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Encouragement for the Journey 25 October 2015

Encouragement for the Journey.

Greenstone Moebius Band

Greetings fellow travellers,

Last week I handed in my final assignment for the internship study programme. It was for the module entitled “Presbyterian and Reformed”, and my focus was on how the theological flavour of the Church of Scotland has influenced the overall shape and identity of the PCANZ.

While Calvin can be hard going to read, his overriding passion was to make known the great mystery of God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Calvin had a deep sense of God’s awesome, overwhelming nature – what the King James version would call ‘fear of the Lord’. And at the same time, he had an equally deep sense of God revealed in the tender, humble and grace-filled life of Jesus. But from Calvin’s beginnings, John Knox and others took a rather harsher theological stance. Their understanding of God was weighted toward the distant and immutable Father in whose presence human beings are less than worms. The person on Christ takes a subordinate role as the means by which God makes grace available to the selected few, and the person of the Holy Spirit is mostly made redundant.

The church that grew out of this image of God had a far greater focus on rules, obedience, laws and conformity – anything less than a spotless church cast doubt on the reality of salvation. Grace, tenderness, forgiveness and reconciliation are overshadowed not so much by fear of the Lord, but abject terror!

What is so striking as I reflect on this in a broader context is how deeply our image and understanding of God affects all of our aspects of ministry and witness. While theology may seem like an academic exercise in describing the indescribable, we are all theologians at some level – we all formulate some kind of understanding of who God is – and where God is. And those understandings have a massive impact on how we approach every other aspect of our lives. Who is God? And where is God? And so what? Are pivotal questions for our journey of life and faith, and they are questions that need to be considered both individually and in community so that we are able to provide balance and counter-balance to each other, and so that none of the vast fullness of our responses is lost or compromised. We cannot know God on our own.

God is mystery, but not in the sense that God can never be known, but in the sense that there is always more to be known. It is God’s delight to be an ever-unfolding mystery, so it may be our delight to journey deeper and farther into revelation.

Blessings,

roxy

October 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 18 October 2015

Encouragement for the Journey

Unknown-2

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Welcome to another Café Church, our theme today is International / Cultural within a NZ setting.

On Tuesday 7 October 2014 at our Presbyterian General Assembly, it was agreed unanimously to adopt a new policy statement that declares the Church to be “a cross-cultural and multicultural Church with a bicultural commitment”. The PCANZ’s web site offered the following comment on this new policy:

“The new policy goes beyond simply recognising that we are multicultural. It is a commitment to crossing over the barriers between cultures in the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; it embodies the spirit of creating a church community where there is cross-pollination of new ideas. It reflects our intention to build a church that values, listens to and reflects together upon what each cultural or language group brings to the table. With this statement, we recognise the spiritual insight and cultural richness that can be found in the sharing of experiences, wisdom and learning from many different cultures.”

When I read the above, I find my self in ‘no man’s land.’ I read the policy statement, followed by the subsequent comment, which all sounds very worthwhile and conducive to building harmonious relationships, but, the hard reality is how do I actually make this happen in the real world of my everyday living.

I want acknowledge this is not an easy journey to both live in a multi-cultural society and participate fully in “a cross-cultural and multicultural Church with a bicultural commitment”. At best, I need an awareness of my own beliefs, attitudes and prejudice, which at times prevent me from seeing the Other, as an equal, a child of God, in whom Christ dwells. From this awareness, I need to learn to practice appreciating the beauty, the spiritual wisdom of other cultures and so learn from those who have a different cultural heritage and language to me. This is a learning journey.

Meanwhile peace and wonder in what we may discover and learn from each other, increasing our cultural intelligence and awareness.

Alf

October 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 11 October 2015

Encouragement for the Journey

River_of_Golden_Dreams-1024x640

 Greetings fellow traveller,

As a young boy, Willard Wigan was told he would amount to nothing. He had undiagnosed dyslexia and was derided by his teachers for not learning to read. At the age of five, Willard turned to art as a place to escape from ridicule, as a way to express his compassionate nature and as a small piece of rebellion. Told he would amount to nothing, he set out to prove that nothing did not exist. He began by making houses for ants, reasoning that they should have somewhere to live. He then made them shoes and hats, and his work was so small that no one could criticise it.

The image of the camels in the eye of the needle shows some more of his rebellious streak – not so hard for them when they are microscopic!

In order to create his art, Willard has to enter a meditative state which slows down his breathing and heart beat so that his hand does not tremor. He sculpts between pulse beats.

Willard uses grains of sand, dust fibres, gold and spider’s webs in his work, and to paint his sculptures, he uses the hair of a housefly.

So what do we learn from Willard’s work? Here’s what I think:

Nothing is impossible.

Thinking outside the box is vital for impossible to become possible.

Small is beautiful!

Coupled with compassionate imagination, a little rebellion can be a good thing.

Finding beauty opens doors of possibility.

If you set yourself an impossible task, you must be prepared to pray as you go.

Willard has been honoured by the queen with an MBE, and he is a dedicated supported of charitable causes, many of which help children in less privileged circumstances.

How might he have pursued his artistic gift without the derision of his teachers? Would he have developed his art if he had become sullen and harboured resentment, or violently acted out his frustration?

We will never know.

We simply marvel at the skill he has honed, and the humour and heart he has given it.

Nothing is impossible for God. So then all things are possible.

Blessings

roxy

October 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 4 October 2015

Encouragement for the Journey

Communion Sunday

Greetings fellow traveller,

Today is World Communion Sunday; it is an opportunity to celebrate Christian unity and cooperation. So it is very appropriate that on this day, we seek to share with our children and youth something of the wonder and beauty of Holy Communion.

Last year when we received accreditation as a Kids Friendly Church, we also had a goal that during the next twelve months we would have a Kids N All Service, which explained Communion to our youth and children. We honour that commitment this morning.

Those of us, who have shared in Holy Communion for many years, may know the theology of the sacrament, its practice and its central presence at the heart of the Community of faith. You may also know that such a simple and beautiful act originated by Jesus to remember him, has been taken and interpreted in different ways across the various denominations. Each denomination’s creeds and statements of faith show their way of celebrating communion, is the way, and other ways, for various theological reasons just don’t measure up.

Yet, on World Communion Sunday, we honour that which unites and what we have in common with other denominations, rather than that which divides us.

During our KIDS N ALL gathering today, we will be reminded of the communion story and what

Communion is and offers us on journey of faith. This will be done in such a way that will speak to us no matter what our physical age, or how many years we have had the opportunity to participate in Communion.

I take this opportunity to remind you, you are welcome, and all are welcome, for none are excluded from this act of belonging. Holy Communion is for all people, no matter our age, ethnicity and even our religion. For this bread and wine are the gifts of God for all people.

Meanwhile Peace

Alf

October 30, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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