Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lifetyle change and weight loss

A year or so ago I put up a posting about needing to loose weight, and get fitter etc… Over the next few months I managed to loose about 4kg, mostly by exercise. But I stalled on about 101kg. I couldn’t shift it anymore, sadly. The funny thing was I would have said my diet was ok. I had mostly cut out cheese, margarine (except on toast, how can you not have marg on toast) and then it was logical - the stuff that blocks cholesterol absorption, not many chippies or biscuits, and much less chocolate. But still, even training for a 160km bike ride I stayed the same.
At the end of last year I signed up for a programme my gym is running, called the LEAN programme, standing for a Lifestyle, exercise and nutrition programme. Not a diet. A lifestyle change! My children have been fairly rude, but hey, that is what they are for. So basically it involves eating 5 times a day: breakfast, (with protein – it calls for a protein shake, but I have porridge with protein powder, yummy!); morning and afternoon tea of protein (almond nuts) and fruit, or crackers and humus; Lunch, meat (fish) with protein and carbs and salad. O so healthy!! So much better than toast and jam. And then dinner, meat with salad, not cards. And then dinner, meat with salad, no cards. It was hard at first not eating carbs at night, but I stuck with it. I still get hungry at night sometimes, but I eat so much less now. Well, I have lost 9 more kgs, and my wife has lost quite a few as well, with no exercise. I have done the exercise routines, not as much as I might, but done them. And I have still drunk beer. But still lost weight. This is not a diet; it is still a lifestyle change. I can keep the principles up when away (which is a lot). But I am feeling really good with it. And I can keep this up. I am eating a lot better. Much less sugar and fat. So, if you wanting a diet, do not look here. But if you want to change your lifestyle, take a look at this site.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Liturgy for Life:

I had this interesting experience a couple of months ago. I was at an ordination service in our more evangelical/charismatic diocese. We sang several “charismaticy” style songs, could even have been hillsong songs. Around me were a number of people, mostly older, whose eyes lit up and they raised their hands. This excited them. My assessment of them was they were charismatic from way back. While I found the songs a little naff, I was jealous of their involvement and zealousness really. I prayed that I might feel like them. And then we got on to the ordination liturgy, and the liturgy for the great thanksgiving, and the service came alive for me. I don’t know if my eyes lit up, but I wanted to and did lift up my hands in response (I think I was the only one with slightly raised hands at that point) and I was really engaged with what was being said and done. And I wondered afterwards why most people see liturgy as this dead thing, and instead get off on songs with really bad words (some times) and fairly ordinary tunes. How can we help people to experience liturgy as I did on that Thursday evening in a cathedral far away?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Stations of the cross

A big part of my Easter experience this year was going to two "stations of the cross".
One was organised by a colleague, a Baptist woman. There is a really big Easter thing run at Bethlehem Baptist church, but this one was less theologically laden and much more contemplative and interactive. We were invited to hold the rope that tied Jesus, eat bread and oil at the meal, drink lemon juice at Gethsemane, smell the oil use to anoint him by Mary before his death (Johns gospel) etc.. It too was theological, in that sometimes the commentary invited us to view this in one way, rather than allow the text of the scripture and the story itself to speak to us. So we were invited to consider how Jesus died for "my sin". I have to say i am entirely unsure Jesus did die for my sin. I am entirely sure Jesus died for "our sin", as a sign of God’s infinite and profound and life giving love for all creation, including me. So my sin I nailed to the cross was “it is not all about me”. The last two stations took us to the resurrection, which I was not ready for. Somehow we leap on to the resurrection, as if the crucifixion only has meaning with it. But in more classical theological circles, and certainly for Francis, it is as we stand at the cross, and fully comprehend God all powerful hanging naked, defenceless, powerless, in absolute poverty in love for us that we are able to comprehend both the magnitude of God’s love, and how we are so utterly unworthy in every sense. It we move to the resurrection too soon we are in danger of trivialising our sinfulness, of failing to truly accept our own poverty and need for God’s grace and love, are able to know that we are no better than anyone else, and so know true humility.

The second was on Saturday night, when we went to Hamilton for an art installation run by an eclectic group there.
(This has been edited with the comment included) "Incedo are the organisation behind Stations of the Cross in Hamilton (, the new name for Youth for Christ. The curator is an Incedo fieldworker. The artist collective is from a diversity of places faith-wise. Ex-ile, which meets at the University, is a broad group (a few of the people in ex-ile might identify as liberal or progressive, others as evangelical, post-evangelical etc etc), and is the home for some of the people involved in making Stations happen and in its worship installations picks up some of the media of Stations... Just wanted to clarify because its such an amazing event - seven nights of art in public space and the Incedo community is the anchor!"

It was awesome. One was an actual whipping this time of phone books, of numbers, our numbers, just as Jesus number was up. It felt both good, and so brutal. How did people even survive that? We walked through hanging images of the crowd with free Barabbas on their t-shirts, and photos of faces shouting, angry eyes staring at you as you pushed through. At grace we listened to talk show hosts and callers vent hate at criminals, calling for their death, saying even death was too good. Help them into hell they said. It finished with an open grave with casket, with dirt to throw in, a link to military cemeteries with the last post and revelry, and finally an empty tomb. That felt ok, it was Saturday ninth. We were given a portable communion of wafer and test tube of juice, which I had there, welcoming in the resurrected Christ.

Both very powerful experiences. It has been a good Easter.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday at Tay Street

Warm sun baking
While cold wind cools from behind
The sea dotted
Ships waiting to enter
Boats huddled round schools catching
Surfers at rest on quiet waves
Occasionally catching a 5 second ride
Before returning to their place of peace
The beach strewn
People running, walking, standing
Watched by those on the grass
Sitting with coffee, friends and family
All enjoying a warm relaxed holiday

Three crosses stand alone
Laughed at
Played on
Pulled down for use in games
Of you
Of life
Of meaning for so many
Symbols for those who might stop
Be still long enough
To remember
Why this day is Holy
Is off
How this act is love
Is life
Is who I am
Is who we are

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Hong Kong Meeting of the International Anglican Youth Network Steering Committee:

About two weeks ago I was in Hong Kong at a meeting of the Steering Committee of the International Anglican Youth Network. Michael Tamihere and I flew over on Thursday night (March 12th) , arriving Friday morning. That gave us some time on Friday to wander about Kowloon , and then over to Central on the Star Ferry, where we wandered around, through Hong Kong Park to Wai Chan and then caught the ferry home. The others trickled in on Friday afternoon and evening, and we began with dinner out on Friday night
On Saturday we visited Macau Missionary Area. The Anglican Church there is amazingly small, only about 3-400 members, but they have four or five parishes, and operate several schools, including kindergarten, primary and secondary. These schools are pivotal to their evangelism endeavours. They work really hard with the students to introduce them to Christianity, and the Anglican Way. As a result they are a growing church, and a very young church. Revd. Thomas Pang and Rev Odette spent a lot of time with us, and looked after us really well. Thomas is a Chinese priest on loan from the Diocese of Boston, and is working part time in Macau, and part time in the Religious Education Centre as the Director. His charge is to rejuvenate what is happening and to develop the churches mission both in Macau and in Hong Kong. Macau was Portuguese for nearly 400 years and it was really interesting seeing how it was different to Hong Kong, which was British for a much shorter time.
On Sunday we went to a Chinese language service at Holy Carpenter Church, led by Revd. KK, who had been at the IAYN meeting in London in 2007, and is the curate at this church. It was great to be part of a service which used only the tiniest among of English (to welcome us) and to know pretty much what was going on for most of the service, and so to be able to join in, at least in our heads).
We then began our meeting in earnest. The agenda included:
• Regional reports, what is happening in each region
• Report on the IAYN presence at Lambeth conference 2008
• Preparations for IAYN report and presentation at the Anglican Consultative Council in May 2009
• Communications
• Planning for the next full Network meeting
Two themes that came out of the Regional Reports were encouraging young people in their Anglican Identity (as already raised by the MMA) and providing encouragement for young people to explore their vocation to ministry, both ordained and lay.
While the IAYN presence had gone really well, particularly the stand in the foyer area, disappointment was expressed that the interactive labyrinth had been situated so far away in Canterbury Cathedral and that so few bishops had gone through it. Those that had gone through, bishops and others were very warm in their praise, but as the part author of it, I would have felt it was more worthwhile if more had been able to experience what we were offering. But well done to Sarah Tomlinson who took my script and got a team of helpers together and made it work. Disappointment was also expressed that our optional seminar had been bumped off the programme in favour of one sponsored by an English Bishop, and that the protocol developed for the selection of stewards was not always adhered to, and some stewards were there simply because they could afford to pay, and went without the support of their Province. However, overall it was a good experience, with the young people involved engaging bishops freely and well, and really raising the profile of both the IAYN and of youth ministry in particular. Something similar in being planned for ACC, using some of the material both for the stall and the presentation.
While the website and newsletter have increased our communication with the Communion, it was noted that the newsletter did depend on Sam Desordi Leite who is now lost in the wonders of Berkeley, and that we are not making the most of the website. We are hoping to publish a “good news” magazine with one in depth story from each region. It will be called Good News in Spanish, as a way of noting that large parts of the communion do not speak English, and that that Spanish is the second most spoken language. Some of the articles will also be written in other languages like Spanish, and maybe Arabic. This will hopefully come out in time for Advent.
On the last day we met with the people in each diocesan responsible for youth ministry. Again there was a huge emphasis on using both their schools (they have contact with about half a million people through their schools) and through their social services. One of the parishes is in an area where their are large numbers of migrants, mainly mainland Chinese coming to improve their standard of living. A significant number are solo parent families, There are a number of social issues which the church is attempting to work with. For me it was a good example of how the five strands of mission work. Through their educational and social service work they are working to evangelise. People experience the good news of the Gospel, and are made much more receptive to hearing it preached. Once people have made a commitment there is alot of work being done to help them understand the Anglican way, to be active participants in their local Anglican Church, and to be part of the ongoing mission of the church, God's mission. That is so different from here in Aotearoa - New Zealand, where the five strands are held apart, almost in competition with each other, not as an integrated whole. It is also so different in terms of the access they have to their schools which are seen as missional, where as here they are too often just educational opportunities for the elite (or at least that is how they are seen). They are seen as that I think in Hong Kong as well, but somehow the church has greater access and greater opportunity to be missional in the schools and with the parents. I do not want to denigrate the work of a whole lot of dedicated chaplains who work very hard. But they are left to it and are the only authorised Anglican presence often. It just seems so much harder here. I need to think about this some more.
That night the Archbishop held a formal dinner for us and the Diocesan people. I even bought a clergy shirt for the event, made of fair trade cotton. It was quite the grand affair. During the dinner the Archbishop suggested we hold an Asia Region Youth Gathering. After some discussion we decided Hong Kong would be a good place. He had a YMCA campsite in mind that holds 1200!!! We meet the next day with the Asia rep (from Japan) who had only arrived the night before for another meeting. We have decided to try and hold this regional gathering in August 2011 with another full IAYN meeting to inspire other regions to do something similar. Very exciting! Very scary!
My Highlights
• meeting people who are involved in youth ministry in Macau and in the other Dioceses. It was inspirational
• Seeing the proactive way the Anglican church in Hong Kong is addressing the Economic Tsunami (as they call it) with banners of hope on every building (come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you peace) and running a seminar for people affected, with various speakers including a young priest who was talking about the values we live our life by.
• the IAYN meeting: hearing the reports, identifying the common threads, and also being part of planning for the future
• being a tourist: going to The Peak, once during the day and once at night to see Hong Kong Island and Kowloon from high up; experiencing the nightly music and light show on the waterfront, which was very cool; the food (thanks Douglas and KK for ordering and letting us experience the range we did); and having time to wonder about and experience Hong Kong and Macau
• Being with the IAYN group. They are friends now, and it was good to grow that friendship