A few weeks ago the minister of the church where I attend gave me a call. He'd heard that I had written a song based on 'Kupu Whakapono', the new confession of faith that the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand adopted in 2010. I confessed I had, but that I did not recommend it. The reason I said, was that at that stage I didn't really have a clue how to write songs for...

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Palm Sunday is the last stop for most of us on the way to Good Friday. If this were your first time around the story, you would have no idea what lies just a few short days in the future. The tone is exultant, the mood is jubilant. Israel's Messiah has arrived to take charge, the new king to rule and make things right is here! Of course, most of us are not on this journey...

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Did you know 2016 was pre-named 'The Year of Mercy'?  I'm not sure who bestowed this title or what it inspired or even how we indeed review it.   But a cursory glance at the news - local, nation or international you could easily conclude that nothing much has changed.   The world is still tired and frayed at the edges.  Good news still travels much slower than a sensational news headline.  And peace for so much of the earth is still...

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This Sunday the lectionary gospel is Jesus at a dinner in the house of a well-to-do Pharisee. As I was preparing for preaching and leading worship this weekend, I did a quick paraphrase of the passage to help my thinking. I thought I'd share it in case it was helpful for others. Luke 14:1,7-14 Paraphrase by Malcolm Gordon On the day of holy rest, Jesus went for dinner at a guys house who was a big deal in...

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  Here marks a creative break, a spiritual tangent if you will.  I have been wanting to explore the art of meditative drawing.  I realize this is really nothing new, for drawing has long been associated with spiritual thought and practice.  However, I really believe there is something in this for contemporary life which is so fast and yet so image laden.  So I'm taking a month to walk this tangent slowly to see where it leads.  Below is...

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  I was particularly caught by a phrase this week in the old testament Lectionary text.  Isaiah speaks:  "Stop your meaningless offerings". I thought about meaningful offerings, life and worship.  The Incarnation of Jesus Christ - God in bodily form, God made flesh, is the most meaningful I could think of.  It makes sense of all others. In response I began to write down a prayer.  I started with the Jesus Prayer: Jesus Christ - Son of God - have mercy on...

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  As I read around the gospel text this week I ache for the Incarnation of Jesus Christ to be visible in my life, in our lives.  What is the Kingdom of God nurturing inside you?  What is God storing away and hoping for you in secret? Whatever it is, you can be sure it is good, productive and abundant because the Father is pleased to give it to you. Read the whole story in Luke 12:1-34.  Below is my...

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  In the gospel Lectionary this week, we see Jesus returning from prayer and answering the request, "teach us to pray". I wonder what we would receive if we risked the same request of Christ today? Read the whole story in Luke 11:1-13. I have especially enjoyed the The Message translation. Below is my meditative poem.   Jesus, God-in-work-boots When do you ever stop teaching? When do you ever cease listening for our good? Give us faith in asking, persistence in...

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  This week the gospel Lectionary text comes from the end of Luke chapter 10. It is a rather clipped story of Jesus accepting hospitality at the home of Martha and her sister Mary. Often I am left wanting more information of what is actually going on in this scene. What is the significance of Luke's inclusion of this account? Why is there silence from the disciples, who are usually so quick to jump into such...

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  The story of the Good Samaritan is one of Jesus' best known parables. It has become part of the fabric of western culture. It is held up to celebrate high ideals of humanity, brotherhood, sisterhood and community.  Somehow though, we've stopped listening.  We've heard that one before.  We get it.  Thanks. I wonder then, might Jesus want to use such a story to show us something new of himself today.  With this in mind I revisit Luke 10....

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  The Lectionary gospel text this week is from Luke 10:1-11, 16-20.  In it we read that Jesus was making his way to Jerusalem. In the preceding chapter Luke describes Jesus' mood as resolute.  He then sends 70 of his followers ahead of him, with very specific instructions. As I drew some meditative sketches about this scene, I was struck Christ's care for his followers. He had discerned that the time was right, so deliberately and carefully he sent...

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  Over the past five weeks I have been writing somewhat of an extended book review of Henri Nouwen's 'The Return of the Prodigal Son - A Story of Homecoming'.  Through it I have explored the story Jesus told in Luke 15 and Rembrandt van Rijn's depiction of the story's human landscape. At the risk of spoiling Nouwen's conclusion, or worse, not being able to do it justice, I offer my own reflection on what I've...

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  The story of the return of the prodigal son uncovers the heart of God the Father. God finds us at the edge and draws us into the centre. We are pursued in the best possible way. Relentlessly. Inexhaustibly. This is the nature of the father's love for each of us. Yet we all question this love. We would do well to examine our internal questions from time to time. Consider the insight of Henri Nouwen...

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Psalm 137:1-6 I grew up on a sheep farm 40 minutes south of Dunedin. Just north of a little place called Milton. My grandparents, Jean and Andy, my Dad’s folks, owned the farm before us. They lived two paddocks away, in the house Dad had grown up in. They lived two paddocks away and sat one pew in front of us at church. Every Sunday. Most school holidays my cousin Andy came up from Kelso in...

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So I've been working on a collection of songs for small churches for the last few months. In my work with congregations around NZ (and indeed in Australia and Scotland) I've noticed that while most of our contemporary worship music is written by large churches with amazing musical resources, when small churches with more limited musical resources try to recreate them they struggle. The songs tend to rely on their arrangements, thundering rhythm sections, or...

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  This week I continue dwelling on the story of the prodigal son. This parable of Jesus is the third part of a trilogy found in Luke chapter 15. I have had two companions on my journey: artist Rembrandt van Rijn and priest/writer, Henri Nouwen.  Both have meditated long on this story and both share considerable spiritual insight on what they have found. So it is with more than a little hesitation that I follow them...

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  I have continued reading Henri Nouwen's book, 'The Return of the Prodigal Son - a story of homecoming' a reflection on the Rembrandt painting on the same subject. The latest chapters consider the younger son in the story.  What I found most interesting to learn was that other sketches and paintings from earlier Rembrandt's life on the subject of the prodigal son had a whole lot more movement in them.  They were dynamic - the Father...

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  I have started reading Henri Nouwen's 'The Return of the Prodigal Son- A Story of Homecoming' (1992). I have not moved past the prologue.  It documents the beginning of Nouwen's fascination with Rembrandt van Rijn's painting 'The Return of the Prodigal Son' and how the painting became so spiritually significant to him. I was intrigued that although Nouwen describes the embrace of the Father as central to the painting, he is quick to point out the...

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  The reading from the psalms this week includes beautiful imagery of the touch of God. Psalm 104:31&32: May the glory of the LORD endure forever; may the LORD rejoice in his works - he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. This week is the end of the series I have entitled 'Season of Light'. As I reflect on the meditations of this season that spans from Resurrection Sunday to Pentecost, I...

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  Sometimes the right word will carry a whole lot of weight. It will cut right to the heart of the matter. For me, one such word is surely.  It is a word for light in dark times; a word that forms a hinge in prayer, turning the pray-er toward God. Two of the Lectionary texts this week involve dark and uncertain places for real people. Jesus prays for his disciples around the table before he is...

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  In Acts 16:9-15 we read that the Apostle Paul and friends go on a journey to Macedonia. After a few days they go outside the city gates to the river where they "expected to find a place of prayer." Unexpectedly, they end up being invited to eat in the house of a Gentile woman, Lydia. I wonder if her home became that place of prayer. I can imagine the aroma of freshly baked bread and...

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  The Lectionary text this week takes us to Acts 11:1-18. Here we are invited to listen in on how Jewish Christians in the early church dealt with the very vexing question of Non-Jewish believers. We are invited to consider how much wider the mission of God was than they could imagine or even contain. See here the interplay between Peter, the other believers and the Spirit of God. See how God met the man Cornelius...

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  Last week I had the privilege of visiting Iolani Palace in Hawaii.  As guests we were invited to view the lower level of the Palace, which included a magnificent staircase and throne room (and the little throne room).  What captured me most, however, was the royal dining table.  As one of the last guests to make my way through I was able to linger a little longer.  I can honestly say I was moved.  I...

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  In this Season of Light we have also been invited to engage with another of Jesus' post-resurrection encounters. He appears to a group of his disciples on the shores of Galilee while they are out fishing on the lake. Read the whole story in John 21:1-19. Below is my prayer.  May it be for you today as an autumn morning. Season of Light 2: Jesus, unmoor me – Yes, set me adrift – I sense in the cold light You are somehow  ...

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Hi, this is Adrian Taylor and OneVoice is giving me room to create! I'll be sharing some prayerful poetry as I mediate on the Lectionary texts for each week. Join with me as I explore the form of the 'collect' and listen to the Spirit of God. Over recent years I have become increasingly interested in Christian meditation practices. So this blog space is the result of my desire to write and share inspirations as a...

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The church calendar has had 2 millennia in the Northern Hemisphere to find meaning. Easter happens in Springtime, meaning the promise of new life is resounded in buds and blossom and lambs leaping. Pentecost happens in the summer heat, giving embodiment to the fiery presence of the Spirit. Advent and Christmas happen in the dark of winter, meaning the candles are lit when the days are their shortest, and the longing for the coming of...

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Earlier this week I had a conversation with my five year old son, Sam about the significance of Holy Week. I have been fascinated by Jesus' statement, 'Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing' (Luke 23:34). If Jesus reveals to us who God is (Col 1:19, John 14:7) then this offer of grace to those who aren't even looking for it is mind boggling. I wanted to help this truth make its home in...

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The story of the Prodigal Son comes up in the lectionary readings this Sunday. People who know me will be aware that I believe this short story to be a better piece of work than anything from Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, Roald Dahl or even Captain Underpants (the last two reveal something of my son's bedtime reading demands at present). When we look at the three stories of Luke 15 together we often  focus...

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