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Encourgement for the Journey 27 July 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

Peaceful Trees Picture

Greetings fellow Traveller,

This week I was again visited by that strange phenomena called writers block. Sitting down to write my weekly encouragement for the journey, I found myself at a complete blank. Nothing came into my awareness. Sitting there in the silence, I decided that if nothing came to write, it would be OK, for something would arrive in its own time. I had to be patient.

Patience is truly a remarkable attribute; I recall that old saying from an unknown source:

 Patience is a virtue,

possess it if you can,

seldom found in woman,

never found in man.

 Now I know that is not true, for I have met some very patient men and some very impatient women and of course vice a versa.

Patience is something which is quickly becoming in short supply in our fast paced and changing world. Today, there is ‘I want it now attitude’, we no longer have any time to wait for anything. Consequently we have instant noodles, instant meals, instant cash, and speed dating along with ultra-fast broadband to ensure we don’t have any waiting time for our internet downloads. It would appear that patience is no longer required in our 21st century world.

However, I want to suggest that patience is required more than ever. This week I have had two extremely long travel times to my office well over an hour for what usually takes me twenty five minutes. Patience is required travelling with the increased traffic on our Auckland roads. Waiting, just maybe what we need in our busy schedules, this offers a grace moment to pause, breathe and become aware. For who knows what we may discover along the way……

I want to claim patience, when it comes to technology. Sometimes my computer and smart phone don’t always do what I want them to do and my frustration levels raise and I feel like throwing the piece of techno junk out. I pause for a moment, and think I expect more from my technological toys than is desirable, after all they are just a piece of technology, that can go wrong in an instant. It is not worth losing my peace over something that often I don’t understand or know what is happening within a particular piece of technological hardware or software.

Patience is required in the many interactions with fellow human beings, we all have our foibles and imperfections, for no one are perfect. When I am tempted to judge another’s behaviour, I pause and remind myself to be patient, for I truly don’t know what has happened and or is happening in their world. No wonder patience is one of those graces or fruits of Jesus’s Spirit, which we each need to cultivate and practice in our personal and communal lives.

Meanwhile Peace and Patience on your journey

Alf

 

July 30, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 20 July 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

Bible (resized)

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Welcome to another Cafe Church, our theme today is the Bible. This is such an immense topic; there are so many areas we may choose to focus on. After a conversation in our Kids friendly team, we are going to attempt an over view of how the Bible arrived in its current form. We will discover some of the major historical characters in its translation and of course have our regular table conversations.

It would be an understatement to say, that how the Bible is read and interpreted is perhaps the most single divisive issue in the Christian church today in the Western World.

Naturally there are many ways of reading the Bible. I am indebted to Professor Marcus Borg who suggests that the conflict today is between a “literal – factual” way of reading the Bible and a “historical – metaphorical” way of reading it.

The “literal – factual” way is central to Christian Fundamentalism and Conservative Christianity. The other “historical – metaphorical” way has been taught in theological colleges for over a hundred years, and in recent years has been increasingly common in some Christian Churches. These two views maybe seen as two kinds of lenses, through which one may read and interpret the Bible.

It is equally important to say that how one sees the Bible and how one sees Christianity are indeed inseparable, being intrinsically linked.

We also need to remember, that the past is a foreign country, and they do things differently there. The Bible is always a collection of ancient documents produced in worlds different from our own. What is important is that whatever lens one may use to read the Bible, it is essential that the lens one chooses includes, love, compassion and is inclusive and not exclusive.

For me I was brought up with a literal – factual” view of the Bible and over time I have adopted a “historical – metaphorical” way of reading and applying it to my life. Consequently, I find myself becoming nonliteralistic, embracing metaphor and the wonderful idea of inclusivity within the embrace of God who is love.

Meanwhile peace on our journey of discovery

Alf

 

 

 

July 30, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 13 July 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

Journey picture  ex Ben C.

Greetings fellow traveller,

This week I had the wonderful privilege of once more having conversations with my supervision clients. Supervision is very different from counselling / therapy or spiritual direction. A helpful way to understand supervision is to break the word into two, super – vision. This ‘vision’ or ‘’seeing’ may be achieved in various ways, but ultimately it is through asking questions, that a person is able to look, to have that wider perspective, on what they are currently doing in their ministry or clinical practice. To reflect upon what is helpful and effective, along with is it making a difference for good in the lives of others? Not forgetting the effect on their life and relationships.

The concept of asking questions and reflecting upon our lives is not just for people in the helping professions, but, also for each human being.

In the last thirty years in New Zealand, there is a trend whereby a person’s rights take precedent over personal responsibility. But ultimately we are each responsible for our own lives. How we live, love and respond to the ebb and flow of our lives, with its many challenges and encounters.

To help us respond healthily requires we need to ask the questions, sometimes we ask ourselves, while at other times it may be helpful for someone else to ask us, and we can then take the time to quietly respond. Not only individuals’ need this helpful exercise but also communities, even communities of faith. I have appreciated our renewal team here at St Aidans who regularly take the time to ask the hard questions.

The asking of questions often brings us to a place of Not – Knowing. The way forward is learning to live with the many paradoxes of lives; of course this may be uncomfortable for we are unable to see the way ahead clearly. But, within this embrace of Not – Knowing, we slowly accept to live and delight in our lives.

At the heart of asking these deep questions, whether as an individual or in community, always requires an atmosphere of trust. Without trust there cannot be the space in which we can explore options or ideas, without fear, punishment or judgement. Let us here at St Aidans keep asking the questions always within an atmosphere of trust and acceptance, for who knows where it will lead us…

For in the questions, learning happens between us

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

July 30, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 6 July 2014

Encouragement for the Journey

Peace Doves

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

This week the theme for our KIDS N ALL Service is PEACE. PEACE is such a beautiful word, yet the actual experience of peace and peacefulness is often very far away.

This week I found the web page of International Alert (A non –governmental organisation whose focus is on laying the foundations for peace. They describe peace as:

  • When people are able to resolve their conflicts without violence and can work together to improve the quality of their lives. Peace is when:
  • Everyone lives in safety, without fear or threat of violence, and no form of violence is tolerated in law or in practice.
  • Everyone is equal before the law, the systems for justice are trusted and fair and effective laws protect people’s rights.
  • Everyone is able to participate in shaping political decisions and the government is accountable to the people.
  • Everyone has fair and equal access to the basic needs for their wellbeing – such as food, clean water, shelter, education, healthcare and a decent living environment.
  • Everyone has an equal opportunity to work and make a living, regardless of gender, ethnicity or any other aspect of identity

I find their description helpful and inclusive. We can apply it not just to places currently in conflict in our world, but also here within our own nation of New Zealand, within our own networks, families and of course within communities of faith of whatever religious practice.

We each have a responsibility to be an instrument for peace and peace-making. Jean Vanier the founder of the L’Arche. (An International Federation dedicated to the creation and growth of homes, programs and support networks with people who have intellectual disabilities) offers these six points for peacemakers. I offer them to you and me in our practice as peace –makers…

  • Respect every individual human being;
  • Create space for people to grow and become mature;
  • Always stay in dialogue;
  • Keep adapting mutual expectations;
  • Enjoy the differences among people;
  • Always direct your attentions to those who suffer most;

Meanwhile peace not just in words but in practice and in our experience

Alf

 

 

 

 

July 30, 2014 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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