Getting Ready for Advent – Its Time to Start Preparing.

Let Us Come As Children

Let Us Come As Children

Advent this year begins late on December 2nd. It is still over 2 months away but I already have people asking me what the theme will be for blog posts so thought that I would get an early start in focusing all of us on this important season of waiting and preparation. This year’s theme will be: Let Us Wait As Children Wait. If you want to contribute you can sign up to receive ongoing information in the Godspace Writing Community on Facebook or email me at christine@msaimagine.org for more details.

In Luke 18: 16, 17 (NLT) Jesus tells his disciples: “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (from Biblegateway.com)

I have been thinking a lot about this recently. What does it mean to come as children come? What are the attributes of children that make it possible for them to enter the Kingdom of God when those of us that are adults cannot? Last year, in a post entitled God Created the World By Imagination I wrote:

Childhood is filled with creativity and imagination, a place of mystery and wonder in which kids discover themselves, the world and the God who created it.  For a child every moment is filled with looking, listening and learning.

I love to watch children explore the world. Everything is new. Everything is exciting. Everything is worth noticing. Everything is worth questioning and every smallest pain ache and pain that others experience draws forth compassion and a desire to help. But something happens to squelch all that. Just as our excitement in waiting for the coming of our Saviour is drained by the world around us, so is the excitement and creativity of children. In my previous post I went on to say:

Schools and universities squelch creativity and imagination forcing kids to live in a world of science and technology where we convince then that flowers are made of molecules and rainbows are caused by the refraction of light. Childhood’s vivid purple clouds and yellow skies give way to the real world where clouds are always white and skies are always blue.  In this world of head knowledge compassion gives way to competition and life, we teach them, revolves around buying goods we don’t need and holding jobs we don’t enjoy.

So how do we regain the excitement, imagination and expectation of childhood? How do we regain the ability to wait for the coming of our Saviour with an anticipation that has us standing on tiptoes, asking continually Is it time yet? and maybe even more importantly, how do we maintain that same excitement and expectation in children? One of my most popular posts during Advent is this one on Celebrating Advent With Kids. People are looking for resources – and I think not just to celebrate with their kids but because many of us want to find again that childlike enthusiasm and excitement we once experienced in our faith.

There has been a lot of controversy flying around lately on how we educate our children – Tony Jones’ article Death to HomeschoolingAs he suspected and documented, homeschoolers turned out in force. My concern is that in the heat of the argument we miss the point. Children need to be allowed to be children no matter how they are schooled. And Jesus tells us to become like them.

So once again I am offering an invitation to join me during Advent and the weeks preceding it. If you would like to contribute a post for this series leave a comment here or sign up to receive ongoing information in the Godspace Writing Community on Facebook or email me at christine@msaimagine.org for more details. If you know of others who might be interested please send them the link. I hope that this series will provide us with a rich array of viewpoints from around the world so that together we grow in our faith and rediscover some of the wonder and awe of waiting for Christ as children wait.

f you want to contribute you can

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God Creates by Imagination

Faith of Campus is running a great series at the moment. Real Life, Real Faith blogathon.

This morning there were six new articles to look at including a beautiful article by Mike Armstrong on Creativity and Calling.

The life lived in step with the Holy Spirit is a lot like jazz. There is a need for discipline and structure. There has to be unity. But there is also freedom – an improvisation – to follow the call and leading of the Spirit.

I am fascinated by this interplay between who God has created us to be and our own creativity as I expressed in my article Educating for Shalom – rediscovering the Childlike Creativity of Faith which was also republished in this series.  One person commented

As an artist and one who wants to engage my imagination and creativity – I want to simply say, AMEN! What would happen if we did? – the world would simply be a more beautiful place in so many ways. I was reminded as I read your post of “The Mind of the Maker” by Dorothy Sayers. Ironically, the introduction is by Madeleine L’Engle and in it she quotes Berdyaev saying “God created the world by imagination.” She also talks about seeing ourselves as “co-creators” with God! I believe seeing these aspects are the beginning of the discovery and the the realization of the creative freedom we have with God!

I love that thought – God created the world by imagination. Actually it was all i could think of this morning as I looked out my office window at the beautiful Olympic mountains adorned with fresh snow and glowing in the pale pink light of an autumn dawn.  God must have incredible imagination to create a world that is ever changing and ever fresh with something new and awe inspiring to discover each day.

 

How Do We Help Students See Differently?

With our focus this week on the future of education and the need to discover our creative ability I thought that this article from SpeEdChange was well worth a read.  It also reminded me of the quote I often use: “The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes?

There is a reason that, when the American Film Institute surveyed people, Atticus Finchfrom To Kill a Mockingbirdwas chosen the greatest hero in American film history.

For me this heroism is not simply represented by the fact that Atticus is someone “born to do our unpleasant tasks,” as Maudie says, or by his unstinting sense of justice, but in something even finer.

Atticus teaches all three children in the story to look at the world in ways unknown to the society which surrounds them. Because of this they are able to see Boo Radley and Tom Robinson and Mr. Cunningham in new ways, and – much more importantly – those children, at least two of them, grew up able to transform our ways of seeing…..

We need to help our students stand on their heads, or look down from a high tree, or to look up from under water, or whatever, as long as we help them to find new ways of seeing. Once they have this new view, then structure can help us climb down into the questions. But before they have this new view, all structure does is prevent people from climbing to new places.

So, we need to create environments in our schools, real, virtual, and academic environments, which allow dreams to evolve and collide, develop and connect.  read entire article

I particularly love this concluding thought and want to apply it to the church and spiritual formation.  How do we create environments fore disciples of Christ that allow dreams to evolve and collide, develop and connect?

The Future Of Education

The October Seed Sampler is out with lots of great thought provoking articles.  enjoy

What is the “Future of Education: 2010-2020”? It’s a big question with multiple and dynamic variables. One of the most prominent variables is Technology. How will advances in technology continue to shape how, where and when education takes place and who is involved in that process? There is also evidence that technology is changing how a whole generation of children process information and communicate, which means new styles of teaching will be required.

But while much attention is focused on the promise and pitfalls of the wired classroom, less attention has been paid to the impact of providing basic education to those on the margins or exploring the underlying assumptions and related consequences of our increasingly over-priced institutions of higher education. It’s also important to explore our own cultural values and how those values “instruct“our children and influence the broader educational system.

In this issue we’ll explore these and other factors impacting families, students, and teachers in ways which will shape education well into this decade. But God calls us to be change-makers, bringing God’s purposes to bear on the culture and systems around us. How will we respond to these forecasts in ways which bring redemption, healing and hope? Please let us know your thoughts and responses by commenting on our website.

Andy Wade
Seed Sampler Coordinator

October Articles
Seed Smile | Blackadder Teaches
Seed Story | The Future of Education: 2010-2020 – Tom Sine
Prayer | For Educators, Students, & All Who Support Them – Andy Wade
Reflection | Through the Eyes of a Child – Christine Sine
Seed Share | Indigenous Knowledge: A Promising Future for Education – Jeanine Lowe-LeBlanc
Seed Share | The Kahn Academy – CNN via YouTube
Seed Share | Did You Ever Wonder? – Education For Well-being
Seed Share | Child Friendly Village – Nepal -The Advocacy Project
Resources | Resources

Living with Pain and the Messiness of Life

Yesterday I had a tooth extracted.  Pretty painless actually and the dental office did everything possible to make it even less painful.  I was offered general anaesthetic but opted for local – after all it was only a 20 minute procedure and generals can have complications.  That saved me $500.  I even refused the laughing gas – again it didn’t seem worth it just so that I could forget about the discomfort of having local injected.  I did take the vicadon I was given afterwards but then wished I hadn’t when the rest of the day receded into a fog.

Last night Tom was reading The Economist, becoming more and more depressed as he read about the impact of climate change and the devastation of deforestation.  A place to mourn and a place that it is easy to become overwhelmed.

Then I came across this great article on Claudio Oliver’s blog

Even without knowing why, a huge number of people around the world, especially youth, feel the inclination and desire to reclaim basic human activities like cooking, sewing, walking, biking, educating children, planting and building. Like an uncontrollable urge, – and even though the masses has been pasteurized toward dehumanization and simple activities of consumption – it has become common to see people trying to make bread, cycling and planting something in their gardens. A distant memory, a kind of dull ache is calling, and many are seeking and finding here and there – in books, free courses, in informal conversations – a way to redeem their humanity.  Read the entire post

So what is the connection between these stories.  Well for me they raised the question: Why do we want life to be painless, and convenient even when it costs us money, time and sometimes even our humanity and the health of our planet?

Part of the reason is that we have bought into a life that has very little to do with reality and even less to do with the life that God intends for us.  Our focus is on creating a comfortable place for ourselves and not on creating a place of comfort and abundance for all God’s creatures.

I am still reading Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Educating for Shalom. This is not a book that you can read quickly and then discard.  And today I came across a section that helped put all of this in perspective for me.  Wolterstorff talks about the fact that in order to move towards the ideal shalom community there are four ways basic places in which we need to engage:

  1. We are called to engage in the endeavor and struggle to bring shalom – modelling it where possible and being instruments of shalom where we see it lacking.  In words we are called to both act justly ourselves and work against injustice.
  2. We are called to pray for shalom recognizing that God’s reign of peace and justice is in many ways in God’s hands not ours.
  3. We are invited to savour, to enjoy, and to celebrate shalom wherever we see it breaking into our world.
  4. We are invited to mourn the shortfalls of shalom in our world.

When I disconnect from own pain and of the pain others suffer, when I live a life of convenience and comfort rather than engaging in the creative productivity God intends me to, I am disconnecting from God’s dream for shalom. My own pain makes me aware that others suffer far more than I will ever suffer.  And becoming aware of the growing movement towards making rather than consuming gives me hope.  Making something – a meal, a garden, a new sweater – are all ways to express the God given creativity that is central to who God has made us to be.  And it excites me because I see that God is very definitely at work transforming and renewing, giving us glimpses of that incredible shalom world we all long for.

A Multifaith Seminary?

Now this is interesting and I do wonder: could this be something that reflects the kingdom of God.  According to an article by Al Tizon in ESA online

Starting this fall, the Claremont School of Theology in Southern California will provide training not just for Christian ministers, but also for Jewish rabbis and Muslim imams. Although other models of inter-faith theological education certainly exist (see, for example, Graduate Theological Union), the Claremont experiment is the first to offer “the first truly multi-faith American seminary.”  read the entire article

So what do you think?

Resources from Online Schools

Many of you are just starting back to school so I thought that you might be interested in this site which I just became aware of because they listed my blog amongst their 100 Best Blogs For Real World Advice and Education

As the site says:

College comes with a hefty pricetag. And why would it not? A university degree is invaluable, and students get a lot for their money. However, certain things aren’t part of the enrollment package: insight, wisdom, maturity, humor, patience, humility, perspective.

They do have some interesting sites listed and have some previous lists that may be of interest to students in specific areas.  Because of my interests I particularly enjoyed looking at the list on Green Technology and Design.

100 Excellent Open Courses on Green Technology, Development, and Design
Top 100 Twitterers in Academia
100 Best Blogs for Career-Minded Students
100 Best Blogs for Law School Students