Friday, September 27, 2013

Heavy weather ahead!

We’ve had a clutch of rain and wind warnings lately as unseasonal cyclones have sneaked down from the tropics bringing threats of the worst weather we ever get up here. And that usually means power outages.

So Bev’s got out the candles and had them standing ready. Some of them look like they should be on the dining table with a fine meal. None of them looks like the utilitarian candle our great-grandparents used to take up the stairs to bed at night. If we’d been reaching for these in the dark we’d probably have tipped them over. And after a few minutes alight they’d have been dropping wax everywhere…

In the event, we didn’t have to use them. We had only about 40mm of rain and the wind was hardly noticeable. There was certainly no damage.

Local Shared Ministry often comes about in response to predictions of doom for the traditional strategy of paid ministry. But the response must be practical and realistic. It’s not a time for prettying up our church image. It's a time for getting on with the job. And it may be quite hard work...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Top of the Milk

Being unable to see it in the country of its production, and noticing that the New Zealand TV show Top of the Lake was being broadcast in England while we were there we mentioned to friends that we should see it while we were there.
They’d already seen an episode. Their response was, great scenery, but they really didn’t like all the foul language.
Our conversation took place about the time of Fonterra’s $15m botched milk powder recall. It seems a little ironic that the TV show and Tourism NZ’s “100% Pure” image both relied on our gorgeous lakes and mountains while we shot ourselves in the foot both times.
There was no malice in either event, of course, but the consequences continue…

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A secret chuckle in the numbers...

In our Russell Church we didn’t make much use of the board for the hymn numbers for the service, so each Sunday Ed set it up with the date for the day. It was interesting to note how long visitors took to catch on to it… In another church in the 1960s, my steward would always say to me as he put up my hymn numbers, “No, Dave, not today.” He was adding up the first numbers to see if the last one was the total. So, I guess I have a thing about hymn boards.

Thus it was that when we stayed in the lovely converted chapel in Beeley, UK, a few weeks ago I enquired if the numbers on the hymn board had any secret meaning. No, they were just random numbers.

So now I have taken a few moments to skim through the 1904 hymnbook that might have been used in the chapel decades ago and can suggest the following hymns for the hospitable chapel home of Janet and John and their venerable hymn board:
657 We love the place, O God
684 How happy are we!
853 Jerusalem, my happy home
854 Sweet place, sweet place!
899 O happy home
959 There's a glorious work before us
717 Abide among us
449 Come, o thou traveller unknown

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tweeting at the rock concert

“I hope my iPhone isn’t disturbing you,” she said, at the interval in the Concert Hall rock concert.
“Actually,” I replied, courteous but firm, “It is a bit distracting…“
But that didn’t make the slightest difference. She went right on, taking photographs and tweeting to the world at large. Every time she turned the phone on or a tweet came through, it lit up and I don’t think she even thought to turn down the screen brightness.
I guess I should be grateful that this discourteous practice hasn’t yet crept into church life. But, then, perhaps preachers would be delighted if people in their congregations were tweeting: “Hey, I’m in amzg chrch with fab prchr.Get down hre.”

PS I told her I'd put her picture online... She laughed, which I took for permission.

The Yotel and Local Shared Ministry

We tried out the Yotel at Heathrow. It’s not a room or a suite --- they call it a cabin. Usually, you don’t need to register at a desk, you just dial in your internet booking number at a docking station where you’re given your magnetic-striped key. Once there, if there is something you need, you can phone “Mission Control” and they’re most obliging with free hot drinks and other stuff.
I wouldn’t be promoting them especially - the smaller unit is definitely for very “good friends” and we’d recommend the premium unit for people of our age and build. But obviously I could hardly fail to draw a comparison with the small church.
Here was everything we needed for a short overnight: a complete bathroom in less than two square metres, table, case rack, hanger (just one…), and the cutest cubby hole with a very comfortable bed for two (very good!) friends. There was even a large TV at the end of the bed and wifi was available. Furthermore the whole thing was just across from the entrance where the bus dropped us and only one floor from our check-in desk. Only the Hilton could have been more convenient…
The parallels with the small church are inescapable. The Yotel provided everything we needed with the minimum of bells and whistles. It offered full facilities without charging an arm and a leg. The friendly young staff responded to requests with alacrity but probably didn’t have degrees in hotel management.
The Yotel and its friendly people epitomised the Local Shared Ministry team in the small church. Both groups are chosen for their specific skills. Both provide a service that relates to their situation. Both provide an unconventional approach that is relevant in a changing world. Both should have more use.

Back to church

I left my list of expectations behind this morning when I went to church. It was Saturday and I went with the family to their Adventist Church.

Not my scene, I guess. So much that was so different. Even the two hymns I recognised were sung to tunes completely unknown by me. And the theology was generally a long way from where I sit.

But what a great mixture of age groups; what obvious fellowship all the locals had with each other; and what warmth in the welcomes. There’s a sense of family that transcends suburbs and even cities and states; church seems to be the place where people know and are known by each other.

I have championed the small church because it makes this depth of relationships possible across the whole congregation. But here it seemed to be working among a group of 300...And that’s only their smaller morning congregation!