Tuesday, October 31, 2006

kiwi saints as kiwi firecrackers


Wednesday November 1 is All Saints Day. Sunday night (November 5) is fireworks night in New Zealand. So it seems appropriate to celebrate Kiwi saints as Kiwi fireworks at our 7 pm, Sunday evening Digestion church service.

Here are my 7 Kiwi saints:
Te Whiti: a leader in non-violent resistance against the coloniser (more) (blessed are the peacemakers)
Michael Jones: top sportsman who refused to play on a Sunday (more) (salt and light)
Tarore: her death brought peace to warring tribes (more) (blessed are the peacemakers)
JK Archer: pastor and politician (salt and light)
Archibald Baxter: persecuted as conscientious objector in World War 1 (more) (blessed are the persecuted)
Manihera of Taranaki: a missionary matyred for his faith (more) (blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness)
Fernando Pereira: killed by French terrorists on board the Rainbow Warrior (more) (blessed are those who mourn)

Any additions or subtractions you’d like to make?

Posted by steve at 10:23 PM

spring clean day


When I arrived at Opawa I suggested an Annual Spring Clean Day. Simply an invitation to spend half a day either (a) spring cleaning around the church; (b) pick up rubbish around our community; (c) offer to clean (pre-arranged) houses in our community. I simply wanted to get us into our community as a community. I wanted to offer a wide range of jobs – cleaning, lifting, fixing, painting – so that lots of skills and competencies could be involved.


It was a new concept and I got some pretty blank looks at first. But each year it has grown and developed. The 3rd Spring Clean Day rolled around on Saturday. New features this year included the following: A strong partnership with a local community group. We offered a barbeque at lunch time and about a dozen locals joined us for lunch. Great stuff. As part of our worship through the month of October we have also been offering spiritual resources around spring cleaning (our relationships, our lives, our time). These have helped to integrate body, mind and soul.


The day was outstanding. About 60 people turned up to help. We filled three Skip bins and visited about 15 community homes. We enjoyed being a community eating and working in the community.

Posted by steve at 12:37 PM

Thursday, October 26, 2006

what is theology?

I am currently enjoy Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice by Graham Ward, in preparation for teaching my 2007 Masters course: Critical Missional Issues and the Emerging Church. He defines theology as having three functions:

“First, with respect to interpreting the Scriptures; secondly with respect to the teaching of the Church; and thirdly, with a discernment of the contemporary work of Christ in the context of any activity undertaken.”

All 3 are distinct. All 3 are important.

Today on the way in the car, one of my daughters entered an existing conversation late. She had been reading her book, and popped her head up. Her entry into the conversation simply blurred, and confused us all.

I wonder how many confusions and arguments about the emerging church occur because conversational categories simply get blurred. For instance; is there not a blurring when:
Steve Chalk’s writing on Christ and our contemporary context is butted hard against Carson’s way of interpreting Scriptures; or
Reformed theology (a historic and contextual teaching of the Church) is butted against the 7 Jesus’s as McLaren tries to make sense of Christ in our contemporary context.

I found Ward’s categories helpful and it left me wondering what would happen if these 3 categories were used to guide our conversations?

Posted by steve at 09:08 PM

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

walking with grief

Excerpts from some words by George MacDonald in Celtic Daily Prayer, (Walking with grief, p. 225-226).

Do not hurry
As you walk with grief
It does not help the journey

Walk slowly
Pausing often
Do not hurry
As you walk with grief

Be gentle with the other
Who walks with grief
If it is you
Be gentle with yourself
Swiftly forgive
Walk slowly
Pausing often

Take time, be gentle
as you walk with grief

I am praying this for so many of my friends today: Janette, Nick, Jenn, Amanda, Pernell, Peter, Andrew, Margie, Lisa

If you would like to pray this prayer for any of your friends, you might like to add their names (I suggest first names only) in the comments …

Posted by steve at 05:07 PM

Sunday, October 22, 2006

5 star music review: tim finn’s imaginary kingdom

Tim Finn’s latest album, Imaginary Kingdom, is a superb listen. From the sing-a-long opening of the single Imaginary Kingdom, to the beautifully arranged strings of Winter Light (which appears in The Chronicles of Narnia), this album is a musical feast, from an artist who has mastered the craft that is the 3 minute pop song.

Amid the catchy riffs you become aware of a thoughtful humanity. Whether it is the impact of suicide and loss in songs like Salt to the Sea and Dead Flowers, or the mystical appreciation of nature in Astounding Moon, this is an album of poetical depth.

Tim Finn has been penning rock songs since the 1970’s, first with Split Enz, then Crowded House and The Finn Brothers. His mop of grey hair is a reminder that writing good music is like a good red wine. It is a skill that matures with age.

Buy it internationally here; or in New Zealand here.

Posted by steve at 08:09 PM

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Refresh: a beginners guide to journaling

This is DRAFT advertising for a project I’m currently working on: I want to offer concrete ways for spiritual seekers to explore their spirituality. A starting point is wanting to run a course on spiritual journalling in a local cafe. It is based on my belief that the Spirit of God is active outside church walls and in the lives of all people. My role is to “bless” what God is doing.


What is it all about? A journal is a record of your inner journey. Many people find journaling a helpful way to keep up with their spiritual pilgrimage.

What will I learn?
• Starting to use a journal to capture your history
• Using a journal to understand your present
• Using a journal to recover your past
• Using a journal to interact with your history
Each week will include time to journal, explore different methods and exercises to enhance journaling, and to grow with those who have journaled before us.

Who is it for? Anyone who wants to explore their spiritual journey. The facilitators are Christians and church-goers who assume that everyone has a spiritual journey worth nourishing, whether they attend church or not.

Is it only for church goers or Christians? No. All that is required is an interest in journaling and a spiritual openness.

Why a group? Most of us learn new skills best with the encouragement of others. Small groups allow us to draw upon the combined wisdom of others. Journaling in groups can be a powerful experience.

What are the details? Thursdays, November 9, 16, 23, 30, 7:30-8:45 pm, Fava cafe, 235B Centaurus Road. (Venue To Be Confirmed.) Cost of $15 for course materials. To book, or for more information, phone Steve Taylor (one of the facilitators) on 027 252 8227 before Monday 6th November.

Posted by steve at 08:22 PM

Thursday, October 19, 2006

journalling the emerging church journey

kitchencommunity.jpg The kitchen is “an experiment in community.” Their experimental journey is being recorded here. I’ve shared a number of coffees and listened as this experiment has taken shape over the last year.

Earlier this year, round New Year, I posted a series of emerging church postcards05; a visual record, along with some words about birth, values, music and mission, of emerging churches around the world. I wanted to make the visual point that the emerging church is wider than Emergent church US. I also wanted to name the life of the emerging church not as books and speakers but as God’s Spirit at work in the real life stories and everyday struggles of mission and worship stories of emerging church communities. (The complete series is here). I am planning to repeat this series at the end of this year.

And it is exciting to think that throughout this year, groups like the kitchen have become to take shape – to wonder concretely what it might mean to embody the life of Christ in our world – an experiment – a risk – just like the birth of that Christ baby so many years ago.

Posted by steve at 10:38 AM

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

kiwi table manners

I have been thinking a lot lately about how Kiwis eat together. (Update: In Luke 10, mission is dwelling in the homes and around the tables of the culture. So I am re:imagining what it might mean to eat around Kiwi tables. So how do Kiwis eat together? What does the way we eat reveal about our values and identity.) So I am racking my brain, trying to think of Kiwi literature and Kiwi movies which show us eating together …

the hangi in No 2; the tea drinking and card playing around the kitchen table in Whale Rider; the tea making in World’s Fastest Indian; the candlelit orchard dinner in In My Fathers Den;

and from my fabulous commenters: the barbeque in Rain; and in Broken English; dinners in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures; the “kai cart” in Footrot Flats; the shared crayfish in Once Were Warriors;

If you can think of any (Kiwi movies only please), then please drop them into the comments below …

Posted by steve at 05:07 PM

Saturday, October 14, 2006

the kingdom is at kids eye level

Tomorrow (Sunday) is a Take a Kid to Faith service at Opawa. We do these every 2 to 3 months. The kids staying in and we learn about faith together. They are wild and unpredictable and require lots of work.

One of the Lectionary readings for Opawa staff, interns and church this week included Matthew 19, verse 14, where Jesus says “Let the children come to me.” And wait, there’s more. “for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Adults are tall and love to talk down to kids. But what if Jesus actually meant what he said? What if the Kingdom of heaven really does belong among kids?.

It should make every adult bend down. Start looking at life through the eyes of children. It might even be a Kingdom practice. That’s why I’m glad to be part of Take a Kid to Faith services at Opawa.

It’s too easy to send kids off to Sunday School. Turn church into a babysitting service. Miss out on looking at life through the eyes of a child. Miss seeing a glimpse of the Kingdom.

Posted by steve at 05:05 PM

Friday, October 13, 2006

what we read shapes what we hear

These are beautiful books. They are the Bible. Every word is hand-written. Many pages are illuminated with vibrant hand-drawn pictures. When you open this Bible, you are faced with the text not as black and white, but as vibrant in colour and carefully tender in enscription. It comes in 7 volumes; including the Pentateuch, the Psalms and the Gospel and Acts. For more on the why and how of the project, go here.

On Wednesday I was teaching and I started the class, as we have done every week, by reading from Luke 10:1-12. We have read this same Scripture for the last 7 weeks, dwelling deeply in the Word as a class. (Critics of emerging church might want to note this fact – a class on postmodernity and Christianity, led by an emerging church advocate (me!) that each week reads the same Scripture.)

On Wednesday I showed the class the Saint Johns Bible. I pointed out the care and colour that would have gone into handwriting the entire Bible. And I then read from this “coloured” Bible. One class member spoke; “I don’t want to think in words today. I want to think in images. When I hear this text I think of this image ….”

Fascinating! We have shifted from Christ as the Word of God in John 1 to Christ as the Image of God in Colossians 1. Both Biblical ways of thinking. I use a visual text for the first time in this class and the discussion of the Biblical text becomes visual. A coincidence? Or might it be that what we read from shapes what we hear? Could it be that a different shaped Bible means we hear different things?

Biblical text started life as oral, the stories of Jesus told and re-told by disciples. People heard orally. They were then written down on scrolls. People read a continous document.

Only with the birth of the printing press did the Bible become a book and did people turn pages and read uniform text. The Bibles we read from today are so different from the “original” Bibles. They are products of our technology. And we are shaped by these enculturations.

If we believe people are made in the image of a Creator God, if we believe that all our senses are a gift, then how will we engage ALL the senses around the Bible? Not just sense to appreciate written text, but senses to appreciate oral readings and visual readings.

And in 15 years time most people will engage our Biblical text as digitised and hyperlinked. Now how will that shape what we hear?

Posted by steve at 06:39 PM

Thursday, October 12, 2006

German translation of Out of Bounds Church?

There is a German translation (2 MB) of postcard 5: Spiritual Tourism that has just been placed on the web. (It is available from here).
depone.jpg I was just so pleased when Daniel emailed to say he had made the translation and could he have permission to publish it. And now Zondervan have kindly said yes.

So, for those who speak German, you might like to follow Daniel’s recommendation: “I recommend the chapter to you most warmly!”

Posted by steve at 03:56 PM

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

focus focus focus

The church ministry leaders and board are away on a retreat this weekend. We have read Ephesians 4:2-13 in community, applied it to Opawa and now a group are meeting to help ideas and dreams gain wheels. I’ve plastered these visuals (hat tip to MarkO) all over our working materials.


Posted by steve at 05:11 PM

Sunday, October 08, 2006

da vinci code resources

I was asked to preach on the Da Vinci Code and the Bible at a local Anglican church this morning. I looked at how we can understand Scripture as inspired, and finished with some Winnie the Pooh and Piglet theology, as an example of the understanding of Scripture as the inspired word of God in community. It was a lot of fun. For those interested in the sermon download here

More resources:
Here is another sermon: Decoding Da Vinci – which explores 3 fictions and 2 facts about the movie.

Here is yet another sermon: Something about Mary – which explores the place of Mary and women in the Christian tradition.

Here is my film review of the movie.

Posted by steve at 10:01 PM

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Tutorial Reading for Gospel in a Post-Christian Society

A Generous Orthodoxy chapters 10 and 12.

ANKC Ch 7 might also be useful revision, but is optional

Come as your favourite Christian stereotype.

Posted by steve at 06:00 PM