I’m still waiting for you to send me material for this page. So I continue to write all the comments and reflections myself.
I know that many of you, despite the advanced average age of our Congregation, are web-literate. Send me your photos, and your comments. We have a world-wide reach.
Gary the webmaster
Our Christmas Appeal 2017
Above is a photo from the Christian World Service (CWS) website. The caption is:
“Clarita is pleased with the root crops and banana trees she has planted in her new garden.Â She wants to grow more so her family has a cushion against future calamities.”
The text below the photo reads:
The memory of Typhoon Haiyan drives 74 year old Clarita who lives near the coast of Aklan province in the Philippines.
In 2013, her house and crops were badly damaged. She wants to have a cushion against future calamities and make her community stronger. Together they have planted fruit trees and root crops, and started their very own farmers market. In the face of climate change, they are preparing with hope for an uncertain future.
Before the typhoon, she lived a largely subsistent life, dependent on the food she and her family grew. It was enough to feed them most days in the year. She also worked as a volunteer health worker in her community, part of Developers self-help programme. Along with other members of her community she has learnt a lot from Developers. They have a good understanding about their local environment and the effects climate change will have.
Typhoon Haiyan was the wakeup call. Filipinos know the temperatures are rising and typhoons will be more severe. Despite their economic poverty, they are determined to be better prepared for the next superstorm.
Clarita wants a cushion against future calamities. She is taking nothing for granted. Every day, she works on her land, tending her newly planted fruit trees and crops. Knowing how important the community is when disaster strikes, she participates in the planting drives organised by Developers.Â For the last four years, their story has been only of disaster, but a new one is emerging.
The following reflections are also copied from the CWS website:
Lighting the Advent Candle of Hope
In the lighting of this first Advent Candle of Hope we make space within ourselves to hear and engage with the voices of those we might otherwise miss but with whom we are connected by our common humanity.
We remember also the voice of the prophets calling us to be bearers of hope in a troubled world.
Advent is preparing us to celebrate the birth afresh for another year and season. We prepare by cultivating personally and collectively as €˜church, a particular kind of desire that longs for the coming of God on earth.
As we engage for another year in this season of Advent let us reflect on what the season is training us, both as individuals and communities to long for, to desire for? Our desires are both personal and social. Our desires are deeply formed by social context and events we have experienced and as such affect not only us but others around us.
The CWS Annual Appeal Theme for 2017 is €˜Make Hope Our Story”. Hope must always be enacted in the here and now.
Jacinda, our Prime Minister, has announced that she is to bear a child by her partner, Clarke Gayford. The predominant reaction from other heads of state and the international commentariat is positive. Jacinda and Clark are un-married, united neither by civil nor ecclesiastical ceremony.
In all countries reviewed by Wikipedia, the population fraction producing children outside marriage has more than doubled since 1960. In the Netherlands, the percentage of births to unmarried mothers increased from 4% to 40%. In contrast, in Japan, a more traditional society, it increased from 1% to 2%. In New Zealand, it was 48% last year. Statistics are here: (You’ll have to cut and paste these URLs.)
A long account of different cultural and religious traditions is here:
Positive reactions to the pregnancy on the web came from a columnist in the Washington Post, Helen Clark, Malcolm Turnbull, Jenny Shipley, Annette King. Negative reaction from others, generally labelled by the commentariat as "male misogynists", which is typical of the classical denigration by true believers in any forum of the unbelievers. The label "climate change deniers", using an adjective with negative connotations is another.
Yet I am saddened. The institution of marriage is recognised and insisted upon in the vast majority of cultures before the production of children. The ceremony is sometimes conducted over several days, with great feasting and celebration. It seems to me that considerable ancient wisdom and long experience has evolved this transition from two separate individuals into a binary breeding pair. I was married in a Church. It was a profound, and deeply moving experience.
I like both Jacinda and Clarke. Her positive, smiling, leadership style is a breath of fresh air. Yet I wish that they had undergone at least a civil marriage ceremony before procreating. I suspect that a silent minority of older citizens feel the same. Perhaps we are fossils from a previous time.
Bob Mann, one of my ex-colleagues at the University of Auckland, sent me this URL concerning the persecution of non-Muslims in Pakistan: (Cut and paste into your browser if it doesn’t coe up.)
“The best way I know of to respond to this awful, urgent need is by donations to The Barnabas Fund, aid agency for the persecuted church. Their founding great eminence is ex-muslim Rev Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, as good a critic as you can find of Islam.”
This morning, 16 February, we read in the papers, and have already seen on the TV screen, the aftermath of the latest mass shooting from the USA.
Again we see the pleas for more restrictive gun laws, and better screening of prospective purchasers of firearms in the USA. But the genii has left the bottle, and I doubt that much will change. The pro-gun lobby is very strong in that country.
I have written before of my experience years ago in the USA, when a staff-member of the University department which I was visiting on Sabbatical leave, learning that I had never fired a handgun, invited me to his property on the outskirts of town to shoot a few rounds. I drove out there with another US colleague, who had never fired one either, and just wanted to see it done.
I was supplied with a 45 Colt automatic, judged to be the safest hand-gun for a newcomer, and our host set up a couple of playing cards pinned to a tree. I shot first from a distance of 10 feet, but missed. I was enormously impressed with the bang it made. Our host moved me closer, and I missed again. Finally, at a distance of 3 feet I was able to land 4 rounds on the Aces of spades and clubs. These cards are now pinned to the noticeboard outside my basement study.
My watching colleague declined to shoot himself, and stood 10 feet behind me. Even so, the sound affected his hearing, and he was partially deaf for some days afterwards. A 45 colt is very loud!
I’d had some experience shooting deer with a rifle in New Zealand (after doing that once I resolved never to do it again, and had the rifle destroyed) but the explosion of the Colt was much louder and far more dramatic.
After the news of each new gun rampage in the USA by some disaffected or deranged citizen, I ponder these playing cards on my noticeboard again, and give thanks for our far more restrictive gun laws, which among other things prohibit the purchase of hand-guns, and require the buyers of rifles to be vetted by
Police. How fortunate we are to have these laws!
Let us hope that at last, some laws in the USA will change, and hand-gun ownership will become more restricted. But there so many hand-guns in that country, some purchased for protection by ladies living alone, that maybe little will happen.
Why such a rudimentary website?
From time to time I hear, second-hand, criticism at the basic nature of this website. As I have said
before, I would be quite happy to have it taken over by somebody else. I started it about a decade ago, after asking in Church whether we needed one, and whether it would be useful. Feedback from the Congregation was largely neutral or negative, but I decided to start this simple one anyway, surmising that some web expert might come out of the woodwork to continue it, and compile it using more sophisticated software, of which there is plenty available.
It has, sometimes, been useful for visitors from other Centres wishing to find a local Church, and occasionally I get comments from casual viewers from other parts of the world, always positive.
I had hoped that our Congregation would send thoughts, comments, photos that I could include, but with a very few exceptions, this has not happened. So now almost everything you read has been composed by me. Neither is it clear that many are reading it, a conclusion echoed by other Church website maintainers around the world, and I have asked many. I get almost no feedback.
Yes, it is a simple website. This is because I use free Website generating software, easy to use, which is hosted by a group dedicated to supporting Church websites in New Zealand. There is a monthly charge for hosting it, which I pay myself.
If you want to take it over, it’s yours. Otherwise, I’ll continue to run it. Better a simple website than none at all. So don’t beef if you’re not prepared to step up to edit and upload it every week.
Gary the Webmaster.