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We had our graduation last night for our 2nd year ministry interns. They've been with us for a two year journey of discernment and formation, following on from theological study and plenty more discernment. To mark the end of this chapter, I wrote a simple liturgy. It wove in themes we had been working through and thinking over during the block course: trinitarian theology, language for God that goes beyond the masculine and the personal, as...

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I once heard William Willimon lecture at Otago University. He told a story of some students he had taken on a mission trip to Haiti during their summer break. During one of the final evenings of the trip, the students sat around a camp fire and shared their favourite passages of scripture with one another: John 10:10, “I come that you shall have life in the full” was one; Romans 8:28, “Nothing can separates us from...

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Eugene Peterson represents something of a conundrum in our world. When you hear him speak, he is gentle. But when you read his works, he brings a prophetic edge. His words have been provocative and fearless, often wounding in the moment, in the hope of healing in the long run. But those words are hard to marry up with this soft spoken introvert. He is a mystery in that he displayed humility and audacity side by...

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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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For over a year now I've been working in the studio with friend and producer Matt Caradus. Before we started working on this project, the last time I had seen Matt was when he moved to Tauranga just as I was leaving for a new job in Auckland. That was 3 years ago. So when I got in touch with Matt last year to collaborate, I thought he was still in Tauranga, and he thought...

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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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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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