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 different from many newsletters which are offered in that each month there will be a different editor/compiler. Not only does this prevent one person from being over-loaded, it will mean we are able to enjoy a wider range of thinking and input.
Perhaps you would like to take a turn. Maybe you have something to contribute. Then please contact me. firstname.lastname@example.org 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 also available.
But it is not the way I do it!
An older member of our congregation returned home this week after a few weeks in hospital. He has only beeen able to come back to his home and much loved garden because of the range of services and assistance which has been provided. When I saw him on Tuesday he commented. But they don’t get it right. The gardener had planted the potatoes so close together that they fill a third rather than the whole garden. In the house too, things were not the same.
As much as we might want new people to be involved in our churches, the fact that they ‘don’t do things the right way’ often prevents their being trusted to offer their gifts. The following e-mail expresses it well.
The pastor of my grandparents church was told by the "old folks" that they wanted some of the "young folks" to start taking some responsibility for the church. The pastor took them at their word and recruited younger people (the children of the "old folks") and the older folk got ticked off. They weren't doing it the right way... There was quite an uproar. Later some of the old guys were having their usual coffee at the Wagon Wheel Cafe, laughing as they remembered when the same thing had happened with their parents when they took over. They did recognize, somewhere within themselves how these generational changes happen but it didn't make it any easier. Ain't church life, particularly in a small town, grand?! Cynthia Good on e-talk.
I know I too am guilty of such thinking. I have ways of preparing vegetables or bottling fruit which on occasion have almost driven Lynda mad with frustration.
When we struggle to create the conditions for our churches to grow it may well be that ‘the can’t do it right’ barrier, even though it is invisible to us, is the all too obvious block for new comers to share in and belong to our friendly family.
Somehow we just need to remind ourselves that Jesus came as a baby. And a baby always changes everything. Even for those parents who claim before hand it will not make a difference. It does, and it always has. What would be turned upside down - right side up for us this year?
In a similar vein. Audrey Dickenson sent me a reflection written by her grandson. He wrote this after he and Audrey had been talking about ‘Church’. It is offered as the reflections of someone who is thinking and searhing and looking in.
Hi, my names Nick. I felt compelled to share with you some of the things about being human I have discovered along the way. I hope these things bring some deeper connection to your God and your church, but perhaps all they might be able to do for you today is to provide some more questions.
Although I do not consider myself Christian, and do not follow the scriptures as you all do, I still have a deep respect for any means toward a more wholesome, truthful existence. Like many of you I asked at some stage “is there more to the story than I’m being told?”. That question asked by my heart, was the catalyst for a very interesting journey through the many different forms of worship and connection to spirit. I certainly haven’t read all the books, although I have read many, and I certainly haven’t been through any formal training on the matter, although I've had the best teacher there is and the best classroom you could wish for along the way….God and life.
My journey led me to the realisation that in the end all religions and all forms of spirit worship are talking about, and connecting with, the same singular essence. This is a very difficult subject to broach with those who haven’t felt there is more to life than what they see, but for you I’m sure you understand as I do that God is it. Once I had discovered this truth, my path became a little easier. I was able to accept that everybody is different, and would therefore gravitate toward different methods of worship. I like to think of it like music. We can’t all like the same thing, but for each of us there is a song that sends shivers down your spine and tears down your cheek.
Now more than ever I am able to see my place in it all. If all things are born from God, and all things return to God, then there must be divinity in everything. As a human I realise the blessing of being human. Just how lucky I am to be given the ability to understand “I am”, at the same time understanding I am also a small piece of God. Just how blessed I am to live in such a beautiful country, free to worship whom I will. And how sad I am - equality for all people seems to be drifting further from reach. To be given such blessings is indeed very lucky, but it also comes with a good deal of responsibility. To misuse and to belittle this life is a sin. My piece of God I hold, the little spark that I am, I wish to see grow brighter. Watch and marvel at the ability of the light of God transform sadness into joy, tears to laughter. And unfortunately as a non Christian I see a church that is struggling to ignite the flame of spirit in the younger generation. The church is competing with flash cars, pop music, computers, playstation, drugs and above all a complacent convenient society. It is a big ask for the church to get attention, quietly speaking the word. I was always told “actions speak louder than words”. And in this case I’m sure they will. I don’t know if the church can take these things on face to face in their arena, but I am sure that many sparks on the right fuel will eventually cause flame. And that flame is hotter and brighter than anything else around, because it’s pure.
My favorite place to talk to God is in nature. I’m training to be an Outdoor instructor so I can be closer to God everyday - witness the power of it all - be consumed in my love of nature everyday, and meet interesting people in a beautiful environment. I let spirit move me to tears about a leaf, or a fish or a beach. Why? Because know I’m looking directly at God, and I know I share a place beside all these things. I have the responsibility as a walking intelligent being to look after all the other things because they are my kin.
My worship doesn’t end. Even as I drive home from these beautiful places, back into the grimy city, I know the same essence flows here too. Just differently. I see god in everything, and as everything.
I don’t really know why I compelled to sit here this afternoon and write this. I should have been doing an assignment. But the force of it was so compelling. I hope you can all witness the awe-inspiring beauty of nature and feel, as I do, that you’re talking directly to the big fella on high. My view of God may be different from yours, and my saints take different form, but the underlying essence is the same. Salvation is knowing I too am a piece of God. And that through my actions I am able to shed my light. And as I do so spirit flows through me and my connection deepens. I would ask one thing of you all, even though I am not Christian and I do not come to your church, heck you don’t even know me. I would ask you to look inside yourself and find the spark of spirit. Join with your friends doing the same, and start a fire. The youth especially needs a familiar place to seek wisdom. And if you miss this opportunity now, the shadows creep in again and the joy is lost, creativity is banished, and love is forgotten. It is the responsibility of all who feel God’s love to expand that essence if you are a peace loving person. Not through force, through love and compassion. The little I know about Jesus tells me this was his way. Indeed it is the only way regardless of what deity you hold dear.
Thank you for doing what you have done so far. The more people focused on peace and forgiveness the better. But the responsibility of spirit falls on all those who connect with it. Find the spark. Start the peace fire.
© N.Kingstone 2003
More Children’s Stories for Christmas
children's story recommended:
'Christopher's Story', by Jean Richardson, illustrated by Alice Englander, Dent Children's Books, London, 1993. A retelling of the story of St Christopher, patron saint of motorists, sailors, porters and travellers. And, in true sense, we are all 'travellers'!
Wonderful visuals retell the story of the 3rd century giant, whose name in Greek means 'Christ-bearer', who carries a small child across a river in flood. On reaching the other side, the child, his head wearing a crown, says, 'Thank you, Christopher, for carrying me across the river. You have shared with me the burdens of the world and you shall have your reward.' This is a magical story that speaks to adults as well as children. No longer in print - I know because I have tried to order it - you may, if you are lucky, find it in your local library - where I found mine.
John Thornley, Palmerston North
Another one for the Christmas story at church
"Cat in the Manger" - Michael Foreman available Epworth $16.85
The Nativity told through the eyes of a cat who got kicked out of the manger for a baby!!! Delightful illustrations and makes an interesting point that children and adults enjoy.
The Dramatic presentation of the Grinch in South Christchurch last Sunday night was fantastic. Nine local churches worked together to bring the presentation. A green faced Grinch, plenty of ‘Whos’ and a few surprises. A real Policeman gave a not so real parking ticket to Presbyterian Minister. The Men in Black did turn up, as did a man in a gorilla suit. Contact Alan Webster email@example.com to find out more.
Till next week
Grace and peace
Religion as Baseball
Calvinists believe the game is fixed.
Lutherans believe they can't win, but trust the Scorekeeper.
Quakers won't swing.
Unitarians can catch anything.
Amish walk a lot.
Jehovah's Witnesses are thrown out often.
Televangelists get caught stealing.
Episcopalians pass the plate.
Evangelicals make effective pitches.
Adventists have a seventh-inning stretch.
Atheists refuse to have an Umpire.
Baptists want to play hardball.
Premillenialists expect the game to be called soon on account of darkness.
The Pope claims never to have committed an error.
(Religious Joke of the Day)
Ó Evangelical Network of Methodist Church of New Zealand or Author where identified. Permission is given for non –profit use with acknowledgement.