“…the congregation is topsoil – seething with energy and organisms that have incredible capacities for assimilating death and participating in resurrection. The only biblical stance is awe. When we see what is before us, really before us, pastors take off their shoes before the shekinah of congregation.”
Eugene Peterson [in Under the Unpredictable Plant 1992 p136]
I’m a minister in a church
A people call me
I think that God calls me as well
Together they coaxed me
(maybe I didn’t take much persuasion)
and continue to coax me Continue reading
Simon is senior minister at St Peter’s Tauranga
I often hear people complaining about ‘Assembly’, or about the way that Presbyterians ‘Debate’. I want to stand up and be counted, I want to shout from the roof-tops that Presbyterian Style is best! It is a style of democratic participation that harnesses the best of many people and balances the excesses of the few; we believe that the Holy Spirit speaks through the people discerning together. Our system grew Continue reading
The “Big Little Bible” app from the New Zealand Bible Society is a great introduction to the Bible for young children and their families. It’s also a novel approach for families who read their Bibles every day. The app is easy to navigate and features people and stories from major events throughout the Old and New Testaments. It’s written in the Contemporary English Version (CEV) so the text is fairly clear and easy to understand. The illustrations are colourful, playful and beautifully assist with the telling of the story.
My eight-year-old son, Gabriel, had a look at it for me and gave me his feedback. He really liked the format of having a circle to tap for each story. He liked having the story on a screen and was fascinated by the sounds it made when clicking on the app. Gabriel thought he’d still like to use his book Bible, but this would be handy to look at if he was out and about and had to wait for me.
I found the illustrations captivating and enjoyed the features such as the ability to highlight favourite passages. Highlighted passages are then saved to a screen that’s accessible from the home page. There is a really good introduction and I found it handy to have the bookmark and questions feature at the top of every page.
One thing both Gabriel and I missed was the ability to have the passage read aloud. I know that this adds a whole new technical dimension, but it would expand the usefulness of the app. As a matter of taste, the CEV is a bit more paraphrased than I prefer. Also I would call this a “Storybook Bible” as opposed to a Bible since it is not the complete text.
Those little things aside, I think this is a wonderful tool to expose children to God’s word. It would be best used on a tablet or iPad with a larger screen, but I found it quite handy on my phone. Congratulations to the New Zealand Bible Society on catering for our youngest Bible readers! This is an inspirational tool that will expand the reach of God’s word.
Kids Friendly Part Time Coach
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
White Space Conversations* are a series of short papers by Andrew Norton (Moderator of the PCANZ) addressing issues of life, faith, order and imagination inviting generous, open, grace filled and robust conversations within our church.
This is the first in a series of six that will be posted each week on the moderators web page and on the PCANZ Facebook page
The word ‘politics’ is the coming together of a number of Greek words, polis- city, polites – citizen and politika – the affairs of the city.
There is a thread flowing through these words pointing toward something greater than the meaning each word contains in itself; the well-being, safety, protection, provision and benefit for everyone in the community; The creation of an ordered and civil society. Continue reading
Some thoughts on translating the gospel in our culture by Martin Stewart
It seems to me that this is a season for renegotiation with our communities.
If we conduct a wedding or a funeral, we need to attend to the fact that many of those gathered do not share the faith we speak from – some may engage with aspects of it, others will resist it… many will have a prejudicial attitude that we can either reinforce or destabilize.
It does not seem appropriate to me anymore to roll out scriptural passages or make faith statements without some attempt at translating and gently inviting people into a God-filled way of seeing. We can no longer assume people speak or understand our language.
It is a delegate space to manoeuvre in. The opportunities for a gospel conversation are less frequent than they once were. We can blow it instantly by rolling out the cliches, preaching at people, and talking as if we know everything. We have plenty of cliches, many have a long history and need to be put to bed. We have got good at preaching at people who expect us to behave in this manner, but they have become few in number. And, of course, we do not know everything – we only get to see through a mirror dimly – we need to be careful, open, and honest about the space between what is and what will be.
This poem emerged out of an introduction I offered at a recent funeral – the image came from the hills around Makara in Wellington.
we want clarity before the mysteries
but we gain barely a glimpse
a passing shadow
a leaf falling from a tree
some have practiced a life of glimpsing
exhibiting a quiet confidence
insight to what exists in the space between things
knowing enough to know
an unforced word from one of them
can be a small seed of hope
a window to a horizon
a place to set one’s foot
Bruce Hamill is on the move to a new style of ministry in Wellington…
Autobiography like truth should be hard work. Maybe it’s the pressure from Martin Stewart but I feel like it’s a good time to put in a little hard work.
I am in Darfield after about twenty one years as a minister in the PCANZ. The car is laden to the gunnels and the scooter (my mode of ministry transport) is perched alongside two bicycles on a tiny trailer. We have accumulated a surprising amount of worldly possessions and most of these are books in a container on the curb which will follow us to our third ministry job in windy Wellington. This third position is a step into the unknown. Continue reading
Robot & Frank (2012)
Director: Jake Schreier
Writer: Christopher Ford (screenplay)
Reviewed by Rory Grant
What is it that makes us human? Our memories? Our loves and relationships? Our work? Our ability to plan for the future? Robot & Frank explores these themes through the eyes of Frank, a retired and reclusive cat burglar, and his unwelcome robot companion.
Set in the near future, we begin in a situation that is all too real for many older people in our communities – Frank (Frank Langella) is caught in a tug of war Continue reading
I would love a creative conversation in Candour on sermons.
I remember an elder in my first parish informing me as he was leaving (!) that my preaching went only so far and then it left things open-ended rather than me taking the opportunity to deliver the ‘killer’ punch. He was taking his family to a church where the preacher would tell him how things were.
I was disappointed about his leaving but impressed that he saw exactly what I was trying to do. I was serving in a context where a few preachers had been telling everyone what to think and the majority of people were quite over it.
Nearly 30 years on I still view the sermon as a conversation. I understand the engagement with the scriptures as opening a window for ongoing dialogue with God. Continue reading
Vivian Coleman is a Presbyterian minister who has also served in the Baptist context. She is passionate about supporting pastoral leaders.
How do the insights and systems of the business sector inform the management practices of the Christian church? About five years ago, I began studying Human Resources Management in the corporate world, and enrolled for Masters of Business with a view to researching how churches practice evaluation and accountability of their clergy. I had participated in or observed pastor review processes that were helpful, as well as some that were painful, or inadequate, Continue reading
I wrote the following poem a few weeks ago for the funeral of a woman from the Bryndwr part of The Village Church – thus some of the specifics come from her story. I wrote it as an imaginative exercise as I thought about the flash of memory that seems to be a common element in the experience of dying – at least that is what those who didn’t quite die tell us!
The invitation for those of us who remain, I suggest, is to accumulate memories for that final flash of memory. Continue reading