Monday, February 06, 2006

Contemporary Waitangi Day worship

Today in New Zealand is Waitangi Day, which acknowledges the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori and the Queen of England’s representatives in 1840.

So Sunday’s worship needed some connection between such themes and the gospel. For me I wanted to capture welcome, what it means to be inclusive and hospitable and how one might live justly as a guest in another land.

So as everyone arrived on Sunday they were given a photo of a person of different ethnic origin, currently living in New Zealand. (Images had been sourced in relation to here and printed black and white on 5 cm square paper.) After an opening song, we read together a montage of Scriptures (based on a selection I found in an old Baptist hymn book) which named the reconciling work of Jesus. I had hung a line of string across the front of the church. As a response to the welcoming and reconciling power of this gospel, people were invited to paper clip their photo onto the string. I played Welcome home DVD, from the Available Light album , by Dave Dobbyn, as people streamed forward. Quite simple, yet a really nice mix of participation, gospel and contemporary cultural connection.

Once we had finished, I prayed a brief prayer confessing our human ability to be selfish and hold onto gifts, praying that people coming to New Zealand would experience welcome and that our actions as a church would always demonstrate the hospitality of the gospels.

By chance, it was the first Sunday of the month, in which Opawa has historically celebrated communion and welcomed new members. It was visually powerful to celebrate communion and reconciliation in bread and cup against a backdrop of a “line” of photos. We were also welcoming a Korean family into church membership and that added a further layer of poignancy to themes of gospel welcome and hospitality.

Updated: For those who requested the Scriptures, here’s a the DJ-ed list (without references)

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.

Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin condemns many people.

And the work of that righteousness will be peace;
Its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
As the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills,
And all nations will stream to it.

Many peoples will come and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.”

The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; Nations will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.

Come, house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

For he himself is our peace, who has the two one, and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, that he might create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

God does not show favouritism, but accepts those from every nation who fear God and do what is right. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Sythian, slave or free: But Christ is all, and is in all.

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom God’s favour rests.

Posted by steve at 09:01 PM


  1. This sounds great!! Sounds like it would be something that would be helpful to share with the youth in my ministry. Could you post and/or email the scripture you used?

    Comment by Carolyn Bixler — February 7, 2006 @ 6:28 pm

  2. Sure Carolyn, I will see what I can do and get back to you … when I get it I’ll fire it up on the blog also.

    Comment by steve — February 7, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  3. I still read your blog, Steve!…and it’s posts like this that nearly bring me to tears. I participate in your faith community at Opawa by entering into the worship experiences as I read and agree in my spirit. Your creative use of symbol in visual and audible ways is powerful (to the soul.) Thank you for continuing to share with the rest of us who may not have a group of like-minded people to regularly “do this stuff” with. Though I live in a large metro area (Denver) I go to the web for creative spiritual connection. Just hard not to be able to really sit down over coffee or a meal with the rest of you.

    Comment by Jennifer — February 10, 2006 @ 10:14 am

  4. thanks heaps Jennifer, just really glad to know that we are resourcing people. All we need now is a paypal account and a webcam 🙂

    Comment by steve — February 10, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

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