Stranger in the backyard

Guest in the backyard: Jarrod McKenna lunch with some of the peace tree gang in Lockridge

Hamo has bravely invited me to hijack his blog occasionally with provocations of love, questions of grace and rants of a recovering sinner seeking to relate to myself, my neighbour, my enemy and all of creation with the love I’ve experienced in Jesus… needless to say it’s a work in progress. But I’m praying that the waters of God’s healing love that have gushed into the world through Jesus might start to dribble through the broken cracks of my life.

Peace Tree praying for the kingdom with riot cops

I’m aware that to many my life might seem a little, well.. strange.

An evangelist who is given a peace award? An activist serious about intercessory prayer? A preacher whose artwork gets talked about on Triple J? …strange.

So I’m hoping to invite you to the strange places and with the strange people where I’ve started to wade in the waters of the new creation, the places where I’ve met Christ and it’s messed me up.Peace Tree's Lockridge Community Garden

Be it in a ghetto in America, a slum in Cambodia, the wonder of the outback, the witness and writings of the early church, with those without a home on the streets of London, Paris or Perth, the internal protests of scrubbing pots in a soup kitchen, the external sounds of worship sung in front of riot cops, detention centres for the innocent, maximum security prisons with the guilty, in the smile of a child with a intellectual disability, the hand of the elderly, the face of a murderer, the fist of a cop, the reality of my own sin, the feeling of God’s good earth between your toes in the morning, warm tears of a heart longing for real change, warm tea with a neighbour, the joy of a good dumper scavenge, the laughter of local kids learning their skin is not a curse, the sweet sound of earnest praise accompanied only by creation, prayers of an indigenous elder for the drug dealers in our neighbourhood and the other more ordinary ways that God’s love gets at us. Messes with us. And empowers us to live a little more like Jesus, a little more like the world will be when God’s love finally floods all of creation.

What I hope these post will NOT be:

1. a ‘how to’

The only book our community and I feel qualified to write is ‘now not to’. I’m too young to know anything and too old not to take responsibility for putting the little I know into action.

2. a Church bashing session

If church is not a building but God’s people, and by grace I’m a child of God, then beating the church up is a twisted sadomasochistic self beat up trip projected onto a community that’s always “them” and not “us”. It’s to easier to distance ourselves and set ourselves up as the Church of the “this-time-we’ve-finally-got-it-right-fellowship” and project onto others all that needs transformation in ourselves. which leads into…

3. self-righteous

Playing the Pharisee in the temple might have the short term pleasure of being ‘right’ but I don’t think it ever has the long term affects that taking the log out of our own eye has. Besides who wants to hangout with a self-righteous wanker? Whether its Bin Laden or George Bush, Mega-church or Emerging Church it’s easier to create scapegoats than it is to experience the the blessings of weeping over ourselves, our church, our neighbourhood and our world’s need for change. Talk is cheap (unless your paying someone to do it then it can cost a bit) scapegoats are even cheaper but critiquing bad by joyfully living the better I think is priceless.

So if you hear me projecting instead of confessing or any of the above it’s probably a good sign I need some prayer, a hug, and to be lovingly corrected (that’s an invite). If I go there, feel free to slap me round a bit (nonviolently in truth and love of course).

Did I leave anything out? Any questions? I might post at a later date “reasons why you shouldn’t listen to me”, there are a few. In the mean time I’d like to intro you to some heros of mine.

18 thoughts on “Stranger in the backyard

  1. One thing – what is your position on coffee?

    You understand of course that whatever your position on the issues you listed above, the answer to this question is crucial.

  2. that’s a lot of pressure Grendal… and that’s the kind of physical response I have to coffee, a lot of pressure on my body and then on the nearest lou. Too up close and personal? I secretly have this dream that Perth’s coffee shops will be transformed by Christians who decide to witness to the kingdom in their cup by only drinking fair-trade and encouraging others to do so as well. Insisting on only fine tasting and fairly made coffee. What the salt march was for Gandhi, the march on Washington was for Martin Luther King, fair-trade coffee could be for bloggers in Perth. 🙂

  3. Well, the Perth coffee scene is creeping in that direction – at least so far as fine tasting and fairly traded coffee in concerned. Sadly though it is the smaller roasters doing the driving, and the large commercial operations riding the coattails.

    There does seem to be an increasing number of cafes, owned by both Christian and non-Christian that are supporting this trend very strongly.

    As for the impact of caffeine – you need to build up a greater tolerance for it, I am sure Hamo can help there.

  4. Oh Jarrod, now you have done it…entering the mainline world of Hamo’s blog, you will be read, yes you will, but some of the readers…well they are of questionable repute…like MEEEEEE!

    Welcome bud.

  5. Grendel you’ll have to train me in the “wine of the bean”. Interesting article. The line “Ten years ago most of my farm visitors were earth muffin tree-hugger nirvana cosmic worshipers and now 80 percent of them are Christian home schoolers.”

    I’m not sure what’s worse! 😉 (apologies all home schoolers and nirvana cosmic worshipers) But I think our community has been accused of both. 🙂

    Peter Singer’s new book “The Ethics of What We Eat” is excellent on this subject. We go about ethics very differently (!) but in this book he’s brill. (you’ll be pleased to know he touches on coffee!)

    Night mate.

  6. Wow, Peter Singer…You certainly do believe in Paul’s principle of Jesus is truth and claiming that truth from wherever it is found since you are of Christ. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Certainly your statement to Grendel about Christians drinking only fair-trade coffee and encouraging others to do the same speaks to your lack of concern at being labeled a “wowser”. What is your opinion on WA’s proposed Prostitution Reform Bill (Please pray for Linda Watson of “Linda’s House of Hope” (a mission that ministers to women who want to leave the prostitution business)who has been harassed on the phone and late night outside her home for lobbying against this bill) that will fully legalise brothels in WA and WA’s Human Reproductive Technology Bill that will grant licenses to any scientist to create and experiment on human embryos? What will be the consequences on our neighbourhoods and what course of action should we take, if any?

  7. Pingback: Peace Interactive

  8. Not that interesting Lance,

    I spent the weekend building a rabbit hutch, rock climbing, playing chess and having fun with/dealing with (!) all the kids from the neighbourhood who hang out at our place so I’ve yet had a chance to respond.

    I too have wept with people in prayer damaged my multiple circumstances that would make someone get caught up in prostitution. I think we need to do all we can to support each other on the exodus journey from all that reduces God’s good creation (including humans) to a ‘mere commodity’ be it prostitution, poverty, war, bad stewardship of the land, child slavery (the list goes on). So to answer your question, I support anything that will work to further protect sex workers from exploitation and efforts to further prevent children being involved in prostitution. But more than that I pray the we would become communities of ‘grace activists’ where we can support people in finding work that reduces the commodification of life. Rather than ‘distant moralising’ or telling other people how they should live, I pray our communities would have the courage to embody God’s ‘costly compassion’ and share in peoples sufferings, in Christ’s sufferings.

    I’ll be happy to pray for your friend it sounds like she’s doing fantastic work. I’d like to hear why she’s against the bill and I know someone who’s working on it, maybe we could put them together. Maybe you and I can help facilitate that. I must admit I have only read parts of the Bill.

    Grace and peace for the transformation of creation,


  9. In Linda’s words, “At first, it would seem like easy money. The girls would not realise how soon they would become trapped – hooked on the money and hooked on the drugs they take to cope with the physical and mental pain of prostitution. How can the government legalise something which causes so much damage?”

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