new songs

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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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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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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Here's a message I shared at Omokoroa Community Church last Sunday. You can warm up by reading Psalm 32:1-7. Many of you will have heard that something noteworthy happened in New Zealand Cricket last week. For the first time in our 84 years of being a Test playing nation, someone scored 300 runs, by themselves. Brendon McCullum, Black Caps captain, batted across 3 days for 750 minutes to bring this up. You could watch the LOTR...

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[caption id="attachment_993" align="alignright" width="300"] Abraham with the three visitors. Gen 18[/caption] So I've been thinking, learning and listening a bit recently, about a concept I will call, 'the anonymous Christ'. Its the idea that Jesus will show up at times and in ways that we didn't see coming. We are well familiar with this idea. But what about if we flesh it out? What if Jesus can arrive unrecognised and proceed to minister among us, still...

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Here's an old story and a new song. My wife and I can both trace our ancestry to the Orkney Islands, and so I've come to love the story of St Magnus, the patron saint of these Isles. Let me assure you, as far back as we can tell our ancestors were different people ;) The story of St Magnus The Orkney’s Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland, were ruled by the Viking king of Norway...

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I confess I'd already had Simeon on my brain. I've been intrigued by the songs that are embedded in the New Testament - and Simeon gives us one of the earlier ones in Luke 2. Its the story of an old man who has held out to see God's salvation 'in the land of the living' (Psalm 27). He is drawn to the temple when Jesus is there to be presented as an 8 day old...

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Here's the first part of a message I preached at Flagstaff Community Church on Sunday morning. Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the day when we remember that this season is about hope. However, I think hope is a little slippery. You see, I find myself hoping for all sorts of things. Whenever I see an ad for Big Wednesday, I find myself hoping that somehow I will win 27 million dollars, which is an...

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