Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Shattering stereotypes. Did Jesus change his mind? Pentecost 11, Matthew 15:21-28

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Matthew 15:21 – 28

A couple of weeks back I shared my new understanding of original sin. That in fact every child is born into a culture and that no culture is perfect is an important reflection in the reading this week. It would seem that in the story Jesus changes his mind.

Whether we like to admit it or not he was a product of his culture.. The view he had fitted nicely into the box that he knew. The Cannanite woman shatters this. The view of God that meant the outsiders could see God but never really be close to God, cracks open and the love of God oozes through to all.

This woman was a desperate outsider, surrounded with suffering, sadness, pain and chaos.. When our children are hurting it is very hard not to hurt too and we want to do everything we can to make things better. And she had tried everything. and then she realised that Jesus had something that she had not known or experienced in anyone else. To my amazement in the midst of this terrible suffering this woman wore hope, she would not give up.

She reminded Jesus that even the puppies get to eat the scraps from the table.

We have two dogs. One only a year old and one much older. They are both very cheeky, they are quick and take any opportunity they are given to get what they need. I have a fussy eater in my family, so often there are scraps from our table.. It again raises the issue for me that sometimes those who are most blessed by God actually don’t appreciate what they have and take it for granted..

I wonder who the puppies and the children are in our time? and in our places? I wonder who has too much food to appreciate and who is so desperate, they will try anything to get it?  I wonder who I would like to feed from the table, hidden from the other important people but just as in need of food?

I wonder again about the cultural things we hold onto that actually blind us to the way of God that we think is God’s? If Jesus changed his mind I wonder if we can too? I wonder what boxes I have that need a few cracks in them??

I pray this week if you are hungry you are fed , if you are super blessed with too much you find a way to sneak stuff to those under the table who need it and if Jesus shatters your box you can be gracious enough  to change and not use the broken glass to harm but allow God to ooze through. Surely if Jesus did maybe we all could too.

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Here comes another one. Thump. Matthew 14:22-33, Pentecost 10

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Matthew 14:22-33

I wonder if people who work on boats for a living, get sea sick in a storm? I have been in rough water a couple of times in our boat. It is tough sitting in the front, you go up and down with a thud. On your way up you can’t see what is in front, just lots of water. This was the image I was imagining as I read the text. The rough water, going up and down, the wind howling and  occasionally getting a glimpse of a person standing in the middle of the water.

The first time, you would definitely think I must be imagining things, Thump..

The next time you look closer, surely not. Thump…

It must be a ghost.. Thump

Nope not a ghost definitely a person,  what are they standing on? Thump..

Are we in trouble heading for rocks? Thump

What? that is Jesus in the middle of this storm? Thump…

The next question for me is what in the world was Peter thinking when he got out of the boat? Thump..

The storm, the rough water, had not died down.. Did he think he was dreaming? Thump…

This story seems to be life transforming for the disciples in the boat, they had a new perspective on Jesus after seeing him walking on water. Jesus response seems much more, of course what else would I be doing?

Thump..

It reminds me of the storms of life that we are often faced with.. Things are never a one wave and it is over, but seem to be a series of thumping waves that just keep coming. In the boat it is fun for the first 5 minutes but very quickly I get cold, wet and have a sore back..  Then the Thumps just get harder and harder..

Yet it is here that Jesus walks to meet us. At first we get glimpses of something unusual out in the distance, something that catches our attention. There is a bizarre calm about Jesus, a kindness, a willingness to let us, like a child, be like him.

Some days in amongst the storm the power of God’s presence means we feel like we can walk on water, we can overcome all things, we are brave and courageous.

Then it gets even colder and more windy  Thump… and no matter how much we try to set our eyes on Jesus we begin to sink. Thump…

Does Jesus disappear into the continual on-coming waves? disappearing like a ghost, punishing us for our lack of faith? Nope. He jumps into our boat, calms the storm and remains with us till the night passes.

I love the raw honesty of this story.. The weariness from the storm and travelling all night. The sense of delusion that comes with seeing something in a way it does not fit.  This is faith .. The bizarre knowledge that we are not alone, that there is something profoundly deep and calm in the middle of our storms. That our God jumps in the boat with us and remains with us to see the journey through..

My prayers for you and yours, who may be being hammered by the constant thumping of the waves, in it all may you notice out of the corner of your eye, the One who journeys to meet you and stays with you, till your journey is done..  Blessings K

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Fishes and loaves! Untapped potential, Pentecost 9 Matthew 14:13-21

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Matthew 14:13-21

A couple of weeks back I was asked to provide food for an event. We had 5 people registered the day before, I had a feeling we might get a few people turn up that had not registered and it was for a light dinner.. I took a stab at overcatering to cover 15 and was willing to wear the consequences. We stopped off on the way to the event and picked up the BBQ chickens and I bought one more just in case.. When I got there we had 21 people at the event. To my surprise (seriously!) we had enough food for everyone, nobody went hungry and they had their fill, there was even a little left over. It really was my fishes and loaves experience!

I know that my experience was nothing like what happened with the disciples and Jesus , they fed 5000. I truly have no idea how that happened and there are many theories on that, but I want to think for a moment about those fishes and loaves in the disciples hands, about how each of them had the potential to bring about so much more. Each fish 100’s more, as with the loaves, placed in trusting hands, blessed by God, given away..

I wonder what we have in our hot little hand that we might be hanging onto that Jesus is asking us to hand out. There wasn’t even enough to feed the 12 disciples, and yet they started.. What fish do we look at and think how ridiculous and futile is that, there is no way, 2 fish and 5 loaves are going to even dent the sides of these starving hoards. I wonder, both as a church and individually what these things might be, that we stop from even starting because we don’t believe it can really make a difference.

I think for me this lectionary doodles is a bit like this.. I just doodle what I see when I sit with the text.. Sometimes the drawing feels incredibly lame and my reflections like a luke warm cup of tea. I wonder whether it is useful to anyone and then God sends someone along to remind me that it is not all about me. That I just need to put my fish and loaves in the mix, pray it will be a blessing and give it away. Those leaps of faith are not always easy, some can seem so trivial but when you’re giving up your dinner for the night for the sake of everyone it can make sense to want to totally hang onto it. What about me and my family? What if I put it out there and it is just left in a smelly pile the next day rotting in the sun? It’s funny to say the most extreme isn’t it, cause we know that if nobody needed it the disciples would have just picked it up and eaten it themselves, we all know that nothing is ever wasted when we give it over generously to God.

Jesus didn’t ask them to do the equations, or source the supplier, he just asked them to use what they had to make a difference and somehow it works. So I pray this week that you will be brave and courageous to hand over those fishes and loaves with amazing potential and see what God will do.. What is the worst that can happen? You’ve got dinner already sorted for tonight! Nothing is every wasted with God. What’s your fishes and loaves?

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Weeds and wheat, let them grow! Matthew 13:24 – 29,36-42, Pentecost 7.

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Matthew 13:24 – 29, 36-42

I spent a couple of weeks reflecting on this passage. I have heard many interpretations over time,some say you couldn’t actually tell the weeds and wheat apart at first until it was too established, maybe, maybe not.

The thing that shocks and surprises me is, who would go and save the seeds from weeds so that they can sow it in another’s field.. Surely people would not really do that. Tragically, like most things in humanity that I struggle to  beleive a human is capable of, they are..  I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.. I don’t understand how or why, (mind you when my pup wees on the floor in the middle of the night and I walk in it I kind off can!!). A friend once told me it is a good thing I don’t understand. The truth is, we all have days when we make a mess of things and it often has  bad consequences for others, and even those we love.

Often when I have heard this story before, people highlight the getting bundled up and thrown into the fire bit, this time I noticed the life time of opportunity.. A chance to have things different.. This is the God we worship, the one that says don’t you mess with the good work that is being done, those weeds, they may take a bit but do not weaken the goods opportunity to bear fruit..

I wonder too whether there may be just a little bit of lets give those weeds a chance to turn things around, a whole lifetime no less, but know that in the end justice will come. For those who have been harmed and damaged by the weeds in our world there does need to come a point for justice, a hope that their suffering has been seen and noted and understood. I don’t want to see anything thrown into the fire and hope for everyone to produce much great fruit but I also longingly pray that justice will be done.

So this week I hope that if there are weeds in your field that the are not taking too much, stay strong in the value of the fruit you are producing and pray that people take the chances given before justice must come.. Grow well friends!

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Seeds sown.. Matthew 13

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Matthew 13

Hi all! I am back at it again.. This week was the parable of the sower. If you are anything like me you have heard this story often and sometimes I think the fact we are given an explanation of this text means that we can easily sit back and categorise ourselves, ticking the boxes and feeling like we are done for the week.

It has proven to be a great discipline again to draw the text.. So what did I notice this week? I started with reflecting on the rocks..  I was thinking about how hard rocky soil is.  My front garden is quite a rocky bed, it was designed to keep the weeds out but has meant that it is really hard to establish any new plants in it. I almost have to get a pick ax to it smashing away to get to the good soil underneath. This got me to thinking about my life. Where is it in my life that is an absolute no go zone for God. What practices and habits do I have, assumptions that I am so tightly wedded to that no see however strong it is can penetrate, and even if it did it would last long. As I ponder this question, I am moved to ask do I want that rocky soil cracked open anyway or am I happy with it providing the barrier  to areas I am not willing to face.

When reflecting on the seeds on the path, I was reminded of an article I read about original sin.  Now I am not a big fan of babies being born in sin, they are not even aware to make choices. The author (sorry I don’t remember who you are) suggested that we are all born into sin, we are born into a specific culture and world view, all of these are human constraints and none of them are perfect.  Now before you say hang on Karen we are a Christian household and live perfectly according to the Christian understanding of the world and it is from God. If this had no taint from humanity we would all be in total agreement about how to do this and there would be no need for denominations. But that is not the reality. All of us are part of a culture that teaches us the world is a certain way and none of them bring life in abundance fully to everyone. There are some parts of us that we don’t even notice when the seeds are bouncing to the side and being eaten by birds. I think it s great to hear from other cultures about faith because they can show us those areas we cannot see.

So then we get to the weeds..  In a ponderous state as I was, I began thinking about the things that threaten my ability to let the seeds of God grow to full fruition in my life. What are the weeds that steal the things I need to really make my faith blossom. I am amazed how often following this trail I get to a place of fear. What will people think? What if I pray and people aren’t healed? What if I say something about faith and it threatens my friendship. I can’t afford to be generous as I need to be able to support myself and my family.  It would be nice if faith was simple, if I just do this and it will all be good. But it is complex,  the reason the weeds are there and they stay is because sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the weeds and the plants. Fear has power because sometimes it is true, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard we pray people still die, sometimes if we are generous with our last penny we can have to go with out. But sometimes people are healed and sometimes when you think you are not going to make it something unexpected and generous comes back to us.

Which brought me to the reflection on the good soil. It was interesting as I drew this image, the flower with the seeds actually overcame the weeds. They were still there, looming but the joy of being whole and present actually shows the true place of those fears which can stop us. When we have what we need and we stretch our roots deep and our leaves high towards the sun we can blossom. Note I said need here, not want. I have found myself recently being grateful, grateful in the morning on waking, grateful as I go to sleep. It took a while for this habit to kick in, at first it was hard to silence the weeds and notice the good, but it has worked, now it is no longer a discipline but a beautiful habit of naming the things that have impacted my day.

You may have noticed the footprints across the bottom of the drawing this week. It was a reminder that no matter where in the field the seeds of God have landed the footprint of God is present. May you notice the footprint of God with you this week.

Posted in Uncategorized

Celebrating 40 years! The Uniting Church in Australia.

40th Anniversary UCA

I am so excited I actually managed to do this doodle drawing this week. In 2 weeks we are celebrating the 40 year anniversary of the Uniting Church, where the Methodists, Congregational and Some of the Presbyterian Churches came together to create this new Church. I was only new to the Church (by a couple of weeks!) at it’s 10 year anniversary and remember going to the Horden Pavilion with bus loads of people from all over the state to celebrate. Ever since then I have grown in love for this Church God has raised up and I have found my home here.

This is my doodle of the Uniting Church logo(it might be hard to recognise but I promise it is there! ) and what the Basis of Union says who the Uniting Church is in relation to the areas covered in the logo..UCA_WebColourLarge-300x300

The Basis of Union is the foundational document of the Uniting Church and it says what is important to who it is. You can read it here. I love it! (I know super Church nerd, but I am ok with that!)

So what I noticed when I drew it.. or Karen’s translation of bits of the Basis of Union!

It started with God who brought the world into being.. (I had to draw the circle first) It was beautiful and good. Unfortunately it didn’t stay that way, even into the Heavens we have dumped our junk and used things however we want, including people.

So Jesus came along to help us understand how much God loves us and that we are God’s children. We are called to acknowledge Jesus as Lord. His death acted as a sacrifice for all people, his ressurection reminds us that God does not finish the story with our own mess but gives us a chance at new life.. We are a ressurection people! You can’t see Jesus face, only through the Spirit, we do not have that human with us anymore, but the Helper who was sent for us. Jesus uses the Spirit to awaken the people in the Church to be his disciples, who God calls them to be.. (Note the alarm clock and people asleep), and in “His own strange way constitute, rules and renews them as his Church” paragraph 4

The Spirit leads us, moves us, teaches us and stirs within us particularly through the sacraments, of Communion and Baptism. I tried to make the water touch both the adult and the Child as whilst we beleive in one baptism it is for all. It blows through us like a cleansing wind and sets our hearts on fire.

We are given the gifts of the New and Old Testament, to guide, direct and inspire the people of God. Our life in faith is directed and guided by the Biblical witness.

The Church is ever reaching out, both to the world and to the other faithful of God, it is an incomplete circle because we are still Uniting in how we are Church together.

The Church relies on the Saints who have gone before us, those who have studied God’s word and share it with us through their writing and the Creeds. Yet God still calls up God’s people to ponder and see it afresh and anew in the light of the churches current context. We as Christians are called to use our brains!

God has created the Church with great diversity, we have a priesthood of all believers, where everyone from our youngest to our oldest has a place and is gifted with gifts and skills to share with the community and the whole world. In the Uniting Church we have the ordained ministries of Ministers and Deacons, who are called to work alongside the Church offerring their gifts in leadership.

The Church belongs to the people of God, on the way to the promised end. The Uniting Church prays that through the gifts of the Spirit, God will constantly correct that which is erroneous in it’s life, will bring it into deeper unity with other Churches, and will use it’s worship witness and service, to God’s eternal glory through Jesus Christ. Amen!” Paragraph 18

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Pentecost, Uncategorized

The fire of God, present within us. Pentecost

pentecost

John 20:19-31

I have done a lectionary doodle closer to the reading here  if you want to take a look. This year I decided to reflect on what happened as a consequence of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

I was pondering how the disciples hidden and afraid defeated from Jesus death, not knowing how to move forward, were miraculously transformed from the encounter with the Holy Spirit.  They were no longer ruled by fear and instead were so confident in the faith they would not stop proclaiming the Good News that Jesus delivered to the world that for most of them, it cost them their lives.

I don’t know what the church is like where you are, but a lot around me are seeing the church aging and the lack of young people coming or staying in the church and they are very afraid. What will  the future become? What about this church? What are we to do? This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, one of my favourite seasons, swarming with red and orange and flames. The symbol of the spirit that of fire from the acts reading.  The promise that God chooses to remain with us even today!

We have pretty bad fires here in Australia they are really powerful. They destroy homes, lives and property and move so quickly that you cannot out run them. I discovered recently that Churches are particularly bad in a fire they burn very hot and very quickly because of the big open spaces in them. Last week I talked about the Spirit as companion but this week I want to reflect on the Spirit as fire. You cannot control it, it changes the landscape in a moment. This companion who journeys with us  is not one we can control but holds within the fast paced powerful creativity of God that transforms.

I wonder what would happen in the people hidden in their churches afraid if this weekend they were blessed with the reminder of the Spirit that was within them, one that blows thier thinking in a whole new way, one that gives them the courage to speak where for so long they have been silent. What have we got to lose people? The land is barren and dry the seeds cannot sprout until the heat and the flames pass over it. That breathe that fire is still with us today. The disciples lives were so transformed they were never the same again, no longer hidden in fear, but courageous in action and word. I wonder what would happen if we stopped holding the spirit so tightly as our companion who journeys with us alone and let ourselves be open to the courageous acts of love service and word that maybe we have been too afraid to do. My prayer is that small hidden frightened band would transform my city, which would spread the fire of love across the planet. Wouldn’t that be amazing!

May this week as we sing and celebrate how brilliant it is to have God’s presence with us  may we have the courage to let it go a little and see what God can do even within us!

Blessings people!

Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Advocate, helper, friend, comforter. Mary Poppins, Tonto, Dr Who’s companions. Easter 6 John 14:15-21

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John 14:15-21

This weeks reading is about the Holy Spirit, it was interesting that across the translations there were 4 different words used to try and explain what the Gospel writer was trying to say.. Comforter, advocate, friend and helper, I think I have read the word companion as well, each of these words give us a different understanding of the relationship and the purpose of the Holy Spirit.

This got me to thinking about what would be some of the more current equivalent to these roles. The truth is this week I really wanted to draw Mary Poppins, Tonto and the companions of Doctor Who . (I am a whimp, I thought some of you might find it a little disrespectful, not my intention mind you! ). Two characters that are quite well known who were companions and a few more that I am willing to help you out with.

I was pondering what do these characters tell us about the human desire to have partners, helpers in our lives? The first thing that it tells me is that there is still a longing in humanity to have someone come alongside us and stick with us through the thick and thin.

Let’s start with Mary Poppins, oh how I would love someone who could come in and clean up my messes with the blink of an eye! or to have a travel bag light enough to carry but able to fit just about anything in. The truth is she was a companion who was tough but also kind in a time when things felt really out of control. Someone who walked alongside those children reminding they were loved and how wide and rich the wonders of the world are, even amongst the chaos.

I am a mad Johnny Depp fan so I will be talking about his version of Tonto (sorry for you older readers). Early in the movie the Lone Ranger is so busy being right that he doesn’t take time to listen and figure out what is really going on, later Tonto finds the Lone Ranger almost dead and does all he can to bring him back to life, he is his conscience and the vioce of wisdom (or craziness) in his ear that talks through the options. He always has his back in a fight.

In Dr Who the companions are the ones who inspire his adventures and help him see things as though for the first time, they are his conscience and keep him on track when ocassionally he would prefer to walk away or rage to a point of utter distruction.

As I ponder these companions, helpers, friends, compassionate ones I gain a whole new insight into how the Holy Spirit has played a massive role in my life, the compassionate one who sticks with me through the chaos, is kind but tough, who pulls out a bag of tricks that is both surprising and sometimes seems impossible. I feel like the  Spirit always has my back, offers wisdom and insight. The Spirit mocks me as I sit in my own importance of being right and waits till I am willing to hear the whole story , (I think too there are days it feels like the Spirit sends me on wild goose chases!) It is the Spirit who has led me on amazing adventures I would not have embarked on without her leading and she shows me things in a new light as though for the first time. The Spirit is my conscious and holds me to account when I want to walk away or rage to the point of distruction.

This pondering on companions got me thinking about the importance of physical companions and what it is they show us about ourselves and life. We trust them with so much, the Spirit often uses them to be the physical presence of God we need. I pray you may have great ones around you as well!

Blessings beautiful people!

modern holy spirit

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

In my Father’s House there are many rooms. John 14:1-14, Easter 5

inmy fathers house there are many rooms

John 14:1-14

I don’t know about you but often when I have heard this reading in the past I have thought of God having a massive hotel and all the rooms were exactly the same you checked in and there you had it. This time when I read the reading I wondered what would an ideal room to God look like? I got to thinking  how my idea of a room and everyone elses idea of a room would be different.  Which of course changed the whole design of God’s house, because I don’t think God is limited to only my experience.  The more I played with this idea, the crazier it got, Asian architecture, African, Indian, Pacific islands.

Then I got to thinking why does it matter to us or to the reader about where God has room for us? For me it is about belonging, Jesus and God are making room for us, they are helping us, making their home our home, for the rest of eternity. I was thinking about how different each of our concepts of home would be, from what we eat, to the habits we have. God has space for us and our world in God’s world, I am guessing because I love the diversity of what the human race is, God would love it even more so, not something to be wiped clean so you have a clinical hotel room but a rich and beautiful homely place that we belong.

As if that is not enough Jesus says you don’t even have to worry about how you are going to get there, Jesus will meet us and show us the way so we don’t get lost. The entrance would be easy with ramps and lifts because everyone is welcome. It’s just about trusting Jesus.

It can be really scary going to  a new place, might be fun for a visit but if we pick up everything and move there, there comes a time where you just need your Vegemite! Jesus tells us not to worry, God knows our needs and is with us all the way. This trip is really worth investing in!

As you colour today you might like to draw your idea of home in the gap at the front.  I would love to see it!

Posted in Uncategorized

Eco Theology, Genesis 1:26-31, What a wonderful world!

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Genesis 1:26 – 31 NIV

Genesis 1:26-31 Message

This week we have a bonus doodle as a friend of mine is running an eco theology sermon competition and I thought it would be fun to doodle on it..

It  is unusual for me to include two versions of the reading I am looking at but it might surprise you to know, I often do read multiple versions of the reading before I start.. The bible was not written in English and I don’t beleive that one translator has it perfectly correct, but together we gain a better understanding.

I was talking to another friend this week about how we understand caring for our world from a biblical perspective, for me this reading in Genesis is the key. This reading provides both the reason for the trouble we are in and the hope for how things could be different. Let’s start with the trouble, if you look at the NIV version you can see it talks about God creating people to rule over creation and to subdue it. This is exactly what people are doing, they see that the earth and all that is in it, is ours to use and abuse as we please. If we were to simply look at these readings we are justified in just about everything we do to the world..

I suspect that when God talked to the author of these writings in a diffierent language to ours, God may have had something else in mind. I speak from a couple of experiences that have happened to me only this week where I had read something , as had others and we came up with a totally different understandings using exactly the same words. It was different because of the context of which we were coming from.

I am an ever hopeful person, I try very hard to see the best in people and it takes alot to go down before I remember that people can do some pretty horrible things as well as good. I wonder with this reading whether God was thinking the same thing.. “This mob we will make them just like us, we will give them the power to rule over and use this beautiful world just like we do. It will be fantastic.” I wonder whether God like I am, is bitterly disapointed when the hard ugliness of what human reality is, shows itself again as far less than that..

I am grateful for the grace that comes from Jesus entering the world, I feel like it is God’s honest reflection on humanity. Through Jesus entering the world, God says, I know you don’t get what you could really be, but I will continue to believe in that beautiful vision of the world and you in the hope you will become it.

Which brings me to the message, I think it gives a much better understanding of those words.. It begins by reminding us that we are made reflecting the very nature of God. What do you know of the nature of God, how does your humanity reflect this?  For me whilst God is powerful beyond imagination, flinging stars into the heavens, God does not Lord it over us, but works with us, making the most of who we are and what we can be..

The next line is key for me.. So they can be responsible.. Responsible is a very different word to rule over. Responsible reminds us that we are to work to the benefit of both, not merely use the item for our own benefit. This is where I think we have it wrong, we have been so busy using our world, and life, for our own benefit we forgot that we are responsible to benefit both us and all of creation.

The vision God had for the world was a beatiful thing, all the things we are blessed with, to benefit us is amazing!! At the moment I can’t draw them without being saddened by the reality we are living in. Maybe it is time to really work on those little choices we make to make a big difference. Switch off light switches and technology when you don’t need it, remember your bags, recycle, pick up your veges without the packaging, take a cup to get your takeaway coffee. Maybe it is time we all put our voices together, to let the bigger organisations who are letting us get away with this, please help us to be the  best of humanity we can be, set limits, curb greed.

As human beings God knew we had good days and bad days,  and I think we need to be gracious with ourselves and each other, God is, but lets make sure we are not just using that as an excuse to not have a go. To have this vision that God has as a reality is a beautiful thing, but more than that our future depends on it.