Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, December 21, 2014

"A f***ked unit!"

The final steps close to the summit of my mountain.
"Steps to heaven" the first of many on my mountain track.
We are enjoying fresh veges from our garden. This is the smallest plot.

"Hello Mountain my old friend"
"The world is buggered!"
I visited a fire station on Friday and we chatted about life. People gave their reaction to the siege in the cafe in Sydney. They also talked about Taliban atrocities in Pakistan with the attack on a school there. They actually got past chiding me about religion being the cause of all the misery in the world. They were talking with real concern and depth. Then the room went quiet as the 5:30 p.m. news on TV began. Heading the news was a family of eight children stabbed to death in Cairns in Australia. Their angst and shock was evident. "Not another one! The world is getting worse!" "The world is a fucked unit Dave! Do something!" "We need the second coming. If I was God I'd visit and take out all the evil buggers!"  Part of this was said in jest, but it was expressed with a sense of desperation and anger.  All I could do was agree and say, "I'm tryin' to make a difference!" On the news tonight there was a story of a young man (early twenties) killed at a twenty-first birthday party in Auckland. It is getting so that nearly every weekend there is a party fatality in NZ!  Good times had by all! - NOT! There is so much sadness.
Jesus can make a difference.
I am at the stage where I dislike "religion" but the more I think about it, following Jesus is so relevant. Now I loathe the concept that Jesus was all about getting to heaven when you die. Understood as ancient, oriental literature, much of it metaphorical, Jesus teaching and actions were about life now. In the context of the injustices of his day, his teaching challenged the values, the systems and practices of his culture and religion. His values are so relevant to the hurting tragic world we face. I am still a follower of Jesus though I feel more and more distant from the "Church" institution. It just so distorts Jesus! 
I love the people, hate what's happening in ministry.
We attend the local church. We enjoy the people there. They are part of our Port Chalmers/ Sawyers Bay community. I love their straight forward friendliness, their humour and their "no airs and graces" outlook on life. We are served by four retired ministers on a roster who take turns to come out from Dunedin and run services. To be honest they most often do a lousy job! I am finding it really hard work sitting through the services, trying to be encouraging and positive. They seldom hit earth anywhere. They use a bunch of religious cliches and they say them in such a way that you feel they do not even believe them. Their theology is 1950's... it is shocking and blasphemous for today. I led a service last week and could see the congregation become alive and it was not my best. But here we have a Church, the representative of Jesus to this community, but the worship, the main activity of the Church does him a great disservice! Yet the community are like my firefighters. They are screaming out for relevant directions, goals and answers to our "fucked" up world. The ministers come and mumble religious tripe.  I was told today that the roster for next years' ministry has been sorted out by one of the ministers. (The "interim moderator" for the Church) There are two opportunities when they would like to use me. Otherwise I will be attending Church, loving the people, but seething at the ministry we receive and the evil being perpetrated in the name of Jesus. I will sit there with my gifts not being utilized. (Though I do notice the people seem to come to me in a pastoral manner talking personal things.)  I feel passionately that Jesus is still so relevant, but his ministers are making him irrelevant and archaic. I am seriously thinking of trying out other churches though I will feel like I am letting the people down.
But there are good people out there!
In November we on the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust realised that we had only two months of funding left, and that there were no grants coming in for some time. In desperation we told the newspapers and advertised our need. I would estimate that in the last three weeks or so there has been more than $20000 come in. Some big donations,($3000) others small ones.($20 the "widows mite") The people of Dunedin have responded, and responded warmly to our call for help. It has been amazing and some of the messages that have come with the cheques etc. are encouraging. One family tonight deposited over a thousand dollars in our account. "Thank you so much for the service you provide!" was their comment when they emailed us!
I took my grandson and wife down to the fire station the other day. These hard talking, often rough spoken fire fighters were delightful hosts.  

So... the world seems fucked up, but there are heaps of ordinary loving people out there doing their best to spread the love! I remain JC's Helper joining them in trying to make a difference.

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