Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Statement by Bishop of Jerusalem on GAZA

Things are hotting up in GAZA. I visited a few years back and remember it vividly. I will try to write more about that another time. In the meantime.... 
Statement by the Right Rev’d Suheil S. Dawani, The Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem on Gaza Jerusalem - December 29, 2008

During recent weeks, the three Abrahamic Faiths have observed their Holy Seasons with a sense of peace and goodwill. Therefore, we are greatly grieved by the severity of the ongoing military operations in Gaza that are occurring in heavily populated areas and impacting the civilian population.

As a Diocese with well over a century of an unbroken commitment to the well being and peace of the community in Gaza City through our Al Ahli Arab Hospital, we are both stunned and saddened by the events unfolding in Gaza.

The heavy loss of Palestinian lives and the serious wounds and injuries to many hundreds of innocent bystanders require the immediate cessation of hostilities for the well being and safety of both the Palestinian and Israeli communities, and especially for Gaza and the nearby Israeli population centers. The gravity of the situation threatens to engulf this entire region and we ask the Palestinians and Israelis to return to active negotiations for the well being and safety of both communities.

Of immediate concern is the urgent medical services needed by the victims of this violence. The immensity of providing care for the injured and wounded is overwhelming a healthcare system struggling to provide essential healthcare services for 1.5 million Palestinians, most of who live in refugee camps.

As the casualties and human suffering continue to rise, we appeal to the Israeli and Palestinian communities to exercise responsible restraint. We urgently call on all parties to immediately cease hostilities, and provide for the humanitarian needs of those directly affected by the conflict. At the same time, we can assure the Gaza communities that the Al Ahli Hospital will continue, as it has for many decades.

Bishop Suheil adds (30/12/08):
"Our Al Ahli Hospital located in the heart of Gaza City is providing essential frontline medical and emergency humanitarian services to those coming or being brought directly to it. Additionally, it is receiving patients transferred by UNRWA from the Government Hospital Al Shiffa for emergency inpatient and surgical treatment of the wounded and injured. As a non-partisan well established Hospital, we are receiving patients from all directions. This coming Sunday all of our Churches will have special services for Peace and Reconciliation for those whose lives have been impacted by the Gaza conflict - especially the wounded, injured and the families of those innocents who have died"

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Zen Dog - the Interesting thoughts of Edward Monkton

I was sent a card with this picture and message for my birthday from my little siser's family
Strangely appropriate  don't you think.

For more such cartoons see the Interesting thoughts of Edward Monkton and there is a website of fine art products as well 

Friday, 19 December 2008

C.M.S. Christmas Mailing Service Dec 08


Alexandra Burke won the X factor final singing Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah and has sparked a mini war on the internet over whose version is best. The purists (like me) prefer Jeff Buckley’s.  You can read all about it in the Times online    Actually I also really like a version by Canadian singer Allison Crowe.  There's also an article on the CMS website on Halleluyah's X Factor by Martin Wroe one of Greenbelt's Trustees and a main mover behind an online Community called Generous

Phil, based in India. posted a link on his facebook to another Music piece or should that read Music 'Peace'!   Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me" which I thought was brill.

I have been inspired by a website wherethehellismatt  Excuse the title but watch the video: Dancing2008  It has become for me a metaphor of mission, inviting people to ‘join the dance’ and I have been showing it everywhere. Any theological reflections on a postcard please.

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We had a CMS office party Christmas staff celebrations which went very well indeed You can look at the videos I produced as our ASIA contribution on facebook and I am trying to upload them to YouTube (inspired by the aforementioned film Dancing2008)   Anyone on facebook can see them already   Back on the Road Again  and  Will Ye Go

When Jonny Baker uploads his video Complexity Made Simple we will send you the link It brought the house down at our Christmas celebration. It was based on a talk that Tim Dakin did to a group of managers trying to simplify the complex. It is now part of CMS legend.

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We are anticipating more changes in the New Year. Don’t you just love change!
The Asia enquiry Process is going well so far. We have conducted around 25 structured interviews using a questionnaire. And have also had group processes in Thailand, at the faith2share  consultation in October and then in Rawlpindi and Karachi in Pakistan in November.  In February we are meeting partners in Pune India to continue the process and we are planning an event in East Asia, hopefully in the Spring.   All of this will feed into the process of Asia CMS becoming a separate entity (like CMS Africa) We will try to keep you updated.

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The global economic downturn is understandably affecting the charity sector. So we face challenges. Although I am assured that religions charities do are not as affected as others. However we are cutting back in order to face the challenge as well as increasing our fundraising targets.   But this means we are more than tightening our belts. There are some redundancies and vacant staff posts are currently frozen. There will be a strong emphasis to ensure that MPs are ‘fully resourced’ and this may mean if the situation cannot be improved for some severely underfunded MPS, we will seriously need to look at bringing people back earlier than planned. I share this not to raise anxieties but to be realistic about the challenges ahead of us in the coming year.  

CMS is now acknowledged as a community within the Church of England, so let me know of you feel ontologically changed in any way!
What it is meant to mean is that we are acknowledged for who we already are, a ‘community of mission service’ - a movement of people in mission. But it will also be a way for people to focus their mission vocation and be resourced within the wider mission community. There are people working on the prayer resources encouraging a mission focused spirituality, building on the prayer resources we already have. What I have seen so far is excellent.

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I thought that the resource that Sheilagh sent round our yahoo group, ‘Celebrating Successes in Ministry’, was a very helpful way of focusing thoughts during the change of year, a traditional time to reflect and plan and make those resolutions. Let us know if you get any profound thoughts.

That’s enough from me. May I simply pray that you will experience real peace and deep joy where ever you are, this Christmas, and may your ministry in 2009 be even more fruitful.


Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Postcards from the edge - sacred:space December 08

Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters becomes a Portrait of Abraham Lincoln 

In sacred:space using  postcards that 'chose us' we were encouraged to meditate for some time on a single image. 

This is the picture that chose me !   I found it on an  internet site of  Salvador Dali  paintings  and another where there is a review of this particular image.

It is a cubist picture of Dali's wife Gala looking out at mediterranean made of blocks or 'pixels'. I was initially distracted by both the nude and the cross  Only when the picture was 'out of focus' by squinting did I 'see' the other picture. Through not seeing the detail, but looking from afar. I discovered I needed to remove my specs to see from another perspective. There is a moral in there somewhere. 

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Global Christ

There is much talk of the Global Christ and how he is only fully realised as each culture engages with him and brings fresh understanding  (cf Andrew Walls   Ephesian Moment  ) 
He Qi's picture of the Risen Christ expresses some of this. 


Jaroslav Pelikan’s exceptional book ‘Jesus through the centuries explores some of these understandings, as various cultures have engaged with Christ over the centuries and the insights that have resulted and added to the bigger picture of the Global Christ  

Strong Son of God, immortaL Love, 
Whom we, that have not seen thy face
By faith, and faith alone, embrace, 
Believing where we cannot prove...
Our little systems have their day; 
They have their day and cease to be:  
They are but broken lights of thee, 
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.
 Alfred Lord Tennyson,  In Memorium 

The Provincial Museum of Alberta have an amazing online exhibition on the subject 'Anno Domini:  Jesus through the centuries.  Exploring the heart of two Millenia'. well worth a look.  
I also found the following quotation  thought provoking:

Jesus/Christ as hybrid concept
The most hybridized concept in the Christian tradition is that of Jesus/Christ. The space between Jesus and Christ is unsettling and fluid, resisting easy categorization and closure. It is the ‘contact zone’ or ‘borderland’ between the human and divine, the one and the many, the historical and cosmological, the Jewish and the Hellenistic, the prophetic and the sacramental, the God of the conquerors and the God of the meek and the lowly. Jesus question “Who do you say that I am?” is an invitation for every Christian and local faith community to infuse that contact zone with new meanings, insights, and possibilities. The riches and vibrancy of the Christian community is diminished whenever the space between Jesus and Christ is fixed, whether, on the one hand, as a result of the need for doctrinal purity, the suppression of syncretism, or the fear of contamination of native cultures, or, on the other hand, on account of historic positivism and its claims of objective and scientific truths about Jesus
The images of Jesus/Christ presented in the New Testament are highly pluralized and hybridised, emerging out of the intermingling of the cultures of Palestine, the Hellenistic Jewish diaspora, and the wider Hellenistic world.

P 171 Ch 'Engendering Christ' in ‘Postcolonial Imagination and Feminist Theology’ Kwok Pui-lan (professor of Christian Theology and spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School Cambs Massachusetts scm 2005

Friday, 5 December 2008

Catching the Tiger's Tail in Pakistan

I came across this fascinating account of a church meeting in Pakistan  

'This morning they took me to the largest Church to preach. I have never seen such a gathering in Pakistan, hundreds and hundreds of people came to the Church…. I talked about the Ethiopian eunuch. I said that I am an Ethiopian, I am the spiritual son of the Ethiopian eunuch (definitely not physical since he was Eunuch) Philip shared the gospel to Ethiopian Eunuch, The Ethiopian Eunuch (most likely) shared the gospel to us Ethiopians, We Ethiopians are sharing the gospel in Pakistan, India, South Sudan and looking ways and opportunities to share in others parts of the world out of our poverty, but what about you? If my Church is able to send me up to Pakistan, are you not able to send someone at least within Pakistan? Have you realized that your slogan ‘we are poor, we are poor’ is not a reason but an excuse not to obey the Lord? 
At the end of my sermon I asked one question. Those of you who are convinced with the truthfulness of this message and are willing to give 10 rupees and above every month, would you please raise your hands up? 80% of the congregation raised their hands. I said, would you please stand up? They stood up. Again I said, would you come forward to the pulpit. People flocked into the pulpit. I asked the elders, pastor, and all the Choir members to take pens and papers and write these people’s names and the amount of money they are going to give consistently every month. The funny thing was in the midst of all these the pastor came to me and said “almost all the people are coming, it will take time to register their names, so , would you leave it so that we may do it other time? I said, no, it will not take more than five minutes, you yourself write their names, let others also quickly write. As I said they completed writing their names within 5-7minutes. I asked them to elect a mission mobilization committee which comprises a chairman, a secretary, a treasurer, and two committee members. I clearly told them that this money is not to pay their electric bill, Gus bill, it is not even to pay for the pastor’s salary. It is solely to send a missionary from this local Church and back him up financially. Finally they put some amount of money in an envelope and blessed me. I gave that money back to them so that it may be a seed money for opening a separate account and send a missionary from that Church. Please would you pray for Presbyterian Church not to leave the tiger’s tail. ……. TODAY THEY HAVE CAUGHT THE TIGER”S TAIL' 

by an Ethiopian

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Prison Ministry, Lahore, Nov 2008

Prison Ministry Conference, Lahore 25-28 Nov 2008   from a report sent by Aamir

Bishop Joseph from Catholic Church, Diocese of Faisalabad officially opened the conference. The ceremony was attended by more than 100 people, with over 40 attending the whole conference. Rev Derek, from Manchester shared on good practice in the British Prison system. Rev Falak a Pakistani priest in Manchester Diocese shared his story:

'Experiencing pain'

“ I was 5 or 6 Years old when I first visited prison with my mother to see my father. I was 16 years old when I dedicated my life to God and went to Catholic Minor Seminary to become catechist because I always wanted to be a catholic priest. I finished my training as Catechist and also completed teacher training. When I was 18 years old, memories from my past especially those of visiting the prison started running in my mind like a film. It was then that the Lord gave me vision to start prison ministry through this verse {I was in prison and you did not visit me}. I started visiting prison and meeting prisoners there. Bishop Joseph was my rector at that time so I shared my vision with him. He encouraged me a lot and later I received encouragement and support from various other people, one nun used to accompany me to visit the women prisoners. I visited Karachi central jail for five and half years. With all the support from the priests we were able to fight for Christian rights in 1991, and got notification for remission on studying Bible. 19 people got remission in Sindh on the basis of this. 10 years ago I went to UK and completed 1 year prison chaplaincy training. I visited different jails did a study comparing the prison system of Pakistan and Britain. In Manchester I continued working in the prison because this has become to be the core of my ministry. {I was in prison and you did not visit me}. I myself had never been imprisoned but I had an accident through which Lord made me experience the pain and I could relate it to the pain that people go through in prisons.”

Sohail ’s Story:  'Sharing Life'  

In 1998 when I was working with a multinational company, I was charged with a murder case. On 31st March I was sent to jail and the worst thing was that my elder sister, elder brother and father were all convicted with me. Seeing my brother and father in the same cell made me very angry and sad. My rest of the family suffered a lot during this time as no one was out there to earn living. After 3-4 months when I was out of my fear of prison I started meeting and talking to other inmates. I always used to get angry with Christians who visited me and lectured me to repent, because I used to think that I had already repented and God should move on to take me out of prison. I accepted Jesus as my saviour on 26th May 1999. Today I remember Mr. B.  who is not with us as he used to visit me in prison with Arthur and used to counsel me, they helped me to pacify my anger. Arthur gave me a book that changed my life, I could never forget one sentence that changed my life "don’t look at your hardships turn your face and set your eyes on cross”. Lord gave me vision and burden for my fellow prisoners. One mullah used to come in prison to teach Muslim prisoners so I thought; why shouldn’t I teach my fellow Christian prisoners. I started bible classes and sharing stories. I got peace of mind in serving my fellow prisoners and I made committed my life with Lord through this ministry.

I moved an application that there is no place for worship to Superintendant who threw it out and made mockery of our request. I was saddened by the suffering of Christians due to injustice and discrimination. I was very confident that we would not get the punishment from the court because the Lord had put peace in my heart. One night before the decision, that was 31st May 2001, we all (fellow prisoners) sat to pray in our cell and my fellows put their hands on us and cried and prayed. Next morning we were released by the court due to lack of witness and proof.

We stayed in prison for three years and two months during which my family came under heavy loans as no one was earning. When I came back home I got depressed to see the poverty and the financial burden of the family, we could only afford to eat one meal in a day. After one month my father asked me to go out and earn money, and I thought I had promised with God to serve Him, how could I go and just do a job to earn money. I went to Karachi to my brother in-law who was a pastor and shared with him that I had promised with God to serve Him but my family situation is hindering my commitment, he advised that me to turn my face from problems and set my eyes on the cross.
I started serving the Lord in faith and arranged a first worship evening for the prison work. I had only thirty rupees with me while I needed fifteen thousand. While I was arranging 350 chairs for the event a pastor came and said that I should be expecting so many people to attend as people do not come to such events. I felt discouraged but I asked him to pray that the Lord fills all these seats, which he did. I started my ministry SHARING LIFE and kept walking in faith with God and He kept blessing me, today SHARING LIFE is known in 30 countries. Along with working for the spiritual and physical needs of prisoners SHARING LIFE also works on advocacy issues. In the future we are planning to set up a micro credit programme for the families of the prisoners.”