’s response is to look upon all that God has made and reflect that “it was very good” – this means including humanity! Notwithstanding the problematic nature of human beings, of you and I, we should never forget this first and fundamental complement when God looked upon humans and thought “very good”.
Many people struggle to accept that there is goodness within themselves. In the West we are in a culture that seems to breed self-hate and self-esteem issues as we compare ourselves to the next person. It is partly because of this that we struggle to hear the complements that come our way from God let alone anyone else.
In this video, from Soul Pancake, the way complements are both given and received impact on people is explored. Given that Christian worship has traditionally revolved around eucharist (thanksgiving) it left me wondering whether or not we clearly hear God’s complements to us, even the simplest and first one “it was very good”, and whether we understand because God first loved (complements), we too love (complement) others and so community is built? How would it change our experience of worship to know that it is not simply us praising, complementing God, but us hearing God’s complement to us again and again and again!
I believe the oldest connection to Australia that I have is a distant relative who was a member of the Rum Corps. It was from a time when the convicts were forcibly transported here and the soldiers sent to guard them all came on ships reluctantly.
They forcibly took hold of lands that had been walked on for thousands of years by indigenous people displacing them too, as the first European settlers made Australia home.
From the time of first British landings and colonization we have had a checkered history of forced arrivals and contentious land grabs. We have been a country which has been built on displacing peoples or receiving displaced peoples.
From displaced indigenous people and the forced immigrants both convicts and soldiers alike, to more recent years of people seeking a better and safer life, seeking refuge and asylum, ours is a country with a young history which we should never fail to forget.
As I consider the injunction of the Old Testament to welcome the alien and stranger in our midst and to ensure they are provided for I am left with perplexing questions about our current policies. Where is the compassion? And where is the memory of our history?
This impassioned plea from a Uniting Church Minister who has Tamil origins struck a chord for me as I listened. Let us pray for changes at home and abroad so that not only we might show a better welcome for refugees and asylum seekers as we remember our own history. But, also that the violence and discrimination that gives rise to the need to flee from other countries might also change and peace and justice reign there as well.
Reflecting on your relationship with God can help you grow in your faith, identify questions to explore and set goals for personal change. One way to do this is by keeping a Spiritual Journal. Why not give it a go or find out more by discussing how to do it with your minister?