All posts by Ben Eames

Asking Questions

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I heard a fascinating interview this morning with Yo-yo Ma the renowned cellist, in the On Being podcast with Krista Tippett.

In the course of their conversation they found themselves discussing vulnerability and Ma made the statement that “vulnerability to weakness provides the wholeness of the world.” He suggested that our willingness to be vulnerable allows us to share fully in any given moment with another.

As they continued, Ma made the further statement that our willingness to ask questions reveals our willingness to be vulnerable and open ourselves to someone else’s stories and solutions to situations.

This made me reflect on my experience working in the “church world” over the last 20 years. More often than not, the conversations that were engaged in were the provision of answers, sometimes to questions that weren’t even being asked. Rarely were the nature of the conversations reflecting an openness and willingness to listen to and truly hear others stories and fully embrace a vulnerability that might allow us to be challenged and changed in the course of the shared moment.

I wonder how often this too is reflected in how we approach God.

We approach with the answers in mind, lacking vulnerability and a willingness to truly listen and hear alternatives from the heart of all that is. Our prayers of many words fill the air with the sound of our own voice. This draws me to Luke 18:9-14 the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. “God have mercy on me a sinner” prays the tax collector. The prayer of the truly vulnerable. The prayer of one who is truly willing to commune with the Giver of Grace and be transformed in the shared moment.

Imagine what our lives would look like if we lived into this faith? Vulnerable before God and humanity. Listening openly, willing to be changed and become the answer the world needs in flesh.

Bringing in the Summer

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Much of the time when Jesus was on his preaching circuit he was telling people about “The Kingdom of Heaven.” A world of peace, love, joy, compassion, generosity, justice and so on. A world so priceless that people would sell everything to be a part of it. A world as powerful and transformational as a pinch of yeast in a pound of dough. And the good news Jesus preached was that this incredible kingdom – God’s Kingdom – is near, just around the corner, even making it’s presence known in subtle ways right now.

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Women and the Church

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I recently had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at another church, and in conversation with one of the elders afterwards (while sipping the usual Nescafé Blend 43 and eating an iced vovo) I discovered that they don’t allow women to preach. Now before I go any further, it’s worth making a very strong note that I am not going to lay out what I think on the matter in this very short article, nor give a theological treatise on the topic, nor is anything I say necessarily the perspective of PostcardRadio. My intention is just to open up the topic, so that you our intelligent readers can have the conversations, because I believe it’s an important conversation to have.

Now a few observations. First, without going into any of the details, it needs to be said that the culture in first century Palestine where the church first started is not the same as the culture of 21st Century Australia. With that in mind, the answers the New Testament church came up with to various questions (including this one) may not always fit as snugly in our world today. Whatever answers we come up with today (to any of the “how to” questions) need to reflect both the way of Jesus and the needs of our own culture. I’ll leave you to nut that one out.

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Support for Simple Churches

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I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with someone in the middle of a kids festival before. Strangely enough I’ve found myself in this situation quite a few times – twice even in the last week. The first time wasn’t planned though. It was meant to be a relaxing conversation with a friend at the peaceful Powerhouse cafe overlooking the Brisbane River. Turned out the Powerhouse was in the middle of their big school holiday festival. Look out for it next time if you’ve got primary-aged kids. Give it a miss if you want a quiet conversation. And maybe check the weather too, like we didn’t.

Still, in between dodging little kids with gluey hands and trying to stop the rain from diluting our cappuccinos, we managed to have a conversation worthy of the cheerleader tag. The gentleman I met with has been involved in starting a simple church group over the last year or so. When I say “simple church” I mean it doesn’t have organised services or paid staff. It’s a small group of people who are keen to follow Jesus and are flexible in how that might look for them. Actually, sometimes I wonder if “simple” might be a bit misleading. My church lately has been having quite a few of our Jesus conversations in amongst rain and gluey kids.

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