Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The ‘gospel’ according to “This is It”

Some people asked me about last week's sermon about MJ. Unfortunately the recording did not come out right, so we won't post it, as a potcast. Of course, not everyone like my usage of Michael Jackson, in a sermon, and also, I have to admit that maybe I did not hit the notes on the sermon, for all. To err is human.. and all that. What is however important is for me to honour my commitment to those who did ask about what I did, but also, to take it one step further, by looking deeper into the 'message' (?) that we may glean from a pop artist.

Last week, I shared:

'I saw the movie of Michael Jackson, last night... 'This it it'. I don't know who saw it, but I felt is was just awesome, awe-inspiring. A few things striked me:

  1. I saw some-one who gives his best- he literally worked himself to death; I mean, here we have a 50 year old, dancing and perfoming as if he is, like, a teenager. But also, I saw some-one:
  2. who challenges those he work with to do the same.
    The movie, starts with little clips, where young dancers speak about their involvement in the preparation, in the making of what was supose to be his last world tour. They were in awe, at being given the opportunity to work with him-some were in tears.They felt it a dream come true, to be able to work with what most would consider the undisputed 'king of pop...' (yes, I know some of our parents would now start to moan: what about The Beatles, Elvis, or Nat King Cole. But lets leave that debate for another time..)
  3. I saw some-one who inspire people from different generations, or simply anybody to stand our amongtst the crowds and reach for your dreams.. In the movie, This it it, they choose only a small group of dancers and singers out of a mass of brilliant dancers and singers, who came from all over the world, to make their dream come true. They were inspired, they were hungry to grab hold of this- for them this was it !

So, as I was enjoying the dancemoves, I wondered, what is it that makes people to stand out amongst their peers, to rise above the average, to reach for your dreams and achieve it. Can you stand up and be counted today. Are you willing and hunger enough to raise your hand and pay the price to tahe the lead ? In this, I was reminded of another inspirational story, which we studied with our younger new members, a year or so ago. This, is of course, the story of Daniel and his friends

We read in Daniel chapter 1 that he and his friends were taken away as exiles, loosing everthing they had, in a bitter struggle for power. They were down and out, yet the exile was their moment, their opportunity. Here, in a far away land, they got an opportunity, one opportunity, to dine with the king (maybe not the king of pop) but certainly the most powerful king of the time, the ruler of Babylon.

What is it that produced young people to stand out amongst the crowd, like Daniel and his friends? What is it in your make-up that will make the King to notice you?

  1. They lived clean, disciplined lives: Daniel and his friends resolved, decided not to 'defile' themselves.(v8) These young people resolved to remain with their strict diet, the one that they learnt from. This is of course, a religious decision, but also its a health decision, a wise decision-a decision that speaks of rigorous discipline They knew exacly where they come from and, where they're going. They also knew how to get there, what the price was and; yes, they were willing to pay the price.
  2. They studied and kept on reading. To these young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and reading (v17), but these doesn;t fall from the sky- you work at it and keep on working. Chris van Wyk, prizewinning author from Riverlea, spoke at the primary school of our daughters. They remember him saying: readers are leaders. I want to turn it around: leaders are readers..or better: you will find that all leaders are people who keep on reading, and learning, i.e. they are lifelong-learners. Sometimes we struggle with the big, thick books, but I've learnt a lesson a long time ago: start to read whatever you put your hands on or whatever intrigues you and keep on doing that, keep working at that.

    Why was it possible for these boys to sustain this discipline ? I think the secret lies deeper:

  3. They remained true to their identity.Yes, they knew that they were Jews in a foreign land, but deep down, their racial or cultural identity was shaped by their religious practices, their spiritual identity- at the deeper core of their being. What does this mean? They remained true to their God, the practices of their faith, which were achored in Gods covenant with them. Their circumcision (that nasty little cut), spoke of God's decision, in calling them to be a light to the rest of the world, a sign of hope. They realised and knew, that everything, the food they ate, the bread and the wine, the study nurtured this identity and further sharpened their edge.


When I saw those young people in the movie, last night, I realised (and told my girls), we only live up to a mere, 10 percent of all our capacities...those girls and guys are so focussed, they are razor sharp. But guys, this morning, it starts with a committment, it starts here and in 'This is it', MJ gave the answer in one of the songs that conclude the movie. I suppose for Michael, as for is, it remained an lifelong struggle to change the man in the mirror, and, as I read some of the words of this song:

I'm Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It's Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .

As I, Turn Up The Collar On My
Favourite Winter Coat
This Wind Is Blowin' My Mind
I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs
A Summer's Disregard,
A Broken Bottle Top
And A One Man's Soul
They Follow Each Other On
The Wind Ya' Know
'Cause They Got Nowhere
To Go
That's Why I Want You To

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
(If You Wanna Make The
World A Better Place)
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
(Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change)
(Na Na Na, Na Na Na, Na Na,
Na Nah)
I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change His
(Change His Ways-Ooh!)
And No Message Could've
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place

["Man In The Mirror"]


8 Nov 2009

Today, I want to take it one step further and delve a bit deeper, into the question, how do we start to make a change in our personal lives and in our communities- in the world. What is it that parents can do, in a real way, especially when the odds are against you?

This time I focus on the story of Ruth..

This family was wrecked by tragedy-they had many valid excuses to offer for their state of poverty of marginalisation:

Here was a people, that faced the worst drought and famine, that hit the Ancient near East. Many, like the Zimbabweans under the carnage of Mugabe fled their countries:-they looked for food elsewhere-for survival, the ended up amongst people, in country's that they never thought that's where they would be, ever-makwerekwere, prawns, foreigners; they had to mix with people that they abhorred, religiously as well as culturally..

But this family, in particular- these women had been hit by one tragedy after the other. We're not told how, by first the father died and then the two sons-the economically active, etc. This eventually left only these two women to fend for themselves- a poor, single mother coming back destitute with a daughter-in-law, who is socially and racially an outcast. (the odds where stacked against them heavily)


But, they are not going take it laying down, they will fend for themselves. How:

  1. The dealt creatively with their limitations-
    They also faced repressive social norms against women, they faced powerful men, yet they were creative, shocking (?)- there decided for themselves that they will not be kept, at bay
  2. They take initiative:
    Naomi & Ruth's actions are intitiative, leading the way, being prophetic..
  3. They live up to a strong legacy- they are known as strong women;
    Boas knew them, they knew their story, people must have known them and spoke about them.
  4. They challenge the powerful, on the basis of the norms, laws and their power:
    Boas was powerful, rich and well-known public figure- they brought him to the point of having to make choices, the powerless can change the hand of the powerful.
    (What does the powerful do-sexual partners and the position of women)

There efforts is focused on those that are behind, those that need it the most;
Ruth had an opportunity to make it for herself, she remembered her mother-in-law- she was willing to give it up for the vulnerable. Let me share a story:


A son asked his father, 'Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?'
The father who, despite having a heart condition, says 'Yes'.
They went on to complete the marathon together.
Father and son went on to join other marathons, the father always saying 'Yes' to his son's request of going through the race together.
One day, the son asked his father, 'Dad, let's join the Ironman together.'
To which, his father said 'Yes' too.

For those who don't know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever.
The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile (3.86kilometer) ocean swim, followed by a 112 mile (180.2 kilometer) bike
ride, and ending with a 26.2 mile (42.195 kilometer) marathon along the coast of the Big Island, Hawaii.
Father and son went on to complete the race together. View this race at.....