Last week I spent three days at the PWM World Mission Conference in Derbyshire UK. This turned out to be a bigger event than I had expected: we were joined by about 200 people from all continents except Antarctica, including many bishops. The theme was hospitality. The talks encouraged us to think of the way hospitality is offered and received in different cultures, and I was impressed by a demonstration of a Ugandan greeting, showing how the host is there to serve the guest. The Bible studies in particular let us to see Jesus as our host. Very moving.
“SS Santa,” the “world's biggest container ship,” brings Christmas toys from China and returns with our garbage, so that EU targets can be met, says Jeremy Brady in his editorial in The Week (of 11/11/06, referring to Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph – these are unexciting links!).
Jeremy's take on this is that “targets can always be met; but as Stalin found, the outcome is invariably rubbish.” He cautions us against getting carried away with targets for reducing carbon emissions.
It seems to me that much of the training I have received during my business career has encouraged me to set and to meet targets, and that government and Christian organisations increasingly have been moving in that direction. We seek to build a hope for the future, a vision, and then to reach that through setting and achieving measurable targets.
Is this the best or only way? We need to have an idea of where we are travelling, and the steps along the way. However Jesus' teaching (for example, that we should love God and our neighbour) was less about using any means to reach the right end, and more about finding that if we live the right life then good results (including right relationships) will follow.
Have spent some time preparing a presentation for last night's CMS and USPG Association meeting in Bristol. This looks ahead to 25th March 2007, the 200th anniversary of the day when William Wilberforce's attempts to abolish the slave trade through Act of Parliament finally came to fruition.
I have found it moving to start to engage with this issue. The many plans which are being laid, not only to celebrate an event, but to look at the issues of slavery then and now make me wonder what we shall see God do through all of this. CMS' Free For All youth drama programme seems particularly to have caught people's imagination, and I finished the presentation with a video trailer of that.
Recently I started a two year part time course on being a Spiritual Director / Accompanier / Companion (choose your favourite title). We spend a day together about once every two weeks. it's about listening to people to help them see how God is at work in their lives.
Today's content was mostly about Christian Orthodox spirituality, which was quite an eye-opener, as I knew little about it. I liked the speaker's description of why Jesus came: not so much talk about sin, as about God wanting to be with us to share all that people suffer in the world.
One of the speakers was Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, who said that he wonders about what seems to be one of life's mysteries: that people on the one hand look for lots of security (safe homes, drive a Volvo) and then go hang-gliding.
I've never done hang-gliding, but I do enjoy downhill skiing. Many people describe life with Jesus as an adventure; but perhaps many of us like to choose which bits of life are adventurous, and so control where the risk happens. I don't think life's like that!