CHRISTMAS IN OUR CHANGING LAND
DIOCESE OF CHRISTCHURCH
CHRISTMAS OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH BIKERS, BRUISES, AND BROKENNESS
ISSUE FORTY FIVE
DEC / JAN 2016-17
THE DAY CHRIST COMES CHRISTMAS DELIVERIES
01. 02. 07. 09. 14.
CHRISTMAS IN OUR CHANGING LAND
THE DAY CHRIST COMES
O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL
FROM THE BISHOP: Love has a name THE BRIEF FEATURE: Christmas outside of the church ARTICLE: The little trust that could THEOLOGICAL THOUGHTS: The ABC of Christmas good news
18. 19. 22. 25.
GLOBAL DISPATCH: How to “eat” a Ugandan Christmas DIALOGUE: A Christmas to remember! CULTURE PERSPECTIVE: Bikers, Bruises, and Brokenness
AnglicanLife is published bi-monthly by the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch. Editor / Jo Taylor-de Vocht /email@example.com, Contributing Writers / Cathy Maslin, the Rev’d Indrea Alexander, Sara Cornish, Contributors / + Victoria Matthews, Graham Braddock, Sammy Mould, Michael Gorman, Gillian Southey, The Rev’d Ron Hay, The Rev’d Peter Carrell, Brad Wood, Tessa Laing, The Rev’d Jill Keir, The Rev’d Spanky Moore, Chris Jensen, Lyn Jensen, The Rev’d Indrea Alexander, Eleanor Ozich, The Rev’d Sampson Knight, Advertising Enquiries / Ivan Hatherley / firstname.lastname@example.org, Editorial Enquiries / Jo Taylor-de Vochtemail@example.com, Design / www.baylymoore.com, Printed by / Toltech Print, Sustainability / AnglicanLife is printed on recycled paper using vegetable-based inks. Cover image / “The Gift of God” by Graham Braddock www.graham-braddock.artistewebsite.com.
Advent & Christmas at The Transitional Cathedral, Latimer Square
Further details at www.christchurchcathedral.co.nz | firstname.lastname@example.org | (03) 3660046 CATHEDRAL SINGERS & BRASS CHRISTMAS CONCERT:
FRIDAY 9 DECEMBER 6.30PM
CATHEDRAL CHORISTERS CAROL RECITALS:
SEE WEBSITE FOR DETAILS OF TIMES AND PLACES
SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS & CAROLS:
SUNDAY 18 DECEMBER AT 7.30PM.
CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS SERVICE WITH ANIMALS:
THURSDAY 22 DECEMBER AT 3.00PM
CHRISTMAS EVE: CATHEDRAL CHOIR CAROL RECITAL AT 6.00PM; CAROL SINGING AT 11.15PM; THE MIDNIGHT EUCHARIST AT 11.45PM CHRISTMAS DAY: HOLY COMMUNION AT 8.00AM; FESTIVAL EUCHARIST AT 10.00AM; CHORAL EVENSONG AT 5.00PM
FROM THE BISHOP
LOVE HAS A NAME Words: Bishop Victoria Matthews Each Christmas we come face to face with the stunning realization that love has a name. The name of love is Jesus and love’s name Jesus reveals to us the heart and will of God. Yes there will be decorations, gifts, wonderful music, and many parties again this Christmas—but ultimately the message of Christmas is LOVE. The name of this eternal and ever present love is Jesus, born in obscurity and poverty yet embodying for us the assurance of God’s great love for all of creation and most certainly every person, man, woman, and child on earth. This love also has a destination. The destination is our hearts and lives. We are the recipients of the greatest love imaginable and then it is up to us to decide what to do with this great love. Will we try to file it away and bring this love out only when convenient? Or will we allow this extraordinary gift to truly transform us and make us the notso-secret agents of the love of God? If so, then Christmas is simply the celebration of what we know and live every moment of every day. That “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...” But you and I know that the gift of love is not static. Love is a dynamic gift. Love changes the recipient and it also changes the giver. So when we receive the gift of love whose name is Jesus, we become part of the story of how God is ever so slowly transforming the world to the Kingdom’s design and purpose. We are God’s agents as I
wrote before but even more extraordinarily, we become partners with the love of God called Jesus. This Christmas I invite you to take an inventory. How do you accept and share the love of God called Jesus? First of all, how has this love called Jesus transformed you? Secondly, how are you partnering with God’s love to change the world? Don’t think about a one time gift and then return to your old way of life, but emulate God and give something that keeps on giving. Ask yourself if there is one aspect of your life that could become far more generous and gracious, and then live out the love of God in a way that will transform yourself and others. Love has a name and it is Jesus. Love has an address and it is our hearts and lives as disciples of Jesus. Finally, love has a story that is not quite finished. It is waiting for you to do your part. This Christmas determine to be part of the Christmas love story which begins with the birth of love and has continued through the ages. The story of love invites you to do your part by writing yourself into the story. As a disciple of Jesus what will you choose to be and do? Write the next chapter of your life so that your love in action, which you first received as the gift of God called Jesus, makes the angels sing, Jesus the Babe laugh with joy, and God smile. +Victoria
CHRISTCHURCH CITY MISSION STEPS UP SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
“DEEPER CAMP” 2016 “Deeper Camp” was held over the middle weekend of the spring school holidays at Waipara Riverside Park. The camp for high school aged young people again had record numbers with 110 people attending from nine different youth groups. “Deeper Camp” seeks to provide a follow up event to Easter Camp with the aim of helping young people go deeper with their faith and relationship with God—whether they have been a Christian all their lives or are a newer follower. The camp had a fantastic line up of speakers who shared about the cost of discipleship including sessions from the Rev’d Carolyn Robertson, Cam Haylock, Megan Bijl, the Rev’d Ben Truman, the Rev’d Megan Herles-Mooar, and Matt Biji. Other activities over the weekend included team building games, rifle shooting, archery, water sliding, swimming, hanging out at the camp fire, craft activities, night games, and morning and night prayers. According to Youth Ministry Developer Samantha Mould, “’Deeper Camp’ 2016 had a fun-filled community vibe and young people were challenged to explore and connect on a deeper level with God.”
As you go around the city or look on Facebook you may notice people saying “l’m an angel.” At the City Mission we have a wonderful group of supporters who respond to our needs and give with great generosity. We also know that many people are not aware of our work or the great number of people in our city in need of help. To make the City Mission more widely known and to give people the opportunity to become involved we are making more use of social media. By utilizing social media platforms such as Facebook, we hope to engage with a wider audience and shine more light on what we do. Through posting regular updates of donations, campaigns, and the daily movements of the City Mission, we aim to increase the awareness of our organization and our interaction with the public. What better way to praise God in this digital age than by helping our brothers and sisters who need us? The gospel imperative to love one another is as old as the stone tablet and as up to date as Facebook. If you would like to keep informed about the work of the City Mission, become an angel, or help with any aspect of our work, please follow us on Facebook!
NEW OFFICE FOR THE ANGLICAN DIOCESE OF CHRISTCHURCH On the 1st of November the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch office moved to new premises at 10 Logistics Drive, Harewood. The newly fitted out office space brings together all Anglican Centre, CPT, Anglican Care, and Mission and Ministry staff into one building. Theology House is also on site. “It’s a large, modern building well suited to the work we do,” says Edwin Boyce Diocesan Manager. “Staff are really enjoying being together in one space, it makes it much easier to share ideas and work collaboratively.” Prior to the move, Diocese staff were spread across temporary accommodation on St Peter’s church grounds after their office was destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake. “I would like to give my sincere thanks to the Parish of Upper Riccarton and Yaldhurst for hosting us for the last six years,” says Boyce. “They have been extremely accommodating.” The new office is now open for business and welcomes any visitors.
GIVE US HOPE FOR BETTER HEALTH Each week Malar and Bala attend the student parliament at their school in Tamil Nadu, India. The meetings are lively as the students discuss what they can do to improve their lives. Set up by Christian World Service partner SAND Trust, the parliament gives Dalit children their first chance to debate ideas, identify the needs and issues of their community, and undertake projects. In a country where many children do not go to school and work long hours as child labourers, they learn about their rights firsthand. One of SAND’s priorities is to promote the Rights of the Child, including through its work to eliminate child labour. The student parliament is one strategy to give children the opportunity to exercise this right and “ensure healthy and happy lives for all the children in the universe.” In the parliament, groups of children have responsibilities in their school that mirror government ministries. Malar and Bala are members of the committee working on health issues. Together the group has planted a herbal garden in the school grounds. They grow neem, tulsi, aloe vera, pepper, mint, and kaapooravalli in compost donated to them from a SAND agricultural programme. The students are learning how to grow these traditional medicines and how to use them. In a village where families earn a
tiny and erratic income as sanitation workers or day labourers, the parliament is already proving the value of investing in children—and it is proving fun for everyone involved. SAND is one partner featured in this year’s Christmas Appeal with its focus on giving hope to communities through good development. Already children are at school instead of working as brick makers or domestic workers because of SAND. In India the UN estimates that 10% of children aged 5-14 work even though it is against the law. In their village learning to work together will make sure no one is left behind, and build resilience for an uncertain future. SAND needs support to reach more families. CWS partners work in local communities, with government, and in movements determined to change the outcomes for those who face discrimination. As a member of the ACT Alliance, a coalition of 143 churches and church-based organisations, CWS works for transformation from the local to the global. Please support the 2016 Christmas Appeal “Give Us Hope”. For stories, resources, or to make a Christmas donation go to: http://christmasappeal.org.nz/.
CHRISTMAS IN OUR CHANGING LAND WHAT WE HAVE TO CELEBRATE AT CHRISTMAS Words: The Rev’d Ron Hay
By Camilla Rutherford, www.camillarutherford.co.nz.
Just what is the whole Christmas thing about? What are we celebrating? What does it mean in our secular society? For most Kiwis, Christmas is about celebrating family togetherness, time off work, and the beginning of summer holidays. All of which is fine as far as it goes, though it’s not such great fun for those without families. I know a childless couple who love the outdoors and celebrate Christmas by taking a picnic lunch into the hills on their own. Seems a rather lonely way to spend Christmas. And, of course, many people are on their own, without anyone. How can Christmas be good news for secular people in our land? How can we present it as more than just a family celebration and a charming story (with animals, angels, and a baby) for the kids? The issue of loneliness is actually quite central. You see, a key divide between belief and unbelief appears when we answer the question: are we alone in the universe? Underlying a secular world view is the belief that we live in an impersonal universe which is indifferent to human happiness. We are simply the freak product of a blind process and are totally on our own in a world without God. Secularism is based on a world view called “naturalism”—which means the belief that that there is only the natural world of molecules and matter. There is no “beyond,” no supernatural or divine dimension, no life after this one. It’s logical that the celebration of family becomes the central focus at Christmas. What else would you celebrate? 5
For the Christian, Christmas is above all about the belief that we are not alone. It is about the conviction that there is a God who is not remote and far away or indifferent to our situation. It is about the belief that this God has joined with us in our humanity. He stepped into our world—in dateable, relatively recent human history, just a few years after Julius Caesar invaded Britain and several centuries before the Roman Empire fell. The extraordinary thing is that this God did not step into our world in a highly dramatic way. He did not come as a lordly ambassador from outer space; he didn’t appear with the éclat of the supernatural. He came into our world as we all come—through a human birth canal. No wonder this is scandalous to devout Muslims who have an acute sense of God’s honour and dignity. No wonder this is risible to academic philosophers who are accustomed to seeking meaning in lofty, abstract concepts. But, in this way, God subverts the religious and the intelligentsia and accommodates himself to ordinary people. Christmas is glorious because it tells us we are not alone. It also tells us that the God who made us loved us to the extraordinary extent of coming to share our humanity. Quite simply, as John’s Gospel puts it, he “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Or as Matthew puts it, Jesus is “Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). The New Testament writers found themselves in encounter with a man they could not fit into any known categories. He was obviously human: he ate and he drank, he got tired, he needed to sleep, he bled when wounded. But he was like no one else they had ever encountered. His teaching had a resonance and a compelling quality unlike that of any of the religious teachers or philosophers that they knew. His life had such quality and grace that not even his enemies could find fault in him. And he demonstrated the most amazing powers— the ability to heal lepers, cure blindness, give hearing to the deaf, even to raise the dead to life. 6
They were at a loss to know what to make of him. Yes, they followed him; yes, they came to believe that he was the Messiah. But his death changed all that. No Messiah ends up dead on a Roman cross. But hang on a minute! He didn’t “end up” there. In the days after his crucifixion, witness after witness turned up with the extraordinary claim that Jesus is alive again. And eventually there were over 500 people who attested to this. Now, it began to make sense. Now, they have found a category in which to explain the amazing person they have known. He is the God-man, that is, the living God come amongst them in human flesh and blood, God incarnate. And this changes everything! We are no longer alone. We are not even under the eye of a remote deity who looks down on us in detachment or condemnation. We have a God who is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” and who so entered our humanity in Jesus that he can empathise with us in all the struggles we go through in life. In Jesus, we meet the God who came, as the Christmas story says, to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). So, in light of the whole story, in light of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, Christmas is infinitely worth celebrating. Christmas is about God’s great initiative in making himself known, God’s great expression of his love, God’s great rescue mission to free us from the power of evil. We give gifts at Christmas because in Jesus we receive the ultimate gift.
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CHRISTMAS OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH JO TAYLOR-DE VOCHT TALKS TO ALLY BOWDEN ABOUT WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO HER FAMILY.
For Ally, Christmas is about her children—letting them know how much they are loved and having fun together. Christianity or religion doesn’t really come into it. “Christmas to me just means a lot of family time, for us it’s all about making the kids happy. It doesn’t have any religious meaning or anything like that.” And why would it? It’s just not a belief she shares. “No I don’t believe the Christmas story. Well—when I say no, I have no idea, I can’t say no I completely and emphatically don’t believe it, but also, I’m a scientific person so I find it hard to believe anything like that. Much as it would be nice to. “I tried to go to church as a teenager, it was kind of a phase, it never did pan out to anything. As much as I wanted to believe I never could quite get myself to... I’m just a bit neutral I suppose.” Unsurprisingly then, the Christmas story isn’t a major part of her Christmas. When I ask her what it means to her she says “Nothing. I only know the basic story—it really
doesn’t have any impact on what we do for Christmas or how we celebrate it.” Interestingly, despite this, many Christian practices and values can be seen in the way that Ally and her family celebrate Christmas. They go and sing Christmas carols, the kids often go to church with their grandparents, and each year Ally puts together an Advent calendar that includes activities to show kindness and mercy to others. For example, they visit the SPCA to donate food and put a gift under the K-mart wishing tree. “We try and put some stuff on it that’s about giving back. I try to make it so it’s not focused on our kids getting everything. “I think we’re very fortunate and I think it’s nice to spread some of that with people who aren’t so fortunate. The thing we love about Christmas is seeing our kids open their presents and how happy they are. The thought of other kids not getting that is sad, so even if it’s something little, it’s something we can do that might help.” When I ask Ally if she has any interest in exploring the meaning of Christmas or Christianity she tells me “I wouldn’t mind being involved in church for the community side of it but in terms of personal beliefs…it’s not something that would be important to me in that respect.” The reality is, Ally isn’t particularly yearning for a more spiritual Christmas. She wants the very best for her kids and wants the family to enjoy their time together. The extent to whether she engages with Christian belief around Christmas will be the degree to which it interacts with these principles. How then can Christians engage with mums like Ally at Christmas? “In a way that is creative, includes the kids, and isn’t ‘in-your-face.’” It really is that simple.
THE LITTLE TRUST THAT COULD Words and photos: Jo Taylor-de Vocht
The day I visit Shirley Community Trust is a wild one, the wind is ripping through the trees in the park next door and it’s thumping down with rain. By the time I tumble into the small community centre I’m wet and rumpled. Immediately breaking the “buggies outside” rule, I enter juggling my camera and a wide-eyed baby
teetering between sleep and rage—it’s an inauspicious start. Thankfully, I’m quickly spotted by Jane Mitchell the Trust’s manager and her friendly community workers Sharyn and Ian. Within minutes my young companion is being rocked by the kind Sharyn, who has mercifully turned a blind eye to the buggy, and
Jane and I are chatting over a creamy latte brewed by Mary Jane the centre’s talented barista in training. I try not to look too desperately relieved. The place is humming. Clumps of people are drinking coffee and chatting at a large table. An enormous pile of supermarket bags filled with fresh vegetables are squeezed in next to them awaiting distribution. Shirley Community Trust was born out of St Stephen’s Anglican Church 17-years-ago, Jane explains. It began with a group of church members who saw the need for a fortnightly community dinner in their neighborhood. From these humble beginnings, the Trust has grown into a community hub offering so many services that Jane has to hand me a pamphlet listing them so she doesn’t miss any out. Barista training, literacy and numeracy classes, after school programmes, community parties, play groups, clothing swaps, a touch competition, a youth drop-in centre, a Friday morning café, Friday night meals, knit and natter sessions, free bread distribution, and a fruit and vege co-op—all from a building smaller than most church meeting rooms. It is the Tardis of community services. “Our area, like all areas, has some struggles. Generational unemployment, gang issues, depression, and high health needs are common,” says Jane. To help address some of these concerns, St Stephen’s Church formed a trust to gain the funding it needed to reach-out with services to help. “We want to empower people, to help give them a better holistic life,” says Jane. The Trust now has 180 volunteers along with six part-time staff. “It’s a great team,” says Jane, “we have a lot of fun and we all complement each other.” Jane has been volunteering for 14 years and has been the manager since December 2015. So are these services having any real impact on people? Absolutely. “I love hearing the stories about how lives are changed,” says Jane.
“For example, just recently, a young woman started coming into the café to do dishes. I was able to be a referee for her and now she has a kitchenhand job. Another lady we taught in our barista classes has just found a hospitality job.” I marvel that after 14 years in a demanding ministry Jane isn’t worn out. “This is my patch,” she tells me. “I love to walk down the street and know all the people. Faith keeps me going. I feel I’m doing what I’m meant to do… I’m operating in my calling.” And Jane’s faith, along with the faith of others in her church and community, has been contagious. Many people who have joined the life of the centre are now attending local churches. “It’s friendship evangelism I suppose,” says Jane. “I find it starts with finding faith in our faith. People might not want to pray themselves but they are often keen for us to pray for them and their situation” she says. The centre has a prayer list which people can go on to be prayed for by a group from St Stephen’s. It’s proven to be a
popular support. “I think we help people to move along in their faith journey” says Jane. Despite being an independent entity from St Stephen’s, the Trust has been intentional about staying connected to the church and preserving its distinctly Christian character. This is achieved through St Stephen’s members manning the board and by making sure Christians stay involved with serving in its programmes. So what’s next for this ambitious little place? “The touch competition starts this term. Also, I want to get in a counsellor and a community nurse, we don’t have a doctor here so people have to bus to Linwood. I’m also thinking about a social enterprise to bring in some more funding.” And you can bet the family silver, she will. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”(Mathew 17:20).
THE DAY CHRIST COMES Words: Cathy Maslin with Phillip Haussmann Photos: Samaritan’s Purse / Phillip Haussmann
It’s a feat of the imagination to see a Buddhist school invite a group of local Christians to hand out presents to students and offer them a chance to learn about the Gospel. Yet this is no imaginary world, it happened this year in Cambodia. Phillip Haussmann saw it with his own eyes while carrying out his role as the South Island Regional Manager for Operation Christmas Child, a project run by “Samaritan’s Purse.” In Cambodia an oversight board of local Christians from all denominations choose a less well-off area to distribute gifts to—a different one every year. They then proceed to go door-to-door with an unconditional invitation to parents, asking if they wish their children to receive a Christmas shoebox with gifts inside. This has provided the opportunity to build relationships, and when combined with the respect local churches have within their communities, has led to Operation Christmas Child teams being welcomed into government schools. What goes into a shoebox: notebooks, toothpaste, a family picture, is far less than what comes out; as is often the way in God’s economy of giving. For Phillip, “bringing a moment of joy to a child living in a harsh environment with the opportunity for them to know God loves them,” is the essence of it all. “One Australian volunteer with me this year was handing out shoeboxes. She saw on the top of a box being opened a picture of herself and those at home who had helped to pack it. She couldn’t stop the tears.” This wasn’t a set up. Often shoeboxes are delivered after Christmas for logistical reasons. However, this matters little as Phillip explains, “Christmas is not known to the young people who receive the boxes but when they are given out, it is Christmas. The day Christ enters our world can be any day.” Phillip continues on to say, “Many children receiving the boxes have little awareness of other countries and the idea of getting a gift is foreign to them. The shoeboxes have the effect of making them feel valued and less isolated.” The gifts they receive are treasured. To a child whose school has no play equipment a soccer ball is truly exciting. On a practical note, one question often asked by those who give shoeboxes is: “Why can’t we put any Christian content in them?” The reason people are asked not to do so is two-fold. Firstly, with the wide range of denominations contributing shoeboxes, the different messages being sent could end up confusing the children. Secondly, there are some countries where, due to government or situational restrictions, no Christian literature is permitted. Where children do have the choice to learn more about God’s love the local churches offer an introduction course about the Christian gospel called “The Greatest Journey.” In Cambodia this year Phillip was hit by the stark realisation
that some of those he met were alive during Pol Pot’s terrifying reign. “For many volunteers the reality of what they are exposed to and experience is life-changing,” he says. “Operation Christmas Child helps all involved, locally and internationally, to keep in mind our neighbours and the responsibility we have towards those in need.” Phillip and his wife, who attend Opawa Baptist Church, have an ecumenical background including associations with Anglican and Open Brethren denominations. Now in his current role Phillip continues to experience God’s church operating as one body. If you are interested in being a part of God’s work through Operation Christmas Child—whether that be taking the time to pack a shoebox, organising your church to be a shoebox collection point, or volunteering to help distribute boxes visit: https://www. samaritanspurse.org.au/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/ or call 0800 684 300 for more information. 13
THE ABC OF CHRISTMAS GOOD NEWS Words: The Rev’d Peter Carrell, Director of Theology House What do we say at Christmas time about the Christian message in a society that has forgotten that it has forgotten about God? Typical Christmas messages about “the Word made flesh” or “Jesus fulfilled Israel’s Messianic hope,” have no currency outside of the faithful. What might a preacher say to the agnostics bundled up in an extended family appearance at Midnight Eucharist? Is there anything that might make sense if an unbeliever at the Christmas dinner table unexpectedly says, “So what is Christmas all about?” Here is an ABC of Christmas to consider. Take your pick! A is for Affirmation. How valuable are human lives to God? Very valuable is the answer at Christmas. God’s love for the human family he created is so great that God bothered to identify with us through God’s Son being born to Mary, an everyday human mother. The Christmas good news is that God affirms the value of each and every human being. You and me reading here. Children being bombed in Aleppo. We are all valuable to God. The baby Jesus is God’s affirmation of our importance. That not only makes each person special, it drives us to work for peace and justice. B is for Beginning. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem he was the beginning of a mission which he would lead as an adult. That mission was and remains an alternative way of life to the way the
world wants to live. Jesus called this alternative way of living “the kingdom of God.” He meant by that life lived according to God’s rules, especially the rule of love. In this kingdom peace not war, generosity not greed, giving life not taking it away is prized. In this kingdom Jesus said that we die to self in order to live, that we live for others in order to have the best life ever. Christmas is the start of this alternative to the ways of the world. This Christmas, is it time for a new start in your life and in mine? Jesus today offers the opportunity to people to begin life again. Will you take up that offer? C is for concrete. True, the word “concrete” does not appear in the Bible (though it was known to the Romans of those times). But the concrete I am talking about is the solidity of Jesus as a real human being showing us the reality of God. Where is God? What is God like? Is there a God? Christmas celebrates Jesus of Nazareth, a real live human being, born in a stable. The one human being to make a credible claim to be a physical manifestation of God. God somewhere unseen beyond the universe took on concrete, hard, reality that first Christmas. In the tiny baby Jesus God became visible. When we look at Jesus through the stories we tell of him we are looking at God. Where is God? Where Jesus is. What is God like? Like Jesus. Is there a God? Yes, seen in Jesus.
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O COME, ALL YE FAITHFUL Eucharist at dawn, captured at The Abbey Youth Leadership Conference 2016.
Photo: The Woods Photography, www.thewoodsphotography.co.nz.
HOW TO “EAT” A UGANDAN CHRISTMAS Words and photo: Tessa Laing “I camo karama ma ber?” The first time I was asked this question, I was confused. Translated literally from Acholi, she was asking me, “did you eat Christmas well?” Essentially I discovered, it means “how did you consume Christmas?” How apt I thought, how apt. The phrase nails it. But coming from the tinsel-suffocated, marzipan-dipped culture of Christmas promoted in New Zealand, I found the Ugandan consumerist version is actually quite refreshing. Behold, the five indisputable ingredients of a Ugandan Christmas: 1. Newly “smeared” hut: Villagers in Uganda keep their mud hutfloor smooth and nice to walk on by smearing it with layers of a cow poop. A new floor is essential for enjoying Christmas day! 2. Meat: For many, meat is a rare treat. In this animal-scarce environment, no factory farming or environmental degradation is necessary to bring pig, goat, or chicken to the Christmas table. 3. New clothes: There are no presents exchanged here. But everyone receives a single gift of “new” clothes from the family. Clothes here are mostly secondhand—shipped to Uganda from American op-shops, bundled into bales by wholesalers, and sold in bamboo market stalls. 4. Sodas: Sodas are still mostly sold in crates of glass bottles, returned when empty. 5. People: Whether extended family or a neighborhood gathering of women with absent husbands, being together is important. We always join the women! Don’t get me wrong. People here still spend a disproportionate amount of their money celebrating, and would spend more if they could. The low waste, free-range, eco-friendly aspects of Ugandan Christmas are a result of resource-scarcity rather than deep thought, spiritual focus, or ethical constraint. If tinsel, turkey, and stuffed stockings were on offer, Ugandans would take it. Nevertheless,
Christmas here still teaches me that you can celebrate with whatever is available. Kids here take more delight in one 300ml bottle of Fanta and a secondhand dress than most kiwi kids do in their new I-things and endless Christmas treats. But ultimately, whether I’m celebrating Christmas in New Zealand or Uganda, I want to be among the wise who focus on connecting, not consuming. In both countries, I’ve found countercultural people who carve out the space every year amongst the hectic preparations and expectations to remember what it means that God became human. If we can remember that, then there sure is a lot to celebrate, no matter how we “eat” our Christmas. Tessa & Nick Laing are being supported through Anglican Missions 2016 Spring Appeal – please visit their website for more details www.angmissions.org.nz.
A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER! KATHLEEN KNOEF, A NEW RESIDENT OF HOLDSWORTH HOUSE REST HOME IN THE ANGLICAN LIVING FITZGERALD COMPLEX, SHARES HER STORY ABOUT A VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS WITH CHAPLAIN THE REV’D JILL KEIR. Words: The Rev’d Jill Keir with Kathleen Knoef
Kathleen I heard you have a very special Christmas story, would you share it with us? “Some years ago my husband died. Two years later it was discovered that my older sister had terminal cancer. Her condition had gone undetected so her death was a great shock. “Beatrice was the person who taught me to knit and we were always sharing with one another about our current knitting projects. I would constantly ask Beatrice ‘What are you knitting now?’ “When Beatrice died, I suddenly found I had no wish to knit. It was very painful and I was very angry about my sister’s death. Beatrice had been such a big part of my
life for as long as I could remember. I had shared very happy years with my husband but I shared my whole life with Beatrice. It was a double loss. “For fifteen months, I was without knitting.” That must have been very difficult, what was it that helped you start again? “Well, Christmas was coming and the family were all coming together. And, because we were all coming together I started knitting little things for the children. “Birthdays are individual celebrations but Christmas is a time to celebrate ‘God with us’ together. Christmas is a time for families to share with one another.”
How did it feel to pick up the knitting needles again? “It was something of great comfort to me. I discovered whilst knitting a sense of Beatrice still being with me. That was a very healing thing. It made me realise that I hadn’t lost Beatrice but in a special way Beatrice was still with me.” Was there anything special about Christmas that prompted this? “It was Christmas with its message of peace and good will and God’s gift to the world that started me on my road to recovery. It was a very special Christmas indeed.”
CHRISTMAS DELIVERIES SARA CORNISH CATCHES UP WITH KAREN PERRIAM ABOUT HER WORK AS A MIDWIFE.
Karen, what do you enjoy about your work as a midwife? “I enjoy working with people, and the clinical and practical side of midwifery. I have been practicing midwifery for ten years now and it is a privilege for me to bring life into the world. I generally deliver around 50-60 births per year; a lot of these are return mums, it’s lovely to have contact with mums again and see children I have delivered as they grow up.” Delivering babies and dealing with complicated births is a huge responsibility. Do your find your work stressful? “A lot of people tell me how stressful they would find my job, but I don’t find it stressful. If you are doing all you can, doing right by the mum and her wishes, and providing the best care possible, then at the end of the day that is all you can do. Beyond that, things do happen, but that is outside of our control. I have certainly had challenging and complicated situations in my ten years but nothing serious has happened; however I am always mindful of the possibility that things do go wrong sometimes.” How does your faith impact on your work? “My faith impacts my overall thoughts about life. I know that Jesus is in control. In my job and in life I have always felt that he looks out for me. I know that things happen that are beyond our control, but I always have confidence that he is there. Working as a midwife you face some very complicated situations, but when challenges arise I am prayerful and mindful of God’s presence. If, for example, I am heading to a woman’s home for an unplanned home delivery, I have a quiet confidence that God is watching out and in control of things. When complications arise, He is still there. Recently I oversaw a birth where the woman had been planning to
deliver at a primary unit, but ended up at the hospital instead. It was a very complicated delivery, and it could have been terrible if the birth had been at a primary unit without all the necessary support available. I felt that God was behind things in that situation.” What aspects of your work do you find challenging as a Christian? “The biggest struggle I find is in living out my faith in the workplace and with colleagues. It can be challenging working alongside other staff, where there is the temptation to join in with gossip. Trying not to be a part of that and speaking out where necessary can be tough. Being a midwife is also a challenge at home. My kids are grown up now, and I have adapted to the lifestyle, but I know that when I’ve had a busy week my husband can feel like we haven’t had the chance to connect at all. I think it’s harder on him than on me—I’m so tired I just want to go to bed!” What is it like for you working over Christmas? “Christmas is always a busy time—there is always a shortage of midwives as half are away on holiday. I work every other Christmas. Of course I would rather be on holiday, but there are advantages as well to working over the holiday season. People are often more relaxed, the roads are quieter, and it is easier for me getting out and about visiting mums.” What does the birth of Jesus mean to you? “Birth is precious any time, and I am privileged in my profession to be a part of welcoming new life into the world. Most of all, the birth of Jesus means life—his birth and death brings us new life.”
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CHRISTMAS BEATS CHRISTMAS RECORDS THAT WON’T MAKE YOU WANT TO SAW YOUR EARS OFF. Words: The Rev’d Spanky Moore 1. Sufjan Stevens, “Songs for Christmas” Alternative folk genius Sufjan Stevens has long been revered as royalty amongst hipster Christians. His infamous five-EP Christmas box set features 42 songs—from banjo-fied classics to his own colourful additions to the carol cannon. 2. Jonny Cash, “Classic Christmas” The steely mouthed Jonny Cash recorded a number of Christmas albums throughout his career, and this album offers a collection of his take on carols cut between 1962-1980. Cash’s renditions offer each carol a rough honesty that highlights their redemptive power. 3. She and Him, “A Very She and Him Christmas” She and Him is a retro pop-rock duo featuring TV starlet Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. This cute and quirky album of holiday classics from 2012 is the perfect Christmas pick-me-up. 4. Bright Eyes, “A Christmas Album” While Bright Eyes’ main man Conor Oberst is renowned for his melancholic take on music, for this 2002 collection he allowed himself to embrace the Yuletide spirit of things. His trademark quivering vocals offer a refreshing take on some classics. 5. Frank Sinatra, “A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra” Released in 1957, this was “ol blue eyes’” more reserved response to Elvis’ hit Christmas album which was released in the same year. He croons his way through, mixing up old classics and 50’s Americana. The perfect antidote to post-trifle-regret. 22
WHAT ABI TAUGHT US Words: Reviewed by Chris and Lyn Jenson “What Abi taught us—a mothers struggle to come to terms with her daughter’s death” is an inspirational book by Dr Lucy Hone from Sumner, Christchurch. In 2013, Lucy’s 12-year-old daughter Abi was killed in a car accident in Canterbury that also claimed the lives of Abi’s friend Ella and Ella’s mother, Sally. Lucy works in the field of resilience psychology and in this book, she shares her experience of attempting to apply her professional expertise and knowledge to this heartbreaking personal tragedy of her own. My wife and I both resonated strongly with Lucy’s key messages of being proactive in walking through grief in ways that assist the process of healthy grieving. Lucy discusses the importance of those grieving having the freedom to ask themselves “Is this helping or harming?” rather than relying on social conventions, expectations, and precedent in choosing how to act at any given moment. “The word ‘should’ has no place in our lives,” Hone writes. She also suggests that “when traumatic events happen we have a natural tendency to run from the hurt…. but what if we choose to walk straight into it, to approach the pain and loss head on.” This concept reminded us of our all-time favourite book called A Grace Disguised – how the soul grows through loss by Jerry Sittser, a professor of Religion at Whitworth College. We have bought multiple copies of this book over the years and gifted them to friends who like us had experienced the loss of a precious loved one. Sittser’s authentic, realistic, and courageously honest approach to walking through tragedy has been a life saver for us, and Lucy Hone’s book now sits right next to it on our bookshelf.
CHRISTMAS CAKE TRUFFLES ELEANOR OZICH, FOOD BLOGGER AND COLUMNIST, PETITE-KITCHEN.COM. These wholesome little truffles have a fruity fudge filling with hints of lemon zest and warming spices. Dipped in pure dark chocolate, each morsel is then rolled in crushed pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut. Makes 12-15 truffles
• ½ cup prunes, roughly chopped • ½ cup raisins or sultanas • ½ cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped • ½ cup cashew nuts, roughly chopped • Juice and zest of ½ an orange • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
1. Combine all truffle ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly until the dough starts to come together. 2. Roll into small balls, and then place in the fridge for half an hour to set. 3. Melt the dark chocolate over a double boiler. 4. Pop a wooden skewer into each truffle, and then dip carefully into the chocolate. 5. Gently roll in crushed pumpkin seeds and shredded coconut. 6. Place on a plate lined with baking paper. Pop the truffles in the fridge for another half an hour or so to set.
For the coating • 250g good quality dark chocolate • ½ cup crushed pumpkin seeds • ½ cup shredded coconut
ALPHA “WHAT UNITES THE CHURCH IS INFINITELY MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT DIVIDES US.”—THE REV’D NICKY GUMBEL. Reviewed by: The Rev’d Indrea Alexander
Sharing our faith is one of our greatest responsibilities and joys as Christians and as God’s church. For nearly 20 years Alpha courses have helped bring people in this Diocese to Christ. What is it that keeps Alpha effective as the years tick by? The Alpha Course had its origins at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in England in 1977. It was initially a course for church members about the basics of Christian belief and was subsequently used as a seeker’s introduction to the Christian faith. It was revamped at HTB in 1990 by the Rev’d Nicky Gumbel and it spread like wildfire across Britain— growing from four courses in 1991 to 2,500 courses in 1995. It has now been run in 169 countries, in 112 languages, for over 27 million people by churches of almost every denomination. The format is food, a talk (usually a recording), followed by discussion. Alpha has been criticised by some for lacking specificity about what constitutes sin, by others for being too liberal/conservative, by others for focussing too much on a personal experience of the Holy Spirit, and by others for not focussing on sacraments. But a key strength is that Alpha seeks to focus on common ground rather than denominational or theological differences—and people continue to come to faith. I remember New Zealand Alpha staff speculating many years ago about what Alpha’s shelf-life may be. Since then Alpha internationally has revamped and revised the course producing a suite of new resources. There are now Alpha courses available in multiple languages for adults and teenagers, follow-up courses which introduce people to Bible study, Alpha marriage preparation and refreshment courses, and parenting courses. April this year saw the launch of the Alpha Film Series, fifteen 30-minute downloadable episodes which cover all the Alpha basics in a contemporary format, incorporating stories and interviews from around the world. At Synod in September Bishop Victoria challenged the Diocese to live as risk-taking disciples of Jesus who, above all, seek to live by and pass on the teachings of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. She challenged us to make disciple-making disciples (2 Timothy 2:2). Within the context of a deepening discipleship culture, courses such as Alpha will continue to help us engage seekers and express our faith with coherence and humour.
BIKERS, BRUISES, AND BROKENNESS Words: The Rev’d Sampson Knight I remember as a young “whipper snapper” riding my three-wheel tricycle around our neighborhood with our gang. We were pretty tough as 6 year olds back then. I would often ride it down the steeper part of our hill when my mother’s eagle eyes were distracted. The ride was always exciting and the sturdy trike was always solid—until that fateful day. I remember it well when the back wheel began to wobble before shearing off. I did notice Mr. and Mrs. Jones nice rose bushes as I smashed through their lightly constructed fence, ploughing through their flowerbeds, and narrowly missing their central water statue. They weren’t very friendly people but they seemed kind enough as they cleaned up my cuts and scratches. Mr. Jones carried my mangled trike and Mrs. Jones helped me limp home. After this it became plainly obvious to me that three wheels were certainly a lot better than two, and provided more balance! When I came to faith as a Christian believer some fifteen or so years ago I quickly came to realize that Jesus (who didn’t ride a trike), lived out his life in three relationships of balance: Up— with his Father; In—with his chosen followers; and Out—with the hurting world around him. This pattern for living a balanced life is evident throughout Scripture. It can inform us in how we experience fruitfulness in our ministry, our relationships, and our spiritual walk. Luke tells us that he could be found in the lonely places regularly praying. Prayer was as fundamental an element in the life of Jesus as breathing. Jesus also introduced his followers to this very personal relationship with God, calling us into the same kind of intimacy
with the Father that he himself has always known. We are to live out the reality of that relationship. This was the “Up”-ward dimension of his relational life. Jesus called twelve of his followers to be with him in order to spend time with them, teach them, and build strong relationships with them. This wasn’t just a college type learning setting. Jesus showed them how to live out their lives in society with others. Three of the twelve became close friends—Peter, James, and John. Jesus shared food with them, he laughed with them, and met their families—in other words, he “did life” with his chosen circle. This was the “In”-ward dimension. Jesus never lost the vision—to reach out in love to a broken world. Jesus prayed to his Father before calling a group of people to share in the kingdom work. Jesus chose from the larger crowd of disciples a group who would become his friends; he lived out his life in their presence. But he also walked among the crowds—teaching, feeding, healing, comforting. Jesus did not wait for the lost to come to him. He went to them at their point of need and his critics hated him for it. The Holy Spirit is poured out upon us as a gift from God, empowering and enabling all of us as Christian believers to be threedimensional beings; when one wheel or one dimension is missing or suppressed, the other two do not work as they were intended. In the power of the Holy Spirit we are called (and continue in our calling) to the three-dimensional balanced life of Jesus—the up, the in, and the out, three wheels not two! 25
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