Thursday, November 25, 2010

I don't know what to say

As a bringer of Good News, I have been struggling to know what to say in response to the tragic events in the South Island mine. As a Christian I must have something to offer, beyond "come and light a candle."
I can think of nothing that comes near to being right than the hymn sung in the New Zealand parliament yesterday - to the same tune as 'Then sings my soul'.
Here are the simple lyrics, in Te Reo and English

Whakaaria mai Tōu rīpeka ki au Tiaho mai Ra roto i te pō Hei kona au Titiro atu ai. Ora, mate, Hei au koe noho ai

Show your cross to me. Let it shine there in the darkness. To there I will be looking. In life, in death, let me rest in thee.

Nothing to add

Friday, November 12, 2010

NEIGHBOURS DAY 2011

I attended a planning group for Neighbours day 2001 - to be held on 26-27 March. It is simply awesome - the idea of thousands of people all over New Zealand being given cakes, cookies, or jam by strangers who live just across the road; or invited to a BBQ to spend time with people they've said a passing 'hello' to hundreds of times but know nothing about. www.neighboursday.org.nz

We need to re-neighbourhood or re-communitise the places where we live, work and play. People are lonely, isolated and lost simply because they rarely enjoy genuine relationship. This day is not about big events, programmes or organisations, but about individuals and families befriending those around them.

There is something profoundly Jesus-like about this. He frequently ignored crowds and focussed on individuals. In an age where big is always best, where the best churches are the largest ones, and the most successful ministers those who attract the mass followings, I suspect Jesus is calling his followers away from the crowds, structures and strategies with all their fame, glory and superficiality, to be present instead with the humble, lowly and irrelevant, for there we will find Christ Himself.

Although Neighbours Day is non political and non religious, I was thrilled to find followers of Jesus at the heart of it, quietly, gently serving in order to transform this nation. I think Jesus was pleased too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Christian Heroes

“We’re not afraid of death because Jesus died for us. Of course we cry, but they’re tears of happiness, because we die for God.”

- Sama Wadie, 32, his hand wrapped in a bandage, after attending Mass at Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad, where 51 people were killed last Sunday. (Source: New York Times)

Such Christians are heroes, who live the Jesus life with a depth and intensity I fear those of us in the 'West' may never experience. I despair at times that my following of Jesus is so tame, insipid and pale - so different from the outrageous, energising, vibrant, technicolour, abundant life-giving Jesus who leaps from every page of the Gospels.

I want to live a Jesus centred life which is so radical and challenging that people hate and despise me. I long to challenge the conventions and customs of this day by embracing the most loathed members of society; by showing no favour to the most powerful, wealthy and influential; by outraging the religious and celebrating the lowly. But it may cost me my life, and I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that.

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

75 Today

Church Army New Zealand is 75 years old today.
I feel humbled and honoured to lead an organisation with such a proud history - and today I thank God for all those - living and dead - whose path we follow. It is awe-inspiring to 'stand on the shoulders of giants.'

What better way of celebrating the day than spending time with Sister Kath King - our longest serving evangelist. Having recently undergone serious surgery, she said "thank God for successful surgery, please pray that improving mobility will allow more opportunities for continuing ministry."

Such life-long, commitment to serving Jesus through Church Army makes me even more humbled and honoured to lead an organisation with such an exciting and promising future.