Thursday, January 18, 2007

A new day

We seem to have turned a corner in our London experience. Getting a washing machine in the house was a huge thing--I've never seen Julie so happy doing laundry. I managed to get mobile phones for the both of us at the local Vodafone shop (I'm happy to plug them since they were so cooperative). I got a Blackberry and Julie a lavender Moto RAZR with a camera and MP3 player built-in (they know how to do cell phones over here). Ian is loving school--he greeted me in French when I came home tonight--and has played volleyball, soccer and gone swimming already with his class. Julie went out to lunch with someone in our church, from the same family that housed us when we came for the interview in June, and made her way across town using several trains and a bus or two. All of these things make London feel a lot more like home.

And still...

I'm missing my pals from church, the cigar nights, watching more than 4 channels (I'm jonesing for Law & Order), and my family. All of that is normal, I know, but I feel it today, partnered with how good some of the other things feel. We've got a long way to go, but learning to live somewhere--and minister somewhere--is what we're here to do and learn. God has led us on this adventure and we want to soak it up as much as we can. But it wouldn't be a bad thing, really, if some of our friends and family would just decide to move here and be our neighbors...

I watched a movie on the BBC the other night that I thought was really good. It was called 'Anita and Me' (2002), and like a lot of movies here it was about the clash of cultures in the UK. The story was about two young girls, one Indian-British who tells the story, and the other a white English girl. They're close friends when they're little, but as the English girl absorbs racist attitudes toward her friend they drift apart. The cool thing about the story is that the Indian girl never lets go of how they loved each other as children, and when she goes off to prep school she gives her friend a diary of all the things she would have shared if they had still been friends. It's funny, sad and true all at the same time, and shows how loving someone is more about the one doing the loving than it is about the receiver of that love.

You can probably see this coming... The movie reminded me of how God loves us, and how we should love each other. God loves us because that's who he is, and in turn we are called to love one another not for what they do, but for who they are. And so it follows that we love each other not for what it gives to us in the exchange, but rather because we have been loved by God first. The people we love become, then, worthy just because of who they are, not for anything they do. That girl in the movie suffered all kinds of things at the hands of her friend, but she loved her in spite of it all, because she valued her apart from any of her behavior. How different would the world be with just a little bit of that kind of love?

The answer to that question is found in the Cross.

The Gospel is a strange thing sometimes, but every once in a while a part of it is so crystal clear, so simple that it takes me by surprise. God loved us so much that it didn't matter what we did. He came, he saw, he loved, he died and rose again. It's not that people didn't matter in that equation, it's just that people didn't control that equation. He did it because that's who he is. I want to learn to love people the way that girl did in the film, and also how Jesus did during his ministry here. It's a lofty goal, I know, and probably impossible. But it's the trying that matters, not the accomplishing, and we all need to remember that. I got my reminder watching a movie.

5 comments:

  1. Wow, John. This entry made me cry deeply. My Bible study this morning was on Romans 8. It's all about suffering and how the glory that follows is so great that it will make all the suffering worth it. When I got home my first email was from my friend, Cathy. She missed our luncheon because her husband was having his big toe amputated. It didn't work so next Wed. he is having more of his foot amputated. Cathy's mother died last year. She was left with the job of caring for her invalid father and her 65yr old autistic brother. She had to find facilities for each and get them moved, then empty her parents' house and sell it while she was caring for her ailing husband. She has never had time to grieve her mother's death. Somehow, I can't see the blessings in her suffering and I told her so in my reply email. Then I read your entry. I hate it that your relocation has had so many things making it difficult for you guys. I did not see any value or blessing from suffering in my bible study class. I could not see it in Cathy's email. But I do see it clearly in your BLOG. I hear a closemess to God in your words. Paul says suffering brings dependence on God and I hear it in you now. You have to preach without your books, which are in Rotterdam, but you do have your Bible. I know you want to look great at your installation, but your "cool" clothes are in Rotterdam with your books. You will have to rely on the great smile God gave you and a firm handshake to introduce yourself formally. Only God and Julie could love you as much as I do at this moment. Mom

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  2. Anonymous8:35 PM

    It's me, again. I wonder if you have read "The Kite Runner." It has a similar theme to the movie you wrote about, but it's very foreign. Both little boys are born in Afghanistan, one to a slave for the other one's father. The book starts when they are little and ends when they are adults. Please put it on your list of things to read. You will not be sorry. They are already making a movie about it but try to read it first. This is not an order, just a kind motherly suggestion. bye, Mom

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  3. Anonymous11:31 PM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here on your blog. And thanks for sharing all the pictures as well! I"m not really sure how blogger works but it appears I can comment anonymously which I guess I will have to do as I don't have a blogger account. However I am not anonymous, I am Pam D. from GPC, wife of Jim D. and mom to the only teenager in Linda's class.

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  4. Anonymous11:31 PM

    Oops, I meant to say "in Goran's class"...

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  5. Anonymous9:39 AM

    Bill here. 4 channels and no football american style. There are reminders all around us of the cross aren't there? I think that is one reason why we are compelled to be in church and hang in there with people, because that is how we learn to be Christ like.

    You get to feel in a way what we should all feel. We are aliens in this world, sojourners in a foreign land, that is not our home.

    Miss you and we will talk soon

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