Friday, April 27

Pleasing our neighbours...

My Bible study this past week was on Romans 15:1-13. Part of the study notes focused on verses 2-3, which says "Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself." They discussed Christ's life of service, and how he was focused completely on serving his father's purpose, which was to serve us, humanity, and not himself. Therefore, since Christ is our example, I am to be focused on serving my heavenly father's purpose, and on serving others. SO tricky!

So that is what I have challenged myself to be working on lately. I find it very easy to compartmentalize. Because I work in a Christian-organized group home, it's so easy to say that I fulfill my service quota. I spend long days feeding, bathing, toileting, dressing and putting up with behaviours of adults with mental and physical disabilities. That is most definitely service. And although it's certainly good, it's not enough. I am called to a LIFE of service, not to moments of service. That needs to carry out to my home life, in serving and seeking to please James, and to the rest of my life, in serving and seeking to please those I come into contact with on a daily basis. Suddenly, I am not so saintly for wiping bums all day...because after that I go home crabby and demanding because I'm tired. Not only that, but my time-off from work becomes almost 100% "my" time. The neighbours I am to please include my husband, and the people I run into, not just the people I work with and for.

So, service this week for me means holding myself to the same level of tidiness I hold my husband to (and not nagging). It means being willing to set aside my opinion. It means being patient with others in traffic, or the crowded grocery store. Basically, it is to be constant.

Suddenly, I see the potential for burn-out. That doesn't mean that I should step away from the challenge, but rather, that I should continue to follow the example of Christ. Jesus was able to constantly serve because he was constantly relying on the power of God through the Holy Spirit. He slipped away to pray and be rejuvenated in God's presence. It is only by relying on him through prayer and scripture that this service will be possible.

Tuesday, April 24

Downward mobility - A discussion starter

This is taken from Geez magazine, a great magazine that discusses social issues through a Christian lense in an artistic, thought provoking way - almost like a faith-centred Adbusters. (I highly recommend it! check out You can read all the articles online, but I'd subscribe - the actual magazine layout is fantastic, and it's fairly new - they could use the support. enough of my pitch)

1. Gather with one or several friends.
2. Quietly read and reflect on Sections A and B.
3. Consider the questions in Section C.
4. Engage in discussion that is respectful, even vulnerable.


The reality of Jesus [is that] he always descends. And we his disciples have no other choice, no other way than that of the descent. And so we are totally in opposition to our cultures. The world values promotion; Jesus values demotion.
God is hidden in suffering. The great gift of God to humanity is that Jesus is present in the sacrament of the poor.
This is a true sacrament, and like all sacraments, it is a question of believing in this mystery. The tragedy is that the world doesn't know that the poor are a sacrament. They [do not] see the poor as those who arrange and bring order. That is why the rich, the "have's," remove themselves far from the poor. They don't see the poor as the sign of God, as sacrament, as the presence of God-with-us, as those who will free us, heal and illuminate us, as those who will bring the interior unity we crave, lead us into the heart of God.
Jesus came to serve the poor. So he became poor. The good news is announced not by the one who serves the por, but by the one who becomes poor.

Downward mobility is a mockery of working class life. It is poverty made fashionable. Behavior remains the same. Those who don't comply with this "hip" lifestyle are looked down upon.
It is in the establishment of hierarchies that the middle class betrays itself - they always have to look down on somebody, a habitual attitude of power. Downward mobility is the greatest insult yet devised by middle class people against the working class.
Difficult as it is for middle class women to realize how downward mobility strikes us, they must open themselves and see what they are doing to us. I know that for many middle class women, downward mobility was a first attempt at trying to change their ways. However, those women must realize that the irony of downward mobility, its fatal flaw, is that they could afford to become downwardly mobile. Their class privilege enabled them to reject materialism. For those of us who grew up without material advantages downward mobility is infuriating - here are women rejecting what we never had and can't get!
If you have money, sister, don't deny it, share it. If you have advanced skills don't make pottery in your loft, teach us those skills. Downward mobility is a way to deny your material privileges to prove how "right on" you are. We know that anytime you get tired of poverty you can go right back to them.
Downward mobility assumes that material benefits are bad. Material benefits aren't bad, what's bad is that everyone doesn't have them.

1. Are you rich or poor? Explain what that means to you.
2. Consider your social location: would you like to move up or down the scales of power (this includes education, experience, vocation, income, neighborhood, significant relationships, travel, etc.)? Why?
3. How does religion or spirituality factor into this discussion for you?
4. Which of the above readings makes you feel more alive? Explain.
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