Preparing the way

kingsprincesChristmas is coming. We organise our holidays and arrange our gifts. Many put up trees and sing sentimental carols. But what does it all mean?

Then and now, people wanted to shake the world up. They saw no end to the corruption and lies from those with power. They wanted something different. They wanted to win. No doubt many said to each other, let’s make Israel great – again! Religious folks were at the forefront. John the Baptist was the loudest, ‘the axe is at the tree’ he said (Matt 3.10). Who better to put the world right than someone big, brash and bold enough to give all their enemies a real whooping?

Yet the king that arrived was not who they expected – or wanted (Isaiah 11.1-10). Rather than money and armies, this king was powered by God’s Spirit. Righteousness and faithfulness is what he wore. And his game? Not war. Not wealth. Not intolerance and exclusion. This king brought reconciliation.

So come along to Basement this Sunday from 10am to discover this surprising king who overcomes the world by turning enemies into friends. Perhaps this is the Christ who needs to be put back into Christmas.

Kids

followingjesusFollowing Jesus is important to Christians. Sooner or later the question arises, how should I help my kids to follow Jesus too?

Answering this question is not easy. Depending on your tradition, some will opt to dedicate their kids to God while others choose baptism. Does it matter what you choose?

Basement is talking about how we follow Jesus and what these rituals mean in our world today. Come along this Sunday for the discussion from 10am.

The wrong kind of Christian

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I’m the wrong kind of Christian, or so I’ve been told more than once. Whether it is the books I read, the movies I watch, the people I hang with, the heroes I respect or the worship I lead – I’m doing it all wrong.

Apparently Paul had the same problem. Christians still play the same old purity game even if they don’t argue about meat or calendars anymore. They present themselves as faithful and strong by insisting that church can only be done their way – with their music, prayers, liturgies and sermons. It’s as if the only possible flavour is vanilla.

Paul calls time on this wearisome game (Romans 14.13-15.6). His vision of church is a veritable gelateria. Strength is not measured in what we avoid but with whom we build peace. Maturity creates space for diversity. Spirituality encourages responsibility with others or as Paul puts it, ‘cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others’ (v.22). If your heart longs for a different way to be church, why not grab a spoon and discover more at Basement this Sunday from 10am.

Trouble in churchland

jerkThe church around the world is in trouble. Deep trouble. It is not because we read the Bible badly or we’ve chucked the faithfulness out the door. Nor is it because women have taken over the joint. It is not because the guitars are too loud or the saints too quite. It is certainly not because Adam and Steve love each other.

The church is in trouble because discipleship and being a jerk became synonymous at some point. Paul’s words in Romans 14 point out the problem. ‘Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don’t see things the way you do,’ he says (Romans 14.1). Not a word about always being right about everything. Not a jot about candles or organists or even winning back the city for Christ. No chest thumping, door slamming or bible bashing here.

The nice thing is that no one ever needs to leave their church to find a place like this. If you’re tired of all the jerks in church, find out how to stop being one by coming along to Basement this Sunday from 10am.

Sunday Funday

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This Sunday is a Funday for Basement. We’re meeting at 10am at the Pedlar cafe on Constitution Ave. So whether it is coffee, a chat or just good breakfast out, what are you waiting for!

Why I love to hate Paul

citizenSome things in this world are easy. Being a white middle-class male is easy when no one harasses you for favours and the police leave you alone. Putting in 7 hours and 21 minutes Monday through Friday is easy when work doesn’t matter much. Watching tragedy on TV is easy when nothing can be done from the couch. Having a Sunday morning lie-in is easy when God doesn’t amount to a sausage.

Other things are hard. Caring is hard because standing back is impossible. Being fair is hard because injustice needs to be spanked. Getting up is hard when the world is cold and dark. Paul’s words are hard, especially when he says things like, ‘dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!’ (Rom 13.14 MSG).

So I can see why people hate Paul. I hate it when he says love is active, engaged and energetic. I hate that love doesn’t go looking for a fight. I hate that love won’t let me sleep in. I hate how love can’t be left to somebody else. I hate that love won’t let me get away with self-indulgence. I hate how love encourages me to be an adult. Love changes the world because love changes me when I am prepared to give in to it. Discover more at Basement this Sunday from 10am.

Overcoming evil

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Evil doesn’t get much press today. If anyone talks about evil, it is usually associated with concentration camps, serial killers or waiting too long in line. We picture evil flourishing because of people like Frank Underwood who plot away in dark corridors of power and influence.

I wonder if evil is more like ivy. It starts by sending out tendrils that convince good people that they are powerless. Its fiberous strands strengthen when honest people feel that building the wall, shooting the addicts or stopping the boats is not only right but righteous. It blooms when fair-minded people become convinced that only way to put the world straight is for them to use violence and punitive punishment. It prances when strong and decisive leaders promise to fix and deliver everything.

Paul the Apostle offered a different vision and a more radical solution. Evil grows when we care only for ourselves, our family or our nation. Consequently, the only tonic that works is love. Love is neither soft nor easy. It takes strength to weep, determination to hope and conviction to stand for a different future. ‘Do not be overcome by evil’ said Paul, ‘but overcome evil with good’ (Romans 12.21). Love is not for heroes. Love is what ordinary people do everyday to make bad situations better. Why not come along to Basement on Sunday from 10am and discover how.