From festive to fat to…?

There’s something about this image doing the rounds on Facebook during the New Year that really resonates.

I certainly fell into the Festive camp on Christmas Day, but as I surveyed a mini-tsunami of wrapping paper after the gift giving, I also found myself wondering yet again about both excess and sloth. Even our cats (who move as little as possible under normal circumstances) hardly bothered to roll over between Christmas and New Year. In the midst of all this, it’s pretty easy to lose the image of a child born in a backwater, growing up beside the poor and living out his call to share bread with strangers. Even more challenging is translating the sentimentality of the Christmas season into something solid and life changing all year round.

So here we are approaching February, wondering where January went, and furiously attempting to keep track of New Year’s resolutions that probably involved at least one of the following: cutting back on excess, paying more attention to our inner lives and perhaps thinking more consistently of others.

This year the season of Lent is just around the corner starting February 10. Typically it’s the time in the Christian calendar to reflect on our spiritual lives in a quest for growth, forgiveness and connection. These forty days are a God-given opportunity to recalibrate: heart, mind, spirit.Continue Reading

Act, reflect, connect: Getting the balance right

At 11.45 every morning, three soothing bells chime out from my iPhone. “Do you want to meditate?” comes the helpful enquiry from my screen, sent each day without fail by my ‘Mindfulness’  app (with handy alerts and tools to track my progress as an enlightened member of the human race).

I glance at my screen. “Seriously? Meditate now? I’m driving/typing/hanging out washing/reading at my child’s school/masterminding the incoming reign of peace and justice for the world.  Maybe later…”

The philosopher Socrates famously suggested that the unexamined life was not worth living. It’s a pretty bold statement. Are we all to be philosophers, floating through life clad in yoga pants, clutching our Mindfulness apps and gazing earnestly at our navels? Or did Socrates have something more balanced in mind?

Church communities have typically been big on reflection – worship, preaching, Bible study and prayer all encourage us to examine our lives carefully. For me, no matter what chaos the week  has held, our lay preachers seldom fail to produce the gem of an idea to polish throughout the week. Too often, though, nothing much happens beyond mental activity. I find it relatively easy to ponder. It’s harder to act. And there’s been no shortage of criticism fired at the church over exactly this tendency.

How do we get the balance right between thought, belief and action? Continue Reading

Give it UP for Lent

Georgina Garrett, Jemima Taylor and Imogen Senior from Picton Uniting are Giving it UP for Lent in 2014 with new youth resources.

Georgina Garrett, Jemima Taylor and Imogen Senior from Picton Uniting Church are Giving it UP for Lent in 2014 with new youth resources.

UnitingWorld’s Lent Event provides opportunities for people of all ages to – as their motto says – connect, reflect and act. Connect with overseas communities; reflect on your faith  and act, by giving up everyday items and donating the money to vital relief and development projects instead.

This year Lent Event includes a new, youth-inspired addition – Give it UP for Lent. Running over one weekend from March 7–9, Give it UP for Lent is the result of collaboration  between UnitingWorld and South Australia’s Uniting Young People. It includes a full range of youth group resources, video and bible study materials.  Continue Reading