Monday, June 30, 2014

When Church and Community Meet

How does Church reach into its community?  Do we just sit inside our 4 walls Sunday after Sunday, singing the same songs,  praying the same prayers, chatting to the same people week after week?  Meanwhile, outside the building are hundreds of people whose only experience of church is dusty pews and scratchy hymns, where they used to venture only for weddings and funerals but now even those happen in secular venues.

Sometimes we just need to break the mould, do something completely different on a Sunday morning.


Let's throw open the doors and invite the community in, feed them barista coffee and cupcakes and a sausage sizzle, entertain with some music, give them freebies in a goodie bag, and show them what we can offer.

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We put up displays highlighting the many varied activities that happen within this congregation.   We pampered and decorated, children coloured and created, we gave away stuff just 'cause we could.  Recently Updated4

We met people we didn't know.  We told them our stories, about why we worship this God, and why this Church is such an awesome bunch of people to explore Faith together with.

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And the community came.  They accepted the freebies, ate the sausages, drank the coffee, let us pray for them, and listened to us.

“There's a bit more to this than an old pipe organ then.”

Friday, June 20, 2014

All Right? Again?

My Dad used to say that we as humans can be  pretty good at adapting to stress, as long as we only have one stress at a time.  Two stresses, and we can cope, but it takes more energy.  Three or more stresses, and that's when we start not coping.  It doesn't matter so much whether the stress is big or small, its the cumulative effect that counts.

Most of Christchurch, to some degree, is already battling stress from EQC/Insurance issues, roadworks and traffic and in some areas the flooding that occurs with every heavy rainfall.  These stresses are affecting the community as a whole.

On top of this you have the various sources of stress that are unique to different people:  Health, family, finances, relationships, work, accommodation and so forth.  The thing is: we'd probably be able to sort-of cope okay with one or two of these things, but when they come on top of those community  stresses, even the small personal stresses can tip the balance between coping and not coping.

I  can see the effects of  stress among family and friends.  Tiredness and exhaustion, getting sick more often, unhealthy weight loss or gain, difficulty sleeping, strained and broken relationships,  the list goes on.  I can't think of anyone among  my circle of close friends who  aren't showing at least one of these symptoms.

And me?  I’m not conscious of feeling anxious or worried about anything, but the ache in my jaw and worn enamel on my teeth tell me my subconscious is stressed.  There’s lots of stuff on, and some days I’m struggling to keep all the balls in the air, but at the same time I’m feeling creative and positive in other areas.  It’s not so much the ups and downs, but closer to the twirling around upside down bit sometimes.

The good folk at All Right? have released some research about how we’re all coping (or not) with our post-earthquake lives. 

Key findings include:

  • More than two thirds (67%) reported that they are still grieving for what’s been lost in Christchurch
  • 65% of Christchurch city residents reported feeling tired in 2014 – a 10% increase on 2012
  • Less than one half (48%) of respondents reported regularly sleeping well
  • Almost half (44%) of those surveyed say they’re still struggling to come to terms with all that has happened as a result of the earthquakes
  • More respondents agreed that it felt like their life has been normal over the last 12 months (66% in 2014, 60% in 2012)

Let’s see: Tired – Check.  Problems sleeping – sometimes.  Overwhelmed – on some days. Normal? – define “Normal”?

How about everyone else out there?  How are you getting on?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Imagine the Unimaginable

I have been trying to resist the temptation to  respond to these comments by Richard Dawkins in my morning newspaper all day.  Numerous paragraphs extolling the virtues of fantasy and imagination have been mentally written and discarded.

I refer to someone who puts it so much better than I could -  to quote Evelyn Underhill from her book Mysticism:
[Realism]...says in effect, "The room in which we find ourselves is fairly comfortable.  Draw the curtains, for the night is dark, and let us devote ourselves to describing the furniture."
Mr Dawkins, with all due respect, you may stick to your Realism.  I'll be over here, behind the curtain, with my nose pressed to the glass  of the window, trying to count the stars and imagine the unimaginable.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On a cold and frosty morning

Christchurch Airport Marathon 2014 (10km route)

The temperature hovered at -3°C as I lined up to check in my bag.  I had postponed this as long as I could, reluctant to part with my scarf, jacket and mitts. My fingers quickly tried to tuck themselves into my armpits in a vain attempt to not freeze.

The pre-run briefing included warnings about which parts of the course had ICE… and extra care needed.  The pop of a starter gun, and four thousand running shoes echoed against the asphalt.  After about 3 km my fingers developed pins and needles as circulation returned. 

The marshals were well rugged up (they weren’t moving), and I rather envied the guy running in a lion “onesie”.

Last year when I ran the 10km distance it was a challenge.  This year I’ve been running longer distances in my training (including 14km at the City to Surf back in March), so still had plenty of “run” left in my legs when I crossed the finish line 52 minutes later.  The sun had risen during that time, and the temperature had made it all the way up to zero, but was still below that in the shade.  By the time Husband crossed the line 12 minutes later I was freezing again.  We didn’t stick around for prize-giving, opting instead for a quick retreat home for a hot shower.

For those who missed the subtle brag on Facebook, my official results are here.

2014 Goals:  Running – In Progress.