"Wanda" won't start.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
"Wanda" won't start.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
My wife and I traveled to Christchurch this weekend to celebrate my young sister’s sixtieth birthday with my family. It was a good Saturday night when we enjoyed a cabaret with some clever people entertaining us with music appropriate for a sixty year old. We had two of our children there and their partners and they were able to catch up with cousins. On the Sunday we went around to my sister’s place and had lunch with family there. All of my siblings and their wives were there so we caught up on each other with lots of conversation and some memories.
It was interesting being in Christchurch again after my two stints there assisting with earthquake recovery. The place still looks very beaten up. On the Sunday morning I got up and had a run down Blenheim Road, around part of Hagley Park and back home. I started running about 7:50 and on the frosty morning it was so cold that my hands hurt. I was jogging around the park when the sun got high enough to shine through the trees (very picturesque – I wished I had brought my camera) and by the time I was running home it was warm enough to enjoy the day. Two things - I ran along and saw all these big green sewerage tanks strapped together in front of these buildings. As I looked at these I realized it was outside the public hospital! There is so much work poor old Christchurch needs to have done to repair the earthquake damage! (There were at least two aftershocks while we were there.) Secondly as I jogged around one part of the park I was reminded of running around a park in Amsterdam. The scenery was very similar. I got to wondering what Christchurch would be like if it fostered a bike culture like Amsterdam? It is flat. I am sure it would do people good to bike and also clear the air of a lot of pollution. If I was mayor of Christchurch that is what I would be looking into, it would be a great asset.
We caught up on lots of people over the weekend. While driving home we were talking about these people, and then went on to talk about the many people in our lives. A number of people we know have faced or are facing the dreaded cancer, with uncertainty about their future. Quite a few among our contacts and extended family have experienced a break up of their marriage or live with a marriage that is not nearly as supportive and life giving as it could be. And finally, a number of people struggle with life because of the on-going unwise choices that they keep making. Our hearts were heavy as we thought about all the struggles, stresses and pain people we knew were facing. We also felt incredibly fortunate and just lucky to have the life we live. Cherish life and look after the people you love.
Out of step again?
I got talking to a minister and he started talking denominational politics and who represented who, how to maintain control of churches, what was right and what was wrong. I had two reactions at first. My first reaction was to say under my breath, “Tell someone who cares!” Such things no longer interest me. I am wrapped up in representing Jesus in the community and I have lost interest in the politics of the denomination. My second reaction was to then feel guilty. I have been the president of our Denomination in NZ. I have been on the Conference Council. I was employed by the hierarchy as a fieldworker for two years. Shouldn’t I as a minister be concerned and involved? But I am so out of step that I can’t be bothered with the issues any more. They seem irrelevant to where I am at in my faith, my ministry and my Christian involvement in the community. But I felt a bit guilty when this minister reported that someone he was talking to complained that “David does not go to conferences any more!”
I got to thinking about Jesus and his reaction to internal political arguments among his band of disciples. He basically said that sort of thinking was “of the world” and not “Kingdom thinking”. I am not sure Jesus would have wanted the imperialistic structures that are formed in his name! I think he too would lose interest in such internal politics. I decided that my view off Jesus was very different than much Church thinking… but to quote another religious rebel, “Here I stand, I can do no other!” (I just got an email; the hierarchy of my denomination wants to meet with me… oh well?!)
I have enjoyed driving our 1990 Nissan Bluebird. She travels so well on the open road and is so comfortable. … but I noticed that when starting the starting motor did not buzz as well as it ought to have. We got to Timaru on the way home and took a leisurely stroll through the shops. When we arrived back at Wanda she would not start even with jumper leads. A nice young man pushed us and we drove to our favourite motel in Oamaru. We unloaded our luggage and parked Wanda on a hill for a roll start tomorrow morning to go the final leg home. We’ll have to get her fixed when we get home. Tonight we will relax in the luxury of this expensive motel and pretend we are rich. Overall, so far, it has been a nice weekend off! Back to the real world tomorrow.
Photos: The music at the cabaret... ABBA and Tina Turner imitation.... good fun.
Monday, May 23, 2011
When I was driving through town today I honked my horn and waved out at a man I know. He grinned and waved enthusiastically back at me. While I was running tonight I got to reflecting on this man. He is one of two brothers I know. They are both in their sixties. One is very religious, the other does not attend church, except when he was a child the family attended a very conservative church. On the surface one would think that I would have more in common with the religious brother. But I feel more drawn to the non-religious one.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
I have survived another very full and busy week of ministry and workplace chaplaincy. One of the aspects of life I have found powerful is the human interactions and I'll tell you about some of them.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
- Who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
- who has gained the respect of intelligent people and the love of children;
- who has filled his niche and accomplished dreams;
- who leaves the world a better place than he found it;
- who has never lacked appreciation of beauty and failed to express it;
- who has looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I made it!
- I felt sick about the celebrations that went on. While he was a bad and deranged man, he was still a human being and that makes him my brother. If he had to be killed we should be sad about the necessity and the whole mess this world has got itself into. If you must, be pleased that a job has been done but be sad that we intelligent human beings get ourselves so twisted that nations and people's hate each other that much.
- Secondly, our intelligent Prime Minister, John Key says in reaction to the news of Osama's death, "The world will be a safer place." .... beep ... wrong... ultimately violence begets violence and does not bring peace. Already there have been deaths of innocent people in response to the killing. Killing Osama bin Laden could have just have been like when a horse was tied next to my bee hive... the bees were stirred up and went wild.
- As I was walking the hills yesterday I had this vision from my childhood of gangs of kids in a play ground. One gang has someone they want to avenge. They do so, then the next gang wants pay back. I recall gangs of kids roaming the playground and indeed the streets around the school on this endless battle.... until... the school principal lined us up and in no uncertain terms told us to stop being childish.... why do adults play the same game with horrendous consequences? We may be able to rationalise war and endless fighting, but when are we going to learn that Dr Martin Luther King was right when he said that "Love is the only power that can turn enemies into friends". Jesus looked out on Jerusalem and wept saying something like; "When will you learn the ways of peace?" ... lets spend as much effort and money on peace as we do on war.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Mondays are my day off, right. Last week we had a call from a Habitat for Humanity house owner with some need. We ended up spending a good part of the day getting that sorted out. At the time you think "this is OK, I can handle it", but later in the week you begin to have a feeling of overload because you really have not had some decent time off.
On Tuesday a guy from one of my chaplaincies came into Space2b to tell me that his father's health had reached a very low point and that he was not expected to last. On Friday I had contact with the same man, his father had died and he asked if I would take the funeral this Tuesday morning. I agreed to and sat talking to him for quite some time. I have preparation to do for that. It does not matter how many good funerals I take, (that is why I got this funeral, he liked what I did at an earlier family funeral) I still stress out about them and wonder if this will be the one I make a mess of.
Late in the week I received an email from the chairman of a Trust I am on, informing me of some events which required an emergency meeting of the Trust scheduled for Saturday morning. I dutifully attended the meeting, discussing some very weighty issues for several hours. I received a whole pile of work to do, with the next meeting set for Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. The work has to be completed by then, and presented at that meeting.
I worked hard getting today's service prepared. You always do a whole lot more research and thinking than comes out in the service. I explored "Fair Trade" and found it to be a very big subject with some sad stories, some very challenging implications and big issues.
I have an annoying knee that discourages much needed exercise. I am waiting for a hospital appointment for another medical problem, with a sense of uncertainty about the condition. (They said I was on the "semi-urgent" list several months ago!)
Monday is my "day off" but because of the impending funeral and the extra work for Tuesday evening, I will have to work all day. It will be another week without a true day off.
I have the funeral at 11 a.m. I will have to fit in my normal Tuesday activities and chaplaincy hours and I have a Trust meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday is also my forty second wedding anniversary. I had hoped to do something special to mark it but it will be squeezed out.
It is strange, and a sign of some sort of burnout, I feel depressed. I watch TV comedy shows I would normally enjoy and don't laugh, they almost annoy me. I start doing notes for funeral or Trust work, but there seems to be a mental block. An inner panic arises... will I get past that tomorrow so that I will be ready by Tuesday? I look at the week ahead and see statistics to do, overdue visits to make, work needing to be completed and meetings to call. It feels like a long road. I long for a "normal" week, but I think I have decided I don't do "normal". It all looks a bit hard, but I know I will get through it. I have done before, and sometime I will reach a better place, but just now I could really do with a walk in the hills, a couple of days off, or somehow the foot eased off the accelerator of life.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
We used to have cadets at secondary school. For a few weeks each year we donned military uniforms (rough "sandpaper suits") and played at soldiers. The good thing was that we got to shoot rifles (22's, 303's) and even Bren guns. The bad thing was that it often meant marching. I got to be a low ranking NCO. My dad dropped by one day to see the parade, being an old soldier he was interested. When I got home from school he jokingly said, "Well done Mick (his nickname for me) you were the only one in step!" .... some times in church circles I certainly feel out of step.
- The Psalms in the Old Testament often have promises that God does not keep. They come from a religious development time when people thought that Yahweh protected good people from all harm and prospered them. Now I am often thankful for the dangers and hell holes life with God has kept me out of, but I have lived long enough to know that there are no guarantees for good people in life. Often when Psalms are read in Church I cringe. There can be people battling potentially terminal cancer and the Psalm is promising them the world! I know lots of faithful Christian people who end up with alzheimer's disease, slowly losing their mind... what does the Psalm say to them? Hymns, following the Psalms can be the same way. "Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, but his smile quickly drives it away; not a doubt nor a fear, not a sigh nor a tear, can abide while we trust and obey." - Yeah right! A lot of faithful, honest people singing this could feel unnecessarily guilty!
- Some of the readings, especially in the Old Testament have some very bloodthirsty, weird and "low" views on life and God. Studied in context with proper exegesis and understanding of the culture and literature, they have a message, but as a bland reading in Church they are hard to take. (I often think of this when Christians talk of bloodthirsty Muslim beliefs... "Have you read the Bible! Good grief... some ghastly stuff there!")
- I struggle with hymn selection. As mentioned above many of the hymns have old and misleading concepts in them. They often reflect a substitutionary view of atonement. (e.g. "washed in the blood") So many of them, including the modern choruses reflect a very self centred, "bless me Jesus" type of faith. They do not reflect the giving generous way of Jesus that I believe is central to the faith.
- I recall watching a UTube of Bishop John Spong speaking. He told how he sat in a service and counted how many times in the liturgy the worshippers groveled before God, pleading for mercy and admitting their guilt and shame. I forget the number, I think it was something like 18 times! He suggested that maybe once was enough! I feel out of step when hymns and prayers suggest this sort of stance. We have lay leaders lead prayer around communion and often there is a concentration on the "blood (always said with a bloodthirsty sounding flare) of Jesus which was the price paid for our salvation" because "without the blood there can be no forgiveness". That is NOT where I am at... when this happens I cringe and feel deeply out of step. If that is what I have to believe then count me out!
- I believe intensely that Jesus makes sense and that following him can make people more whole and make for a better community.
- The Church, though it has grossly distorted the way of Jesus, is the only place in the community that the "Jesus story" is kept alive!
- I believe that the questions I am asking, the thinking I am doing and gropings I make for a way ahead are valid, important and relevant.
- I believe I have an ability to communicate well with people, and have a task to try to take the progressive thinking of theologians and try to in some small way move people an inch or two toward a more "real" but intensely relevant faith.
- I believe I am a good bridge between the Church and people, able to show a relevant servant way of life that has credibility with secular people who have otherwise given up on the Church.
- I believe that in spite of the difficulties I have, God, the sacred movement or spirit uses my fumbling efforts and in ministry seems to be the only place I can do the things I feel called to do!
- There are some people within the Church, on the fringe of the Church and outside the Church asking similar questions, making similar noises and discoveries. They too are not static but on a journey... I love journeying people, they are exciting to be around.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
- Royal wedding- Katherine and William got married. I did not watch all of the wedding, well not much of it at all. The one thing I did hear was the prayer that they both wrote. I liked it. I think they are both genuine people. I hope the media and the position don't mess them up and that they can be a real force for good in the world. The thing that gets me is the very banal, stupid, superficial and idiotic media attention. What is the dress like? How do you score it? Who is the most beautiful princess? Will it be Diana revisited? etc. etc. I cannot believe how people can keep on writing such dribble! Get a life and just let them live and be who they are!
- The week's news - A guy gets beaten up by four car loads of people in Dunedin. NATO forces bomb Libya, people are being killed. A woman is sexually assaulted in Napier. Stabbing in a bar in Hamilton. Suspicious circumstances surround a burnt car with a body inside. A drug addict gets involved in armed robbery. .... etc. I feel so sad for the mess we get ourselves into and wonder why the hell we bother. Surely we can learn to live more civilly?