Tag Archives: hope

Review of Wherever You are, You are on a Journey

The following review by Paul Inglis has just been posted on the Book Reviews section of Australian progressive Christian website: Open Discussion on Progressive Christianity https://ucforum.unitingchurch.org.au/

Wherever You are, You are on a Journey: Conversations in a Coffee Shop.

Book 1 of a trilogy by Susan Jones. Philip Garside Publishing Ltd.

“It is easy to lose sight of our inner convictions as we stumble, fall, pick ourselves up and deal with critical fellow-travellers. It is not easy to seek directions through mists of disillusionment and disenchantment.(Susan Jones)

This is a novel with a powerful use of simple understatement and a generous discourse that touches on what it means to be fully human. It is about Hope (her friend’s) journey and her own journey of discovery and evolving relationship with other seekers. Susan Jones has imaginatively located the events in a coffee shop where she meets regularly with Hope to unpack ideas and help Hope, as her minister, through the struggle we all have with finding meaning in life and faith.

She examines Hope’s journey as a typical pathway through faith which, for her, ultimately led to wrestling with questions openly. This includes the shock of unpacking the shibboleths of fundamentalism and literalism, clearly the responses of many people to this awakening of values – from trying to stay within the old ‘acceptable’ outlook to comfortably challenging it.

The story demonstrates what happens when one is allowed to think critically and share doubts.

Using the vehicles of the novel and the coffee shop conversations, Susan interrogates the issues many of us are living through – truth, facts, faith, church history, historical criticism, post enlightenment thinking and even Schleimacker’s work on the ‘scientific discipline of religion’.

Drawing on many contemporary progressive theologians, Susan takes the reader on a journey of continuous unfolding of understandings and practices that have so often been thought of literally rather than as metaphor, making more sense when seen as the latter.

Reflections on the decline of Christianity and the rise of openness to discussing the alternatives raises the question as to what ideology fills the vacuum in an age of omnipotent (acting) world leaders?

But the impossible quest for answers bedded in old beliefs is a block to our journey if we don’t take a new direction. This is an invitation to ask ourselves if the old assumptions, beliefs and habits are the limit of our understanding. The author asserts that it is not, and our journey is about finding oneself – becoming fully human in a world where the church has failed to deliver this for us.

This subtle unpacking of myth makes good reading for anyone re-thinking their life and what has shaped their thinking. It is an imaginary set of conversations and not a heavy theological treatise, that draws on psychology and philosophy to aid the process of thinking about the big topics of sin, evil, baptism, communion and scripture.

Recommended reading for personal reflection on one’s own journey.”

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Workshops on sustainability

Awhi Mai Awhi Atu – Action Point 14

Host and promote practical workshops. Find people who can pass on practical skills to equip people for living sustainably. Connect with people in the community and build friendships as you learn new skills together.

  • Tap into the skills of church members, especially retired folks
  • Training and resources at Future Living Skills: www.sustainableliving.org.nz
  • Host a Repair Café or Repair Fair, to help people mend clothes and toys, fix computers, small appliances, furniture etc. Find Repair Café Aotearoa NZ on Facebook, or folks like Repair Riverlution in Christchurch
  • Bike repairs; find folks in your community keen to help people fix their bikes
  • Make reusable menstrual pads; find Divine River on Facebook
  • Clothing repairs and upcycling fabric; connect with community initiatives such as Stitch Kitchen in Otago: www.stitchkitchen.nz
  • Talk to your local Men’s Shed, e.g. making ‘DIY’ bird feeders or possum traps: www.menzshed.org.nz

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From the chapter To Come Home by Anna Baird
in Awhi Mai Awhi Atu, edited by Silvia Purdie. 

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Kindle a Flame

A Thought for Today

Kindle a flame

Kindle a flame within our hearts
let your light shine through
let your light shine through.

Kindle a flame within our hearts
let your justice shine through
let your justice shine through.

Kindle a flame within our hearts
let your hope shine through
let your hope shine through.

Kindle a flame within our hearts
let your love shine through
let your love shine through.

Kindle a flame within our hearts
let your peace shine through
let your peace shine through.

About this Song

Kindle a Flame was written as a reflective song for worship and I have used it many times when leading services.

It also works well as part of the devotions for a small group, and as an individual, private meditation (change “our hearts” to “my heart”).

The words are simple and repetitive.

There is a melody line setting and several suggestions for how to use this liturgy/song in our PDF eBook Kindle a Flame.

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Healing of the Nations

A Thought for Today

Healing of the Nations

With laurel leaves
the winners crowned
Olympian effort applauded

With laurel leaves
the emperor crowned
power and force rewarded

How then to crown
the Lord of Life
the Saviour long-expected?

With sharp, hard thorns
was Jesus wreathed
prophecy and love contorted.

Crushed, healing herbs
dressed wounds and hurts
bodies whole again

Lest we forget
the dying sun
green shoots, new life
still comes.

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About this poem

Our congregation took part in the Living the Questions study programme some years ago. This poem is a response to the session on the book of Revelation.

It contrasts the way ancient Greek Olympic champions, Roman emperors and Jesus were crowned. This leads to thoughts about commemorating those who died or were injured in war.
Like the book of Revelation, the poem finishes on a hopeful note of renewal and growth.

This poem is found in my collection of, music, prayers and poems: Kindle a Flame
which you can download as a free 30 page PDF eBook when you sign up for our email newsletters.

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A New Hope

A Thought for Today

“This is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent is the church’s New Year.

As Christians we get a few week’s jump on the rest of our community. We can make our New Year’s resolutions now, have time to break them before Christmas and get a second chance to set some more on the first of January. Well maybe…

Last Saturday Festival Singers presented a Christmas concert at St Ninians’, in Karori. We called it From Shadow to Light. We went on a musical journey from Purcell’s 400 year old sombre funeral music for Queen Mary, through to contemporary English composer John Rutter’s Gloria. The Rutter piece is joyous and jolly hard to sing.

We arranged the programme for the concert that way to acknowledge that while Christmas is a happy celebration, it also brings sad memories of loved ones who have passed away and can no longer share it with us.

It’s good to take a little time in Advent to pause and reflect.

The world has troubles. We all have our own troubles and concerns.

Then God’s love breaks through.

The birth of baby Jesus is a symbol of God’s love for us.

We have much to celebrate and to be hopeful about. Amen.”

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From the sermon – A New Hope – 4 December 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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How should we spread the Good News?

A Thought for Today

“…Jonah just stood up in the middle of the street and shouted at people.

The way we tell God’s message needs to be adjusted for each situation.

At this point, I imagine Jonah was expecting to be arrested for disturbing the peace and chucked out of the city. At the very least he could expect to be jeered at and heckled. Or maybe worse, just be ignored. He would have been watching for trouble and scared.

Now the story turns. The Bible says, “And the people of Nineveh believed God.”

They stopped doing evil, repented and turned their lives around.

Jonah’s mission was a total success. He didn’t expect it.

How does Jonah react? If you go on to read Chapter 4 at home, you will see that Jonah sulks. It’s as if he wanted the people of Nineveh to be destroyed by God.

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We need to be sure of our motivation when we tell the Good News.

God used an ordinary, grumpy, ungrateful chap like Jonah to talk to the people of Nineveh.

What then is there to stop us sharing the Good News with the people we meet?…”

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From the sermon – How should we spread the Good News? – 22 January 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Responding to the Wilderness

Thought for the day:

How might we here today respond to the wilderness – the wild, isolated parts of God’s Creation. It isn’t realistic for us to spend 40 days going bush. So, are there other ways we can experience something of the spirituality of nature?

When I met Heather more than 30 years ago, she was a keen sailor. We have recently brought her Zephyr sailing dinghy up from Christchurch and repaired and restored it. She has joined Worser Bay sailing club.

As an observer, it seems to me that harnessing the wind to cut through the waves is an example of being in harmony with nature, of being in balance with the wilderness. Heather named her boat Spirit Wind.

[Show video. See link on the Sermons Resources page on our website]

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Perhaps we non-sailors could make time soon to just sit quietly outdoors somewhere for an hour with no other distractions. Walk along the beach or sit in the car and just look at the sea. Spend time sitting in your garden, or just looking out your window at the view. Turn off the radio or TV for an hour. Put down the paper or your book.

Take time out.

You will probably find that the usual concerns and busyness of daily life crowd your thoughts at first. That’s OK. Acknowledge them and put them mentally to one side. Remember today’s Bible readings, the music from Messiah, the images you have seen. Allow the view and the sounds of nature to seep through.

Remember we are all part of the goodness of God’s Kingdom
and beautiful Creation here on earth.


From the sermon – Responding to the Wilderness – 18 September 2011
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Review of The Grief Walk by Rev’d Bosco Peters

Delighted with this review by Rev’d Bosco Peters of Alister Hendery’s book The Grief Walk. https://liturgy.co.nz/the-grief-walk

“In 2014, I reviewed the Rev. Alister Hendery’s book, Earthed in Hope. That book was a New Zealand-based reflection on funerals – our context being much enriched by Māori (the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand) very down-to-earth approach to death. I heartily recommended that book.

This book, The Grief Walk, is the sequel and complement of the previous one. While the funeral is a very important part of grief, it is a gateway into the longer walk with grief.

This is a practical, down-to-earth book. It is is for people who are grieving, and for people who want to support them. That includes clergy, church leaders, and others.

Alister’s book is based on his years of experience as a priest, on his particular and open interest in death, funerals, and grieving, and on his studying of quality research in these areas – there is a good bibliography at the back of the book. His is a 40-year journey. Far too often, people present grieving as a one-way process with well-defined stages, concluding with something they call “closure”. I strongly reject such an extremely unhelpful model. Alister does also; he is clear that your grieving is unique to you.

Often, people of faith (and others) can present saccharine ‘solutions’ to grief that deny the searing pain of grieving. Alister’s book also eschews such an approach.

You can see the chapter topics here. Chapter 4, I think is central to Alister’s approach:

4 – Understandings and Misunderstandings about Grief

  • Our Loss and Grief is Unique – so Forget the Rules
  • There’s No ‘One Size Fits All’ – so Forget Stages in Grief
  • We Wax and Wane – so it’s Okay to Retreat from Time to Time
  • A Continual Presence Which can Ambush us – so Forget the Timeline
  • Continuing Bonds – So Forget about Having to Let Go
  • Grief Doesn’t get Closed Off – so Forget about Closure
  • Our Life has Changed – so Forget the idea of Returning to Normal
  • We Grieve in Our Own Way – so Forget the Stereotypes

This is followed by chapters including how we experience grief, how we can accompany a grieving person, God and grief, and the hope for the grieving person’s future.

If you are looking for one book on grief where you can be assured of being in safe hands, I cannot recommend The Grief Walk too highly.”

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