Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Another poem

It's poem recital time again! Nathan came with a tall order: "Dad, please write me a poem with the theme 'My kitten always copies me'. Okay, here goes:

My kitten always copies me – Wessel and Nathan Bentley

My kitten always copies me
I don’t know what to do
He thinks he is a human being
Cat doesn’t have a clue

Today he started follow’n me
Making my way to school
Jumping, skipping on my shadow
Cat makes me look uncool

In class I had to give a speech
And talk about a cow
I barely had a chance to speak
When Cat began to MIAO!

At break we went outside to eat
He wanted something too
I had to find him milk to drink
Cat drank it from my shoe!

I tell you when I go to bed
To have a peaceful rest
Guess who I’ll find when I look down
Cat, sleeping on my chest

Tomorrow I will break the news
To this, my furry pal
He may do all things that I do

Except ride my bicycle!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"I need to feel whole"

I so valued this prayer this morning. It is from Kenneth G. Pfifer's "A book of uncommon prayer", quoted in "A guide to prayer for all God's people" (Upper Room Books). The prayer is called  "I need to feel whole". Here it is:

O God, what is Spirit?
How do I worship in spirit and in truth?
I am a solid, earthly creature,
my feet planted firmly on the ground,
my life based upon material things.
I like to touch and feel before I believe.
I am accustomed to dealing with houses, land and money, with bread, meat, and potatoes,
with objects handled, weighed, and valued
by my own standards.
I am uncomfortable with what cannot be analysed
or dissected or given market value.
What is Spirit?
Yet, O Lord, the very things I handle and see
lose meaning when they become ends in themselves.
They are all given meaning by the things of the spirit,
by love and hope and faith.
I know when I come down to it,
if I have all kinds of earthly goods
and have not love,
I have nothing.
I need the mystery beyond the tangible.
I need the things of the spirit
to give meaning to the material things I prize.
I cannot divide life up,
you have made it whole.
If I avoid love, diminish hope, deny faith,
my appreciation of my house and land,
my meat and potatoes, shrinks.
And I become a little man
with little aims and little power.
So help me to see that I worship in spirit and in truth,
not just through the use of right words
in the right place at the right time.
I worship in spirit and in truth
as life assumes wholeness.
I worship in spirit
as life takes on shape and form,
and I glory in it all.
I worship in truth insofar as I know that
no life can be separated from your Spirit.
I worship as I offer it all unto you. Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The gift

Happiness doesn't just happen
Neither does love
Joy is not merely a feeling
Belonging, not an emotion.

The storm is not just stilled
It took a man to stand
It took a word
'Be still'

It is a gem in the sand
A moment of grace
Glitter in the sunlight
The right time, right place

It is a pause in time
A risk to stop
An effort to delve
A reward to behold

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Xenophobia - the fear of strangers.

Odd; I do not see fear of strangers fuelling the violence in South Africa. There is no fear in the eyes of the attackers, only hate. Perhaps the term should be xeno-cinis?

There is, however, fear in the eyes of our brothers and sisters from other countries.

I hear explanations of who and what is to blame. Nobody takes responsibility though. Fingers point away, but not towards ourselves. The victims of this violence won't find sense in saying that it is economic or political systems holding the panga's. No, they see, perhaps for the last time, South Africans.

"Cry, the beloved country."

Next week we will be hosting a conference on Accountable leadership and sustainability in Africa. No, this is not going to be another academic talkshow. Recent events demand more.

Pray for us.

"God bless Africa
Guard her children
Guide her leaders
Give her peace."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Reflections on "Sabbath as resistance"

"Sabbath as resistance: Saying 'No' to the culture of now" - Walter Brueggemann

I often feel the need to be connected, in control, busy with something or simply to be constructive. Along with others, I too fall into the trap of seeing busy-ness as a sign of productivity and worth. Brueggemann poses a strong challenge: How do we observe the Sabbath?

Brueggemann compellingly argues that we need to slow down. We need to breathe, look around, love and enjoy life. This is, after all the space the Sabbath provides.

The book is divided into six chapters.

In the first, the relationship between the Sabbath and the First Commandment is described. God is God and God should be loved. God is also a Sabbath-keeping God, inviting creation to join in the pleasure of being, instead of racing after riches and possessions which we may hope will define our being.

Chapter 2 describes Sabbath as resistance to anxiety. This is by no means a reference to the psychological disorder, but a description of our tendency to find 'fulfillment' by being in a constant state of panic. What does it mean to worship? What does it mean to be human? Anxiety leads to treating our neighbors as competitors, and that which we are custodians of as self-enriching, person defining commodities. Worship resists this notion. Sabbath asks of us to see our neighbor as God's gift to us and ourselves as God's gift to them. To be human is to be in relationship with God, with ourselves and with our neighbor.

Sabbath is also resistance to coercion (Chapter 3). The following quote sums it up well:

"Sabbath breaks that gradation caused by coercion. On the Sabbath:
- you do not have to do more
- you do not have to sell more
- you do not have to control more
- you do not have to have your kids in ballet or soccer
- you do not have to be younger and more beautiful
- you do not have to score more.
Because this one day breaks the pattern of coercion, all are like you, equal - equal worth, equal value, equal access, equal rest." (p.40-41)

Sabbath is, fourthly, resistance to exclusivism. Sometimes we may think that Sabbath is best served when we meet with people who worship like us, look like us and believe like us. Scripture challenges this belief by showing that God is experienced in diversity. Those who refuse Sabbath in diversity "... produce sour grapes, the grapes of wrath and violence and envy and, finally, death".

Then the one that hurt most: Sabbath as resistance to multitasking. Have you ever sat at the dinner table and text'd at the same time? Have you ever sat in the cinema and attended to emails? Have you ever been in church and worshipped another god? Multitasking is " making deep love but all the while watching the clock". It is quite okay, therefore to give our full and undiluted attention to our loved ones in conversation, in participation and in worship.

In conclusion the book outlines the relationship between Sabbath and the tenth commandment. We started by focussing on Sabbath and loving God. Now it finds expression in loving our neighbor. It comes with a warning: love your neighbor, not your neighbor's possessions!

"Sabbath is taking time...time to be holy...time to be human".

I am deeply challenged by this profound teaching.

Leadership and respect

I am so proud of our boys.

Matthew was made a monitor at school and is taking the responsibility very seriously, but with great sensitivity. This morning I asked him how the monitoring is going. Here is his response which made my heart very proud:

"Dad, I think that when you treat people with respect, they are much more likely to listen to you. When the children walk in the gutters instead of on the pathways, I ask them nicely: 'Can I please ask you to walk on the path?'. Then they do. If they don't, I ask them nicely again, just in case they didn't hear what I said. If they still don't, I tell them how they can injure themselves, so the rules are there to protect us all. And when I speak to younger children, even grade 1's about litter, I say 'Sir/ma'am, may I please remind you to help us pick up the litter on our school grounds?' You know what? They cooperate. No problem."

I am very proud of him and his approach.

Nathan then chipped in and said: "It is true. Matthew asked me that way to pick up litter and I did. It was so funny; I got busted by my own brother. Hahahaha"

Did I mention that I am proud of our boys?