The other side of eating

We throw away about 40% of the food we buy and households are responsible for 51% of the waste. Martin Gooch, director of the Value Chain Management Centre says that: “A lot of food waste is an outcome of behavior that is shaped by attitudes that really themselves are based on perceptions of abundance and affluence,”  (for the full article please go to http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/the-hot-button/how-much-in-food-do-canadians-waste-a-year-think-billions/article4580509/) This is alarming because at the same time we know that 870 million people suffer from chronic undernourishment (http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm) It is easy to just give up and call it a day in light of the enormity of the problem. It is tempting to believe that we can do nothing to change this situation to the better. But we can. The Church presents a way to balance the scales.

If we take Martin Gooch words to heart then our habit of throwing away perfectly good food depends on our attitude towards food and us taking it for granted. We forget to give thanks for the gifts from the earth. We believe that food is cheap and easy to replace. “I decide what, when and how I want to eat.” This attitude is gluttony in the most common form, the overconsumption of gifts given, in both speed and quantity.

Fasting is the antidote to gluttony but as a rule it will only be beneficial if we start from a posture of thankfulness. Thankfulness transforms the obligation to follow the rule into following the rule out of a place of joy. During Lent make it a habit to give thanks to the Lord for every meal you receive. In doing so you acknowledge that you do not take the gifts of God for granted. We admit that we do not only live for our own sakes. As strange as it may seem, fasting begins with giving God thanks for the food He provides. Fasting is not so much about abstaining from food as it is about reviving the purpose of eating. To find the purpose of eating (life) we need a balance to what we put into our bodies. Too much will lead to heaviness on both body and soul as well as apathy. Too little food will lead to a weakness of the body that in turn will lead to the neglect of prayer and charity. The extremes of both will lead to death. In Canada we almost exclusively have an issue with the ’to much’ side of the scale hence Great Lent and some fasting rules cutting our intake of food back, may be to our benefit in terms of understanding how we can honor the gifts God gives to us. During Lent I urge you to give thanks for the food God provides, to eat a balanced diet, to avoid eating in haste, to plan your shopping so that you do not have to throw away food, to invite people to your table, to help and pray for the ones that lacks daily nutrition. Let us enter this season with a hunger for the heavenly manna.

In Christ

fr. Jakob

 

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God’s own fool

Some 30 years ago a Christian artist and song-writer, Michael Card wrote a song called “God’s own fool” for which he received some critique for. Michael Card used a language that some people thought offensive. A language not appropriate to use when describing God own Son. You find the song at the bottom of this post. Personally I love the song and the idea it presents, namely that the ways of God are so much higher than the ways of the world that they seem like foolishness to the world.

With Great Lent around the corner many Christians in the world (but not of the world) are starting to evaluate their liturgy, their way, in life. Lent has the potential to shake us up from a status quo that has turned nominal by shifting the routine, tempo and strategy of our life. Lent lends space for us to think about where we are headed if we continue the path we are on. Lets use food for example. If our normal routine is to eat seven times a day and that routine has brought us into overweight then Lents rule of fasting creates a space where we can start to see why this is so. By changing the routine we can expose the routine that does not bear good fruit. It seems like foolishness to the world to voluntarily abstain from food but then God’s strategy is different from the strategy of the world. It seems like our person as a whole is better of if we do the things that are counter intuitive to our passions.

Lent can become another ‘to do’ list if it is only utilized as such. Lent does not try to introduce more laws and regulation (don’t drink coffee, don’t do Facebook). No, the purpose of Lent is to re-introduce the purpose of the law. And what is the purpose of the law, to reveal our utter failure in trying to fulfill the law by our own strength and therefor our total dependency on Christ. The purpose of the law is to reveal our weakness and our poverty. It almost seems contradictory does it not? ‘Follow these Lenten rules so that you may realize that it is not the rules that will set you free and give you peace’.  Why follow rules if they don’t solve the problem? Why obey when the act of obedience is not the solution? These are hard questions that theologians have pondered ever since Paul wrote his letter to the Romans (probably before that as well…) The Christian paradigm proclaims that we are not saved by what we do, perform or accomplish. It states that we are being saved due to Gods good will towards mankind. We are being saved because He loves us. This being the case does not mean that what we do does not matter. We will turn more and more into the thing we worship and love. Works does not save us, but that does not mean that works does not matter. Works manifests in the physical what is going on in the spiritual. The law regulates works, our action, our liturgy, so that we may realize that our works always fall short of the glory of God and the purpose He has for our lives. Fact of the matter is that we will always do something. Even if we say that we are ‘doing nothing’ we are doing that. If we say that we are worshipping nothing well then we are doing just that as well. The human person is a living creature and therefor she operates, she is active whether she wants to or not. She can’t choose to operate or not. Her freedom is limited to how she operates. Do we choose to follow our own set of rules, our own law? (Contemporary individualism) Do we choose to live after a religious system? (Judaism, Islam) Do we choose to cling to Christ in a living relationship so that we no longer see the law darkly but clearly? So that we may see, ‘from the other side’, what the purpose of the law was about all along.

Christ in His Person fulfilled the law. He did everything that the law required. He bridged the rift between our ‘being’ and our ‘doing.’ In Him, our doing is a natural extension of our being. Without Him we say one thing and do another. It is when we trust Him for our salvation (healing) that we are able to perform the true liturgy and the acts of charity that are characteristic for His very own body. Not out of compulsion (As a Christian I have to be kind) no, but out of a natural desire found in knowing that your good action is only a natural consequence of being in Christ. These works of love and charity will probably seem like foolishness to the world because they more often than not do not fulfill the requirements of what the world believe to be ‘a success’ or a ‘good investment.’ God’s wisdom seems foolish to men who rely on their own definition of the law. Not because the law is ‘bad’ but because I make myself the final judge and interpreter of the law. Lets pray for poverty during lent so that we may see God. Here is the song.

Seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life

As the wisest of all of mankind

But if God’s Holy wisdom is foolish to men

He must have seemed out of His mind

For even His family said He was mad

And the priests said a demon’s to blame

But God in the form of this angry young man

Could not have seemed perfectly sane

 

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise

He played the fool and He opened our eyes

When we in our weakness believed we were strong

He became helpless to show we were wrong

And so we follow God’s own fool

For only the foolish can tell-

Believe the unbelievable

And come be a fool as well

 

So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son

For a madman who died for a dream

And you’ll have the faith His first followers had

And you’ll feel the weight of the beam

So surrender the hunger to say you must know

Have the courage to say I believe

For the power of paradox opens your eyes

And blinds those who say they can see

So we follow God’s own Fool

For only the foolish can tell

Believe the unbelievable,

And come be a fool as well

The highway to Your city runs through my heart

The grass is always greener on the other side of… what I perceive to be my reality. There is always a better way, a better plan. Strong visionaries and charismatic leaders seems to dream up great solutions to the different problems of the world. There is always one more path to try to build the ‘perfect society’ or the ‘just city’. I dream as well, I have visions. Not seldom I find myself thinking about what this city that I live in, Saskatoon, would look like if true love reigned here from the inside out. I think about this and often find myself discouraged because the reality seem so far from how it could potentially be. (If people just…) Then I wake up from my daydreaming and think about all the leaders, generals, freedom fighters and kings who have dreamt about this perfect society, Utopia. Everyone from Pol Pot and Stalin to Amin and Hitler started out with their idea of what the perfect society should look like. If everyone just conformed to their ideal, justice would reign. If everyone just listen to my vision for this city then everything would be alright. It does not work that way history has taught us. The freedom fighter turns into the oppressor once in power. Even the best effort we have come up with, democracy, falls short in offering true justice, freedom and hope for the countries that we depend on so that we can live our lives of convenience here in the West. We avoid pain due to other people receiving more pain. It’s nothing democratic about it. But our notion of a just city or a perfect society springs from a well that never was quenched. The plan and structure of the true city of God never went away. It was and is ignored. This remnant in our heart is used in all the wrong ways.

God created an environment (Eden) that was so good that every choice that you could make, say one, would lead you further down on the path of happiness. Can you imagine that in your own city. Imagine it was so good that every situation or choice you faced, say one, would lead you into further bliss and joy. Thats a just city/place! Now, man as we know made that choice that was not to be made. We wanted to build our own city. To form our own structure, to lay out the master plan ourselves. We did not want the city of God, we wanted the city of man. We know what the city of man has brought us. There is no single leader except One, that has the imagination and power to build a truly just city of love. We are invited to become citizens in the paradise that was lost. A paradise that never was really lost, it was always there, in front of our eyes guarded by the flaming sword of Truth.

The ones that sacrificed down their own plans and visions were/are able to see it. They were/are able to see through the veil and under the surface. They realized that nothing I can do even compares to this city. In emptying their hearts they saw that the plan has always been there and the only thing in it’s way still is that tree of knowledge. That tree of ‘my plan’, ‘my way’ and ‘my life’. In a way we are still living in a Eden situation where there is only one choice that will hinder your path towards peace and joy. The choice of rejecting the King and follow your own path. But lets be clear, when you let Christ’s plan and structure rule in your heart there is no way that you think that the grass is greener on the other side. In Christ, the Sword that cuts through soul and flesh, even the tree of knowledge got transformed into a tree of life. Lets not build another ‘perfect city’. Let us cling to Christ so that we can be the city that He is building.

In Christ

fr. Jakob