e-fish a weekly offering to help feed you and your congregation.

The Evangelical Network of the Methodist Church of New Zealand has as its
one of its objectives, the encouragement and resourcing of local
congregations. This weekly newsletter is part of that. It's different from
many newsletters which are offered, in that each month there is a different
editor/compiler. Not only does this prevent one person from being
over-loaded, it means we are able to enjoy a wider range of thinking and

Perhaps you would like to take a turn. Maybe you have something to
contribute. Then please contact bpeterson@paradise.net.nz  And if you think
this is worthwhile, tell your friends about e-fish. They can subscribe at
www.methodist.org.nz by going to the Evangelical Network page. An archive of
e-fish is now available. So you can read all the back issues.



Friday 29th August.


First the bad news!

The language we use:

I went hospital visiting the other day and extended my vocabulary! (No... not those sort of words!) Visiting my parishioner was a friend from the Isle of Man. We got on to talking about the population mix on that Island and he told me that the cultural mix was "Manxmen", who have been there for more than three generations and so belong. The second group are the "came overs" who came over for a holiday, or work and stayed but don't really belong unless they have been there for at least 3 generations, and then there are the "When I's"- the people who have moved around the world in a variety of occupations and now choose to live on the Island for the tax breaks etc and who spend time drinking cocktails and talking about 'When I was governor..." or “when I was in.....". The consequence of this was that I have been taking note of the shorthand phrases we use to convey meaning and function. For instance the news reader talks about "number 10" and we hardly need a photo of the famous door to know that he is referring to the residence of the Prime Minister of England and is in fact referring to the Prime Minister himself. Similarly "September 11" or "9/11" and "Ground Zero" are phrases that conjure up a multiplicity of images and emotions and have become in themselves markers of an historic moment and the emergence of the move to stamp out terrorism. The new phrase surfacing within NZ Methodism is "The Court Case." Clearly, for those involved this was a watershed in a number of ways. The opportunity to listen to world-class theologians and scholars talking about Methodism and Wesley was clearly a privilege. I wonder what future events and decisions will be shaped by this case. It is, of course, not the first Court Case that has influenced New Zealand Methodism. But are you aware that we have also had a heresy trial?  Donald Phillipps’ history of this 1912 furor can be found on www.dunedinmethodist.org.nz/meth/heresy.html.


Talking AGM's:

It has been encouraging to get feed back from a number of people regarding our way of running AGM's. I mentioned previously that we are going to use the children in the service this year. This term's theme has been discovering the treasures of Christian Community. One of the activities has been to make kites. The treasure explored was "the fun and fellowship that comes when we work together to complete a task." The kites are also used to illustrate the work of the Holy Spirit within Christian Community. At the AGM the children will report on the activity and then lead us in the responsive prayer, printed below, before we begin to look at matters relating to Worship. We have also made a quilt as we have looked at the treasure of being able to help people in need. The quilt will help to lead in to the Pastoral Care report. The children are also going to provide morning tea to the congregation who are invited to make a donation to Kids.com. The proceeds from this are going to take us out to McDonalds for breakfast as an end of term activity but before that we are going to look at Stewardship and will give 10% of the money raised back to the church. It will be interesting to see how the children handle that!  In the meantime, we are still waiting for a windy Sunday so that we can go and fly our kites.


A litany for those who would fly kites
Leader:     Those who fly kites know that kites are earthbound 
                  and cannot lift and soar until they are caught by the wind.
People:    People and churches are earthbound
                and cannot be themselves until the wind of God's Spirit lifts them to fly.
Leader:   Kites are not free to thrust and move
                until they are let go to explore the skies.
People:     People and churches are not free to love and care
                 until they can let go and catch the Spirit which is love.
Leader:   Kites have no power and direction
                unless they are caught and controlled by the wind.
People:     People and churches have no power and direction
                unless they allow the Spirit of God to move within them.
Together: O God, may your Spirit lift us from being earthbound
                and free us to soar, to explore, to have direction and purpose.

A churchgoer wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper and
complained that it made no sense to go to church every Sunday.  "I've
gone for 30 years now," he wrote, "and in that time I have heard
something like 3,000 sermons. But for the life of me, I can't
remember a single one of them. So, I think I'm wasting my time and
the pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

This started a real controversy in the "Letters to the Editor"
column, much to the delight of the editor. It went on for weeks until
someone wrote this clincher:

I've been married for 30 years now. In that time my wife has cooked
some 32,000 meals. But for the life of me, I cannot recall the entire
menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this: They all
nourished me and gave me the strength I needed to do my work. If my
wife had not cooked these meals, I would be physically dead today.
Likewise, if I had not gone to church for nourishment, I would be
spiritually dead today!"

Thank God for our physical AND our spiritual nourishment!

--Found circulating the Internet.


Living life on the run: or fitting God into the schedule!

A week of dashing around the country on aeroplanes has led me to reflect again on the way I do ministry. With Internet and e-mail, aeroplanes and rapid transport, life can get very crowded and God can get edged out of the picture. I became aware of this recently when my computer was out of action. This meant that I could not walk into the office and check my e-mails. The sense of dislocation was impressive!! I realised how dependent I was on that instant form of communication and how much the computer dominates my time in the study. It made me realise the degree to which I am tuned to the things that must be done, to the diary, the preaching plan and the pastoral list, the books to be read, the resources to be accessed and the unfinished tasks that still loom. Suddenly I am talking about God, fulfilling ministry in God's name, reading about God but not taking time to be with God. I'm not seeking space to allow the Holy Spirit to indwell and refresh and renew. So a new resolution has been made. I will change my priorities and turn onto God when I enter the office not  turn on the computer. I will look for more God moments and not be driven by........   Hmmmm. Well that’s the idea anyway. Maybe it's as well this is my last week on e.fish so I don't have to reflect next week on how I'm going.

 Thanks for being part of my month

May your week have lots of God moments.