The opinions expressed on this blog are the personal views of Andreas Kjernald and do not reflect the positions of either the UMC congregations in Skien or Hvittingfoss or the UMC Norway.

onsdag 15 februari 2017

A reflection on Jesus from Nepal

As I write this I am reminded of many things.

I am surrounded by at least 3 Hindu "garden" temples and every morning they wake me up with their "wake up my Hindu god" ritual. The chants from some festival down by the lake reaches my ears, omomomomomomomomom and I see little snake statues on my walks through town to remind me that "yep, this ain't Kansas".

I get comments on my Facebook wall from a prominent and loud uber-progessive Methodist back home in Norway who demands that the leadership of the church takes action against Franklin Graham (because he among other things supported Trump) and whoever speaks up for the Church's official policy and agenda...and he is not alone but nor is he met with silence.
The United Methodist church is rife with bitter and polarized fighting and it is getting worse by the day. The fight for its own survival is a disaster in typical slow-motion-Methodist fashion...and the masses are not reached with the "repent and believe" Gospel we are supposed to share. Instead, people wait for special commissions and special conferences. Sigh...

I have good Christians friends who cheer the election and presidency of Trump; who fill my Facebook wall with comments and articles about how finally things are going to be alright.

Here I am, in Pokhara Nepal, and yet the troubles of the world reach me (well, when the Internet is working).

Why am I here?

To hear the voice of God. To get re-aquainted with Jesus on a deeper lever. To find my way. To deal with the emotional and theological and ecclesiological (church-y) aspects of being a part of the United Methodist church, first in Sweden (but that branch collapsed) and now in Norway, facing an almost unprecedented crisis stemming from a worldwide struggle of orthodoxy vs. progressivism. The outcome is most uncertain.

Don't worry, most pastors you know desire to do this and most of them struggle with getting deep and personal with Christ in the middle of sermon writing and meetings and whatever else they do on a weekly basis. Most of them desire to surrender more of their lives to Christ and drop most everything else. Some even do it.
But I am gonna try to do it the middle of the most pagan country on earth while bombarded by the most secular and/or divisive social media on earth (western media) while belonging to, and serving, a denomination that is fighting a civil war. What are the odds?

Well, I have found that the physical distance from my own employment has given me both the time and capacity to see and think clearer than in a long time and I sense the fog lifting slowly...the haze of uncertainty, the gridlock of frustration and the weight of unknown-but-likely failure.
Here, where I have to look very carefully to see, or even hear Christ, do I find that I am again willing and interested in doing what it takes to do just that.
Here, where Christ is hidden, do I find that I am looking more intently.
Here, where Christ seems silent, I can actually sense that I could hear him better.
The verse comes to me, draw near to me and I will draw near to you.

Beyond the clichés and the platitudes, who is Jesus to me? To you? How well do I know him? How well do you? How close have we "drawn" ourselves to Him? Do we know how? Do I need anything else besides him? Am I and am I doing what he wants? Am I following or leading him along?

It is a relief to not have to think as a pastor but as a person, for once. I suspect only pastors will understand this but it is true. An example, in the paragraph above I included "To you?" and "How well do you?"...that is pastor talk. Always a sermon application popping up. Always other people inside my own musings and "thinkings". Always at the ready.
But I don't think that is wise and that I just did it goes to show that I need this time to find my own Jesus more clearly and deeply than I have in a while.

Among the Hindu temples, the chanting and the spiritual darkness that few of you even believe exists at all, I will do this and I will succeed. God always seeks me and Scripture is clear, there is a way that is His and he wants me to walk it with him and behind him.
My adversary the devil is here as well, but not as the shock-and-awe type that we thought he was (if you think he is real at all, of course, though you should). He dims the lights. He cautions us that God is best kept at a distance, if at all. He feeds us indiffernce and we eat our doom. He reasons. He mellows us. He speaks so quietly that we can't hear him...but for those quiet whispers of "-be content with a little religion or a little faith in God's existence somewhere in Heaven".
He is one of the two reasons I/we don't search and find Christ with all of our being, all the time. The other reason is our own sin-infested souls, searching for pleasures and distractions or whatever to keep me from Scripture, Prayer and Surrender.

A long time ago Jesus found me and brought me home. Then he took me for a walk and I have followed Him for a long time. I think I slowed my pace and "smelled the roses" and lost him around a bend in the road somewhere. I am still on the road but distracted and just slow.
I like the thought of him rushing back to find me but I hesitate. I wonder if it isn't more likely that he is calling for me to catch up. There is crucial work to be done and I don't think he is as interested in runing after stragglers as he is finding lost souls to put back on his road. His voice, in this analogy the Holy Spirit, will call me to follow in multiple and strange ways...will I take this opportunity to listen?

Hear ye who have ears.

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