Showing posts from August, 2010

of courage and conviction

Today in Reformation Church History class it was my turn to present a role play - one of the assessment pieces is a role play taking on one of the characters from the Protestant Reformations of the 16th century in Europe (not compulsory, you can choose to write a paper instead).
I was taking on the character of Elizabeth, a Dutch Anabaptist martyr from 1573. The material we have telling her story is a letter she wrote to her daughter Janneken from prison in Antwerp. I presented this with Elizabeth reading the letter aloud to Janneken just before she is taken off to be executed. (The letter is published in The Protestant Reformation, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand, 1968, NY, Harper & Row.)
We have no information about how she died, or why she was imprisoned - other than her being part of the Anabaptist movement that is. We learnt in class today that Anabaptist refers to the practice of 're' baptising adults, because these Christians could no longer support infant baptism, preferri…

State Theatre Company: Romeo and Juliet

Last night I saw the State Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet.
The approach was a twist on the play as we know it, with 6 actors playing the friar, Capulet and Lady Capulet, Lady Montague, Benvolio and the Prince, and then taking on the other roles. I think the idea was that the story was actually being told as the reminiscences of these characters, which I thought was a good one.
The beginning was well done, using the prologue as the friar's address at the funeral of the 'star crossed lovers', and the opening fight scene spoken by these 6 characters becoming like a fight between them.
Then various characters take on either the coat and beanie of Romeo or the scarf of Juliet, the coat of the nurse or the waistcoat of Mercutio or the jacket of Tybalt and play out the story.
I'm not sure I got that each time it was the character taking on a part in the story, sometimes it felt like it was the actor taking on a different role (which of course it was, but as I understo…

worship at Blackwood Uniting : God Speaks to the young

This morning I led worship with my home congregation, Blackwood Uniting. Heidi, one of the young adults, had expressed a desire to invite young people to lead in worship, so as I was rostered on for today, I invited her to help me shape the service. Responses suggest those gathered appreciate the space we crafted, and the message we brought. Here are the words from the reflection, which I gave. 
Jeremiah 1:4-10Luke 13:10-17

As we reflect on the word of God today, we’ll focus our attention on the call of the prophet Jeremiah.

However, I would like us to keep in mind the story of Jesus who brought healing to this woman. Jesus, too, was called by God early in life. Perhaps when we are in our 30s today we are considered younger than a person in their 30s would have been in Jesus’ time, but nevertheless, he was a young man with a challenging message.

Call narratives are important in the prophetic writings of the Biblical story. Their purpose is to settle the matter of whether we can trust th…

reading Eat Pray Love

I'm reading Eat Pray Love (Elizabeth Gilbert) at the moment. I just read her reflections at the end of her time in India. She's talking about the need she sees her friends have for ritual, for a sacred place. These are friends for whom the religious / spiritual tradition of their childhood or family no longer holds meaning, or who have no such tradition. When life takes us to the depth of experiences like joy and grief, we are provoked to want to make meaning of those experiences, of life. Many seek help in this, some sort of ritual or a sacred space, something to mark the moment, to honour the connection with the Sacred / Divine / God they've discovered.
This - this - is why I am so passionate about 'fresh expressions' of church. Because the Christian church is one such tradition that can (and should) offer rituals and sacred spaces in which to make meaning of the human experience, of our encounters with the Holy. But in my context (the West) more often than not p…

Get Up! brilliance

the people at Get Up! are fantastic, speaking truth to break down a whole lot of rubbish. this animation paints a much needed picture of realism on the issue of assylum seekers.

a prayer for the world

I was invited to offer the prayers for the world at today's ordination service for two deacons and five ministers of the word. It is always an honour to be invited to take part in these occasions with the wider church, and with my colleagues and friends.
The prayer I offered received quite a response, so I thought I'd share it here. I left quite a bit of space around the words, for people to reflect and envisage situations themselves.

Oh, and I began with part of a prayer from Uniting in Worship II, from p. 281. Probably shouldn't reproduce it here.

We pray with Australia's neighbours, near and far
stripped bare by disasters
of nature's turning
and human transgression

We pray with Australia's neighbours, near and far
with growling stomachs and dry mouths
for lack of food,
in the absence of clean water

We pray with Australia's neighbours, near and far
wailing at the deaths of young and old
men and women
wrought by the instruments of war

We pray with Australi…

contemplative story gathering

Dear friends,

The Esther Project invites you to a contemplative gathering this Monday 16 August, 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm, at The Effective Living Centre 26 King William Road Wayville. 
Isaiah's 'song of the unfruitful vineyard' (5:1–7) and the parable of the wicked tenants (Luke 20:9–19) provide the focus of our reflections. 
Song, image, senses, silence and of course story, shape an evening of wonder and creativity as we enter the Sacred Story of God's relationship with creation, with each of us. 
You are welcome, as winter draws to a close, to gather in the warmth of community, to enter the hope of the story, to taste the fruit of the vine. 
The Esther Project welcomes those from all faith traditions and none to share in the life of this community of faith, of story, of creativity.

Network of Biblical Storytellers SA: Last days for early bird rate!!

Network of Biblical Storytellers SA: Last days for early bird rate!!: "Early bird registration rate for the national biblical storytelling gathering available until this Friday 15 August - don't miss out, regist..."

God is a song

This morning I was worshipping with Blackwood Uniting, and Leanne played a reflection on God's call to us through the Song from Nooma ('Rhythm ', which we played at Black Wood Jazz a few years ago). Rob Bell, who speaks the reflection, sits up on the balcony in a theatre while a small orchestra play a really simple song. The music begins with a keyboard, guitar and piano join in, then strings, wind, and eventually drums and bass. It is magic. The music builds as Rob wonders about where God is, how we understand God, how we have in Jesus a tangible image of God to help us to find our way back into relationship with God. Jesus' way of love, compassion, justice, healing - 'I can relate to that, I can understand that - I can sing that tune'. At some point, might be here, the music really builds as the strings enter the song, and Rob pauses - and a tear rolls down my cheek.
The camera pans around the theatre, taking in different views of the orchestra, and I am stru…

whole people, whole Body

Blackwood Uniting is hosting Robin Mann this weekend, for some workshops on leading worship through song.
We've been thinking a lot about balance - about using real language as much as lofty, poetic language; about telling the whole story, not just the triumph of the resurrection, but the suffering of the cross, the stories of the women and the men of the Old Testament, etc.; the reality of God's presence with us and the reality of our turning away from God / sin.

Robin said something this morning that deepened again my understanding of one of Paul's more profound images for Christian community - the body. This image is perhaps the image in which I find most meaning when thinking about Christian community. This morning I was reminded that when Paul speaks of the one body and its many members, who all have gifts to bring and a part to play, we often concentrate, or I have begun to concentrate, on the gifts, on encouraging and equipping each other to give their gifts for the…

storytelling article

I have an article in the latest edition of New Times (UCA SA newspaper), exploring the way story shapes community, and other things ...
The focus of this edition is on different ways to be church.

new book on worship

here's a new book on creating worship spaces that i'm looking forward to reading when it's available - Curating Worship by Jonny Baker. check it out.