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Tuesday, December 31, 2002

After talking to my friend Alan Creech last night, I now know that I'm "mini-me" compared to the stature of Alan, Kevin, Mark, and others. I go into 2003 somehow feeling shorter......

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE - I guess I was the first (except for others of you who live in the great country) to watch the midnight hour come and go.

God in Trinity,
Creator, Savoiur, Giver of life and truth,
reveal the possibilities within us,
that we may attain to the fulness of our humanity.

As we are glad, Creator God,
when the dawn reveals the world to us,
innocent and fresh,
so may we discover the infant in the manger,
and in delight be ready to start anew.

O God,
you wonderfully created
and yet more wonderfully restored
the dignity of human nature;
grant that we may share the divine life
of your Son Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever.

Collect for the First Sunday after Christmas.
A New Zealand Prayer Book.

Jumping ahead of myself a bit. It's not yet Sunday, but they speak to me of New Years as well - all the possibilities of a new year. (Thanks Jeff H. for typing it out of the good Ol' red book)

Paul Fromont 12/31/2002 11:23:00 AM
I read this last weekend...loved it...because it helped me be less "anti" about my Anglo/Catholic heritage...it helped me to be more grateful for the richness of that heritage, and less of a "tourist" when exploring that richness. "Anti" is probably too strong a word, but I've always found myself in Protestant circles needing to make exuses, and laugh off where I've come from. I guess if you haven't been that way, and those you mix with haven't been that way, it makes it difficult...anyway, the bit I read was about "altars":

"...Not everyone if comfortable with the ideas of altars in church. Indeed the word is studiously avoided in the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer...be that as it may...much more is being talked about than ecclesiastical furniture...[rather, an altar symbolises] and encounter between God and human beings. Altar is liturgical shorthand for an environment of costly exchange, a meeting place with the holiness of God; [standing before it], a divine appointment before the one who demands my soul, my life, my all. That is why the invitation to give ones life to Christ in some circles is known as an altar call in settings where a physical altar is nowhere to be seen..."

I like that. I need to remember the rich symbolism and to hear afresh the still small voice of God inviting me to give myself more fully to the costly call to follow Jesus, the once-only, one perfect sacrifice for us all. I need to take time to reflect when in Cathedrals and church buildings where there are altars. I can only imagine what it must be, to have such a potent symbol, a potent invitation in the form of a home altar in many Orthodox Christian households - sacred space - a sacred symbol at the heart of the family, where many only have a television...

Paul Fromont 12/31/2002 12:13:00 AM
Saturday, December 28, 2002
Still haven't left for the beach yet - waiting for our youngest daughter Alice to wake up...thought I'd link you to my favourite NZ Brewery - Emerson's - also, doing it because Steve's down there somewhere, and he should check it out...some great 'drops' to go with his "Gifts of Summer" series...

Paul Fromont 12/28/2002 01:56:00 PM
I liked this statement that Joe Boyd used in a recent post - "I thank God everyday that I live in a novel and not a dictionary!" A big AMEN to that.Reminded me of stuff that Eugene Peterson has written, especially the short, previously published articles and interviews in Subversive Spirituality. 'My allies are the novelists and poets, writers who are not telling me something, but making something" We by the grace of God are in on something - the unfolding of a great epic story - God's unfolding drama..,everyday we add to the story, or detract from the story. We're involved in the creation of a different reality...we're, each of us, "a never-to-be-repeated story of grace, unprecedented in the particular ways grace and sin are in dramatic tension."

Read this last night in the context of liturgy, praying the daily office - that kind of thing, "Liturgy has an immense formative power. Aristotle recognised that we are what we repeatedly do and one of the ancient theological principles of the Church is lex orandi, lex credendi, we believe what we pray." Reminded me of Gal. 6:8b - about "sowing to the Spirit". Provides for me a wonderful image of what is happening through the discipline of prayer (the Divine Office etc.), the discipline of reading Scripture; of praying Scripture, especially for me, the Psalms.

Oh well, that's it for me. Off to Mt. Maunganui to visit friends for the afternoon...yahoo, it'll be good to spend some time with them, and to do so at a beach.

Dominus Vobiscum

Paul Fromont 12/28/2002 01:27:00 PM
Friday, December 27, 2002
Here's a review of Robert Webber's book, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World, on THE OOZE, written by Brad Boydston. Thanks for drawing it to my attention Len. Read the review here.

Paul Fromont 12/27/2002 12:49:00 PM
A link to our only New Zealand Cistercian Abbey - Southern Star Abbey, Kopua - listed to the left (<) and then down some.........I can highly affirm the value of time spent in the midst of this community...

Paul Fromont 12/27/2002 12:19:00 PM
I spent some time this morning re-reading my reflection on Luke 10:38-42 (“Martha & Mary”). I think it holds some key issues which I'll need to explore in 2003.

"...I can easily imagine the context for this story – the extending of hospitality – I can feel the busyness, hopes that the experience will be enjoyed, and fears that it won’t. Hopes that in conversation, in gesture, in listening and being listened too, in laughter, and in silence, something sacred, something life giving will be passed amongst us. I can imagine in the midst of organising, listening for snippets of conversation (grateful for ‘open plan living’), conscious of being an ‘outsider.’ The movement from kitchen to table; movements within the kitchen exaggerating the sense – of guest and host. Perhaps for Martha, “kitchen” meant a separate room, perhaps the movement from indoors to outdoors (and ‘vice versa’). Did she really want to be involved in the conversation? Was ‘work’ more comfortable than conversation? Was work the lesser of two vulnerabilities? What an outburst – “I’ll tell them what I think!”) Why? Was she jealous - resentful that Mary’s “sitting at Jesus’ feet” left her with no option but to work if they were to eat; if Jesus were to have a place to sleep? Was Jesus’ arrival unexpected? Was she simply looking for affirmation – to be valued and appreciated? Perhaps Martha was all these things? In many ways I relate. She seems truer of my experience – more likely to be where I’d be. Mary, however, serves as a hope – a hope that the “harder” ‘disciplines’ of ‘resting’ in God will bring increasingly ‘wholeness’. I have more of a tendency to be active; to use ‘busy-ness’ as a response to fear; to the awkwardness of silence between persons; the awkwardness of getting to know someone, to not knowing what to say; to being overwhelmed by boredom. Often it’s just laziness. It’s easy to be busy – it’s as simple as that! "

Father, in your drawing me into the story of Martha & Mary I’m again confronted by my natural ‘leanings’ – the tendency toward busyness rather than stillness – toward ‘speaking’ instead of listening. May I become less fearful of your speaking. More attuned to your voice; more restful in, and receiving of your love; more at your feet, and less in a different ‘room.’ May there increasingly be a Mary-like willingness to be both still and to engage you. May I become more deeply peaceful, such that even in the activity of living I may be paradoxically both active and attentive. Might I hear you, and see you even in the midst of busyness, but may I never overlook my need to draw aside – just you and me. Amen.

Paul Fromont 12/27/2002 12:09:00 PM
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Have you ever been in the midst of a 'flesh & blood' group of Christian's and felt just so out of place? It's no-ones fault - it's just that the terrain and geography of the place in your journey where you find yourself seems so different - so far removed from 'black & white'; so far removed from the latest trend; the latest CBA bestseller. Removed and different. Again no one's fault - that's the beauty of conceiving of the Christian life as a journey - we're all at different stages on the journey, with no one place more superior to any other. It's a funny feeling, and disconcerting at times. There are so many issues and challenges in this Jesus-following life. I remember when they weren't even on my radar screen: Christian engagement with issues having to do with ecology, art, mission and contextualisation, ethic's, politics, ecclesiology, cultural engagement, the economics of poverty, the plight of the disadvantaged and harshly trodden underfoot, social and criminal justice, the life of prayer, contemplation etc. etc.

It's a funny experience, a lonely experience; an experience of relationships that never get below surface formalities; that never share deep things of living out of of this ancient and unfolding drama centred on Jesus Christ. Perhaps God's teaching me patience, or perhaps I'm expecting to much, and the pull of the Spirit is in other directions, into other relationships. Perhaps I'm missing the point and the Jesus-following life is about nothing more than the latest praise and worship CD, nothing more than work and career, nothing more inspiring than attaining the archetypal 'kiwi' lifestyle. I don't know. I don't have any answers. I'm just reflecting aloud, wondering what it might take, and wondering whether we can ever do any more than take responsibility for our own spiritual life, as my quote below says (amongst other things).....what do you do when you've run out of ideas as to how to 'spark' something...?

Paul Fromont 12/22/2002 11:40:00 PM
Saturday, December 21, 2002
"...'a catholic personality' says Miroslav Volf, 'is a personality enriched by otherness, a personality which is what it is only because multiple others have been reflected in it in a particular way'...the inheritance of all Christians as the Spirit breaks apart the walls that separate us. The joy of a network of relationships to sustain and stimulate us is a gift to be treasured and protected.

Read what Pete Ward from England has to say about "Liquid Churches" (pdf. file) here

Am reading a really useful book, "Being a Priest Today" lent to me by a friend Sue, herself, and Anglican Priest. Aside from the expression "presides over the church" which really grates me, it is a beautiful, rich exposition of the vocation of Priest/Pastor with a much broader appeal to pastoral ministry than the title, with the word "priest" suggests...I'm not a priest or a pastor in the very specific sense we talk about those who are, but, by virtue of being numbered amongst the people of God, am a priest...and I'm finding so many rich insights to help we understand this much broader calling. As such, it is a book that has much to say to the church (corporate) about it's calling and mission in the world. Much which is not heard about today in a literature and language dominated by models deriving from the business world etc. etc. Much that needs to be recovered.

Paul Fromont 12/21/2002 06:27:00 PM
Friday, December 20, 2002
Something to think about in today's Weekend Herald Newspaper - "I find more spiritual uplift these days from the professional celebrants on non-religious funerals...it's not just the message that's threadbare...I want to be inspired by faith and hope, but...."
read more here.

Paul Fromont 12/20/2002 06:46:00 PM
A quote I found the other day which both give words to my need, but also gives me words to express what God calls me to be for others. Being tested this morning with news that our good friend David, who was also our first Vicar when Kathryn and I started going to church again, has been diagnosed with bowel cancer. Not the best e-mail to wake up to this morning. Please add him to your intercessions - also his wife and three children.

“…The best guide on a spiritual journey is one who does not need to be helpful or needed, one who does not try to bear responsibility for another life, but who can leave others in the hands of God – and gets a good nights sleep. It is to take responsibility for ones own spiritual growth and to be with others as they do likewise…”

John Westerhoff, quoted in “Adult Way to Faith” by Peter Ball.

Paul Fromont 12/20/2002 10:31:00 AM
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
A question for the two of you at read this. If you think you exist on the creative, fluid, margins - the missional 'fringe' of the an existing church community, "what are some practical things that the church community can do for you which will care for you, encourage your creativity, questioning, cultural interaction etc? For me, anyway, it's often lonely out there...as a friend said to me yesterday, "I just don't speak a language others in the church can understand" What can church Pastors and members do to perhaps make it less lonely, or to provide you with real encouragement that you're actually needed in the church, and that living in the margins, and not fully belonging to the church community as actually good for the wider community that wants to grow, and change...?

I'm have in the back of my mind the chapter by Alan Jamieson in his book "A Churchless Faith" - what from your experience makes a church a "Leaver-Sensitive" one...one that cares for you and supports you, rather than pushes you away...

So, if you two can help me out I'd appreciate it...Also, I may want to add some of the many hundreds of ideas I know I'll get (ooops, sarcasm, an unbecoming "Kiwi" trait) to an essay I'm wanting to write, so please be aware a response may be quoted (with due recognition to you of course...).....

Paul Fromont 12/18/2002 09:56:00 AM
Note to myself. Worship Idea – SPACE - Easter 2003. ‘Built’ around John 11:1-46. The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead, especially the words, “…Unbind him, let him go free…” Props: Mannequins in different postures wrapped in bandages. Offer everyone the experience of either being wrapped tightly in bandages, or being the wrapper or unwrapper. Bandages to represent the things that bind us, and diminish us as human beings created in the image of God (e.g. anger, fear, damaged relationships, feeling loveless or unlovable, feeling distant from God, prejudice, bitterness etc). Read the story, and at the words, “…Unbind [them], let him go free…” unwrap people with commentary on new beginnings, new possibilities, and new hope…

Music – Amongst a variety of music use Radiohead, “Exit Music (for a film)” (off the “OK Computer” CD) with the lyrics “…Wake, from your sleep…the drying of your tears…today we escape, we escape…”

Use silence, and end with communion, again built around the Emmaus Meal and the realisation of Jesus’ resurrection (and all that that represents).

Paul Fromont 12/18/2002 09:30:00 AM
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
I haven't seen this kind of suggestion in the NZ Herald (newspaper) before - "Wisdom is the Key to the Future" - an argument for our need not only of knowledge, but more importantly, wisdom...

Paul Fromont 12/17/2002 10:15:00 AM
Monday, December 16, 2002
Kiwi's resistant to change? An economic perspective here.

Paul Fromont 12/16/2002 10:05:00 AM
I’ve just finished reading the small 80-page book, “Ecology & The End of Postmodernism.” (pub. 2002). Saw it on a shelf and attracted by it’s title words. Interacts with the material of Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and Ulrich Beck – end result – as a non-pomo authority I have an appreciation of and sympathy for Myerson’s (the author) central argument: modernity and it’s grand-narrative(s) have not been laid to rest by so-called “post-modernity” and its small stories. He sees ecology as reinventing the legitimacy of the scientific quest and as restoring confidence in technology as the means of putting right an exploited environment. From the book, “…The rise of ecology seems to support the diagnosis of the postmodernists, notably Jean-François Lyotard, that modernity was a temporary phase of self-destructive over-confidence. There are many post-modern theories, but they share the view that modern culture was infected by a narrow rationalism, a naïve faith in progress and in Western techno-reason as the salvation of mankind. Ecology appears to be the news of its come-uppance…” and “…The ecological vision, with all its disastrous news, belongs to a moment of ‘modernisation’, another modern leap towards the future. Ecology confounds many of the premises of postmodernism, and renews, in new ways, the grounds of modernity. In the year 2000, ecology announced not the death of modernity but the end of its shadow, postmodernity…To define ecology as post-modern is to skip over the difficult relationship between ecology and the modern outlook, a relationship that will increasingly shape our society’s future…”

Myerson sees ecology and ‘green movements’ not as antithetical to modernism, but in fact as modernising influences. He sees it as providing a new understanding of humanity and its relationship with nature. This new understanding, he thinks, can “…become the newly legitimate face of mainstream modernity. With all its bad news, ecology can be used to declare a ‘great leap forward’ (to adapt Mao) of the modern order, which now claims to add a grasp of environmental consequences to the previous industrial system. This ecology is not post-industrial, but the herald of a new industrial future."

“…For better and worse, the autumn of 2000 shows how ecology takes us deeper into modernity, and not beyond it. The year 2000 brought home the news of ecology, and at the turn of 2001, we stopped being postmoderns…” (Myerson).

Perhaps in time postmodernism will be seen to have been the fleeting shadow (albeit, a necessary ‘shadow’) of a morphing and adapting modernism? Perhaps the question to the question Sally Morgenthaler asks, “Is Postmodernism Passé?” is “Yes”

I need to read more...from both sides..............

Paul Fromont 12/16/2002 09:35:00 AM
Sunday, December 15, 2002
I’ve continued to re-read and reflect on portions of the Robert Lax interview I referred to on Friday. The word “real” keeps sticking, and I heard it again this morning as I was listening to Quadrophenia by The Who. In their song, “The Bellboy” they sing, “…a beach is a place where a man can feel he’s the only soul in the world that’s real…”

This search for the ‘real self’ seems both very 1960’s and very contemporary. People seem to have lost a deep sense of who they are; who they were created to be. They seem very unsettled, running; very busy being so many things to so many people…so caught up in the ‘rat race,’ so ‘possessed,’ so hurried and shallowly ‘rooted’ in their sense of who they are, and how God sees them. There’s a real lack of deep, deep peace. I look out of my office window at the city streets and I see it. This seems so true of me, and Advent seems to me to be a good time to reflect on these kinds of issues.

Lax talks about, us needing something to happen, ‘an experience;’ “something happens and they can say to themselves – sincerely – ‘this is the real me…’ it’s an experience that breaks down facades for people who’ve been doing a great job keeping them up. He says, ‘if you’re in a falsely rigged society…where you have to go through…formulas that have nothing really to do with you, and you come to one of those moments then all the protective coloration drops away…I have to say ‘true’ self and ‘false’ self is not a language I like using. I think of it more as ‘deep’ self and ‘shallow’ self – keeping it all to the one self. Just variations of self at different levels. The protective coloration goes on at the surface, but all the time the deeper self is there to be discovered.’

He carries on, ‘I think that here on Patmos the farmers and the fishermen have only minimal difference between the two selves: they’re pretty close to being who they are night and day and at all times. It’s only in artificial societies where, in order to hold down jobs – even to be admitted to the intellectualised schools that we have that – the surface gets all that coloration that warps the perceptions…[this] happens to somebody who’s so much into that sort of rat race that they never have much contact with their real self – what happens to them often, it seems to me, is that physically they destroy themselves…[excessive drink, illicit behaviour etc.]…The shallow one’s habits get to be so much that biologically he can’t stand it any more, but he may have the good fortune to collapse and be taken to the country or to a good hospital and come up with his real self…the falser the culture a man lives in, the falser will be his shallow self – because it’s the product of that civilisation and the producer of that civilisation…’

Good stuff! Much to be reflected on and worked through. Perhaps the place I’m most myself is alone on a beach…alone on the coast…

Movies like “American Beauty” and “The Matrix” usefully explore something of this kind of ‘searching’; the kind of illusion and shallowness that so easily colorises lives.

For those interested in exploring and ‘listening’ to Robert Lax’s life, Steve Georgiou has recently had published a book called, “The Way of the Dreamcatcher: Spirit Lessons with Robert Lax: Poet, Peacemaker, Sage.” See also, “When Prophecy Still Had a Voice: The Letters of Thomas Merton and Robert Lax.” Edited by Arthur W. Biddle.

Paul Fromont 12/15/2002 10:26:00 AM
Saturday, December 14, 2002

(for Kathryn on our 9th Wedding Anniversary)

Just like I AM
Timaru born word paintings
letters, poetry,
Christian scripture
White light of text
swathing its path cutting through darkness.

Stations of the crucified Jewish King
fourteen crosses aligned along the journey reddened under foot.
Veronica wipes away his tears
dabbing words, english, maori, greek
symbol textured spirituality, colour, paint
Jesus wiped across a beach up north
gulls flying overhead

cliffs on either side commentated by television sacred space
A life unfolded
A boat cast adrift on an ocean
the horizon stretching before us
A leap of faith
I AM protecting darkness becoming light
hopelessness becoming hope, Hebrews 6:1

Arms outstretched over you a giant

Paul Fromont 12/14/2002 04:15:00 PM
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Kathryn and I are off to Rotorua tonight - a belated wedding anniversary get-away...

Paul Fromont 12/12/2002 09:51:00 AM
I read a 1995 interview with Robert Lax (1915-2000 / familiar to readers of Thomas Merton’s autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain. The two men met as students at Columbia University in 1935) last night.

In the interview, the interviewer (Peter France) asked a question I’ve always wondered about in terms of hermits, esp. the Desert Fathers, and Russian Startsy.

Peter France – “One of the strangest things I’m discovering about the solitaries is that people flocked to them for advice, not on how to be solitary, but on how to get on in society: they came with their problems of living together to people who had chosen to live alone. Can you explain this?”

Robert Lax – “…I ran into this the other day and I think it’s in somehow related to where we’re at: it’s from St. Augustine: ‘who can map the various forces at play in one soul? Man is a great depth, O Lord. The hairs of his head are easier by far to count than his feelings, the movements of his heart.’ And so he’s aware of that, and any kind of ideal hermit should be aware of that just by his own experience in solitude; he’s found out what a rich and full and complex thing there is inside of one human being. If he’s at all understanding about what goes on in the world, he understands that as many things as go on inside his own mind and soul are going on inside the minds and souls of other people. So, if they come to him with problems they haven’t had time to solve or even look at, he may have some insights that might help them just by having had the luxury of some time to himself to think about them. Time without distractions.”

From, “Hermits” by Peter France. This book also includes chapters on the Desert Fathers, Russian Startsy, Thomas Merton, and Charles de Foucauld.

“Father, may I have more time without distractions to better know you and to know myself. Amen.

Paul Fromont 12/12/2002 09:39:00 AM
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Was reading Kevin and Alan's posts of Dec. 11. Feeling like a DJ. Listening to U2. Reflecting on the year, and what's been happening in peoples lives as they pursued the sense of God's calling. I want to dedicate U2 song, "Walk On" to those of you out there pastoring, serving new visions of what church - being the people of God - might look like: Steve and Lynne, Mark and Robyn, Kevin and Tracy, Alan and Liz, Mike and Amber, and John and Andrea (out there on the edge...)...WALK ON

Paul Fromont 12/11/2002 11:33:00 AM
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Aargh. I've lost everything that I've posted this month...I wonder if it will ever be seen again. It all started with me writing some thoughts on Alan Creech's post of 9 December. I wrote the whole 'dang' thing, only to push "post", and lose everything but the first 20 words...and I can't "edit" and "delete" it......aaaaaaaaargh!

Paul Fromont 12/10/2002 10:03:00 PM
I think that Alan Creech made some pretty 'sharp' comments in his post of 9 December. I typed an affirming but in 'submitting' it it disappeared...so, here's my recollection of what I wrote:

"Amen! Alan, you're right about this notion of "success", and our love of success - "...success in numbers, big programs, big everything..." Ending in crucifixtion, did followers of Jesus think his ministry was successful before his vindication (resurrection & glorification)? Perhaps that's why evangelism is preferred over discipleship - "a long obedience in the same direction"? Why is it that everything we do has to be BIG? Why is 'success' copied, multiplied, globalised? Why can't we be happy with small - depth instead of breadth? Why are we so utilitarian rather than loving of others? What if God called us to do only one thing in our lifetimes - what would that be? I wonder a lot how other cultures; the poor, the disadvantaged see us and our notions of what it means to be successful - are we more successful, as Jesus-followers, in our marriages? In the growing of our children? What about our relationship with God - is that successful? How might God see it?

Eugene Peterson was right when he wrote, "busyness...is essentially laziness. It's doing the easy thing instead of the hard. It's filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention of God's actions. It is taking charge...[and then asking God to bless us in our work for Him...really?] As he goes on, "There is an old Russian proverb that say's "Pray to God and keep rowing to shore." It implies that life is both busyness and spirituality. Life doesn't have to be and either/or situation, does it?"

Really, it easier to run a church, to design programs, to market, to write a business plan etc. What are the 'hard' things that God might be calling us to? Perhaps it's the subversive notion of staying small - of satying put, of growing deeply with a small group of people? Perhaps it's the discipline of prayer, loving the unlovable, not giving up on our enemies until they are friends....? What if God said, become less active - do less. Trust me more. Discern more - no discernment, no action! What if we only did the things we saw/see God doing?

So why can't we have depth and breadth - small and mega? Perhaps we can, but what is it that God is actually calling us (me/you) to be faithful in. What does he want us to partner him in? What is God building? Am I really listening, or is it only my voice I'm hearing?

I could ramble on. Alan has said something very necessary, and now I've added a few comments...I think we have some real challenges, and I think for want of truly understanding how we are children of our cultures and cultural values more than God's Kingdom, we are less "salt" and "light"; less God's distinctive people - less his children...

And I'm the least distinctive...

Paul Fromont 12/10/2002 10:05:00 AM
Sunday, December 08, 2002
Article by my friend Steve Taylor, from up State Highway 1 a bit.........Romeo and Juliet and alt.worship. Published in the Dec. edition of Seven Magazine.

Also, Maggi Dawn, Alt.worship: is it coming of age?, Steve Collins, A method called alternative worship, and Daniel Millar, Alt.Worship.America. Thanks Seven Magazine, some great articles.....

Paul Fromont 12/08/2002 11:25:00 PM
Friday, December 06, 2002
"Top these crummy 'Kitschmas' gifts" - the headline in our regional newspaper tonight. Check them out here

Paul Fromont 12/06/2002 10:04:00 PM
It's been a great week for 'bridging gaps' this week - today I participated in a three way 'conversation' with cyber-friends in Christ,
Alan Creech and Kevin Rains - what a wonderful, albeit distant, sense of connection. Not a good as 'face-to-face' contact (that will have to wait), but a great benefit of technology, our being able to 'talk' in real time from three different geographical locations. Imagine the future, with cheap, high quality audio visual connections across the globe...imagine the level of interaction, and the sharing of journey's, stories, wisdom, cultures, perspectives, life experience, and intellectual resources...

Paul Fromont 12/06/2002 07:00:00 PM
Quote for the day

"...As much as I love Kentucky, I wish the veils were gone and that I were in heaven..."

Thomas Merton (from Entering the Silence, p.346)

Paul Fromont 12/06/2002 10:19:00 AM
S l o w l y, reach for your mouse and click on this link. Check our Steve's on-line advent journey....a very thought provoking painting.

Paul Fromont 12/06/2002 12:14:00 AM
Thursday, December 05, 2002
The latest issue of Reality (Dec/Jan) has a couple of great articles in it. One entitled, "Paul and the President: What Would St. Paul say to George W. Bush?", by Kiwi Mark Forman (who has recently completed Masters Thesis on the socio-ethical themes of Paul (particularly focusing on Galatians from memory). I really liked his article, and his focus on what the "Good News" might mean in a socio-political context. Here's a quote from it:

"...According to Paul, the good news is that God has intervened in the world, through Christ, to transform and renew humanity and creation. He believes that the time of peace and restoration that Israel was supposed to bring to the world has now arrived in the person of Jesus the Messiah. What this means is that people who follow Christ have become particpants in what God is doing in the world - they are the first fruits, the initial stage, in God's transformation of the cosmos..."

I find that very encouraging, and the possiblities as we seek to become the kind of churches that are transformed and energised to actually participate - to partner with 'God-at-work' - feels very exciting. I wonder how the emerging church, how life in the margins will re-shape and re-envision us for that work? I wonder how the creative, marginal, missional church experiences many of you are 'working out' will provide the models, the 'heart,' the priorities, and the kind of passion for God and his Kingdom, will re-shape and transform what it means to be an ancient/future protestant (that's my context) church; and what it means to live as a missional people cruciformly serving the 'worlds' in which we've been placed - our 'worlds'?

The other very thoughtful article was Dave Crawley's, "God is Watching Us" - "How do we feel about the idea of God?" "What images of God do we have?" And, what does it mean, "God watches us?" Insightful for persons doing counselling, spiritual direction, or pastoral care.

* unfortunately neither article is on-line yet.

Paul Fromont 12/05/2002 10:07:00 AM
Tuesday, December 03, 2002
I've finally 'connected' with Alan Creech - albeit across great distance. We're 'talking' on AOL - Instant Messenger even as I type..very cool!

Paul Fromont 12/03/2002 10:54:00 AM
Today marks the 9th Anniversary of my being wedded to my beloved, Kathryn. It's amazing to reflect back over 9 years, and all that being married has meant; all that we've done, and the ways in which we've grown and being formed in relationship with each other...I'm so blessed and grateful to God. Kathryn is amazing - amazing grace to me.

Paul Fromont 12/03/2002 10:47:00 AM
Monday, December 02, 2002
A little treasure which I discovered today for all liturgist's like me - The Anglican Breviary. Is anyone using it...?

Also, with the year fast drawing to a close, check out Steve's post of Nov. 29. He has some really useful questions for reflection:

Here's the first three (slight change to no. 2 by me - "spiritual" replaced by "Christ like". Check the rest out here. Do it with some close who you trust and who knows you well.

(1) Am I content with who I am becoming?
(2) Am I becoming less religious and more Christ like?
(3) Does my family and friends recognize the authenticity of my spirituality?

Paul Fromont 12/02/2002 11:17:00 PM
Sunday, December 01, 2002
Friends of ours, Louise and Richard are coming around to watch a video on Thursday. A nice way to relax, and movies always make for some stimulating conversation. The options are listed below with reviews linked to each title. What to watch...?

(1) No Man's Land (subtitled).
(2) In the Bedroom. See the review here also.
(3) The Royal Tenebaums. See review here also.
(4) Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.
(5) Mulholland Drive.

Paul Fromont 12/01/2002 11:15:00 PM
A couple of us ‘curated’ a different experience of worship for those in our church community who wanted to join us, yesterday afternoon. One of the ‘aims’ was to creatively ‘mark’ the beginning of Advent. We journeyed together by van and foot to a non-commercial limestone cave complex southwest of the popular tourist cave(s) at Waitomo – read about them here and here. ‘Pilgrims’ ages ranged from 10 years to 50 years. Male and female. The weather was beautiful and hot, as we travelled across hilly but open farmland to a large area of native / rain forest. From there we donned overalls, put helmets and lamps on our heads. Loaded ropes etc. into back packs, and walked through the forest to the mouth of the cave, out of which a small river flowed. The small trek in the midst of forest was a wonderful experience of ‘movement,’ ‘journey,’ and reflection; Mary and Joseph journeying to Bethlehem; “Israel” journeying through the wilderness; Jesus journeying toward Jerusalem; the two disciples and Jesus journeying to Emmaus.

We arrived at the cave entrance. Hard to describe – very beautiful and mysterious – the sound of dripping water, and that of the stream flowing out of it. Lot’s a green – ferns etc. A large eel in the river.

The initial cave passage was approx. 150 meters long with a right hand curve about half way down – the point at which all natural light disappeared and darkness enveloped us. At the end of this initial walk, there was a 7m high waterfall, which we had to climb up one at a time and into a very small space that we had to crawl though. This small space gave way to a narrow ‘hole’ though which we entered into a large ‘cathedral’ like cavern. We spent some time exploring this – looking at stalagmites and stalactites etc.

We then returned to a cental spot in the ‘cathedral’ and turned off all lights for 5 minutes of silence. Peter, our guide, and also a member of our church community, then lit a sole candle – the darkness / light contrast was amazing. We then read John 1:1-14, and talked about the importance of “journey” to describe the Jesus-following life etc. This time of reflection was then followed by Holy Communion, more silence, and then an opportunity for anyone to share about what they had been feeling, or reflecting on as we experienced silence, the sounds of the cave, darkness and light, the reading of scripture etc.

One hour and 45 minutes later we were back on the surface – back at the van for the journey home. None of us having ‘marked’ the start of Advent in such a way before.

Thanks to Peter for guiding us, and to Capernwray Bible school, Monavale (under ‘Australasia’ in the directory) for the loan of the van and the caving equipment.

Paul Fromont 12/01/2002 10:07:00 PM

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