change5LAST YEAR I READ A REVIEW IN THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER OF A NEW BOOK: INVENTING THE
INDIVIDUAL: THE ORIGINS OF WESTERN LIBERALISM. THE FINAL WORDS OF THE REVIEW WERE:

But the book is...not too hard to grasp, and its basic principle – "that the Christian conception of God provided the foundation for what became an unprecedented form of human society" – is, when you think about it, mind-bending. (27/01/2015)

The author is Oxford historian and philosopher Larry Siedentop. He traces the history of what we now call Western Civilisation, from the Roman Empire to the end of the Middle Ages. Little by little, step by step, the outlook of Europeans changed radically. Many of the consequences were unintended. Who would have guessed that the life and teachings of a Jewish rabbi would have produced such outcomes as Western democracy? Siedentop traces how this came about.

Earlier this year I was thinking about how Christianity builds a new form of human society, as I sat in a funeral, in a Fijian village. We were mourning the passing of a deaf Fijian man. Serevi had been a leader in the deaf community, and he had had prominent roles in Fijian special education. There was a big turnout. Vibrant tropical flowers adorned the simple church, skilfully crafted mats and tapa cloth overlaid the coffin, and the beautiful harmonies of the village choir led the event, and followed each speaker. Each speaker's contribution was translated into signlanguage, or, if they were Deaf, the translation was into Fijian and/or into English. The local sign-interpreters were fluent and competent, as were the deaf speakers. And yet the history of sign-language use in Fiji is short. The most significant players in the introduction of deaf communication were Christians motivated by a certain belief about God and about people.

Read more: BRINGING CHANGE

Psalms-Series-graphic-1024x576The Psalms are the song book of ancient Israel. They are varied. There are Psalms that speak out the highest levels of worship and praise, the deepest depths of discouragement and despair and the widest visions of the knowledge of God. Some psalms share the innermost and hard-won lessons from personal and national history. Others are designed to share the faith with the next and future generations.

Despite its ups and downs, the nation of Israel was called by God to be a missionary nation. Their calling was to reflect the knowledge of the one true God, Yahweh, in lifestyle, in the classroom, the law court, and in personal and corporate worship. Often their history is marked by failure, but they discovered that their God, unlike any substitute god, was not just a God of righteousness and judgment, but a God who forgives, restores and is willing to start again.

The Psalms reflect the unshakeable faith in this God who is Lord of all creation, Lord of all nations, as well as Lord of Israel. The Psalms lay out a seed-bed of hope – hope that the present, which often felt like a desert, would one day blossom again with life, new growth, fruitful harvest and happy worshippers of the one true and only God. Out of those hopes grew the belief that one day a Saviour would come to Israel, the Messiah, who would bring about this salvation and realise the hope of Israel's faith.

So the Psalms can function for us as a seed-bed of ideas and expressions for the mission of God through His people, and so, ultimately, a focus for God's call on each of our lives. Let The Psalms speak to us in this way!

Ossie & Jenny
Day 3 – GC3 Daily Prayer Guide

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