funeral poems

I’ve been inspired to write a couple of poems .  Two people in the church died recently, both were elderly.  The first received a sense of his mother ‘visiting’ him on the day he died – he was most surprised.  The second had been a choir singer and the blessing I gave at the end of the service picked up on a way of seeing her free of the pain and experiencing those moments musicians sometimes have when they become at one with the notes.  I picture Beethoven’s Ode to Joy as his reaching into the communion of the Triune God and hearing something that he could then translate.

the collection

this woman
who birthed me
came
at the end

to collect me

as if
there had never been
a separation

as if
death was not the wall
I had always thought
it was

as if
when it comes
time for me
to let
out
my
last
breath
those who have been
are welcoming me

as if
what will be
and what has been
meet
to join hands
in the circle
of my
now

now,
if you
command
the science
of this

if you
demand
the science
of this

if you
insist on
the science
of this

don’t ask me
don’t ask me

for I suspect
or even know
what you
‘discover’
in the asking

will
only
take
this
woman
away
from
me

the song

picture her
positioning herself
against the pain
straightening her back
one last time

observe her
listening for the song
this ode to joy
finding her part
entering on the eighth bar*

lean in close
hear her singing
first as admirer playing catch-up
but in no time at all
becoming alive in the notes
traversing that fleeting space
between last breath and first

* eight/waru – resurrection day

Encouragement & a prayer – Martin Stewart

I’m very conscious of demands that Christmas brings on ministers and their families in this festive season.  I’m currently preparing for Christmas #29 as a minister.  It should have been #30 but I skived off one time making the most of the opportunity that a shift between parish ministries gave me!
I know we all like to be creative and fresh each Christmas but the simple reality is that we are coming to the year’s end and most of us are catching a sniff of holidays looming close… so we box on, stagger, or limp towards 11am on Christmas Day, and often present ourselves to our families as tired wrecks…  Every now and then I wish Jesus was born in September! Continue reading

Out of Retirement – Ray Coster

Ray is a former Moderator of the PCANZ and is back from a year away as he embarks on his retirement from full-time church ministry

Recently I returned to New Zealand after a year ministering in a Methodist Circuit in London. Consideration of further parish ministry was never on my bucket list when I turned 65. When I retired after nearly 40 years of serving the PCANZ in parish ministry I did have a plan for my retirement years. A friend and I had a dream of working for a third of our time, serving humanity for a third, and ‘playing’ for a third. Continue reading

Prayers for praying

Hey there!
Who writes prayers for worship?

Would you be willing to submit some for Candour?

Contact me: martin(at)villagechurch.nz with your contributions!!

Robert Simpson, a retired minister in Christchurch has prepared these prayers to start us off:

LORD,
Triune God,
You are magnificent,
marvellous and almighty One.

You are creator.
You are holy.

Your love is constant.
Your words are true.

Your works are dependable.
Your plans are enduring.
Your purposes last eternally.

You are mysterious.
You protect me.
You save me.

I offer obedience, trust and praise,
and worship only You.

LORD,
I have so much to celebrate!
My world echoes to Your beauty.
Your great love surrounds me.
The friendship You offer me is returned.
The open-door hope that You bring,
shows me the outstanding future.
Thank You!

LORD,
rest our minds in thinking,
touch our lips in speaking,
hold our hands while working,
guide our feet in moving,
watch our bed while sleeping,
and shield our faith in serving.

LORD,
the horrors of war, famine,
death, injury or starvation
confront millions of people.
We don’t know how to pray for them,
or even what to pray about.
You said, “Pray for the least of my people,
and you have prayed for the world”.
That should be enough to go on!

LORD,
we hear from Your Word
loud and clear –
Forgiven! – Forgiven! – Forgiven!

May we act to others in the same way.

An offering to the powers that be – Martin Stewart

Martin is the editor of Candour and a minister in the team at The Village Church, Christchurch.

20180522_201941

A few weeks in Wellington I photographed Finn, my seven-month old grandson, revelling in the wonder of a Wellington gale.  I was about to head to the airport to fly home.  I was dreading the flight because of the intensity of the gale, and I was eventually held up on the tarmac for almost two hours because of that wind!  But there was Finn, throwing his head back in laughter as he delighted in the wonder of wind! Continue reading

May the road rise to meet you – Martin Stewart

Home Hills Rd

An Easter reflection on Andrew Norton’s photograph Home Hills Rd in Central Otago.  The Village Church in Christchurch hosted a collection of Andrew’s images and poems.

May the road rise to meet you.

That, of course, is the opening line of the well-known Irish blessing.  May the road rise to meet you.  It’s an interesting idea – the road rising.  Our usual take on things is that we do all the moving – the lowering of a foot as we lift the other in order to propel ourselves forward.  And the road is there for a purpose – to walk or drive on – functional. Continue reading