Accusing Jesus – Stuart Vogel

VermeerOver recent years, I have had a fascination with the great Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675). Vermeer had the rare artistic ability to capture a particular moment – and make it eternal.  A little like the gospel writer, Luke.

Recently at the Auckland Taiwanese Presbyterian Church I preached on the story in Luke 10, of Jesus in Mary and Martha’s home. In 1655, Vermeer painted the scene in his painting “Christ in the House of Mary and Martha”. 1655 was within the final years that the Netherlands controlled Formosa (Taiwan) as a colonial power. Continue reading

Looking to the future – Simon McLeay

Simon is Senior Minister at St Peters in the City in Tauranga

I’m convinced that God has a good future for his Church.  I see signs of life and health in many churches.  I also wonder whether it is time for us to move away from a “one size fits all’ mentality when it comes to ministry.  I’m currently doing some study leave and looking at the leadership styles required for different sized churches.  Continue reading

Fake News, Modernity, & Sin by Peter Matheson

Peter Matheson is an active thinker still building on his interesting ministry (among other ministries) as Professor of Church History at Knox College.

Bewildering, but hardly dull, living in our post-truth culture! The twittering never stops.  From the President of the USA down to inanities closer home the ether is dense with nonsense.  Often enough, too, it is dangerous nonsense. Continue reading

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.

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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

Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous

Tom Mepham is a first-year ministry intern with KCML and a co-leader of Student Soul, a young adult congregation in Dunedin.

The world as we know it can be understood using the acronym VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

What do each of these words demand of us?

Volatility requires extra margins so that energy, time and resource don’t run out during unexpected crises. Keeping good boundaries should include the (five in this case) cornerstones of the whare: taha wairua (spiritual health), taha whānau (relational health), taha tinana (physical health), taha hinengaro (intellectual health) and taha pütea (financial health) – and probably other areas too.

Uncertainty requires resting deeply in identity. We might not know what the heck is going on, but we can take comfort in the fact that we’re called, empowered and sustained for such a time as this. Also, sometimes offence is the best form of defence. We have the potential and power within us to thrive in this new world.

Complexity requires an adaptive spirit, a fertile and conversational thought-world, and the freedom to move with speed and skill.

Ambiguity requires us to see that we actually don’t have the answers already, and that’s OK. It’s impossible to know what will ‘work’ or not. In an age where precedents don’t exist, we’re to embrace both systematic and spontaneous experimentation. Our mindset must be for adventure; our eyes toward the horizon; our attitude one of bravery.

In a VUCA world we get to be vibrantly and undeniably confident, assured that our best days are ahead of us.

“So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit…” (Acts 13:4)

A time to Zag – Andrew Norton

Andrew is based in Auckland and the following article is based on reflections spoken at his retirement as senior minister at St Columba in Botany Downs.

Down on the farm my father taught me, when everyone is planting wheat it’s time to plant barley. There is no demand for over-supply.

As I think about this in relation to the church’s unique contribution to today’s society, I see an over-supply of some things and correspondingly an under-supply of others.

The decline of church attendance over the years is not because the church is no longer relevant but exactly the opposite. The church looks in every way, just like our society, it is no different to the world we live in. Continue reading

Pursuing Peace in Godzone – Sharon Ross Ensor

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Sharon is the Director of the Presbyterian Church Schools’ Resource Office

Some years ago in the congregation where I was minister, we had a ‘home grown’ art exhibition which focused on the theme of peace.

People were invited to create something which conveyed what peace meant for them. The church became an art gallery of sorts for a few days and people appreciated being able to take their time with the poetry, writing, photos, art and handcraft on display, reflecting our faith community’s take on peace. Continue reading

The edge: Awake, Listen! Follow! – Roxy Gahegan

Roxy is the chaplain at St. Cuthbert’s college in central Auckland.

There are three things that have struck me deeply over the last ten years with regards to the teachings of Jesus and the way that we as church organise ourselves and live our faith and life journeys.

First of all, before my ordination training, I took classes in Church history (I had managed to avoid this entirely while studying for my theology degree back in the 90’s), and in one of the books I read, the author observed that even within the first 350 years of the Christian faith – before Constantine can be blamed for institutionalising us and aligning us with power and status – even before that, those who were perceived as heretical – doctrinally questionable or incorrect – were treated violently. Continue reading