Sunday, February 22, 2009

Life in Madrid; Life in the Spirit

I am in the land of "The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria". And actually saw the statue of Colombus ( this man who "discovered" the new world) in a park in Madrid yesterday. This is a huge country ( 500,00 sq.Km vs our 11,000Km, both approx. figures) with a long history of involvement in world affairs. This is also a rich and proud nation, a land of bullfighters, a land

of fine leather, fine wine, parks and Universities, small non-ostentatious cars - think I spooted one SUV - and very gifted footballers; the Real Madrid Stadium, a huge struture in the middle of the town, which can hold 9300 screaming fans, is just down the road from my hotel. On Ash Wednesday when they play Liverpool, the tickets according to my taxi driver will go for 200 Euros. There is talk about Goya, probably their most famous artist whose head was never found after he was killed. There is talk of fashion and which street has the most expensive stores and homes. Not much poverty is in evidence here -just a few of my Africans brothers on the main street downtown hawking their wares. For the most part the people in Madrid seem courteous and friendly, and they are passionate people - just like our Jamaicans. Even the weather was nice to us, as last week they had snow covering the streets. People seem very contented , peaceful and orderly. They wait on the pedestrian light to change and then cross only at the prescribed point on the road. They don't break the red light and there is little violence here - at least we have not heard much about it. Apart from the cold, I could see myself living here. Perhaps my embattled soul is just hungry and impatient for order and peace.

But I read something, again, in 2 Corinthians about which I have been longing to write all week.

It's something that my soul longs for and an attitude that the world needs. For how much of Goya's paintings can you buy or spend time viewing? And does it really matter how expensive your home is or whether or not you can afford to watch Real Madrid - the world's richest football club - play. How much satisfaction can that provide and for how long! And can all that wonderful living help to solve some of the world's pressing problems? I thank God that ever since I graduated from University He sent me to work in an innner city where I see life in the raw and some of the most wonderful people, despite the harshness. It has kept me grounded.

This week I read a familiar passage of Scripture which has kept me even more grouned in respect of what life is all about.

" We always carry around in us the death of Jesus so that the life of Christ may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus'sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."

What an absolutely wonderful way to look at life. How utterly unselfish! How great must be the feeling if one can live that kind of life - death is at work in you so that life may be at work in someone else! Wow. I suppose that' s how a mother feels if a situation arises and she would willingly give her life for that child. Or a husband for his wife. Could we really expect that from a politician? No doubt that's how our modern day heroes felt. Like Martin Luther King Jnr. Or Nelson Mandela.But here in Holy Scriptures St. Paul is not only describing his own attitude, but rather the self-sacrificial mindset of the One whose name we bear and who we call Lord, Lord.

And this passage came flooding into my mind. The KJV and not the NIV which I normally use

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

And then this meditation which I read yesterday.



" She has wrought a good work on me". Mark 14:6

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love . If love is always discreet, always wuse, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all.

It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.

Have I ever been carried away to do something for God not because it my duty, nor because there was anything in at at all, beyond the fact that I love Him? Have I ever realized that I can bring to God things which are of value to Him, or am I just mooning round the magnitude of His redemption whilst there are any number of things that I might be doing? Not divine colossal things which could be recorded as marelous, but ordinary simple human things which will give evidence to God that I am abandoned to Him? Have I ever produced in the heart of the Lord Jesus what Mary of Bethany produced?
.....personal abandoment to God is of more value than personal holiness.......

St. Paul was abandoned to God and thus could say with conviction that " he always carried around in him the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may be realeaved in his mortal body.

I have a friend from Uruguay who is here with us at this road safety conference in Madrid. She has just abndoned herself to saving lives on the roads. Why? Her brother, a famous racing driver was killed in a crash. And so too her Dad and her grandparents. She could have been so overwhelmed by all of the grief and pain, but she chose not to. Nani is not a Christian, in fact she says that in her country, most people lead a secular lifestyle. And when I told her about this Internet Ministry after church this morning, she asked to be included. I think the same goes for many people here in Spain as lots of activities take place her on Sundays. As in many parts of the world now. So who is willing to abandon themseves to God in Christ, so that though death may be at work in us life is at work in them. Is there any other way to live as a Christian? If there was then Christ would have spared Himself the agony of the Cross. And He did not so we cannot.
If non Christians are abandoning themselves to help others, how much more we who call ourselves by that precious name must die with Christ daily so that others may live.
Then the people in Madrid may truly experience the abundant life. Then there may be peace and order in my country.

Finally I got up with this song in my heart this morning. A song you can only sing truthfully if you are completely abandoned to God and prepared to be " poured out wine", and "broken bread", as Christ was, and so carry around His death so that others may have life.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Be all else but naught to me, save that Thou art.

Be Thou my best Thought, in the day and the night,

Both waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, be Thou my true Word;

Be Thou ever with me and I with Thee Lord;

Be Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my breastplate my shied for the fight;

Be Thou my whole armour, be Thou my true might;

BeThou my soul’s shelter, be Thou my strong Tower:

Raise Thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Be Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:

Be Thou and only Thou only, the first in my heart,

O Sovereign of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, Thou Heaven's bright Sun,

O grant me its joys after victory is won;

Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

I pray God that someday we may truly learn by the Power of The holy Spirit of God to live life this.