Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Week That Was...

This week brought to an end a wonderful 6 weeks with Kristen's parents. A few tears were shed at the airport, but the good kind. What a great time we had for just those few weeks. A real injection of support for us at a critical time and a lot of fun besides.

Chris asked me on Messenger this morning whether I was glad to have the house back! There are some good things - Rhys has his own room now and pretty much slept through the night last night - translation: so did his parents! The pre eminence of the baby means that my office has been moved - but this I am enjoying - I think I may have got the better end of the deal after all! Especially now I'm back online and all. Most of all its good to know that we can cope and that actually you're more "in control" when you have to take all of the responsibility. Happily abdicating responsibility to doting grandparents is great but you do lose a sense of where the baby is at and what he needs. So the consistency is helping me at least feel like we're able to do an OK job.

Sunday was awesome - we broke 100! It was Rhys' dedication and we had invited a few people plus the usual walk up crowd. A good night bringing the Beatitudes to a close. I tried to be Rob Bell by washing this towel in a bucket while I spoke on "blessed are the poor in spirit" - its harder than it looks!

This week we have cafe at cession. Plus a team from Shore Grace are coming to take the service on the morning - so its a week off! Nice.

Cell Group tonight starting the Three Colours of Ministry. Looking forward to it. And its just 2 mins away so I'd better scoot...


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Circle of Life

OK so there's no way I'm gonna do some kinda Lion King schmaltz...except I did have a surreal and yet very real experience this week.

We have a friend of the family who has cancer in the jaw and throat area. He was friend of my Dad (who died 14 years ago). They had a mutual friend, John, who died from cancer a couple of years before Dad. This guy's daughter and my late wife Claire had cancer at the same time in their teens. His daughter survived. Claire lived another 12 years. He and his wife remain friends of Claire's parents and my mother. So there's history all over the place with this guy.

I remember him coming over to watch rugby with my Dad when I was young. He had a very abrupt way of leaving before the game was even finished if his team was doing badly. It was kind of funny and uncomfortable at the same time. But it was never personal. I recall him being profoundly affected by John's death - John was a strong Christian who died with his faith intact. A lot like Claire, he demonstrated a courage and serenity that points to more than internal resources.

So Monday night my mother calls me to tell me he's heading to hospital the next day for a major op including reconstructive surgery. I ask whether they have any support from the church. No. Its an annoying fact that the local Anglican church has never cared well for its nominal adherents, my Mother (and by extension my Father) included. I indicate I'd be happy to go over, feeling anything but confident! She says she will make the offer.

The phone rings. And its the wife, asking me to come over. A calm descends and I prepare to go. On the way I can't stop replaying memories of when I was 9 years old. Of this guy coming over for a beer with my Dad. And now I'm visiting him. As a pastor. And the circumstances are very much more serious. You see, I still don't really feel like a pastor (whatever that means). I am certain of my call but I am still the same old frail individual who feels pretty much like the 19 year old who woke up one morning and discovered his previously atheistic conviction had been supplanted by a deep faith in Christ. Mostly, I like this sense of groundedness. But in moments like this one, it feels plain weird.

So I drive over, with thoughts of pointing to the twin poles of Psalm 22 and 23. Of the reality that we mostly live somewhere between these poles of hope and despair. And, that God can take it wherever we are.

Its a sweet time. I pray. It seems to make a difference. I know it did for me.


Monday, April 18, 2005

The Boys!
Jonesboy's Photos

The Smile!
Jonesboy's Photos

Mother and Baby
Jonesboy's Photos

Papa Chris and Baby Rhys
Jonesboy's Photos

Three Generations!
Jonesboy's Photos

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Return!

Back from our late summer holiday today...we had a great time - the weather was perfect the whole week. The first 2 days we were in a small apartment with a view of the crashing surf from the vernadah. Did a lot of relaxing reading. Went on a cycle ride with Chris - he is a cycling maniac (he actually bought a bike on the Kiwi Ebay so he would have a bike to ride here!) We attacked this massive hill which I have to say I was proud to conquer without resorting to walking!

We then moved venue to a more conventional house, again near a beach, but with a wider variety of activities. We walked to the top of one of the fortified hill "pa" sites - a Maori fortress, hiked to Cathedral Cove (45 mins each way), complete with natural hole in the rock cathedral, and journeyed to Hot Water Beach, where hot springs under the sand can be accessed by digging holes about mid tide! I got to bond with the boy throughout by carrying him in this wee pack arrangement that has him travelling in front. Read the majority of "Breakout Church" which was an interesting application of Jim Collins "Good to Great" to the church scene. Dipped into "Pastors at (Greater) Risk" which had some practical ideas. Looked at some changes to my "Rule of Life" - looking forward to implementing some of that. So enjoyed the relaxation, holding hands with my wife, the physical exercise and the stimulating reading and reflection.

Got back just before midday, raced off to do a dedication. Then back home for cessionIcore meeting. We had an industrial psychologist work with us on Myers Briggs, looking at team issues that arise from different profiles. It was very interesting and enlightening. I will publish my MBTI results another day - any guesses?

While I was catching up on blog reading I came upon this test that places one in various theological traditions. I was interested in how I might go so did the test! Here are my results:

1: Pentecostal/Charismatic/Assemblies of God (100%)
2: Eastern Orthodox (90%)
3: Baptist (Reformed/Particular/Calvinistic) (88%)
4: Presbyterian/Reformed (88%)
5: Anglican/Episcopal/Church of England (85%)
6: Seventh-Day Adventist (85%)
7: Congregational/United Church of Christ (83%)
8: Anabaptist (Mennonite/Quaker etc.) (81%)
9: Lutheran (78%)
10: Methodist/Wesleyan/Nazarene (77%)
11: Baptist (non-Calvinistic)/Plymouth Brethren/Fundamentalist (75%)
12: Roman Catholic (49%)
13: Church of Christ/Campbellite (45%)

I find my results highly amusing and really have no insight into the results! I will console myself with the thought that John Wesley has been named by some as the father of Pentecostalism (I think Grandfather is probably more accurate) and that he too was influenced by Eastern Orthodoxy... I know my answer on baptism pushed me in one direction. Some of the multi choice answers were really not satisfactory, but it was kind of fun none the less...

Finally an extract from an email I received while away from a new couple at cession - some major church burnout issues and a long period outside church:

"We have really enjoyed coming along to Cession. The two weeks that we have been has been fantastic. You have a church that is fresh, real and focused. We have been looking for a church for a long time. We have tried a wide variety but have not found our place in one until now. We love the fresh approach to church. We really enjoy the whole package. For "X" to stay focused during the speaking and be looking forward to next week says it all. I want to thank you for the way you have welcomed us. It has been an answer to many months of prayer."

There are worse kinds of emails to return home to...

Anyways, time for bed - off to a wedding tomorrow...


Monday, April 11, 2005

Welcome Back...

Its been a while. Life is good here in late summer New Zealand. Plenty of sun, but not too hot; family staying with us; good friends and good things going on with ministry.

Sunday night we started our new series: "Get the Attitude". Its a play on words based on a long running "Scratch Ticket" which uses a "Get the Kiwi Attitude" creative concept. The commercials are hilarious eg. the trout fisherman who bungies off a bridge so as to catch trout from the river below with his bare hands. Or the farmer whose milk kept on getting stolen by a passing runner - until he replaced it with a similar looking product sourced from the male of the species rather than the female (yes that ran on National TV). So we're doing our own ads as we counterpoint it with Jesus' attitude - The Beatitudes. We had fun breaking the message down into different components and then teaching each part seated (as Jesus did) from different locations around the auditorium. Our commercial for this week was a guy whose TV remote batteries dies, so he grabs a remote control car controller - but instead of using the batteries he drives the car across the room to his friend and then lures him back by following the car to change the channel. It was pretty funny.

We've had a great couple of weeks at the gathering. Last week we had a dedication to which heaps of family and friends had been invited. Many were impacted. This week we had some returning visitors who look to be making an investment with us. Nice.

Saturday morning was a humbling experience for us - 4 people from the cessionIcommunity turned up to clean our house and mow the lawns. We do this for all our families with newborns but I guess it was nice to be on the receiving end. Made a real difference for us. I told my Life cell the other night - "I'd go to this church just to sweep the floors its so cool." Guess that really underlines it. Good test for pastors: Would you go to your church if you weren't paid to?!

We're off on holiday this week - managed to score some free accommodation on the scenic Corommandel peninsula. Will be great to take the in-laws to see this part of the country and to have a relaxing time away. Its been a busy but rewarding start to the year. So this comes at just the right time to provide some refreshment for the next leg of the journey.

The wee boy is doing well. We're having Poppa Chris dedicate him while he is here which will be special for us as a family. He has a new All Black soft toy which he is encouragingly interested in! It will be great not to have to live vicariously through my son...


Friday, April 01, 2005

Being Dad

So I've been holding off doing the "whats it like being a Dad?" blog, mainly because I didn't want to be the guy who blogged about being a Dad as if this was some great first time discovery unknown to humanity...

But I realised is the first time for me and I do want to reflect on the process in the midst of the inevitable upheaval!

Which brings me to my first thought: people definitely overestimated the adjustment level. Its there but is it any more significant than a lot of things in life? Not for me I think. I wonder whether that has to do with some experiences I've had with family illness in the past which makes it easier for me to juggle my needs around the needs of others. Plus, energy is not something I lack at the worst of times, so its slowed me down for sure but not that much!

So how does the whole "Dad" thing feel? I find, at this point, that my overwhelming reflection is not at the creativity of God (but He did a great job), not at the unassailable evidence of my paternity (mainly cos he doesn't look like me), not at the weirdness of the bump becoming a person (although that is cool), not even at his advanced development (you should see his head control)...actually, I find I just like hanging with the little guy. He's fun to be around. Nice to have a new friend to get to know.

I am very proud of my wife for shouldering the bulk of this journey. Try as I might there are just some things I can't help with...I get to play Bath Technician, Nappy Manager and Wind Facilitator, but it doesn't compare to first playing Walking Incubator followed by Human Food Machine...

I have a peeve. We have some great friends who have offered to help us in really appropriate ways. Doing shopping, lawn mowing, taking small groups for us etc. But then there are those less close to us who create pressure through their "care". An example: we had a steep learning curve day on Tuesday which led to Rhys getting overtired, which led to general stress etc. You know the drill. Well, someone decided this meant we weren't coping and we were then descended upon with well-meaning offers of food etc. Now I'm fussy about food so maybe its just me, but I also resent the inference that we can't have a bad day without it being turned into some kind of mini-crisis. Its like we can't learn to be parents without it being made into some kind of drama. Definitely a learning experience that one - I'm sure its possible to diminish people by "overcaring" for them when they don't need it!

So the verdict: its great being a Dad. And I'll keep working on learning Rhys-speak cos I'm picking he'll stay speaking a different language for some time yet...