Seeing Dimly

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.

seeing dimly
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


Autobiography on the Move – Bruce Hamill

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

Movie Review: Robot & Frank

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

The sermon as sacred disruption – Martin Stewart

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