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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in worship (8)

Thursday
Dec312015

Do you know the history of the 'Watch Night' service that is celebrated at New Year?

All across the world today (31 December) Christians in their millions will attend 'Watch Night' services to usher in the new year in a community of faith.

I have attended (and arranged) a dozen or so of these services in my life. It is a wonderful way to journey into the new year in faith and commitment, particularly if you worship within a community whose journey you have shared in during the year and they have shared in yours.

As I looked back on my own sermons and liturgies for Watch Night services, and the sermons liturgies of others, I noticed that the theme of many of these services is reflective - taking stock of the year that has passed. Others are anticipatory - looking ahead to the year to come and making some commitments.

It was Socrates who said 'The unexamined life is not worth living [ὁ ... ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ]' (apparently uttered at his before he was executed for corrupting the youth. It is recorded in Plato's 'Apology' (Ap. 35a5-6)). Indeed, it is important to take stock, to stop and reflect, to give thanks, to let go, and to find the courage and faith to move forward in hope.

If you are attending a Watch Night service today I do hope and pray that it is a meaningful and empowering service for your community and for you, and that it adds to making life worth living.

However, do you know what the history is of this particular service? I was reminded of it again today when I was reading my daily devotion Common prayer: A liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (which you can access online daily for free at http://www.commonprayer.net).

Watch Night: Established in African-American communities on December 31, 1862, Watch Night is a gathering to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation becoming law. When the clock struck midnight on January 1, 1863, all slaves in the Confederate States were proclaimed free. Since that date 146 years ago, African-Americans have celebrated the good news of freedom in local churches on New Year’s Eve. Like the slaves who first gathered while the Civil War raged on, we proclaim freedom for all captives in Jesus’ name, knowing that for millions, freedom is not a reality. Our celebration is a commitment to join modern-day slaves and undocumented workers in their struggle for justice.

Perhaps this Watch Night we might be encouraged to remember that we live for more than ourselves? Perhaps we can be reminded of the establishment of this tradition and it can spur is on to ask forgiveness for the ways in which we have participated in and perpetuated injustice in our own lives and choices (the work we do, how we spend our money, how infrequently we serve the least of society). Perhaps it can also spur us on to living for freedom, the kind of freedom that comes from truly living not only in Christ, but for Christ and all those people and things that he loves?

May the year ahead be filled with joy, blessing, peace and flourishing for you, your family, your community, and even those who are different and far off.

Friday
Aug162013

Giving thanks for the life of Brother Roger - Taizé Community

Today I give thanks for the life and ministry of Brother Roger today. The establishment of the Taizé community is a continuing gift of renewal and missional blessing to the Church across the world.

It reminds me that simple courage and constant obedience can often be used by God to bring about transformation, healing and renewal.

 

In 1940, despite the spread of war in Europe, Roger Schütz crossed the border from Switzerland into France to pursue a community life characterized by simplicity and the fellowship described in the gospels. From early on in his life, Brother Roger knew that such a life together could be a sign of reconciliation for Christians from different denominations.
After settling in a French village called Taizé, Brother Roger was caught for hiding Jewish refugees and had to leave France after two years. When he returned after World War II had ended, he was accompanied by a few men who became the first brothers of the Taize community, which grew into an ecumenical community with brothers on all continents, bearing witness to what brother Roger came to talk about as a “parable of community.”
On August 16 2005, during evening prayer in the Church of reconciliation at Taizé, Brother Roger was stabbed to death by a mentally ill woman.
- Common prayer (16 August 2013) -  http://commonprayer.net

 

Sunday
Apr072013

Facing the facts about failure...

Today I have the wonderful joy of preaching at 3 services at the beautiful Mosaiek Church in Johannesburg.  This is a truly remarkable contemplative, missional, community of Christ followers.  I am so deeply blessed by their desire to fully integrate the contemplative lifestyle with a missional focus.  Encounter God, encounter the world.

I'll be speaking about failure and regret today.  It is not often that one can have an 'adult' talk with a Church.  I say this because so many Churches expect the kind of input that I give to my six year old, motivational, simple and entertaining.  This community, however, has moved largely beyond that point.  I see in them a desire for authentic living which inevitably means that not everything in life will be successful, victorious or filled with acclaim.  The reality is that much of our lives revolve around how we cope with the inevitability of failure and regret.

Two quotes have been living within me as I have prepared a few words to share with them:

O Lord, who else or what else can I desire but you?  You are my Lord, Lord of my heart, mind, and soul.  You know me through and through.  In and through you everything that is finds its origin and goal.  You embrace all that exists and care for it with divine love and compassion.  Why then, do I keep expecting happiness and satisfaction outside of you?  Why do I keep relating to you as one of my many relationships, instead of my only relationship, in which all other ones are grounded?  Why do I keep looking for popularity, respect from others, success, acclaim, and sensual pleasures?  Why, Lord, is it so hard for me to make you the only one?  Why do I keep hesitating to surrender myself totally to you?

Help me, O Lord, to let my old self die, to let die the thousand big and small ways in which I am still building up my false self and trying to cling to my false desires.  Let me be reborn in you and see through you the world in the right way, so that all my actions, words, and thoughts can become a hymn of praise to you.

I need your loving grace to travel on this hard road that leads to the death of my old self and to a new life in and for you.  I know and trust that this is the road to freedom.

Lord, dispel my mistrust and help me become a trusting friend.  Amen

- Henri Nouwen (A Cry for Mercy).

Then there is this remarkable insight from JK Rowling's commencement speech to the graduating class of Harvard University.  

At her Harvard commencement speech, "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling offered some powerful, heartening advice to dreamers and overachievers, including one hard-won lesson that she deems "worth more than any qualification I ever earned." In her speech, which I would highly recommend you google and read, she tells of how she failed catastrophically in her life –

I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.

However, she went on to say that,  

Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

She had ‘fallen’ into her life’s purpose through an embarrassing, costly and heartbreaking failure.

Here are two further insights that have been a great help to me on this path - and believe me, I am something of an 'expert' at failure (and regret)!

The greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally unsolvable. They can never be solved, but only outgrown. 

- Carl Jung

 First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall. Both are the mercy of God!

- Lady Julian of Norwich


Wednesday
Feb082012

By prayer and doing justice...

I am yet to find a quote that more clearly expresses my understanding of one of the critical tasks of the Church than the quote below.

Our church has been fighting during these years only for its self-preservation, as if that were an end in itself. It has become incapable of bringing the word of reconciliation and redemption to humankind and to the world. So the words we used before must lose their power, be silenced, and we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Of course the one element that I would have loved to see more clearly expressed in this quote is the act of worship. However, as I think about it, both prayer and acts of justice are expressions of God's worth. What do you think?

Monday
Oct252010

Hipster Christianity and poking fun at ourselves - Church planting explained...

I am trawling through reams of emails that I couldn't read during the build up to the Lausanne Congress.  I still have such a lingering sense of gratitude and feel so blessed to have been part of this amazing event!  I'll post a reflection as soon as I have a few minutes to spare. It was straight into the office at 7am this morning for various meetings...

The Congress has left another lingering memory - I have a Indo-Chinese-African-American-European type flu... Don't feel too good today!  Hence this post.  I'm siting in a meeting with my iPad writing this quick post... If anybody asks you please tell them I'm taking notes ;-)

A friend sent me a link to this great YouTube video that pokes fun at how we plant Churches!  This 'friend' happens to have planted many wonderful Churches in his ministry, and has succesfully helped many others to do the same.  I thought it was wonderful that he could laugh about something that he is so passionate about!  So, please take this with a pinch of salt.  We need to plant Churches, they need to be effective, culturally relevant and attract people!  This is just a bit of fun.

How to plant a Church (a complete primer in just 3 minutes).

 

It kind of reminded me of this new book (that I am still intending to read) - Hipster Christianity (when Church and Cool collide) by Brett Mccracken.

I have read the hilarious book - 'Stuff Christians like' by Jon Acuff which seemed to have a little more of a critical edge to it.  I laughed, but I did so in secret (if you know what I mean).  So much of what I read in that book reflected a belief I hold, had held, or wished I had not held.  Indeed, it was a pretty entertaining book for a Christian like me who is moving beyond denying some of my naivete towards a more honest and open expression of my faith.

What is certain is that I love Jesus, I know that he loves the cosmos and every person in it, and I want to find ways of authentically bringing his love to bear on the world.

So, anyone want to join me in a Church plant?  Bring the cash, I'll lead worship!

 

Saturday
May082010

Satire on Sunday Church Services

Yup, I've been to a few of these kinds of services, they simply seem to miss the point!  Watch the video below - it's funny!  But, also quite sad!

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

I am thankful for people like John van de Laar and his ministry 'Sacredise' that helps Churches and Christians to engage effectively in worship that doesn't get stuck 'fluff' and 'performance'.  

Of course I appreciate well directed worship.  I love contemporary music and have often encountered God in such settings.  However, I have an equal affinity for liturgy, silence, and simple worship.  I suppose the point is that it should be about God first, then an encounter between the community and God, and somewhere right towards the bottom of the list should be 'personal taste' in style and music.

(from @Scott McKnight)

Monday
Feb082010

21 Ways to Pray at Work

A friend on facebook (H-K-R) shared this great link from beliefnet - 21 ways to pray at work.  

There are some wonderful resources here to add a new level of significance and purpose to your daily work life! Remember that Paul admonished the Colossians saying, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Col 3.23).

We spend so much time and energy in our work environment, why not invest that time wisely by taking the hours you spend at work to a deeper level of commitment? 

Here's my input on some of the steps they share:

 

  • The workday doesn’t start when you walk into the office, it starts when you wake up. Start by thanking God for the job you have.
  • Ask God to bless the people among whom you work, and the place in which you work.
  • Pray that God will make you a good steward of your time and resources of your company.  As Christians at work we should offer a clear witness through our commitment to our work.  Mark Twain once commented that you should "live such a good life that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry!"
  • Pray that God will use your communication to communicate God's love and care for the people you interact with (whether that be your manner on the phone, the way you deal with a difficult client, or the tone of an email).
  • A simple exercise is to choose to pray through your 'address book' or phone list. I do this - I take just 10 minutes each day and pray for a few persons on our company phone list.  Amazingly I pray for each of our office staff by name every second week. It changes my interaction with them, and I trust that God uses my prayer to bless and help them.
  • Be willing to pray for those who lead your organisation.  Pray not only for them, but for their family and home lives.  Executives often face great pressure.  God can use you to transform their lives (James 5:16)
  • Before meetings ask God to guide you and give you calm and peace.  Let God guide your thoughts, your words and your interactions.  During the meeting listen for God's guidance through the words and inputs of others.  Be sensitive enough to hear God's voice, and brave enough to speak.  Your voice mayy be the one that God wishes to use to change a situation or bring a solution!
  • It is worthwhile praying that your organisation will be a just and good steward of the resources they have been entrusted with.  Ask God to guide your leadership to make wise and generous choices that will help to transform society.
  • Practice MBWA during your lunch break.  What is MBWA?  It is different from an MBA (Masters in Business Administration), MBWA stands for 'management by walking around'.  Try to connect with as many people as possible in a sincere and significant way during your free time (remember not to steal time from your employer, so use our time wisely!)  Friendships build trust and allow you to offer care, help and prayer to those in need.  I can bet you there are many people in your sphere of influence who are longing for someone to connect with!
  • In God's Kingdom few things happen in isolation - we were made for community.  So, find likeminded colleagues to pray with during the week.
  • When you have to travel for work pray that God will protect your family and give them patience.  Pray that God will protect you and keep you from any form of sin or temptation, returning you quickly and safely to your loved ones.

 If you have any ideas or inputs to share I would love to hear from you!  How do you make the most of your workday as a  Christian? 

 

Monday
Jun182007

The future of worship... Just realised that I never posted my presentation.

I have been contacted by a few persons to ask for copies of the closing plenary presentation I made on the future of worship. I just realised that I never posted that little talk to my blog.

Here's a reminder about when, where, and what, took place at the Jubilee worship seminar at Alberton.

I was asked to do a workshop on an approach to a theology of worship. You can download the powerpoint slides for that workshop here. The handout for the workshop can be downloaded here. The theological reflection document (used with a clip from the movie 'Yesterday' 1h09 mins to 1h20 mins) can be downloaded here.

I was also asked to do the closing plenary slot for the workshop, it was an incredible honour! However, I was exhausted by the end of the day, and certainly was not on form. Regardless, it went OK (by that I mean, it could have gone better).

This is not intended to be scholarly work. Rather, it was an attempt to think what worship may be for the generation after mine, those young people who are in school now. You can download the text for the closing plenary session here - in some ways I repeated quite a lot of the 'theology of worship' session in this presentation.

I would strongly recommend that you make contact with Rev Barry Marshall for a copy of his opening plenary address. It was an incredible challenge, setting the scene for a remarkable day.

Thanks to Rev Rowan Rogers for arranging the day and taking such good care of us.

Here is the