Faith in the workplace: four pointers

Our worklife is another area that we can think of as something to do with Kingdom of God. (As I blogged here.) So:

  1. It’s about devotion to Christ. Work, like the rest of life, is something in the end that we do in front of an audience of One. That leads to the extra-mile contributions.
  2. It’s now and not yet. Some stuff at work will never be put right until the end of everything. But we can make a difference today.
  3. It’s internal and external. Our heart has to be right, not just our conduct. (The heart always spills over anyway.) It was said of the great reforming MP William Wilberforce that he kept on friendly terms even with his political enemies.  The Christian faith calls us to love our neighbours, enemies, brothers, even, therefore, the awkward so-and-sos at work. We can’t just politely hate them. That’s awkward, but ultimately productive.
  4. We come in weakness. Which implies patience, willingness to admit being wrong, persistence, gentleness. Not a doormat, but not a door-slammer either.

Storytelling 101: 6 marks of a beautiful book

Yesterday I finished the first draft of The Sump of Lost Dreams, the third book in my comic novel trilogy. A fantastic feeling after several years’ gestation.

The three books are about, in turn, the presence, the power, and the persistence of grace. These themes are stripped of all Christian language, deeply buried under layers of comedy and fantasy and nothing is brought to a conclusion. skinny latteThe books are supposed to be like the smell of coffee or fresh bread: fun in itself, and setting you off hunting for the source.

They’re part of ‘slow mission’ because (a) they’re  my ‘thing’ and  everybody’s ‘thing’ has to fit somewhere and (b) because we can’t live on bread alone; we need stories like we need protein.

Re-writing: a checklist

reading waterHere (for my reference mostly and because I’ve got to put it somewhere) is my checklist for when I come to re-write the first draft. It’s my best thoughts on what makes a fine novel.

  1. Premise. Does it drive the book? Are any parts of the book extraneous? Does the premise resonate though the book, even if is not stated explicitly? Is it moving? Does it move me?
  2. Background. Is it consistent? Accurate enough?  Does the chronology work? Do seasons pass? Special occasions happen?
  3. Plot. Is it believable? Organic? (one thing develops naturally from another)? Is it taut, pulling the reader along or does it go slack in places? Is it satisfyingly tied up or are there loose ends or dead ends? Does the tension in each scene rise and fall away like a wave?
  4. Characters. How well do I know them? Do they have distinctive voices? Do they change? What would strike the observer about them? Are they operating at full capacity? Are they struggling? Do they get somewhere?
  5. Texture. Is the dialogue funny, terse, unexpected? Is the writing unobtrusive? Do descriptions drag? Do the eyes skip over parts?
  6. Overall. Does it delight? Move the heart? Grip? Make people late for appointments? Force them buy it for others? Compete with Netflix and Sky Sports?

 

Slow mission: How to be complete and incomplete at the same time

Seed Blog

They are familiar words, ringing across at funeral services:

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;  it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44)

The seed is the perfect picture for the now-but-not-yet, complete-but-incomplete, slow-mission Kingdom in which we live.

Some seeds look wizened. Y0u bury them in the soil. They are inconsequential. But a plant has spent a whole summer and all its strength manufacturing them. And they are packed with life: as the old saying has it, you can count the seeds in the apple, but you can’t  begin to count the apples in the seed.

Seeds are complete but incomplete, fulfilled and unfulfilled, finished yet hardly started, old in one age, new in the next.

In Christian-world and Christian-speak I think that’s what we aspire to be. Wizened, inconsequential, easily forgotten; and at the same time, seasoned and refined by grace, fulfilled, and ready to carry all the good we’ve known into an unfolding future. We aren’t there yet, and we don’t get there except through death,  but even through death we don’t lose anything of importance; we carry it all. Everything sown here–every hope, every partial work, every tear–find a harvest there.

Nice thought.

[Jesus] also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces corn – first the stalk, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.  As soon as the corn is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’ (Mark 4:26-29)

 

Slow mission: January

January,  the month of hope: the hope being that the rest of the year isn’t January. But perhaps we can add meaning to our trudging through the cold and snow.

Slow mission starts with where we’re going – that in the fullness of time (lovely phrase) everything will be headed up or summed up or brought together in Christ.

When time has filled its cup to the rim, as it were, Christ will be in and over everything.

We can’t actually make that happen. But in the interim we do what can, where we can, with whatever we have. We try to subject ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus, and try to extend his influence into whatever we touch. So all of life matters. This puts meaning into every day.