Tuesday, December 11, 2007

what forms you?

My wife wants to thank Bible College. I never did a class on parenting, nor a class on being a husband while I was at Bible College. But I am a better father and a better husband. Learning about the Bible has changed me.

Part of an impromptu speech (blogged with permission) made at our end of year dinner in honour of graduating students last night.

I thought of all those parenting courses we run, and all those sermons on themes like how to have a great marriage etc. And I wondered what it is that really forms and changes people? What has formed you?

Posted by steve at 07:49 AM

Saturday, December 08, 2007

signs of stress

In top of the Christmas rush and Bible College marking and Advent services, the Taylor family are moving house in a few days. I think the stress is beginning to show.

Last night one of the 92 year olds in the church died. Funeral planning was booked with the family for 11 am this morning. When I went looking for the car keys, they were gone. I searched high and low, and then texted my wife in a panic. Only to find that for some (stressed-related?) reason she had my keys in her handbag.

Tonight both our girls were performing at an end of year concert. My wife wrapped the ticket beside my (now found) keys, with strict instructions regarding start time. I arrived at the venue, only to find that for some (stress-related?) reason, the ticket was gone and I (still) have absolutely no idea where it went.

Posted by steve at 11:18 PM

Friday, December 07, 2007

starting another missional leadership coaching course

Today (with a mix of nerves and excitement) I’m flying up to Auckland for the afternoon, and expecting to meet 14 church pastors and embark on a year long missional church coaching journey with them. (This will sit alongside the 18 who are part of the same course in Hamilton, which started in October and is purring along nicely).

Essentially the course is a mix of input from me over 10 sessions on missional church issues, some reading, on-line engagement and then two action projects, which allow leaders to actually ground missional church learning in their context while among a supportive community (me and the others in the class).

In this case I’m grateful to the Auckland Anglican Diocese, who have taken the risk of advertising and pushing this.

Posted by steve at 06:26 AM

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Peace labyrinth at latimer square

Some of our church folk have made (IMHO) this excellent little video to advertise the Christmas Peace labyrinth we’re doing this year. You can view it, either a large (15 meg) or small (4.5 meg) file from here. Feel free to download it, especially if you are a church in Canterbury area.

The video is based on driftwood sticks: “little people” with “eyes”. We’re making thousands of them, to use as part of the promotion and as part of the installation. The last two Thursday evening’s in our church foyer has been a great old time as all ages, from 2 to 80, have been at work/play, putting eyes on driftwood and attaching a tag, with the words “Take me to the Peace Labyrinth in Latimer Square.” So we’re going to be leaving them around the city (sort of like the Book crossing idea, that I have blogged about before).

People walk with their stick person through the labyrinth and are invited to leave it at the stable at the centre. Again, these are available to any in Canterbury area who want them for promotion.

Posted by steve at 05:25 PM

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

discernment online

The lectionary reading for today comes from Matthew 11 and John’s disciples are seeking to discern if Jesus is the One. Jesus reply is to point them to what they see – lives healed. I wonder what this notion of seeing means for us in an on-line age.

In other words, if Jesus was a blogger, how would he respond to John’s disciples. Would he put up blog posts of lives healed? Or is Jesus demanded a deeper level of seeing?

Over the last few months I have spent a fair bit of time in the comments responding to people who, like John’s disicples, are seeking to discern- is body massage prayer a twisting of Bible to suit, is use of U2 in church OK (discussion still bubbling along!), is throwing plates at cross evidence that I/Opawa has been deceived. All of these are about discernment.

Which has me wondering how we discern online and what I might learn from Jesus invitation to see.

Here on this blog, I (always in a rush) pen a few words. They are a form of “seeing” yet invariable are a short phrase that in it’s brevity strips out context and relationship and enviroment. Are my blog words enough to allow discernment? If not, am I being irresponsible by only posting in brevity and should I only post if I have time to blog something more fully? But how much can you truly “see” something online anyway? Did Jesus demand anything from John’s disciples and if so, what should be expected of blog readers/commenters in their seeking to discern?

And what level of relationship is needed? For me, values of community and relationship are essential. Words that are not wrapped in body language are notoriously hard to discern. But how does that work online?

Questions, questions, questions. How does discernment operate in our online world?

Note: This post is a general reflection on the issue of discernment online and what it might mean for blogging. I am not trying to get at, or silence, or have a go at anyone who has commented.

Posted by steve at 09:23 AM

Monday, December 03, 2007

are our noses a mistake OR a theology of revelation

The following brief interchange yesterday got me thinking.

nose.jpg Question: Is it OK to use some aromatherapy at a worship station?

Response (from me): Yes. Unless God made a mistake and didn’t mean to give us noses.

I was partly in jest, but it has kept me thinking. I believe that God gave us senses – the gifts of hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching. So surely if God gave these, then God is able to use these. So surely God desires to speak through our senses – our hearing, our seeing, our smelling, our tasting, our touching.

Why are some branches of Christianity allergic to God speaking through the bodies that God gave us? Why is it so rare to have, say smell, in some forms of church worship? Are these types of church actually scared of our God-given bodies?

Posted by steve at 07:05 PM

Sunday, December 02, 2007

can’t bring back the old days

An excerpt from today’s sermon, which was a creative meditation on the book of Haggai

At that moment my grandpa started crying. “What’s up grandpa?” I asked. “Can’t bring back the old days,” said Grandpa, wiping his tears with the back of his head.

The old days. Boy could my Grandpa talk about the old days. His eyes would mist over as he remembered the good old days. He could remember the large crowds going to church. Used to even fill upstairs, he would nod. And the magnificent choir that used to sing in the temple. All those great old hymns of David.

And then Grandpa paused and looked at me and waggled his boney finger. “Those great old hymns. So different from your new choruses” Grandpa sniffed. “We never sang “By the rivers of Babylon” back in my day.”

My response was to remind Grandpa that surely the God of Yesterday was the God of Tomorrow. Grandpa’s stories were always about this God who had done new things in the past, this God who had created new places of worship for David’s son, this God who had given new songs to Miriam and to David.

“So surely, Grandpa,” I said, “Surely your God of creativity is not dead. Surely this God can continue to create new things into the future.”

“Even new choruses like By the rivers of Babylon,” I teased.

Posted by steve at 08:37 PM