A paragraph in a book recently made me sit up straight…

The beginning of the theological movement associated with the name Karl Barth can be dated from the shocked realization that the values of nineteenth-century liberalism as held by academics and intellectuals of his day left them incapable of recognizing tyranny when it appeared, much less of standing up against it. Academic education, even in theology, did not make men any more able to perceive the illiberalism and aggression implicit in the German policies which led to the outbreak of the 1914-18 war. The same inability of the liberal mind to believe in the recalcitrant and anti-rational possibilities of human conduct displayed itself again when the Nazi’s came to power in 1934.

I have never been a fan of focussing on the ‘dark’. Call it an ostrich mentality if you will. Although I see poverty and hunger and dead-eyed people all around me I have always been reluctant to follow the train of thought which would get to the root of why so many people are hungry, dying and misplaced. I believe in a good God, I believe in the inherent goodness of people, I detest the over use of the word sin when it comes to keeping good Christian folk ‘in line’. I like to focus on the light. (as most of us probably do)

But this sentence stuck in my head … in focusing on goodness and love and the philosophical and academic constructs of the ‘idea’ of God, liberal theology, it was argued by Barth, did not anticipate or recognise the dark pervading force of evil which manifested in the world wars …

We are suffering under a different kind of world war right now, human suffering born of neglect and apathy and greed and lets use the word ‘evil’, is surely at an all-time high!

A few nights ago I had a dream. I was on my way to a job interview at a large ‘American multinational’ (so much symbolism there) and as I walked along a wide and high wall on my right a shadowy figure came up alongside me on the left (kind of boxing me in) and said to me, ‘the CEO of the company you are going to work for is corrupt. The company is corrupt and you need to reveal this.’ I hadn’t gotten the job yet and so tried to wangle myself out of the task. But when I got to the company I found out a vacancy had just opened up and I was in a position perfectly placed to highlight the truth of what was happening at this firm. Nowhere to run, no excuses to make, time to speak up…

Now of course I am not sure how far this dream runs, to what exactly it is pointing me to at this stage, (although I could hazard a guess) but I do seem to be moving into a space where God is shining a light into the dark. It’s time to start focusing on the things which are close to Gods heart, the things Jesus spoke about, righteousness, mercy, peace, justice. (Matt 5)

Brentwood Methodist Church Pre-school (Tumbleweed)

And I have a community with which to start. A community in Howick that runs a pre-school for 60 children. The preschool is part of the church to which I have been placed this year and it offers the children a place to be safe, to be loved and to learn. But they don’t have much. They have hardly any resources, a few toys and 2 exhausted but loving and committed (and underpaid) teachers. So I am going to start here. I am going to ask God to open my eyes to the darkness that God sees, to show me ways in which I can speak up for this community and empower them.

Liberal love is great so long as it does not ignore the God of the suffering and the weak, the voiceless and the persecuted, the broken and the neglected, the poor and the hungry. Please join me in praying for this community and if you can help in anyway with school supplies, toys or stationary please let me know.

The suffering in our country is so great, but to turn our eyes and hearts away because of the sheer magnitude of the problem is not the answer.

God is love and love is a light in the darkness …

Let’s not be blind to the suffering we see around us, let’s be as open and as loving as our fearful, trembling hearts will allow. As my friend Jafie said this week, when you partner with God you see miracles happen, I am praying for miracles!

Pray with me?