Prayer for Pentecost 16

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Let us pray.

Dear God, you surprise us.

In a billion year universe you have a very serious interest in us.

We look out on the face of the universe and we see its grandeur and its indifference.

And yet you promise us that you have an interest in us, you are concerned for us, and you care that we live and the way we live for ourselves and for others.

Lord, you care for us, you love us, you encourage us to kindness.

Lord, you love those who we love, and those who we claim to be too busy to care for them.

Lord, you represent those who we love, and for those who need our call for justice.

We have met as the Gathering of Southern Presbytery, a diverse group of people you have called to govern the church in Otago and Southern, as interesting a bunch of people as you can get.

We worry about our finances as a church, because that is what Presbyterians do.

You teach us about Leviathan, that wonderful beast which you created, as big as Godzilla.

You created it to sport in the oceans; you created it to sport with you.

It is a mythical beast as strong as God, and you made it to play with you.

You catch the hell-beast on a hook, and we are saved.

How wonderful that is!

And yet we are worried – we are worried what we are doing to the climate.

We are worried what we are doing to the environment.

In a world filled with many more humans than fabulous beasts and monsters, can we all survive?

And that worries us.

Teach us to care for the other people of this planet, who just happen to not to be human – animals and beasts, plants and trees, mountains and rivers – you have given us dominion over them all and we are responsible for them too.

Let us take action to save our planet, and save ourselves – before we meet you on the next world over.

We want to raise up leaders to affect change, and we want you to be God-with-us as we take action.

Be God-with-us as we take action to be advocates to preserve this world that you have put us in.

We pray for our leaders, in the Church, in the world, in society, that we may live godly, righteous, and peaceful lives.

You are the one who says to us, be whole, be complete. You want to give us your shalom peace.

The peace that is part of the integrity of our lives.

Be with us in our households and our families.

Raise us up to right relations with each other and to good health. Make us whole.

Thank you for those you restore to us. Be active in this place and among us, your people.

Make us whole, make us at peace. Make us to listen to others, and to the voice of the earth.

Because in one generation you can save the city if the people repent and turn to you, and in another generation the city is destroyed and its name and its location are remembered only in books.

We hear of war and the rumours of war, may the great beasts you have created stand between vulnerable and the violent, and be our protectors.

Save your people so we may celebrate your festivals, and do not remove our names from your book of the life.

And we say together the prayer that you taught your disciples….

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Hope to Wrath – Doing Public Theology in a Time of Public Anger – William Storrer

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From Barrack Obama to Saffiyah Khan, from a moment of hope to someone unafraid in the face of anger.  It’s not just alt-right anger.  There’s liberal anger out there now.

William Storrer took a different approach in his lecture at the University of Otago on Tuesday, May the 9th.  His movement across the world: From the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to Cape Wrath in northern Scotland.  Cape Wrath comes from Norse Hvarf, where the ships from Norway turn to follow down the seaboard of Scotland.  Maybe a pivot or a gyre.  A way of seeing differently.

A place where his people came from, who told him two stories by which to live:  The Gospel “an idle tale told by women”, and “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage”.

The people who voted for Trump are white working class people whose life expectancy is in decline. Their theology and pastoral care has become invisible.  The anglophone world is drifting toward authoritarian democracies.

It’s time to take civic democracy from the grassroots – organise the parish as people of good faith, non-violent faith bases.  The best leaders are those where the people say “we did it ourselves”.  What we do is better than what we don’t do.

“Always leave open the possibility of entering a rightful condition”

– Kant

Living before the messianic age the best we can hope for are provisional goals, our politics is justified by grace.

Towards the Trump at End of the World

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It seems that the American Republican Party has become its own cult.  Like some nativistic Ghost Dance or cargo cult it believes that if it gets enough votes then the ancestors will return and herald in the renewed age of the world.  Only true believers need apply.

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Prayers for Pentecost 13

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Ah, dear lord, at this time and in this place we come to prayer.

Be welcome here. Bow your head and sit with us as we pray.

Lord, you are the god who protects us, you are the god who keeps our heads down in the heat of the moment. We see the puff of smoke and hear the ricochet of the bullet. It misses us by inches. We are deafened by the percussive force of the explosion, its heat singes the hairs on our necks. You cradle us and keep us safe, god of the foxholes.

Thank you that you have given us a safe country to live in, free from war, and civic violence and corruption. We are citizens, at home in our own country. Keep the dangers far away from our islands. Remember us here. As we come closer to our elections give us wisdom and discernment to make our democracy and our institutions work favourably for our world, our environment, and for the sustinence of all living creatures. Keep our country at peace. Guard our children, guide our leaders, grant us peace.

Lord, we have looked overseas, and we have seen the Olympics, the competitions, the games, the drama, and the colours. We have seen the beautiful people, the athletic and the strong, the best of the nations. We have seen the triumphs, and the humility. We have seen the defeats, and the disappointments. We know the promises: Higher, Faster, Stronger; and in your kingdom of heaven, you include: Deeper, Slower, Gentler, Older, Wiser. Grant us your blessing to nurture the gifts of your spirit. We have disciplined ourselves in our training, we are running your race. In your coming reign you promise us all a crown and a new name. Bring in your kingdom.

Lord, we are coming through the winter. We count every minute as each day lengthens. Save us from the slippery frost and the treacherous ice that will send us sliding down the hill. Give us our breath as we breathe in the sharpness of the cold air. Keep away the coughs and sniffles, especially the flu. Provide for us the warmth and hospitality of our homes in the day, and snug in bed at nights. Grant us thanks for fine frosty mornings. May there be grit under our wheels to give traction as we spread your Gospel. Give us warm hands, warm toes, and warm hearts.

We pray for us who are Church. Let us find the silence between words, the white space between lines. Let us listen. Let us see the breadth of the diversity and find ourselves in good company. You are the god who salts the earth with words of fire. Teach us to love, to speak words of life and truth, teach us meaning and beauty, teach us to learn together. And together we share the words that you taught your disciples, we sing together…

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.

Amen, amen. Amen, amen. Amen, amen. Amen, amen.

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Mamma Lina

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Bear with me.  Let me put in an endorsement for a lovely restaurant that we visited a couple of weeks ago when I was in Invercargill to see family.  They took me to Mamma Lina on Tay Street.  I won’t claim to a be foodie, or know my way around restaurants.  In the old Kingsland building on Tay Street there is an Italian restaurant.  You walk in and you are transported into another country.  Luigi, quite the gentleman, led us to our table while he carried on singing to himself in Italian.  Next to the Civic Theatre it was perfect for an evening meal before a night out at a musical.  It was a storm outside and the restaurant was warm, and convenient for the evening.

I ordered Fileto con Pepe Verde, Green Pepper Fillet.  “Rare or medium rare?”  I did not press that I liked well done meat.  I went with medium rare, only a little chewy.  We followed with desserts, I had the Peccati di Gola (Sins of the throat, I thought), a plate of pastries with cream and fruit, quite a treat.  I was pleased with my choices.

I should be down in Invercargill later this year when the family gather again for the Burt Munro Rally.  We are planning for a family dinner there.  The menu is being checked for navigating around food allegies.  We are sure to find something to meet our requirements.

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Hobbit-spotting 13 June 2016

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I’m a month in to living at my new flat, for which I’ve taken out a mortgage.  So far, so good.  Nearly everything is set up as I would want it.

This weekend, visits from Southern Dave, and from my mother.  Dave was here two nights, he has secured my bookcases to the walls.  He was here for the Regent Theatre’s 24 Hour Book Sale.  This year I left the sale with only two books: The Maestro, by Hoffnung; and The Algebraist, by Banks.

Mum was here for Turandot, the Metropolitan Opera performance at the Rialto Cinema.  My new couch is now more colourful with a blanket throw and cushions from Mum and family in Invercargill.

I went to the volunteers meeting for the Midwinter Carnival, which is this weekend.  I visited the Public Library on the way back, just in case the books I had been looking to borrow from there were in.  They were.  I am set up to spend time reading for the next month, in the comfort of my own home.  All good.

The Jihad of Jesus

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This is a summary of my thoughts from Dave Andrews’ address in Dunedin a couple of weeks ago.

I found what he had to say worked in with Jihad al-madina, a suggestion for a Muslim understanding of non-violence that I heard some years ago at the Abrahamite Inter-faith Peace lecture; not just not-violence, but a positive value of civic discipleship.  The cultivation of such a discipline works for Christians as well as Muslims.

Dave Andrews identifies the following values:

  • recognise that the God of Abraham is also the god of the Other in this dialogue
  • don’t start with identifying the Other as false, or yourself as superior
  • affirm the good in the other – confront what is bad in ourselves (otherwise that beam in our eye is going to do someone an injury!)

Jihad does not equate with war in the Koran. That is a different word, qital.  Jihad is the non-violent struggle for justice.  Jihad needs to be taken back from dangerous people of both sides.

Jesus should not be the poster boy for crusade.  He is the kalimatullah, the word of God.

Andrews introduced the vow of the Kudai Khidmatgar, written by Badshah Khan, an advocate for non-violence alongside Gandhi in pre-independent India.  It deserves to be better known:

I am a Khudai Khidmatgar; and as God needs no service, but serving his creation is serving him, I promise to serve humanity in the name of God.

I promise to refrain from violence and from taking revenge. 

I promise to forgive those who oppress me or treat me with cruelty. 

I promise to refrain from taking part in feuds and quarrels and from creating enmity. 

I promise to treat every Pathan as my brother and friend. 

I promise to refrain from antisocial customs and practices. 

I promise to live a simple life, to practice virtue and to refrain from evil. 

I promise to practice good manners and good behavior and not to lead a life of idleness. I promise to devote at least two hours a day to social work. 

Non-violent change needs extravagant impropriety.

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