Friday, December 15, 2017

You’re Already On Home-Turf!

Australians’ love of sport has turned our major stadiums into cultural temples. It is almost religious in my home state of Victoria, where newcomers’ names and occupations are quickly noted before the major question: “Who do you barrack for?”

At the inter-tribal level of local sports, visiting teams always allow for “home-turf” factors in their planning; even if home team supporters are their biggest hurdle! Still, sport is a healthy release for competitive energy; since scores measure results more objectively than personal, political, racial or religious factors ever could.

Religious shrines attract tourists and devotees from all over the world; even if security concerns or marketing reduce their significance as “home-turf” factors that can feed religious rivalry.

Sitting at a Samaritan well while talking with a lonely, inquisitive woman, Jesus broke open the “home-turf” myth of holy places. Moving on from physical and spiritual thirst, she had raised the one-thousand-year Jewish-Samaritan resentment: “Should we worship here or in Jerusalem?”

“God is a spirit,” he replied, “and he seeks for us to worship him wherever we are, in spirit and in truth!”

Shrines, temples or church buildings all have their place, but they don’t move. And since God is a spirit, we can follow him into our world with our hearts open to him and to the needs and interests of those around us.

Not to escape from our world, but to gently infuse it with his refreshment and healing; so anyone may discover his acceptance and value for themselves.

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Noel Mitaxa is from South Eastern Australia and has been in ministry since 1973, firstly with Churches of Christ – similar to the Disciples in the USA – until 1990, when he moved to a faith-based inter-based inter-church sports ministry of sports evangelism, sports chaplaincy and sports media, before returning to pastoral ministry with Baptist Churches in 1996.

Throughout his ministries, he has always aimed at building the kinds of churches that express God’s love practically, as much as verbally.  Most recently, this included a community centre for woodworking, a community garden and counseling and education programs.

He also enjoys the methanol fix of speedway chaplaincy, in which he has served nine seasons as the Head Rev of all those rev heads!

He and his wife Judy have been married for 35 years; their four kids have grown up and they have three grandchildren.

His writing began in 1982, with his first weekly Good News column, which has always focused on helped unchurched people to realize that God loves them and that He is already there for them.  The column has also been a tool for feeding and starting ‘water cooler’ conversations among Christians and non-Christians.  He also writes for Cypress Times in Houston TX.

 

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