The Beautiful Game

I had thought, moving to High Wycombe would mean the death of my footballing and the beginning of that ever looming belly. Grumpily I had complained about the lack of places to exercise as well as the shrinking drive to jog. I think it was out of a mix between Pity and ‘I have to stop him winging’ that my wife looked up football in High Wycombe, sending me an email with the relevant clubs and contact details. Sheepishly I said an almost tearful farewell to my London Club.

I have played a lot of football games, been a part of many teams. So today’s games weren’t supposed to be any different. The routine of working through training, patiently waiting for the next game and the chance to play was something I was already okay with. But something different happened today. There was a sense of peace that almost overwhelmed me when we all stood still for the minute after praying. Praying!. What a thing, to involve God in something so personal, so fun. That on top of the prospect of two football matches on the same day just made it dreamy. Granted there was the occasional swearing and a possible fight in the friendly but that was more than compensated for by the goals scored.

Sitting on the sideline is never pleasing. Watching football makes my feet itch so being kitted out and waiting was almost torture. Long story short, with 20 minutes left the substitution was made and 15 minutes late I was on the score sheet.

Good start Den. Good game St Andrews.

I leave you with this piece I wrote a while back that I think sums up today.

The Beautiful Game

My feet tingle as I wake, breakfast awaits
the golden sun like succulent bait
causes my heart, alive, to salivate.

The grass is greener now,
Winter’s slow howl makes
for the weekend a softened brow.

The slow ticking clock – a tease –
as I set my sights on my pilgrimage,
with thoughts on the soft breeze.

I know as in the forgotten night’s dream
reamed into morning, the greens
will welcome me again.

© Denis Adide 2010

http://www.teamstats.net/sacfc/

Intimate with fear

Intimate with Fear

“The world is not a safe place to live in. We shiver in separate cells in enclosed cities, shoulders hunched, barely keeping the panic below the surface of the skin, daily drinking shock along with our morning coffee, fearing the torches being set to our buildings, the attacks in the streets. Shutting down.”

Gloria Anzaldua – Borderlands.

If perchance I had been born in a manger with a slight hint of divinity in my blood, maybe – just maybe – my heart wouldn’t look with sorrow on these the days of woe. Truly, though I may at times entangle myself in folly, the awareness of the unchanging circumstances never wanes: things were never better, nor were they worse. It is the lament of a soul encased in flesh and bone with a certified amount of ticks within which to understand the whole, parading itself as joy in a nostalgic thought.

He came, He saw, He conquered. I am, I see, I weep. From whence cometh my help?

With my hands I wielded the sword, and death produced the foreign skin to cover my own. The peace of a naked mind, lost to lust and quickly forgotten, left the void within which this intimate fear reigns.

And skin turned to brick, sweat turned to motar, an inch into a thousand miles. Sister turned to foe, brother to a difference, a touch to a thousand fiery arrows. Light brought forth a darkness, love brought forth a pain, and men were drenched in the stupor of madness, which is now stretched across the generations. These were the beginnings of the turbulent days. None is alive who remembers, all struggle for time forgets.

He came, He saw, He conquered. I am, I see, I weep. From whence cometh my help?

Surely there exists another way!

© Denis Adide 2011

Let him who has ears listen and he that understands teach,

because for a lack of knowledge my people perish.

Poetry 16: Send me back to sleep

They that uphold the law
Plan to meet in secret.
Their murmurs ever mow
The never-trust that existed.
Wounded I prowl
Flames of hope extinguished;
Diminished to a foe
With a heart un-relinquished.

Still my aching consciousness Oh Lord!
Send me back to sleep.
Distinguish in my conscience
The space in which I weep.

They that love by law
Ban my love for secrets.
Their groanings ever grow
On the hush that once existed.
With wounding words they prowl
Games of peace extinguished
Exalted friend now foe
My burning heart relinquish

Still my anguished consciousness Oh Lord!
Send me back to sleep.
Replenish in my conscience
The space in which to weep.

That love now has a law
That love makes meet in secret
Makes love forever more
A love that ne’er existed
For foolish words turned foul
And scent of love extinguished
Diminished to a law
The act of hearts relinquished.

Still my anguished consciousness Oh Lord!
Send me back to sleep
Exalt within my conscience
The love in which to keep.

The love that once was law
Makes law want meet for secrets.
The law that love has more,
Hopes secrets ne’re existed.
Free words with hearts to prowl
Where law not love’s extinguished.
For love admonish law
Or relent from love.

Still my beating consciousness Oh Lord!
Send me back to sleep
Crown within my conscience
The love for which I weep.

Love beholds no Law
As love beholds no secrets,
And love beholds no more
Than those in love existed.
Secrets are the sores
In whose boils all love’s extinguished,
For secrets are the wars
In whose pains love stands distinguished

Still, for though art LOVE oh LORD!
And in thee do I sleep.
Quickened in thy conscience,
Tis in thy love I kip.

© Denis Adide 2011

Send me back to sleep

I parallel the processes of love and law with the journey to the cross. How does love survive in a world whose rules a set against it, whose people cling onto the rules with their lives? Thus the line between love and secrecy; liberty being one of love’s arteries.

Faith 004: Touched (Part 2)

Mark 1:40-42

A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”.  Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

 

Grill a Christian, as the name suggests, is an evangelistic event where the floor is open for questions on and about Christianity to be asked and where possible addressed. Once a couple of years ago, while a part of Brunel Christian Union, we held one in a lecture theatre. The question of who Jesus was leveled at the panel.

As a response Kev, one of the panelists, told the story of a group of war prisoners in an underground cell who, having been tortured had cowered together in a corner; keeping their naked bodies warm by huddling together. The indignity they had been subjected to had brought them together but their shame had stilled their tongues. In this dark cell they had crouched silently awaiting their deaths.

After a while a liberating army successfully invaded the land and in the process of doing so had uncovered this prison. Illuminating the cell the soldiers, in full gear, opened the doors and informed the prisoners of their freedom. But rather than get up and leave, the prisoners cowered further: seemingly frightened further at the sight of soldiers.

On seeing this, one of the soldiers slowly placed his weapon down at the entrance and walked into the cell. He then took off his uniform and stood at the periphery of the group in nothing other than his underwear. He then, after a short while moved closer the group and stretched his hand toward the nearest prisoner who responded by taking the soldier’s hand. One by one this soldier led each one of the prisoners, by hand, out of the cell.

The prisoners, like the leper, had lost some of their humanity and, crippled by fear, had a warped sense of expectation. Their experiences had not only changed their perspective of themselves but also of other people. Thus they were afraid of the liberating soldiers.

The liberating soldiers, in the zeal of the freedom they brought were whole. Wholeness to the broken is scary. Faith to the broken is risky. Freedom to the bound is an unknown: this too is scary.

As stated in the first part of this discussion, Jesus – like the soldier – strips himself of his apparel and heals firstly by a show of empathy and compassion. He, at the doorway to humanity removes his robe and his golden sash, wears a human head of hair, cools the blazing fire in his eyes, fleshes out his bronze feet as well as his tongue – which is a double edged sword [See Revalations 1:12-16]. For us to understand the Love of a Lion it comes to us as a humble Lamb.

So

  • Maybe like the healed leper, you are anxious to share your faith. Seeking out at every opportunity to tell people what God has done in your life. Go for it I say. Spare a thought however for how scary the thought of change can be. Be conscious of the radicallity of the gospel and it’s capacity to unsettle and break even the thickest of skins. With the confidence that being Loved by God can give it is quite easy to be a Lion and harder to be a Lamb. Empathy and compassion require patience, touch requires proximity, and proximity – and the intimacy it requires – takes time and patience. Always try to understand [to know thoroughly by close contact or long experience with] as you were once understood. Be Grace-full [unconditional in your love, and long suffering in your forgiveness] and never loose hope for God’s intervention. For us to show how safe and loving the Lion is, we must show ourselves as Lambs beside it.
  • Maybe sharing your faith is hard. Becoming a lamb is embracing vulnerability. This in many ways is very scary. So is touching a leper. The thought that Christ died in order for us to understand love always makes me afraid of expressing my faith. I don’t want to be jeered at, let alone stripped half naked, whipped and then nailed to a cross in front of a city. My thought is this: God’s love changes us from the inside out. His story is one of accepting us where we are and thoroughly loving us until we are so full of love that it seeps out our eyes, ears, mouth, hands etc. If you are not ready, rest in his love. You, like me, are still making my way out the cell. That in itself is a statement to the rest of the people in the cell that trust/ Faith is possible, touch, humanity, and dignity are available, and the hope for wholeness is one that is healthy to have. Be encouraged, you are doing and saying more than you think: “I don’t know enough yet” is equally an important an answer as any.
  • Maybe like me, while in a broken place, you encountered the overzealous soldier. The impatient Christian who barked verses at you never once stopping to see or hear the tears that you had bubbling. If so, I am sorry. The church is filled with people on the different stages within their journey to and from the cross. Its diversity is its one flaw and at the same its beauty. In my experienceGod’s wish is for us to realize his hands beside ours, his tears at the sight of ours, and his aching heart at our sorrow. The imperfection we find in his church is a way of Him expressing to us His capacity to Love. He is in His own way working to perfect it. Until then though it is filled with equally broken people on their journey toward wholeness: not one of us, in and out of the Church, is whole. Be assured however that not everyone within the Church is the overzealous soldier, and that there are places and people who can truly listen with empathy and compassion, sharing and caring with and for each other through the painful and joyous.

Faith 003: Touch (Part 1)

Mark 1:40 & 41

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

 

I thought it very interesting that the man didn’t ask Jesus to touch him. He knew within himself that Jesus had the power to make him better but seems too accustomed to quarantine to even dream of being touched. Having made the journey to where Jesus was – needless to say it must have been hard especially for a leper – he throws himself at Jesus’ feet and yields both his request as well as his expectations to Jesus’ will. In his ‘if you are willing…” he acknowledges Jesus’ power and authority while at the same time reaching for His heart. With his words he touches the King.

I cannot imagine what would have been going through this mans mind at this point. Drawn to Jesus by the promise of wholeness he yields, kneels and awaits the outcome. It is a place of despair suspended by hope. A place where the pain of rejection, separation, and loneliness collide. Untouched, he hasn’t felt human, connected, loved, whole. And there was the off chance that Jesus wasn’t willing!

‘Jesus was indignant’. The dictionary defines that as angered at something unjust or wrong. What was unjust? Was it the man’s illness? I think not. I suggest that it was the man’s brokenness; his request not only spoke of Jesus’ capacity to heal him but also of the possibility of Jesus being unwilling. It was this thought of LOVE in contradiction; seeing pain and choosing not to intervene that I suggest angered Jesus. The injustice was found in the mitigating of the man’s faith: a statement of distrust in God. It is an injustice to people that they struggle to trust God.

Jesus then reaches out and touches him before speaking: first healing his humanity. This speaks of God who is brim-full of love; unafraid to reach to the lowly, touch the unclean. In touching him, Jesus releases the man from his own quarantine. Touch reopens human contact.

Jesus then declares his willingness and heals the man’s flesh. Wholeness, the disease that Jesus carried, spread to the Leper.

So,

  • Maybe you feel untouched? Does it sometimes feel like you are not worthy of love, of company, of contact?
  • Maybe you feel alone? Is it as though the nearest heart is a million miles way, and if you shouted for help no one would hear or respond?
  • Maybe you feel invalidated? Ever worry that you are not enough, and everyone else is a better option? Ever feel like a shadow in a packed room, constantly overlooked?
  • Do you feel rejected? Is the pain of hope tarnished, love withheld or undervalued is hard to bare?

On the approaching cross, a willing Jesus makes wholeness a Faith Borne contagion. Accessible to all who seek it (Splitting the sin, and the guilt of sin that stopped man trusting God, in two.)

In dying He tastes Mortality (suffering, loneliness, and death). His final cry is one of an abandoned son. “Why have you Forsaken me?” He asks His Father.

His persevearance showed us His Character, and his character gives us hope. Because Love suffered more than any of us could, we can be assured of His compassion for our suffering.

“Jesus wept”

I am certain of this.

There is no better companion than the one who can sit in your heart, undeterred by your brokenness, proud of your honesty, and capable of standing beside you in the midst of the storm.

There is no better friend than the one who “is willing” to forfeit his life, and share His resurrection, inheritance and Glory with you.

There is no better Father than the one who not only cleans your wounds but heals them.

“who when his son asks him for bread will give him a stone?” He asks.

“I am willing” He says.

Faith 002: What if?

What is Faith if not the presence of doubt;
Hope without certainty,
and evidence without proof?

What if, though not in six days actual days,
the world was still created?
What if we really aren’t alone?

What if that feeling that pain is unnatural was right,
evil paid the price for the suffering it caused,
and things will definitely get better?

What if this is not all that there is;
that there was more to life than the search for money,
less to death than loss,
and we could actually live forever:
never saying goodbye?

 

 

IF YOU COULD ASK GOD 1 QUESTION, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Q&A : On Christianity

Question: Can you tell the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian if they were both standing in front of you or are we deemed as Christians purely based on our actions?

 

 

Ultimately, the works are only seen by man. the heart is seen by God! Matthew 7 ensures that we (as humans) can never be certain about anyone else’s christianity but our own. Remember: Peter denied Christ three times, and he was pre-warned. David was a murder and an adulterer after God had made him King.

What makes a good man is his actions, what makes a christian is his heart (His response to the cross). Really, all have sinned and fallen short (in fact – all are sinning and falling short). Looking at our – as well as other people’s – actions with a view towards accountability (helping to reconcile actions with vows), rather than judgement is definitely the way forward.

Journey inward and ask the same of your brothers, then be there to help if and when they fall or succeed to rebuke, restore, and encourage where necessary. Seek the same from your brothers. This takes humility (being prepared to open and honest) and love (genuine selfless, unconditional, concern for others); the prerequisites for any fruitful relationship (as demonstrated by God).