Encouragement for the Journey 24 June 2012


Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings fellow traveller,

This week is volunteer awareness week. Did you know?

• More than 9,000 volunteer urban and rural fire fighters provide fire prevention and emergency response services to 80% of New Zealand’s geographical area.

• 2,200 volunteer St John ambulance officers contribute approximately 1.8 million hours – working with paid ambulance officers to treat 300,000 patients, travel over 13 million kilometres by ambulance and attend 250,000 emergency 111 calls on average every year.

• More than 20,000 NZ Red Cross volunteers make a huge difference here in New Zealand and overseas, through 123 branch groups and 5,422 branch members.

• Last year, more than 4,300 surf lifesaving volunteers gave up their free time to keep our beaches safe, performing over 105,388 preventative actions and clocking up a massive 194,486 patrol hours.

• The Royal NZ Coastguard reports that over the period from 1 December 2009 to 31 March 2010, Coastguard’s dedicated volunteers answered 101,609 radio calls responded to 1,509 calls for assistance and rescued 3,509 people.

• Land Search and Rescue has over 2,500 trained search and rescue volunteers, who are members of 54 Land Search & Rescue groups, organised into seven regions, covering the length and breadth of New Zealand; and two national specialist groups – LandSAR Search Dogs and LandSAR Caving

Also Young people are active as volunteers and according to the 2006 Census people aged 15–24 were involved in:

• Unpaid helping of children outside of the home 68,211

• Unpaid helping of people with a disability or sick outside of the home 25,092

• Other unpaid helping or voluntary 48,966

• The average young person (aged 12-24 yrs) does over 70 hours of unpaid work outside the home a year. With more than 700,000 young people in New Zealand that is more than 49 million hours a year. The average young person (12-24yrs) spends 30 hours a year on religious, cultural and civic participation.

“The current generation of young people is involved in many volunteer activities and shows concern about social issues like climate change, not unlike the generations before them. If their parents, caregivers, adult role models, support people and teachers have taught young people generosity and kindness then those values are likely to stay with them”

Sarah Helm Former Executive Officer, NZ Association for Adolescent Health & Development

When I read the above, my heart is strangely warmed and I am encouraged may it also encourage you.

Meanwhile Peace in our Acts of Random Kindness – Alf


June 25, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 17 June 2012

Encouragement for the Journey

 Greetings Fellow Traveller,

This week I received a request to take a small Christian funeral for a man who had died at home. After having a conversation with his family I reflected on how beautifully and tenderly this family had cared for him in his time of need. I never cease to be amazed at the courage and strength of the human spirit in caring for another human being who is very near the end of their physical existence.

Courage is a strange quality; we know when it is present and when it is not. When courage pays a visit, we find ourselves facing and seeing life with a different set of lenses. With courage we attempt things which initially we are unsure whether we will succeed or not, yet we still attempt them. It is like we experience unseen hands holding and sustaining us with a power to open our eyes and not be afraid.

I like to imagine these are the hands of the One we name as God, the mystery of mysteries, God with us – Emmanuel.

This week I discovered a new poem. I particularly like its espresso coffee imagery, but it also invites the reader to open our eyes long closed so we may experience life with courage and of course so much more. Enjoy!!


 Black coffee at sidewalk cafes

with chairs and tables like gaudy insects.

 t is a precious sip we intercept

filled with the same strength as Yes and No.

 It is fetched out of the gloomy kitchens

and looks into the sun without blinking.

 In daylight a dot of wholesome black

quickly drained by a wan patron…

 Like those black drops of profundity

sometimes absorbed by the soul.

 that give us a healthy push : Go !

The courage to open our eyes.

 Tomas Transtromer. Swedish Poet

Meanwhile peace in our courageous moments




June 25, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 10 June 2012

Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

My theme for this week is around the phrase‘the hatching of the heart.’ I offered you this expression sometime last year, alas, some files have disappeared from view in my laptop and I am unable to check back what I wrote. Perhaps that is a good thing, maybe, maybe not. This expression was first used by Frederick Buechner (Presbyterian Minister and Novelist) in his book Godric. I think it is one of the most delightful phrases I have come across in recent years. It kind of encapsulates so much about life and faith.

The human heart is one of the most important and amazing organs in the entire human body. It is really nothing more than a pump, composed of muscle which pumps blood throughout the body, beating approximately 72 times per minute of our lives. The heart pumps the blood, which carries all the vital materials which help our bodies function and removes the waste products that we do not need. The word ‘heart’ appears well over a thousand times in the Bible and may be understood as a metaphor for the self, that part of us that is deep within at a level below our thinking, feeling, intellect and emotions.

The word hatching, evokes images of eggs slowly cracking, then a beak appears and finally a little chick emerges from the egg. This is also a metaphor for how we may live the Christian journey. At times you and I may live within a protective shell. We close our selves off from each other, creating an illusion that it is safer to be there then engage with another human traveller. From my own experience, there are times when I know my heart is open and when it is closed. When my heart is closed, I seek to shrink within my shell, this may happen when I am tired, anxious about things, or when I am grumpy and short tempered becoming critical of myself and others. In these times, I need the hatching of my heart, to again be open to myself and others.

The hatching of the heart enables us to being open with God. In opening ourselves to God, the sacred Mystery, we break free, from the confines of our protective shells. We stand in the light, to love and be loved with ourselves and others. I leave you with these words from Dag Hammarskjold Secretary General of UN

Give us pure hearts, that we may see you;

Humble hearts that we may hear you;

Hearts of love, that we may serve you.

Hearts of faith, that we may abide in you.

Meanwhile Peace in the Hatching of the Heart Alf


June 13, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 6 / 6/ 2012

Encouragement for the Journey

Greetings Fellow traveller, 

Yes, it is the first Sunday of the month and as is our custom we have Kids N All. For those who were present at last month’s Kids N All, you would have been part of our Webs of Belonging. It was a special time for experiencing our belonging with one another. Today, our theme is the celebration of Pentecost, the giving of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Here at St Aidans we celebrated Pentecost last Sunday, through the medium of hymns, songs, scripture readings, a reflection and Holy Communion. This is one approach to celebrating the presence of the Spirit in our individual and communal lives.

Today, we have a different approach which is more experiential and tactile. One approach is not better than the other, just different. To participate in worship will always include our senses and evoke responses within us.

I recall the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin a French Jesuit who sums up our humanity well when he said:

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’

As spiritual beings having a human experience, we have the capacity to fully experience a range of human emotions. The metaphor of the Spirit, which currently appeals to me, is ‘breath.’ This divine breath or Ruach is the feminine life force, which is at the heart of all. Our breath is truly mysterious.

The breath we breathe in enters our lungs and through the various systems of our body, oxygen is received enabling us to live. To breathe is to be alive; it is what sustains our very existence.

There is no part of our human body which does not benefit from the breath we breathe. This is a beautiful way to appreciate that there is no part of our humanity that is not dependent upon the Spirit; it is what sustains the human soul.

When we experience life through our five senses of: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. We do so through the whole of our being. Weaving through our senses is the presence-ness of the One we name Holy Spirit. This is not something separate from us, rather it is what sustains and pervades are very being, it is our spirituality. I leave you with this description of spirituality from Brother David Steindl-Rast:

“Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is a separate department of life, the penthouse of our existence. But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades all realms of our being. Someone will say, ‘I come alive when I listen to music,’ or ‘I come to life when I garden,’ or ‘I come alive when I play golf.’ Wherever we come alive, that is the area in which we are spiritual. And then we can say, ‘I know at least how one is spiritual in that area.’ To be vital, awake, aware, in all areas of our lives, is the task that is never accomplished, but it remains the goal.”

May our service today touch your senses and warm your soul

Meanwhile Peace Alf


June 5, 2012 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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