24 to 30 January 2016
Letter from Hugh
This first week back is still in that strange time when most activities have also taken a break and the year is slowing getting under way. Wednesday was the first meeting with the builders and architects for the year and although with the cladding on the building there is not much visible progress, we were informed they are now working on the inside lining.
Wednesday evening was the first Presbytery Property and Finance meeting for the year and as usual there was a great quantity of paper to wade through. The benefit of the enlarged Presbytery is that business from some of the smaller areas is dealt with by people not directly involved. The bad news is that there is a lot more business for Presbytery committees to deal with.
While on holiday I read Joseph Campbell The Hero with a Thousand Faces which I had borrowed from Raewyn’s Sister years ago and had not yet read. I had read other books by Joseph Campbell and have a set of video tapes by him, but I had not read this particular book which explains the foundation of his research and thinking.
I was also interested to find in the mail that arrived while we were away, some publicity for a ‘Progressive Spirituality Seminar’ in Napier. The keynote speaker is Rev Dr Robin Meyers, who is the author of The Underground Church which some of us discussed last year. He also wrote Saving Jesus from the Church which I finished reading just before Christmas. The other speaker whose name people may recognise is the Rev Dr David Clark, the MP for Dunedin North. When I first met David he was one of the ministers at St Luke’s in Remuera. The other minister at St Luke’s at that time was my friend the Rev David Clark, who used to be at Berwick St. The seminar is not until May so I think I will ask Parish Council if I can attend because in recent years I have neglected the continuing education that I am actually obliged to do. The Rev Sally Carter who is one of the organisers sent us a handful of broachers and registration forms so if anyone else is interested in attending let me know. The theme of the conference is ‘Common Ground: Faith as resistance to ego, orthodoxy, and empire,’ which sounds like a great grounding as we move into this new year where we must face the challenge of making the best use of our new complex. We have been the people on the wilderness journey, but this year can identify with the returning exiles from our Nehemiah reading, who must re-examine their scriptural tradition in the light of their new circumstances. Hugh Perry
Some notices and news
Wednesday, 27 January at 10.00am. That is the date it begins. It does not seem long since our last such get together. Same rules as before. Anyone who would like to join in discussing the lectionary readings is welcome.
Sunday, 31 January is the beginning of the new year for the Breakfast Church. Same as before. If you know of anyone who would like to join in this special fellowship, invite their attendance.
An invitation to a Clayton’s Lunch!
Sunday, 31 January 2016 at 12 noon at 79A Briggs Road, Shirley.
Bring a salad or a dessert and enjoy food and real company.
Helen and Chris are the hosts and this will be no Clayton’s lunch!
Moved by Grace
Apropos last week’s bulletin: it was a dog, not a dong!
It is becoming more difficult to see progress in the project from the outside as the walls and windows have now been installed. Work on the interior is going ahead and we may have to rely on information from the fortnightly meetings with the builders and architects to get an idea of the overall state of the project and, perhaps, some of Hugh’s photos.
The work began in March last year with site clearance and then piles were screwed into the ground. At first progress seemed slow, but now it seems to be going ahead quickly. We waited patiently over the first few weeks, so the last few weeks should not seem too long. A lame sort of report just because we can’t see through walls!
Walk for Others
This will be a public event at New Brighton Union Church on Sunday, February 7, from 3pm. Christchurch East MP Poto Williams will speak about “community wellbeing”. David is planning to have children's activities and music.
Two months ago David Hill set himself a challenge— a series of walks during Lent and Easter (February and March). The objective: to lose weight and lower his cholesterol. But why do something only for yourself, when you can help others in the process. Thus the birth of “Walk for Others”.
The aim of Walk for Others is to raise awareness of project partners supported by Christian World Service and hopefully raise some money along the way.
In East Christchurch, David will be walking in solidarity with Haiti, while in North Canterbury and Timaru the walk will be in solidarity with the Philippines. In Oamaru he will be supporting the Waitaki Presbyterian Parish in its efforts to support a village in Tonga. David is seeking to engage with churches and local groups along the way—so if you would like to get involved you can like his Facebook page: facebook.com/walkforothers, or contact David directly on 0274213761 or email him at dphill [at] xtra [dot] co [dot] nz
Progressive Spirituality NZ Conference
Friday to Sunday, 6-8 May 2016. · St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Napier. · Cost: $90 if paid before Easter; thereafter $110. Get a brochure from Bruce Baillie if you are interested in this event.
Some background from Rev Sally Carter and the planning committee: The conference has its roots in a commitment to Progressive Spirituality, and follows the successful 'Beyond the Borders' conference in Auckland in August 2014. We believe we have put together a fine and feisty line-up: Robin Meyers from Oklahoma will be well matched by a trio of Kiwi speakers: Jo Randerson, Robert Myles and David Clark, MP.
Our theme is "Common Ground" —. although, after committing to that title, we realised that Common Cause was closer to what we envisioned: vigorous presentations of faith-in-action, with faith very broadly defined, and action very variously portrayed.
Chairs for the new church
Last Sunday Jennifer Delaney introduced a chair that is proposed for the new church. A selection of colours was also presented.
We are invited to give feedback on the chair selected and the fabric colours. The manufacturer has provided additional information. So please let Jennifer know what you think. There are two options: a ‘standard’ chair without arms, which is priced at $90.00 and one with arms at $105.00. We will purchase some of these for people who need a little help in sitting and standing. If you would like to make a donation for the purchase of one or more chairs, we would be delighted and grateful. The present set of chairs will be used elsewhere throughout the complex. The new ones will complement the décor of the new church. For more information, please talk with Jennifer.
More news, perhaps!
There was an alarming piece of news on the radio last Monday from Oxfam.
Oxfam is an international confederation of organisations working worldwide to find solutions to poverty and what it considers injustice around the world. Its headquarters are in Oxford, England.
Oxfam reported last year that in 2016 the wealth of the richest 1% of the world would become equal to the other 99%.
The prediction was challenged by many pundits and seemed to be a worry only to those, who like Oxfam, really cared about the unequal plight of so many people.
To make the figures easier to comprehend, the world’s population today is almost 7.4 billion. Have a look at the World Population Clock at www.worldometers.info/world-population to see how time marches on! Anyway, 1% of the world’s population is approximately 74 million people. For comparison, the combined population of Canada, Australia and New Zealand is approximately 42 million!
As soon as you get into any consideration of what constitutes wealth and how Oxfam’s figures are arrived at, it should be acknowledged the arguments for and against inequality in wealth distribution can be very murky and it is probably unwise to stand firm on one line only. To begin with, when does a person enter the 1% of the wealthy?
Oxfam says it takes cash and assets worth $US68,000 to get into the top 10% and $US760,000 to be in the top 1%. Oxfam adds ‘That means that if you own an average house in London, without a mortgage, you are probably in the 1%.’
It will not take too much arithmetic (you hardly need a calculator) to work out that the top 1% must include a fair number of New Zealanders, especially Auckland property owners.
The subject of inequality is just too vast to cover in a useful way in the pages of this bulletin. In any case there are several good books that are readily available that discuss the subject adequately, try—
Inequality A New Zealand Crisis, Edited by Max Rashbrooke.
Wealth and New Zealand, by Max Rashbooke
The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future, by Joseph Stiglitz
Owning the Earth, by Andro Linklater is also in enlightening read.
Bear in mind that we are considering wealth in the form of assets not income. There is inequality in income distribution, especially in salaries and wages. A ‘believe-it-or-not’ example is the salaries paid to the top CEOs in the United States of America. The top three of whom were paid $US96 million, $US137 million and $US378 million in 2011.
The respective employers can, no doubt, explain and justify these salaries. The rest of us are left to wonder.
But the most interesting fact is the relatively low amount of wealth needed to enter the top 1%. Three quarters of a million dollars (US) does not seem to be such a large amount and it is certainly within the reach of some New Zealanders, especially if the inflated house prices in Auckland are anything to go by. Wealth is not limited to stocks and shares.
Another interesting comment come from the Trueactivist website and you may take this information however you wish. May at this stage the writer must give up; these staggering amounts are unreal.
Jesus held the poor in his arms, as he did the sick and all the others we might call riff-raff. Why did he place such store on the bottom of the heap? Because he loved them? Certainly. And because he saw, just as we should see today, that impoverishment of opportunity and sustenance is often the result of the trickle-down theory going the wrong way. in other words, greed.
Two quotes -
Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation and I care not who makes the laws. (Attributed to Amschel Rothschild).
If you want to know what God thinks about money just look at the people He gives it to. (Attributed to Alexander Pope)
Neither sentiment is comforting, really. In either case the wealthy continue to hold their wealth. They may be able to buy governments; they are certainly talented at avoiding taxation.
The spirit of envy may blunt the sensibilities of someone who might otherwise be a reformer. But it seems huge wealth should not have power in and of itself over the democratic rights of everyone else. The right to vote for one’s government and the right of the majority to curb some of the excesses taken by the wealthy should be sacrosanct and the 90% who are not the ‘wealthy set’ ought to be able to use their democratic power, their vote, to curb the excesses.
The total world GDP in 2014 was about $US77 trillion. The GDP per capita was about $US16,300. Australia’s was $61,925, New Zealand was $37,896 (2011). Malawi was $255 and Luxembourg was $116,664.
What it is to be poor!
Any kind of review of wealth, poverty and inequality is fraught with difficulties. But it is certain that this sort of inequality saps the energy out of many economies and fills so many with despair. It is clearly time for the Jesus principle to be tried out before it is too late.
Some thoughts from Meister Eckhart
Eckhart von Hochheim O.P., is better known as Meister Eckhart. He was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic, born in 1260 near Gotha, Thuringia. He died in 1328 at Cologne.
Although he was a profound mystic he was also an able man of affairs, admirably manifesting the spirit of his order by uniting throughout his career great activity with contemplation.
Eckhart's activity was also displayed in the pulpit, of which he was an illustrious ornament, and in his writings in the form of treatises and sayings. As a preacher he disdained rhetorical flourish and avoided oratorical passion; but effectively employed the simple arts of oratory and gave remarkable expression to a hearty sympathy. Using pure language and a simple style, he has left us in his sermons specimens of the beautiful German prose of which he was a master. [Main source: Catholic Encyclopaedia at www.newadvent.org]
Here are some quotes from his writings.
We are celebrating the feast of the Eternal Birth which God the Father has borne and never ceases to bear in all eternity... But if it takes not place in me, what avails it? Everything lies in this, that it should take place in me.
You may call God love, you may call God goodness. But the best name for God is compassion.
God expects but one thing of you, and that is that you should come out of yourself in so far as you are a created being made and let God be God in you
Man goes far away or near but God never goes far-off; he is always standing close at hand, and even if he cannot stay within he goes no further than the door.
If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.
Truly, it is in darkness that one finds the light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest of all to us.
The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake.
Sunday rosters & Lectionary Readings.
31 January Rev Hugh Perry
M Steward Rev Bob Coates
D Steward Ernie French
Organist Diane Comyns
Morning Tea Heather Mace
Reader Bill Pearcy
Jeremiah 1: 4—10.
Psalm 71: 1—6.
1 Corinthians 13: 1—13.
Luke 4: 21—30.
7 February Rev Hugh Perry
M Steward Bruce Baillie
D Steward Bruce Baillie
Organist Ann Millar
Morning Tea Averil Cullen
Reader Angela Hirst
Exodus 34: 29—35.
2 Corinthians 3: 12 —4: 2.
Luke 9: 28—36.
14 February Rev Hugh Perry
M Steward Ernie French
D Steward Bill Delaney
Organist Diane Comyns
Morning Tea Lynette Garnett
Reader Maurice Smith
Deuteronomy 26: 1—11.
Psalm 91: 1-2, 9-16.
Romans 10: 8b—13.
Luke 4: 1—13.
21 February Rev Hugh Perry
M Steward Eleanor Monson
D Steward Bill Pearcy
Organist Diane Comyns
Communion Jennifer Delaney
Morning Tea Raewyn Perry
Reader Eleanor Monson
Genesis 15: 1-2, 17-18.
Philippians 3: 17—4: 1.
Luke 13: 31—35.
28 February Rev Hugh Perry
M Steward Rev Bob Coates
D Steward David Monson
Organist Diane Comyns
Morning Tea Margaret Norton
Reader Pam Popenhagen
Isaiah 55: 1—9.
Psalm 63: 1—8.
1 Corinthians 1 10: 1—13.
Luke 13: 1—9.