Posts Tagged ‘jonathan wilson-hartgrove’

A few weeks ago I joined some friends from Oakland and we went and participated in a night-time peace walk around a few blocks of our neighborhood known for violence and a high murder rate. Just being a presence as a crowd of pastors and lay people, greeting people, holding up signs saying ‘an end to gun violence’ and letting the people know we had had enough and were not going to simply sit back and accept it any more. It is something I definitely want to get more regularly involved with.

Then yesterday I had breakfast with one of the leaders of the City Team and just got to hear some of his heart. I was given a brief tour of their downtown building where they host a homeless shelter and a clinic and recovery meetings and and and [Three full-time staff and hundreds of volunteers]. He told me that Oakland is the second biggest city in terms of human trafficking in the country and shared some of the insanely ridiculous legislation that is in place which tends to victimise the victims while protecting the perpetrators [or at least treating them a lot less harshly]. They just scored a small victory in getting part of that changed and are working towards greater justice there in weeks and months to come.

I think back to a response I got to posting the South Africa meme that ends with pictures of township life and the harsh face of reality for so many people, instead of the more popular one which shows ‘What Living in South Africa is really like’ as wine tasting and people on beaches watching sunsets [which it is for like 5% of the population].

Lastly my mind wanders back to the strong reaction [often from people who self-identify as Christians] I get any time I write a status or post suggesting that international sports stars or musicians get a disgusting amount of money for what they do and imagine if their out-of-this-world salaries were rather put to good use affecting hundreds or even thousands of people.

And I don’t know how to say what I want to say without coming across as judgemental. [Because, let’s be honest here, I probably am, and it definitely starts with me and my life held up to the mirror, and then it most certainly does extend to you!]

Perhaps the best word and image I can use to explain it is hungry. I am hungry for people who want their lives to make a real difference in the world. I am hungry for people to look around and not be okay with the state of the world until every single person has justice and is able to experience the kind of freedom, opportunities and perhaps comfortability that we have [realising that perhaps each of us will need to sacrifice a measure of our own comfortability to help redress the balance].

Which, I think is why I am so attracted to people like Ben, who I got to breakfast with. Like Marci and Nathalie who I got to meet from the ‘Common Good’ Foundation at Common Ground church in Cape Town. Like my wife Valerie. Like the folks from the Steps Ministries in Buffalo or our friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and their community, Rutba House, in Durham, North Carolina and others.

None of us can change the world. But each of us can do something.

Poverty. Homelessness. Human-trafficking. Racism. Illiteracy. Malnutrition. Crime. Refugees. Street children. Orphans. AIDS. Rehab.
The list goes on and it really isn’t about you wiping out that list by yourself or becoming overwhelmed at the magnitude of it.
It’s about you listening, looking, finding one of those areas to get involved in. Joining some mission that is already on the go. Or starting something new [but there is a lot on the go].

It’s about not being okay with being okay with not being invested in a greater cause or mission than yourself.
It is not about feeling guilty. It is about being invested. This is a call to action.

The Truth and nothing but.


[For next Friday’s Fitting Things into the space that Time permits, click here]

[to catch up with last Friday’s Getting Busy With It, click here]


The Awakening of Hope

I have just finished reading a book called ‘The Awakening of Hope’ by a friend of ours named Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove which looks to address the question ‘Why we Practice a Common Faith’ by focusing on seven ancient practices/disciplines and this excerpt on faith and conversion really stood out for me:

‘No one gets to start from scratch. But each of us, from within the story we’ve received, decides whether we will continue to trust what we’ve first received or inhabit a different story. This decision is what we usually call “faith.”

The Bible says that faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen [Hebrews 11.1, KJV].
Faith is what we trust for those questions that we cannot know the answer to, for the presuppositions that undergird whatever story we call our own. In the modern world we are in the habit of thinking that faith matters for our personal and religious lives. When we talk about “people of faith,” we usually refer to people who are committed Muslims or Buddhists, Jews or Christians. On the other hand, we usually assume that what matters in economics and politics, science and medicine is facts, not faith. Religion is about what we believe while science is about what we know.

But good scientists agree with the woman in Sarah’s writing seminar that whatever we know (including the facts), we know within a story that we have chosen to trust. That is, we are all people of faith. Of course, doubt plays a role in the pursuit of truth for scientists, just as it does for theologians. But none of us can ever doubt everything. Whether the truth we seek is best described as scientific or religious, our pursuit of it depends on holding experience up against the story we assume to be true. In science, when the facts demand a new story to explain how they can all be true, we call that necessary change a “paradigm shift.” When the facts of our lives cry out for a story that can help us tell the truth about ourselves, we call it “conversion.”

For Jesus, the invitation to welcome God’s story is a call to conversion: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent ad believe the good news” [Mark 1.15]. To trust that what Jesus says about the world is true is to, quite literally, have a change of mind. This conversion – this paradigm shift – does not invalidate the truth of the story that came before it. In calling God’s people to conversion, Jesus says, “Do not think I have come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” The new story that Jesus brings incorporates the truth of the old, offering both a framework for understanding what we knew before and a lens for seeing truth we could not recognise within our old story.
Even so, the only way people who have inhabited one story can learn to trust another is to experience a change of mind.’
We must be “born again,” as Jesus says to Nicodemus in John’s gospel [3.3] Or, more literally, we must be reconceived from above.” That is to say, conversion is about reimagining our human story from the place that Jesus starts His – not with the mixing of two human stories, but with the miraculous union of God’s story and a human story.’

[from the chapter ‘Why we share good news’ from the book ‘The Awakening of Hope’ by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove]

[for next Thursday’s A Most Powerful Message, click here]
[for last Thursday’s How’s Your Heart, click here]