Thursday, February 05, 2009

celebrating the city

(Art by Olivia Chamberlain, used with permission)

I spoke at Celebrating the City last night. It’s an excellent initiative by Oxford Terrace Baptist, here in central city Christchurch. Four Wednesday evening lectures (February (4, 11, 18, 25) with four different speakers exploring city themes. An excellent initiative for an central city church to be taking and I really like the fact that speakers will include our local Mayor (February 11), and the sense that this is not just a church conversation.

My task was to kick off the series reflecting on the Bible and the city. The argument I made was that most of our images surrounding spirituality and prayer are rural. I took a visual flip through Christian posters and the front covers of books on prayer and how often God is imaging to us in the outdoors and the isolated and the “natural” landscapes. I suggested this makes it hard to celebrate the city, because we have lost our capacity to find God in people and in complexity and in human creation and offered some suggestions for ways forward.

Preparing was an interesting personal journey for me. I used to teach a course on Urban mission, back in 2001 and 2. So it was bit of a historical foray digging up old notes. I found things like 3.5 in disks. And colour overhead transparencies! Remember those? I remembering feeling so pleased, back in 2002, scanning images on the computer, then getting colour onto acetate transparencies.

Just seven years later, and for this lecture I was downloading and embedding video clips, with sound, all inserted into my keynote presentation. Technology is moving so fast and is just one more complexity of living today.

I was also interested in how my own thinking had progressed over the years. Recent sermons on Deuteronomy and Ruth and the minor prophets were inserted in the theme of the city in the Bible. Video clips I am currently using in my missional church speaking seem to flow really well. In other words, I had this sense of remaining true to what I used to teach, yet still growing, refreshing, deepening.

I thought it was good night. Attendance seemed to exceed expectations. A good mix of people and I heard some great stories afterward. I even got to meet one of my silent blog readers, on holiday from Rotorua (!). “We came from Rotorua to hear you” and laughter all around 🙂 So today is a shout out to my silent blog readers. Thanks for being around, even if I don’t know you :).

Posted by steve at 11:38 AM


  1. hi steve,

    im a silent reader of your blog and REALLY appreciate all that you put up.

    you inspire me!

    Comment by Robyn — February 5, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  2. another silent one that likes reading your blog

    Comment by jason — February 13, 2009 @ 6:57 pm

  3. The ‘silent blogger’ from Rotorua was delighted to meet you and hear you speak! Thanks for a thought-provoking and instructive night.Especially enjoyed the poem by Owen Marshall about not wanting to die in Auckland, and James.K.Baxter’s ‘Song.’

    Comment by hilary calman — February 15, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

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