Monday, August 14, 2006

Two worlds collide (last nights dinner)

This last Sunday Raquel and I celebrated 18 years of marriage. I am very thankful for my wife, and our wonderful relationship. We have fought through many difficulties, we have survived theological shifts, church plants and closings, panic attacks, kidney stones, unemployment, eviction, depression ect. We have experienced the joy of companionship, amazing passion, the birth of our two beautiful children and the blessing of ministering to many young people along the way. It truly is a celebration for us.

Now as you might know we live fairly simple lives, don't have a lot, don't really need a lot. But every once and a while we get a special treat. Last night as we celebrated our anniversary we were able to use a gift voucher for a beautiful, fancy restaurant in St. Kilda called the Stokehouse.

We were given this voucher as a thank you for the work we do with Red Network (formerly South melbourne restoration community). This allowed us to go and have a really nice night out, that we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

So we are sitting upstairs, looking over the bay, and enjoying the most beautiful food. I had potato and leek ravioli with parmesan encrusted pumpkin, and really nice glass of red wine from Spain and we shared a beautiful affogato with walnut liquer for dessert. My wife looked beautiful and we were enjoying the atmosphere.

Then my mate Jono from UNOH sent a text message. If you don't know Urban Neighbors of Hope, they are an amazing group of people that live in community with people below the poverty line. Some of the UNOH team live in the slums of Bangkok in what amounts to a shed, with their children. This amazing organization is worthy of your prayers and financial support if you want more info AND PLEASE GO TO THE SURRENDER CONFERENCE THIS MONTH

Well when I get Jon's text I am confronted with the amazing diversity of these two worlds. I am eating in this posh restaurant, and am communicating with a sacrificial missionary, who inpires me so much. The question is what do you do with this?

Now I could follow my good Catholic upbringing and jump right into guilt. I could also jump to my Pentecostal education and say "God wants me to have this wonderful meal as His blessing". But I found myself in neither of those camps. I sat with my wonderful wife, and enjoyed a gift, and also prayed that God would allow me to become more like Jesus, accepting life as it comes. Having a wonderful feast with some wealthy friends and experiencing hunger an homelessness the next. Accepting the annointing of oil with grace, and walking in absolute humility, even becoming the worst of slaves, by washing his disciples feet. That truly is a man to follow.



Rebecca said...

First things first...why on earth did you have your phone on, and why were you reading text messages, while you were sitting in a restaurant with your spunky wife?!! You're lucky man...I've walked on my dad for doing that to me, and my boyfriend would be in realllll trouble if he did that to me. LOL.

Secondly...I couldn't agree more with your final paragraph. It's vital that we can hold competing worlds in tension with one another, that we can 'stand in the gaps' in a divided world. Guilt is unproductive and disempowering...I don't want to distort the gospel, but Christ did come so that we could have abundant life. I think a gospel of poverty can be as destructive as one of prosperity, as it can produce angry, messed up people who are jealous of others.

I'm certainly not saying I know where the happy medium is - I have no idea, and I struggle with this all the time. But I do know that complete withdrawal from the material world ain't it...

Thirdly - was the food good?!!

andrew said...

Amen to your final paragraph. Congratulations! on your first paragraph. And love and blessings to you from the UK...

Rebecca said...

oh yeah - I meant to say ***CONGRATULATIONS***!!! 18 years - wow!!

Daniel said...

It's great that you can verbalise what you felt in the restaurant. It is a testimont to what it means to be a Christian - use your heart and mind to view life - let go of your traditional religious coping mechanism (i.e. guilt trip or blessing of God). Be like Jesus, accept life as it comes.

The Rev said...

thanks guys


I always have me phone on, I have two daughters and a church that may need me in an emergency. I did not read the text, I merely checked to see who sent it, and it was Jono. I may be a bit of a bloke, but I ain't stupid :)


Rebecca said...

LOL...Rev, I was just joshin'!!

Greg the Explorer said...

How excellent to be blessed with companionship and children. 18 years is trully wonderful and I'd like to add my congratulations to theones already given.

Following Jesus does mean being ready to be in abundance one minute and without the next an as Pual wrote being content in any circumstance. This is not easy - I don't struggle at the moment - good money, comfortable lifestyle...would I be so content if I had nothing? I hope I would and I guess I have been in the past.

shirley buxton said...

Rev: I've enjoyed reading a bit on your site today. This is my first time here, and I find it quite intriguing.

Cell phones in restaurants? For what my opinion is worth (which is probably not much, seeing you don't even know me :)), I believe they should be turned off. Emergency, you say? Rare, absolutely rare will a true emergency arise while you are at dinner.

Anyway, congratulations on your anniversary. I wish you well and every blessing.

Shirley Buxton

Barro said...

Hey John, congratulations and looking forward to spending some time with you and your beautiful family this weekend at Surrender.

You shared about many gifts, the gift of love, of companionship thru thick and thin, the gift of hospitality and community, the gift of solidarity and the gift of humanity. Thanyou for sharing these gifts with us,

See ya soon

Anonymous said...

Well, I've read some of your writings and I'm a bit gob smackked.............
Most reverands don't talk about their first sexual experience.....not in my experience anyway!!!Can u pleaz explain your rationale for posting some of the blogs where you virtually let it all hang out,,,,,,,,,,and then some............

perplexed (zelda)

The Rev said...

Well Zelda,

I have debated whether or not to take the link down, or to have my stories under another name. But I have decided not to. Most of these stories are what really happened to me, and as my history, I feel like they are worthy to be shared.

That particular story is in my opinion a very honest and common story of a young man dealing with his sexuality, in a very natural but horribly uncomfortable way. It is something that many if not all men can understand. It is about desire, and embarasment, and confusion.

Is it better to look at these issues in a clinical way? A legalistic way? Or perhaps a relational, humorous, and honest one? I have chosen the latter, and I have found this is the best way for me.

If there is any story on that board that I have less defense for it is tourettes, as I thought it was a very funny idea and wrote it purely as entertainment. It is obviously pure fiction.

Sorry if I don't live up to your view of a reverend, in fact I have made a habit of doing that throughout my life. But if you take the time to know me, you will find I am a very unique individual full stop.


Greg t Explorer said...

unique're not unique, you're just the same as this guy who posts over at signposts...and I don't like him either!