Archive for November, 2016

Reporting the Regions

Posted: November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

Sometimes people research history. Sometimes people discover what has already been written. Sometimes people are responsible for writing history, and only discover later the significance of what they have written.

Over two decades between 1973 and 1993 I worked as a journalist around regional Western Australia, and for whatever reason, took the time to keep the clippings of many of my stories. When I looked back on these stories I realised that they represented a significant re-telling of history. At the time many of them didn’t seem all that interesting, but on reflection I realised each one contributed to an understanding of what has happening at the time.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “We are not makers of history, we are made by history.” I have had the privilege of being able to record history over a period of time, and I realise that some of the stories represent experiences that helped to make me the person that I am today. There is great value in reflecting on the past and learning from the past. There can be great disappointment when we fail to learn from the past.

In doing this exercise I have recognised the importance of thanking God for the journey he has taken me on through my life and in that journey, teaching me, moulding me and preparing me to be the person he wanted me to be. I am still learning, still being moulded, and still in preparation, but I have a deep assurance that God is with me, guiding me all the way.

I haven’t blogged for a while but have been prompted by the news today of the death of Leonard Cohen, one of the great poets of the 20th and 21st century. In fact, I had just written this piece and recorded it for Sonshine fm this week.

The 82-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter has just released a new album and one of the songs, called treaty seemed to be asking a question about his relationship with God.

It reads like this: I’ve seen you change the water into wine
I’ve seen you change it back to water, too
I sit at your table every night
I try but I just don’t get high with you
I wish there was a treaty we could sign
I do not care who takes this bloody hill
I’m angry and I’m tired all the time
I wish there was a treaty, I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine

I don’t want to pretend to know exactly what Cohen was saying. People have been trying for years to explain his rather enigmatic lyrics. But, there’s a strong religious flavour in his latest album, and I think what he is saying in Treaty is a reflection of the thoughts of many people.

We’ve heard about God. We’ve heard about Jesus. But there are aspects of the story that Christianity tells, that we find extremely hard to grasp. We’re angry and tired all the time and don’t feel like entering into argument or discussion on theological or ethical issues.

But we wish there was a treaty between God’s love and mine. Some sort of agreement about what actually makes up that love.

You see the God of the Bible is described as a God of unconditional love. And in some ways that’s a bit hard for us to handle. Because if God loves us unconditionally, it kind of makes us stop and think about how we respond to that.

And we suddenly realise that we can’t love God in the same way. We realise our own shortcomings, and our failure to really love him. And that can make us feel guilty.
It makes us feel like we want some kind of treaty with God. Some kind of agreement about what our love should look like. If only he didn’t love us so much we wouldn’t feel so guilty. We wouldn’t feel as though we’re inadequate in our love.

But that’s the great thing about God’s love. His love for us is so expansive, so far reaching, so mind blowing, that we realise we really are inadequate to respond appropriately.

But it’s in our inadequacy and our guilt, and our feelings of uselessness, that God reaches out to us, and he says, I can take all of that stuff. That’s now my problem, not yours.

So in a way, we don’t need a treaty in the way that Leonard Cohen suggests. But perhaps there already a treaty in place. The Bible talks about a covenant. A new covenant.

That covenant, or treaty is based on God’s unconditional love. It’s about Jesus coming to earth and giving up his life, making the ultimate sacrifice, so that we could know God’s love and forgiveness. So that discovering his love isn’t about what we have to do, or what not to do, it’s about accepting. It’s about receiving.

Leonard Cohen says: I wish there was a treaty, I wish there was a treaty
Between your love and mine. There is, you know. That treaty is Jesus. And he invites us to give up our feelings of guilt and our efforts to find love, and to accept his free gift of love.