Friday, October 31, 2008

mary and elizabeth action figures: updated with resources used

mary and elizabeth action figures

mary and elizabeth action figures

Mary and Elizabeth action figures making their appearance at the Uniting Church Synod today. Aren’t they gorgeous, greeting each other, with my lap top screen behind them.

Since the 350 Synod delegates met around round tables, it was easy to designate half the tables as “Mary” tables, each with a Mary action figure; and the other half “Elizabeth” tables. This allowed for an experience of communal lectio divina, wondering what it felt like to be Mary, then Elizabeth, and finally Zechariah, in Luke 1:39-45. From this flowed a chapter from the upcoming book, a missional reading of Advent, and then the table groups worked on some application questions.

I’m not sure if action figures were what the Synod were expecting when they asked a “Southern” Baptist to provide a Bible study, but it was good to be able to offer some creative Biblical interaction in a larger size group, and it certainly produced some great conversation with people over a cup of coffee afterward.

Tomorrow Mary is meeting Paul Kelly.

And here is a list of the resources I used in both sessions, as I sought to offer a (creatively, interactive-ish) missional reading of Luke 1:39-45 and Luke 1:46-56 ….. (more…)

Posted by steve at 05:45 PM

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

communion with companions

I wrote the following today for my final chapel service at Parkin-Wesley; seeking to weave theologies of creation and community in relation to communion, mixed with some of my experiences of being here in Adelaide:

For where two or three are gathered
And so God created
gave us earth from which comes grain
gave us water which comes grape
made companions, for it is not good for one to be alone

And so we pause, and in the silence give thanks to God for the companionship of God’s creation

For where two or three are gathered, around table, with friends,
Jesus took bread, broke it, and gave it to them
Some would betray, some would stumble,
some would overpromise, others would underdeliver
“This is my body, which is for you, do this in remembrance of me”

And so we pause, and we give thanks to God for the body,
for our companions at Parkin Wesley, by passing the peace among each other

For where two or three are gathered: this (data projected) moment/image:
taken with my cellphone,
of a wine glass, a McLarenvale Grenache, taken at Samuels George
a Saturday two weekends ago
sitting with companions

And so we pause, and I invite you to name, first name only,
as an expression of thanks to God for the companions  – parents, teachers, lovers, friends – that have brought you to this day,

In the same way after supper he took the cup
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood
do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me”
The “Companion” wine label, a new covenant – God for us, God with us, God among us,

And so we pause, and in the silence invite the Spirit to renew us,
that in grain and grape, our companionship – with God, with each other, with God’s creation – might be renewed

Come, eat, drink,

and then, as an expression of our companionship, we will conclude by saying together the Lords Prayer

Posted by steve at 08:17 PM

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

spirituality of gardening

Saw this over the weekend, in a shopfront, yep – INSIDE a shop window, pavement on left, pram handle on rigth, corn and tomatoes in the middle looking grand.  Got me thinking about how easy it is to play with space, about what it would mean to grow a garden indoors and then to actually celebrate communion, the life of God given for the world, in the middle of that garden.

indoor life

indoor life

Posted by steve at 12:47 PM

Monday, October 27, 2008

sabbatical update 8

Monday morning update

the weekend that was: in Melbourne with friends. they were unable to come to Adelaide, so I had to go to them.  Good to renew relationships with 4 groups of people.

where i am at the moment: Parkin-Wesley, having flown in from Melbourne this morning, but heading off for lunch with a local church leadership team. I’ve got three such conversations this week, joining with local church leaderships for conversations sparked off by my presence and speaking here in Adelaide.

on my to-do list this week: Speaking at Uniting Church Synod, doing a 50 minute Bible Study on Friday morning and again on Saturday morning.  And leaving Adelaide, Saturday, to return home.  So this week marks the end of my “church” sabbatical, although my Laidlaw College sabbatical continues through until the end of the year. I’m sad about that, as it has been such a richly refreshing and profitable time.

reading: Derrida’s Bible. Picked it up at a book sale yesterday for $5 and appreciating the provocative insights around Scripture.

music that’s caught my attention: Coldplay’s Strawberry Swing, and that line “without you it’s a waste of time” and thinking of my family and really missing them and wondering what I’m doing here when they are there.

how i’m feeling about this week: nervous – speaking at the Synod is a big deal and I’m trying some creative stuff and I don’t want to stuff up – and stressed – I have to clear up the relational and physical debris of my last 10 weeks – and unsettled – I have not eaten a meal at home in the last 10 days, what with all the goodbyes and relational stuff – and sad – sad to go, yet I’d be sad to stay. In other words, I’m a complex mess of feeling.

Posted by steve at 01:49 PM

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Captain underpants

I was driving back in the car from retreat thinking about children and the Bible. I have been invited to do a week long conference in Australia next year, exploring the topic of family and faith. It will require a fair bit of work, but it does give me the chance to pull a few pieces together scattered across my laptop around Bible families and inter-generational faith formation.

And in the heat of the car (it was 30 degrees outside), I got to thinking about my 8 year old cousin and his love for Captain Underpants. (And at the risk of lowering the tone of this blog considerably;

“So, what about doing a series of kids talk around the theme of “God’s big story according to Captain Underpants?”

— genesis story and the first undies;

— forming of nation of Israel and wearing the leviticus law;

— king david dancing with NO undies;

— prophets and soggy underwear for Jonah;

— Jesus first undies;

— Jesus last undies, complete with the flasher in the garden of gethsemane

— the early church, who got baptised with NO undies.

Posted by steve at 05:52 PM

Friday, October 24, 2008

retreating along a wine trail

As part of my sabbatical, I wanted to include some time to retreat, pray and reflect. I have just had a wonderful time completing part (a), which involved walking the Riesling Trail.  I find God best outdoors and when walking, so I really wanted to do something that allowed this.   Plus a few years ago, I came across 10 excellent reflection questions, which I saw on MarkO‘s blog.  So I put the two pieces together over the last few days.

I would walk the Riesling Trail for an hour, pondering a question, surrounded by this incredibly rich mix of history, wine production and art of various sorts. Then I’d stop and journal, often with a coffee or with a tasting mixed in.  It proved very fruitful, helping me focus, opening up some surprising new insights and providing some real clarity on the next steps for my life, including Opawa.  (And I kept the tenth one back, because I think it’s worth talking about as a Taylor team :)).  For those interested, here are the 10 questions: (more…)

Posted by steve at 05:40 PM

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

you sticking your head above the parapet again boy?

The Tall Poppy Syndrome is a pernicious, cowardly trait. Laidlaw College seeks an end to its hold over the imaginations and wills of New Zealanders. The fact that we have named a big vision makes us a target. We welcome the support of those with the faith, heart and guts to back something that just might make a difference.

— concluding paragraph from Mark Strom, Principal where I lecture (Laidlaw College) here (and listen to some of the vision for Laidlaw here).  I think he’s right. Stick your head above the parapet in New Zealand, do something a bit different, have an opinion, have some passion – and watch the backchat and backchatter.

So what might be the spiritual practices by which Kiwi leaders might maintain their desire to lead? How about these as a starter …

1. Listen within, to your own sense of calling and passion, rather than listen to the voices without.

2. Develop a good circle of friends who will be honest with you.

3. If passion is a well, for every bucket of negativity withdrawn, add a bucket and a half of passion.

4. Respond to criticism with humour and grace ….

What have you found helpful? How do we develop Kiwi leaders of courage and imagination?

Posted by steve at 01:35 PM

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

needing a caption

samuels gorge

samuels gorge

Posted by steve at 12:01 PM

Monday, October 20, 2008

sabbatical update 7

Monday afternoon update

the weekend that was: rich weekend – Saturday started with a walk along Brighton Beach, then an afternoon tour of McLarenvale with friends, before a fun dinner party with some relaxed Adeladians. Sunday included ecochurch (it is so nice to be in a church which uses the body in worship) and a walk with an Aboriginal guide around the botanical gardens. Marked a Masters thesis, then did some preparation for speaking at Coromandel Valley Uniting in the evening – a two hour seminar on mission and worship. I’ve refused all preaching, but these people are in a really good process, so I was happy to play a part. I found it a very helpful experience, both in preparation and speaking, and it clarified some ideas around my book.

where i am at the moment: Parkin-Wesley. I have just finished my last Missional Church Leadership class, so am enjoying the post-class sense of relief.

on my to-do list this week: I am off on personal retreat later in the week, planning to walk for a few days, reflecting on God, life, gifts and my vocation/s.

reading: Christopher Wright’s, The Mission of God.

music that’s caught my attention: 1 Giant Leap, The way you dream, as I have been reading Mary’s Magnificant. How on earth did a dream like that get attributed to a peasant teenager girl in a patriarchal society? How do we cultivate such dreamers today? What are my dreams for church and society in my day?

how i’m feeling about this week: excited. Very. Looking forward to the retreat and then a weekend with Melbourne with friends.

Posted by steve at 08:10 PM

Thursday, October 16, 2008

wisdom on mission and worship

mission + worship
both/and not either/or

but …. in our globalised world, worship artifacts – the songs, the creative ideas, the liturgical words – rocket around our globe. in doing so, we often strip worship of it’s contextual, missional, context. we sing the song without the narrative of conversion, we pray the prayer without naming the birth pains of creativity, we read the Biblical text without engaging the gospel/culture dynamics at play.

Hat tip

Posted by steve at 12:27 PM

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wanted: Advent movies for family faith formation

An email a few weeks ago, got me thinking:
> > I am working on some Advent practices for our Community. I would like each family to watch a movie with Advent themes however I don’t have a clue as far as to any good movies with Advent theme’s. I am wondering if you have any suggestions.

Wanting to involve generations, here are four for starters. Any other ideas for my friend?

Narnia is obvious one. Since Advent is about waiting, it would be interesting to contrast Mr Tumnus with the Beavers in terms of how to live life under dominating narratives.

The nativity – I really like how it brings out the reality of living under Empire and the precariousness of peasant existence.

The motorcyle diaries – bit vulgar in places, but the scene where “che” swims the river to be with the lepers (on his birthday!) is a fantastic image of Incarnation

Over the hedge might be interesting, as it offers a critique of Western eating habits and consumer lifestyles, which does have echoes with consumption at Christmas – see my film review here

Posted by steve at 12:40 PM

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

sabbatical update 6

Monday morning update (on a Tuesday)

the weekend that was: The Taylor “girls” are heading back to Christchurch this week, so it was “girls choice” weekend. Kayli wanted to attend eco-church and Shannon wanted to return to the Museum to show me some artifacts from Papua New Guinea, including from the tribe of my childhood. We threw in a cruise up the Adelaide River and a lunch at their favourite cafe, Cibo.

where i am at the moment: Parkin-Wesley. Back into a writing groove, and have churned out about 5,000 words on the “opawa story”; charting some of the changes we have made at Opawa. It’s a mix of why we did it and what we did and it’s been fun. We’ve done a lot in 5 years.

on my to-do list this week: I am doing the Bible studies at the Uniting Church synod in a few weeks – about 350 people coming and I have to be Biblical, interesting, interactive, connective, challenging …. yep, got some work to do. I am playing with some “Adventish” Bible passages, which no doubt will reappear at Opawa in December!

reading: just finished a fictional account of life in Iraq before their revolution. Fascinating glimpse into another culture.

music that’s caught my attention: with my family leaving me, it’s lots of Radiohead, In Rainbows, that depressive, ethereal, moody rock.

how i’m feeling about this week: sad. It’s been fabulous having Lynne and the girls with me and we have had such a grand time. I’m so grateful to my hosts for making this possible. But returning to an empty house of memories is going to be very hard.

Posted by steve at 07:10 PM

Monday, October 13, 2008

of doubt

is the hollow voice
stalking the ego


past book review
striding over peer esteem

the opiate that drugs creativity
binds the mediocre

or the angst that earths the soil

God of Thomas,
show me the bloody hands
that sharpen vision
and clarify my centre

Posted by steve at 04:06 PM

Friday, October 10, 2008

needing an economic saint. but who?

This post, by friend Andrew Menzies got me leafing through my deck of economic “saints”. I offered these economic “saints” at Opawa last year, as part of a series on money. At the door, everyone was given a 5 cm by 7 cm cardboard card. There were 7 different cards in total; four Biblical characters – Micah, Joseph of Arimathea, Zaccheus, the sower of seed in Matthew 13; and three historical figures – William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa and our church treasurer. On each card was a bit of information about the person. (So, here for example is Zacchues (click to enlarge): zacchaeus.jpg).

For that service, we explored a contemporisation of the Parable of the Talents – 3 people who used their talents differently; one who used their talents to trade sweat shopped goods, one who used their talents but lost them when the share market collapsed, and one who invested their talents in retirement (full story here).

And together, as part of the sermon, we wondered what Jesus, and what these economic “saints” would say to these contemporary usages of talents.

(Updated): That was a year ago, but the scenarios all seem quite deja vu today. And got me wondering, which “saint” do we most need to guide us now:
Denounce injustice with Micah who denounced injustice, and probably would do so again on Wall Street
Restore confidence by investing now, like Joseph of Arimathea who carefully kept assets (a tomb) and used them to care for another in crisis,
Refuse to seek profit from other’s demise, like Zaccheus who repaid ill-gotten gain,
Take risks, like the sower of seed in Matthew 13 who cast seeds (credit?) wholesale and willynilly
Pray for politicians, like William Wilberforce, salt and light, in corridors of power in difficult times
Live more simply with less clutter, like Mother Teresa, living simply and in piety
Encourage church treasurer’s, seeking to balance budgets as investments returns fall?
What wisdom might any of these ancient characters offer us in these troubled times?

Posted by steve at 02:41 PM