Outside the Camp

Exactly a year ago, I published my first blog posting and this is now my 221st. If you want to know what these are and read any of them then click here. Three years ago, I published my book “Outside the Camp – Reflections of a Community Activist”, considering my life and full-time work in the community for the preceding twelve years and more, along with the lessons learned. This has been since updated and is available on my website along with its sequels “Onward and Upward” and “Theological Musings”. My blog is effectively a continuation to what I wrote as I reflect on a wide range of happenings in our community and the wider culture, as I consider religious and political, besides community, aspects and anything else that happens to take my interest, e.g. sport and the arts.

For those unfamiliar with images like “the Scapegoat” and themes like “Outside the Camp” and “Inside the Veil”, along with associated Old Testament imagery and events, and its application in my own work as a community activist and related to my own Christian background and journey thus far, and bearing in mind those are King James Version of the Bible terms, I refer you to my book. Like much of what we can glean from the Bible, it is possible to find various applications. Some of my spiritual forefathers clearly identified the Scapegoat and its release into the desert with the Christ who was rejected by men ultimately suffering a humiliating death outside the city walls, and so must we identify with Him in our dealings. While the wilderness (world) can be an inhospitable, lonely and desolate place, it is also where we must be found, serving others and fulfilling the great command to Love our Neighbor.

Like many things in the Christian experience, coming to a right view needs a balanced approach. It is not just about going Outside the Camp. We are also called to go Inside the Veil, into the Holy of Holies, the place in the Old Testament only the High Priest could enter, once a year, on the Day of Atonement. The wilderness and the Holy of Holies cannot be further apart but the balanced Christian is familiar with both places, just as Jesus was, considering his forty days in the wilderness, linked to the Lent season, in preparation for his ministry, and then opening the way to the Holy of Holies for the likes of us, when the Veil that separated it from the outside world was torn in two when he died for our sins, inviting us to enter in.

Outside the Camp remains an important aspect of my community activism. The reason why I take an interest in a wide range of community activities and write about these in my blog is that is what I come across when going Outside the Camp. While recognizing the challenges and perplexities, contradictions and disappointments, pains and sorrows that arise, I also see this as a positive thing because it is there we can touch in God’s name the world and some of its needy people. Many have come a cropper by going Outside the Camp but at least they may touch on something precious for God that those who don’t do so miss. But it is only possible to operate effectively if I/we also go Inside the Veil. While this maybe more a pre-occupation for the world to come, it is also one for the world of the here and now. In communing with God Inside the Veil we derive strength and inspiration to serve him Outside the Camp.

About my blog, I am proposing a short sabbatical to coincide with this season of Lent. A little while back, I reflected on Advent as the season to prepare for the coming of Jesus into the world at Christmas. Similarly, Lent is the season to prepare for the glorious resurrection of Jesus at Easter, for it is in the power of the risen Lord Jesus we best operate when in the world. While Christians have long been in the habit of giving up things during Lent, it is not a practice I have followed despite now seeing the value of doing so. While giving up blog writing may appear a strange choice to some, I know how easily this can become a diversion and an obsession.

As a community activist who is keen to make the most of and be selective from the numerous opportunities one comes across when going Outside the Camp, I know there is a need not just to spend time Inside the Veil and focus my thoughts on God himself but also to be doing needful stuff in the home and with my family, which is so easy to neglect when trying to be active in the community and blogging concerning things happening around me. I expect there will be even more opportunity to do so once Lent is over. No doubt events unraveling in places as far apart as Greece (Eurozone crisis), Ukraine (Russian threat) and the Middle East (rise of ISIS and the Palestinian conflict), developments in matters like the run up to the General Election and what is happening on the homeless front will have moved on, controversial questions facing the church will come to the fore, and we will be that closer to knowing the outcome of the various sporting events taking place, but in the mean time I yearn for the Shekinah glory to be found when venturing Inside the Veil.

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