Joining: In a time of distancing by Charles Ringma

We are all only too aware that the current covid-pandemic has brought about many changes, great distress, and real suffering. These have been more significant in countries where the pandemic has had a greater impact. Thus, we do need to be careful that we don’t over-generalise.  But we are not only aware, but also deeply disturbed, by the conflicting responses to the pandemic that we have seen in various countries. Tensions have been rife. This has been most clearly seen in the push on the part of the authorities for lock-down, social distancing, and covid-testing, and the protests of people who insist that they should be free to live and do as they like, and not have their “freedoms” restricted.  And somewhere in all of this, there lurks a tension that has to do with cooperation on a massive scale on the one hand, and on the other, the important role that social distancing is meant to play in keeping us as safe as possible. Thus, we have here a dialectic: joining and distancing or tha

What is Christian spiritual direction? – Irene Alexander

  What is Christian spiritual direction? – Irene Alexander Spiritual companioning is grounded in the way Jesus was present to people. We begin with the story from John chapter 1. John the baptiser is preparing the way for the Messiah, by calling  the people to a change of mind, a change of heart, a change of life. He is on the alert for the appearance of the Messiah, and when he sees Jesus his exclamation is, “Behold the Lamb of God ” (John 1:36 ). He immediately names the essence of who Jesus is, the sacrificial lamb who will die for the sins of the world. The lamb who “before its shearers is dumb,” (Is 53:7) who goes to death rather than exerting power over, who triumphs by emptying himself, by serving, and giving his life for the redemption of all (Rev 5:6-9). We note, at the outset of this journey, that the God we seek to know, and to make known, is typified as the Lamb. And this naming is by the one who has spent his life preparing to proclaim the Messiah’s coming. When John the B

Forthcoming Book: To Whom Shall We Go: Faith Responses in a Time of Crisis

Forthcoming Book: To Whom Shall We Go: Faith Responses in a Time of Crisis  Editors: Irene Alexander and Christopher Brown  The pandemic holds up a mirror to our values, beliefs, and actions. It is an opportunity for many of us to pause and reflect, to reassess our lives. For Christians it can direct us back to the call of Jesus to live a cruciform life, to embody the beatitudes, and to live as citizens of earth as well as of heaven. Such times of crisis and of global change require of us that we engage with our deepest values, and the foundations of our Christian faith, to find purpose and integrity in how we respond individually and institutionally. How are we to live out our lives in prayerful and active participation with God’s life and purposes amid the current pandemic and in its aftermath? How might we pray that God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven, and renew our citizenship of both our heavenly and earthly kingdoms? We are being invited to live our lives amid a d

Guiding Gideon by Chris Brown

  The care and guidance of souls  Chris Brown offers a glimpse of God’s grace and mercy in the life of a young man emerging from a crisis:  Guiding Gideon  chronicles the encounters between Gideon, a young man in his 30s in the midst of crisis, and his spiritual guide, Julian. By Christopher Brown Gideon, a 34-year-old man, and representative of many of the pilgrims who knock at my study door, sought me out for guidance following what he referred to as his “crisis”. To say that he sought me out might sound strange when I confess that Gideon is a fictional character. Instead of coming through my study door, he entered via the doorway of my active and believing imagination to become almost as real as the many pilgrims who have sought me out for guidance on matters of life and faith.   As Gideon’s story unfolded I began to respond to him as I would to a real life pilgrim. Taking time to prayerfully reflect on these encounters I discerned different purposes in his “seeking me out”.   One h

Book Review: With Your Latte by Charles Ringma

Book Review, With Your Latte: A Little Wisdom to Lighten Your Way , by Charles Ringma,  Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2020. Charles Ringma is both a prolific writer and a profound Christian inspirational thinker. His latest book, With Your Latte , adds to his tome of some 20 or more books. In times past he has spent considerable energy writing inspirational material, focusing on the giants of faith including, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jacques Ellul, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mother Teresa.  From these, and many others, he brings their wisdom home to our every-day lives to aid us on our faith pilgrimages in profound and inspirational ways. However, this book, With Your Latte , is different and takes an unusual bold leap.  Perhaps the best introduction has already been penned in Ringma’s preface: We live in a world of sound bites. Many are frivolous, reactive and don’t say all that much.  Some may stop us in our tracks and momentarily catch our attention.

whispers (A Poem by Charles Ringma)

whispers  he almost held the whisper is his tender-fingered hand, almost like grasping  the scent of the silver wattle. he splayed the whisper on canvass in the dunes and in the sand, almost like  a profligate spender. but, the whisper ever held him in the membranes of his heart, and its beauty leapt to canvass  a healing to impart. Charles Ringma, tssf. A poem in honour of Dr Lindsay Farrell. A life lived well in the beauty of God’s transcendence.

Jesus’ Invitation to Vulnerability by Irene Alexander

A pandemic holds up a mirror and helps us see what we really value, what we hunger and thirst for. For those in the Christian tradition, it might highlight where we are living at odds with our Christian faith. This helps us question whether we are living in response to the call of Jesus as the primary call on our lives, or whether we have been influenced by the culture of consumerism and individualism. What would it be like to live according to the beatitudes, to live a life out of the love, faithfulness, and of vulnerability that Jesus, through his indwelling Spirit has placed upon our hearts?  The invitation of the Beatitudes is to learn to live Jesus’ vulnerability in interdependent community and to follow the cruciform and resurrection movements of death with Christ to an old existence and resurrection in him to new life. If, as Bonhoeffer says, the image of God is the image of Jesus Christ on the cross, then we are also called to live a life of surrender and vulnerability, of know