Wednesday, September 19, 2012

End of Life Choice

   My PSA has begun to creep up for the third time since prostate cancer was diagnosed over a decade ago. The medications are becoming less effective and I have been “doing the math”…So, though I can hope for some time yet, I have thinking again about the ultimate outcome.

   In pastoral ministry I saw many people and their loved ones going through terrible “end of life” experiences. These days there are really helpful opportunities to prepare for a “good end” (e.g. "Thinking Ahead") and more medical techniques in palliative care and sedation. I am conscientiously doing some of the former and when my time comes I hope to receive the best of the latter.
   Last week, for the first time in this country, someone who pleaded “Guilty” to assisting another to die, was actually discharged without conviction. In the context of Maryan Street’s “End of Life Choice” bill recently submitted for the Parliamentary ballot, this judgment has raised the stakes on the issue.
   Some of my Christian friends who would retain the “sanctity of life” doctrine at all costs presumably also subscribe to St Paul’s “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. The inconsistency puzzles me; how can you be so committed to life that you aren't in a hurry to pick up the bonus points?
   I don’t share their theology, nor their rejection of the possibility of choosing a dignified end. I’d like to think I’ll be ready when the grim reaper rolls up. But I hope also, that by then, our country will be a little more relaxed in permitting me and others around me to have some part in the timing and nature of that sacred moment.
   I'm not into gambling, but I will watch the Parliamentary ballot with interest!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Parish Council Team takes off in LSM

     Some time ago, I noted that when the local church membership is very small, it is simply not practicable to have two or three separate bodies making decisions around the same mission and ministry. In June, I reported that we combined Team and Council.
    It’s taken some time to get all our ducks in a row. But this week we have the first reasonably complete meeting of the new joint Team and Council.
     We have called five people into particular roles in ministry and have coopted the Treasurer so we have a solid team of six who will be known as the Parish Council Team. They have all the powers of a Parish Council but function as an LSM team with the usual education and support from Ministry Enabler Rosalie who happens to be also our District Superintendent.
     It will save some duplication of thinking, planning and reporting. It will reduce demands on our membership for routine business. And it will eliminate the “them and us” sense that sometimes develops between two bodies.
     We’re still finding our way but we’re on the way…

Thanks to Tim Norwood for the logo suggesting an LSM model of Team and Teams in Mission.

Not so happy with politicians these days…

     Sure, the recent debate on same-sex marriage was conducted with dignity and produced some excellent speeches on both sides. And the result was beyond expectation with 2/3 of the house voting in favour of considering a change.
     But the reluctance to lower the alcohol purchase age in the face of the strong case made by the Law Commission is still something of a surprise. Advocates for change have put a brave face on their loss and will promote other ways to try to reduce our serious problems of binge drinking. But the government is still obviously reluctant to tackle the issues of pricing, advertising and packaging, some of which have proven benefits.
    The legislation is a long way from being finished, but the outlook suggests that a rare opportunity to make a difference is slipping away.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Winter Holiday

Top of Mt St John, Tekapo
     We enjoyed a wonderful road trip last month, covering quite a lot of the country.
     We discovered many things we hadn’t seen before, enjoyed hospitality in several homes, manoevred our cosy caravan onto a many an unfamiliar patch of grass and generally enjoyed ourselves with more sleep than usual. And, yes, a little more food, too… A relaxing, refreshing time as the day to day stuff gradually disappeared out of our consciousness. Even my blog!
     Back in Paihia, it was my turn to lead the rather special service with a visiting choir, who’d come to say Thank you for using the church as their practice venue. A couple of minutes before the appointed time, I distinguished myself by tripping on the church step and starting the service with a couple of plasters ineffectually preventing my Cartia-thinned blood from running down my face. But we had a stimulating time as I made links between their three popular songs and our Christian heritage.
     A day or so later I was at the doctor’s with a badly bruised left hand on which the little finger still insists on finding the cAPS LOCK instead of “a” most of the time. Touch typing has been a rough ride ever since so, like other things in life, I am having to pause and think every time I come to an “a”.
     The vacation pace is doing me good!