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I've been wrestling with Luke 21:25-36, which is the lectionary reading for this week - the first week in Advent. It's an easy passage to avoid. But as I've stayed with it, I've noticed some things worth paying attention to. This song grew out of that. [caption id="attachment_3711" align="alignright" width="300"] Leon Thomas' 'Apocalypse' from MARK: The Illustrated Gospel[/caption] Lyrics: We strain our ears for hope's whisper is rising We train our eyes on the farthest horizon For the clarion call...

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Someone recently asked me for a list of my favourite resources for prayer and liturgy. As I compiled them, I started to write little descriptions, or quote passages to demonstrate what I liked so much. In many cases I just wrote out the prayer where the bookmark was left. Here is the first part of what I wrote. Body Prayer by Pagitt and Prill (USA) This is an interesting one. Its about moving prayer beyond words and intellect,...

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A few years back, I was asked to write a song to celebrate the 50th anniversary of women's ordination within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. As a result, 'Mothers of Faith' emerged. The story behind the song can be  read more fully here. On Monday, the Very Rev Margaret Reid Martin, the first woman ordained into ministry in the PCANZ in 1965 passed away. She was a pioneer. You can read something of her story...

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Until a little more than a week ago,I was involved in a production of Les Miserables. It has been a bit of a life goal. Without a doubt it is my favourite musical, for its gritty story of grace and its anthemic music. Over the last four months I have immersed myself in the character of Marius, the young man who falls in love, loses his love, risks his life for a revolution, and then...

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Recently I was at a worship service and there were a variety of others leading bits of the service. At one point someone led us in a prayer of confession. I think it might have been responsive, in that we (the congregation) had bits to say throughout it. Then afterwards, the leader led us in a further prayer, asking God for forgiveness  for what we had confessed. Later in the service, in fact, right at the...

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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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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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  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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