25 November 2017



2016
> The Hope of Christmas
> COMPASSION BREAKS DOWN BARRIERS

2015
> Northern Presbytery Moderator Christmas letter
> ANZAC DAWN REFLECTION
> Freedom of Speech or License to Stereotype?

2014
> Advent Hope and Interns
> 200 Years of New Zealand Christmas
> Prayer of the General Assembly 2014
> The Legal High Trade
> REFLECTION ON A JOURNEY
> Giving up for Lent - A Challenge from our Children

2013
> Christmas in the Graveyard
> FAREWELLS
> Mrs Hunters' Tea Party [Hunters Corner named ]
> PERSPECTIVE
> RISKS - HELP US GROW IN FAITH
> EMBRACING DIFFERENCE
> DOING OUR WORK
> 150years – We are part of this community

2012
> The Gift of Many People - Seven Years On.
> The Golden Rule - Don’t Do or Do?
> WATER, WIND and FIRE
> COUNCIL FOR WORLD MISSION at ST JOHNS
> Signs of Spring
> YOUNG, MESSED UP AND ON THE GAME
> REAL WORLD - AND THE HUNGER GAMES
> The Journey to the Cross - An Easter meditation
> Can Jesus Heal Cancer
> CHRISTIAN HERITAGE in PAPATOETOE

2011
> LIGHT ON THE HILL
> LOOKING FORWARD
> GOOD WORDS
> ALCOPOPS and EXCESS DRINKING
> COMPASSION in ACTION
> Christchurch Reports
> Shattered Illusions, Faithful journeys.
> EARTHQUAKE
> The Windows, Images of Faith - Opening Day

2010
> THE CITY CAN NEVER BE THE SAME
> "The Hope that Comes from Faith"
> SPARKING SPARKIES
> ADVERTISING A NON-GOD!

2009
> PRAYING FOR THE COMMUNITY
> DATES THAT COULD DESTROY
> MERCY, JUSTICE AND LIVING IN GOD'S WORLD
> Warmth in the Frost
> GENEROUS GIVING
> Hunter's Corner - A Dilemma of Publiic Space.
> Easter customs to tell the Story
> Our Mother Tongue God is too Small
> Tragedy at Fox Glacier

2008
> THE BIRTH STORIES OF JESUS
> CONNECTING WITH - FAMILIES IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD
> WELL If you want it Quiet ......
> Finding Pearls
> Of Winter fuel and things
> Disaster and Relief Work
> Prayer on hearing the News
> Conflict of Interest
> Practical Christian in the community.
> Who are these Christians?

2007
> We still keep singing the Christmas carols
> Getting our pirorities
> Travelling
> Spring flowers shout that life is not dead.!
> Focusing on the task
> Change
> Real Families
> Water - Source of conflict
> Prayer

2006
> Violence and Children
> Faith and Reason
> PEACETIME AND HOPE
> Playdough and PC
> Violence to Children
> Climbing Everest
> Celebrating the Good things
> THE GNOSTIC GOSPEL OF JUDAS
> Focusing on the Essential
> Living with other Faiths
> SuperVolcanoes and other worrying things

2005
> Advent - Saving the Earth Saving its Peoples
> Halloween - The time of the Saints
> Responding to Terror
> Time of Winter
> Noah - a Story of Conservation
> Off the Tracks
> Moving On and Looking Back
> Tsunami Prayers

2004
> Upside Down Christmas
> From Assembly - Dean Drayton address
> In the Community
> Weaving together the threads
> 150 years of History revisited
> July - Faithfulness
> Getting 150 years in perspective -
> Passion -The Film
> Letter From Niue

2003
> Christmas hope
> Maintenance and Mission
> Annual reports June 2002- June 2003
> Who will come to the Party?
> Time to Change
> Unity is Strength
> Prostitution Laws
> Gone Fishing


Minister's Minutes
February 2008

Who are these Christians?

In his book The Heart of Christianity (2003) Marcus Borg of Oregon State University describes how his students have a negative image of Christianity. "When I ask them to write a short essay on their impression of Christianity," says Borg, "they consistently use five adjectives: Christians are literalistic, anti-intellectual, self-righteous, judgmental, and bigoted."

In NZ society today these same stereotypes are perpetuated and reinforced by the media. The media love a scrap between someone who pushes a conventional Christian view of Jesus to the edge and someone who defends it fundamentally, and who hopefully produce some controversial statements. Pictures of Destiny Church followers marching in their unfortunate black T Shirts against whatever the prevailing issues are, or documentaries on weird sects - possibly misrepresented- showing how families are brainwashed "prove' that Christians are odd. The fact that the mainstream churches, where still the vast majority of Christians worship, do not support whatever sect is shown, does not deter the media from naming them as Christian.

Have you noticed when the abuse of children occurs, parents are labelled as Christian if they have any connection with any church, as if this somehow produces a negative effect. The other day a religious labelling was given to a Muslim couple with the same intention of this being a negative contributor to their parenting skills?.
Religion is pictured as being the cause of all the abusive behaviours under question and gives the reporters the chance to turn their brains off and take cheap shots.

Dan Clendenin, in his blog, points out that the Bible tells of the massive difference for good made in the lives of the first Christians. Paul's letter to the Corinthians greets that troubled group of believers, where there were divisions, boasting about incest ("and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans," 1 Corinthians 5:1), eating food that had been sacrificed to pagan idols, disarray in worship services, and predatory evangelist preachers masquerading as super-apostles, with a wholehearted wish for "grace and peace." He hopes that they will be "enriched in every way" (1 Corinthians 1:3,4). He wishes them only good. Think about what our world might be like if we each offered our neighbour a similar greeting for their well-being.

The reality is that following the example of Jesus, the first Christians broke down social barriers. They disregarded religious taboos that judged people as ritually clean or unclean, worthy or unworthy. They undermined normal social rankings of wealth, ethnicity, religion, and gender in favour of a radical equality before God and with each other: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), and they struggled and argued about how to do it.
They demonstrated transparency, not moral superiority or questionable motives. Like their Lord, they were compassionate rather than condemning. They lived out of gratitude not fear, and had a reputation for empathy rather than fault-finding. The first followers of Jesus were people of self-sacrifice, not self-interest. They insisted that God was like a tender father, not a vindictive tyrant, and encouraged every person without exception to believe what the psalmist said: "This I know, that God is for me" (Psalm 56:9).

A generation after the first believers, the theologian Justin Martyr (c. 100–165) summed up the appeal of Christian community: “. . we who once took most pleasure in accumulating wealth and property now share with everyone in need; we who hated and killed one another and would not associate with men of different tribes because of their different customs now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them and pray for our enemies.”

The witness of those first believers who, because "great grace was with them all," demonstrated overflowing generosity to their neighbours, consequently "enjoyed the favour of all the people."

I would hope that we could be seen as having those qualities instead of what many people are conditioned to think today when they hear the word "Christian."

I guess it depends on us to challenge the present stereotype by how we follow Jesus in our community so that we point towards the love and life of God which is offered to everyone.


Rev. Margaret Anne Low

 


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