Tuesday, May 30, 2006

preaching the Da Vinci Code: 2 something about Mary

Here is my 2nd sermon on Da Vinci – titled There’s Something about Mary. (My first one – Facts and fictions? is here.)


Posted by steve at 10:22 PM

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Prayer for financial times

I wrote this prayer today, mixing some Incarnational theology with the collecting of a church offering.

God, you took a risk,
In giving Jesus as a baby.
What if he was misunderstood, misquoted, mistreated?

God, you took a risk
In giving us dreams and visions
What if we deny our gifts, hoard our gifts, compound our private interest?

God, you took a risk
In giving us this earth
What if we pollute it, exploit it, attack each other?

God with this offering we say Yes.
Yes, we participate in your risk
Yes, we give ourselves – our time, our talents – away,
Yes, we care for our people, planet and place.

We pray, we hope,
In the name of the one who took the first risk,

Posted by steve at 03:19 PM

Friday, May 26, 2006

Celebrating new life?

A child? Grandchild? Special little person?
then…our upcoming seminar
New Life: Rituals and prayers for new babies
Saturday 3 June, 2.00-3.30pm
may be for you!

Creating memories
Blessing baby rooms
Prayers for sleepless night
Planning a blessing/naming/adoption ceremony
Rituals for the unexpected

Consider yourself invited
(Creche available, please pre-book)
Opawa Baptist Church
cnr Hastings and Wilsons
Phone 379 7680

Information flier here. Part of Spirit of Life Pentecost festival.

Posted by steve at 06:00 PM

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

missional reader

What are the Scriptures that have shaped your emerging mission? What are the texts that have “read” you and formed who you are becoming in this postmodern culture?


I am working and re-working a course (Gospel in a post-Christian context, starting July). I want to invite the class to not only read texts of philosophy and theology, but to read the same Scriptures, to share the same Biblical devotional life. It’s an attempt to move beyond head knowledge, by letting our classroom learning and interaction be shaped and formed by Scripture. Sort of like a missional lectionary.

Hence my question: What are the Scriptures that have shaped your emerging mission? What are the texts that have “read” you and formed who you are becoming in this postmodern culture?

(I don’t want to “steer” the conversation, so leave your texts; and I promise I’ll put mine up in a week or so.)

Posted by steve at 04:01 PM

Spirit of life pentecost festival

The Spirit in all of life, inside and outside the church, in word and deed, in art and mission, storytelling with Simon Brown, teaching with Steve Taylor, art and mission seminar with Peter and Joyce Majendie, creative seminars, rituals and prayers for new babies, coffee, community …

Friday, 2nd June
6.15pm BYO takeaways for tea
7.00-8.30pm Trivia night
9.00-11.00pm Movie: The Fighting Temptations

Saturday 3rd June
From Inspiration to Installation
9.30-5.30: creating public art as mission
(Peter and Joyce Majendie) Cost = $45

9.30-10.30am: Spirit of Life Teaching 1 (Steve Taylor)
10.50-12.30: Story telling (Simon Brown) (note a)
OR Leaf rubbing & kite making (note b)

1.30-2.00pm: Spirit of Life Teaching 2 (Steve Taylor)
2.00-3.30: New Life: rituals and prayers for new babies
OR Leaf rubbing and kite making (note b)
OR Tile painting creative expression (note b)
4.00-5.30: Either Storytelling finishing or enjoy time out.

7.00-8.30pm: Concert and storytelling
8.30-9.00pm: Supper
9.00-10.00pm: Late night worship (in Pentecost art installation)
Notes: (a: Charge = $20 for non-Opawa Baptist people)
(b: Material fee of $5 applies)

Sunday 4th June
10.30-11.45am: Pentecost church service (Simon Brown)
7.00-8.00pm: Worship in the art

All at Opawa Baptist Church
cnr Hastings & Wilsons, Christchurch,
More info: 03-379 7680 or office at opawa dot org dot nz

More info here

Posted by steve at 09:15 AM

Sunday, May 21, 2006

preaching the Da Vinci Code

I preached on Da Vinci Code this morning. The Bible text was Luke 24:44-49 and the challenge to be witnesses. Today, I think being a Christian witness needs to include some sort of response to Da Vinci … but the sermon faced potential potholes
– preaching Da Vinci not Jesus
– mocking something from a place of safety
– not listening seriously enough to the questions raised by the book and movie.

Some links I found helpful in preparation:
Steve Hollinghurst on The Da Vinci Opportunity;
Tom Wright on Decoding The Da Vinci Code;
Andrew on The Da Vinci Code (I asked his permission to borrow one of his stories).

And here is the sermon


Posted by steve at 11:11 PM

Saturday, May 20, 2006

pondering a Da Vinci spirituality

I went to The Da Vinci Code movie yesterday. The espresso congregation are using it as the topic of spiritual conversation. And I’m preaching on it this Sunday. I’ll write a movie review at a later date, but in the meantime here are some questions I am pondering:

1. If Brown hoped that this would rekindle interest in “topics of faith”, then how attractive to you is the vision of spirituality offered by Brown?

2. Was it not the Gnostics who celebrated the spirit as much more important that the body. Doesn’t that lead to a body-bad, self-flagellation at odds with the body-affirming, creation loving way of Jesus?

3. Doesn’t all the symbolism smack of some deeper level elitism. A spiritual search involving a Harvard professor, the curator of a famous museum, a police cryptographer and an enormously wealthy English doesn’t exactly sound to me like a very accessible spirituality.

4. a) I am struggling to understand why Mary Magdalene is so important. If it’s because she’s married to Jesus, then her identity is sourced in marriage. But isn’t that a bit demeaning to woman, that they only become famous because of who they are married to? Doesn’t that undercut the “sacred feminine” so central to the book?

b) And if Jesus is just a human who died as Teabing suggests, then Mary is just the wife of another human. So why search for her grave 2000 years later?

5. In the movie, Robert Langdon recounts a story of experiencing Jesus present with him as a child. If Jesus has died, then how can this presence be? Or does this leave the door ajar to a risen Jesus?

Posted by steve at 05:30 PM

Thursday, May 18, 2006

emerging AD:missions 5

emergingadmission1.jpg a series of posts called emerging AD:missions; reflecting on the emerging church in light of mission thinking.

MASS CONVERSIONS: Readings in World Mission, page 9-10.

In this reading we gain insight into baptism in missionary settings. Firstly, ramp up the worship by using the senses. “The church was resplendent with banners, flickering candles and the scent of wax and incense, so that those present believed that they partook of the savor of heaven.” No, not multi-sensory or alt.worship, but baptism in the 5th century. Using all the senses in worship is nothing new. It’s just that the church became captive to the culture and let modernity strip us of our senses.

Secondly, practice catechesis. In a missionary context, instruction was placed before baptism. This year at Opawa we’ve ramped up our catechesis, and used the ancient creedal formulation – do you follow Jesus, do you repent of your sin, do you renounce evil – as the basis for our baptismal instruction.

Thirdly, mission as less than ideal. But this reading leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Conversion comes because the king prayed to God for victory in battle. So, how many people died? How to reconcile “Blessed are the peacemakers” with this missionary narrative?

Perhaps the lesson is that faith is not found in ideals, but between rocks and hard places. Is this where the emerging church is located, in the hard places of people’s lives? Are we messy and provisional? Or are we stuck with our theories of postmodernity, youth spirituality and imaginary conversations with Neo?

For an introduction to emerging AD:missions, go here.
For all the posts in this series go here.

Posted by steve at 01:15 PM

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

worship resources for mothers day

On Sunday I posted a “Mothering Day” sermon; Proverbs 31, and my wonderings about whether the Bible was feminist or patriarchal in tone? The prayer prayed just after I preached is now up on the internet (here). I think it’s a SUPERB Mother’s day pastoral prayer.

As part of the service, I also prepared a responsive Bible reading, mixing together some Scriptures which portray God as like a mother. I have been intrigued for many years with Biblical images of God as like a mother – playful, breastfeeding, birthing. (It was a re-working (for worship) of some of the material from Postcard 3 of my out of bounds church? book).

Anyhow, for those interested in worship material that places a Biblical framework around feminine images of God, here is the reading I composed;


Posted by steve at 05:35 PM

marketing as pastoral care

I really appreciate good marketing. Usually it’s marketing as creativity – the spark or storytelling flair that shapes a good advert. My theory is that marketing is one of our contemporary art forms. Historically artists would have patrons. Now you have marketing firms. Both demand a fair bit of soul selling (Doesn’t most work at some point?), but do provide a creative outlet in society.

But every now and again I catch a glimpse of what I call marketing as pastoral care. Yesterday I got a letter from a book store. A new book in a series has come out. I had brought earlier books in the series from them. Would I like to buy the next book in the series?

I just think that’s really smart marketing. Someone is trying to read my needs and is making a “stamped” effort to help me. Nicely written and I can always say no.

It felt like marketing as pastoral care. I said yes, as much in appreciation of being pastorally cared for and innovatively connected with, as for the product. This sense of marketing as pastoral care seems to be to be heading toward the “experience economy.” The terms come from Pine and Gilmour’s The Experience Economy.

It’s one of the most provocative books I’ve read in terms of my thinking on worship. They argue that we have shifted from
to producing goods
to consuming services
to experiences

They explore how experiences need not only entertain, but can also educate. (There is more on this in my book; out of bounds church? book) Which opened some windows for me into thinking of worship as teaching and formational. If Jesus could use experiences to transform in Luke 24; breaking bread at Emmaus and showing his hands to Thomas, then what does that mean for worship and formation today?

Posted by steve at 09:35 AM

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

emerging AD:missions 4

emergingadmission1.jpg a series of posts called emerging AD:missions; reflecting on the emerging church in light of mission thinking.

MONASTICISM: THE MISSIONARY IDEAL: Athanasius on Anthony, Readings in World Mission, page 8-9.

“While he lived in the desserts as a hermit, [Anthony the monk] was able to move in and out of contact with people. In certain periods, he served almost as a spiritual director for others.”

We glimpse a a fascinating mix of radical monk yet settled pastoral care; a life of prayer that interfaced with real people ministry. We see a Christian counselling other Christians who are attracted to him. Hold on. In a missions text! Why is a monk, who encourages visiting monks, a mission text? Why is attraction, people visiting you, deemed missional?

Perhaps because history has deemed that, with hindsight, the radical monastic exploration of new forms of spirituality preserved Christianity. Such is the wisdom of history.

What will history make of the emerging church? For all our missional talk, what will history write of us and our exploration of new forms of spirituality? Will we be deemed to have been a salt preservative in the grand sway of missio dei?

What comforts me is that such questions are none of my business. I doubt Anthony considered them. He just took risks, practiced prayer, loved God and people.

For an introduction to emerging AD:missions, go here.
For all the posts in this series go here.

Posted by steve at 02:25 PM

Sunday, May 14, 2006

this is me

And for those of you who wonder what I look like, this is me, this morning, through the eyes of one of our young people …. 🙂 view image

(Update: and for those who really are bored, and want a form of comparison; this is a photo from a year ago … 🙂

Posted by steve at 09:15 PM

is the Bible patriarchal or feminist?

It was Mothers Day today and I decided to preach on Proverbs 31, that entrepreneurial women tucked in the back of Proverbs. By Thursday I was having serious doubts about the wisdom of the choice. She felt like Super-woman. I asked a young mother, a working woman and a grandmother to help me process the text. It was so helpful to talk it through with them. And then to think about what it might mean for men (especially religious men).

In the end, I felt the Bible looked quite radically feminist and empowering to woman. Is it? If so, why do so many women find churches oppressive? Or am I just looking for the passages that suit and twisting them to be “culturally relevant”? How do you handle the place of women in society?


Posted by steve at 05:02 PM

Thursday, May 11, 2006

everyday spirituality

Latest youth research on spirituality from UK:

Nevertheless, young people do not feel disenchanted, lost or alienated in a meaningless world. “Instead, the data indicated that they found meaning and significance in the reality of everyday life, which the popular arts helped them to understand and imbibe.” Their creed could be defined as: “This world, and all life in it, is meaningful as it is,” translated as: “There is no need to posit ultimate significance elsewhere beyond the immediate experience of everyday life.” The goal in life of young people was happiness achieved primarily through the family. Link

Some comments
1. Fascinating that the report did not consider this spirituality; when it wrote; THE Church of England has debunked the widely held view that young people are spiritual seekers on a journey to find transcendent truths to fill the “God-shaped hole” within them.

2. In contrast, I note the three categories of contemporary spirituality in John Drane’s Do Christians Know How to be Spiritual. (I posted about the book on Tuesday.) John argues that spirituality today is expressed in 3 different ways; one of which is Lifestyle. John describes a book Complete idiots guide to Spirituality in the Workplace the book as “fairly typical of a whole genre of recent writing on ‘spirituality’ … a kind of ‘secular’ spirituality, focused almost entirely on living the good life within a more or less materialist paradigm. Being spiritual is about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the sort of attitudes we adopt, the relationships we make.” Which sounds to me like the spirituality found in the report.

3. So the missional task becomes an exploration of WWJE- what would Jesus eat; everyday rituals and community. On Monday night a number of people gathered out my house and we formed the Angel Wings Trust with the aim of providing spiritual resources for everyday life. At Pentecost 2006 at Opawa I’m running a seminar on ways to make new-born life spiritual. It’s based on insights from Olive Drane’s Spirituality to go: rituals and reflections for everyday life. I am really excited to be a Christian today, born for such a time as this, part of a church accessing lifestyle spirituality.

Posted by steve at 04:07 PM