Shifting my goals

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The horror of the “same old thing” is one of the most restricting passions of the human heart.

We wear the word mundane, with shame.

We dread that something be the same as it was before, for to be unchanged, is to be failing.

Without realising, my demand for change diminishes my pleasure and increases my desire, whilst simultaneously emptying my pockets, and my sense of satisfaction.

When I finished high school 3 years ago, I went on an adventure. And I did some incredible things, things I don’t regret doing, and things I will truly treasure for the rest of my life. However, I am beginning to realise that although taking on new challenges and striving for cool, great things is not necessarily bad, for me, pursuing adventures for myself has at times blinded me to the reality of the consistent beauties that already exist in my life.

I have been living a “mundane” “normal” life again for over a year since my trip.

“Back to study” “Back to work” “Back to living at home” “Back to the same old thing.”

And secretly, and sometimes not so secretly, I seem to circle back to a longing to be elsewhere, back there, somewhere different, somewhere exciting.  Continue reading

The Grace Collective presents: GOALS

Are you a new year resolution list-maker? Have you got dreams of making that Big Change this year? Or are you just hoping to scrape through 2016 with some degree of success?

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At the beginning of a new year it is a great time to make goals for the days ahead. Get straight As. Buy a car. Travel more. Pray more. Land your dream job.

However research shows that – no matter how well intentioned we are – by July most of us will have bailed on our goals. So where are we going wrong? Why is it so hard to turn our dreams into reality? Is it possible that we have been going about it the wrong way?  What if Jesus has some even better goals in mind for us?

Join us for the GC guide to goals – our amazing line up of speakers will share their stories and wisdom on making goals that are worth keeping.

Wednesday 9 March, 7.30pm at Crave, McDonald St, Kingsland

See you there!

A Journey to Easter: Lent 2016

If you’re looking for something to fuel your thoughts and prayers through Lent, then take a moment to check out our diocese’s latest project: A Journey to Easter.

It’s an online multi-media devotional, which includes activities to complete every day of lent. There’s readings, reflections, prayers, and journal activities, all based around the Sermon on the Mount. The content is drawn from a range of authors and artists, including A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, and features uniquely New Zealand photography.

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Each day only takes 3-5 minutes so it’s totally do-able. Take the ‘journey’ by yourself or together with your small group.

Check it out at www.lent.nz -it’s not too late to start!

Refugees Are Welcome in Auckland

wellingtonRefugees have to move in order to save their lives or preserve their freedom. The process of settling into a new life into a new country can be a difficult one. The government provides assistance to refugees coming to New Zealand, but there is a vital community component which is invaluable in helping refugees settle in their new home.

As the Grace Collective we hope to create a movement of hospitality towards refugees that welcomes them the way that Jesus would. We believe our city of Auckland is big and generous enough to welcome more refugees better. So we are proud to be supporting ‘Refugees are Welcome in Auckland’.

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‘Refugees are Welcome’ began with the Anglican young adults community in Wellington. They reached over 70,000 people online through their campaign. We’re are excited about the impact that a campaign in Auckland will have and we want you to be part of it.

All it involves is getting together with mates, our “Refugees are Welcome in Auckland” sign and our flash camera, and take photos with people! Shifts are about 2 hours, yet the impact you can have in such a short time is surprisingly powerful. Find out more at our event tomorrow (Saturday 21 November – more details here, like ‘Refugees are Welcome in Auckland’ on Facebook, spread the word, and get signed up to a shift.

My 36 Slaves

RSZslave-croppedIt was a casual Sunday afternoon. I went to the supermarket – I needed to buy sugar.

I got to the plethora of sugar options on the shelf and stared.

And stared.

I picked one up. I put it back. I couldn’t bring myself to buy one.

Why? Not because of all the options before me. It’s because I know that all this sugar in front of me isn’t produced in ways I agree with. I’ve known that for a while, but that day it made me unable to purchase sugar. But I needed sugar. What to do? Driving across Auckland to the TradeAid store to purchase sugar doesn’t seem a great ‘sustainable choice’ either. So I went home with no sugar. But I knew that soon I’d need sugar and be faced with the same dilemma. (Let’s not get into the ‘do you really need sugar’ debate in this one, we’ll save that for another day – and luckily I found out that a different supermarket close-by stocks Fairtrade sugar.)

More than anything what surprised me about this sugar-debacle was myself. I’ve always ‘cared’ about ethical and sustainable consumer choices, but often it becomes idealist with an I’ll-buy-fair-trade-coffee-if-it’s-in-front-of-me thrown in on the side (though this is still a great place to start).

So what’s changed? I’m not exactly sure.

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Getting things out in the open

Hey guys, Charlie here. You might have already seen this interview with Brandt Russo we shared on Facebook a while back. If you haven’t watched it yet, it’s totally worth it, as it touches on so many of the things we talked about at Authenticity and some of the issues that were so courageously addressed by our speakers.

Brandt talks about how he wanted to be open about his struggles, but couldn’t bring himself to go through it. However once everything was exposed, he said “I realised I had put myself in a horrible situation and God still is who He promised He is and He can redeem this… I could finally get free because everybody knows.”

It takes a lot of openness and support to get through our struggles. Brandt questions whether churches are ready for that: “We haven’t prepped ourselves to be that open.” I wonder if he’s on to something here.  Continue reading

Going Further

goingfurtherBack in February, I had the privilege of attending a camp called Going Further. It is a camp for young adults from 18-30 about, as you can probably tell, “going further” in discipleship. On a sunny Friday morning, around 60 young Presbyterians and Anglicans descended on the beautiful Orama community on Great Barrier Island for one pretty epic week.

For me, it was a deeply formative experience.

Too often, I think, Christian camps are orientated mostly around the head (theology and content), or mostly around the heart (Holy Spirit stuff), or mostly just on activities. It is a difficult balance to strike. The thing I most appreciated about Going Further (apart from the awesome people) was the holistic nature of the content: we had amazing sermons form Kindra Green, a pastor from San Diego working with the refugee community there; creative and integrated worship led by worship songwriter and Presbyterian minister Malcolm Gordon; habitation practices and spiritual disciplines such as morning and evening prayers, lectio divina, and meditation; creation care; all mixed in with small group discussions and lots of free time to just BE.greatbarrier

All of this in a stunning, remote location with a pier to jump off, kayaking, bushwalks to waterfalls, volleyball, and other activities on our doorstep. You start to get the idea.

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Another world: Tender Shoots and Hope in Cambodia

“ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE, ANOTHER WORLD IS NECESSARY, ANOTHER WORLD IS ALREADY HERE.” – Shane Claiborne.

I woke up this morning in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Which is crazy to think about for me. It isn’t everyday you get to hangout over on the other side of the world in a place as beautiful as Cambodia is.
Cambodia2But today wasn’t the most impressive wake up, if I am honest, because I rolled out of bed to the sound of a man testing the loudest loud speaker I’ve ever heard, in the park right across the road from the hostel I’m bunking in. I’m on a trip backpacking all over South East Asia with my twin sister Lydia and our good friend Abi, and for the most part our morning wake ups have been peaceful and serene. I usually wake to the sound of birds in the trees or the subtle hum of a shower a few rooms away.

So this morning was a bit of a weird one for me.

Today, it turns out, is a public holiday. Which isn’t too surprising because around 30 weeks a year in Cambodia have a public holiday.

However, it was very surprising to find out that today is not just any day off. It is International Human Rights Day, and the Khmer people were having a rally.  Which is why there was a man in the park across from the hostel I’m bunking in, testing the loudest loud speaker I’ve ever heard.

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And, I mean, public holidays are mean and rallies are always a good time, but the idea of a government-endorsed day to celebrate human rights in Cambodia brings me mixed feelings. On one level it irks me, but one another level I have hope.

The government of Cambodia has a long history of violating the rights of its citizens.

In 1975 a crippling dictatorship came into power and ruled until 1979. Under their regime, known as the Khmer Rouge, millions of Khmer people were murdered for an idea, and bad one at that. You were tortured and killed for simple things like wearing glasses or owning a book, or for being educated and working in a job that didn’t involve “using your hands.” Anyone else was sent into the countryside to work the land in terrible conditions.

The Khmer Rouge was replaced by a false democracy led by a man called Hun Sen. He and his officials live in grand houses and drive $100,000 SUV’s, while the majority of Cambodia’s population lives on less than $150 a month. At the last election Hun Sen was voted out but somehow remains in power. Knowing he would lose the election, a few days before it took place he threatened that if the people didn’t vote for him, another Khmer Rouge would happen. When protestors took to the streets after it was announced he was still to remain Prime Minister, 40 people were shot and killed by the police. Earlier in 2014 the government of Cambodia was given $80m to house refugees that Australia is unwilling to look after, but no one knows where the money has gone. And that’s all in the last 18 months.

Cambodia has come a long way since the 1970s, but the rights of the Khmer people are still neglected by its government.

However, I have hope.  Continue reading