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Encouragement for the Journey – 27/11/11

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Welcome to our friends from St Andrews, by way of explanation, I write this weekly column to encourage us here at St Aidans on the journey. Each week I seek to explore life and faith from different perspectives and vantage points. I hope this week you are encouraged on your journey?

There is an expression which goes something like ‘so near, yet so far away.’ I often think of that when I reflect upon how close geographically our two congregations are, yet in many ways, we could well be a million miles apart. Today then, is a very special gathering, for we are coming together a second time in three months to share in worship and fellowship. This is cause for celebration and rejoicing, for something new between our congregations is being birthed. This must be nurtured and embraced as a work of God’s providence and grace. Why? You may ask.

The changing nature of our NZ society means that no longer is the Church, the centre of society, rather, it finds itself, firmly on the fringe or edge of society. We can no longer afford to be isolationists; the challenges are too great, we truly do need each other, indeed, the metaphors and images of the Church in the New Testament, are images of interconnectedness and interdependence i.e. the body of Christ, a spiritual house, and God’s people. In light of these images, we come together for worship and fellowship, for who knows what will blossom forth, as we seek to follow in the footsteps of our master Jesus. Who taught his followers to practice being in relationship, this indeed demonstrates the power of God’s love.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge how much I have appreciated Chris Bedford’s collegiality over the past two years, from our conversations and friendship these shared services were conceived and birthed. May God’s love, strength and guidance be with Chris and Sue, on the next step of their journey of life and faith and Christian service.

Meanwhile Peace,

Alf

November 27, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 20/11/11

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Today is a very special day, as we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of our present building in 1931. It is an understatement to say, that New Zealand society was very different then, from today. However, in one area, it is the same, namely the Church is people, always people. A Maori proverb sums this up so beautifully, te tangata, te tangata, te tangata, it is people, it is people it is people. So to people let us turn.

This week I came across this verse from the poem Night Duty by Tomas Transtromer (Swedish Poet who received the Nobel Prize for Literature 2011):

Tonight I am down among the ballast.
I am one of the silent weights
Which prevent the vessel overturning
Obscure faces in the darkness like stone

Reading those words, I thought how many people have contributed to ensuring the vessel named St Aidans has remained a float. Even though at times, it was buffeted by storms, the possibility of being blown off course ever present, with the anxiety and fear of overturning, yet, through the presence of human ballast, namely people, the wisdom and peace of God came. A new course was plotted and sails re – set to catch the prevailing wind of the Spirit.

Now, at this moment in time, we can feel the winds of change blowing. You and I, we people, human ballast, are still required; indeed more so, as St Aidans sails into uncharted waters of an unknown future. This brings predicable and unpredictable challenges, each offering us opportunities to respond as people of God, empowered by the presence of the Spirit’s breath.

It is my belief and philosophy of ministry, that we can respond in creative ways to meet this beckoning unknown horizon. Together, we can discover new forms of Church life and mission in our ever changing world. With the empowering of the creative Spirit of Christ, we may serve one another, to serve our community, seeking to make a difference, starting with our selves.

May the photographs shown on the screen warm your heart and trigger memories of people who have journeyed with you for awhile at St Aidans. May you enjoy gathering together today, renewing old friendships, making new ones, sharing stories and memories, to encourage each other on our journey of life and faith.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

November 20, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 13/11/11

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

From time to time, we receive news that touches deep within our heart.

This week it happened to Fleur and me, when we received the news that her sister-in-law in England has inoperable cancer. I know for many of you, you have been in that place, of being the recipient of news that once heard; our life becomes irrevocably changed forever.

How we live upon hearing such news will be vary from person to person, but what is common, is that life becomes very different. Things which once took centre stage, now find themselves on the periphery of our lives, while other things increasingly gain a new importance and relevance.

What I find amazing about us humanoids, is that it seems to take a major shock; to jolt us from what could be described as ‘dream like living’ to being ‘fully present awake and alive.’ There are many reasons for this, but, the result will be the same, the urgent will give way to the important. Our values become clearer and we focus on what is truly important in our lives.

Being Christ followers, we also acknowledge the spiritual dimension in our lives. Two questions that often get asked are: Why did this happen? And if God is a loving God, how could such a God, allow suffering and pain in our lives? These questions are without any satisfactory answer. Yet we ask, indeed we need to, for questions are essential aspects of the journey.

At this point on my journey, the mists of mystery swirl around me, I am in the mist and I breathe in the mist. This to me is a beautiful metaphor of God, who is omnipresent, and the Holy Spirit, the subtle energy and presence who grants courage and strength to live and follow in the footsteps of Jesus, through dark valleys and on sun lit plateaus.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

November 13, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Last week you will be aware there was a leak in the Maui gas pipeline. In response to this, we had the various news agencies reporting on the situation. One such item I heard included the following: ‘the crisis continues there will be no bread rolls or crumpets until next week.’ Now this could well express the view of the radio news editor, a crisis I think not. I accept that for some no bread rolls and no crumpets could well be a crisis. This surely, minimizes what a crisis is. I checked my NZ Oxford Dictionary and there a crisis is defined as: a decisive time or a time of acute difficulty or danger. Is having no bread rolls or crumpets for a few days a crisis? I think not. The Rena grounding is a crisis, affecting the social, economic and environmental fabric of the Bay of Plenty.

I want to suggest a situation, that some, is a crisis that often goes under the radar and is quickly forgotten by all but a few in our society. That is Grandparents raising Grandchildren. The following is an extract from a report by the Grandparent Raising Grandchildren Trust:  ‘The exact number of children in extended family/whanau care in New Zealand is not known, however at time of print the membership of the Grandparent Raising Grandchildren Trust stood at 3,983. As at April 2009, the Unsupported Child Benefit, the most common means of support available to kin carers, was claimed by 7,743 carers. When other forms of financial assistance such as the Child Youth and Family Foster Care Allowance; the Independent Youth Benefit and the Domestic Purposes Benefit are taken into account and those carers who receive no financial support in order to retain custody, it can be estimated that there are in excess of 10,000 children in kin/whanau care.’

On this our Sunday to celebrate Grandparents and grandchildren, we pause to remember those grandparents who at a time in their life when they thought life would be easier, now for many various reasons are raising their grandchildren. We can only imagine the immense physical, emotional and financial cost this entails. We honour these women and men today and the gift they are giving to their grandchildren.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

November 6, 2011 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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