In Awe

“…the congregation is topsoil – seething with energy and organisms that have incredible capacities for assimilating death and participating in resurrection.  The only biblical stance is awe.  When we see what is before us, really before us, pastors take off their shoes before the shekinah of congregation.”
Eugene Peterson [in Under the Unpredictable Plant 1992 p136]

I’m a minister in a church
A people call me
I think that God calls me as well
Together they coaxed me
(maybe I didn’t take much persuasion)
and continue to coax me

At times I have been a functional minister
Completing the tasks before me, those expected of me, and no more.

Sometimes I have stretched into these tasks for show,
To prove something to myself,
Or to prove something to some voice from the past who seems to be looking over my shoulder

Sometimes I have caught myself looking in the mirror
liking what I have been seen to have been

I have been pondering the nature of these people who call me and the God in them

Many of them would admit that the God in them can be hard to locate or has often been conveniently held at arm’s length
Nevertheless, these people meet the call with extraordinary commitment

They provide for me an existence
A roof over my head, food on my table, resources to tend to my responsibilities, meaningful daily work, love, encouragement and care

They do this out of what they have worked for
They generously sacrifice their belongings for me to have an existence among them in the name of the One who sacrificed his belongings for their existence

I am in awe of them
I admire their sacrifice and discipline

In their presence I discover that I am on holy ground

Thus I renew my commitment
to mingle with them
listen to them and for them,
pray for them,
dare, imagine and create for them,
and to love and respect them

And I commit myself to challenge any sense of entitlement that manifests in me

I owe them
and I struggle to imagine that I will ever return enough for what they give me

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Demolition Update

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Today the building is almost down – all that is left is the office level.  The demolition crew did what they could to respectfully demolish the roadside section with the concrete built-in cross on it.  The sequence of photographs below tell the story.  What’s left is going to be pulled down and carted away over the next week or so.  The principal machine operator is moving on to another site where his skills are now needed.  He has been consistently fantastic to deal with.
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St Stephen’s Church pre-demolition photos

I have been creating a catalogue of images of the building over the last few weeks… here are some of them

we will keep the distinctive wind vane for whatever is next

we will keep the distinctive wind vane for whatever is next

the tower and wind vane

the tower and wind vane

cracks in the plaster

cracks in the plaster

deterioration post earthquake

deterioration post earthquake

our nuclear-weapon free building...

our nuclear-weapon free building…

foundation stone

foundation stone

doorway - we are salvaging these in the hope that we can use them in any future building

doorway – we are salvaging these in the hope that we can use them in any future building

art deco doorways into the sanctuary

art deco doorways into the sanctuary

the ceramic tile marking the opening service in 1959

the ceramic tile marking the opening service in 1959

above the entranceway

above the entranceway

art deco metal work above the street-front porch

art deco metal work above the street-front porch

the St Stephen image... the coat and the stones

the St Stephen image… the coat and the stones

a window acknowledging a significant donor

a window acknowledging a significant donor