Showing posts from 2009

Billboards and Christmas

A comment about St. Matthew's in the City's billboard. Firstly, well done! No other church bill board has or will make it on to national news, nor will they provoke the outcry and discussion this one has. They have achieved their aim. Having said that, I wonder if this really is what I would want to talk about at Christmas. I understand their passion about the theological issue, but it seems to me that of more significance is the celebration of good news coming among us, and what that might mean for individuals, and communities at this point.To be honest it all felt a bit like a well staged publicity stunt, that some groups should have just ignored, rather than attracting more attention to it. Anyway, here is what the Bishop of Auckland has to say about it all. The Bishop of Auckland, the Right Reverend John Paterson says there are a multitude of issues for a city and the wider church that he would rather focus on in the season of Christmas than a billboard. The Bishop is disap

the flow of worship

I was at a youth service the other week. A youth band from one church did the music, and they were good. Except all the songs were praise songs. Even the last song was a praise song. There is a place for praise songs, it is the beginning of the service. But to have every song praising God felt like it took away from what else was happening in the service. And at the point where we were supposed to be being sent out to join God in mission we again praised God. Somehow musicians need to work out that they are not the centre piece of worship but add to what is happening. The clear message I got was "this is the real worship, everything else just fills the space." I know that is not what the guy leading it does think, but we do need to do better with the choice of music played.

welcoming God to worship

I was at a service a couple of months ago. The leading musician, or "worship leader" welcomed God to the service at the end of one of the initial set of songs. I have heard this phrase before, and maybe have used it. But what struck me this time was, who are we to welcome God to worship? Isn't worship something God invites us into, and welcomes us to? Isn't God at the center of worship? When we welcome God, suddenly we are the center of the act of worship. We call the shots. It becomes about us!!! and not about God. And then I listened to the songs, and while they talked about how great God is, they all pretty much described God in relationship to the central figures of us. I was surprised by all this, and shocked. It reinforced for me one of the the things I wrote about in my dissertation, that those who have responsibility for leading and organizing worship (in its fullest meaning and not just singing praise songs) need to be biblically and theologically literate, a


I have been lost in a little world of liturgy lately, trying very hard to get my dissertation done!!!! Yehhaaaaa!!!@@!! It is now off to Otago. Below is the abstract. Is there life after study though? Youth and Liturgy: an Oxymoron? A study into how and why Anglican liturgy and the Anglican liturgical tradition are being used in worship targeting young people within the Anglican Church (Tikanga Pakeha) in New Zealand. This research used a mixed method approach to explore how and why Anglican liturgy and the Anglican liturgical tradition are being used in worship targeting youth and young adults in the Anglican Church (Tikanga Pakeha) in New Zealand. It comes out of my experience of attending a number of non-liturgical services at various youth events which seem hard to describe as Anglican. It also comes out of the wider church’s concern about the future of liturgy, particularly as expressed in a recent memorandum from the Common Life Liturgical Commission. In this study I hav

Youth Work not a prioirty for this Government.

I have just received a letter from John Harrington, the "Director" of the National Youth Workers Collective. This National organization which has worked on behalf of youth workers across the country has had its funding significantly cut. Paula Bennett appeared in the April edition of the 12-25 magazine (of the Ministry of Youth Development) talking about her desire to work with the sector. She has now decided to cut the funding for the main group which represented youth workers across this country. Clearly Youth work is not a priority for her or the government she is part of. John has given his heart and soul to the vision for Youth Work in New Zealand along with many others. This is a vision to have Youth Work recognised as unique professional practice on equal footing with Social Work and other caring professions and to develop a strong, diverse Youth Work paid and voluntary workforce that is stable, prepared ? trained and qualified, supported, and committed to positively

Michael Laws and Whanganui

I have been pondering Michael Laws and his rather confrontational approach to this issue. It is 1960's white NZ raising it's head again really. Bolshie, ignorant, offensive. I find it amazing that we as New Zealanders would deliberately misspell a name because it suits us, even though we know it offends the people whose name it is. It is like me deliberately calling Michael Laws Michael Screwloose. It suits me! I voted amongst myself and unanimously decided that was how his name should be spelt. I don't care it isn't, or that he might be offended. That should be immaterial, or is it? I am intrigued that the people of Wanganui like being in a place which is a nonsense name, rather than a name that means something. But the real sad thing is his written attack on the school children and their teachers. One day he might work out that to be Maori in this country is to be politicized simply because Maori are still trying to get justice over their land, .and are still being t

A South African take on Barbeques

A friend has sent this to me. It rings true for Aotearoa-NZ and Australia as well. But I wonder, what is the problem here? Some summer humour seeing as the weather is improving!! New Standard Operating Procedures released today please learn BRAAI RULES We are about to enter the BRAAI season. Therefore it is important to refresh your memory on the etiquette of this sublime outdoor cooking activity . When a man volunteers to do the BRAAI the following chain of events are put into motion: Routine... (1) The woman buys the food. (2) The woman makes the salad, prepares the vegetables and makes desert. (3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill - beer in hand. (4) The woman remains outside the compulsory three meter exclusion zone where the exuberance of testosterone and other manly bonding activities can take place without the interference of the woma

Super City

I was really disappointing last week when John Key abandoned the concept of Maori Seats on the Auckland Super City Council under threat from Rodney Hide. Personally I think he missed an opportunity to get Hide out of government. But what really saddened me was that democratic process was usurped for Rodney's grandstanding. What principle will Rodney campaign on at the next election. Rodney knows best? So much for the party of principles huh?

Back at home

I am back after being away for most of the last month. Now I need to focus and get work stuff happening, and get my dissertation written. I have been plodding away at it, now I need to pick up the pace a lot.


Before I went to Australia I was at the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation 2009 in Auckland. Here is the official Communiqué. International Anglican Liturgical Consultation 2009 Communiqué, 8 August 2009, Auckland The International Anglican Liturgical Consultation met August 3-8 at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, Auckland, in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia. We are grateful to the Local Arrangements Committee, the Right Reverend Winston Halapua and the Right Reverend Kito Pikaahu, the Right Reverend George Connor, Mrs. Heather Skilling and the Very Reverend Ross Bay who shaped the conference and tended to our travel and practical needs with care. The gathering comprised Anglicans from fourteen of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Particular welcome was given to the first representatives from the Anglican Church in Korea and the Church of North India. Due to unforeseen difficulties regarding travel and visa matters, several of our me

Ministers meeting in Australia

I have been away a lot lately, mostly doing Franciscan Stuff. One of the meetings I was at was a Ministers meeting in Perth. One of the other attendees has written this dairy, so I thought I would just post this. You can see the original if you follow the link. Perth Diary The purpose of the visit to Perth was for a meeting of the Ministers Provincial of the Third Order in the Society of St Francis, which is an Anglican order. There are five provinces in the world, and we have a Minister General who leads the whole order. Meetings take place every two years, and I was blessed to attend the previous one in the USA. Friday 14 – At Perth airport, Jeremy James met me. He is the Regional Minister (or Guardian) of the Third Order in Western Australia. He had already collected Anita Catron (USA) and Dorothy Brooker (Minister General from New Zealand). We went to the home where Joanna Coney (UK) was staying. Julie-Ann was our driver. We stopped in Safety Bay to collect John Hebenton (NZ

Slava's Snow Show

I have just spent two days with my sister in Melbourne. I love Melbourne; I love the range of ethnic food that is available. I love the city, and the range of entertainment available. It was great spending time with my sister and it was grand experiencing Melbourne again. Last night (when I wrote this) I went to Slava’s snow show. It is publicised as what Circe de Sole is to circus, so this is to clowning. And it was great. The theatre was old, small (although it had the three layers of seats, but the stage was small) and covered in paper snow from previous shows. It was fun sitting there watching little flurries of snow erupting from the seats in front as people threw it on those around them, and listening to the little girl behind us giggling with delight as she threw it on her grandmother, and once on us (we exacted our revenge, twice, to her squeals of laugher). And then the show began. The costumes, the facial expressions, the plot and script (well what else would you call it) wer

Salvador Dali

Today (when writing) I went to see the Salvador Dali, Liquid Desire show in Melbourne. I have long liked his worked, both for its range of subjects, including the religious ones and the surrealist and yet detailed portrayal of his subjects. We were there for about 2 hours, and I could have spent much longer there. I had no idea of the range of art forms he engaged in: film, sculpture, set design for ballets and film, jewellery, photography and of course painting. I was fascinated to find out a bit about some of the influences, from being named after his dead brother and being treated as a reincarnation of that brother (who had died at the age of two) and his struggle to create his own identity. He was always “out there” and was always amazingly talented. He was greatly influenced by Freud, and the surrealist movement, but carved his own path. He scandalised his father by hooking up with the wife of another surrealist who was 10 years older. They were together for over 50 years and she

Description of The Anglican Liturgical Tradition

The following comes from my work for my masters, and is offered as descriptive rather than prescriptive. It is an understanding of the Anglican Liturgical Tradition based on the literature reviewed and my experience as an Anglican priest. The key elements of this tradition include the following - The Anglican Liturgical (ALT) is based on an understanding of worship that is much more than singing praise songs to God. It is about the whole of life , rather than just what happens on Sunday morning. It is an encounter between the living God and God’s church, which changes those who participate, and draws who participate into God’s mission. While there is some debate about who worship is for, it is true that those who engage in worship are to participate in it, rather than observe it as an audience. It invites everyone to take part however they are able. As such Anglican liturgical tradition at its best is accessible to those who attend. The Anglican Liturgical Tradition has as a corners

Ian Died

Last week my father in law died. It was sudden, although not entirely unexpected. He had had a bad stroke nearly four years ago and had been gradually going downhill ever since. I always found him slightly intimidating. But as I read the cards and listened to the stories, I realized this man was a great man, and I had missed out on getting to know him better. I had never asked the right questions about his community group involvements, his passions. I hadn't quite know how to. And I am so much the poorer for that. On the day of his funeral I read a Tui ad which said, I know an interesting accountant. Yeah right! - My father in law was a really interesting accountant, who at the age of 37 was given a 20year service to swimming and life saving award. And that was just the start. He spent 20 years with IHC. He changed peoples lives through his support of them, his mentoring people to run business ventures for community groups, his fund raising nous. I wish I had got to know how int

National Anglican Youth Forum 2009

We have just held our 18th National Anglican Youth Forum, Tikanga Pakeha. It was the 16th I have attended, and the 9th I have had some role in organizing, the 7th as AYNF.TP, which is slightly frightening really. And it was awesome. The theme was Front yard Christianity, doing mission rather than talking about mission. We used Open Space Technology to raise issues in our business day, which worked really well. The topics discussed included: Being Anglican at tertiary institutions (how to encourage each other, and even have a presence) Being Anglican at School, The environment (including Fair trade and justice issues) T3 relationships, where to next, and homosexuality. The passion and commitment from these young people was unbelievable. One young man went home and set up a website. I just hope we can keep this going. It was so good to see such passionate young people who were not embarrassed about being Anglican. It was young people engaged in home grown mission shaped church (so to spe

The Yes Vote

So our man Larry Baldock and all his supporters have got their silly questionnaire. Not that the issue is silly, just that the question is really silly. It is badly worded. The fact is that no parent has been prosecuted for smacking their child. The change in the Act meant that children were afforded the same protection under the law as adults. Nearly every major group working with parents and children supported the change in the Act. A pity our media went for the line of most scaremongering and sensationalism and pushed the anti smacking line. So while it seems silly to vote yes, it is important to vote yes. The change in the Act protects children from violence. It means violent adults cannot use disciplining these children as a defence for using violence in court (which they did and jury's agreed that using a horse whip and hose pipe was reasonable - go figure), which they we able to. If we are serious as nation about reducing the appalling statistics around violence on child


More information is emerging about the much vaunted cycleways. I have to say I am keen to see more. I love cycling, but it can be really dodgy on our roads. I get sworn at regularly for being on the road. Drivers are an angry and impatient lot. I was really surprised by the negative reaction of some people to this. Lazy people, unfit people, wedded to their cars. I am looking forward to seeing this emerge, and am looking forward to persuading Bonnie to have a go at some of these for a holiday!! Key told the Hotel Industry Conference in Auckland this morning that $50m would be allocated to the project over the next three years. "I see the national cycleway developing from a series of "Great Rides" through some of New Zealand's most beautiful scenery. Our long-term goal is to create a network that links these "Great Rides" into a uniquely New Zealand set of cycling experiences that connects and passes through our cities." I was worried it would get

Christine Rankin

O please. How am I supposed to take this government seriously. Christine looks out for one person, Christine. She loves being in the lime light. But her track record is not good. He appaling dress sense shows that she really can't make appropriate decisions for the situation. To say "no one can tell me what to wear!" while clearly telling all her staff what to wear. and saying it to men who have no choice but to wear a suit and tie is just silly. That same lack of judgement was shown in how she led her Department. Better yet we have an advocate for beating children with hose pipes and 4x2 (extreme I know, but that is what let to that peice of law) on the Families Commission. An advocate for violence working for a group which is working hard to erradicate violence from the home. Even that great liberal (not) Peter Dunne is upset, and this is his baby. National have shown their trur colours. Thanks to all those who voted for them for their $10/wk.

It is time to call a spade a spade

Should I even write this? I am not sure. Anyway. It seems that the General Secretary of our church is quite determined to shut TORU: The Anglican Centre for Youth Ministry Studies because we have overspent our budget for the last two years and as far as she is concerned is it not working. Instead this advocate for our three Tikanga Structure would like to see the money redistributed among the three Tikanga. This of course is being done with no consultation with the Youth Networks. Surprisingly (not) I am somewhat annoyed. But it has helped me come to realise that we will never be one church expressed in three Tikanga. And that is because no one really wants that. So why keep working for it! And this makes me think. General Synod last year cost over $170,000, a beautiful hand holding exercise that achieved nothing really. The meal at Parliament was nice though. Our General Synod Office struggles to contain its expenditure (not it’s fault I hasten to add), so that this year the money we

Bye bye Boston Legal

Last night I watched a “Best of Boston Legal” It was great, and yet poignant. Poignant because my favourite TV show has finished. I wonder what it was about Boston Legal that tickled my fancy. Well, for a start it was funny. Really funny. The characters were so different and quirky. And over the years they took themselves less and less seriously. In the last season they made references to themselves as a TV programme all the time. But it also offered serous social commentary. The character of Alan Shaw is central here. His court room rants were full of social commentary, usually from the left. You could not ignore what it was saying. And Denny Crane offered a conservative opposing standpoint to keep things in balance. Within the office, issues around sexual ethics were raised, Denny’s Alzheimer’s, Gerry’s autism, even Chinas human rights (which always intrigues me that Americans worry about that given their domestic and international track record) Finally, I will miss the final scen

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 aft

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

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

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 Ignored Laughed at Played on Pulled down for use in games Empty 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

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

Benedictine prayer

Last week I went to a meet held at a meeting being held at the Southern Star Cistercian (Benedictine) Abbey at Kopua, near Dannevirke. Most of our time was retreaty. A big part of that was joining the brothers for their daily office: at 6am, 8am, 11.30am, 2pm, 6pm, 8pm. Most of these consisted of a hymn, singing three psalms, short bible reading, short prayer, blessing, and Marion anthem (and angelus at 6am, 11.30 and 6pm) The fist service I went to I thought “O my Lord, this might be a little tedious”. The singing was not great, it seemed slow, the seats were not so comfy. But after one or two services it grew on me. I fell into the rhythm. The chants entered into me. I went to sleep with the tune in my head. I woke singing “Praise to the Father the Almighty, and to the son Jesus Christ our lord, and to the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, both now and forever amen.” It was amazingly stilling, and earthing. And it was nice to get in touch with some of our Anglican roots. Cranmer was i

Rant about politicians

I feel the need to rant about our Government. I actually have some time for John Key. He is a moderate, on the liberal side. But his co-cabinet members scare me to death. For example, with Crusher Collins at the helm, why would anyone want to work at Corrections? And we need good people to stick around and feel valued, not dumped on at every possible moment for political gain. Tony Ryall and Paula Bennet stopped conferences, without ever telling us how much it cost us tax payers to stope the conferences in cancelled air fares, cancellation fees for the venues, lost deposits etc. I know about some of this stuff, I once tried to cancel an event, and found it was cheaper to hold it. We still made a loss, but it was about half what we would have made if we had called it off. So what did these called off conferences cost the tax payer? And what galls me is that is seems it was all done because they (Tony and Paula) know best and don’t need people who work in the field to tell them anyth

It is Lent already

So it is lent. Lent is often seen as a time of repentance and giving up stuff. But the ancient Irish, who kind of invented this whole penitence thing didn’t see this as a time of just giving up things for the sake of giving them up, but of building virtues. So, they would identify their vices, and then pray about the virtues they wanted to build up which were the opposite of those vices. They would then spend lent working on the virtues, or developing good spiritual habits. So this lent, I will again stop playing computer games in order that I might pray more, and spend more time with my family and on work stuff including the dissertation. Part of the prayer thing is to again work on praying each day, and to say night prayer at night, cos I would really like to get into the habit of doing that. And I will also blog at least once a week. That would be a good habit to get into. Two habits built out of the time wasted on games. I am looking forward to that.

Fat People

This is like a confession really. There is a woman I know, who is about my age, maybe younger (which is not hard to do) who is really really overweight (morbidly obese I think it is called) and who smokes heavily. She is really unwell, and has been for a while. Her lungs must be a mess really: really squashed and small, and choked with smoke. Last year she had bad bronchitis. But as far as I can see looking at her and her daughter she has not stopped smoking and has not done anything about her weight. As you might tell, I struggle to be nice around her. Her cough is appalling. No compassion at all!! The other day she collapsed. She is now in hospital; her condition is critical but stable. When I heard about this I thought two things. One is, well this was coming. The other was, "where is my compassion here? How do I know what she has or has not tried to do? Why am I so quick to judge?" I hope and pray she recovers, which is by no means certain. I hope and pray that she d

Franciscan International’s oral statement for the Ninth Special Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Gaza

Franciscans International (FI) would like to express its deep concern about the recent events in Gaza and Southern Israel that have led to the loss of hundreds of civilian lives. The escalation of violence has completely disregarded the most basic principles of International Humanitarian Law leading to the present humanitarian tragedy. FI calls upon Israel and the Hamas leadership to immediately cease hostilities. The ceasefire is absolutely necessary in order to prevent the further targeting of the civilian population. This is true in the Southern Israeli towns attacked by rockets launched - Call on Israel to fully cooperate with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; - Review in its forthcoming March session the steps undertaken by the concerned actors to implement its recommendations. While this emergency calls for intense diplomacy to bring about a cessation of all violence, the international commun

Israel and Gaza: who should we demonize?

A friend of mine emailed me about my comments regarding the Israeli offensive in Gaza. He suggested that I had the wrong end of the stick, and pointed me to several articles that supported Israel, and demonised Hamas. I wrote this long response, and post it here for further comment. Thanks Antony for the article However, I think the writer has got the wrong end of the stick. It saddens me to think that anyone can support the use of force by either side as a way to achieving peace. And it saddens me even more when Christians do it. To comment on the article. Israel withdrew from Gaza, which was occupied territory, because it was difficult to continue to protect the settlers, and because it meant they could say they are withdrawing their settlers in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions, while leaving the major settlements on the West Bank. (Those settlements mean that there will never be a free Palestinian State on the West Bank, but isolated cities surrounded by Israel, an


On happier note, we are spending some nights watching movies. Last night we watched "Once". This is a stunningly beautiful movie, apart from some of the language. It is a great story, and the music is amazing. Just amazing. My two older children really got into it, and immediatly after went online to buy the soundtrack, as you do.

Regarding Gaza

Regarding Gaza By Rev. Alex Awad, Dean of Students, Bethlehem Bible College December 31, 2008 One hundred tons of bombs are Israel’s way of saying to the captive citizens of Gaza, Merry Christmas, Happy Eid (feast) and Happy New Year. These “gifts” that were showered from US-made F-16 fighter jets demolished government buildings, mosques, a university, hundreds of homes and snuffed out many lives – among them scores of children. Like many in this part of the world and around the globe my heart aches when I read and see pictures of the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip and likewise when I see Israelis killed or injured by Qassam rockets. However, I have a special love for Gaza and its people. Before the strict closure of Gaza, Bethlehem Bible College used to have an extension there. I went to Gaza once every Thursday to teach our students and often I stayed the night there. Interacting with Gazans in class, in church and in the community, I learned much about the kindness

Happy New Year

What a way to start. Fireworks. Big crowds at the Mount. All good And in Israel, fireworks and big crowds too, only not so much fun. AS I watch the terrorist state of Israel continue to target UN facilities, and teh civilians within, as they continue with their ongoing blockade that prevents food, medicine, fuel, hope from entering Gaza, I wonder how a people who were treated so appallingly can so quickly act with so little humanity, so little compassion, and instead poor out such hate on other people. There will be no peace while Israel insists on acting as a terrorist state, and whil America supports them in their terrorist activities. Anyway, happy new year! I enclose a email I received last week. Hello all, I am spending the Christmas break here in Jerusalem with my girlfriend Karin and her family. It was a lovely Christmas, as we went to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity and Christmas Lutheran Church on Christmas Eve and then to the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Ol