Monday, May 15, 2017

lectio drawing: celtic knots and Scriptural contemplation

Lectio divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”) is a practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God’s Word. It normally involves hearing Scripture.

Over the weekend, I explored drawing rather than hearing. It involved Celtic knot-making to engage Scripture. Celtic knot-making involves an “under and over” sequence. Applied to journaling, it involves drawing a number of interwoven lines onto the blank page of a journal. Colour and words can then applied.

I became by randomly drawing three lines across a blank page. The physicality of movement and shape seemed to settle me, the movement opening me up to engage and connect.

IMG_4889

The Scripture text was Romans 12. Verses 6-8 list a range of gifts, given to individuals for ministry in the church. I was drawn to three gifts – teaching, encouraging and leading – which are a part of my current role. So I wrote the three gifts into the three lines.

I had also been drawn to verse 1 – “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” I like the earthed dimensions of the spirituality on offer. I’d never thought about it before, but there was a potential connection between ordinary life and the living of gifts.

So I selected three words – sleeping, working and walking. Consistent with the Celtic knot making, I connected each word with each gift: sleep – teach; walk – encourage; work – lead.

Suddenly, there was a different way to reflect on my gifts. Regular sleep, awaking refreshed enhances my ability to teach. Walking – at the beach on Sunday afternoon, running mornings before work, walks after lunch in the nearby park, walking to the movies and art gallery – enhances my capacity to encourage. It was a rich, generative way to consider my working week ahead. What I don’t do (resting) is as important as what I do. Time taken to replenish is a tending to my life gifts.

It was a rich set of insights that emerged, a new way of considering the connections between rest and work, between restoration and service. I would never have made these connections if it wasn’t for lectio drawing: using Celtic knots to engage with Scripture.

Further links:
- I talk about lectio decorio – engaging the skin through touch here.
- I talk more about Celtic knot making as it relates to leadership and reading Scripture in my recent book, Built for change: A practical theology of innovation and collaboration.

Posted by steve at 09:50 PM

Thursday, April 13, 2017

God the pain bearer Easter communion

IMG_4766 I was asked to lead a short Easter communion service at an Christian-based justice agency today. I have been developing a relationship with them over the last 18 months, wanting to explore how to train ministers that can connect with communities and community development. So sharing communion seemed an appropriate next step

I decided to focus on God as pain bearer. It is a phrase from a contemporary version of the Lords Prayer, it is a large part of the Easter story and it is a way of understanding the vocation of this Christian-based justice agency, as bearing the pain in the community.

IMG_4767 I began with newspapers and invited people to find a headline or picture of pain, tear it out and place it around the cross. I found a version of “Te Ariki,” sung by prisoners and recorded in a prison. The lines in Maori “Oh Lord, listen to us.  Oh Lord, look at us. This is us, your children” seemed an appropriate backdrop to our connecting with the pain of the world. You can even hear prison doors slamming in the background. (from The Inside Volume 1: Auckland Prisons. Recorded at Paremoremo and Mt Eden Prison in July 1991 by Te Ao Marama Productions).

IMG_4768 I chopped the Easter events into 4 sections (the Dramatised Bible is a great resource for this type of reading).
- the pain bearing of Easter Thursday
- the pain bearing of Easter Friday morning
- the pain bearing of Easter Friday afternoon
- the pain bearing of Easter Friday evening

This story of pain bearing does not wave a magic wand or seek quick fix. It is rather an invitation to sit with and be among. That allowed us to hear the words of communion as a “Take, eat, this is my pain bearing body broken for you.” And the epiclesis (the invoking of the Spirit upon the Eucharistic bread and wine) as a request for the Spirit to strengthen us as painbearers.

At a personal level, it has been a particularly difficult few months at work, with significant internal and external pressures. Sitting here, leading worship with people committed to justice in the community, was a reminder of call and focus. I’m happiest not as an administrator but as a creative thinker making interactive spaces. It was a privilege I was grateful for.

For those interested: here is the entire service script (more…)

Posted by steve at 01:17 PM

Sunday, February 26, 2017

liturgy of sighing

to sigh: emit a long, deep audible breath expressing sadness, relief, tiredness, or similar

Mark 7:34 Jesus looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”).

A few weeks ago, I was asked to provide a brief welcome to a KCML training event. It was an event focused on training children and youth workers and about 55 folk were present. Some had driven over four hours, while others had flown from the North Island. As we began, I wanted to not only welcome, but also to locate our day in prayer.

The lectionary reading from the day before described Jesus healing a blind man. Reading it, I had been struck by the fact that Jesus sighed. I live in a family of audible sighers and it was nice to realise we shared our humanity, our sadness, relief and tiredness, with Jesus. In my own prayer, I had spent time thinking about the things I was sighing about.

Standing to welcome folk, I noted the need to begin with prayer. I described the very common human experience of sighing and invited us as a group to pray be sighing together!

Since it was a gathering focused on children and young people, I invited us to think of a young person that we were currently sighing about.

And to sigh together. And we did.

Since it was a gathering of leaders working with children and young people, I invited us to think of a leader in our ministry that we were currently sighing about.

And to sigh together. And we did.

Since we were a gathering of people thinking about mission and ministry into our communities, I invited us to think of something in our community that we were currently sighing about.

And to sigh together. And we did.

Since we were a gathering of people aware of politics and politicians, I invited us to think of a politician that was making us sigh.

And to sigh together. And we did.

I then read from Mark 7:34.

And I prayed: that our day together would result in our eyes being opened; opened to see healing and change in our young people and our leaders and our communities and the politics of our world; a prayer prayed in the name of Jesus who signed, and saw the reality of lives “being opened.” Amen.

It was a simple liturgy. It orientated us around Scripture. It acknowledged the humanity of ministry, that it causes us to be sad, relieved, tired. It placed us in context, inviting us to focus on people and community and real life. It was individualised, inviting people to pray for what was on their heart, what was causing them to sigh. It was participatory, a whole room of people sighing together. It used the senses, the physical act of sighing, the audible hearing of others sighing around us. It invited God to be present, to open eyes and situations in revelatory ways.

A liturgy of sighing. Feel free to join our prayer, to sigh also at things you wish to be opened.

Posted by steve at 07:56 PM

Thursday, February 02, 2017

U2 praying the pattern of the Psalms in Paris

A joy yesterday to have a 2,000 word article accepted for Equip a bi-annual publication of Ethos Centre for Christianity and Society. Aware of my interest in U2, they asked me early in January to write something for an upcoming edition on music.

Back in October I was doing research on how religious groups prayed after Paris. Having written a number of times about U2′s live concert performances, I wondered how they responded, given they played days after the Paris bombings. The research in October (watching the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Live In Paris DVD) never made it into the two conference presentations that resulted.

So when Ethos emailed, I thought it might be an opportunity to use research done, but not likely to find a writing home. I looked back over my research notes: watching U2 DVD’s as research! How did they pray, live, publicly, in the midst of so much pain?

I also was aware of the friendship between Bono (of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) and their common interest in the Psalms.

So over the last few weeks, various scraps on the hard drive began a 2000 word piece, titled

 

U2 praying the pattern of the Psalms in Paris

 

Here’s part of the conclusion:

In sum, aware of a broken world, I have examined how music and musicians might respond. Psalms voice the full register of human emotion. The Psalms of lament offer a pattern: call, confession, complaint, curse and confidence in surrender. I have examined how U2 played in Paris and have argued that this pattern is evident, not on a single song, but over a number of songs, stretched over more than sixty minutes. In response to terror, and the resulting emotions of anger and fear, U2 called for help, confessed and complained. But they did not curse. Instead they looked to New Testament resources, to the love of Christ.

It’s my 2nd U2 piece this month, having submitted in the middle of January a 9,500 word chapter for a book on religion and U2 with Bloomsbury, currently titled

 

God moves in mysterious ways: Performed pneumatology as passionate participation in the evolution of U2’s Mysterious Ways

 

Two pieces in one month on one band is a bit ridiculous. But it is nice to be writing in the theology and culture interface. It brings to seven the number of things I’ve had published on U2 over the last 6 years. Not something I every expected, but it has been a fun trip. Now back to some real theology!  (It also explains the silence on the blog front – only 1 post in the month of January, my most silent month ever. Apologies).

Other work I’ve had published on U2 and lament:

Posted by steve at 02:25 PM

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Research: Praying in crisis and the implications for chaplains

tear on cheek Our research data on how churches respond to crisis got a second airing today, at the Chaplaincy in Aotearoa New Zealand conference. (The abstract of our paper is below.) It was good to co-present with research collaborator Lynne Taylor and we were grateful to the conference presenters for giving us the space. It is the second presentation in the space of a few weeks, having presented at the Resourcing Ministers day to around 120 Presbyterian ministers as part of General Assembly 2016 in November.

The data set we are working with includes over 8,800 words of description regarding how over 150 churches prayed on the Sunday after the Paris tragedy. It means there is a lot we could talk about! Today, with a different audience, the presentation took on a different life. As part of the presentation, we also offered a takeaway resource, 8 examples of different ways that churches had prayed in crisis, including a brief commentary from Lynne and I as co-authors.

Being chaplains, and being a smaller group, the questions and matters of engagement were very different.

  • First, the complexity of us. There was affirmation of the theological reflection we had done in terms of noting the complexity of praying “forgive us our sins”; “deliver us from evil.” There is a need to think carefully about who is the “us” as we come in lament and intercession.
  • Second, from the field of mental health chaplaincy, the importance of being sensitive to the re-living of trauma. Particular care needs to be taken in the use of images, given the power of the visual to trigger past pain. So the affirmation of those examples that used the auditory, rather than the visual, in providing ways for people to pray in crisis.
  • Third, the importance of prayers for others including prayers not only for victims, but also for perpetrators of crime. This again, from a mental health chaplain, noting the importance of ensuring prayer was real and engaged the complexity of life.
  • Fourth, the difficulty of praying for crisis in religious communities that lack a tradition, and thus a set of established and well-worn resources.
  • Fifth, the enormous value of this type of research, in helping those who minister, to reflect on what they pray. This is a different, yet very life-giving type of research, that celebrates ministry and encourages the seeking of best practice.

Having now aired the data twice, in two different settings, and had the affirmation of the relevance and importance of the data, it is definitely time to seek an avenue for publication. But after Lynne has finished her PhD!

Praying in crisis: the implications for chaplains from an empirical study of how local churches respond to global events

Steve Taylor and Lynne Taylor

Chaplains often find themselves as a Christian presence in the midst of crisis. This can present a particular set of challenges regarding how to speak of the nature of God and humanity in tragedy. How to think of faith in the midst of unexpected suffering? What resources might Christian ministry draw upon?

One common resource is that of prayer. Given lex orandi, lex credendi (the rule of praying is the rule of believing) such prayers – or lack thereof – can be examined as the articulation of a living practical theology.

In the week following Sunday, 15 November, 2015, empirical research was conducted into how local churches pray. An invitation to participate in an online survey was sent to pastoral leaders in two New Zealand denominations: Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Baptist Churches of New Zealand. An invitation to participate was also posted on social media. The date was significant because on Friday, 13 November, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris. At the same time, a number of other tragedies occurred, including bombings in Beirut and Baghdad.

Over 150 survey responses were received. In the midst of global tragedy, how had the church prayed? What might be learnt from these moments of lex orandi, lex credendi? This paper will address these questions. It will outline the resources used and the theologies at work. Particular attention will be paid to the curating of “word-less space”, given the widespread use of non-verbal elements in the data. The implications for those who pray in tragedy will be considered, with particular attention to the ministry of chaplaincy.

Posted by steve at 05:59 PM

Friday, November 18, 2016

A graduating benediction

I was asked to offer a final benediction as the KCML November block course finished in Friday. It was a final gathering for our Year 2 graduating interns. It was a return to placements for our Year 1 interns. It was the end of a complex blockcourse, one that was ever changing and with multiple external demands for the staff team.

A benediction: Ma te hurihuru ka rere te manu. A Maori proverb that means “With feathers the bird will fly”

bird-1056389-640x480

Year twos

With Spirit’s wind under your wings
Spirit’s fire in your mouth
Spirit’s warmth in your heart

Year ones

May Jesus’ feelings guide you
Jesus’ prayer sustain you
Jesus’ compassion embrace you and your family

Staff and all of us,

In order that Creators abundance may astound us
Creators diversity enliven us
Creators power make in and through us all things new

Ma te hurihuru ka rere te manu

Posted by steve at 09:45 AM

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

visual examen: colour in prayer

We finish each day of our internship intensives with a daily examen.

Examen – defined as a prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God’s presence and grow in understanding how God is present.

Mixed with a morning devotion and a lunchtime intercession, it provides a three-stranded pattern of prayer that weaves through our block course intensives. The danger is that examens become essentially word based – more words at the end of a day full of words in a classroom.

So today, in order to engage our eyes and our sense of touch, I offered a visual examen. I cut up red, green and yellow card into different shapes and grouped them on plates. I walked around the room, offering first red, then green, then yellow. As people chose a colour, I asked them questions to reflect on their day.

  • Red – a strong emotion (how did you feel? who was there? what was said before and after? where was God)
  • Green – a moment of growth (a learning? an insight? a challenge? a connection?). Give thanks to God for these gifts.
  • Yellow – a joy (a moment in relationship? a joke from a colleague? Give thanks to God for these gifts.

I then read a Scripture – Philippians 3:8, 10. “More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. I want to know Christ[a] and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” It was a reminder of the importance of surrender into the shape of Christ, an invitation to release.

I located one of the icons I have written during my time in Australia (here’s a video of me talking about icons as spiritual practise) and placed it flat, as a sort of plate. I then invited people to place their colours on the icon, as a way of releasing our day to God, returning the gift we’d been given and surrendering ourselves to being in Christ.

unknown-2

Posted by steve at 07:50 PM

Thursday, October 27, 2016

U2 Praying after paris: a research query

In a couple of weeks I am co-presenting a plenary session at Practising hope: gathered and scattered, a day resourcing ministers prior to the Presbyterian General Assembly. The advertising blurb is as follows:

9:15 am Plenary: Hope gathered. How do churches respond to hard stuff? How did PCANZ churches worship and pray as they gathered on Sunday, November 15, 2015 in light of major international events? Steve and Lynne Taylor will present findings from their research into 160 churches, to explore how churches respond in gathered worship to hard stuff. What was practiced? How was hope understood? What theologies of God in suffering were at work? What does this say about being church in the world today?

It is one thing to agree to speak. It is quite another to find something coherent, interesting, deep and engaging. I’ve been quietly mulling away, working on the data, which is SO interesting. But it also slips and slides in SO many directions. Where in all this is the creative points of connection that might open up the conversation.

At the same time, I’ve also been working on a writing deadline – a chapter on live performances of U2′s “Mysterious Ways.”

Today it clicked. Two separate conversations suddenly began talking to each other. How did churches pray after Paris? Well, I wonder how U2 “prayed after Paris”? The band after all were due to play in Paris November 15, 2015. The concert was postponed. When they returned The New York Times wrote: “The Paris show that concluded U2′s Innocence and Experience tour was concert as personal memoir, archetypal story, prayer, exorcism and vow of unity.” Hmmm. Prayer!

How did they pray, live, publicly, in the midst of so much pain?

I wonder what happens when the prayer life of U2 after Paris is put alongside the prayer life of churches?

I have had, after all, work published on U2 and lament, looking at how they prayed publicly after the Pike River Mining Tragedy in New Zealand (Boase, E.C. and Taylor, S. (2013). Public Lament. In MJ Bier and T Bulkeley, ed. Spiritual Complaint: The Theology and Practice of Lament. Eugene, USA: Pickwick Publishers, pp. 205-227).

I have also had work published on how U2 memorialise the dead (Taylor, S. (2015). Transmitting Memories: U2′s Rituals for Creating Communal History. In Scott Calhoun, ed. U2 Above, Across, and Beyond: Interdisciplinary Assessments, Lanham, Maryland, USA: Lexington Books, pp. 105-121.) In other words, I’ve already done some reading and thinking.

And so, for the sake of research, in the name of resourcing ministers, another purchase is made: iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Live In Paris

Posted by steve at 06:42 PM

Friday, October 21, 2016

Practising hope: gathered and scattered Ministers Resourcing day

As part of Presbyterian General Assembly, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership has been asked to provide a day resourcing ministers. We want to engage the theme of General Assembly – hope for the world. We want to offer thoughtful and theological reflection on ministry practice, empirical research into how churches respond to tragedy as they gather and how we discern how Christ takes form in the world. We want to allow the rich range of voices in the church to be heard. So far, the registration response has been excellent.

Theme – Practising hope: gathered and scattered

9:00 am Welcome, introduction KCML team

9:15 am Plenary: Hope gathered. How do churches respond to hard stuff? How did PCANZ churches worship and pray as they gathered on Sunday, November 15, 2015 in light of major international events? Steve and Lynne Taylor will present findings from their research into 160 churches, to explore how churches respond in gathered worship to hard stuff. What was practiced? How was hope understood? What theologies of God in suffering were at work? What does this say about being church in the world today?

10:00 am Morning Groups: “What’s in your kete?” By “what’s in your kete?” we are asking various ministry practitioners to facilitate discussion both among the group but also by example. We are asking them to bring resources that they use for offering hope in the hard places of human experience. We want the question to also be a group question, allowing the group to bounce off each other and sharing best practice. If you have resources you have found important in nurturing hope in hard places, please bring them to share. Group presenters will include KCML Faculty and local practitioners.

12:00 Lunch

1:00pm Plenary: Christ Plays in 10,000 Places: Introductory Address and Panel. Mission conversations in churches frequently occur as an inside-out job. We speak of ‘reaching out’, or ‘taking the Gospel to’, or even ‘welcoming them in’. It assumes we as the church are the centre and the fixed point from which the action emanates. But what if mission is just as much an outside-in job and God is already in our communities and marketplaces, inviting us to join the action there. What if Christ the living Word is speaking and acting amidst the world for the sake of the world. Can we become discerners of Christ amidst the marketplace and neighbourhood, and in discerning this, how might we hear Christ speaking a word of freshness to our churches?

2.00pm Workshops
1. Developing a culture of discernment in your eldership. Rev Ed Masters (Rotorua District Parish Church)
2. Loving your neighbours and discovering God’s Mission Rev Sun Mi Lee (St Austells Uniting, Auckland)
3. Building the conditions for mission listening and innovation in a Presbytery Rev Darryl Tempero, (Kiwi-Church and Alpine Presbytery Mission Facilitator, Christchurch)
4. Young People detaching from Church: What mission questions does the Pacific experience raise? Rev Fei Taulealeausuami (Former CWM Pacific Secretary & PhD Student) & Rev Dr Tokerau Joseph, (First Church Otago)
5. Listening to our changing rural communities Rev Erin Pendreigh (Otago-Southland Synod Mission Facilitator) & Rev Andrew Harrex (Lawrence, South Otago)
6. Leadership processes for mission listening & innovating Rev Dr Steve Taylor (Principal KCML)
7. The new net goes fishing. Ministry in the water amongst millennials. Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly (Senior Chaplain, Auckland University) & Rev Dr Hyeeun Kim (Counsellor, Auckland University)
8. Discerning and following Christ in Suburb and City. Rev Dr Mark Johnston (KCML Auckland Coordinator)

3.15pm Afternoon Tea and book launch. In this 2016 year KCML Faculty have published a range of resources that offer significant resourcing for ministers. This includes a songbook, multiple creative worship resources and three books. Commissioning prayers will be offered as part of our concluding worship.

Posted by steve at 06:27 PM

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Let us sing (in harmonies) a new song in this strange land

Last week, I was asked to deliver a keynote address at the Pacific Island Synod, a gathering of Samoan, Niuean, Tokelau/Tuvalu and Cook Island communities from around Aotearoa New Zealand. I was asked to address the question: How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? As soon as I received the invitation, I asked a KCML colleague, Malcolm Gordon, if he might have a song to sing. A few days before, I gave him the script for my talk and he responded with a yes.

The Pacific Island Synod ended with a feast on the Saturday evening. This included a number of speeches, in which gifts were offered. With Malcolm present, I stood and announced that we as KCML had a gift, that of a song, written specifically – new – for this occasion. I noted the theme – How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? – as a question not only for Pacific Island communities, but also for Malcolm and I as Palangi. Together, as diverse nations, we share a common quest, a shared mission, that of seeking God’s help in singing a new song.

lordssong

Malcolm passed copies of the music around. He noted he had a melody, but that the song needed harmonies. There was an instant murmur among those gathered, with so many fine voices and such a rich tradition of song among Pacific peoples. As Malcolm began a cappella, those gathered began to improvise harmonies. Together in our diversity we produced a new song.

As the Synod Clerk wrote to me later “It was a great moment when the place just broke into song. Thanks Steve and Malcolm for such a great finish to the day. We definitely sung a new song in this strange world.”

Posted by steve at 06:54 AM

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Being a birthing Church: litany in times of change

God in stories of change was the devotional theme for our winter block course. Where is God in change? Who are humans in change? How then might we respond, as humans, as interns? Every morning we gathered around these questions, with interns being invited to engage a set of Scriptures

1 Thessalonians 2:6b-12
Genesis 18:1-14 (Sarah)
Genesis 16: 1-14 (Hagar)
Genesis 18:1-14 (Abraham)
1 Samuel 1:1-20 (Hannah)
Luke 1:39-45 (Elizabeth)
Luke 1:39-45 (Mary)

A key resource in the choice of Scriptures was Margaret Hammer, Giving Birth: Reclaiming the Biblical Metaphor for Pastoral Practice. It explores ministry through the lens of birthing narratives in the Christian tradition and offers a rich set of resources.

pregnant-1435168-1279x964 The link between change and birthing made sense first, of the fact that a third of our interns are experiencing changes with birth. A very healthy happening! Second, the call to be the people of God in this season, of which change is normal.

After devotions ended today, I wrote a Litany (a series of petitions, usually recited with call and response in a recurring formula). I wanted to capture key themes gifted to us by each intern in their devotion and provide some sort of thread to bind the days together.

In Paul, Silas, Timothy
The nursing mother cares
The father encourages
ALL: We might suffer (as church)
Yet the mission gives birth

In three strangers
The door of hope opens
As Abraham looks up
ALL: We might laugh (with Sarah)
Yet the barren give birth

In domestic discord
God sees:
Speaks, protects
ALL: We might despair (with Hagar)
Yet the vulnerable give birth

In Eli’s challenge
Amid despairing prayer
And heartfelt honesty
ALL: We might weep (with Hannah)
Yet the faithful give birth

In adolescent haste
Christ dwells
Spirit fills
ALL: We might hurry (with Mary)
Yet young and old give birth

Posted by steve at 07:11 PM

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

childrens talk: with explosives

Needing a children’s talk for Sunday, I asked Presbyterian Archives if they had anything on the church I was preaching at (Knox Presbyterian, Dunedin). They produced a catalogue, which at 35 pages, indicated a rich history. Scanning through, an entry on page 34 caught my eye.

explosives

Explosives. I asked for more and they produced a family album and information regarding a Professor Black, who in the 1880′s, gave a lecture on explosives, with numerous experiments. Here is the children’s talk that resulted:

(more…)

Posted by steve at 02:45 PM

Monday, November 16, 2015

Flags as lament: Brooke Fraser for Paris, Beirut, Kenya and violence

Brooke Fraser’s song “Flags” (from the 2010 Flags) album) became a place of thoughtful healing over the weekend. Certainly the weekend brought news that was “plenty of trouble, from which we’re all reeling.” The suggestion, to “listen,” to news of lives flapping empty (“our lives blow about, Like flags on the land)”.

There is something disturbing, challenging even, in the line “My enemy and I are one and the same.” The reminder that Jihadists are humans, who have mothers and brothers, and they will awake today to grieve a dead son. What will they be feeling? And to wonder what drives a human, a person born vulnerable like me, to such extreme acts.

And then her turning to Scripture; with the verses that reference the Beautitudes. In these verses (pun intended) is a place to feel – “to mourn, to weep.” In these verses is faith, not in triumph but in reversal; for the innocents who have fallen and the monsters who have stood; “I know the last shall me first.”

Which gives me a place to act: To listen, to feel, to retain the will to faith. Thanks Brooke.

Come, tell me your trouble
I’m not your answer
But I’m a listening ear

Reality has left you reeling
All facts and no feeling
No faith and all fear

I don’t know why a good man will fall
While a wicked one stands
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land

Who’s at fault is not important
Good intentions lie dormant
And we’re all to blame

While apathy acts like an ally
My enemy and I are one and the same

I don’t know why the innocents fall
While the monsters still stand
And our lives blow about
Like flags on the land

I don’t know why our words are so proud
Yet their promise so thin
And our lives blow about
Like flags in the wind

Oh oh oh oh

You who mourn will be comforted
You who hunger will hunger no more
All the last shall be first
Of this I am sure

You who weep now will laugh again
All you lonely, be lonely no more
Yes, the last will be first
Of this I’m sure

I don’t know why the innocents fall
While the monsters stand
I don’t know why the little ones thirst
But I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first
I know the last shall be first

For more of my writing on lament and popular culture, see U2 and lament for Pike River; which became a book chapter in Spiritual Complaint: The Theology and Practice of Lament, when I worked with a colleague, Liz Boase, to explore Paul Kelly’s concert response to the Black Saturday bushfires and U2′s response to the Pike River mining tragedy.

Posted by steve at 06:22 AM

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

living bread stations

I was asked to lead worship twice this week. Monday was with our Certificate in Bible and Leadership ESL course, which has 7 cultures present. Wednesday was with our regular College chapel. I wanted to link them both, so I sought to mirror the worship.

bread I also wanted to engage with weeks lectionary texts, with the focus on living bread. I had this creative spark, to actually write on bread. Some cocktail rolls, slightly overcooked, worked well. This then allowed different activities at different stations, people writing different things on the rolls. They became living, shaped by our prayer and our memory. These were then collected up at the end from each station as part of closing the worship, so our living bread coming together. Even better, the bread from Monday’s worship was added into Wednesday’s worship. In so doing, both communities are reminded they are part of a bigger story, the many diverse ways that College is engaged in teaching and growing people.

living bread

The full order of service is as follows: (more…)

Posted by steve at 06:31 PM