Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Music, Madness & the Aleph/Tav.

Yep, it's a bit like that...

We have regrouped~ sort of.  Cait is locked into rehearsals & performances start again this weekend with the Fete de la Musique.  We have done this several times & if the weather is nice it is always a lovely day as the venues are any available public place.  Bad weather & it is just horrible, as you can imagine.

However this year I do not just have to worry about the girl & her music.  I have a church that needs nominal attention.  Actually, it needs a bit more than that but I am blessed in that study is never onerous for me & so I rarely stress over preaching or teaching duties.   I always seem to find some time to get that together though my house may go to wrack and ruin around me.

At present Tuesday is our big church day because Tuesday I had nothing else already scheduled in.  We begin with our prayer group at 7.30 AM!  These nippy winter mornings that can feel like a real penance but I have the heater on early, as soon as Ryan gets up & as he is on a 5.30 am boat the chill is pretty much dissipated by the time everyone starts arriving.  These can be quite intense sessions but very effective.

By 10 people are arriving for bible study.  Any study on the island has small numbers so the fact we get as many as we do is pretty amazing.  We are studying Perry Stone's The Code of the Holy Spirit.  Given that the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood person of the trinity it seemed like that is where the Lord wanted us to start because it is the Spirit who enpowers the Christian's life. I like Stone because he begins at the beginning, in the O.T, them moves logically forward into the N.T.  You can trace his arguments for yourself & he always gives a Hebraic understanding, which adds so much depth.  He is also very gentle as he progresses into those areas that Christians do not always agree on...& I was looking for that.  We can't compromise but there are ways & ways to speak the truth & some are decidedly better than others!

I was a little dubious about leading a study.  Not that I'm flakey but I invariably land in some unusual places & not everyone can cope with that.  This week, as we are looking at foundational truths, I introduced the Aleph/Tav.


This is the opening sentence of Genesis 1 in Hebrew.  Hebrew reads from right to left.  As you can count there are 7 *words*.
Bang in the middle is this:
It's not a word.  It's not even translatable.  Scholars have argued about what it is doing there for absolute forever.

In English you don't even get to realise that it has been left out because no~one knows what to make of it.  But if you are a Christian studying Hebrew this blazes like a beacon, one of the most exciting *finds* in the bible.In Revelation 1:8 Jesus says: I am the alpha & the omega, the beginning & the end...only he didn't!  Bear with me.  Jesus spoke Aramaic so what he actually said was, I am the Aleph & the Tav

So what?  A matter of translation.  Well, Hebrew is a pictograph language & so each letter actually carries a meaning.  When you start breaking it down this is what you get: The pictograph for Aleph is an ox head.  This is the same pictograph we find in the first name for God in Genesis 1: Elohim, which consists of Aleph [strong one] & lamed [leader/shepherd], with a plural ending; Tav is 2 crossed sticks, meaning a mark or a covenant. Put together the whole of the gospel rests on these 2 letters!  He is the covenant contract signed by El, who who will die on 2 crossed sticks.  And just to highlight that the scriptures are indeed inspired by the Holy Spirit I directed everyone's attention to the cross.  Above the cross Pilate insists a sign be placed over Jesus head, a very public statement that enraged the Jews ~ most particularly because in Aramaic it read: Yeshua Hanatzari Vemeleh Hayudahim & if you take the first letter you get YHVH ~ or the name of God.  The Jews were quite smart enough to have worked that out & they objected.  Strangely Pilate gets stubborn & refuses to change it.

Yes, I like mystery novels too!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Going, Going, Gone...

We are done!  No time to breathe.  Rehearsals for Holst's The Planets begins Wednesday.  The first few rehearsals are local so Cait is paddling along to those on her own.  August 23 is D~Day so not a lot of time to prepare for this one.

I am back preaching this week so will be preparing madly.

However, in the end, I saw 3 performances of Boadicea. Whew.  I think I deserve a medal.  I got a complimentary ticket on Friday, which was lovely as I'd been wandering round town all day while Cait did the matinee & was sooo tired.

I saw the 2nd performance which I thought was very lack lustre, though the music was lovely.  There were a few technical hiccups still to be worked out & nerves ~ all reasons why I generally prefer to attend a performance later in the season.  I had booked tickets for the island contingent for last Friday & it's hard to believe it was the same show.  It was a high energy very confident performance.  No technical mishaps beside the violin, which seemed to be having tuning issues every performance.   And the whistle.  Don't know what was up with the whistle but it was making a most dreadful sound.  Didn't sound in tune at all to me.

 Everyone really enjoyed the performance though the house was only about 1/3 full.  John was so stoked.  He rarely travels, hasn't had a night out in years, & was so delighted to have a comfortable seat to watch his youngest daughter strut her stuff.  Proud dad indeed.

And I saw the very last performance.  I think they peaked for that.  It was a very full house & the cast lifted [as a good cast should] drawing energy from the crowd & delivering a wonderful performance.  Then everyone but us shot down to West End to party into the wee hours.  Cait asked but I couldn't have to save my life & it is a huge incentive to actually get that elusive licence!  Remembering that I am not at all social & dealing with people I don't know who are slightly inebriated could have been disastrous in my sleep deprived state!

I regretted it before we got home.  If we had stayed we would not have got the distressing news that a young teenager had been killed on our roads while we were off island.  Both Cait & I taught this young man last year so that is 2 in under 6 months, on an island that had only seen one road death in 30 years ~ & that, I suspect, was more a suicide than anything else.  At nearly midnight we did not cope well with the news.

Today I catch up with my sons, the one who lives here & the one who is down for the fishing comp.  I have a marriage counselling session scheduled [ugh!] & a house that is out of control, having seen very little of me in a fortnight.  Meanwhile the cats are delirious with joy to have me home again!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

One little rant.

Counting down.  We are both so very tired. It is making us even more peculiar than usual.

The Arts is the only workplace you pay for the privilege of being allowed to work!  Seriously.  We pay our travel costs, parking, uniforms, food...for no reimbursement.  I can remember my cousin rocking up to something we were involved in & blasting off because her agent had said she'd do it *for charity*. *sigh* Artists have to eat too & pay their bills.  Unfortunately the costs of staging a performance are so exorbitant most of those involved don't get paid.  Yes, even for professional performances.  And people scream about the price of tickets.  I know I do.  Too high & I just can't afford to go no matter how much I want to!

Take this performance. Bouddica.  At La Boite.  Where I think they fancy themselves on the cutting edge of Brisbane theatre. Nice theatre.  They let you take your drinkies in with you.  Reminiscent a la Shakespeare. In the round so always a little different.  And honestly, the tickets are more than reasonable.  Between 25 & 45 dollars.  I was expecting them to cost way more than that.  Now if you are having ONE night out, all is well & good, but every night the familiar refrain begins.  Am I coming tonight?  Will I be in the audience tonight?  Can't you come again, mum?  Well, no, I can't.  If tickets were about 5 dollars a pop, what the heck?  But they aren't.  I am going twice ~ & that is stretching the bonds of friendship.

So what's the deal?  Well it's really very simple.  I know people.  I know them well enough to pick up on stuff the general audience will probably miss.  I don't just watch the action on the stage.  I watch the pit too.  I know the music.  I usually know when there is a massive regrouping taking place to cover up a boo~boo.  And what Cait likes to do as we navigate the traffic home is reminisce:  Did I see...?  Did I hear...?  How about that.  What did you think of so & so tonight?  I get it.  I really do.  It's called sharing ~ but it comes with a price tag I can't afford.

I know some of you buy season tickets to the theatre & the ballet & are signed up for every orchestral performance at your local.  Lucky you.  What's more I know starting prices for the Suncorp Stadium or the Gabba are between 30 & 40 dollars.  Many of them are way pricier than that.  I know people will fork out for their sport.  They don't do the same for any of the Arts.  And that keeps prices high because they have to cover their costs. We lost last Wednesday's scheduled performance due to the State of Thuggery State of Origin.  The theatre knew the streets would be blocked, the parking at a premium & everyone would be at the game anyway so they cancelled out.  Not fair. 

 Every night I am parked in the bar area & while the turnout is respectable by no stretch of the imagination are they playing to a packed house. There is something wrong with our priorities.  Each & every person on that stage each night is a professional performer.  Yes, including Cait.  The majority have another job ~ so they can pay their bills.  They are working double time, & like Cait & I are exhausted.  They may love what they do but it takes a toll.

And it's worse.  I stick my nose in my book but I am a people watcher from waaay back.  My children are always admonishing me, Don't stare mum!  So I don't stare...but my ears flap wildly in the breeze.  I know from listening a lot of the audience each night is also involved in the Arts.  They are writers & actors, musicians & composers, singers, set designers, Uni students. And they ALL have a 2nd job!  Some have been in the business for decades.  We pay our sportsmen way better than our artists. It is not our sports stars that make us think about the way we view our world.  They do not grace us with music to die for or paintings that make us weep or novels people will die to defend.

And just to be clear, I am not anti sport.  Half my household is sports mad & the World Cup being about to start we are watching the Aussie line~up with trepidation. I just think there should be greater equity.  Man does not live by bread alone & the arts provide an intangible quality to life that nothing else provides.  Which is why we will continue to be exhausted,  And peculiar. *sigh*  Not that anyone's listening to me.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

A Little Church in a Big Wide Ocean.

Our church is tiny ~ but we are having a huge impact.  We have upset all the other churches on the island.  Not deliberately.  Not from malice aforethought but simply because we are.

They said we wouldn't last 6 weeks.  When we did they said we wouldn't last 6 months.  We have.  They said we wouldn't last a year. *sigh* We are still here.

We set up so as not to be in competition with anyone else.  We join in where we can.  We do what we believe God has called us to do.  And therein lies the crunch.  All the churches know they are called to evangalise but they don't.  We do.  Every month we are down in the park pumping out Christian music & the word of God.  Initially I was preaching but the Lord reminded me that faith comes by hearing & hearing by the word of God so now we let the Lord decide on a book from His word & we just read straight through.  This removes the stress completely from what we are doing but what is truly fascinating is how many people have never heard what the bible actually has to say about anything at all.

This week we read from Acts ~ the 1st 3 chapters.  Stunningly there was a huge anointing on the reading ~ first time I've sensed this just from reading the word.  People are pausing on their way to & from the boat, which makes me giggle because it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict.

And apparently we could be heard as clear as a bell in the Community hall where 2 other churches meet ~ & who should have been finished with their services before we began so they got a massive dose of the Word as well.

Our Sunday numbers are fluctuating wildly.  Being so tiny if anyone misses it is immediately noticeable ~ but God isn't half so interested in the numbers as some of His people seem to be because they have been taking pot~shots at us.  Sad really because the Lord has made it abundantly clear He is far more interested in our faithfulness, obedience & trustworthiness than in how many bums are on seats Sunday morning.

We are still working towards our children's ministry but what is also interesting is how many don't want to leave the church they are presently attending [because all their friends go there] but find their way to our prayer & bible study.  They are finding our teaching is giving them tools & providing a rock solid foundation on which to build.  I plonk down T~Rex steaks & let people take what they can digest.

Those that do come tend to return because they see that we are getting results.  They see answers come.  They see that God is talking to us & if there is anything in them that wants to grow in God they want what they sense we have.  I am always shattered by how many Christians love God yet have no real sense of intimacy with Him.  They believe ~ but do not experience Him.  And God so desires to be known!

Now we are starting to see those we have been teaching apply that teaching & it is bringing results.  It is bringing salvations. It is rooted deep in prayer. It is spreading outwards like an ink blot.  And all I can do is grin madly like the Cheshire cat.  Go God!

Some Mothers have 'em.

Boudicca opened Tuesday, to mixed reviews.  And Tuesday it began.  When are you seeing it, mum?  Last Friday, I explained for the umteenth time. No, my pedantic daughter said, when are you coming to see it?  Ummmm.....me on my own?  Sweetie at $30 a pop I will be seeing it just once.  But you need to see it, Cait explained. *sigh*

I needed to see this like I needed a hole in the head.    I am willing to be supportive but there are limits & my purse is not bottomless.  Besides, as Cait had already carefully pointed out in an attempt to avoid the inevitable grumbling about the historical inaccuracy, it wasn't historically accurate.  Inevitable really.  Celtic chariots adorned with scythes were hardly going to decorate La Boite.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I was offered a cheap ticket to Thursday's performance so I dutifully put on shoes & some reasonable clothing & found a seat somewhere in the right middle where I could just see my delighted daughter bookending the top riser of the choir through the branches of what was representing a tree.  So far so good.

I know the history.  It does not end well.  I know the music, which is rather lovely, especially the love song between Bouddica & Prasatagus.  I knew it was theatre in the round, which can be problematic.  None of this was insurmountable but overall I came away thinking for all the bluster it lacked passion & conviction. I have had time to think about it & a lot of it was a classic writer's error.  They told too much instead of showing. They needed to narrow their focus & make the storyline much tighter.  I would have scrapped all the prelude & begun with the rape which was the precipitating factor in the Iceni uprising.  Nothing like diving right into a story!

None of which prevented me from enjoying it immensely. I am easily entertained.  Besides, I have bigger worries than a 4000yr old history event.  I have Cait ~ who decided that as she would soon be flying solo she needed a NavMan.  In all honesty we needed this decades ago.

Having looked at the map I decided it was a straight run up the highway till the city outskirts when it promptly got very dodgy getting to the theatre.  Even with the NavMan we made plenty of wrong turns as the tangle of streets is just confusing.  And per usual there is NO parking. *sigh*

However the NavMan at least constantly redirected us.  Getting in was a breeze.  Coming out was... interesting.  First night, we were 1/2 way through town before Cait twigged she hadn't turned her lights on.  We drive here, no street lights, pitch dark.  You know if you don't have lights.  There is sooo much light in town that we aren't used to it is easy to miss.

Second night, in the confusion of trying to get in the right lane onto Coronation Drive she cut someone off & got royally honked at. Okaaay, breathing here.  We do pretty well.  We accommodate each other's quirks.  I don't back seat drive & Cait stays calm.

Friday was a whole different basket of tricks.  John, Bee & I were all going to church so we had to drop Cait off first then go back for her.  Cait drove in, patiently enduring her father telling her he knew a better & faster route.  Her father drove out ~ & promptly got us lost because he wouldn't use the NavMan. Enough said.  Going back in he still refused to use the NavMan ~ & missed his turn.  None of us had any idea of where we were or how to get back.  I didn't wait to be asked.  I turned on the Nav & it did a pretty good job of getting us out of what was quickly becoming a nasty predicament.

Saturday Cait workshopped for Creative Generation then we saw Maleficent before heading into town again. I walked her up to the theatre then crashed in the car.  We are both just very tired.  Bee is doing a great job of maintaining our high preaching standard so I don't have to stress about that till this week is done.  Prayer & bible study are both quiet this week too.  The Lord is good to me!