Last Saturday night we went to the Orchestra. In part because it was inexpensive, just $8 each. Interestingly the cheap seats were right at the front. Funny I thought, these are the same seats we have trouble filling on Sundays. Almost as if this was a catalyst I began to be aware of the similarity of the struggle the orchestra and the Church have in sharing their good news.


When I turned to the programme, I discovered I couldn’t understand the important bits. The biographies of the composers were fine. But when it came to helping me understand the structure of the pieces to be played. Allegro con animato, cadenza, the motto theme were all ‘greek’ to me. Yes I know they are Latin, but they may as well have been Polish! Is this what it is like for new comers on a Sunday? Foreign language dividing them from understanding and meaning?


The music itself was amazing. Played with passion and skill, it touched the heart. At times the auditorium, and the 2000 people present were absolutely still, as all were affected by the beauty and mood. Gordon Miller in his Leadership Letter has pointed out how too often New Zealand churches sell themselves short, with poorly planned music and liturgy. The content and mood, bridged my limited understanding. Is this also the bridge we must construct to allow seekers to approach Jesus.


I was also aware that across the foyer in the smaller James Hay theatre, there was a rock group playing. Stacks of speakers would frame the stage. Band members would engage the crowd, lighting effects, and electronic wizardry would create close to sensory over load. The music and its lyrics don’t demand much, and to use Latin to describe the changes of tempo and structure would be absurd. At the front an area is set aside for dancing. The mosh pit. A casually dressed, much younger audience enjoyed this musical feast. It is not unusual for such concerts to be sold out in an hour or two.


However the orchestra cannot emulate the rock group and maintain its integrity. But to survive past the life span of its grey haired audience it must reconnect with  younger generations. Ring any bells.


In the news today, options for a new harbour crossing in Auckland were released. It struck me that it would be 15 to 20 years before they are completed. Half a generation. Many who plan them will not be alive to cross them. Such is the scope of the bridges to be built to share the gospel, or the riches of an orchestra. The age of instant solutions is past. The age of long term planning and vision is come.


If you live near Christchurch, there is one more concert in the Masterworks series on November 22nd. For a great night out, at almost half the price of the movies. Try the orchestra.


For Children’s Time:

Some ideas to play around with.


Could have someone demonstrate how to fix a puncture

I suspect nearly everyone knows something about having a puncture in your bike’s tyre. Most from first hand experience. With out too much trouble you will find volunteers to describe what it is like to get a puncture. The ride becomes rough and bumpy, it is harder to steer and change direction, harder to stay on the bike, can’t go as fast, must use more energy to get that slower speed and ….


Its dramatic consequences for not having a fairly small amount of air in the tube. Probably just a few breaths worth.


In the Bible the Spirit of God is likened to air. As the breath of God, or being like the wind which blows where it wants to. The Spirit is God’s presence, and strength. God’s spirit helps us steer through life, can energise us, may, but not always make the road smoother. Maybe for many of us, we really become aware of the value of God’s spirit when we are worn out and need to be refilled or refreshed.



What I am reading.

I picked up a copy of Kathleen Norris’s book Dakota, in a remainder sale in 1996. Since then I have read the Cloister Walk. While in Canada I found another two. The Virgin of Bennington and Amazing Grace. My Daughter has nabbed the second of these, so I have been enjoying reading of Norris’s early years. She writes with a reflective, invitational style. That is, she describes the events and thinking which have shaped her life, in such a way, that the reader is invited to consider their own life journey. From the rush and bustle and creative energy to her Grandmothers home in a small South Dakota town. With a parallel rediscovery of her Christian faith. It is this element of rediscovery which I have found refreshing and helpful in her work. In the second part of the book, she pays tribute to the woman who was her mentor, as she struggled to become a published poet. While I found this less interesting, there were still plenty of insights.

it is self satisfaction that dulls us, and our belief in our self sufficiency that is the killer. We grow resistant to change and thus are more likely to project onto outsiders our deep seated fear of the other. page 222

I would suggest reading one of Norris’s other books first. But I would suggest it worthwhile to buy or borrow a copy.


An Interesting Quotation

Enriched by Less-Than-Perfect Humans

Carmen Renee Berry's recent book, The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church, was "inspired by her odyssey from the deeply conservative church of her childhood into the world of seekers and cynics, and back again." She eventually found that the very reason she withdrew from the church—her disappointment in church members who often failed to act as Christians—was what drew her back. She writes:

I had overlooked one essential factor—that I am as finite and flawed as everyone else. … When a friend committed suicide, I realized I could become too cynical, too lost, and too alone. I needed a church, a community of believers. I needed to live in my faith and visit my doubts. Something happens there that simply doesn't when you are alone in prayer or on the Internet. As much as I hate to admit it, my faith is enhanced and enlarged when in relationship to other less-than-perfect human beings.
Citation: USA Today (6-2-03); submitted by Barry Merritt, Monclova, Ohio

A joke

The temporary Sunday School teacher was struggling to open a combination lock on the supply cabinet. He had been told the combination, but couldn't quite remember it.
Finally he went to the pastor's and asked for help. The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial. After the first two numbers she paused and stared blankly for a moment. Finally she looked serenely heavenward and her lips moved silently. Then she looked back at the lock, and quickly turned to the final number, and opened the lock.
The teacher was amazed. "I'm in awe at your faith, pastor," he said.
"It's really nothing," she answered. "The number is on a piece of tape on the ceiling."


A Resource

Rosalie Sugrue is the president of the New Zealand Lay Preachers Association. Earlier this year she sent this e-mail. You probably don't know that one of my strange hobbies is compiling Bible-based puzzles. I get published in various magazines and have just completed a MS containing 74 themed puzzles for use as 'fun and educative fillers in church bulletins.' I wondered if your fish may appreciate them?


Thank you Rosalie. Here is a sample to try. We will include some more in future issues.



                                                                                        Rosalie Sugrue


A boy whose name means ‘Laughter’  (Gen 21:5-6)         __ __ __ __   `           C
The third child of Adam and Eve  (Gen 4:25)                 __ __ __                       H
A slave girl who spoke to a Princess  (Ex 2:7; Num 26:59)     __ __ __             I __ __

A temple boy who heard God speak  (1Sam 3:1-10)  __ __ __ __ __               L

A shepherd boy who killed a giant  (1Sam 17)                                                    D __ __ __ __

A girl who met her cousin at a well  (Gen 29:1-13)                                                R __ __ __ __  __

 A baby who floated in basket on the Nile  (Ex 2:1-10)           __ __ __               E __

The youngest of Jacob’s twelve sons  (Gen 43:29)             __ __                       N __ __ __ __ __


A boy taught by his mother and grandmother  (2Tm 2-5)       __ __ __               O __ __ __    

____ sisters who asked Moses for land.  (Num 27:1-4)                                        F __ __ __


A youth who fell asleep listening to a sermon  (Acts 20:9)            __ __             T __ __ __ __ __

An excited servant girl who didn’t open the door  (Acts 12:12-14)      __             H __ __ __

An orphan girl who became a Queen   (Est 2:7)                                                  E __ __ __ __ __

Baby son of Ruth and Boaz  (Rth 4:13-17)                                          __             B __ __ 

A boy made king when he was eight years old   (2Kg 22:1)    __ __ __             I  __ __

A younger twin who tricked his brother  (Gen 25: 27-34)    __ __ __ __              B

The second baby in the world (Gen 4:1-2)                                 __ __ __           L

A boy who owned a colourful coat (Gen 37:3)                              __ __ __        E  __ __




IsaaC, SetH, MirIam, SamueL, David, Rachael, MosEs, BenjamiN;   

TimOthy, Five;  EuTychus, RHoda, Esther;  OBed, JosIah, JacoB, AbeL, JosEph.


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 input.

Perhaps you would like to take a turn. Maybe you have something to contribute. Then please contact David Bush at


An archive of e-fish is now available at Check out the Evangelical network Page.