Sunday, April 18, 2004

wedding sermon

for those interested in mixing U2 and God at a wedding;

[not to be reproduced in any form, including verbal, without permission. ie. creative commons does not apply to this post]


Posted by steve at 12:15 PM

Thursday, April 15, 2004

i present you mr and mrs woodley

up to auckland to preach at a friend’s wedding: the instructions are:
10 minutes will be fab
sweet as to mix U2 and Trinity
just don’t forget to mention the g[od] or j[esus] words
speak to both us and the audience please
just make it gracewayesque or is that opawaesque?

Posted by steve at 10:38 PM

sermons, time, engaging

with the loss of a youth pastor at opawa, we have an input/speaking/preaching “hole” in our evening services. crisis or opportunity?

the church has about 150 people at a morning service and about 40-50 people in the evening, some repeats but generally much more youth~full.

we are in the process of looking for someone else to join the pastoral team, but in the short term the hole will not be filled.

i am reluctant to get a whole string of guest preachers in. i work 3 days/week for the church and dont want to serve up 2 different sermons a week.

so i have been thinking. one option is that in the evenings we “discuss and apply” the morning.
so i preach as per normal in the morning.

then in the evening i provide a brief re-summary of what I preached, so that those not there in the morning are brought up to speed.
then i provide a range of options: for example
– discuss what does this mean for a work situation
– discuss what does this mean for a contemporary news situation
– take some paints and express this text in colours.
– write a poem in response to this text
– work on an emotional exegesis of this text.

ie a range of interactive options. what do you think? crisis or opportunity?

Posted by steve at 10:34 PM

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

mark this gap

I believe that on the edges, in the fragments, among the absence is where God is most. Words that are much easier to write than to live. Leaving graceway, the emerging church I planted in Auckland was really hard. What was God doing with me? What was God doing with Graceway? what would leaving mean?

This, perhaps is part of an answer. (I scored this interview off mootblog).

Mark is the new pastor of Graceway – a Baptist new form of being church and alternative worship community in Auckland. I met Mark the last time I was in OZ when I was moving around doing Godly Play as a form of worship. Mark has a background in theological studies and in particular servants, a christian liberational project in asia.
Mark has taken over after the input of Steve Taylor who has finished his PhD and Mike Crudge who is now touring around spiritual tourists and students in North & South Island.
Mark, things are changing on the Auckland scene – with Mark Pierson going off to Melbourne, Steve Taylor off to Christchurch and Mike touring – sounds a tough time to start being a minister when everyine else seems to have gone liquid – what led up to this decision and what is Graceways vision now that Steve has moved?


Posted by steve at 11:12 PM


autumn in the southern hemisphere
the leaves are starting to fall

it is amazing that something that is dying
can be so intensely full of colour.

Posted by steve at 02:29 PM

Monday, April 12, 2004


this is abusive behaviour. this is not an individual problem but a societal issue. the internet needs to grow up and find ways to redeem such behaviours.

Update: If this was happening in a real world, a restraining order could be enacted. The internet doesn’t really have this facility. Hence my assertion that this is a societal issue that the internet community as a whole has to work at.

Posted by steve at 05:53 PM

a toast to the depths of opaquacity

i like dan hughes. he is so opaque that he must be deep. he draws the very best of opaqueness out of me. he liked my email. i liked his response.

for the record, our mutual email love session goes like this,
>>the opaque dan: …theologies and ecclesiologies that have come to dominate the memory of the man Jesus. We envision a direct, participatory spirituality
>the opaque steve: All theologies start with the dream of direct, participatory spirituality.

the opaque dan: Maybe. “All” is a broad term and we might disagree with what “starting with” means in any given case. I do not believe, for example, that the major fourth century creedal conferences and the bureaucracies that calcified around their work-products had a dream of direct, participatory spirituality. Much of what we look back on with a bit of wistful and rosy retrospect, I would suggest, had a more nuanced history of political positioning and ideological power-mongering that we would do well not to forget.

>the opaque steve: What will prevent your’s from calcifying?

the opaque dan: Mine will. Just as I will calcify, decay and die. So be it. Functionally, though, I am not setting out to build anything for anyone that could be christened, “mine.” What I do and say is an outflow of my life as life. I only do theology and ecclesiology as it is locally relevant to my history, experience, communities and interests. I am, as far as I know how to, directly participating in the life I’ve been given without the ambition of creating a definitive anything save the definitive life that Daniel Hughes was given to live with and for others.

>the opaque steve: could not these theologies and ecclesiologies in their domination still contain inherent subversions, which if deconstructed, would reveal the subversive Christ.

the opaque dan: Oh, yes. Hegemony is self-subversive, indeed.

A toast to opaquacity. Now is the world any different?

Posted by steve at 05:35 PM

easter thinking

great post over at barky’s blog on presence and absence.

It’s interesting to note that the resurrection story begins with the words ‘he is not here’. A turning point in the Christian narrative is founded on an absence of Christ and the absence of God.

At the start of this Easter week I’ve been thinking about this – how absence shapes the experience and spirituality of the disciples.

it formed part of my easter sermonic reflection. mark applies it to the church. i applied it to our spirituality in general. for some easter resurrection is celebration of presence. for others easter resurrection is hope of life because God feels absent. this is much tougher, but potentially much more fruitful.

Posted by steve at 04:32 PM

easter joy

new life walks on.
just back from graceway’s easter dinner. mark’s sermon was superb – about finding new life in unexpected places. there was a good crowd, and a good time had by all 🙂

Posted by steve at 12:24 PM

Sunday, April 11, 2004


one of my posts (an idea of an alternative way of being church) made it onto the Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand newsletter here.

welcome to any presbyterian sojourners who might have clicked my way.

Posted by steve at 05:15 PM

power of poetry

this has been a hard easter for me at a personal level. i am too busy. my book is in the last month of its life with me, and every spare minute is spent editing. it is my first easter in a new church and i am still finding my feet. a number of staff developments in the church have left me overloaded. on top of that, Christchurch experienced a cold snap and my Auckland blood froze.

this easter the psalms have been my lifeline. i have struggled to read the narratives of Jesus. i have been sustained by the simple elegance of poetry and metaphor.

thank God for different parts of the Bible.

Posted by steve at 05:02 PM

Friday, April 09, 2004

Ice God

hard edges
cross cut deep
wounds bled of life

cold isolation
a frozen man en-tomb

Posted by steve at 02:09 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Working the art

I did two art installations (of 16) in the 2004 Contemporary Passion of the Christ art exhibition at church. The aim is not high quality art, but interactivity – an engaging Easter experience.

One of the art installations I did was the “last bbq”, complete with tomato sauce, buttered bread and barbeque. People are invited to sit down at a picnic table and write on a plastic plate “what are the last words you would say to this dying man”. Then they stuff their plate in the rubbish, before moving on through the rest of the art installation.

Today I was cleaning the plastic plates (dry-erase markers), in order to recycle them. It was a rare privilege to read what people have written and to sense that people are “working the art,” penning prayer on plastic plates and in so doing, accessing the living God of Easter.

(I will tell you about the other installation later).

Posted by steve at 08:05 PM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Palm sand-day

When you have 7 tonnes of sand in your church, it probably means you have the largest indoor ecclesial church sand-pit in the world. Perfect for Palm sand-day!

The kids stayed in for the entire service. During the sermon they were invited to build a sand castle of the “entry to Jerusalem.”


It was very cool to preach in the middle of 7 tonnes of sand and a 30 metre wide sand-pit with groups of kids all around me building sand castles.

Question to kid: Can I borrow your palm frond?

Answer from kid: That’s not a palm frond, that’s the TV aerials around Jerusalem!

Posted by steve at 07:49 PM