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Encouragement for the Journey

Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Occasionally a quiet lunch, may offer a truly memorable moment. This occurred when Fleur and I were in a café at Mission Bay, Auckland. The day is Monday 18th February 2008 and at precisely 1.30 pm the sound of blaring car horns fills the air. A convoy appears the occupants of each car are waving red flags with a black eagle insignia. The convoy stops outside the cafe, the drivers and passengers get out and start clapping, raising their hands in the air, and shouting ‘independence’. These young men were celebrating Kosovo’s independence from Serbia.

The gift of freedom is something that we can so easily take for granted living in New Zealand Aotearoa.

Freedom has different facets and connotations depending upon the context. Freedom is more than the ability to say what one wishes, or go where one desires without fear of retribution, or to cast a vote knowing it will count in an unrigged election.

Freedom offers us the opportunity to think, to explore and discuss ideas, to be creative, to question and to doubt, we could say that freedom is the ability to choose. The ability to choose our actions and attitudes is something we often forget, for the dominant stories of our society, faith and the expectations of others have a tendency to keep us bound inside, we become fearful of speaking, for fear of rocking the boat or what others may say.

The Lenten journey is a journey in freedom; it is a journey of decision-making and choices, learning to accept the consequences of our actions. On our journey to Easter, we have the freedom to experience transformation to be who we are, fully human and fully alive.

We could say the greatest freedom is living in God’s grace, whereby we are free to choose how we will live, what we believe, and how we will love and practice compassion. I leave you with this quote from Viktor Frankl:

“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl

Meanwhile Peace in the Dignity of Difference – Alf

 

 

 

February 27, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 19 /2 /2012

Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings fellow traveller,

This week I made a startling discovery, which challenged my thinking on human intelligence and potential. You may well have heard the saying; ‘we humans only use 10% or at the most 20% of our brain.’ Associated with this, is the assumption, that if we could harness the remainder we would somehow be raised to a new level of human consciousness, functioning and intelligence, along with exercising increased psychic powers. Alas this is an urban myth. According to Wikipedia: the 10% myth most likely arose from a misunderstanding (or misrepresentation) of neurological research in the late 19th century or early 20th century.

Not being trained in the neurosciences, I undertook some light research, I discovered the various regions of the brain serve various functions and are themselves complex. Of our brain cells 10% are neurons while the other 90% are glial cells which support the neurons, but mystery still surrounds their function. It would appear from my reading that it is not that we use just 10% of our brain, rather we only understand about 10% of how it functions.

Scientists have a broad understanding of it functions, but how our little grey cells, those brain cells, work together to produce healthy and unhealthy behaviours and disorders remain a mystery to modern scientific research. Even though we may not understand how our brain functions, it does not prevent us from exercising our brain to discover, to learn more about this cosmos, our world, and our land; along with own inner thoughts and responses to life.

The mystery of our human brain may be a reminder that not knowing how something works or functions does not mean we need to dismiss it as not being useful. When it comes to ‘spiritual’ things, we again shrouded in mystery, uncertain were we are or going. We have many questions and our faith journey is just that a faith journey, for the opposite of faith is certainty.

Our faith journey is bringing us to Lent. Traditionally Lent has been understood as a time of abstinence i.e. what can I give up? e.g. wine, coffee or chocolate, or doing without, not watching certain TV programmes. Lent is more than a time of sacrifice and restriction in the giving up of things.

I want to encourage you to see Lent as a time for personal exploration and discovery with growth and renewal. This hopefully will lead us to becoming more aware and sensitive to the needs of others and through that awareness we may discover God. I leave you with this quote from Richard Foster:

“The truth of the matter is we all come to prayer with a tangled mass of motives altruistic and selfish, merciful and hateful, loving and bitter. Frankly, this side of eternity we will never unravel the good from the bad, the pure from the impure. God is big enough to receive us with all our mixture.”

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

 

February 21, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey – 12/2/2012

 

Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings fellow traveller,

This week during the funeral service for Terry Boyd the story was told of how while at Auckland University, he was involved in the development of Bungee cord for Bungee Jumping. It seems that the cord it not just a single elastic cord, rather it is a number of elastic strands woven together for strength, elasticity and above all safety.

Hearing that story, I am reminded how on our journey through life we find strength, encouragement and creativity working with others to achieve common goals and objectives. We can achieve more together, rather than working alone

A word that comes to mind is synergy. Synergy may be described as the interaction and / or cooperation of two or more things, persons or groups functioning together to produce a new or enhanced effect that is not achievable when working independently. The word synergy comes from the Greek word ‘synergos’ meaning ‘working together.’

The challenges the Christian Church face in this century, indeed what we face now at St Aidans, (I am sure you know what challenges we face) cannot be solved by a person working alone who comes up with ideas. Rather, synergy is a way forward that seeks to harness our combined creativity, producing alternative ways forward, ensuring new life, energy and hope are present.

To have synergy requires we become intentional about creating space, listening, to ourselves and each other, suspending judgement, so we may allow the gift of trust to be born and grow. We need to admit that often we don’t know a creative solution to the problem before us, but, together we give each other permission to wonder, and say, ‘what if …..?’ To explore options and possibilities, to delight in what synergy brings forth as we work together within a creative team environment.

To engage with synergy, might mean we practice the art of unlearning, to become a learner once more, accepting that others have ideas, suggestions and when we come together we share these and from our communal salad bowl of creativity comes something new that was not possible when we worked alone. This is a healthy functioning body of Christ in action.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

 

 

 

February 13, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 05/02/2012

Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Today is our Kids N All Service with a New Zealand theme. Being Kiwi is something unique and important, yet it is difficult to define or describe. I think what is at its heart is a belonging to this land of Aotearoa / New Zealand.

Belonging is a powerful word. Maybe one of the most powerful words there is. It taps into something very deep within us – the yearning to be part of something larger than ourselves, to be accepted and loved by others with our gifts and limitations. This hunger to belong is a desire within us that seeks to bridge the gap that exists between isolation and intimacy. We may have all that the world seeks to offer in terms of prestige, possessions, achievement, yet without a true sense of belonging, our lives can feel empty and pointless. Like a ship without a rudder, aimlessly drifting on the sea of life.

We find our belonging in a variety of ways, through various kinds of communities. This desire to belong was brought home to me this week, when I had to send some emails and make some phone calls to people who did not have an Internet connection. The comment was made, how an email is an efficient communication medium, but it lacks a personal touch, the sound of a human voice.

We humanoids are personal human beings not machines or robots. If you look back over your past week and those special moments, were you alone or with another human being? For what gives us the most joy and pleasure is being with others, to journey with another for a while, to share stories and create memories.

This is very evident when someone we love dies, we experience grief and loss, for their physical presence is no longer with us, we feel the deep ache and pain of their absence. We take a while to discover that their presence is with us in a very different way. Over time, through the seasons of the heart, our belonging with those departed, is transformed, into an invisible presence within the memory banks of our heart. I leave you with these words from Peruvian Poet – Cesar Vallejo which speaks of our human need for belonging:

         Bake bits of fresh breads for you

         Here, in the oven of my heart

Meanwhile Peace in your belonging

Alf

 

 

 

February 7, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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